Hot Polka Dot
23Dec/12

And The Winner Is…

Congratulations Siri of Cooking With Siri! You are the proud new owner of Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever!

It's a beautiful book and I just know you're going to love it! Please email me at hotpolkadot (at) live (dot) com to claim your prize and give me your mailing address to receive the book.

Thank you to everyone else who entered! I enjoyed reading about your favourite vanilla treats!








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14Dec/12

Pure Vanilla.

When I found out my friend, Shauna of Piece of Cake was releasing yet another amazing cookbook, I was so happy for her! Then I found out it was all about one of my favourite things ever and I was thrilled. Then I found out I could get myself a review copy plus a giveaway copy for you and my head exploded.

Pure Vanilla is aptly named. The rustic photos, heartfelt descriptions and homey recipes all lend to the organic, unrefined and untouched beauty that is the vanilla bean. Vanilla has become synonymous with words like safe, predictable and ordinary. Shauna shows us how to look at vanilla in a different light, a soft natural light. Vanilla is unassuming, but not bland. Vanilla is familiar, but not boring. Vanilla is nostalgic, but not antiquated. Vanilla is sexy, beautiful and adventurous.

Pure Vanilla's recipe index ranges from the tried and true to the exciting and new. Name your favourite vanilla recipe and this book has it! Everything from luscious Vanilla Buttercream to Vanilla Cream Pie, Vanilla Bean Marshmallows to Vanilla Ice Cream. Then there's a few recipes I bet you've never tried like Twinkie Bundt Cake, Candied Vanilla Popcorn and Vanilla Martinis.

When I saw Shauna's recipe for Heirloom Vanilla Sugar Cookies, I knew it was the perfect recipe to share with you at this festive time of year. These cookies were bursting with vanilla flavour and were melt-in-your-mouth soft. They're cookies best served on a plate to Santa or to loved ones accompanied with a tall glass of milk.

So you want to win a copy of Pure Vanilla? Of course you do!

Just use the simple Rafflecopter widget below for several different ways to enter! The terms and conditions are listed at the bottom. Just leave a comment below letting me know what your favourite vanilla treat is. This mandatory entry opens up three more enxta entries so make sure to make good use of them! The giveaway is open until Friday December 22nd at midnight.

Good luck!

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4Dec/12

How To Tuesday: The Gift.

I am a gifted gifter. I'm not the type of person that asks what you want for Christmas. I'm the type of person that, through my powers of deduction and reasoning, I figure out exactly what you want. I daresay I know what you want better than you do.

I live for that warm smile that spreads over a person's face when they rip that pretty paper open to catch a glimpse of that perfect gift hidden inside. It might not be expensive, or big, or hard to come by, just exactly what they wanted. A wrinkle at the corners of the eyes, a tug at the corners of the mouth. That contagious warmth that began in the first hint of their smile spreads to your heart and keeps you cozy all day.

Some of the best gifts are the unexpected ones. For that kind neighbour that collected your mail while you were away, for that teacher that helped your daughter master the saxophone, for that little boy who shovelled your walkway. Just a little something to say thank you at a time when everyone should be thankful for those around us that do things without expecting a reward.

I think DIY gifts are extra thoughtful and special. Just because it didn't break the bank doesn't mean that you didn't make it with love. Just the fact that you made it with your hands says more than most expensive gifts could.

What better gift to give this holiday season than hot chocolate mix? Show someone how much they warm your heart by warming their belly!

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3Dec/12

From Us To You!

How's your holiday shopping going? I've got something that will definitely help!

Because you deserve a little something special.

Because this time of year is in the spirit of giving.

Because I like you.

Because I have some amazing friends.

We're giving one lucky winner a $500 Amazon Gift Card that they can spend on some holiday shopping or on themselves! The giveaway is open to entrants in Canada + the USA only and will run from December 4th through to December 18th.

We’re using Rafflecopter for this giveaway because it’s one of the best, most secure ways to host a giveaway like this. It allows us to store and track entries as we get them and to draw a winner when the giveaway is over. To enter, you can either login to the widget with your Facebook account or with your name and a valid e-mail address. Comments are welcome; however they will not be counted as an entry to the giveaway. You must like all participating sponsors on Facebook in order to successfully enter.

Good luck!

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26Oct/12

May The Cupcakes Be With You.

Halloween has always been one of my favourite holidays. As a kid I think I enjoyed the creativity and imagination behind each costume just as much as I enjoyed the candy. Sure Kit Kat bars and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are great, but getting to dress up and pretend to be someone or something totally different for a night is the real spirit of Halloween.

I've been a unicorn, a princess, a vampire, a witch, a gypsy, a hippie, a pirate, Cleopatra, Princess Leia and a Jedi to name a few. I think my favourite costume would have to be one of my last, the Jedi. My mom, being an excellent seamstress, made my authentic cloak and tunic from scratch. My dad fashioned my belt out of real leather and crafted a lightsaber complete with a blue LED light. My dad is also pretty keen on Photoshop so he was able to digitally make my lightsaber a reality. Please enjoy the below photo of thirteen-year-old me complete with unkempt eyebrows and surly teenager frown.

When I became too old and too cool to trick or treat I focused on the decorations. I remember one year I fashioned creepy stick figures like those found in the Blair Witch Project while vetoing all my mom's cutesy skeletons and friendly jack-o-lanterns. I wanted an authentically scary experience, the kind that would make you jump and keep you up at night, not cartoon witches and googly-eyed skulls.

Today I'm proud to say our house has the coolest decorations in the neighbourhood, complete with fog machine, strobe light with thunder sounds, leaf graves, cauldrons, candles, spooky sounds, cobwebs, bats, bones, zombie fingers and a skeleton hung with a real noose. I also love helping Sable with her Halloween costumes and, with any luck, she'll look something like this on Wednesday.

What are some of your favourite Halloween costumes from childhood?

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