Hot Polka Dot
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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2Oct/12

Better Late Than Never.

     I know, it's kind of late for peaches. Consider it my last ditch attempt to hold onto one of my favourite fruits and seasons. Summer is so fleeting and peache season is short-lived. This year we were lucky enough to have an early Summer but it's fading too quickly. The leaves are turning and the days are growing darker and colder. Thanksgiving is approaching and I'm already thinking about Christmas.

Time is funny that way.

They say that with every year that passes your perception of time seems to speed up.

I remember when a six hour school day would move at a snails pace and it was far too much time taken out of my busy light bright and etch-a-sketch schedule. I remember when the wait for Christmas began at the first snowflake and dragged on for what felt like forever. I remember anxiously peering into the hot oven and watching the pie crust bubble on that night's dessert, all the while being tormented by the scent of spiced apples and buttery pastry.

Now there's never enough time in the day, to-do lists get longer instead of shorter, entire months pass in the blink of an eye and I surprise myself when I realize how many years I've known some friends.

Sometimes I wish that I could just hit the pause button, slow-mo, and definitely rewind.

What better way to slow down than with a warm batch of Peach Oatmeal Cookies? There's something about oatmeal that screams Winter and Peaches are exclusively a Summer treat. Why not combine them to smooth the transition this Fall?

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23Aug/12

Smart Cookie.

I'm one of those rare people who not only tolerates wearing glasses, but actually loves it. I always envied people with glasses so when the day came that I was told I have a slight astigmatism I was over the moon! Now they're my favourite accessory and I'm always looking for new styles to suit my outfit, hair or just my mood.

So imagine my excitement when the lovely folks at Firmoo Eyewear generously offered me a free pair of glasses! Naturally it took me days to decide which pair I wanted because they have a huge selection and their “virtual try on” feature is way too much fun. When I finally got it narrowed it down to two styles, I realized I couldn't live without either of them.

The first are tortoiseshell wayfarers. I love them because the brown and gold flecks accent my eyes and hair. The second are black Ray Ban look-alikes. They're more rectangular and have a hint of cat-eye flare. Big, bold geek-chic glasses seem to be pretty trendy right now, and I love them because your eyes and makeup are enhanced instead of hidden.

The really great thing about Firmoo is anyone can get a free pair of glasses! They have this super cool program where first time buyers get their glasses for free just for giving Firmoo a try.

I was so inspired by my new specs, that I made you some “smart cookies”! I just traced my glasses onto a piece of thin cardboard and cut it out to use as a stencil. You could trace your own glasses too and celebrate being a part of the smart cookie club!

Now if only I could only find some rainbow sprinkle frames to coordinate with my cookies I'd be complete!

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1Feb/12

The Last Cookie.


When you bake cookies it's like some kind of earth-shattering domestic phenomenon. The house fills with the intoxicating scent of fresh baked love all gooey with melted chocolate chips, chewy with oats and sweetly studded with dried cranberries.

Suddenly people from all corners of the home come out of hiding and follow their noses to the source of their mutual adoration. Like hounds who've caught the trail of prey, noses to the ground, tails wagging.

In the course of the next few days, hours, or in some cases minutes, the cookies are greedily devoured. No crumb is safe, no chocolate chip left behind. Gradually the batch is thinned out, the plumpest cookies picked off one by one like lambs to the slaughter. What was once twelve becomes eight, then six, then four and finally one. One lonely cookie sits in what now seems like an immense jar. Once stuffed with its brothers and sisters, the jar is now empty save one survivor.

Days pass and there it remains. The relief of being spared the all too recent massacre wears off and he's left wondering why he wasn't chosen. Was he too small? Was he over-baked? Was he lacking in chocolate or cranberries? No, this isn't fourth grade kickball.

No one wants the last cookie because no one can bear to put an end to the deliciousness. No one wants to be the one responsible for depriving the others of all that sugar and love. Once the last cookie is reduced to crumbs you know it will never fill that void inside when you crave another and realize that's it.

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25Jan/12

Tea Time.


Recently I tried to take up tea drinking. Ever since the great teatastophe of '97 I made the informed decision to henceforth swear off tea in all its guises. Iced tea. Green tea ice cream. Long Island iced tea. Matcha cake. It was just awful. I sipped a bit of my mom's green tea and made a funny face. I was traumatized.

Despite my tainted past with tea, over the years I have acquired a handsome collection of tea related things. Tea towels, tea cups, saucers, tea spoons, cream and sugar sets, cute napkins. It got me thinking, maybe I like tea after all.

I was going to give tea another chance. Maybe we could get reacquainted and become fast friends. I'm sure we just got off on the wrong foot. Perhaps it was high time for some high tea.

I had it in my head I was going to throw tea parties with all my civilized tiny hat wearing buddies. We were going to sit in my dining room all prim and proper with our ankles delicately crossed. We were going to sip fancy earl grey and chamomile out of dainty pink cups with our pinkies out. We were going to gossip and giggle and nibble on petit fours.

I mean what better place to show off my Royal Wedding worthy feather fascinator right?

Alas it was not meant to be. Tea and I just don't get along. I made the face again. It wasn't pretty.

There is one part of tea time I think we can all agree is the very best part. The treats. The tiny individual cakes, the gooey squares, the cute cookies, the powdery truffles, the glazed tarts. Because if you take away the tea isn't a tea party just a swanky buffet?

And none of that roast beef and shrimp crap. The good stuff. The end of the buffet we all save ourselves for. Let's all just admit it. You might have stuffed yourself with more than your money's worth, but you just can't refuse that spread of sugary bliss on top of everything. Even if it means that you don't feel physically capable of eating another bite for at least another week.

Here's my contribution to tea time. The best part. The star. The crowd pleaser. The treat. Cardamom Clementine Cookies. They're light and airy with the floral scent of cardamom and the subtle brightness of citrus. I'm guessing they'd go well with a steaming cup of chai tea, but I'm certainly no expert. You'll have to let me know!

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