Wednesday, March 4, 2015

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE AN IKEA KITCHEN | LESSONS FROM THE DESIGN TEAM AT STYLE AT HOME



If there's one thing I would say the amazing design team at Style At Home taught us at this year's Interior Design Show, it's that Paris really does hold all the secrets to a chic and gracious way of living. Walking into their award-winning customized IKEA kitchen booth felt like being transported into a grand French kitchen, where the boulangerie and bistro were both right at home. So today, I'm sharing a few design lessons we can take from Style At Home's beautifully customized space.


LESSON ONE: TAKE YOUR CUES FROM PARIS

Ask anyone where they want to travel and Paris is most likely near the top of their list. We've only been a couple of times and can't wait to go back. Our dream? A summer in Paris with our kids. But in the meantime, why not bring Paris home?


From the bicyclette suspended over the island to the large, metal-framed window to the hexagon concrete tile floors to {my favourite} the Fornasetti Nuvole wallpaper from Cole & Son, the touches of European wanderlust are everywhere in this kitchen. I feel both at home and compelled to travel all in one grand gesture, and that's exactly how I want to feel in my own inspired space. I love the sense of playfulness and sophistication so easily married in this kitchen. Ça c'est parfait!


LESSON TWO: INTEGRATE AND CUSTOMIZE


Image via @designmaze_tim on Instagram - go follow him!


Integrating a custom-designed built-in banquette can make a kitchen and eating area feel larger and more functional. Rather than cutting kitchen cabinets short or living with the limitations of how many chairs will fit into a space, create more generous seating while giving the eye a simple focal point by designing a long and luxurious banquette. Not only will this maximize your space, but it's also the perfect spot to lounge together and soak up some sun with your loved ones over a relaxed Saturday morning brunch!


LESSON THREE: USE VINTAGE BRASS ACCENTS + ARTFUL FINISHES

One of the first details that made me bite my lip was the antique brass rail installed along the front edge of the countertops on both the range side and the sink side of the kitchen. Not only does this conjure images of a busy French bistro in all its glory, it's as practical as it is pretty, allowing you to have a towel at the ready to wipe up hands and messes at any moment. After all, real cooks make real messes, n'est çe pas?

I also adore how the design team at Style At Home chose to create an artful gallery wall of antique mirrors around the range hood. The curated sensibility adds a charm and whimsy that make a brand new kitchen feel like it might have been there for decades. Brilliant.


LESSON FOUR: USE JUXTAPOSITION TO MAKE EVERY ELEMENT SHINE

There were a lot of genius moves in this kitchen. One of them was to break up the dramatic full-height pantry wall with a built-in servery. Not only does it provide a practical nook for serving drinks to guests and cutting croissants for breakfast, but it also creates a balancing focal point on the wall opposite the range. The antiqued mirrored panels echo the statement made by the collection of mirrors installed around the range hood while also creating a sense of expansiveness and history in the kitchen. The crystal chandelier also nods at history and adds the feminine charm of a French coquette.

I don't know about you, but I could move in at a moment's notice - French press in hand - and I can assure you I would never want to leave. Many thanks to the team at Style At Home for the fuel to dream of bringing a bit more of Paris home again.

xo
s.


*All images via IKEA Canada except where noted.

Monday, February 23, 2015

4 Tips For Choosing The Right High Chair


When it comes to buying baby gear, I hear this question a lot: Do I really have to give up my design-loving ways to get something functional that I can afford?

The great news is, the answer is "No way!"

Let me show you why we love our Nuna Zaaz high chair by way of my 4 Top Tips For Choosing The Right High Chair.

TATE PULLED UP TO THE TABLE IN HIS NUNA ZAAZ, TRAY REMOVED

TIP ONE: FLEXIBILITY

Gone are the days when a piece of furniture could get away with doing one limited job for a short season of time. These days, we expect baby furniture to grow with our children throughout as many stages of development as possible. Here are three keys to finding a piece that will be flexible enough to meet your needs for several years:

1. Adjustable straps. Look for a 5-point harness that allows you to forego the over-the-shoulder straps as your babe gets bigger. Most kiddos don't like being totally restricted as they get older but still need some help remembering to stay on their bum.



2. Removable parts, especially the tray and tray table support. Being able to remove these parts of the chair allows you to pull your little one up to the table as they get older, like in the happy photos of Little Man Tate at the top of this post. Tucking that chair in at their place at the table makes them feel like they are a part of the conversation rather than stuck off to the side in a clunky chair. This kind of family connectedness is what dinnertime is all about!


3. Check out this video to see how easy it is to adjust the height of this high chair. Love this feature!

TIP TWO: WIPE-ABILITY

1. Removable parts (yep, again!). This is especially important when cleaning up the shrapnel from a post-meal foodtastrophe. No, your baby may not have intended to drop a food bomb on basically everything within a 5 foot radius, but they still did it. It's just a thing babies do to remind you of how much you love them, because if you didn't you wouldn't actually be willing to clean up after them every. single. day. But who's to say love can't be efficient? You don't want to spend your life with a toothbrush trying to clean out all the nooks and crannies and nether regions of some complicated chair. Being able to pull the chair apart easily is essential to making this job an easy one.



2. All surfaces must be made of materials that are easily wiped down. Just say no to upholstered chairs of any kind! You don't want anything you have to scrub at when they squish all the blackberries on their tray and shove at least 50% down into their seat. You want surfaces where a bit of water and a quick swipe will get the job done. The Nuna Zaaz is amazing this way - totally impervious to stains!

TIP THREE: MOVABILITY

Movability really comes down to two things:

1. Scale. This may seem like a small detail, but the scale or footprint of the chair will determine how easily it will tuck into a corner or under the table. When your babe isn't pulling up to the table yet, you don't want their high chair to take over your dining space, and when they are, you don't want it to occupy more than an average seat space.

2. Good glides on the legs. Rubber stoppers just leave marks on the floor and make moving it around a total pain in the you-know-what.

TIP FOUR: DESIGN SAVVY

Last but certainly not least, does the style work with your décor? For me that's in large part about choosing something with a subtle colour palette. I went with the Almond colour for my Nuna Zaaz because it's subtle and blends in with all the wood tones in my house.

From its modern simplicity to its highly functional, flexible adjust-as-they-grow design, we are loving our Nuna Zaaz! It truly fits my philosophy of buy less, buy better. Definitely a designer-approved high chair for our little foodie and yours. For all my fellow Canadian mamas, you can pick one up right here and you can get more details on the full Nuna line here.

xo
s.



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why Life Is Like A "Pick Your Own Ending" Novel



One of the things I've been learning over the last several months is that our life story is in part about how we write it. What I mean is, the same story can be viewed from many different angles.

Your perspective defines your experience.

Take this past Sunday, for example. I got up at 5:30am filled with excitement and anticipation. To be clear, I do not usually wake up at 5:30 this way. Sunday was special. I was headed to the airport for 7am to catch a 9am flight to Nashville. My first time in Nashville, and ironically the trip had nothing to do with music. I was headed there to meet one of my writing heros, Donald Miller, and participate in his StoryBrand workshop. It's essentially a crash course in branding and marketing that is highly personal, intensive and no doubt game-changingly awesome.

The day started well. I got up on time, nursed Tate, got ready and was even having a fairly decent hair day. It was a slightly bittersweet start, if I'm honest, as I was quietly mourning the fact that we planned to use this trip to wean Tate, but at the same time I felt grateful that doing so would mean a bit more freedom to improve my health.

Anyway, got to the airport, got checked in, got through crazy long lines at security, hauled myself all the way to the nether regions of the airport where they have the small aircraft landing and departing. Waited as per usual for the boarding call, happily reading my book. Boarded the plane, slightly giddy at the thought that I'd be in Nashville in just two hours. And then the pilot's first announcement that there was a mechanical issue and they needed to delay us by a bit.

Now, here's where the "pick your own ending" business comes in.

STORYLINE NUMBER ONE: I spent the next almost 8 hours WAITING, inhaling aircraft fumes, being told nothing helpful or of any substance, getting on and off the aircraft three different times as they discovered more mechanical issues, getting seriously hangry and realizing airport food is possibly the worst "food" on the planet, watching as a weather system set in and progressively shrank my chances of actually departing, and finally learned that the flight was cancelled and I would miss my beloved workshop altogether because all of the other flights were either full or cancelled for the next two days...

STORYLINE NUMBER TWO: I actually enjoyed having a day to myself for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long. I finished reading a book that I've been trying to read for two months. I legitimately got something out of it. I engaged with some really fine and lovely folks at the airport (mostly airport staff because they weren't quite as cranky about the delay as my fellow passengers), I people watched, I reflected on life, I drank more than my required daily intake of water, and I was proud of myself for maintaining a positive attitude throughout the day as I watched others melt down like toddlers who were told they couldn't have a second cookie. I kept my perspective and my wits about me and kept reminding myself "Better that they find these mechanical problems with the plane while we're on the ground rather than when we're in the air."

Same experience. Two different perspectives.

I admit, I may have chosen storyline number one at the point when - having been at the airport for almost 9 hours - they announced that our flight was cancelled and I subsequently learned that there were no other options and I would miss my workshop altogether. I didn't yell or have a hissy fit or use any bad language, but I did start to recount the negatives in my head - the waiting, the aircraft fumes, the lack of information, the hangry, the MISSING MY WORKSHOP.

And then, as I was driving back home in the limo that the airline paid for, I started to rally. I realized that God was in this day. He's in my plans to learn and grow and become. He's not just in my plans, he's all over them. The Nashville workshop was not my only opportunity to learn. In fact, 9 hours in the Toronto airport was also an opportunity to learn, as long as I picked that ending. And the Nashville workshop will happen again. Maybe I'll be all the more ready for it when it comes back around.

Here's the thing: there could be a thousand reasons why I wasn't meant to go this time, and I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE. My job is not to know. My job is to surrender and trust and choose the right storyline.

My job is to pick a good ending.

Today is Wednesday, not Monday, and Mondays are for musings. But today - even though it's Wednesday - I needed to share this with you. Because life is unpredictable, and you need to share the good stuff whenever it happens.

xo
s.

Monday, February 2, 2015

WHY SAYING NO HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH SAYING YES




“No More Yes. It’s either HELL YEAH! Or No.”

We’ve probably all heard TEDtalks speaker Derek Sivers’ famous quote by now. I mean, it’s kind of been everywhere over the last few months, hasn’t it? But why does this quote resonate so deeply with so many of us?

I’d say it’s because we are all feeling just a little {or a lot} pulled at the seams. Stretched. Overcommitted. Exhausted and barely keeping up. And lacking joy as a result.

I talked about this in my post last week on renovating your life like you would renovate your house. Change starts with recognizing there’s a gap between what you think you can {or worse, "should"} accomplish and how much time and energy you actually have to do it.

But then what?

What do you do when you realize you are chronically overcommitted?

READ THIS BOOK


Greg McKeown’s New York Times bestselling book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less offers a guide for setting our filters to know when to say “HELL YEAH!” and when to say “No.” I read it over the holidays and I'm so grateful I did. It gave me the courage I needed to say “no” to some things and really helped me set my course for 2015. I think it can do the same for you.

Here are some top tips I gleaned from the book:

1. START BY EXPLORING EVERYTHING


Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? I mean, aren't we supposed to be eliminating stuff from our jam-packed schedules?

Yes.

But rather than blindly saying “yes” or “no,” McKeown says we should take the time to really think through the short and longterm implications of each opportunity through the lens of these three questions:

What do I feel inspired by?
What are my natural talents?
What meets a significant need in the world?

I would add one more key questions of my own:

Will saying “yes” to this send my life balance spinning out of control {and if so, what can I say “no” to in order to make room for it}?

2. HAVE EXTREME CRITERIA


For me this has meant establishing just 4 areas of my life as my top priority - my “focal point” for this year as I called it in my last post. If an opportunity or request doesn’t meet needs and help me achieve my goals in one or more of these areas - and even within these areas, if my immediate response isn't "HECK YEAH!" - then the answer is “no.”

For me, my "focal point" areas are:
My Family
My Health
Authentic Community
My Career

Obviously there are other areas of my life that I am investing in {like my spiritual life}, but these four areas are my top priority this year. Within these four areas, I’m striving to follow McKeown’s advice and only say yes to the top 10% of opportunities that come my way by asking the kinds of questions he suggests, like “Is this exactly what I’m looking for?”

So basically there are two stages to the filtering process. STEP ONE: Does this opportunity/commitment/relationship fit within one of my "focal point" areas? STEP TWO: Is this exactly what I'm looking for as I grow in this area of my life?

Why be so disciplined about it? Because excellence requires extreme focus. And in our ADD culture of maximalism, I’m increasingly realizing the great wisdom to be found in doing less with more.


3. RUTHLESSLY REMOVE CLUTTER


What if we viewed our life the way a professional organizer would view a cluttered closet? You can’t see what you’ve got when there’s a bunch of stuff you never use - and don’t really like - getting in the way.

As McKeown says, an Essentialist asks “If I weren’t already invested in this ______ {project, group, relationship, etc.} how much would I be willing to give up to get it now?"


4. MAKE IT HAPPEN!


Once you’ve cleared the mental, emotional and commitment clutter from your life, you’ll have WAY more space to achieve your goals. Just like designing a space that is currently cluttered with the accumulation of “stuff,” you have to start by editing things out to actually see what you’re working with!

For me, ridding myself of the weight of guilt has been HUGE.



Guilt is such an energy vampire! And for me, it has actually been holding me back from achieving some of my health goals. It’s really hard to recover your health when you’re constantly feeling like you need to be meeting everyone else’s expectations of you. So I’m taking a much closer look at what my expectations are for myself, and then I’m taking small steps toward achieving my goals in each area, knowing I will build momentum as I go.

I’m so grateful for the timing of reading this book, and I hope you find encouragement from it too. It’s firmly planted at the top of my recommended reading list for anyone looking to renovate their house or their life. For me, I’ll be applying it to both!

xo
s.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE AN IKEA KITCHEN | DESIGN LESSONS FROM THE TEAM AT CANADIAN HOUSE & HOME MAGAZINE


Photo via Global News
As a designer, I head to the Interior Design Show Trade Day every year for three main reasons:

ONE to see what new products and innovations are being introduced, TWO to get inspired, and THREE to connect with really great people in my industry.

This year, to my pleasant surprise, I found all three needs met in one place at House & Home's IKEA kitchen display. Setting the creative team at Canadian House & Home Magazine to the design challenge of customizing an IKEA kitchen - alongside the team at Style At Home who also designed a beautiful space - was a brilliant way for IKEA to introduce their new Sektion line of kitchen cabinetry to the Canadian market.

INNOVATION IS ON THE INSIDE


The new line is a huge move for IKEA in transitioning away from their popular Akurum line of kitchen cabinetry. From the little that I was able to see past the throngs of people in the booth, it's the "guts" of the Sektion line that make it most exciting, with lots of highly customizable options and extremely functional inserts. {I caught a glimpse of a drawer with a tiered sliding spice rack in it that was truly fab!} The new door profiles and colour options are very current and on-trend with what's happening in kitchen design right now.

Unfortunately for those who already have an Akurum kitchen, it appears as though the dimensions of the two lines are different, so you won't be able to retrofit your Akurum with these enviable Sektion upgrades without a total kitchen redo. That said, they are still honouring their amazing 25 year warranty on the Akurum, so all is not lost.

The House & Home kitchen really felt like an English fitted kitchen to me, with an abundance of design details to surprise and delight. In addition to the herringbone wood floors you can see in the photo above {they had me at herringbone!}, they showcased a few of my favourite timeless design trends in this beautiful space. Take a peek at some of the design lessons we can learn from Suzanne Dimma and Sarah Harthill - the senior designers leading the team on this kitchen design on behalf of Canadian House & Home Magazine.

LESSON ONE: CREATE ARCHITECTURAL INTEREST


Image via Margot Austin on Pinterest

Let's be honest, turning a basic convention-style booth into a quietly luxurious custom fitted kitchen is not for the faint of heart. Like a real home renovation or a new build, the task requires heaps of design vision and the courage to be unique. The first thing I loved is the way Suzanne and Sarah made the kitchen feel totally custom with the use of paneling.

Paneling, as I'm sure you know, is one of my timeless favourites. In fact, there are very few design projects I've done over the years that have not wound up with paneling in at least one room of the house. Why? It adds instant character and the kind of architectural interest that grounds the space and gives it a sense of history. Good bones, as we say. Always start with good bones.

The way Suzanne and Sarah integrated the simple, modern, box-style range hood into the paneling and wrapped the paneling around the room is brilliant. It truly connects both sides of the kitchen with the pantry that flanks the end wall, and it complements the raised paneling on the IKEA cabinetry Suzanne and Sarah chose without feeling too "matchy matchy."

LESSON TWO: PLAY WITH PATTERN + COLOUR



If I could have secretly stuffed this stunning Martyn Lawrence Bullard for Ann Sacks tile into my handbag to use in my yet-to-be-reno'd laundry room without creating a scene, I would have done it in a heartbeat. Delicious. I love how this tile creates a sense of history while being extremely current. Think Paris bistro floors or an English hand-painted backsplash.

I also love the dove grey cabinets Suzanne and Sarah chose {this door style is called Bodbyn and will be available February 2nd} and how they contrasted the softness of the grey with the deep peacock colour on the paneling and range hood. The art of the mix is as much about creative contrast as it is about a mix of materials.

LESSON THREE: CREATE MOMENTS of DISCOVERY



Needless to say, my photo does not do this stunning little pantry justice. Mark my words, though. When the professional photos are released, people are going to be pinning the you-know-what out of this little space on Pinterest. Beyond the charming sense of organization {which makes me want to hire Suzanne and Sarah just to bring that kind of zen into my own real-life-with-kids...even if only in my pantry! It would become my little in-home European retreat...}, it's the Peacock Garden wallpaper by Zoffany and the iron-framed French doors with egg-shaped brass knobs that make this pantry sing. I mean, who expects to see such a fantasy-world-come-to-life in the pantry? It's delightfully unexpected. This kind of "discovery moment" as I like to call it makes you bite your lip and inhale quickly when you come upon it. Just the sort of thing to make a kitchen feel entirely bespoke and utterly special.

{And I was actually kind of serious about the pantry retreat thing. I can totally see myself hiding away and sipping tea in here whilst imagining myself on a European vacation. This is either a seriously sad statement about my need for a vacation or an incredible credit to my vivid imagination.}

You'll have to wait for this kitchen to be featured in the magazine to see all of the delicious details that were so thoughtfully designed in this space. Watch for it in an upcoming issue of House & Home, where no doubt the source guide and the gorgeous photos will be worth the wait.

xo
s.

Monday, January 26, 2015

HOW TO RENOVATE YOUR LIFE LIKE YOU WOULD RENOVATE YOUR HOME | CHOOSING TO DO LESS WITH MORE


Photos by Gabriela Hansen

As designers, we’ve all encountered more than a few clients who have a case of budget blindness. They’ve worked really hard and dreamed forever about what they would like to do with their house. They’ve saved and they’ve saved and they are finally in a place where they are ready to pull the trigger and SPEND on their space. And because those dollars are hard come by, they might as well be millions.

But the thing is, most often they’re not.

And when the budget blindness leaves you feeling like the WORTH of what you’ve got to spend exceeds the actual VALUE of what you’ve got to spend, well, you can be tempted to spread it out thinly like the last bit of peanut butter from the bottom of the jar onto a piece of dry toast. Never pretty. Never satisfying.

I’ve had this conversation many-a-time with clients over the years, though never quite like I’ve expressed it here. It usually begins with understanding the project scope, then understanding the allotted budget, then gently helping them align their budget reality with the work they can actually get done.

DO LESS WITH MORE


One of the things I always tell a client suffering from budget blindness is that they’ll never be satisfied doing a partial job on all the rooms in their house. Better to focus on one space and do it well and then save to do the next one. It may seem counterintuitive, but do less with more, I always say.

It’s in part a psychological thing: the finished space brings such clarity, beauty and inspiration that it fuels the process of getting the next one done.

It’s in part a legacy thing: a good quality renovation will outlast any design smoke and mirrors you might try to pull off cheaply.

And it’s also a sanity thing: it saves you from the mega-stress of getting midway into your project and hitting the inevitable “surprise” without the cash-in-hand required to fix the problem. It’s always best to leave margin. Order more tile than you need. Plan for it to take longer than anyone says it will. Budget for 10-15% overage on costs. And expect the unexpected.

AS WITH DESIGN, SO TOO WITH LIFE


Photo by Gabriela Hansen

Here’s the thing: I’ve secretly had a kind of budget blindness of my own for many years. Not as it relates to renovating my house, but as it relates to renovating my life. I’ve wanted for far too long to be all things to all people: a loving and supportive wife, an amazing mama, a really great friend, a successful entrepreneur, a creative, a maker, an innovator, a world traveler, a fit, healthy, happy, beautiful, spiritually mature, compassionate and inspiring woman.

Oh yes, and balanced.

I mean, it’s kind of funny when you read that last word, isn’t it? But it’s sincerely and earnestly been on my list, precariously perched at the top of my pile of goals like a pile of rocks that have truthfully been ready to topple over at any moment.

I want to do it all. I want to be it all. But what I am realizing is that this is really just a serious case of budget blindness with my life. As they say, you can do it all...just not all at once.

OK, so let's get really real here for a hot minute. I'm not in a position where I can just stop being a wife and mama and contributor to the world and do nothing but focus on my own personal development for six months to a year {although we all fantasize about that sometimes, don’t we? My version would definitely involve time on a vineyard in France somewhere. Because wine.}. I mean, it would make for a quirky narrative, but real life doesn’t work like that.

Still, I don’t want to do a partial job on all of the many rooms in my life at the sacrifice of excellence and true beauty. So how can I do such an inspiring job in each of the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical spaces of my life that it fuels me to dive head first - with passion and purpose - into the next one, knowing that I can accomplish something profoundly beautiful if I allot the right budget and time to it?

START WITH A SOLID FOUNDATION


Photo by Gabriela Hansen

Perhaps it’s less about renovating and more about laying a great foundation like you would with a new house. When I know that my health and key relationships are in a happy place, I can increase my capacity to take on more knowing I’m on solid ground.

Like my design clients, I’m learning that my time and energy budget - though hard come by - is smaller than I’d like it to be. I can try to fight it all I want, but I'm still just one woman with boundaries and limitations. The best thing I can do is learn not to spread myself out like remnant scraps of peanut butter desperately trying to cling to the edges of my proverbial piece of toast. I’m learning that sometimes I have to take it one life project at a time by laying a great foundation and then building into the other rooms of my proverbial house from there.

So this year, I’m committing to renovating my life like I would renovate my house. I’m going to spend my “money” on paper before I spend it in real life. I'm making realistic time and energy budgets and getting super clear about what resources I actually have to spend before I commit to spending them. And I'm getting really focused and honest about which “rooms” of my house need the most attention. I'm also intentionally leaving margin for the unexpected so it doesn't take me down when it happens. Because if there's one thing I've learned over the last several years, it's that the unexpected is going to happen.

HOW "NO" CAN LEAD TO "YES"


Photo by Gabriela Hansen
Interestingly enough, this has already meant getting way better at saying “no.” In fact, I’ve already turned down three really big and very exciting opportunities in 2015. Guys, it was hard. They were totally opportunities that I would have said “yes” to if I wasn’t being really honest about my time and energy budget and my commitment to renovating my life with excellence.

AS WITH LIFE, SO TOO WITH DESIGN


Renovating, building, designing and decorating all require a solid "no" to get to a great "YES!," don't they? Without the ability to say "no," our houses and our lives would both lack a focal point. What we edit out in design is just as important as what remains. Beautifully designed rooms have a clear focal point, and the same goes for life.

I'd love to keep letting you in on my renos as they unfold - the figurative and the literal ones. And in the meantime, I'd love to hear from you! Do you suffer from budget blindness - with your home or with your life? I’d love to hear about how you’ve been taking your blinders off and completing amazing renovations by choosing to do less with more.

xo
s.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Crème Brûlée Croissant French Toast | The Perfect New Year's Day Brunch!


I love traditions, especially when they involve food. One of our fam favourites for years now has been to wake up on Christmas morning, opening stockings and then feast on this total decadence. The time it takes to bake is about the same amount of time it takes to get through unwrapping all those little treasures stuffed into that knitted sock, so it's perfect. But let's not kid ourselves, friends. This is totally dessert for breakfast. And you know what? On Christmas morning that seems just about right to me.

{Side note: This is clearly not a gluten free recipe, and I don't actually eat it myself. I've made a gluten-free, eggless version for myself the last couple of years but it's...errrmm...not so photo-worthy if you know what I mean. Truth is, most of my enjoyment comes from the groans of glory coming from my guys as they eat theirs.}

Confession: This IS the perfect New Year's Day Brunch dish, but I have NOT styled a perfectly pretty table to present it to you. I had planned on taking the holidays off with my family to just relax and connect, but when so many of you saw my Instagram photo and asked for the recipe, I knew I had to oblige. So without further ado...


Here is my recipe for:

Crème Brûlée Croissant French Toast

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick unsalted butter {grass fed is ideal}
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups whipping cream {Have I mentioned this is not a "start your diet today" kind of dish?!}
2 eggs
2 TBSP ground chia seeds
1 TBSP cognac {optional}
4-6 flaky croissants, the size will determine the number required {the ones at Colette in Toronto are as close to Parisian as it gets 'round these parts, so head there if you can when picking up your supplies. You'll want to stay for brunch, trust me!}

METHOD:

Add butter and maple syrup to a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour into the base of a 9x12 baking dish.

Cut the croissants in half and line the pan with croissants {cut side down} so as to absorb the caramel sauce. Cut small pieces to fill in the gaps after you've layered in the whole pieces so that the entire dish is completely covered in croissants.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs, ground chia and cognac. If you don't want to use chia {or you don't have any} just use 2 more eggs. And if you want to go totally eggless, just use 2 more TBSP of chia and skip the eggs. See? Options.

Pour the cream mixture evenly over the top of the croissants and cover with cling wrap. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350˚F and bake for 30 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with fresh fruit, bacon and really good coffee. It is New Year's Day, after all!

I have to take just a moment to reminisce with you about 2014. If I were to sum it up in one word, for me it would be beautifully unexpected. OK, so that's two words. But if I had just said unexpected that wouldn't have quite captured it. Tate was the most beautiful surprise we could have asked for and he's completely changed our lives for the better. He's been a bit like a "restart" button after some really hard surprises with family and health. And so as I head into 2015 I'm celebrating the beauty of the unexpected as I see it crawling around my living room and cruising furniture getting ready to walk.

Seems like a bit of a metaphor to me.

If you've had a hard year - if some of your unexpected's have been less than beautiful - I feel you. But our dreams, our potential and our futures are all bright, friends. Their beauty hasn't faded, and just like Tate, my gut tells me they are on the verge of getting their feet underneath themselves and not just learning to walk,  but learning to run.

Look out, 2015. Here. We. Come.

xx
s.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...