Tea flavoured macaron recipe

IMG_0102 copyI’m usually more of a savoury snacker when it comes to guilty pleasures, but there’s just something about macarons that I can never resist. After seeing so many pins on pinterest claiming that making them yourself isn’t THAT hard… I decided I’d give it a try.

We found a basic macaron recipe from The food network and altered it a bit.

Ingredients for the cookie

1 3/4 cups icing sugar
1 cup almond flour
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 cup caster sugar (superfine sugar)
1 teaspoon of ground up Shades of Earl Grey tea leaves
Gel food colouring (optional)


Ingredients for the filling

1 stick of butter (room temperature)
1 cup of icing sugar
2 teaspoons of honey



Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F

Line 2 big baking sheets with parchment paper

Combine icing sugar and almond flour in a bowl and mix together. Than sift the mixture so that any large pieces of almonds don’t end up in your batter. You’ll may end up with as much as 2 tablespoons that is too big to use.

Take a teaspoon of Shades of earl grey tea leaves and chop it up so it’s more fine and add it to the almond icing sugar mix.

Beat the egg whites on medium high speed until frothy. Then add the caster sugar to the egg froth and continue to beat until you get stiff shiny peaks. This will take about 5 more minutes using a stand mixer.

Fold in the almond, icing sugar, tea mix into the egg whites. You can also add in any food colouring now if you would like. Keep folding just until the batter is smooth and slides off the spatula in ribbons. Don’t overmix to the point that it’s runny or else you will have flat cookies. If you undermix it, your cookies are more likely to crack.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a round tip. We used a 1/4 inch round tip but a 1/2 inch tip might work better.

Pipe circles on to your parchment paper lined baking sheets.

Then firmly with both hands pick up the baking sheets and rap them against the counter at least 2 times. Then rotate the pan and do the same thing. This will help prevent cracking of the shells.

Leave the cookies out to dry for about 15-30 mins until they are no longer sticky to the touch. This will help them keep their shape during baking.

Pop it in the oven for about 20 mins. You should be able to peel the cookie off the sheet easily and cleanly. If some of it sticks, than it’s not quite ready. Let them cool completely before removing them from the sheet.

Instructions for filling

Beat the butter so it’s a little fluffy and slowly add in the sugar. Beat until it’s fluffy.

Then add in the honey. Then add your icing to a piping bag and pipe on to one macaron shell and cover with a second one.

Voila! Now sit back with your favourite cup of tea and indulge!


Check out the video to see each step of the process! Good luck and let me know how your macarons turned out.

DIY: Pretty painted glass jars


If you’ve been on pinterest at all in the last few months, then you’ve probably seen all those pretty paint coloured glass bottles. With a rare afternoon off, I decided to give this easy, inexpensive project a try.


What you need:

  • clean glass bottles
  • some paint
  • either a bowl or a ziplock bag to mix the paints

I used some old alcohol bottles but any clear glass bottles or jars will work. I used acrylic paint since it’s easy to find and cheap but if you want to fill the bottles with water, you’ll want to use a waterproof paint.

What you need to make pretty painted glass bottlesUsed a ziplock bag or a bowl and spoon to mix the colours. Make sure you mix a lot so you don’t run out of paint. mixpaintPour it into your bottle and slowly turn the bottle to coat all the surface on the inside with paint.


Hold the bottle upside down once it’s all evenly coated to get rid of any excess paint. You might want to let it stand upside down for 5 minutes and then slowly pick it up and let the paint drip out and then leave it again. I was a bit anxious and ended up spilling paint everywhere so make sure you lay down some paper so you don’t get paint everywhere. painthandsThat’s it! Such a simple idea and it’s so easy to match it to your home decor!

Baby showers

With many of our friends and family popping out adorable little babies left and right, it was just a matter of time until I would find myself planning one. So of course, I opted for a tea social theme.



We bought a few rolls of pink and white streamers and hung them down the wall instead of the traditional way of hanging the across the ceilings. This saved a lot of time and made for a great backdrop for photos. And it instantly gave the room a bright splash of colour.streamers

We saw this tutorial on Martha Stewart’s site on how to make giant pom poms. These were super quick and easy to make! The only difficult part was transporting them and hanging them. They were a little heavier than expected and kept falling from the ceiling so we had to reinforce it with a lot of tape.



Bottle race

Of course one of the typical party games is to fill some baby bottles up juice, cold tea, or some sort of adult beverage and have people race to finish their drink.



Playdoh faces

We challenged each team to mould what they thought the baby would look like. We gave everyone a time limit of 10 mins which added to the fun to watch people frantically moulding before the timer ran out. What I’ve learned is that moulding with play dough is a lot harder than I remembered. Some of the faces that were made were just down right terrifying… but it was a fun activity none the less.


Decorating onesies

This is a fun activity that the parents can use afterwards. We picked up a bunch of plain onesies, and various colours of fabric paint and let the guests draw designs on them that match their personalities.


And then of course, we served a lot of little treats and a nice variety of tea. Remember to include some non-caffeinated herbal teas as most pregnant moms try to avoid caffeine. Let us know if you have any other fun baby shower ideas! Or send us pictures of your own baby shower tea soiree!

DIY framed map hearts

This week’s DIY project is a great gift idea for a travel loving couple.

One of my closest friends had met her husband, got engaged, and got married all in different countries. The two of them are big travellers so when I saw this picture frame craft on Pinterest that incorporated different maps, I just had to make it for her.


Here are some instructions if want to make your own framed map picture.


1. Find a picture frame that you like. I always gravitate towards black and white frames but I decided to be a little wild and pick up this blue frame that would compliment the colours from the map. Shadow boxes work really well for this project but I could only find them in square shapes which wouldn’t work as nicely with the composition. Decide how many areas you want to incorporate into your frame and do a rough sketch so you have an idea of what frame shape would work best for your project.

2. Find a background. You can use scrap book paper, gift wrap, or anything else you can find. I wanted to personalize it a bit so I designed a background and had it printed. I love how the maps stood out on yellow so I used that for my base. I used one of her favourite travelling quotes and repeated it in the background and added a little quote that I thought represented them well along the bottom. If you want to use this background for your picture, leave me a comment or email me and I will send it to you.

3. Find maps of all the places you want to include. Since this was for a wedding, I decided to include 3 significant places from their love story. Where they met, where they got engaged, and where they got married. If you can’t find maps, you can take usually find different maps of areas online. I decided to cut the maps out in heart shapes. But whatever shape you want is up to you. I’d recommend cutting out the shapes on scrap paper so you can play around with the sizes and placement before cutting into your map.


4. Once you are happy with the placement of your hearts, use glue, or double sided tape to stick them down. I wanted to add a bit of depth to the picture so I used foam double sided tape to raise the maps off the background ever so slightly.


5. TA DA! There you have it, a perfect gift for your travel loving friends!

Let me know if you’ve done a similar project. Or if you’ve made any other travel themed DIY projects!


DIY: How to reupholster a bench

michelle drinking mode and honey teaThis week’s post is courtesy of Michelle. After seeing some of her projects on instagram, I was very excited when she agreed to do a tutorial on how to reupholster a bench. I admire her simple, and whimsical style and love her taste in fabrics. Follow along as she shows us how to turn an old foot stool in to an adorable children’s bench.


What made you start refinishing furniture?

About three years ago, I jumped on the mid-century teak furniture-craze bandwagon. When my husband and I moved to Toronto and settled in to our new apartment, I desperately wanted a teak chair to complete the living room. After scouring Kijiji, Craigslist, and local garage sales, I finally found a piece that was almost perfect; $10, teak arms and legs that were in great shape, and just the right size for the space. The only problem? The fabric smelled like it had lived in a dumpster for the last 50 years, and it looked just as bad. I called around to a number of upholstery studios in town for quotes to have the chair re-upholstered, and after deciding that $600-$700 was just too steep, I decided to give it a shot on my own.

How did you learn?

I learned the basic techniques for furniture upholstery from Andrea Ford, owner of Re:Style Studio. Re:Style offers weekend workshops that are interactive, hands-on and a lot of fun. I did two of the BYOP (Bring Your Own Project) workshops – in the first one, I re-upholstered the teak chair (which now lives happily in my living room), and the second workshop I did was as a fun “girls weekend” with my mother-in-law. Andrea is so knowledgeable and helpful (and you might recognize her from segments on Steven & Chris!)
Since then, I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with small upholstery projects. I think it’s a great way to relax, and it gives you such a great sense of accomplishment to take something that’s in a rough state and turn it into something beautiful.

The project: DIY Old, second-hand footstool converted into a sweet little children’s bench!

diy re-upholster a bench
Note: this technique can be used on footstools, or basic wooden chairs with upholstered seats.


  • Staple Lifter (Lee Valley) 
  • Scissors 
  • Staple Gun (I use a Paslode Pneumatic staple gun hooked up to a small air compressor, but a simple, manual staple gun will work just as well!) 
  • 1.5″ thick foam (available from some fabric/craft/flooring stores)
  • Polyester Batting, in sheet form (available at fabric stores)
  • Fabric 
  • Sand Paper
  • Paint (for simple colours I use spray paint, for more variety, simple latex paint in matte finish with a durable, clear top coat) 

Tools to upholster a bench

Step 1: remove the seat (some are screwed down, others will just pop out) and begin removing staples using your staple lifter. For particularly tough jobs, I like to wear a pair of simple gardening gloves to spare my nails/fingers.

Remove staples from the seat

Step 2: when all the staples are removed, remove the fabric and check to see if the foam on the seat is usable; if so, leave it as-is. If not, pull the foam from the wood (it might be glued down.)
Step 3: if you need new foam, cut a piece of 1.5″ thick foam to fit the wood.


Step 4: lay out your fabric (right side down to the floor), a layer of polyester sheet batting, foam, and then the wood on top. Pull one edge of the fabric up around the wood, and begin by stapling in the middle along one side. Pull tightly as you make your way around the wood, stapling 1-2″ between each staple. Fold corners in like you fold sheet corners when making the bed. Voila! The seat is finished!

cutting batting foam for bench

Staple fabric to the seat


Step 5: lightly sand the wood; depending on what paint you’re using, you might need to prime the wood before painting. For this footstool, I used some two-in-one primer and paint (Rustoleum oil-based spray paint.)

sand and spray paint bench legs

Step 6: when the paint has dried, re-attach the seat. Sit, have a cup of tea and enjoy!

Finished reupholstered children's bench

How cute is the finished product!? Michelle made it look so simple that I’m now hunting through the classifieds to find an old storage bench to reupholster myself! Good luck with your own projects and let me know how they turn out!

Panama, Costa Rica and weddings

puravidaYou may remember the save the date photos I did for my friends a couple months ago. Well the date finally arrived and I was lucky enough to celebrate their wedding with them in Costa Rica just last week.

UUUUUUUUURRRRRRGGGGGG you know that feeling where you’ve waited too long to book and then flights are a billion dollars? Ya.. that’s what happened with all the direct flights to Costa rica. Indirect flights were about half the price so I took it as an opportunity to book a longer overnight layover to do a bit of exploring. That’s how I found myself in Panama City for 18 hours. My family and friends were slightly horrified that I was going to be in this “dangerous” city by myself. Of course there are bad neighbourhoods (just like in any city) and I would recommend that a single girl be cautious and aware of her surroundings, but the culture and personality of Panama city is definitely worth experiencing.

I was mentioning that I wasn’t sure how to get to the hostel from the airport and a coworker told me that she had some family in Panama and offered to have her cousin pick me up. He was so friendly and sweet that it put me in great spirits after having to wait for almost 2 hours to get through customs, immigration, and baggage. When I got to the Los Mastros hostel, I was told that the water was shut off in the city for the day. Apparently since it’s still a developing country, due to construction and maintenance, sometimes they just have to shut off the water. WWWWWWWWWHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAATTT?!?!?!?!? Some hotels and restaurants will have a special reserve so you can still use the washrooms. The little $15/night hostel I stayed at though wasn’t quite so fancy. We had to carry a bucket full of water up the stairs in order to flush the toilet. This brought me back to my adventures in Vietnam. 

I was still in my Canadian winter clothes and there was nothing I wanted to do more than get out of my sweats and hop into the shower, but I settled on wiping down my face with a wet nap and throwing on a dress. I was excited to get out and explore the city, and luckily for me, I met a friendly American at the hostel. He was actually going to meet a friend who lived in Panama so I tagged along.

We hopped into a cab and went to what felt like a sketchy area and stopped at this little microbrew. I was absolutely exhausted at this point but within 15 mins of sitting on the patio, I looked around and quickly remembered why I love traveling so much. There I was, on a patio with two fascinating people that I didn’t even know existed until 30 mins ago, chowing down on some seriously delicious pizza and craft beer at La Rana Dorada and having my new friends give me a lesson on mining for Bitcoins, with the sun starting to set in the background. The unpredictability of what was to come, and being in a place that was so new and different, yet feeling so comfortable is what drives my desire to keep exploring. Everything about that moment was just perfect.

We ended up bar hopping and checking out a few of the different hot spots in the area. The rest of the night will be left out as my poor mother reads my blog and I think she may be better off not knowing about my shenanigans. Don’t worry mom! I’m sure I didn’t do anything that dad wouldn’t have done at my age!

I didn’t take many photos in Panama but here are a few from the night.

Enjoying the view one last time before heading to the airport
Rooftop bar with some cool Americans

Then early in the morning (6:30am!! Why do I do this to myself?!), my new friend was nice enough to take me to the airport so I could head to Costa Rica to join my friends.

An hour and a half flight later, I landed in Liberia airport and hopped onto a shuttle courtesy of the bride and Xplore Costa rica, and made my way to Tamarindo (which is about an hour away). We stayed at Cala Luna resort. HOLY MOLY this place was nice! It was a stark contrast from the minimalist hostels that I’m used to. As soon as I walked into the lobby, I was greeted with a cool towel, a beautiful cocktail, and a nice lad insisted on taking my backpack for me. I didn’t take any photos of the villas so the following resort photos are from Cala Luna’s website.

38640 Calla_Luna2 38641

Ridiculously luxurious, right?! Now to some of the fun stuff! Excursions!

Marlin Del Rey – Catamaran

As a ‘thank you’ to all the guests, the bride and groom generously treated all of the guests to a catamaran ride on the Marlin del rey. I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for sail boats ever since my summer at The disabled Sailing Club, so I was beyond excited for this excursion. And it DID NOT disappoint! I loved every single thing about the catamaran ride. They picked us up at 2 and drove us out to an island where I got to try snorkelling and paddle boarding for the first time.

snorkeling costa rica paddle boarding costa rica

And then after we were all pooched from the activities, they made a really delicious buffet style lunch as we sailed around. We did a bit of whale watching, and then headed back to shore as the sun was setting. This was the perfect activity for the wedding guests as people of all ages and risk levels could enjoy it.

Xplore Costa Rica – Super fun day of ziplining, rafting, rapelling, mudbaths, hot springs

The next day, we were all signed up for a full day adventure excursion through Xplore Costa rica. Our day included some ziplining, rapelling, rafting, mudbaths, hot springs, and a buffet style lunch. We were offered a special rate because there were 40+ of us but I think the normal rate is _____. I’m a big chicken with a serious fear of heights and just the thought of that falling feeling in my stomach is enough to make me sick. So I was really weary of going zip lining but after the first line, I can promise you that it’s really not scary! The worst part for me was walking the steps up to each platform. You don’t get that falling feeling at all!   Rafting – Since the tide was still pretty low when we went, the rapids weren’t as intense as they can be in the fall. I was paired with one of the experienced rafters so we didn’t get stuck along the way as many of our beginner pairs. This was an excellent workout for your arms.. and if you want to really test out your relationship, you can pair up with your significant other. See how much you guys like each other after yelling at each other about your inabilities to steer.. and accidentally (maybe intentionally?) hitting it other in the head with the paddle over and over… The only downside with pairing up with one of the workers is that you constantly have to stop to help dislodge other less experienced paddlers from the rocks and bushes. My arms were really tired after the zip lining and rafting so I opted out of the rappelling since once you repel down, you have to be able to climb back up. I have the upper body strength of a 6 month old and didn’t have the confidence that I would make it back up. Is it just me or does the term mud bath imply laying in some kind of bath tub filled with mud? I guess for sanitary reasons.. a mud bath actually meant someone was going to paint mud all over your body, and then you hang out in the sun until it dries and then you can hop into the river to wash it all off. How awesome is it to swim in a place like this?!


Then you can hop over to one of the hot springs and let your muscles relax after a long day of activities.


The next day, a bunch of people went horseback riding, but after my 2 hour ride in Calgary, I think maybe I’m done with horses. Instead, I went to town to try and find some surf lessons. Most places range from 30-40 for a group lesson. I’ve also heard a bunch of people grab really cheap lessons by walking along the beach and just asking some locals. I decided to get a private lesson for $35. This included a 2 hour lesson, the board, and a rash guard (which is really just a thick shirt). I think having a private lesson helped me learn a lot faster.


We spent about 15 minutes on land practicing jumping up on the board before he decided I was ready to hop in the water. (OMG was he serious?!) I was able to semi stand up for half a millisecond on my third try but once you’re able to stand up, you kind of get a feeling for what you’re supposed to do. I think the hardest part of the whole thing was being able to get the timing right. I opted to go surfing the day before the wedding and ended up with a couple of bruises on my arms and legs. I also got bumped in the head a few times so if you’re a bride, I probably would hold off on the surfing until after the wedding photos. The awesome part is that renting a board for a full day is only 10 bucks so on Saturday once everyone left, I rented a board again and just hung out in the water by myself for a few hours.

Due to a bit of a mix up with the schedule, I ended up staying an extra day once the rest of the wedding guests left. I opted to save some money and moved out of the beautiful Cala Luna and settled into Blue Trailz Surf Hostel. This was a cute little hostel with a kitchen, air conditioning, and warm water. For 15 bucks a night, I couldn’t complain.

A few tips

Most places will take American dollers

It costs 29 US dollers to leave Costa rica. You have to pay this departing tax at the airport. Make sure you have cash as they take credit card charges as a cash advance.

If you’re craving snacks, try some of their local brands instead of some of the bigger north American brands that you’re familiar with. A can of Pringles or a bag of doritos can cost anywhere from 4-6 dollars, but a bag of plantain chips is only 1 doller.