DRINK UP: 6 Fancy Coffee Drinks + Martello Stilista Espresso Machine Giveaway

There are good things and bad things about winter in Canada. I think many of us know the bad things so let’s not go there. One of the great things about it being freezing outside is that it gives you a good reason to whip up some toasty warm coffee inside.  Whether you’re coming in from an afternoon of sledding, skating, an absolutely exhausting day of shopping downtown, or just having a little get together there’s nothing more cozy that a fresh hot cup of coffee. Who are we kidding, is there ever a bad time for coffee? Now I’m not talking about you’re standard pot-0-coffee.

Skip the line at $tarbucks and impress your guests or just treat yourself with a fancy coffee you can make at home. That’s where the Martello Stilista Primeo single serve espresso machine and My Milky Pro frother will come in handy and oh yeah, I just happen to be giving a set away! See below on how to enter and be inspired by these 6 absolutely delicious coffee recipes to try this winter.

Is there a better combo than chocolate & mint? Add coffee and it’s perfection.  Peppermint Chocolate Coffee via Paula Deen.

peppermint mocha

Whip up something spicy festive like a Gingerbread Latte via Just a Smidgen
gingerbread coffee

What are the holidays without eggnog? If straight up isn’t your thing, try adding coffee and booze then see what you think. Try this Amaretto Spiked Eggnog Latte recipe found on Back to her Rootseggnog mocha

If the sweeter the better is your mantra then you’re going to love this Butterscotch Caramel Coffee recipe from Living Locurto. 

Holiday Coffee Drinks / The Sweet Escape

If you’ve ever had chile flavoured chocolate that you know how amazing the flavours are together. If you like a little bite with your toasty drink, try this mexican spiced mochacino recipe from Diethood. mocha hot chocolate

And lastly, this one isn’t warm but it’s pretty damn hot. Knock your guests socks off with this sexy Espresso Martini Affogato recipe from Daydreamer Desserts.

coffee martini

Having a single-serve coffee machine like the Martello Stilista Primeo and the My Milky Pro milk frother will turn your kitchen into a fancy Italian coffee shop. There’s lots of single serve coffee machines out there but what’s so great about this one is that you get the real deal Italian style quality for an affordable price. The capsules are made in Italy with premium Italian roasted coffee. The machine & capsules are sold exclusively at Walmart for less than other similar machines. And the milk frother will let you make as many super fancy frothy drinks that your heart or cold hands desire. It’s not too bad to look at either, which is a bonus (also comes in white).

Martello Stilista Coffee machineNow here’s the good part, the giveaway. My friends at Martello Cafe were kind enough to give me one Stilista Primeo Coffee Machine, one My Milky Pro milk frother and a selection of coffee capsules to give away to one lucky reader. See the Rafflecopter widget below on how to enter. Contest runs today until 9am on December 24th where someone will get an early morning Christmas present.

Martello Stilista coffee machine giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DIY: yarn mini christmas trees

DIY Yarn bottle brush style christmas trees / The Sweet EscapeHappy Friday friends! Are you in the mood to make an adorable holiday project? You are? Good! Because today I’m going to share my spin on the trendy and adorable bottle brush christmas tree. I’ll be honest, I tried to make the bottle brush trees before and didn’t have much luck but I thought I would try with yarn after seeing this tutorial from my blogger pal Virginia on Fynes Designs. The yarn just seems a bit more user friendly and you skip the messy dying part.

DIY Yarn bottle brush style christmas trees / The Sweet Escape

I found these beautiful brass skinny candle stick holders at Goodwill and this is the perfect time to use them, along with the trees and some birch bases from last year’s holiday centrepiece to make a new centrepiece for this year’s dining table.  Head over to Fynes Design to see the full tutorial – you’ll need some yarn, wire, wood or cork bases and pliers & scissors to make it happen.

DIY Yarn bottle brush style christmas trees / The Sweet Escape

Once you’ve actually made the trees comes the best part, trimming them! They’ll look pretty raggedy at first but don’t worry, they’ll look better once you give them a haircut. Call me crazy or a wannabe hairstylist but I really enjoyed trimming the yarn to reveal the cute little tree under that mess. I didn’t have any cork so I just cut up some wood I had laying around and spray painted it gold. You could also use playdough or clay for the base if you’re not into tools.

yarn-xmas-trees-8

Before you know it you’ll have a colourful forest. I just love playing with colour combos. If you’re totally cray cray you can even play with multiple colours in one tree.

DIY Yarn bottle brush style christmas trees / The Sweet Escape

Then set up your elements to create your centrepiece. There’s no real  ‘how to’ to creating this look but a good tip is to play with heights to create a great balance.

yarn-xmas-trees-1

Oh and shocking, my centrepiece matches my upcyled dining chair perfectly. Can you say predictable when it comes to colours? I didn’t even have to buy any of this yarn, I had it kicking around.  I’m loving my fresh & modern centrepiece this year and along with my Holiday Cheers bar sign, I’m ready to party!yarn-xmas-trees-2

These trees will look great as decor anywhere in your house. I can picture a fire mantle FULL of them. The more the merrier. 
yarn-xmas-trees-7

 

DESIGN: high five for being wild

Just a quick post to show you a couple new designs I just added to The Sweet Escape Society6 shop this week. I went against my normal colour obsession and decided to go classic black & white using my new favourite script font. And BONUS! Everything in my shop is $5 off and FREE worldwide shipping until December 14th at midnight PST with this special link.

Whether you’re a wild one or like to give out some high fives, I got you covered.

Wild One original print by The Sweet Escape

Wild One original print by The Sweet Escape

WILD ONE: print / pillow / phone case / mug

High Five Original print by The Sweet Escape

High Five original print by The Sweet EscapeHIGH FIVE:  print / phone case / greeting card / pillow

Check out the shop for lots of other goods.

GOOD EATS: nectar & stone sweet boutique

I have a true Sweet Escape for you today. Some real eye candy. Literally. Be prepared to have your jaw drop in awe at the most beautiful sweets you’ve ever seen. Let me introduce you to Nectar & Stone, an online designer sweets boutique out of Melbourne, Australia run by Desert Designer Caroline Khoo. Yes there’s such thing as a Desert Designer. You can file that under Jobs Your Guidance Counsellor Never Told you About.

gormet chocolates by Nectar & Stone / The Sweet EscapeI stumbled across Nectar & Stone on Instagram and they’ve been providing me with a daily sweet escape since. When I say “they”, I’m referring to Caroline’s beautiful work. As her description says, she’s “On a quest to open the most beautiful CAKERY in Melbourne”. I think she’s well on on her way and it will probably reach further than Melbourne. I’m thinking she won’t have much competition until it reaches Paris. Maybe.

gormet chocolates by Nectar & Stone / The Sweet Escape

I’m particularly obsessed with the chocolate pyramids. Forget eating them, I want to frame them. They are a true piece of art. I absolutely love the colour range from deep, rich saturated colour to the delicate soft pastels – all with just the perfect hand placed touch of gold.

gormet chocolates by Nectar & Stone / The Sweet Escape gormet chocolates by Nectar & Stone / The Sweet Escape

gormet chocolates by Nectar & Stone / The Sweet Escape

Being a colour obsessed person who happens to enjoy baking I can’t get over the colour palette. Caroline really has an eye for stunning and unique colour hues and combos. I can’t imagine that it’s easy to get those shades working with an edible colour library.

nectar-and-stone

gormet chocolates by Nectar & Stone / The Sweet Escape gormet chocolates by Nectar & Stone / The Sweet EscapeNectar & Stone also makes beautiful non-chocolate desserts that are equally as beautiful. Keep reading to see some more of their stunning creations. You will never look at a box of Pot of Gold the same again.

Read More →

TUNES: holiday play list

Holiday Playlist / The Sweet Escape

I feel like I was just apologizing for posting Christmas stuff too early and now it’s about 2 weeks away. Wow. Well if you’re like me you have a long list of Christmas chores. Ok, chores may be a bit too negative but as much as we love the holidays that’s how things start to feel as your To Do list grows. It’s the running around part I don’t love but what I do love is pouring some spiked eggnog, clearing off the dining table and spending an evening wrapping gifts…..or crafting, or baking, or whatever is on the agenda. Then it’s time to turn on the Christmas music. It just makes everything so much more…..Christmas-y. You know what I mean?

I recently was gifted this Bose mini Soundlink from Staples and it’s my new favourite music BFF. It’s so cute & mini but the sound is ah-mazing. Seriously. We spend a lot of time together. I’m so used to listening to music through my laptop while I’m working or at home but this is 50x better and it’s bluetooth so it’s wire free! Did I mention how cute it is?

Here’s a little Christmas list I put together for you with some of my favourites to help you get in the festive mood.

Baby it’s Cold Outside by She & Him

All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey

Rock’n Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee

Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano

Merry Christmas Baby by Hansen

Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley

Santa Claus go Straight to the Ghetto by James Brown

Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses

Little Saint Nick by The Beach Boys

Santa Clause is Coming to Town by Jackson 5

Last Christmas by Wham!

Funky Funky Christmas by NKOTB

Merry Christmas Baby by Otis Redding

 

 

BEAUTY: natural holiday glam + pür minerals giveaway

Sorry if I’m a bit late on this one, like I said, I’m not much of a planner and when this pretty giveaway came my way how could I not share it with you guys? Yes, another giveaway! I know, it’s crazy. Do you have a holiday party coming up or like to get a little dolled up for the holidays? Heck these days there’s a bunch of companies that have their holiday party in January so this will still come in handy.

If you’re following trends you’ll notice that the natural makeup look is pretty popular. I know, it’s ironic that you put on makeup to look like you’re not wearing makeup. Just go with it. I’m not suggesting you go out for the holidays sans makeup but if you want to go for a bit of a more toned down look but still looking a little glam, consider one of these looks. The lips & lashes are the glam part but the eye palette is a bit more neutral.

Holiday natural glam looks / The Sweet EscapeHoliday natural glam looks / The Sweet Escape image source: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Pür minerals does naturals best and if you’re looking to update your beauty arsenal or have a beauty lover on your Christmas list, me and my friends at The Shopping Channel (tsc.ca) can help you with a great last minute gift. This fab pür minerals beauty gift set is worth $132.50 but tsc will have it on sale for $47.95 for 24 hours only starting Friday, December 12 at 10pm. So scoop one up for yourself or your beauty obsessed secret Santa OR you can try and win one! See the Rafflecopter widget below on how to enter. This is a quick one people! A winner will be chosen Saturday, December 13 at 10pm EST.

pur-minerals-giveaway

The pür minerals gift set includes: My Favorite Things Pressed Powder & lip gloss trio, Soul Mattes Eye Palette (NEW), Chisel Brush, Liquid Veil 4-in-1 Foundation, Wake Up Brow dual-ended brow pencil in Blonde Roast & Espresso, Deck the Eyes dramatic eye duo, Let it Glow Bronze, Blush & Brighten Trio. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

SHOP LOCAL: Toronto Handmade Holiday Markets

Happy Weekend all! Do you have a holiday filled weekend planned? Or maybe just a little taste of holiday? Well if you’re looking for some unique handmade gifts for some lucky people then hit up one of these awesome handmade market events happening around Toronto in December. It feels great to give & receive handmade gifts and it’s wayyyyyy better than being stuck in a mall all weekend.

crafternoon tea

Crafternoon Tea, December 6: This is the 9th edition of Crafternoon Tea – a handmade market & charity tea party. This year the tea service & raffle benefit two great causes – Nellie’s Shelter & Straight to the Streets. There will be 25 handmade vendors. You get to shop for a good cause. Win-win.

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Crown Flora Holiday Market: A variety of well curated local craft, paper, vintage  & food vendors. If you like Crown Flora – you’ll probably enjoy their creative friends as well.

Junction Holiday Fle Junction Holiday Flea, December 7:  Stop by SMASH gallery on December 5th for a pre-flea holiday party including a hot cider and bourbon or craft beer fromIndie Ale House while you shop from a specially selected mix of Christmas gift-worthy vendors

OOAK winter 2014

One of a Kind Holiday Show, November 27- December 7: The mega handmade good expo with over 800 artisans. Adult admission is $12 in advance, $14 at door.

City of Craft

City of Craft, December 12-14: Lots of locally made goods from 50 different vendors. Also craft workshops and free tote bags to the first 100 people. Adult admission is $2.

union station holiday market

Union Station Holiday Market, December 1-7: Union Station Holiday Market showcases unique merchandise from approximately 30 specialty retail vendors, artisans, designers, food merchants and cultural institutions. Admission is free.

PHOTOGRAPHY: canon giveaway + camera style

Who knew I had so many awesome giveaways for you this holiday season. I didn’t. How can I turn down all these opportunities for you guys to win some free stuff?!? I’m super excited to bring you a giveaway for a Canon Rebel T5 + 2 lenses. Whoa! Right?

If you’re a wannabe photographer or you have one on your Christmas list, this is for you. In fact, this is the exact camera that I use to share everything on this blog with you and I love it. As much as I love my Canon, it’s definitely not a very creative looking piece of tech, and the worst part? The ugly strap it comes with (no offence Canon). My camera is currently strapless because I want to buy something to add some style to my favourite creative accessory. Here are some of my favourite camera straps that I found on Etsy. If you’re lucky you’ll be needing one of these too! See below on how to enter.

Etsy Camera Straps / Canon Camera Giveaway / The Sweet Escape

SHOP ETSY:  1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

I am pumped to be teaming up with 15 other bloggers for this Canon giveaway. We decided to mix things up this holiday season. With so many other cash giveaways we decided to get a giveaway going that was a special gift just for one of you! You’ll have it just in time to snap some great photos for the holidays and the new year. You can check out all the ladies joining me on this giveaway below.

Canon Rebel T5 camera giveaway / The Sweet Escape

Image Map
So what’re you waiting for? It is your chance to make some photo magic. The giveaway will run from December 5th to the 19th and it is open to US and Canada residents only. All entries will be validated and if there are any issues with your entry all will be voided. So you better be honest because we are going to be like Santa and check it all twice. Good luck! And happy holidays!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Disclaimer: This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. This blog and any participating blogs did not receive compensation for the published material in this post. No purchase required to enter this giveaway and there is a limit of one entrant per household. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning are determined by the number of valid entries received. Entries will be verified. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be emailed via the email address used to enter the contest. New winner(s) will be chosen if original winner(s) has not responded within 48 hours of email notification. This giveaway is not administered, sponsored, endorsed by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or other social media outlet. Disclaimer is posted in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. I

DESIGN: personalized packaged handmade gifts

Shutterfly customized Christmas stickers / The Sweet Escape

Spoiler alert if you’re on my gift giving list this year. I actually don’t have a really long list being a single 30-something. My friends and I stopped exchanging gifts awhile ago and my extended family is so huge that we’re really just happy if we get to see each other over the holidays. I still like to get a little something for some people or anyone who is gracious enough to invite me over for a delish holiday meal. It’s become a bit of my own tradition to make homemade biscotti and give those out as gifts. They are such a simple treat but sooooo good. People get turned off by the double-baking but it’s nothing to be scared of, I swear. So for me the really fun part is decorating my little care packages. This year I decided to order some of these personalized stickers from Shutterfly and they are prefect for something like this.

Shutterfly customized Christmas stickers / The Sweet Escape

This year I decided to change things up a bit and make chocolate biscotti. I used this Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti recipe from the Joy of Baking. Then I thought it would be fun to package them up in these plain chinese takeout containers that I got in chinatown (duh!). No really, I happen to live in Chinatown but you can get these at Michaels, Etsy, Amazon or other places as well. They aren’t impossible to find. The handle makes them the perfect little carrier for your sweet treat. Shutterfly has soooooooo many cute stickers to choose from. I don’t even know how I decided on these two. I probably just closed my eyes and pointed at my screen. Seriously, they’re all so cute. And of course, depending on what you’re using it for, you can add a photo.

Shutterfly customized Christmas stickers / The Sweet Escape

This is the Crafted with Love sticker design.

Shutterfly customized Christmas stickers / The Sweet Escape

And this is the Peace, Love, Cookies Sticker design. Shutterfly customized Christmas stickers / The Sweet Escape

Shutterfly customized Christmas stickers / The Sweet Escape Then just have fun dressing up your boxes with some ribbon or gift toppers and you have a freak’n adorable little something for someone special. Just try not to eat all the gifts before your done. 
Shutterfly customized Christmas stickers / The Sweet Escape Shutterfly customized Christmas stickers / The Sweet EscapeIf you just can’t get enough of personalizing everything you can get your hands on, check out my personalized holiday photo cards from Shutterfly that I ordered this year. They are so pretty….and I don’t just mean the huge photo of myself plastered on them.

 

PRETTY TECH: free holiday deer wallpaper download

Annnd…it’s December already. No idea how that happened!?! Well friends it’s been ages since I’ve done a free wallpaper download so let this be an early Christmas present. I just love this deer I have up this year so much that I want you all to enjoy him too. You may recognize him from his work in Merry magazine as well as my latest Cricut Design Star wall decal project. He’s kinda a big deal.

Free digital download / Christmas Deer / The Sweet Escape

Download the holiday deer for your desktop hereFree digital download / Christmas Deer / The Sweet Escape

Download the holiday deer wallpaper for your phone hereFree digital download / Christmas Deer / The Sweet Escape

Download the holiday deer for your tablet here. 

If you like this guy, check out our cozy sweater wallpapers. Keep your tech nice and warm this winter.