{RELAXING: spa time for spa week}

WaySpa.com Spa Week / The Sweet EscapeWho doesn’t love a little time at the spa right? Like seriously, who doesn’t? I want to meet these people. Actually no I don’t, they’re probably miserable.

So I’m not sure if you’re already in the know, but this is the first year that I discovered Spa Week by WaySpa.com. Man! How did I not know about this sooner?! From April 21-27 you can enjoy amazing spa treatments for incredibly discounted prices from participating WaySpa.com spas. Basically all these great spas have a menu of luxe treatments that are all $50 – which is about 50% off for most of them! It’s the perfect time to spoil yourself without going broke or feeling guilty about it. (BTW – you should NEVER feel guilty about treating yourself)

My pampering of choice was a deluxe paraffin treatment and a foot massage pedicure and Mary Cohr customized facial at the Moksa Day Spa in Toronto.

Way Spa.com Spa Week: moksa day spa / The

I felt comfortable and welcome right away in the clean & intimate white space filled with light.

Spa Week at Moksa Day Spa / The Sweet Escape

Keep reading to find out about my afternoon of pampering at Moksa Day Spa. If you live in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, or Ottawa – check it out the list of participating spas and get yourself some pampering ASAP!

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{SPACES: 10 gallery walls that inspire}

I love gallery walls so much. I think it’s because I’m such a collector and can be indecisive at times and a gallery wall let’s me show off of a bunch of my favourite things. Although there usually is an order to the madness but that part seems to come naturally to me. I know sorry, isn’t it annoying when someone’s like “I don’t know how to explain  how everything works together, I just know when it’s right”. Ugh. Well it’s the truth, especially when you’re talking about random looking gallery walls like the ones I’ve been inspired by lately.

10 Inspiring gallery walls / The Sweet Escape

The only way I can explain it is finding common dots to connect between the pieces you choose – whether it’s colour, theme, frames, style, subject matter, size, alignment, contrast…just to name a few. A random looking gallery wall is an exercise is knowing the rules then breaking them. All. If you like the look but it doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s ok, take a look at these 10 beautiful examples and learn from them.

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{GIVEAWAY: Win a spot at our flower workshop!}

Welcome back from the long weekend! I hope you all had a great Easter and enjoyed the timely spring weather and a ridiculous amount of food and chocolate. Maybe at some point when your mom (or sister, or aunt, or grandma) was slaving over the stove in the kitchen or spoiling your kids or at your house organizing your tupperware cupboard you thought,  ”hey, she deserves an extra special gift for Mother’s Day this year”.  Well being the mind readers that we are, we have just the thing. As announced a few weeks ago, we’re co-hosting a flower workshop on May 10 (the day before Mother’s Day) with the ladies of Hoopla Event Design & Styling and today we’re announcing a giveaway for a spot for the bloom filled and fabulous afternoon. That’s a $75 value!

Mother's Day Flower WorkshopThere are 2 ways to enter plus a bonus entry:

1. Follow us on Facebook and share this post on your timeline.
2. Follow us on Twitter (@_the_sweetest)  and tweet about the workshop using #SweetHooplaBlooms with a link to this post.
BONUS: Follow us on Instagram and post this image and tag with #SweetHooplaBlooms

* There will be one winner chosen the morning of Friday, April 25 and announced on social media. Contest open to Canadian residence only and transportation to Toronto is not included.

Just to remind you, here are all the details for the event. It’s going to be a great creative and social afternoon! You’ll walk away with a beautiful arrangement for your mom or your space and a bunch of more goodies.

flower-workshop-invite

If you don’t want to take your chances and count on luck, you can buy your tickets here and we’ll refund you the price if you win. So it’s a win-win.

Good luck!

 

 

{ENTERTAINING: 10 flower arrangements for your spring table}

10 Flower Arrangements for Your Spring Table / The Sweet Esccape

Besides being a reason to get together and celebrate with family, don’t you love that Easter is the perfect time to decorate a table full of spring colours? Whether you decide to go all out and invest in spring/easter table setting pieces  with napkins, name settings, crafts, candy, centrepieces etc. or keep it simple you can always count on beautiful flowers to add a big dose of spring. Here’s 10 arrangements to inspire you – each unique in their own way. Try different blooms, vases, materials or transform something from your everyday kitchen into something special for your Easter table this weekend. Read More →

{PHOTOGRAPHY: vintage camera love}

If you stop by here or my Instagram regularly you know that I’m a vintage lover/hunter/obsessed/hoarder. Today I’m so happy to share with you a photo series I did with my talented photographer friend Maya Visnyei that showcases a small selection of one of my favourite vintage collections, my cameras. When it comes to collecting I don’t take it seriously at all. I couldn’t tell you the value or history of any of my cameras, I just collect what I like and what I think looks great together. I also have a closet full of vintage dresses and thought some of them made the perfect backdrop for the cameras and a fun and bold photo series overall. All these cameras were collected from flea markets and garage sales. Never pass by a garage sale without taking a look!

Vintage Camera dress photo series / The Sweet Escape

Vintage Camera dress photo series / The Sweet Escape Vintage Camera dress photo series / The Sweet Escape

Vintage Camera dress photo series / The Sweet Escape Vintage Camera dress photo series / The Sweet Escape
Which one is your favourite combo? It’s too hard for me to choose. Do you have any collections? Feel free to share below what you collect and why you love them so much.  You should consider getting creative with them and make your own little series. I always seem to like things better in groups, don’t you agree? One vintage camera is ok, but a group of cameras is so lovely.

Stay tuned in the next few weeks to see how I used these photos for a project in my space.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Maya Visnyei
ART DIRECTION & STYLING: Melissa / The Sweet Escape

{SPACES: Therapy for your Apartment}

APARTMENT_THERAPYI feel like my passion for home decor has been a little under represented on here lately. I think it may have something to do with me starting my weekly gig as a contributor for Apartment Therapy and that’s where most of my home decor love has been going recently. I just love admiring pretty spaces and finding little way to improve my own space as well as inspire others to do the same. Whether it’s just lots of good ideas for your inspiration board or practical decor tips, there’s no shortage on Apartment Therapy. Here’s a few of recent features of mine to check out. (click on the photo to take you to the link.)

Apartment Therapy feature4

Apartment Therapy feature Apartment Therapy feature2 Apartment Therapy feature3
Apartment Therapy feature5 Apartment Therapy feature6 Apartment Therapy feature7

 Looking for more home decor inspiration? Check out the SPACES section.

{MOTIVATION: ugly days}

So today I had a great post for you about rocking great hair while riding your bike around the city during this beautiful spring weather. Then I woke up and it was snowing. Like a lot. In the middle of April. So instead I have this motivation to get us all through the day.

ugly-days

(photo source)

 

{GOOD EATS: Grill cheese with bourbon onions}

grilled cheese bourbon onion 1

Isn’t it interesting how we’re nostalgic? You hear people say that a song or a smell can take them back to a specific time in their past. I also believe food has this power as well. There are a bunch of foods that take me back to my childhood and a grill cheese sandwich is definitely one. It’s funny because I grew up in an Italian family and grill cheese wasn’t part of the regular menu but it was one of my favourite go-to’s when I had to make my own meal. To this day it’s such a comfort food. I mean common, melted cheese + bread. Best combo! As an adult I still love grill cheese (my hips not as much) but I’ve learned to make some more grown up versions. Keep reading to see my latest recipe for grill cheese with bourbon onions using Kraft Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia. The result is extra creamy and melt in your mouth.

I like to use shredded cheese when making a grill cheese because it’s convenient and it melts faster. I wanted try out Kraft Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia because I thought it would be even MORE gooey and creamy and I was right. It’s available in three flavours – Creamy Mozza, Creamy Heard & Garlic and Creamy Mexicana. I decided to stick with the Mozza so I could add my own flavour with the bourbon onions. The recipe is a bit loosy goosy because you kinda wing it a bit depending on how many you’re making and your preferences.

GRILL CHEESE WITH BOURBON ONION:

• 1 package of Kraft Creamy Mozza Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia
• a loaf of bread of your choice
• one red onion
• olive oil
• brown sugar
• bourbon
• butter
• salt & pepper

The directions and amounts below are for two sandwiches. Adjust accordingly.

grilled cheese bourbon onion 3

First step is to caramelize the onions. I’m all for shortcuts in the kitchen but there’s no shortcut when it comes to this. It just takes time to do it right but it’s so worth it, the flavour is amazing. Heat up your pan over medium with about a tbsp each of butter & olive oil. Thinly slice up half of a large red onion and place in a pan. Once they’ve slightly browned add about 1 tbsp of brown sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved add 1 tbsp of bourbon. Keep stirring until the strong alcohol flavour has evaporated and make sure all brown bits from the bottom are removed. After about 15-20 minutes you will end up with some flavour packed bourbon infused caramelized onions.   grilled cheese bourbon onion 2 Butter one side of all your pieces of bread then place a generous amount of the onions on one half of each sandwich. grilled cheese bourbon onion 4 grilled cheese bourbon onion 76 After place a generous amount of the Kraft Shredded cheese with a touch of Philadelphia on top of the onions. (note: next time I would put a layer of the cheese both below and above the onions)

grilled cheese bourbon onion 8

Place the top slice on your sandwiches and they’re ready for the grill! grilled cheese bourbon onion 5

Use a little bit of butter in the pan to get that beautiful golden crust. Cook over low to medium heat and keep an eye on them. Once the cheese has melted on one side, flip over to melt on the other.

grilled cheese bourbon onion 6At this point your kitchen should smell amazing! It requires a bit of patience to get the cheese to melt just perfectly but then you get this creamy melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The drippy melting cheese is from using shredded cheese. You don’t get quite the same result with slices. I really noticed that extra bit of creaminess with the added Philadelphia to the Kraft Shredded cheese. It really was a melt you won’t forget.
grilled cheese bourbon onion 9Isn’t your mouth just watering about now? You can try this recipe which is something I cooked up or you can stop by the Kraft website for more recipes using Kraft Shredded Cheese with a Touch of Philadelphia. grilled cheese bourbon onion 10

If you’re a cheese lover like me and love to share recipes, join the discussion on twitter. Kraft Canada is hosting a #TouchofPhillyCheese twitter party on April 16 at 9:00pm.

mmmm….cheese.

Disclosure: Although this post has been generously sponsored by Kraft Canada, the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect Kraft Canada.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY, STYLE & ART DIRECTION: Melissa / The Sweet Escape