Weekend Edition

Valentine's Day cards in London OntarioI realize that Valentine’s Day has been derided in today’s society for it’s over-commercialization. Everyone grumbles about the expensive dinners, over-priced flowers, and red everything! And I don’t deny that big business has put it’s grubby hands all over this long-standing holiday. But being European, I thrive on tradition and romance. 

I’m thrilled to celebrate a day devoted to love. Whether you spend it with your significant other, your family or even your pets, love should be enjoyed in all its glorious forms. And although I realize that we should express our love for each other every day of the year, there is nothing wrong with having a day where you go that extra step for someone special. In that vein, here are a few special ways to share your feeling on Valentine’s Day and maybe stretch the lovefest all weekend long!

  • Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate should be the anthem of this day. So when I found this decadent creation from Louise at Cygnet Kitchen, I knew the boy and I would be doing some indulging this weekend!
  • The art of letter writing has become almost extinct in this day and age. That’s why the written word can still elicit more tears of joy than a sprakly anything. When I came across this list of 9 Most Memorable Love Letters, I realized that letters don’t have to take hours or become long missives…a few special words can go a long way.
  • Everyone says that the most romantic city in the world is Paris. And yes, it’s true. But I’ve found this list of 15 Most Romantic Getaways Around the World that give Paris a run for it’s money. I just may be adding these to my bucket list!

Wishing all of you a fantastic weekend of love and indulgence!

Becoming a Little French

Books about Paris, France focused on fashion, food and styrle - Amost French, Parisian Chic, Paris Letters, French WomenSo I realize that I am a Polish girl living in Canada…but in my head, there are days, when I feel utterly and completely French!!! I know…shocking, right?! But I feel that I’m not alone in this grand delusion. Hundreds if not thousands of women around the world are keen to find the french girl within. We are riveted by tales of great french passions, secrets of effortless beauty, and simple orgasmic cuisine (a fresh baguette, good cheese and a bottle of wine have been known to illicit some interesting sounds out of this girl!). And we all want to experience it for ourselves.

Do you know what I blame for my personal addiction to this fantasy world? My love of reading! And I plan on taking any of you willing readers down the rabbit hole with me. Here are my top four books to feed your inner French Fille.

1. Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull

I got this book a number of years ago, just after my first visit to Paris. I was smitten with the most romantic city in the world and wanted desperately to live there. Of course, that wasn’t going to become reality anytime soon. So I settled for some vicarious living through Sarah’s account of navigating life in the City of Lights (the good, the bad, and the ugly). For all the amusing horror, this is a seductive book that only intensified my dreams of returning to Paris over and over!

2. Parisian Chic a Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange

The fascination with the French sense of style is not mine alone. Many books have been written on how to achieve that almost impossibly uncontrived sense of je ne sais quois that is key to a real Frenchwoman’s look. The difference with this book is that it’s author is a true icon in the fashion world, and yet she writes this book like your best girlfriend, breaking down the secrets of french allure into easy to understand and adapt rules. And if you ever find yourself in Paris, Ines shares the best places to outfit your inner french goddess.

3. French Women for All Seasons by Mireille Guiliano

Knowing my penchant for becoming french, my sister gave me this book for one of my birthdays. I was thrilled to slip further into my francophile addiction, immersing myself into the french way of life. Mireille, best known for her debut book. French Women Don’t Get Fat, delves into the french lifestyle including cooking, shopping, entertaining and even exercising. The best part are the author’s own anecdotes of living in Paris and New York. It was a hit with me right from the start, and I go back to it time and again.

4. Paris Letters by Janice Macleod

Finally, this last book is my newest addition to a must read for any wannabe French girl. It was lent to me by a friend, and I have fallen completely under the spell of Janice’s writing…and painting. For anyone who’s ever thought of throwing it all away and running off to Paris, this is the book for you! The author also has a small Etsy Shop where she sells her beautifully penned and illustrated letters via a subscription. A beautiful and thoughtful gift idea for any travel lover on your list!

I hope you get a chance to check out these great reads. I would love to hear your recommendations for some fantastic escapist reading.

Weekend Edition

Snow covered trees - winter in Victoria Park, London OntarioThe last few days London has been hit by a lot of snow. Might be a little late for that white Christmas, but mother nature is certainly making up for her tardiness and laying a rather large blanket of the fluffy stuff over the entire region…and I know she’s not done anytime soon. I’ll have to start getting creative about some in-home entertainment since I’m not a fan of the cold.

While I’m figuring out my hibernation options, I’ll be enjoying these weekend links. Hope you do too!

  • I’m a huge fan of Reese Witherspoon and she has a new movie called Wild coming out. It’s based on a true story of a thousand mile journey along the Pacific Coast that one woman undertook to discover her true self. If you want more inspiration of self-discovery, check out these 8 women who’ve also set out on some amazing adventures.
  • Montreal is my European home in Canada and I’ve never gone a year without visiting at least once. But this time of year the temperature in Quebec is brutal and you couldn’t get me out there with five coats on. So instead I enjoy the beautiful instagram snaps from @livemontreal. It’s almost like being there…but warmer!
  • Although the holidays are now a distant memory and crazy New Year’s resolutions are haunting my dreams, I’m still not willing to give up on delicious treats. I’ll be indulging my taste buds with some yummy hot drink recipes and stunning photography from the gorgeous Linda Lomelino on her blog Call Me Cupcake.

Stay warm friends!

My 2015 Intentions

2015 resolutions on my desk by Cobblestones and CappuccinosI’m baaack! I’ve been having the most wonderful time over the holidays indulging in family, friends, and food. It’s been a whirl wind of twinkling lights, bubbly treats and sleeping in. And although we didn’t get a white Christmas in London, the boy and I have enjoyed the cold weather. We even managed to strap on skates for a spin on the rink at Victoria Park, rewarded by obligatory hot chocolate (bribes work well to get me out of my comfort zone).

But I can’t believe we’re already five days into 2015! The last few months have flown by as I’ve shared my life’s simple pleasures with you. So first of all, I want to thank you for stopping by my little blog and taking the time to chat with me and give me feedback on how I’m doing. I love knowing what you all think and enjoy reading about on the blog. And it’s been fun bringing the things I enjoy to you. Of course, the new year means more surprises, adventures and indulgences. I hope you stick around and share those with me over the coming days. In the meantime, my biggest concern is trying to remember that “5″ every time I write down the date. Ugh, this will take a few more weeks.

I don’t know about you but every year, as champagne bubbles hit my brain and the clock strikes midnight, my bleary brain attempts to make resolutions, which promptly get broken or forgotten as soon as the real world comes into focus. So in an attempt to break this unsuccessful habit, but not willing to give up on bettering myself, I’ve decided to come up with some intentions for 2015, rather than resolutions. Intentions seem more doable and more flexible than resolutions. And this year, instead of making them on January 1, I’ve taken the time to really think about what I want to accomplish this year. So without further ado, here are my 2015 Intentions (in no particular order).

1. Make a new dish that requires blood, sweat, and tears to accomplish. Okay, hopefully not all those. But I want to really make something I wouldn’t normally try. Something completely from scratch that takes hours to prepare and minutes to inhale.

2. Try one new thing each month. Whether it’s a food, an activity, or a destination. This seems like a doable thing, an intention which should further my horizon. Make me a better me – well on the way to becoming “The Most Interesting Woman in the World”!

3.Travel MORE! This one won’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me. But this year specifically I want to head to Malta. It’s been a destination the boy and I have discussed for the last three years and have yet to pin down. Hopefully, saying this out loud will commit me to accomplishing it in 2015. This is definitely an intention I’m looking forward to completing!

I will keep you all posted on my successes or failures, and I would love to hear what you have planned for 2015.

Guilt-free Treats and Giveaway!

Natural bath products - Creamsicle flavour bath bomb made by Clean TreatsEvery European girl, including this one, has a weakness for indulging in luxurious body care. Whether a relaxing massage, a moisturizing body mask, an invigorating scrub or a warm bath, taking care of your body has an impact not only on your physical self but also on your mind. Anytime I can take time out of the day,or a week, even just 5-10 minutes, I disconnect from the stress of the day and concentrate just on me.

To that effect, I go absolutely wild for scented body care products! The more they smell like my favourite treats (think chocolate chip ice cream, cupcakes, cookies), the quicker they find their way to my shopping cart. So when I discovered Mellanie’s new line of natural handcmade soap, bath and body care products, Clean Treats, I was in heaven! And of course I had to share my discovery with you guys!

Assortment of natural handcrafted soaps by Clean TreatsNatural Soap made by Clean Treats - Pumpkin spice flavourMellanie hand makes her beautiful products with natural and nourishing ingredients like essential oils, shea and cocoa butters, and even coffee! With a view toward them being visually appealing and smelling extraordinary, the entire line is like having a bake shop in your bathroom. My slice of the Salted Coconut Custard soap is currently enveloping the space around my sink in a fantasy island scent (and I have to keep shooing my curious cat from sampling the bubbles). And even though the boy is more of a shower than a bath guy, the Vanilla Gelato Body Bomb had him hogging the bathroom for an hour!

Natural body care product made by Clean Treats - various flavours of their body scrubI asked Mellanie a few questions about her line and her inspiration, and here is what she had to say:

How did you come up with the name Clean Treats? It actually took a lot of brainstorming, revising and asking friends and family which names they liked best. In the end, Clean Treats was such an obvious choice. I loved the double meaning of “clean” in that my products a) clean your body and b) are naturally “clean” without the chemicals that are commonly used in other commercial bath and body products. The “treats” idea is also a very important part of who I want to be as a company; I love creating products that people like to spoil themselves with.

Do you test all your products personally? YES! I do not, nor will I ever, test any of my products on animals. I only test on humans! My family and I are the first ones to test each of my products. When I feel that I have it “right”, I often send my testers out to friends and neighbours to be sure each one is a winner before they make it into my store.

 Earl Grey and juniper flavour - natural soap made by Clean Treats in London, OntarioEarl Grey and Juniper natural handcrafted Soapby Clean Treats Bath & BodyLavender Bliss - natural homemade soap by Clean Treats Bath & BodyHow do you come up with new products/scents? It is about 75% selfish actually. I love to cook and bake so many of my ideas come from the foods I love; anything pumpkin, coconut or chocolate are always on my mind. I am also a big gardener, so many of the scents I love are botanical or floral like lavender and mint. It’s really a creative process for me – I research different ingredients and brainstorm ideas for how they would work in a possible product.

Who inspires you? There are so many other soapers and women entrepreneurs out there that inspire me! I am a member of several online groups where we all share ideas and support each other in our businesses. It’s so great to find a community like that. There are a few soap companies in particular though that I look to for inspiration; The Soap Kitchen is a big one because I love the owner’s enthusiasm and spirit. You really get a sense of the joy and care she puts into her products.

Boho Gold - Natural soap handmade by Clean Treats in London Ontario  Natural bath products - Snowball butter bomb by Clean Treats Bath & BodyWhat is the most indulgent thing you’ve done for yourself in the last few months? I picked my daughter up from school early (she is 7) and we went for manicures and pedicures. It was so much fun to spoil ourselves together. I really believe that everyone should take time to treat themselves and the ones they love. Reconnect with your own joy, even if it is only for a few minutes.

Natural body care products - Lavender body butter by Clean TreatsNatural bath products - Vanilla gelato bath bombs by Clean TreatsAs you can see from her answers, Mellanie has an amazing attitude toward her business and her customers. The natural bath and body care products are so popular that she quickly sells out as soon as a new batch of freshly made items hits the Clean Treats shop. She’s already sold out of most of the seasonal items but there are plenty of others to choose from. If you want to surprise someone for Christmas or indulge your own senses, you’ll have to hurry. The deadline for Christmas shipping is December 18th!

Natural Body Care - Chocomint body butter by Clean Treats Bath & BodyHowever, I’m super excited to announce that Mellanie has generously offered one of her most popular items (and my new obsession!!!!!) the Choco Mint Whipped Body Frosting as my first official blog giveaway! A fantastic, lavish treat just in time for Christmas! It’s super easy to enter and the winner will be chosen from all entrants via a random draw December 17, 2014 at 6pm. The name of the lucky person will be announced on the blog and on social media. You have until then to play along.

** UPDATE ** The WINNER of the draw is Frank Morello.  Thank you to everyone who entered!

 

HOW TO ENTER

1. Facebook: “Like” both Clean Treats and Cobblestones and Cappuccinos pages and share the Facebook Giveaway post on your page with an awesome comment. If you already “Like” one of us, you’re halfway there!

OR

2. Twitter: “Follow” both @cleantreatsbath and @CobblesandCapps and retweet our giveaway tweet. If you’re already following one of us, you’re one click away from entering!

OR

3. For an extra entry, do both!

Good luck to everyone!