Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

Cherry vanilla oatmeal

There’s something about cherry and vanilla that go so well together. When I was younger, one of my favourite drinks was Dr. Pepper. That sweet cherry-vanilla flavour was pure happiness to me. Years later, although soft drinks are no longer part of my diet, the love for cherry vanilla still remains. My beau and I visited the Jean Talon Market this pas weekend to stock up on some veggies and we came across a stand of fresh cherries that were just too good to pass up. Although I keep cherries stocked in my freezer on a regular basis, during peak season there’s nothing like the real thing. So with a fridge full of cherries, I began searching for the perfect way to use them. I came across classic recipes like cherry pie, cherries turnovers, cherry bars and cherry crumbles, but I was looking for something different. That’s when it happened, I found a delicious-looking recipe for cherry sauce. After studying a few variations, I came up with my own combining the ingredients I love and omitting those I don’t. The results are absolutely delicious. Here I topped a bowl of steel-cut oats, but this sauce would be just as yummy over Greek yogurt, swirled into cottage cheese or drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

Cherry vanilla sauce

Cherry vanilla oatmeal

Cherries

Cherry vanilla oatmeal

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal
Serves 4

For the cherry vanilla sauce:
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted*
2 tbsp vanilla agave*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 – 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

For the oatmeal:
2 cups steel-cut oats
6 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
Cacao nibs, almond butter, unsweetened coconut, or any other toppings (optional)

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1. Set a small saucepan over medium heat and add the cherries, vanilla agave, vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of water. In a small bowl, combine the remaining water and cornstarch, then add to the cherry mixture. Mix well.

2. Increase the heat to bring the cherry sauce to a boil, mix well, then lower heat and allow the sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes or so.

3. In the meantime, in a medium saucepan combine the steel-cut oats, water and salt. Bring to a boil, the lower heat and allow to simmer 10-20 minutes, depending how crunchy or soft you like your oats.

4. Serve oatmeal in a bowl and top with cherry sauce and other toppings of your choice. I love to add cacao nibs, a small spoonful of almond butter and a sprinkle of coconut.

Bon appétit!

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*A few things to note: This recipe can also be made using frozen cherries. To do this, just use them straight out of the freezer.

*I found vanilla agave at David’s Tea, but feel free to use regular agave or another natural sweetener of your choice. 

Last Days of Summer : Style Edition

End of Summer :: Fashion edition

Blazer // Plaid Shirt // Envelope Clutch // Grey Jeans // Boots
Sleeveless Top // Wristlet // Jeans //
Espadrilles // Jelly Shoes

This past week has shown that even though summer is technically coming to an end, it’s not about to give up on us soon. But it’s inevitable, fall is right around the corner. The good news? It’s the perfect excuse to add a few keys pieces to your closet to transition into the new season. Here, I share with you a few basics that can easily be paired with pretty much anything in your closet and worn (mostly) throughout the year.

One piece I can’t live without is a classic black blazer (seriously, I have must have at least three). This TopShop blazer from Nordstrom is the perfect transitional piece. Pair it with jeans for a casual day look, or slim fit trousers for a more polished look. Plus, it’s the perfect chic summer layering piece to shield yourself from the icy cold of the A/C.

Doc Martens have been around forever (I still remember begging my mom for a pair when I was in high school). Today, you see them worn throughout the year. Paired with cutoffs or skinny jeans, they’ve become a classic staple in most closets. I especially like these original 1460 boots from Union Jack Boots. The minimalistic look makes these an essential for fall (Psst! Word is that even Elle Magazine added these chic black boots to their 2015 Fall Trend Guide).

Those who know me well also know my undying love for Zara. It’s my favourite place to find super comfy basics that won’t break the bank. A black cami and a pair of distressed cropped jeans are all you need to create an effortlessly stylish look.

What are your favorite pieces to wear this time of year?

Summer Skin Rehab & My Favourite Body Scrubs

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I can’t believe I’m saying this, but unfortunately summer is slowly coming to an end. You’ve been lounging around soaking up the sun all summer and now is the perfect time to give your skin some much needed TLC. Of course you’ve been exfoliating once a week already (right?!), but now’s a good time to step up your body care game and keep your skin glowing all through the fall. Here, I share my best tips for extra soft and smooth skin, as well as a few of my favourite scrubs.

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Exfoliating 101

1. Exfoliate in the mornings before applying your moisturizer or, when exfoliating your face, before your toner, moisturizer and sun protection. Did you know? Your makeup will last longer on exfoliating skin!

2. Exfoliate gently using a circular motion. This is the most effective motion when it comes to preventing ingrown hairs and is way more gentle than the traditional back-and-forth motion.

3. Be careful not to irritate your skin. If you start to notice changes in the texture or appearance of your skin, take it down a notch. And keep in mind that it’s normal to see layers of dead skin cells in your shower. It only means that there was a lot of build up that needed to be sloughed away before your beautiful radiant skin could show through.

4. Follow your exfoliation with a hydrating body cream to seal in moisture and finish with sun protection to protect all those new skin cells from the harmful effects of the sun.

Now that you know the basics, check out the scrubs that my skin has been loving.

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Jealous Body ScrubIMG_4750

I’ve fell in love with Jealous Body Scrub when I first tried the Coconut + Coffee scrub, and nearly lost my mind when I tried the Almond + Coffee scrub. Made with all natural ingredients, the Almond + Coffee scrub is amazing if you have normal to dry skin. It also does wonders for diminishing the appearance of stretch marks, cellulite, rough skin, age spots, and the list goes on. It takes a little longer in the shower since you have to let it sit on your skin for 10 minutes, but the results are well worth the wait. Super soft skin that smells amazing.
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Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish
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This body scrub has a permanent place in my shower. Originally recommended to me by a friend, I haven’t been able to be without it ever since. It’s made with real brown sugar crystals to gently buff away dry skin cells, four nourishing oils including evening primrose, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and jojoba  oil, ginseng root extract, peppermint to invigorate your senses, and finally citrus oil to brighten and tone your skin. While I’m not usually a fan of citrusy scents, this scrub is the exception to the rule. It smells so good, it even has my beau snuggling up a little closer every time I use it.
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Dermalogica Exfoliating Body Scrub & Buffing Cloth
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 I only discovered the Exfoliating Body Scrub just a few weeks ago, but I’m already hooked. I’m a huge fan of Dermalogica products (as you can see here, here here and here), so it goes without saying that I already had a strong feeling this scrub wouldn’t disappoint. First, let’s talk about the scent which is so refreshing and envigorating. It’s formulated with a bunch of essential oils, including lavender, orange, sandalwood and rosemary, which do wonders at revitalizing your body and turning your shower into a spa. The formula contains pulverized olive, fig and date seeds to gently slough away dead skin cells, and it’s infused with rice bran, papaya enzymes and green tea to soften and soothe skin. After using this, my skin is super duper soft with just a hint of that soothing spa scent. Dermalogica also helped me to discover their Ultimate Buffing Cloth, a cloth made from Nylon fiber that does wonders at exfoliating those hard-to-reach areas of the body. Just add your favourite body wash and you’ve got a little 2-in-1 action going on in your shower! The cloth dries super quickly and can easily be thrown in the wash to disinfect.
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I love discovering new body scrubs. Which are your favourites?

Ciaté x Olivia Palermo Makeup Collection

Ciaté x Olivia Palermo Makeup Collection

Olivia Palermo is (officially) a beauty queen. Back in January, Ciaté announced that it welcomed the stylish socialite as the brand’s creative director, collaborating on a total of four makeup and nail collections. The first of the collaboration arrived at Sephora stores in May with a gorgeous nail polish collection, including Palermo’s signature red shade. Now, it’s all about the makeup. The collection includes blush/bronzer duos cased in sleek gold and leather compacts, long-wearing metallic eyeshadows and satin soft lipsticks. If you thought that Ciaté was only about nail polishes, it’s time to take another look at the chic London brand.

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Cheekbone Cheat Blusher/Bronzer Duos

Ciaté x Olivia Palermo Makeup Collection - Cheekbone Cheek Duo Seaside Park + Bluff Point

There’s no doubt that Olivia Palermo has amazing cheekbones. So it’s only natural that she created the perfect compact to achieve that sculpted look. The Cheekbone Cheat compact comes in two shades – Seaside Park, a peachy palette designed for olive and darker skin tones, and Bluff Point, a deep pink for those with fairer skin tones. The formulas is velvety soft with great pigmentation that can be applied lightly for a subtle look, or layered for a more dramatic effect. These formulas are great for all skin types, but especially those with oily or combination skin, since they contain bamboo extract which is key to absorbing oil and achieving a flawless look. I’ve used the bronzer side to lightly contour and add a little warmth to my skin, and the blush to add a pop of colour to the apples of my cheeks.

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Satin Kiss Lipsticks

Ciaté x Olivia Palermo Makeup Collection - Satin soft lipsticks - Cashmere and Truffle

Ciaté x Olivia Palermo Makeup Collection - Satin soft lipsticks - Cashmere and Truffle swatches

{From left to right – Truffle and Cashmere}

If OP has taught us anything in the beauty department, it’s that the classics are always in style. These lipsticks are the perfect representation of that. First, I can’t talk about this lipstick without talking about the gorgeous packaging. Each comes in a gold case with the Ciaté bow on the top and “Olivia Palermo” on the side. Open the bullet to expose the lipstick and imprinted on the side are a bow and the initials OP. Simple, stylish, classic! The formula is creamy and moisturizing, yet lightweight. The colour is very pigmented and gives your lips a semi-matte finish. Plus, they are unscented, a feature that all of us who are sensitive to highly-scented makeup will appreciate. The Satin Kiss Lipsticks come in four shades – Velveteen (a classic red), Truffle (a pretty pink), Cashmere (a natural nude) and Praline (a bold burgundy).

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Precious Metal Primer and Pigment Duos

Ciaté x Olivia Palermo Makeup Collection Precious Metal Eyeshadows

Ciaté x Olivia Palermo Makeup Collection Precious Metal Eyeshadows swatches

{From left to right – Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road, Collins Ave., Washington Ave.}

Although these eyeshadow duos are not part of the Ciaté London x Olivia Palermo Collection, they are just too pretty not to include in this post. These highly metallic shades come in four highly-pigmented shades ranging from bronze and light bronze, to gold and rose gold. They also each come with a small eyeshadow brush perfect for applying the metallic pigment to your lid. The cool thing about these is that the primer is integrated into the packaging. Just pop the top to apply the primer to your lids (a definite must if you want your pigments to stay put), then unscrew the lid to shake out the pigment and press onto your lids using the mini brush. The shades are stunning (as you can see above) and the formula lasts a super long time. These eyeshadows give new meaning to summer goddess.

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The Ciaté London x Olivia Palermo collection will be available in September 2015 at Sephora. Cheekbone Cheat Blusher/Bronzer Duos will be available for $32 USD each and the Satin Kiss Lipsticks will be available for $24 USD each. The Precious Metal Eyeshadows are available on Ciatelondon.com for $28 USD each.

Disclaimer: Although some products are provided for review, all opinions expressed are my own and 100% honest.

A Fresh Take on a Crudité Platter

Fresh crudité platter

I like it raw, especially when it comes to veggies. But let’s face it – most of the crudité platters you come across can be a little… well, déjà vu. Carrot sticks, celery sticks and cucumber rounds are all too common when it comes to presenting veggies at a gathering (and we’re all guilty of it). Take a walk through your farmer’s market and you’ll discover a ton of veggies that are dying to freshen up your veggie platter. While the best veggies to pick depend on the season, I wanted to offer a few new suggestions as to what I am loving alongside my hummus, and unique ways of presenting old favourites. I also like to present my platter on a cutting board, or something different than the traditional platter.

Fresh crudité platter

Fresh crudité platter

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Carrots – Add a new twist by choosing colourful heirloom carrots. Cut them lengthwise and leave the greens attached for a rustic vibe.

Striped beets – I am obsessed with the beautiful pink shade of this veggie. Serve them raw, cut into wedges or thinly sliced.

Asparagus spears – Just blanch and shock them to retain that delicious crunch and seal in that vibrant green.

Purple (and yellow and white) cauliflower – These both add an interesting texture and colour to your platter. If you don’t like eating them raw, you can steam them quickly to make them easier to chew.

Heirloom cherry tomatoes – A delicious way to add colour and contrast to a platter.

Fingerling potatoes – Choose long, skinny potatoes and boil them until just tender. Allow them to cool before slicing in half.

Fennel – The crisp anise-flavoured veggie pairs exceptionally well with dips and tapenades. Slice them up and serve them raw.

Yellow and green beans – Perfectly sized to scoop up dip, simply trim the ends and serve them raw.

Endives – These small leaves were made to scoop. Separate the leaves and serve them whole.

Zucchini – Unexpected, but so yummy! Cut them into thick rounds or thin spears and serve them raw.

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Now that you have all your veggies, get creative with your platter. Prep your veggies so that they are in bite-sized pieces. Arrange the veggies so that colours contrast against each other. Don’t be shy to add an abundance of veggies and finish by garnishing with a few herbs and edible flowers. There are no rules when it comes to creating a crudité platter, but hopefully these tips will help you turn your regular veggie plate into a work of art.