Winter Recipes: Keeping Warm with my Instant Pot Chili

Instant Pot chili is keeping me warm during this nippy time of the year.

And topping it with all the cheese and all the sour cream I could get my hands on. (Sorrynotsorry).

A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili

I often talk about my winter blues on this blog. This year, while there has been some vast improvement, I still find myself in a seasonal slump. I think a lot has to do with the ongoing greyness in the weather. Most recently, Montreal has been hit with freezing rain, and it hasn’t helped the situation.

When I’m feeling all cooped-up indoors, there’s nothing I enjoy more than developing a new recipe. Lately, I’ve been on an Instant Pot kick and so came about my Instant Pot Chili.

A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili

My recipe is a hybrid between a stew and a chili, giving it a more liquid consistency than traditional. This makes my Instant Pot Chili the perfect pairing with corn bread (or even crackers)!

What’s the best part to my Instant Pot Chili? Oh em gee, it is totally the garnishings. Totally. In fact, if you’re looking to thicken up the consistency, the sour cream topping definitely gives it some more oomph.

So while I wait for spring’s arrival, I’ll be getting cozy with a warm bowl of my Instant Pot chili.

How to Make Your Own Instant Pot Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (28 fl oz, about 3 ¼ cups)
  • 1 can kidney beans (about 2 ¼ cups), undrained
  • 1 can tomato sauce (about 2 cups)
  • ¾ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, for garnishing
  • Sour cream, for topping
  • Green onions, chopped, for garnishing

A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili

Yields: 4-5 servings

Directions

Set Instant Pot on the sauté setting and add canola oil.

Once the Instant Pot starts to heat up, add ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the beef is completely cooked. (Helpful tip: You’ll want to keep on mixing the ingredients to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom of the inner pot).

A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili

Scrape off any browned bits off the inner pot. This step is vital – scraping off any cooked bits off the bottom ensures that your Instant Pot properly gets to full pressure. I also suggest using a wooden spoon so as not to scratch up the bottom of your inner pot.

Add water and beef broth and continue to scrape any browned bits. (So get workin’! It may seem repetitive but trust me, it’ll help you prevent from getting the “Burn” warning while you’re cooking.)

A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili

Add diced tomatoes, kidney beans, and tomato sauce on top. No need to mix! You’ll want to keep as much of the liquid at the bottom so that the Instant Pot comes to full pressure.

A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili

Set Instant Pot to manual pressure on high for 15 minutes.

Once the time is up, allow for a natural pressure release, according to your Instant Pot’s directions.

Remove the lid from your Instant Pot and mix all of the ingredients.

Serve in separate bowls and add a dollop of sour cream and garnish with green onions and cheddar cheese.

A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili

How are you keeping warm this winter? Have you ever tried making chili in your Instant Pot?

A warm bowl of chili in a crisp white bowl using the Instant Pot. Here is our very own recipe for Instant Pot Chili
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Instant Pot Chili

A warm bowl of chili made straight from the Instant Pot - perfect way to stay cozy this winter!
Keyword: Instant Pot Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can red kidney beans undrained
  • 1 can tomato sauce

Garnishings

  • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar grated
  • sour cream
  • green onions chopped

Instructions

  • Set Instant Pot on the sauté setting and add canola oil.
  • Once the Instant Pot starts to heat up, add ground beef, onion and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Scrape off any browned bits off the inner pot. This step is vital - scraping off any cooked bits off the bottom ensures that your Instant Pot properly gets to full pressure.
  • Add water and beef broth and continue to scrape any browned bits.
  • Add diced tomatoes, kidney beans, and tomato sauce on top.
  • Set Instant Pot to manual pressure on high for 15 minutes.
  • Once the time is up, allow for a natural pressure release, according to your Instant Pot’s directions.
  • Remove the lid from your Instant Pot and mix all of the ingredients.
  • Serve in separate bowls and add a dollop of sour cream and garnish with green onions and cheddar cheese.

5 Things Every Mom Should Tell Herself

Going into motherhood, I knew I wouldn’t have everything figured out. I was ready to face challenges and hurdles.

Going into parenthood is no easy feat... mamas, take care of yourself. Here are 5 things every mom should tell herself

…but I wish I told myself these things along the way.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a mom of a two year old (ie.: a two-nager), so I still consider myself a new parent. Yup, I’m still figuring things out, changing routines, and re-thinking strategies. In fact, I believe that once you enter motherhood, everything will be an ongoing learning experience (as life always is).

Two years ago, as my little guy entered this world, I wish I had more confidence in my decisions – that I trusted myself more. I wish that I vocalized myself better… for both my well-being and his.

There are things every mom should consistently tell herself.

5 Things Every Mom Should Tell Herself

1. Remind Yourself to “Ignore the Unsolicited Advice”

…because they’re a dime a dozen.

The moment I found out I was pregnant, I found myself caught-up in conversations where others gave me their 2 cents.

And I knew it wasn’t coming from a bad place.

But trust me, it gets overwhelming. This day in age, we are already overloaded with tons of information. Mamas: when advice comes at you unexpectedly, don’t feel like you have to respond or agree to it. You know what’s best for your family. I recommend to just kindly nod and move on to the next topic.

2. “I deserve to treat myself.”

When it comes to mom guilt, I was totally feeling it every time I would do something for myself. I’m grateful because my husband is totally a hands-on dad. He often encourages me to go out and see friends or enjoy something like a day at the spa.

But I couldn’t help but feel guilty.

Mamas, feeling your best and indulging in self-care is not selfish. You have to feel your best in order to do your best. It’s all about a healthy balance.

Going into parenthood is no easy feat... mamas, take care of yourself. Here are 5 things every mom should tell herself

3. Don’t Forget to Ask: “Can You Help Me?”

There is no shame in asking for help. As a former retail manager, I was all about delegating tasks and leveraging my team and their abilities.

Then, comes in: motherhood. At the beginning, I was trying to do everything on my own. Being close to burnout, I had to get my head in the game. What would ‘manager-Lisa’ do?

It’s okay to ask for help. You’re not expected to be Wonder Woman (although, she is pretty awesome).

4. “Let’s order pizza tonight!

You’re human. Take the apron off, put the sponge down. Your house doesn’t need to be sparkling. You’re not expected to always prepare something homecooked. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.

5. Remind Yourself: “It’s just a phase.”

…at least, most of the time.

Baby’s not doing her nights? Toddler’s starting to do tantrums?

Deep breaths, mama. There’s a way around it and you don’t need to find a solution yesterday. Talk it over with your partner and/or other family members. Ask for help (remember point 3?). So long as you pay attention to the problem and are open to different solutions (that works best for you and your family, of course), then it is likely just another phase.

Going into parenthood is no easy feat... mamas, take care of yourself. Here are 5 things every mom should tell herself

So, mamas, tell me: what are some things you wish you told yourself when you first entered motherhood?

Conversation Hearts Rice Cereal Treats

Homemade conversation hearts for the win. Be mine, Valentine – and here are some rice cereal treats for your enjoyment!

Chat with me this Valentine's Day: here are rice cereal treats dedicated to our favourite conversation hearts.

Ur a QT.

A few weeks ago, I made Sugar Cookie Conversation Hearts on 5 Minutes for Mom. I was so pleased with my creation that I wanted more. You see, conversation heart candies have always been a favourite Valentine candy of mine. Though not the most popular choice, there’s something about them that makes me feels so nostalgic. I’m a softie like that.

Chat with me this Valentine's Day: here are rice cereal treats dedicated to our favourite conversation hearts.

In fact, I was on the hunt for conversation hearts before writing-up my article on 5 Minutes for Mom. For the life of me, I couldn’t find any! I hunted around, drove around town… and absolutely nothing!

This is why I am on such a conversation hearts kick now.

My Conversation Hearts Rice Cereal Treats are really easy to make! I opted for fondant cut-outs to spell out some cute words. I am so eager to serve these on February 14th!

How to Make Conversation Hearts Rice Cereal Treats

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • One drop violet gel food colouring
  • 3 cups rice cereal
  • 3-4 oz. white fondant
  • One drop red gel food colouring

Yields: approx. 6 rice cereal treats

Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add marshmallows and mix.

Once the marshmallows have completely melted, remove from heat.

Add one drop of violet food colouring to the melted marshmallows and stir.

Add rice cereal to the marshmallow mixture and fold.

Spread the rice cereal treat mixture on your lined baking sheet. My trick is that I wet my fingers before spreading the cereal treat mixture to avoid any stickiness.

Chat with me this Valentine's Day: here are rice cereal treats dedicated to our favourite conversation hearts.

Use a heart cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes.

If you have any scraps left over, put them together and re-spread to cut out a couple more hearts.

Allow the cereal treats to set for about an hour.

Place one drop of red gel food colouring on your white fondant. Knead until the fondant is completely tinted.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the fondant so that it’s about ½ of an inch thick.

Chat with me this Valentine's Day: here are rice cereal treats dedicated to our favourite conversation hearts. Chat with me this Valentine's Day: here are rice cereal treats dedicated to our favourite conversation hearts.

Use letter cookie cutters to create words for your rice cereal treats.

Press each fondant letter onto each heart-shaped treat.

Serve and enjoy.

Chat with me this Valentine's Day: here are rice cereal treats dedicated to our favourite conversation hearts. Chat with me this Valentine's Day: here are rice cereal treats dedicated to our favourite conversation hearts. Chat with me this Valentine's Day: here are rice cereal treats dedicated to our favourite conversation hearts.

Chat with me this Valentine's Day: here are rice cereal treats dedicated to our favourite conversation hearts.

What’s your favourite Valentine’s Day candy/chocolate/treat?
Conversation Hearts Rice Cereal Treats
Print Recipe
5 from 13 votes

Rice Cereal Treats Conversation Hearts

Show 'em you care (or tell 'em how cute they are) with these conversation hearts... made out of rice cereal treats!
Cuisine: Dessert
Keyword: conversation hearts, homemade conversation hearts, rice cereal treats

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 drop violet gel food coloring
  • 3 cups rice cereal
  • 3-4 oz. white fondant
  • 1 drop red gel food coloring

Instructions

  • Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add marshmallows and mix.
  • Once the marshmallows have completely melted, remove from heat.
  • Add one drop of violet food colouring to the melted marshmallows and stir.
  • Add rice cereal to the marshmallow mixture and fold.
  • Spread the rice cereal treat mixture on your lined baking sheet. My trick is that I wet my fingers before spreading the cereal treat mixture to avoid any stickiness.
  • Use a heart cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes.
  • If you have any scraps left over, put them together and re-spread to cut out a couple more hearts.
  • Allow the cereal treats to set for about an hour.
  • Place one drop of red gel food colouring on your white fondant. Knead until the fondant is completely tinted.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll out the fondant so that it’s about ½ of an inch thick.
  • Use letter cookie cutters to create words for your rice cereal treats.
  • Press each fondant letter onto each heart-shaped treat.
  • Serve and enjoy.

How to Throw the Ultimate Car-Themed Birthday Party

Vroom, vroom – hop in and let’s party on! Here’s how to throw a car-themed birthday party.

Thinking of throwing a car-themed birthday party? Here are all the elements you need... down to the last detailed touch! Vroom, vroom!

A party fit for any car lover… and in our family’s case, our little toddler!

This summer, Leo started showing a clear interest in cars and trucks. I think it all started with a Tonka truck with purchased for him – and from that point on, our house has just been filled with all sorts of toy vehicles. (Everywhere, may I add.)

I’m all about themed birthday parties. When he turned one, we threw him an amazing Jungle Party, which took place in a hall. In my family’s Filipino tradition, turning one calls for a huge celebration.

For Leo’s second birthday, we kept it small but of course, still stuck with a theme. Hall or no hall, I still wanted to go all out for food and decorations. Without a doubt, I put together a car-themed birthday party and you know what? No regrets. I had so much fun with it.

Thinking of throwing a car-themed birthday party? Here are all the elements you need... down to the last detailed touch! Vroom, vroom!

Looking for a few ideas for your next themed party? Here are a few suggestions for a car-themed one!

How to Throw the Ultimate Car-Themed Birthday Party

When it comes to home parties, I think it’s all about the sweet table. In a hall, you can have fun with cenrepieces, place settings, and linens.

Thinking of throwing a car-themed birthday party? Here are all the elements you need... down to the last detailed touch! Vroom, vroom! Thinking of throwing a car-themed birthday party? Here are all the elements you need... down to the last detailed touch! Vroom, vroom!

For Leo’s car-themed birthday party, I emphasized our dining area: complete with a colour scheme and fitting snacks and desserts.

Traffic Light Rice Cereal Treats

Thinking of throwing a car-themed birthday party? Here are all the elements you need... down to the last detailed touch! Vroom, vroom!

Made up of fondant and rice cereal treats, these were so fun to make! (Psst: to save time, I purchased ready-made rice cereal treats so that I can just focus on the fondant work).

Motor Oil

Yup, our guests were gulping on motor oil… er, I mean, soda! Duh!

Just remove the labels off of your favourite dark soda and place a label that indicates it as “Motor Oil.” So easy, right?!

Race Flag Cupcakes

Thinking of throwing a car-themed birthday party? Here are all the elements you need... down to the last detailed touch! Vroom, vroom!

Again, with these treats, I opted for a quick cake mix so that I could place all of my energy and focus on the fondant pieces.

Jumper Cables & Nuts and Bolts

When it comes to themed parties, it’s fun to give well-known snacks new names. This way, they can fit right in with your theme.

Thinking of throwing a car-themed birthday party? Here are all the elements you need... down to the last detailed touch! Vroom, vroom!

#2 Track Cake

Ladies and gents, the pièce de résistance my homemade #2 Track Cake. Yes, yes, yes: all made by moi!

Thinking of throwing a car-themed birthday party? Here are all the elements you need... down to the last detailed touch! Vroom, vroom!

A homemade chocolate cake, formed to be the number 2 (with the help of two circle cakes and one square one). The black and white panels are made of fondant. The green trim and grey road is made up of my homemade buttercream (check out my buttercream frosting recipe here!). Also, I borrowed two of Leo’s Hot Wheels cars – which he took back right after he blew candles.

What do you think of our car-themed birthday party?

Homemade Pizza Pockets for Valentine’s Day

Want a romantic lunch? These homemade pizza pockets will make your heart skip a beat.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

These homemade pizza pockets are in the shape of a heart - so perfect for Valentine's Day. And psst: they're easy to make, too!

Recently, I noticed Leo taking a liking to pizza pockets. Every time we go to my parents’ place, my mom has a box of frozen pizza pockets ready to be nuked in the microwave.

Then I thought: Why can’t we just make our own? And so, I recently whipped up my very own homemade pizza pockets.

These homemade pizza pockets are in the shape of a heart - so perfect for Valentine's Day. And psst: they're easy to make, too!

At first, I was a little intimidated. I told myself: “You’re totally cray-cray, girl! That dough will be impossible to make!”

Well, I should have more faith in myself. Yes, these make take longer than your typical store-bought lunch. But I am loving the fact that I know exactly what ingredients are going in them.

Plus, being able to shape my homemade pizza pockets into hearts makes it that much more fun!

Here’s how to make them:

Homemade Pizza Pockets for Valentine’s Day

For the dough:

  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ finely grated parmesan cheese
  • Pinch salt
  • ¾ tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup butter, cold

For the filling:

  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar, shredded

To assemble:

  • Heart-shaped cookie cutter
  • Melted butter + brush

 

Yields: Approx. 6 heart-shaped pizza pockets (depending on the size of your cookie cutter)

These homemade pizza pockets are in the shape of a heart - so perfect for Valentine's Day. And psst: they're easy to make, too!

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

Begin by mixing egg, milk, and garlic in an electric mixer (with a dough hook, if you have one).

In a separate bowl, sift together parmesan, salt, baking powder.

Cut your cold butter into cubes and add into your dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter to blend all of the ingredients together.

Add the flour and butter mixture into your wet ingredients, while mixing on medium speed.

Once the dough has formed, sprinkle a clean working surface + your rolling pin with flour.

Roll the dough so that it’s about ¼ of an inch thick. Use your cookie cutter to cut them into heart shapes.

Place each heart-shaped dough on your lined baking sheet.

Fill every other heart-shaped dough with tomato paste and cheese. Top with another heart-shape and use a fork to press & seal all around the edges.

These homemade pizza pockets are in the shape of a heart - so perfect for Valentine's Day. And psst: they're easy to make, too!

Brush each pizza pocket with melted butter and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the crust starts to turn golden brown.

These homemade pizza pockets are in the shape of a heart - so perfect for Valentine's Day. And psst: they're easy to make, too! These homemade pizza pockets are in the shape of a heart - so perfect for Valentine's Day. And psst: they're easy to make, too!

Let me know if you end up making these delicious pizza pockets! What are your plans for February 14?

These homemade pizza pockets are in the shape of a heart - so perfect for Valentine's Day. And psst: they're easy to make, too!
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Heart Shaped Homemade Pizza Pockets

These homemade pizza pockets are extra cheesy and extra tasty - make them for your Valentine this year (or any time of the year)!
Keyword: homemade pizza pockets
Servings: 6 pizza pockets

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup butter cold

For the filling

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • melted butter

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  • Begin by mixing egg, milk, and garlic in an electric mixer (with a dough hook, if you have one).
  • In a separate bowl, sift together parmesan, salt, baking powder.
  • Cut your cold butter into cubes and add into your dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter to blend all of the ingredients together.
  • Add the flour and butter mixture into your wet ingredients, while mixing on medium speed.
  • Once the dough has formed, sprinkle a clean working surface + your rolling pin with flour.
  • Roll the dough so that it’s about ¼ of an inch thick. Use your cookie cutter to cut them into heart shapes.
  • Place each heart-shaped dough on your lined baking sheet.
  • Fill every other heart-shaped dough with tomato paste and cheese. Top with another heart-shape and use a fork to press & seal all around the edges.
  • Brush each pizza pocket with melted butter and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the crust starts to turn golden brown.

While you guys enjoy my homemade pizza pockets, you should also consider these fun Valentine recipes and DIYs from some of my favourite Canadian bloggers!

  1. Judy from Life is Better at Home and her Valentine’s Chocolate Fondue
  2. A Valentine’s Day At-Home Spa idea by Dannyelle at Life is a Party
  3. The sweetest Valentine’s Day Confetti Cookies by Emily at Daydreaming of Elsewhere
  4. Jane & Sonja of Sustain my Craft Habit came up with these oh-so pretty Valentine’s Day Painted Pots
  5. The incredibly talented Andrea of Harlow and Thistle and her modern Valentine’s Day Table

My homemade pizza pockets are featured on this Canadian blog hop with a bunch of other great Valentine's Day ideas!

Riverdale-Inspired Recipe: Jughead Cupcakes

In anticipation of its return, I wanted to whip-up a Riverdale-Inspired Recipe. (So I went for Jughead Cupcakes.)

…in reality, I should have made some burgers.

Homemade cupcakes inspired by Jughead and Riverdale.

My husband and I have pretty opposite tastes when it comes to shows and programming. On our movie nights/Netflix binge-watching sessions, we’ll normally play a rom-com or a classic film. Unfortunately, Joe is unable to watch reruns of Friends for days on end, so I guess I’ll have to continue flying solo for that.

But recently… drum roll, please!

Joe showed interest in Riverdale (which I loved from day one). When he expressed his curiosity on the series, I immediately sat him down and together, we sat through Seasons 1 to (mid-season) 3. Yes, oh yes! The Netflix gods have spoken. Joe and I finally have a show we can binge-watch together – my millennial heart is skipping beats, I tell ya.

To celebrate Riverdale’s return after their holiday pause (because we all deserve a break, don’t we?), I decided to whip-up my own Riverdale-inspired recipe.

Homemade cupcakes inspired by Jughead and Riverdale.

Ladies and gents: a cupcake fit for a king (okay, maybe a Serpent King).

Riverdale-Inspired Recipe: Jughead Cupcakes

Ingredients
One dozen chocolate cupcakes (Psst: click here for my chocolate cupcake recipe – they’re DIVINE!)
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
7-9 oz. white fondant, divided
1-2 oz. red fondant
Black gel food coloring
Wilton tip #8
Wilton tip #1M
Small bowl of water + paintbrush

Yields: 12 decorated cupcakes

Homemade cupcakes inspired by Jughead and Riverdale.

Prepare your chocolate cupcakes according to directions. Allow to cool on a wire rack – remember: they must be completely cool before adding icing and decorations.

As the cupcakes cool, prepare Jughead’s fondant crown. Take a 1 oz. piece off your white fondant and set aside.

With the rest of the fondant, add 1 small drop of gel food coloring. Knead until completely tinted – it should be grey.

Roll out your grey fondant so that it’s about ¼ of an inch thick. Using a paring knife, cut out 12 rectangles. They should be about 5in x 1.5in in size.

Along one long side of each grey fondant strip, cut out small triangles.

Homemade cupcakes inspired by Jughead and Riverdale.

Roll out your red fondant, about ¼ of an inch thick. With your paring knife, cut out 12 small triangles.

Roll your remaining small white fondant piece and using Wilton icing tip #8 to cut out 12 small circles.

Homemade cupcakes inspired by Jughead and Riverdale.

To make the buttercream, use an electric mixer to beat butter, confectioners’ sugar and milk together. Start on medium speed and gradually increase to high.

Once the ingredients are well-combined, smooth, and form semi-stiff peaks, the buttercream is ready.

Scoop the buttercream into a piping bag, set with Wilton tip #1M. Frost each cupcake.

Brush a small amount of water on one end of your grey fondant strip. Make both ends meet.

Brush water on the back of each red and white fondant piece. Stick one of each on your grey crown.

Place one fondant crown on each cupcake.

I was keen on Riverdale right off the bat because I grew up reading the comics. Watching the Archie universe in the series’ perspective has been quite the ride. Who’s your favourite character from Riverdale?

Homemade cupcakes inspired by Jughead and Riverdale.

This Year’s Reading List

Setting myself up with a 12-book reading list.

…but secretly, challenging myself to double it!

A list of books to read within the new year.

It’s no secret that I love to read. However, entering motherhood 2 years ago made me lose sight of some of things I was most passionate for.

It was clear that I needed to find balance.

And boy, 2018 was all about the balancing act. I like to think of 2018 as the year I test-ran all the things that worked/didn’t work for me.

Now, I’m ready to walk into 2019 with a strong desire to chase and reach for bigger things. And of course, to get back into reading.

Remember when I read 50 books in a year? I miss that. But, with my new lifestyle, I have to be more realistic. In last week’s New Year’s blog post, I talked about SMART goals and how I’ll be applying more reading time in my day-to-day.

This Year’s Reading List

So, here I am, ready to tackle 1 book a month. For a former bookworm, this may seem small-scale but for a new, self-employed mom, this is a challenge worth tackling.

I don’t want to necessarily build a reading list with specific titles and have it set in stone. The best part about reading throughout the year is hearing about new book releases and announcements.

Instead, my reading list ends up being more of a guideline to keep things fun and challenging. I’m starting the year with Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza. I also have a couple of other books that I bought in 2018: Positive Discipline and VOX – two very different titles but both pieces of literature I can’t wait to dive into.

Aside from that, the sky’s the limit. Here’s my reading list suggestion for 2019: I hope you all can join me for the challenge!

A list of books to read within the new year.

How I’m Attaining my New Year’s Resolutions through SMART Goals

2019, I’m comin’ for ya: and this time I’m gonna be smart about it (no pun intended). Here are my NY resolutions through SMART goals.

Applying what I learnt from high school and my college years.

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions

I wasn’t always one for gym class. In fact, I was your typical non-athletic, overly-studious introvert (if we’re using labels, that is). My grades were fantastic across the board until we hit the topic of “Physical Education.” (It was my lack of participation and also, my fear of getting trampled during football that probably caused that.)

In any case, this streaked followed me into college. The only gym class I ever exceeded in was yoga. (Thank goodness it was offered in post-secondary education.) However, in every one of my physical education courses, there was the implementation of SMART goals. This was an aspect of gym class that I always loved.

SMART goals are a guideline to setting rational objectives and achieving them in a timely manner. In fact, it’s an acronym and outlines each step for goal-setting:

S: Specific
M: Measurable
A: Achievable
R: Relevant
T: Timely

For this new year, I want to apply my resolutions exactly through the SMART goal guideline. I’ve always been one for New Year goals rather than resolutions. I think goal-achieving is a much healthier practice. Resolving all the “wrongs” we’ve experienced from the previous year is less positive and puts an unrealistic pressure on us.

SMART Goals, Explained

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions

Specify your goal, be as descriptive as possible.

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions

How will you be measuring your goals? How will you measure their progress? Measurement makes goals more tangible.

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
Is your goal attainable? It should be challenging but realistic.

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
Is the goal worthwhile? Is it applicable to your life? Is it something you want to do for yourself? Does it mean a lot to you or do you feel pressured to set this goal?

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
In what timeframe do you want to accomplish your goal?

My SMART Goals for 2019

Back to being a Bookworm

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
Pre-motherhood, I was a very avid reader. This year, I want to get back to the books and read 12 for 2019.

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
I will log my progress in a journal every week (how far I’ve gotten into the book by pages, chapters, etc.). On a separate page in the journal, I will also list each book once it is completed. By the end of the year, the list should have 12 titles (all of which I will share on the blog).

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
1. Read 30 minutes before bedtime – rather than aimlessly browsing on my phone
2. Read 10-15 minutes during Leo’s naptime, before proceeding to any household chores (or taking a nap, myself!)
3. Bring the book with me wherever I go: when Joe’s driving and we’re headed to visit family or run errands, I can read while we’re on the road.

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
I miss reading and I really want to make this a possibility. Also, reading helps reinforce my writing skills, thus further helping my blog and brand.

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
To read 12 books in the year. I will read one book a month.

Stop the Fizzy

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
Rather than setting an “eat healthier” goal, I want to start by nit-picking at nasty habits that could help with my weight loss:
– Cut the sodas
– 20 minute at-home exercise (daily)

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
Health log: I will keep a beverage diary and hold myself accountable by jotting down what I drink in the day. Also, I will keep a log on my daily physical activity routines and what exercises work and don’t work. With the help of a scale, I will also log my weight every week.

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
1. I will no longer purchase sodas (which helps with the grocery bill – double win)
2. I will experiment and make a new, healthy drink every week (Some of which I will share on the blog – get ready for smoothies, galore!)
3. Set a specific time, every day for my at-home exercises

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
Ever since giving birth, I have yo-yo’ed with my weight. Despite everybody’s harsh criticisms (more on that on a later blog post), I am doing this to be happy with myself. This is all for me and not to prove anyone wrong.

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions
To lose 15 pounds in 3 months and to re-assess from there

I hope you have a fantastic start to the new year. Have you ever heard of SMART goals?

How to apply SMART goals in order to achieve your New Year's Resolutions

Inspiration for Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Less than a week away from Christmas and yup… you’re still needing that last-minute gift (or two, or three…).

Don’t worry, we got you covered!

Last-minute gift ideas to help you out for this holiday season.

I am so grateful to have partnered with Première Moisson for this post. All opinions are 100% my own and I hope you find some inspiration for this holiday season!

I say it every year: “I am going to start shopping for Christmas presents in October! Promise!”

And it never happens.

Yesterday (yup, one week before the big day!), I found myself storming through crowds at the mall, trying to find the perfect present for my husband. It’s hard: after being together for so many years, I feel like I’ve exhausted all the classic gifts. We’ve covered leather goods, watches, trips, etc. I often like to go for practical things, but he’s one of those people that buys things whenever he wants or needs it.

So frustrating!

Last-minute gift ideas to help you out for this holiday season.

I know many of you out there are running around trying to cross everybody off your list. Here are a few last-minute gift ideas that I recently put together (after doing a lot of running around myself):

Inspiration for Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Drink, Clink

Showing up to someone’s place with a bottle in-hand is not uncommon. Wine and champagne are the perfect host/hostess gift. Take it up a notch by gifting them some nice glasses or champagne flutes to accompany the drinks!

Night Out!

I often gift gift cards/certificates to the movies. Everybody deserves a night out and gifting a full movie experience (tickets for 2, a gift card to the concession stand, etc.) is something I know I would definitely appreciate.

Ambiance

Beautiful candles can really set the tone in a home. A boxed set of candles gives your loved ones a choice of what scent to use in different rooms.

Kitchen Inspiration

If there’s one thing my friends and I all have in common, it’s our love for food.

Josée Fiset, co-founder of the oh-so popular Quebec bakery Première Moisson, released Les Carnets de Josée Fiset (translated: The Notebooks by Josée Fiset). The mini-series feature her creations: recipes to make with loved ones and beautiful food photography (that are oh-so drool worthy).

Last-minute gift ideas to help you out for this holiday season.

Last-minute gift ideas to help you out for this holiday season.

At only $4.95 a notebook, these notebooks are truly inspirational – and so they make for the perfect last-minute gifts for the foodie in your life.

Last-minute gift ideas to help you out for this holiday season.

Beautiful Blossoms

Make it personal and give your loved one a bouquet of their favourite flowers. A beautiful floral arrangement will certainly jazz-up anyone’s place.

Psst: we’ve got something for ya!

If you’d like your own copy of Josée Fiset’s beautiful carnet, head over to my Instagram page for a chance to win your very own!

Christmas Reveal: Our Holiday Decor Inspired by Harry Potter

Feel the magic with our holiday decor… totally inspired by Harry Potter!

At this point, I’m just waiting for my acceptance letter to Hogwarts.

Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter!

Every year, I like to change-up our holiday decor. It gives me something to look forward to – especially when I’m dreading the upcoming winter season.

Now that we’re all settled in our new condo, I was ultra excited to get the ball rollin’ for this year’s theme.

Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter!

As we made our big move, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for this year’s setup. (Yes, planning out holiday decor months in advance is what churns through my mind. I am not kidding!)

For those of you who know me, know that I have a huge Potter-heart. You can see it here, when I decided to dress Leo in a homemade Gryffindor scarf when he was just a wee little one. Or, for his first birthday, when I decided to gift him with a very magical smash cake session.

Well, ladies and gents: it comes to no surprise that I went Potter-crazy for our Christmas theme. I can’t wait to give you the tour!

Christmas Reveal: Our Holiday Decor Inspired by Harry Potter

Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter!

For our tree, Joe and I both agreed that a white one would go well with our all-white walls. Since our condo isn’t too large, we’re trying to keep things looking light, bright, and open.

I found the cutest Harry Potter ornaments from Pottery Barn Kids. When I saw them, I knew immediately that I needed them!

Of course, I added our own classic ornaments: red, green, and golden bulbs.

If you look closely, I also DIY’ed flying keys. Yup, remember how Harry needed to catch one to get one step closer to Volde- I mean, er… ‘He Who Must Not be Named?”

Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter!

Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter!

Our wreath was something I put together with HP stuff I already owned. If you look closely, you’ll find a very special pair of spectacles! (And they may belong to the Boy Who Lived!)

Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter!

Also, in our home, you can access the Hogwarts Express. Be sure to buy some Chocolate Frogs from the trolley!

Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter! Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter! Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter!

Of course, a loving home wouldn’t be complete without some socks to donate to some deserving house elves…

Holiday decor totally inspired by Harry Potter!

Let me know what you think of my holiday decor! How do you plan on setting everything up for Christmas?

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