Martha Stewart’s Holiday Entertaining Tips

There’s no question that this year has been a good one, but this next post absolutely, unequivocally is the bright red cherry on top of it all. My love for Martha Stewart? Well, it knows no bounds. She is aces in my book and having the opportunity to chat with her is one that I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined. If this is the only thing that ever comes of this here blog, I’ll consider it a success. Martha, the hostess with the mostess, is here today chatting all things Holiday entertaining tips and I truly could not be more excited!

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When it comes to the holidays, what’s your number one entertaining tip?
Martha Stewart: Make things easier on yourself and serve drinks from pitchers. Having cocktails premade ensures you won’t spend the whole party fixing drinks and you can instead devote your attention to your guests.

I feel like I’ve been invited to a holiday party every day from now until new years. Do you have any great hostess gift ideas that will go easy on my bank account?
Martha Stewart: I like to give things that I’ve made or that come from my farm – baskets of eggs, jars of homemade jam or honey. Baked goods, like the Cranberry-Orange-Walnut Tea Cakes from Martha Stewart’s Cakes make terrific hostess gifts around the holidays. Simply wrap them in pink glassine paper and tie with waxed twine and you have a great holiday treat.

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As an entertaining newbie, the thought can oftentimes feel like a daunting task. I’d love to pick your brain on how you entertain with minimal stress!
Martha Stewart: Good planning is very important – leave nothing to chance. Have all the ingredients, read the recipes, and read your list. Enlist help when entertaining for a large group. When things don’t go as planned, don’t announce it – it’s likely that no one even noticed it.

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Your favourite Christmas cookie recipe. And go!
Martha Stewart: Gingerbread men with Royal Icing. I’ve made these cookies to eat, to decorate, and to make a gingerbread house. They’re easy to roll out, the dough is so fragrant and spicy, and the cookie shapes stay true if they’re chilled after cutting and before baking.

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While I won’t be in charge of the turkey this year (phew!), I know there will be plenty first timers out there. Any fabulous foolproof recipes you care to share?
Martha Stewart: To ensure supermoist meat throughout, wrap your turkey in parchment to create a cozy steam packet. I plan to use a 35-pound, fresh turkey from the farm and give my grandchildren – Jude and Truman – their first bites of the bird.

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What’s your favourite holiday tradition?
Martha Stewart: Every year, I try to do an open house at some point during the Christmas season where friends drop in during a weekend afternoon. It’s a great way for me to bring my diverse group of friends together.

What do you most look forward to come Christmas morning?
Martha Stewart: Now with my two grandchildren – Jude and Truman – Christmas has become all about them. Everything is still so new for them. It’s such a wonderful time for family to gather and enjoy being together.

And lastly, if you had to create your perfect holiday menu, what would it include?
Martha Stewart: No holiday is complete without Croquembouche. The tower of cream puffs makes a seriously impressive and decadent dessert. Everyone always enjoys pulling it apart, piece by piece.

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Floral Arrangement: Sacramento Street | Stockings: La Petite Cuisine | Chocolate Souffle: Martha Stewart | House: Martha Stewart | 

CATEGORIES | christmas, entertaining, holidays, tips
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House Envy: A Pink Christmas

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Though my love for the colour pink has been well documented over the years, there’s no denying that it’s one of those things that has to approached carefully as it can quickly turn from lovely into a little girls’ barbie dream (and, consequently, my nightmare). Had you of mentioned a pink Christmas prior to me actually seeing it, I would have probably turned my nose up at the idea. But this Christmassy home, complete with the hottest of hottest pinks I ever did see, is elegant and classy and all around amazing. 

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Found: Style at Home

CATEGORIES | christmas, holidays, house envy
COMMENTS (7)


Lovely & Unrelated: The Christmas Edition

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We are somehow less than two weeks away from Christmas and I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around it. In lieu of my standard list of things that have made me smile over the course of the last two weeks, I thought I’d focus on all things Christmas (I know, shocking, right?). From DIY’s to heart warming videos there’s no shortage of festivness to be found below! Happy weekend my dears. XOX

:: Mini rosemary wreaths
:: The sweetest wintry cake
:: Simple DIY Christmas cards
:: How to wrap the perfect gift
:: This story is what Christmas is about
:: A guide to the perfect Christmas tree
:: The loveliest DIY ornaments  EVER
:: You may have already seen this, but it makes me so happy
:: and a DIY gift I’d be thrilled to receive

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Wreath: La Buena Vida | Mantle: Style Blueprint | Snowy Beetle: Rohrich Family | Snowy Bun: Glamour

CATEGORIES | christmas, lovely & unrelated
COMMENTS (10)


Almond Sugar Cookies

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I’ve been looking forward to today for a number of reasons. First of all, my dear Victoria of Vmac and Cheese has organized a massive virtual Christmas cookie swap (and an abundance of Christmas cookies is NEVER a bad thing). And second, these cookies are RIDICULOUS. I seriously should have them under lock and key for I constantly fear I’ll devour them all in one sitting. A friend of mine gifted me the new Kinfolk cookbook as an early Christmas gift so I grabbed the recipe from there. If you do anything this weekend, making these bad boys should be it. 

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And make sure you check out the rest of the cookies in our blogger cookie swap! They are as follows: 
Vmac and Cheese: Gingerbread Sandwiches
Lemon Stripes: Peppermint Bark Cookies
The Average Girl’s Guide: Molasses Crinkle Cookies
Savor Home: Red Velvet Cookies
Clara Persis: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
House of Earnest: Chocolate Dipped Lemon Shortbread
Cupcakes for Breakfast: Dark Chocolate Orange Almond Biscotti
Julip Made: Chocolate Espresso Cookies w. Spiced Whipped Mascarpone
Fleur de Sel: Brown Butter Thumbprint Cookies

Click below for the recipe…

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CATEGORIES | christmas, recipes, tasty treats
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Around Here: The Christmas Market

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To say that I’m obsessed with Christmas would be the understatement of the century. It’s not about the gifts, nor the day itself for that matter, but more about the weeks leading up to it. The spiked hot chocolate, the twinkly lights, and the time spent with family… So it only makes sense that one of my very favourite things to do around Toronto this time of year is frequent the Christmas Market. With Christmas carollers, wooden booths selling fabulous provisions, hot roasted nuts aplenty and a variety of beer gardens (complete with fire pits and mulled wine), it’s pretty much the happiest place on earth. My suggestion? Go at night. It’s magical! 

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Check out my other “around here” posts here! Also, this guide is pretty old (I’ve been working on an update!) but here’s a Guide to Toronto

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all images original to lark & linen 

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CATEGORIES | around here, christmas, Toronto
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House Envy: Christmas Magic

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As much as I love a lush, traditional, red and green Christmas, there’s something about a crisp white one that I always find appealing. A hint of garland, a bit of twinkle and a plate full of cookies are sometimes all you really need to really get in the spirit.  

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Found: Mokkasin

CATEGORIES | christmas, holidays, house envy, interiors
COMMENTS (9)


Christmas Gift Guide: For the Comfort Seeker

At long last we’ve reached the end of my gift guides, and my official kick off to Christmas. This last one is for the comfort seekers amongst us. Those who like to hibernate within the confines of their homes until the cold weather has subsided. In dire contrast to the party animal their idea of a good time is a big ol’ mug of tea and a new set of knitting needles (and there’s NOTHING wrong with that!) 

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No. 1 - Candle // $28 | No. 2 – Bootie Slippers // $30 | No. 3 – Alpaca Sweater // $172 | No. 4 – Earmuffs // $20 | No. 5 – Infinity Scarf (SO soft) // $80 | No. 6 – Pompom Throw // $128 | No. 7 – Wool Hat // $30 | No. 8 – Tea Set // $105 | No. 9 – Fair Isle Socks // $17 | No. 10 – Wool Mittens // $40 | No. 11 – Copper Fire Pit // $340 | No. 12 – Anthropologie // $178

CATEGORIES | christmas, gift guide, Gift Guide 2013
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Christmas Gift Guide: For the Designer

I have to admit, after putting together these gift guides my own Christmas wishlist has grown exponentially! These beauties are all geared towards the designer in your life. That one person who always seems to be decked out in black, attending gallery openings, and just oozes all around fabulousness. 

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No 1. – Fieldguided Print // $30 | No. 2 – Dotted Tea Towel // $24 $16 | No. 3 – Rebecca Atwood Dotted Pillow // $200 | No. 4 – Ceramic Vases // $50 | No. 5 – Creamers // $45 | No. 6 – Leather iPad Clutch // $58 | No. 7 – Bowl // $62 | No. 8 – Statement Necklace // $198  | No. 9  - Sophie Hulme Tote // $935 | No. 10 – Wishbone Chair (aka my favourite chair of all time) // $262

CATEGORIES | christmas, gift guide, Gift Guide 2013
COMMENTS (16)


Christmas Gift Guide: For the Foodie

So if I were to fall under any category thusfar, this would be it. Those who knew me at the age of 12 would definitely scoff at this now for I survived my first decade of life solely on chicken fingers and buttered noodles. How I did not perish from scurvy I will never know. But I do like to think that my body was just saving up so that I could go into food overdrive as I grew. These days, there’s virtually nothing I won’t try at least once, and I pretty much want EVERYTHING on this list. 

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No. 1 – Cheese Knives // $32 | No. 2 – Marble & Wood Cheese Board // $78 | No. 3 – Hand Painted Mosaic Tagine // $77 | No. 4 – Pots & Pans // $48 | No. 5 – Salad Servers // $38 | No. 6 – Grove 45 Olive Oil (Best EVER) // $45 | No. 7 – Juice Jug // $48 | No. 8 – Recycled Glass Oil Dispenser // $30 | No. 9 – What Chefs Eat Book // $14 | No. 10 – Chelsea Market Cookbook | No. 11 – Espresso Machine // $560 | No. 12 – Various Cordials // $18 each

CATEGORIES | christmas, Gift Guide 2013
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Christmas Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers

I’ve, admittedly, been listening to Christmas music for weeks now and it’s kind of been killer trying to keep my excitement at bay. Now that it’s officially acceptable to celebrate out in the open, you can expect for it to get pretty festive all up in here. This week? Well, we have a Christmas kick off, of sorts, as I share a handful of truly awesome gift guides (if I do say so myself!) These babies should help you cross off EVERYONE on your list, at every price point to boot. First up? Stocking stuffers!! Filled to the brim with little nuggets of goodness, here are a few unique items to stuff those fabulous stockings of yours.

Stocking-Stuffers 
No. 1 – Market Shopping List // $9 | No. 2 – Heart Shaped Tea Infuser // $5 | No. 3 – Set of Three Lip Balms // $28 | No. 4 – Chocolate Bar // $4 | No. 5 – Ellovi All-Natural Body Butter (the BEST) // $26 | No. 6 – German Made Solid Brass Pencil Sharpener // $20 | No. 7 – Mulling Spices // $12 | No. 8 – Barr Co. Hand Cream // $26 | No. 9 – Cypress Soap // $10 | No. 10 – Brass Key Ring // $12 | No. 11 – Aftershave // $21

CATEGORIES | christmas, Gift Guide 2013
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Happy Holidays!

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I’m going to take a mini blog break over the holidays, but I’ll be back with lots more goodies next week! Before I go, I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and all the very best in the new year. If the holiday season happens to bring about heavy hearts for any of you, please know that you are in my thoughts this year.

ps: Thank you all for your wonderful words on my announcement last week. You sure do know how to make a girl feel special

With love,
Jacquelyn

CATEGORIES | christmas, holidays
COMMENTS (19)


DIY: pompoms

Final Result_Lark Linen copy
I’ve mentioned in the past that when it comes to wrapping presents I do not mess around. People have since come to expect their Christmas gift to be clad in something crafty (the pressure!) After scouring multiple paper stores around Toronto I’ve come up with a theme: winter mint with a twist (indulge me, won’t you?) The combination of red, white & mint keeps things feeling festive while straying from the a-typical.

Once I wrapped my first present I took a step back and decided that something was missing. The washi tape, twine and polka-dotted gift tags were all well and good, but it needed a bit of pizzazz. After all, I had to compete with that year I swapped wrapping paper for tin foil (some ideas are better than others by the way). So in came the pompom! Once the template was created and cut out the process went pretty quickly (and the template lasted for the 15 others I’ve since made). I’m beyond thrilled with how the entire ensemble came together and cant wait to distribute my gifts come Christmas morning.
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Step 1: Trace two small circles onto thick cardstock (or cardboard). As a rule – the smaller your circle, the smaller your pompom. I used a shot glass for this step (keepin’ it classy)

Step 2: Place a smaller template (in my case, a nickel) in the center of your first circle and trace around it

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Step 3: Carefully cut your circle templates out (this does not need to be perfect)

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Step 4: Place both circle templates together and tie a long length of wool around them

Step 5: Wrap the wool around the templates

Step 6: Keep wrapping…

Step 7: … until it looks something like this. If your length of wool runs out, not to worry, simply tie a new length  on and keep going – nobody will know. (Note: the more times you wrap the string, the denser your pompom will become. This pompom ended up being QUITE full)

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Step 8: Holding the wrapped templates between your index finger and thumb, carefully cut the wool using thin, sharp scissors…

Step 9: … until it starts to look something like this

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Step 10: Once you’ve cut all around the template, spread the two cardstock pieces apart

Step 11: Thread a short length of wool in between the two cardstock templates and tie it in a tight knot. Then, carefully pull the cardstock templates off at either side. (note: your pompom may need a bit of a trim if he’s looking a little uneven)

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Ta da!! Now tie it on to your gift using a ribbon (or twine in my case!)

 

PS – there’s still a few days to enter the Illume giveaway (a $100 value!) if you havent yet

CATEGORIES | christmas, do it yourself
COMMENTS (20)


house envy: {Christmas edition}

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Time and time again I turn to Scandinavian design for inspiration (especially when it comes to Christmas). It just really seems like they’re doing it right! A simple, timeless, a tasteful ode to my very favourite holiday.

CATEGORIES | christmas, house envy, interiors
COMMENTS (6)


tasty treats:

popcorn

Do not let the sound of white chocolate peppermint popcorn deter you, for I’m confident that it might just be the best thing you’ll ingest all season. It legitimately looks and tastes like Christmas in the very best way and would make the perfect little gift to hand out this to loved ones in the coming days.

I originally enjoyed a handful (give or take) of a grocery-store version at a holiday party a few weeks ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. At the time, I made sure to indulge in more than my fair share (for research purposes of course) knowing full well my plans to recreate the dish at home.

Just before embarking on our Christmas baking last weekend, I whipped up a batch (using the recipe below) for the girls to enjoy throughout the day. I won’t even begin to tell you how quickly it disappeared, which is generally a pretty good sign. As it turns out, I’m  not the only one enamored with this delectable combination. It’s a hit, I promise you that.

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Recipe below

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CATEGORIES | christmas, recipes, tasty treats
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condo life: our halls, decked

 


| a simple pine wreath transforms our door |

As I mentioned yesterday, I much prefer understated decor when it comes to getting ready for Christmas. In lieu of knick-knacks and tchotchkes strewn about, we’ve opted to go for a natural vibe using white and green as our palette with hints of red thrown in for good measure. Here are just a few things Justin and I have done to ensure our condo is holiday-ready.


| faux-fur sheepskins set a cosy vibe (and are only $12 at Ikea) |


| a wooden bowl filled with seasonal fruit
(because clementines totally smell like Christmas) |


| we didn’t forget to show the washroom some love |


| a handful of simple snowflake ornaments
(picked up at the dollar store of all places) on our tree |


| Guinness coasters (from Ireland) & a cupboard filled with Christmas mugs
show festiveness in unexpected places |


| tree trimming remnants in a “cable-knit” vase adorn our table
and a mulled wine candle helps set the mood |

tip: when picking up your tree, ask them if they have any tree trimmings they’re willing to part with. I ended up leaving with far more than I knew what to do with – all for free! We have vases filled all over the place and the scent is intoxicating.

CATEGORIES | christmas, condo life
COMMENTS (24)


house envy {Christmas edition}

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With the amount of gushing I do regarding this particular holiday season you’d think I’d be the type to appreciate over-the-top Christmas decor. In fact, just the opposite seems to be true. I much prefer a classy, understated look when it comes to getting ready for the big day. Swimwear designer Marysia Dobranska has done a fabulous job transforming her New York pad into a miniature winter wonderland. I’m now more convinced than ever that a few twinkly lights, a gingerbread ornament or two, and some rich, green garland is all you really need.

CATEGORIES | christmas, house envy
COMMENTS (11)


scenes from my weekend


stacks of Christmas movies | making cookies
cinnamon shortbread | a festive kitty | the fruits of our labour

Each year a handful of us head to my moms for a day full of Christmas cookie baking (Santa hats and all). This year my step-sister and I decided to take the tradition up a notch and crash my moms place for the entire weekend. What ensued was a festive few days with some of my favourite people that will forever be hard to top. I surely ingested more sugar (and tea) than any human ever should, and have made a pretty serious dent in my Christmas-movie-watching-to-do-list. If that doesn’t depict my type of weekend, well I just don’t know what does.

CATEGORIES | christmas, scenes from my weekend
COMMENTS (25)


1 Felt Basket ($148)
2 Scarf ($56)
3 Bamboo & Charcoal Soap ($6)
4 Travel Bag ($175)
5 Spoon Rest ($16)
6 Ceramic Mason Jar ($85)
7 Concrete Planter ($32)
8 Coasters ($25)
9 Necklace ($19)
10 Clutch ($54)
11 Throw ($460)

Because I totally appreciate one of a kind objects made with love (and I know I’m not alone!)

ps Today is the last day to enter the Minted Giveaway (a $135 value!) if you haven’t yet. Hurry!

CATEGORIES | christmas, gift guide
COMMENTS (12)


 

1 Recipe Card Keeper ($44)
2 Polka Dotted Slippers ($24.95)
3  Nylons ($13.50)
4 iPhone case ($40)
5 Tea Towel ($21)
6 Undies ($12.50)
7 Scarf ($39)
8 Blouse (on sale for $108!)
9 Sparkly Flats ($24.90)
10 Sweater (on sale for $39.99)
11 Notebook ($9)
12 Makeup Case ($25)
13 Handmade Mug ($26)

Because everyone needs some polka dots in their lives

ps don’t forget to enter the Minted Giveaway (a $135 value!) if you haven’t yet. It closes on Friday!

CATEGORIES | christmas, gift guide
COMMENTS (18)


1 Bookends ($198)
2 Desk Accessory ($65)
3 Terrarium ($39)
4 Snood ($30) (you can see it on me here)
5 Candle ($28)
6 Ceramic Bowls ($75)
7 Blood Orange Lip Balm ($5)
8 Hanging Planter ($35)
9 Bottle Openers ($28)
10 Cookbook ($40)
11 Votive Holder ($32) 

…for your nature-loving friends

CATEGORIES | christmas, gift guide
COMMENTS (14)


1 Cloud Brooch ($10)
2 Macaron Box ($10)
3 Bath Salts ($10)
4 Birch Bark Straws ($8)
5 Tea Steeper ($5)
6 Flask ($22)
7 Moose Mug ($9.50)
8 Cinnamon Tea ($10)
9 Soap ($6)
10 Porcelaine Walnut Shells ($16)
11 Glass Water Bottle ($36)
12 Amazing Truffles ($25)
13 Notebook ($14)

I thought it’d be fun to kick of the month of December with a week full of gift guides. Finding that perfect little something for that special someone always excites me to no end and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed putting these guides together. As an added bonus, I’m almost done my own gift-purchasing as a result (it’s a Christmas miracle!) I’ve kept price point in mind, sourcing out inexpensive finds for the most part, while throwing in a “splurgy” piece here and there. I’ve also tried to place my focus on small shops and handmade finds – s0 be sure to keep an eye out for them as well.

To start: stocking stuffers!

For as long as I can remember, stockings have always been my favourite thing to open come Christmas morning. They’re chalk full of great, personalized little goodies that can’t wait to be torn open. Here are a handful of inexpensive items that I, for one, would be happy to find stuffed in my stocking.

 

CATEGORIES | christmas, gift guide
COMMENTS (14)