Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes by Suzy Pelta + Win a copy!

Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat's Bakes ft image

My husband’s late grandfather had the habit of starting many of his sentences with “Here’s another thing you didn’t know,” followed by a long ramble about something obscure that I couldn’t possibly have known or cared to know, like how the father of former finance minister Paul Martin got his start in business or any number of things about Napoleon (the man, not the dessert.) Then it made me bristle, now it makes me snicker. Because despite his gruff delivery, he was almost always right. (Maybe not factually correct, but his versions of events were certainly new to me.) And the more I try small things, the more I think, “Here’s another thing you didn’t know.” Like you can make a cake in a couple of minutes and it’s actually really delicious! At least the ones I tried from Suzy Pelta’s Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes: 28 Quick and Easy Recipes for Tasty TreatsThomas Allen & Son sent me a review copy, and I think you’d like it too.  Continue reading “Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes by Suzy Pelta + Win a copy!”

The Great Indoors: Casino Rama Resort #LetsGoMaple

lgm casino rama resort lobby

We don’t get away often — and solo even less so — so what a treat it was to spend a couple of days at Casino Rama Resort earlier this month, a trip organized by SJ Consulting and sponsored by Casino Rama, Ontario’s Lake Country and other area partners. Located in Orillia, Ontario, the Resort is a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Ottawa and about one and a half hours north of Toronto. It calls itself the great indoors and for good reason: with 300 spacious and comfortable rooms (every one a suite!), eight restaurants, a 5,000-seat entertainment venue, spa and health club facilities and top-shelf casino all on site, it’s an indoor playground with something for everyone. Let’s take a look around.  Continue reading “The Great Indoors: Casino Rama Resort #LetsGoMaple”

Studio: Creative Spaces for Creative People by Sally Coulthard + Win a copy

Studio by Sally Coulthard ft image

It’s pretty tight quarters here at try small things HQ, but like so many other creatives who have to make do I’ve carved out a couple of spaces (however humble) to blog and shoot and style and bake and all the rest. As it happens, we also use those same spaces to eat and do homework and play LEGO and watch Netflix. Which is really not ideal. I dream of having a dedicated place to work and play, so I was delighted when Quarto Publishing Group USA sent me Sally Coulthard’s Studio: Creative Spaces for Creative PeopleTaking lessons from the myriad (and often fascinating) studios of crafters, designers, writers, artists and a couple of my favourite bloggers, Sally shares inspiration and insight to help you create your own space with tips on everything from planning your layout and organizing your tools to lighting, seating, wall treatments and display. (Hands up if you’ve never met a pegboard you didn’t love.) Whether you’ve got an entire room or just a corner, you can create a space that works as hard as you.   Continue reading “Studio: Creative Spaces for Creative People by Sally Coulthard + Win a copy”

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight + Win 1 of 3 copies!

get your shit together 3

In Get Your Sh*t Together: How To Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need To Do And Start Doing What You Want To Do, author Sarah Knight says any goal can be accomplished if you break it into small, manageable chunks — you just need to strategize, focus and commit. She’s serious about helping people get their shit together, and she does it in the best way: with irreverent humour, relatable stories and solid advice. But as she warns in the introduction, if you don’t like colourful language, it’s probably not for you: “… unlike many traditional self-help authors, I am going to use the word shit 332 times (including several shitmanteaus of my own invention), so please do not go on Amazon saying you were expecting sunshine and kittens and got shitstorms and shittens.” Little, Brown and Company sent me a copy to review, and it’s some good shit.  Continue reading “Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight + Win 1 of 3 copies!”

Exploring Ontario’s Lake Country with #LetsGoMaple

lgm the great outdoors

This time last week I was packing my bags for #LetsGoMaple, a sponsored two-day/three-night trip with 15 other Canadian bloggers to explore Ontario’s Lake Country (Orillia/Rama/Oro-Medonte and area, about a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Ottawa). As someone who struggles with anxiety (social and otherwise), I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I needn’t have been. At the risk of sounding sappy, my travel companions and hosts were as sweet and warm as the maple syrup we poured over our pancakes at Shaw’s Sugar Bush. Which made trying small things loom less large, and a lot easier. Come along and see some of the fun and delicious goodness the area has to offer.  Continue reading “Exploring Ontario’s Lake Country with #LetsGoMaple”

Five things + A giveaway!

kettlemans

T minus two days ’til I’m off on my winter adventure! I hinted about it this week on Instagram and today I’m going to give you a few more details, along with a look at a couple of things I’ve been up to lately (like last Sunday’s lunch at our favourite neighbourhood bagel shop). Plus (PLUS!) a giveaway I hope you’re going to love.  Continue reading “Five things + A giveaway!”

Flotation therapy: good for body and soul #isospa

whatever-is-good-for-the-soul-do-that

A long hike in the forest. A good laugh with a friend. A fresh mani-pedi. All things you might enjoy from time to time that are good for the soul. Today I want to introduce another soul-lifting treat: flotation therapy. Last week my friend Sophie and I met up at Ottawa’s ISÖ Spa for a complimentary hour in two of the spa’s four float tanks. You strip down to your birthday suit and step into a space-agey pod filled with 1,000 litres of body-temperature salt water. (Warning: there may be naked pictures of Sophie in this next section.)  Continue reading “Flotation therapy: good for body and soul #isospa”

The Unforgettable Photograph by George Lange + Win a copy

the-unforgettable-photograph-by-george-lange-cover-1000

A lot of us want to take better pictures but don’t know where to start. In The Unforgettable Photograph: 228 Ideas, Tips, and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life, renowned photographer George Lange (along with Cooking Light editor Scott Mowbray) says it’s not about using expensive equipment or getting caught up in technical details but in ways of seeing, in capturing moments rather than subjects, exploring connections and evoking emotion. It’s about feeling and playing and living the moments, forgoing cliches for fresh perspectives. Lange uses photos from his daily life to share lessons on everything from composition and lighting to exploring intimacy and the rhythm of a moment. If you want to learn how to shoot photos that are more meaningful and personal, it might be just what you’re looking for.  Continue reading “The Unforgettable Photograph by George Lange + Win a copy”

Lucky in friendship (and brunch)

origin-trade-111-york-street

You know that one friend in horror movies who is like, “Here’s a dumb idea: Let’s split up and not be safe.” That friend is an idiot. You are not that friend. — Daily Odd Compliment • Pushing myself out of the house in the winter can be tougher than a two-dollar steak, but the chance to catch up with my pal Carolyn yesterday over a leisurely brunch made it well worth the effort. For months she’s been working harder than a squirrel trying to bury a nut on a marble floor, and a long chat was even longer overdue. We went to Origin Trade, a coffee house and lounge in the Byward Market. Brunch was on the house in exchange for a review and since neither of us had been, we thought we’d check it out.  Continue reading “Lucky in friendship (and brunch)”

Netflix cheating rampant (and a confession) #StreamTeam

netflix-cheating-ft-image-3

Do you stream shows ahead of your partner? That’s Netflix cheating. And it’s more common than you might think. According to a study released this week by Netflix, 46% of streaming couples around the world have cheated on their partner, and 60% would do it again if they knew they’d get away with it. I’m ashamed to admit I’m one of them.  Continue reading “Netflix cheating rampant (and a confession) #StreamTeam”

Behind the brand: Mellow Bath and Body + A giveaway

mellow-bath-body-coffee-scrub-feature-image-3-1000

“When you know better, you do better.”– Maya Angelou • The more we learn about the harmful effects of the ingredients in many of the mainstream products we use every day, the more we look for healthier, greener alternatives. And when it comes to bath and body products, the choices available seem to be growing exponentially. New to the market is Newmarket, Ontario’s Mellow Bath and Body. The company recently sent me two of its all-natural products to try, including this wonderful handmade body scrub (oh if you could smell it!) made with freshly ground, organic and fair trade coffee, organic raw cane sugar and shea butter, and a pepperminty soap made with activated charcoal, and I was curious to learn more about the maker behind it. Here’s my chat with Melody Rattanavong, Mellow Bath and Body’s creator and maker.  Continue reading “Behind the brand: Mellow Bath and Body + A giveaway”