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

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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!”

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

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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!

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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!”

Five things + A giveaway!

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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!”

The Unforgettable Photograph by George Lange + Win a copy

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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”

Behind the brand: Mellow Bath and Body + A giveaway

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“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”

Be your own Valentine: small gift ideas for your big heart + A giveaway ❤️

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Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day at a posh restaurant with a tall drink of water or at home with your cats and a tall bottle of red, there’s no better day to treat yourself to your heart’s desire. Even if it’s just a little something to say to yourself, “Self, you are loved.” Here are some of my favourite little sumthin’ sumthins for Valentine’s Day — all treats you can pick up last minute or order online for a delightful delivery later in the week. Love is all around but some of the Valentine-themed gifts won’t be around forever.  Continue reading “Be your own Valentine: small gift ideas for your big heart + A giveaway ❤️”

Skip The Dishes and order in! + A giveaway

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We could have ordered dinner tonight from any one of hundreds of restaurants around the city and naturally the kids wanted burgers from a place two kilometres down the road. The food delivery network SkipTheDishes comped us a meal in exchange for a review and since we rarely get take-out (or eat out), it was kind of a big deal.  Continue reading “Skip The Dishes and order in! + A giveaway”

DAVIDsTEA’s feel-good collection + A giveaway!

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Why don’t the Maple Leafs drink tea? Because the Canadiens and the Red Wings have all the cups. (Ba-dum-bum-chuh.) Little seasonal tea humour for you there. (Hey, we’re in the thick of winter. We need all the laughs we can get.) If you’re a die-hard hockey fan, you’ll know the joke’s not even true: the Leafs have won the Stanley Cup 13 times over the Red Wings’ 11. (Don’t be impressed — I totally Googled it.) But we’re not here to talk hockey. Let’s talk tea! Pull up a chair and let me pour you a virtual cup from DAVIDsTEA‘s new feel-good collection. The company sent me its five new limited-edition teas to try and I’m curious to know which one you’d like best. (Or maybe you already have a favourite. Do tell!)  Continue reading “DAVIDsTEA’s feel-good collection + A giveaway!”

Gifts for the littles: nesting favourites + A giveaway

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Shopping for baby gear has come a long way since I was out to here with my first child 10 years ago. (Ten years ago?! How is that possible?!) I mean yes, you still have those crappy cookie-cutter megastores where you have as much chance of finding a staff member as you do laying an egg, but now you also have places like The Baby Cubby that go the extra mile to give shoppers exceptional selection and service. The Utah-based company reached out to me recently to introduce themselves in hopes that I might introduce them to you, and ‘tho I couldn’t visit the store because Utah, I was pleasantly surprised by their online shop and think you will be too.  Continue reading “Gifts for the littles: nesting favourites + A giveaway”

Stick-er with me, Valentine + A giveaway

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“Where are you, my little object of art? I am here to collect you.” — Pepe Le Pew • If you’ve been reading try small things for a while, you might remember my crush on Pipsticks, the sticker club that delivers the most delightful little packages each month to subscribers worldwide (I wrote about it here). Well I’m still stuck on Pipsticks, and it’s even dreamier than before! “Is it possible to be too attractive?” Pepe would ask. Mais non! Here’s why.  Continue reading “Stick-er with me, Valentine + A giveaway”