2011: The Year in Photos

December 31, 2011
New Year's Day: I sent a bottle of sparking apple juice to your house -- did you get it?

We were in my sister-in-law's wedding party!

I opened up The Little Shop of ElleSee on Etsy.

I gave birth to our first child -- a baby boy :)

My husband worked hard to finish the deck so we could have barbeque parties!

We celebrated my husband's 27th birthday :)

My little boy turned 3 months old, and we went swimming for the first time!

My husband was part of another wedding party -- in beautiful Kananaskis country.

I don't have many photos for this month -- but I shared my son's bedroom with you.

I turned 28-years-old, and we celebrated my son's first Halloween :)

My sister and her husband visited throughout the month while on their way to Ontario.

So many exciting happenings this month! My son started crawling, and it was his first Christmas!

This year brought to much excitement and change for us, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. It was a fantastic year! I learned so much, changed so much, and did so much. I hope that you got something important, wonderful, or magical out of 2011 -- see you next year :)


Guest Post: Eight...and Teddy :)

December 29, 2011
I approached Kaytee, the author of the lovely blog Eight, earlier this month about doing a blog post swap, and we immediately came to the conclusion that we would trade stories about our beloved dogs. Isn't he the cutest? Don't tell Ivan I said that :)

Hello! I'm Kaytee from Eight, and this is my dog story.

Like Elle, I grew up in a 'cat family', but I always yearned to have a dog. I was a dog person.

Once I turned 12, my mom let me adopt a pet from a local adoption agency. We adopted a black Lab and named him Max. Unfortunately, Max was a puppy when we adopted him and started growing pretty quickly. I was only 12, so he started becoming too much of a responsibility for me to handle. He needed training, and I didn't have the strength OR knowledge to take that on.

We ended up having to give Max away, it wasn't a good story where we gave him to a nice family with a farm. No, we had to have the Animal Patrol come. Again, lack of experience or knowledge. Looking back, of course I wish I knew what I know now and could have raised him. Throughout my teenage years, I wasn't allowed to get another pet after what happened, not until I was old enough to take care of it on my own.

Finally, when I turned 18, I woke up one day and knew that day was the day. It was time to go looking for a new pet. I was older and more mature, I could handle it. I had always wanted a Jack Russell, so I went to the animal shelter in my area searching for something similar.

On the way to the shelter I started thinking about the 'what ifs'. What if I really got a dog, what would I even name it? The name Teddy popped into my head and I thought, 'seriously? for a dog?.' When I walked through the animals in the shelter and saw what looked to be a Jack Russell, I knew that was him. And yes, the name Teddy was perfect. I took the new 'Teddy' home with me, and we have been a perfect match ever since.

He is what my husband likes to call a Diva, but I'm pretty sure the Diva attitude is like-Mother-like-son. We are one in the same. When he's being sweet, we call him Teddy Bear. When he is being a Diva, his nickname is Chauncey. When I bought him from the shelter his original owner had named him Chauncey. Doesn't Chauncey sound a little prissy?

When I got Teddy, I lived with my mom and grandma, so he grew up in a household full of women. Since I got married, my mom and grandma have 'joint custody' and have him during the week. Every morning, Teddy sits in Grandma's lap for his morning nap.

He loves eating tissue from the trash can, and
just about any paper he can find. I love him.

He helped me type this guest post.

You can find my post over on Kaytee's blog, here.


First Christmas

December 28, 2011
I hope that this post finds you still alive after the bustle and excitement of the holiday season.

This year was my son's first Christmas. It was very exciting for me to go on the hunt for Christmas gifts, and to help him unwrap them -- he's not quite 9 months old, and didn't understand the concept of opening present. It was such a fantastic Christmas, and really made me feel the magic of the season in a very different way.

Checking out the gifts on Christmas Eve :)

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, filled with the most magical memories!


DIY: Paper Trees

December 27, 2011
At the end of November, my parents and I went to visit the local annual Festival of Trees. There are so many beautiful trees and wreaths to look at, and they always have a section for wreaths and trees made from recycled items. This year, we saw the most beautiful tree made from an old book that was attached to a cone shape and decorated with little fake berries and what-not. My mom and I decided to make one ourselves, and here is how we did it:

First, we found an old book at a local bookstore. I chose a German version of "Heidi" -- I figured if I couldn't read it, then I wouldn't feel as bad about taking it apart. We took the book apart, and cut the pages into quarters. You will also need a styro-foam cone, sewing pins, and some fake berries -- they can be any size you wish. 

To attach the paper to the styro-foam tree, I would scrunched up my paper and poke a pin through the middle. My mom was scrunching/folding her paper -- almost like little rosettes -- and then poking the pin through a part of the paper where the pin would be hidden.

I would then attach the paper to the tree. It would, at this point, be almost completely un-scrunched, so, once it was attached to the styro-foam cone, I would scrunch it up again.

We continued this trend all the way to the top of the tree, and I would occasionally stop to give my tree and extra little scrunch. My mom's tree is the one on the left, and mine is the one to the right.

Then, we took our berries and used them to fill in any spots where you could see the styro-foam cone. This is my mother's tree in all is splendour -- can you tell where I got my crafty abilities from?

This is my completed tree! As you can see, I chose smaller berries, while my mom went with the larger berries. I worked with a taller styro-foam cone, while my mom went with a smaller one.

And this is our trees together. Mine is taller -- just like I'm taller than my mom :)

My tree has made its home the bookshelf in our living room. What I love so much about this idea is that it doesn't have to be a decoration just for Christmas; I feel like I could leave my tree out all year long!


Magic of Christmas

December 23, 2011
I have always loved Christmas. I have never really known why -- I guess I've never actually thought about it. Yes, I love all the gifts, but that is not what attracts me to Christmas. I realised, recently, that what I love about Christmas is the feelings of Christmas; I love how the lights, the trees, the snow, the cookies, the Christmas cards, and the friends and family make me feel. I guess one could say that I like the magic that Christmas brings. This season, look beyond the gifts and the crazy people in the shopping malls, and believe in the magic of Christmas once again!

From our house to yours,
we wish you the merriest of Christmases!


The Joy of Giving

December 22, 2011
Everyone has been mentioning Christmas traditions recently, and I wanted to share one of ours with you. It has nothing to do with setting up the Christmas tree, baking goodies, or caroling, and has everything to do with giving!

A few years ago, my husband and I discovered a small Christmas tree covered in paper ornaments near the front doors of our local Wal-Mart. On each paper ornament was the name, age, and gender of a child that is not fortunate enough to receive a gift at Christmas-time. We immediately fell in love with the idea and picked an 11-year-old girl to find gifts for, and last year we picked a 9-year-old boy. I have really enjoyed trying to find the perfect gifts for each of them.

I really look forward to picking a child's name off the tree, and told my husband at the beginning of December that we needed to look out for "The Tree", as I like to call it. We spotted it a few days later during one of our many visits to Wal-Mart, and we immediately made our way over to pick a child. I like to alternate back-and-forth between a boy and a girl, so this year we picked a little 7-year-old girl.

It proved difficult to shop for a young girl that no longer would want to play with preschool toys, but is too young to play with and understand the toys that older girls would enjoy. I like to get each child something useful -- something to help keep them warm during the winter months -- so I bought her a scarf. I also like to get the children something educational, and something fun. Here is what I picked out for our special girl:

A stuffed wiener-dog, a scarf, markers, special paper, a jewelry kit, a sparkly make-up bag/pencil case, and lip gloss.

I hope that she will be so very excited to open her gifts on Christmas morning! I imagine her ripping the wrapping paper off each gift, her eyes wide in excitement :)

Is there a favourite charity or organization that you like to give to during the holiday season?


That's a Wrap!

December 20, 2011
Do you have your gifts already wrapped and hidden in some secret place in your house, or are you one of those people that waits until the last minute to purchase and wrap your gifts? I'm a bit of both. I have several gifts that are already wrapped and waiting under the tree, but there are some people that I struggle with, and so they wait until the last minute.

I like to think that I'm pretty good at making Christmas packages look pretty, and inviting. For those who wait until the last minute to wrap presents, I wanted to share with you how I wrap my gifts. I used one of my son's gifts just in case anyone from my family is reading this post:

First, I measure out the correct size of wrapping paper for the object. I try my best to find a box big enough -- or small enough -- to hold the gift that I'm wrapping. It is so much easier to wrap a box than some very odd shaped item.

Next, I pull the two longest sides of the paper as tightly as I can around the box so that they are overlapping, and tape them together. I don't like taping the paper to the box, and that is why I pull the sides as tightly as I can -- without ripping the paper, of course. After that, I fold one end of the paper over the edge of the box, and pinch the sides so they stay folded.

Then, I fold the bottom corners towards the box, and press firmly along the edges so they stay folded. I do not tape this part of the paper yet. I like to wait until I've done the other side so that I can fix anything that may need fixing. I simply tip the box up so it's standing on it's end, and set to work on the other end. I fold the side closest to me towards the box, pinching the sides so they stay folded, and, like with the other side, I fold the two corners furthest from me towards the box, and pinch the edges so they stay folded.

I then fold the top flap down, like an envelope, and tape it to the paper. After that, I flip the box over to fix anything I don't like about the other end of the box, and tape it up. Voila! There may be some folds that just aren't to your liking -- it's okay to re-do them.

For this gift, I just wrapped a simple ribbon with wire in it around the box, tied it in a knot, and curled the left-over ribbon. I like ribbon with wire in it because you can do so many fun things with it.

Are you all set for Christmas?


It Wouldn't Quite be Christmas without a Little Music

December 18, 2011
One, Mr. Grinch from Boris Karloff on the How the Grinch Stole Christmas 
Christmas 6. O Tannenbaum from Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown 

Everyone is writing about their favourite Christmas albums, but I decided to do something a little different and share my favourite Christmas songs with you. While I do enjoy purchasing Christmas albums -- the latest being A Very She & Him Christmas -- I am more of a song lover than an album lover. To me -- even though one of these albums is very new -- it wouldn't quite be Christmas without listening to these six songs. Enjoy!


No Bake: Christmas Goodies Recipe

December 15, 2011
Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry balls! The whole time I was making these delicious goodies with my mom, I had "Cherry Bomb" from The Runaways going through my head -- except I changed it to cherry balls. These delectable, and suuuper easy to make, little delights are one of my favourite Christmas treats. My mom has made them for as long as I can remember, and I wanted to share the recipe with you!

You will need:

1 jar of maraschino cherries (make sure they are not those candied cherries)
1 box of graham wafer crumbs
3 c. icing sugar (aka confectioners sugar)
1 c. butter (make sure it's butter, this is not a recipe for margarine)
3 c. short, shredded coconut

First, drain and towel dry the maraschino cherries. I use paper towel that I've placed over a cookie cooling rack. I then use another paper towel to dab the juices off the top of the cherries.

Then, cream the butter -- you may need to pop it into the microwave for a few seconds. The butter needs to be nice and soft in order to make the paste, but you don't want the butter to melt. Next, add the icing sugar and the coconut, and mix into a smooth paste. Easy!

Now you get to make the balls! First, take a small amount of paste in your hands -- remember, you need to have enough paste to cover all of the cherries, but you also need enough to cover the cherry when you make a ball. Press the paste with your fingers to make it nice and flat, and big enough to cover the cherry. Then you roll it into a ball.

After you've rolled the paste and cherry into a little ball, roll it in the graham wafer crumbs, and place it on a cookie sheet. The amount of cherry balls you will be able to make will vary according to how many cherries are in the jar: my mom made 42 cherry balls, and I made 51. 

Put your cookie sheet of cherry balls into the freezer  until they are solid, and then store them in an air tight container. They are delicious when still frozen, or you can let them thaw a bit. They are such a yummy little treat, and there is no stove required :)


My Cold Hands, Warm Hearts Swap

December 13, 2011
I first discovered the Cold Hands, Warm Hearts Swap through a button that I discovered on the blog of the sweet Sandy a la Mode. I instantly fell in love with the idea, but discovered that I was too late to take part in this year's swap. It was a few days later that I noticed a tweet from Sandy that said someone had backed-out of the swap and they  -- she and Ilene from much love, Illy -- were in need of a swapper as soon as possible. I immediately replied, and was soon paired with the lovely Joanne of Life's Fascinations.

I began reading Joanne's blog, and was instantly pulled in. We had so much in common -- including the fact that we are both left-handed. I quickly emailed her to start telling her about myself, and to get to know her better. We didn't have much time before the packages needed to be sent to the post office -- fortunately, we both live in Canada, so they didn't have far to travel.

Joanne was the first to receive her package. She posted a lovely blog post about her delivery, here. Last Thursday, I received my package before heading over to my parents house to celebrate Christmas with my sister and brother-in-law.

I quickly opened it up, and began pulling out boxes of Lindt chocolate -- a favourite of mine. There wasn't one or two boxes of chocolates, but five boxes of chocolates! She also sneaked in a couple of lollipops, another chocolate bar, and some gum that tastes like apple pie -- which really does taste like apple pie. But that's not all, the box was filled to the top with goodies! She also sent along two bottles of nail polish, a lip gloss that smells like candy, fuzzy socks from Old Navy -- another favourite -- and, of course, a fabulous pair of mittens and a matching scarf. It really was such a wonderful package to open up, with surprise after surprise of very thoughtful items.

My wonderful gifts from Joanne, wrapped in the cutest ladybug wrapping paper :)


My All-Time Favourite Christmas Movies

December 11, 2011
Besides decorating the Christmas tree, one of my most favourite parts of Christmas is sitting down with a can of coke, some Christmas goodies -- like Toffifee -- and curling up under a blanket to watch a Christmas movie. Here are five of my all time favourite Christmas movies -- in no particular order:

I love Elf! Who couldn't love a movie about a Christmas loving elf named Buddy that is on the hunt to find the Christmas Spirit. With memorable quotes like "the best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear", and "I just like to smile, smiling's my favorite " you're bound to be smiling throughout the entire movie. Put this one on your Christmas list!


Love Actually follows the lives of several different characters that are all somehow connected in quite fascinating ways, and, until they show you, you would never guess who knows who. There are characters that you love instantly, and others that you learn to enjoy over the years, and there are those that will charm you over and over again -- they're the ones that keep bringing you back Christmas after Christmas.

My sister and I went to see The Holiday in theatres when it first came out. I knew then and there that it would be a Christmas classic for me. I have watched it every Christmas since, and it is even among my husband's favourites. It is a cute, smart, witty movie that keeps you coming back for more!

White Christmas has been one of my favourite Christmas movies for a long time. I remember sitting down with my childhood best friend and watching this movie every Christmas. It became a tradition that I have continued to this day. Besides all of the classic, and fantastic, music that is sung by Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen, there are amazing dance numbers throughout -- my favourite is  "Mandy" with a fantastic Vera-Ellen. I can honestly never take my eyes off of her during that number. Classic Hollywood, and classic Christmas.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas has long been a favourite Christmas movie of mine. I remember when I would look at the TV Guide to see when it would be on, and I would try my best to make sure I was able to see it. It wasn't very often that I was at home, so I realized that if I were to record it -- yes, on a VCR -- that I could watch it any time. A few years later, I bought the DVD and I have never looked at another TV Guide. The cartoon version is my favourite. It is a Christmas classic that brings back so many great memories.

Do you have a favourite Christmas movie?


A Day for Poetry

December 10, 2011
When I was in high school, English was my best subject -- in fact, I loved it so much that it became my major in university. During my first year of high school, I signed up for creative writing classes. At first writing poems and stories proved quite difficult, especially when you are expected to write so much and have deadlines, but sometimes you get such an amazing flow of thoughts that end up on paper. The following poem happened on one such occasion, and it is one of my favourite pieces that I have ever written. Enjoy!

"The Cowboy and the Cat"
by Laura Holtby

The fire crackled fiercely
As the cowboy put another log on the fire
He opened a can of beans
And ate it with a spoon
Leaving nothing for his starving cat
A flock of birds settled in front of the cowboy
The cat looked in his direction, eyes wide
And prepared to pounce
A flutter of wings went up
As a lone feather
Fell from the cat's mouth
The cowboy grew angry
With this stupid creature
And picked it up by its tail
"Get outta here!"
The cowboy yelled
As he threw the cat into the bush
He turned his back
Threw another log on the fire
And lay down to rest
In the morning, when he woke up
The cat was asleep on his chest


ElleSee's Favourite Things

December 08, 2011
D40 DSLR from Nikon now known as the D3000 5. Sweet Fox Brooch 

Just like Oprah, I wanted to share my favourite things at this very moment with you. But, unlike Oprah, I am not able to give you all of these items -- but I am able to give you one -- the details are below. I just wanted to share them because I either love them, or they are an important part of my life. Here's why:

1. These pants are the only pair of jeans that fit me right now, and I love them because they are so stretchy. When the size I'm in is way too big, and the size smaller is just a  little too small, I'm still able to buy them because they have some give.

2. I was finally able to get my paws on this Christmas album. I'd been listening to it on the internet, but I wanted to be able to listen to it in my car. It is now one of my favourite Christmas albums, and -- here's a bonus -- Zooey Deschanel's lovely voice helps lull my son to sleep while we're driving.

3. I bought these earrings at the beginning of Summer, and ever since they arrived in my mailbox, they have been one of my favourite pair of earrings to wear. They are perfect because they can be worn with a dressy outfit, or a casual outfit. They have that perfect dressy-casual vibe, and I love that about them.

4. My camera was a gift from my husband many Christmases ago. It was a dream of mine to own a digital SLR, so when I opened the gift from him -- which he couldn't wait until Christmas for me to open so he let me open it early -- I cried tears of joy. This camera has seen many good times -- two trips to DisneyWorld -- and some sad times -- at my Grandfather's memorial -- but it recently has been seeing the best time of its life taking photographs of my son.

5. I had been eying this little brooch for quite some time, and finally bought it a few weeks ago. As soon as I opened the package, I put it on. This little brooch is even sweeter in person, and I have been wearing him pretty much everyday.

6. There's nothing quite like hot chocolate on a cold Winter's day. You would think that the most expensive brands would taste best, but I have never had a hot chocolate that tastes better than this brand -- which I believe is only available in Canada. Sorry friends. I pile as much I as desire into a mug, add some milk and hot water, and, voila! Delicious!

What are some of your favourite things?

Giveaway! CLOSED!

Kate from Posh Patina has been kind enough to give the Shabby Chic Daisy earrings to one luck reader! They most likely will not be there in time for Christmas, but they probably will be in time for New Years Eve :)

To enter:

1. Visit Posh Patina's shop and leave a comment here with one of your favourite items, and your e-mail address.

For extra entries:
1. Become a fan of Posh Patina's Facebook page. (1entry)
2. Become a fan of The Little Shop of ElleSee's Facebook page. (1 entry)
3. Follow Posh Patina  and The Little Shop of ElleSee on Twitter. (1 entry)
4. Become a follower of this blog. (1 entry)
5. Share this giveaway on Twitter, Facbook, or your blog. (1 entry)

Please don't forget to leave an additional comment for every extra entry! I will announce the winner in one week from today -- December 15, 2011. They will be chosen at random from random.org. Good luck!


My Grown-up Christmas List

December 04, 2011
To my family, here are some ideas of what to get me for Christmas this year. To anyone looking for that perfect gift for your special someone, here are some ideas! I made up my Christmas wishlist a few days ago -- my treasury wishlist of Etsy items that I really want. I would have to make several treasuries to show how many items I truly wish most for, but here are a few of my favourites:

Red Fox and Moon Print

I love this print! Absolutely. Positively. Love.
I have had my eyes on it for quite some time now, I just haven't
gotten around to purchasing it. Now it is on my wishlist
for Christmas.

Womens GIRAFFE (in High Tops) american apparel T Shirt S M L XL (16 Colors Available)
Women's Giraffe (In High Tops) American Apparel T-Shirt from Zen Threads

I don't know what it is about this shirt, maybe the
fact that it is just super cool to see a giraffe wearing high tops,
but I absolutely love it! I wouldn't choose a yellow shirt,
probably white, but this too is on my wishlist.

Hand stamped sterling silver starfish earrings
Hand Stamped Sterling Silver Starfish Earrings from Tidepools

I feel in love with these earrings from the moment I first set eyes
on them. I love their simplicity, and they are so beautiful.
These earrings are also on my Christmas wishlist.

Vintage 3D Paper Mobile Heart Strings Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility
Vintage 3D Paper Mobile Heart Strings from Maisy and Alice

Jane Austen is my favourite author, and Pride and Prejudice is my favourite
book. I would die if I got my little hands on this beautiful 3D
paper heart garland. Conscider this at the top of my list.

FREE Personalization for a Limited Time--Cosmetic Makeup Bag - Grasshopper - Handmade - Made to Order
Cosmetic Grasshopper Make-up Bag from JuJu Baju

I already have a little bag to keep items in your purse from this shop,
and I love it. It is very handy to search for that bag and know
that what I need is inside. I have had my eyes on this
cosmetics bag for a while now. It would be just as handy as the
little purse bag, but for my make-up :)

What's on your Christmas wishlist this year? Any extra special
requests for Santa?


Simply Delicious. Simply Lasagna.

December 03, 2011
I was never a fan of lasagna while I was growing up. It was the last thing my mother ate before giving birth to me, so I used to joke that that was the reason why I didn't like lasagna -- but it didn't explain why I didn't, and still don't, like a lot of other foods. I was in high school before I tried lasagna for the first time, and I have loved it ever since -- homemade lasagna that is.

Several years ago, my Mom requested that my Dad and I make her lasagna for her birthday supper. She had found an easy lasagna recipe in the Kraft magazine that she had been wanting to try -- here. Despite how simple it was, my Dad and I managed to screw it up -- we didn't include all of the water that is needed for the noodles to cook properly. It still tasted really good though, and I have since never forgotten the water.

Last night I made this simple recipe for supper, and thought that I would share it with you. It is one more my husband's favourite meals that I make. Enjoy!

You will need:
2 cups ricotta cheese
3 cups Kraft 4 Cheese Italiano Shredded Cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (if you don't have fresh, that's fine)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 can (680mL) Pasta Sauce
1 lb. lean ground beef, browned, drained
1 - 1/2 cups water
12 Lasagne Noodles, uncooked (I use oven-ready noodles)

Brown your meat. While doing that mix the Ricotta cheese
with the egg, parsley (I often call it paisley), and 1 3/4 cups of the
Kraft 4 Cheese Italiano Shredded Cheese. The original recipe calls
for Mozzarella and Parmesan, but I like how it tastes with the 4 
Cheese Italiano -- it already has Parmesan, so no need to
purchase Parmesan grated cheese.

After you have added the water and sauce to your meat,
you get to start the layering! First, put about 1 cup of meat
in the bottom of the 9x13 glass pan. Then layer 3 noodles
on top, and put on a layer of the cheese mixture.
Repeat the layers 2 more times.

After the last layer of noodles, cheese, and meat, lay down another
layer of noodles, and, on top of that, put the rest of the meat.
Then you get to sprinkle the rest of the cheese that is left over in the
bag of Kraft 4 Cheese Italiano Shredded Cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F for 1 hour. Take off the
aluminum foil and bake for 15 more minutes  -- to help the cheese get
all nice and bubbly. I put a cookie sheet underneath the lasagna pan
so that it catches any drips from the lasagna. Last time I didn't and it
smelled like burning in my oven for a week.

If you missed it, you can find the recipe here. It really is very simple -- even though my Dad and I messed it up the first time we made it. What I like best about it is the Ricotta cheese. It's very soft and not as lumpy and in-your-face as cottage cheese. I also like how the left-overs can be frozen, and used as lunches :)

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