Baka's Cookies (Traditional Croatian Christmas Cookies)

One of my fondest memories growing up in Croatia at Christmas time was my grandmother’s baking.

What fascinated me the most about my grandmother’s cooking was that she never kept recipes. Everything she made came straight from her head. She never wrote anything down.

So it was a real challenge trying to come up with the exact recipe for these cookies! Between gathering bits of pieces of everybody’s version of the cookies from aunts and cousins back in Croatia, I think this is the closest I could get to tasting and reliving my childhood Christmas memories….

These cookies are real simple to make. I hope you enjoy them! Merry Christmas! xo

Christmas Walnut Cookies

Ingredients

275ml flour
125ml sugar
1 egg
200ml butter
100g ground walnuts
5 tbs of dark rum
1 cup powder sugar
2 pkgs vanilla sugar

 
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Method

In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar and egg. Add ground walnuts and butter (cut up in small chunks. Mix all ingredients well, form a ball and wrap in plastic wrapping. Put the cookie mixture in the fridge for at least one hour.

Form crescents on a lightly floured surface. Place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, keeping about an inch distance between cookies. Work in batches - keeping the unused dough in the fridge while you are ready to bake the next batch.

Bake at 400F for approx. 8-10 minutes.

Let cookies cool completely. In a bowl mix together sugar powder and vanilla sugar. Dip cookies in the mixture, shaking off excess.

merry christmas

Merry Christmas

from our Family to Yours.

xo

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Travel on a Budget

Cheap Vacations

The Three L's for Travelling on a Budget

I put together my top three tips on how to enjoy your vacation without coming home and paying off your travel bills for the next decade.

  1. Act like a LOCAL.  Stay out of the congested tourist areas and you will pay considerably less for almost everything.  It's crazy how a price of an espresso will differ from just a block out of the most popular tourist attractions.  Also, don't give in to the temptation of paying for overpriced group tours.  You can enjoy visiting any tourist attraction at your own leisure without a time constraint of a tour group and  following that guy holding an umbrella at the head of the group.  You can even download your own audio walking tours onto your iPod.  I would recommend Rick Steves.  
  2. Eat like a LOCAL.  One of the first things I do after getting settled into my hotel room is hit up a grocery store and the local market for fresh fruits and vegetables.  Treat yourself to a wonderful meal at a restaurant, but for the most part, stock up on goodies from the local supermarket, hit up a beach or a park and enjoy a picnic (don't forget the bottle of wine). Think of all the $$ you'll save that can go towards those chic shoes you've been eyeing.
  3. Live like a LOCAL.  Public transit is the way to go.  Airports, hotels and any tourist information stands will have public transit maps available.   I find Paris to have the best Metro system.  It is impossible to get lost, even if it is your first time in the City.  Public transit is cheap, hassle free and what more, you get to see how the locals go about their daily lives.  And don't forget to just walk.  Walk and take in the beauty of your surroundings.  Stop and look.  Best of all, burn off those extra croissant calories. ;-)

Get a printable map of the Paris METRO here.

Happy & Safe Travels.

Getting the Most out of Your Travels

Paris - Guide Books Lack Originality

 

Over the course of accumulating a number of travel guide books, I have come to this conclusion: information repeated and no originality.  For example:

THE HALL OF MIRRORS - PALACE OF VERSAILLES

This magnificent room is described as the mirrors being the awe of all who see it. Yes, the mirrors and the sun they capture from the opposite side is beautiful.

the hall of mirrors

But a little detail no guide book will "guide" you to is the ceilings.  These intricate ceilings are spectacular.  The richness of the colours and all the details of the ceilings and chandeliers are a true example of how much there is to notice that usually gets very little attention and popularity.

At the end of your tour of the Palace, stop by the gift shop.  I picked up this adorable key chain with a scented little sack-like triangle.  It has the most unique smell - a mix of lavender and gardenias.  

lavender scent

Fun Fact:  Marie Antoinette's favourite scent was lavender!   

NOTRE DAME

Guide books tend to focus on how to get your tickets to see the inside of Notre Dame. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but wouldn't you like to experience this beauty in a unique way?

notre dame tours

How about seeing it sitting across the river where Paris started some 2300 years ago. Imagine how a little village on a tiny island became one of the most magical cities in the world.

I haven't come across one guide book that will suggest this most romantic way of seeing the Cathedral:  from a houseboat turned bar-restaurant, La Nouvelle Seine. For an even more magical view, come at night time to see the lights sparkle against the Cathedral's windows.

PARIS RESTAURANTS

There are countless of recommendations that can be found leafing through tour guide books.  Not many though will tell you about places locals frequent - probably because they are less frilly and fancy than the overpriced ones that they do recommend.

Try a hidden gem where the locals dine such as Bouillon Chartier.  The simplicity of their menu, the honest French cooking and the traditional old world decor is what makes this restaurant unique.

Whether in Paris or in your own backyard, look further than what is presented to you. There is so much more to see and experience....just leave it to your imagination...❤

Parisian Style: Relaxed & Sexy

On my last trip to Paris, I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Valerie, owner of Chez Valérie, where she invited us into her charming 16th arrondissement home.

Valerie is not only an exquisite cook and hostess, she is a former buyer for Galleries Lafayette.  Naturally,  I had to pick her brain and probe into the style secrets of a Parisian woman.   

Here is what she had to say:

Sanci:  How would you describe your personal style?
Valerie:  Relax, modern, sexy (without being ridiculous regarding my age).

Sanci:  What is your favourite piece of accessory you cannot live without?
Valerie:  I always keep my little diamond around my neck, it enlightens and fits every outfit. 

Sanci:  How do you decide what jewelry to wear?
Valerie:  I just try them and check in the mirror if it fits or not.

Sanci:  Do you have any "secret" small shops in Paris that you absolutely love?
Valerie:  Many! They are multi brands boutique, with a nice selection I know I will find the little stylish piece. 

Sanci:  Do you have a favourite pastry shop in Paris?
Valerie:  Yes.  Maison Caffet, rue Duban 75016 paris, Maison Adam, rue saint placide in the 6th. 

Sanci:  How did you start Chez Valerie? 
Valerie:  Coming back from London, I was looking for a part time activity. I always wanted to get inside home’s people when travelling abroad, this is how I got my idea to host a lunch. 

Sanci:  What is your favourite book?
Valerie:  Not one favourite.  French littérature is far too rich: Mémoires d’Adrien from Marguerite Yourcenar or La Peste from Camus are great literature masterpieces. 

Sanci:  Women around the world always try to emanate the look of a Parisian woman.  Do you have a typical beauty routine you can share?
Valerie:  Not really except no excess. I always finish my look removing things (make up or accessories). Parisian woman hates being overdressed or too sophisticated.  Our purpose is to look wonderful without giving the feeling that we spent 2 hours getting nice. 

Sanci:  What is the biggest misconception other women have of Parisian women?
Valerie:  No idea! Maybe you can tell me? 

Sanci:  I have always admired how Parisian women have their own unique style.  They don't seem to follow any fashion trends. Do you have any tips on how to achieve your own personal, unique look?
Valerie:  A good mix between fashion and basic, between relax and sophisticated, comfort and sexy. We hate total look, we look for a nice balance and for something which looks like ourself. If you don’t look yourself, just start again. 

Thank you Valerie for allowing us to learn a little bit about your Parisian lifestyle!  I absolutely love your last sentence:  "If you don't look yourself, just start again."

Holiday Gift Guide 2016

holiday gift guide 2016

We've picked out some of our favourite goodies of 2016!  

  1. Our Roman Holiday Bracelet with its unique design is a perfect statement piece for any outfit!
  2. This Double Wrap Ring is such a fun piece, an every day staple!
  3. Luxury at its finest.  Our Updated Classics cashmere sweaters with flair.
  4. Lots of sparkle from this sterling silver nugget bracelet.  Make your wishes with this Three Wishes Bracelet.
  5. Such beautiful scents from these candles with all your favourite fashion icons from Pure Home Couture.
  6. The most exquisite, sensual scent, Music-Les Nombres D'Or by Mona di Orio.
  7. Amazing products, no harsh ingredients, top choice for all your hair needs!
  8. A magnolia in a bottle.  Can't stop slathering on this fabulous oil!

DIY Don't Break the Bank Jeans

We've all seen the hot, illusive jeans that run the price tag in hundreds of $$$$.  Now you can own a pair without breaking the bank!  Just dig out those long lost pairs of jeans (or the ones you never got around to getting hemmed and are way too long still) and cut away!

vetements jeans diy

Just follow these simple steps for cutting:

  1. Mark the half-way point of the jeans, then mark where you want the longest point of the hem to be.
     
  2. Cut as per measurements below:

Inkspiration

There is something very personal and inspiring about tattoos.  I have a few myself which I have accumulated over the course of a number of years, each representing something special.

One my my favourite tattoos is the one on my right wrist. It reads: "Underneath the same big sky."  I got this particular one for my two boys.  We may not always be together, but we are always underneath the same big sky.

travel tatoos

While perusing Instagram, I came across the cutest travel inspired tattoos.  Check these out:

@domtrep

We'd love you to share pics of your tattoos!  Drop us a line with your photo!

And check out our newest Roman Holiday bracelets!  These handmade beauties can be personalized with your special word or phrase.  For all you wandurlustists, this one's for you!

 

 

 

A Stamping Party!

On May 19, we had a great night personalizing our jewelry at Noinkee's! Loved how creative people are with their choices of words.  For a woman's milestone birthday and the love of horses, her friend gifted her with our bracelet and the words "Giddy Up!".

We also introduced our new bracelets, Roman Holiday, inspired by an ancient Roman jewelry making technique.  The inspiration behind these bracelets was also the story of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony.  It is said that an understated bracelet was given to Cleopatra by Marc Anthony out of respect for and not to compete with Julius Caesar, as he was known to shower Cleopatra with lavish gifts.

We'd love to host a party with you, in your store or with your friends for a personal night of shopping!  Just drop us a line! And stay tuned for another stamping party at Noinkee's in June!

Girl About Town

Who runs this town?  A spoonful of foxiness and a dash of inspiration are what make up these ladies of T Dot!

Designs by Maria (@designsbymaria)

I am in love with all these prints! Maria believes that "every woman should feel a little fancy pants, every single day." Right?  

Paper Trails Design Co. (@papertrailsdesignco)

There is something incredibly nostalgic about handwritten letters.  I love that Priyanka encourages creating your own handwritten notes through some of her incredible designs! 💋

Dolce Custom Cookies

Love a girl who left the legal field to pursue her dreams and make the most incredible cookies!

Paper Hearts

Gotta have one of each of these snazzy totes of Toronto neighbourhoods made by talented Rachel!

Nuary Boutique

Aziza takes these candles to a whole new level with inspirational messages!