life & style



This Valentine's Day treat is super easy and quick to make-no baking required! Simply use your most favourite no-bake cookie recipe, portion out your cookies to the sizes you want, let them cool, shape, freeze, package and give! And just in case you might need a great recipe for the occasion I'm sharing the one I used below, from Cooking Classy. The kids and I whipped up our batch one afternoon and then went for a walk while they cooled, once we returned I shaped and then froze them (this not only helps the cookies maintain their heart shape, but it keeps them fresher and chewy-the way we prefer all of our cookies!

These treats are perfect for giving to any Valentine whether it be a teacher, friend, family or neighbour...but don't forget to show some love for yourself too and save a few for later;)


1/2 cup salted butter (I used unsalted)

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

3 cups quick oats (I used old fashioned)

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (my addition)

Line several baking sheets or a counter space with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan combine butter, sugar, cocoa and milk, melt over medium heat (stirring often) until it reaches a boil. Let boil for 60 seconds without stirring (be sure to do this at FULL boil). Remove from heat and immediately add vanilla, peanut butter and oats, combine. Drop mixture onto parchment paper using a spoon or small ice cream/cookie dough scoop (or larger if you desire). Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes at room temperature or place in the fridge to speed the process up (we let ours sit on the counter for 1 hour at room temperature and then shaped the cookies into hearts before placing them on a cookie sheet in the freezer). Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature (like most of our cookies, we like to keep ours in the freezer and enjoy them cold and chewy!!).

For giving as valentines, simply package them up into small bags or boxes and seal with a pretty ribbon and tag or just a heart shaped sticker, Happy Valentine's Day!

I made this chocolate cake and ganache icing from Ina Garten's cookbook "Cook Like A Pro" for our Christmas meal dessert this year and it was a hit with everyone. It might very well become one of my chocolate cake go-to recipes from now on. It's super quick to make and mega dense and rich-just the way chocolate cake should be in my opinion;). I know a lot of you may have likely already tried it but if by chance you haven't you should, put it on your "next chocolate cake to make" list and I can guarantee you will be happy you did!


1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar

4 extra-large eggs at room temperature

1 1/3 cups Hershey's chocolate syrup

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

For the ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream

8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. In bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add flour and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat, or the cake will be tough.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Be sure not to overbake, I started checking mine at about 35 minutes! Let cool thoroughly in the pan.

For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. I opted to leave the coffee granules out (to make it a bit more kiddo friendly).

Once cooled place the cake upside down on a wire rack and pour the glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides. You can tilt the rack to smooth the glaze. Keep it at room temperature and do not refrigerate. The recipe shows a chevron pattern which it also gives instructions on how to create-we just kept ours a simple chocolate coating as pictured and it was devine!

We live near the Rockies so every year we make several trips to the mountains during the warmer months but the last few years we have also made a winter tradition of going to the Ice Festival in Lake Louise with my sister and her husband. We spend the first half of the day taking in the amazing ice sculptures (a world renown event) and doing winter activities at Lake Louise. We then drive into Banff afterwards to see the snow sculptures at their SnowDays, grab some dinner and spend the night, it's a "bundled up" weekend in the mountains and we love it. The Rockies are absolutely stunning any time of the year but there is just something ever so more majestic and peaceful about them when all of the peaks and valleys are blanketed in snow, every tree and rooftop looking as though someone scooped a big dollop of whipped cream and plopped it right on top-almost surreal in some ways. And then the icicles that form, well those are just unbelievable, I have never seen anything like it elsewhere before, certainly not ones as large those that have frozen to buildings and that cling, almost suspended, onto every inch of overhang it can find. Nature paints an extraordinary picture this time of year there and if you are ever in the area or are wanting a cozy mountain escape I highly recommend this location (though hiking and wandering the shops of small mountain towns during warmer months is a highlight as well). There is no shortage of activities to do no matter the season.

This is Deer Lodge, it's on my list of places to stay and would be my pick for where to lodge at Lake Louise, it's charming, quaint, old and just packed with history. Look at that snow and ice, see what I mean about gorgeous!! How wonderful would it be to curl up next to a fire and take in the view from one of those windows.

The entrance to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, gorgeous and grand, but still very appropriate for the location and so beautiful inside. It's also another historical hotel and has some absolutely exquisite finishes and details within, I'll share a couple below but you could easily spend a couple hours wandering around inside the hotel taking it all in.

A hallway with stained glass window detailing which frame breathtaking mountain and lake views.

One of the many historical photos of the hotel.

At the Ice Festival competitors from all over the world carve ice into sculptures, this one won first place this year and happened to also be my favourite. Behind it you can see the frozen lake and people skating.

Another amazing sculpture-a cruiser bike made out of ice, perfect!

This is the ice castle that they create every year (always a hit with the kids), it's only a few walls but it's perfect. It's located next to the skating area and serves as the perfect annual photo location:)

It's so fun to be bundled up skating around a frozen lake surrounded by the stunning mountains. This is usually our last activity in Lake Louise before we head to Banff.

And the ice bar, warm up with a hot drink of choice!

Horse drawn sleigh rides are also an option, we're yet to go on one but will have to one of these years.

Then it was off to Banff, probably the most "known" place in our area of the Rockies. It's a must see if you are ever visiting and again gorgeous any time of the year. Tons of local shopping and restaurants as well as countless outdoor activities to do, it's about a half hour from Lake Louise.

This is just one of the snow sculptures at the SnowDays in Banff (another display of winter carving that draws international competitors), how amazing is this? After this we went for dinner and then headed to the hotel, we were all spent after a day of outdoor fun!


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