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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!







I absolutely love Half Baked Harvest, I've tried numerous of her recipes and every single one has always been delicious. This time I decided we would try one of her cocktail recipes for the Christmas season called the Holly Jolly Christmas Citrus Cocktail and it has since earned a spot among our favourite festive drinks. It's citrus so it provides a little tart factor that I always gravitate towards when choosing a mixed drink and yet the ginger rounds it out nicely so that it mellows any risk of too sweet. This would also make for the perfect little something to sip on New Years Eve!


Ingredients

*for an individual serving*


2 ounces vodka

1/2 ounce St. Germain (elderflower liqour) *we opted to leave this out

1/3 cup fresh squeezed clementine or blood orange juice

ginger beer for topping

pomegranate arils for topping

1 sprig fresh thyme or mint leaf


Fill a cocktail glass with ice (we like a lot so we nearly fill an entire glass to the brim). Add the vodka, elderflower (if using-we did not) and clementine juice and top with ginger beer. Add some pomegranate arils and thyme or mint and enjoy!


Ingredients

*for a pitcher*


1 cup vodka

1/2 cup St. Germain

1 1/2 cups fresh squeezed clementine or blood orange juice

2 12 ounce ginger beers

4 fresh thyme sprigs or mint leaves

arils of one pomegranate


In a large pitcher combine vodka, St. Germain (if using) and clementine juice, chill until ready to serve.


Just before serving and ice, ginger beer and pomegranate arils, serve garnished with thyme or mint in each glass.









With Christmas right around the corner this recipe is just what a season full of celebrations and gatherings calls for. It's savoury with a little sweet, super easy to make and can work for so many holiday occasions. It's perfect for apres meal with drinks, before dinner snacking, host or hostess gifting, neighbourhood treats and bonfire gatherings. All you have to do is pick the nut mixture you want, stir and bake-now how great is that!



Ingredients

(feel free to pick any type of nut combination you like in proportional substitution)


1/4 cup butter

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (*I love cinnamon so I tend to like a stronger presence of this flavour-add less if you prefer)

1/4 tsp chipolte pepper

1/4 tsp all spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup almonds

1 cup walnuts

1 cup cashews



Heat oven to 350 F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl add all of the nuts, in a separate small bowl add all of the spices and sugar, mix them together. Melt the butter in small bowl in the microwave in 20-30 second intervals until fully liquid. Pour the butter over the nuts and toss them in it. Add the spice/sugar mixture to the nuts and mix several times ensuring all of the nuts are coated.


Pour the nuts onto the baking sheet and spread them out into a single layer. Bake for 10-15 minutes (stirring halfway). I would start checking the mixture at 10 minutes for sure if you opt to bake them longer so as to avoid burning the sugar coating, you only want it to caramelize. Serve warm or at room temperature, once completely cooled the spice/sugar coating sets and becomes crunchy (and a little less messy to enjoy;).


I packed up a few of ours into little Kraft paper bags so they were transportable and easy to munch on while plunked down in front of the fire. I'm picturing a bunch of these bags piled into a large tray and placed outside with something warm to drink next to a large roaring fire at our country house for Christmas seasons to come!


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