Author: Charlotte Lamontagne

Travel

ULTIMATE PACKING LIST FOR ANY TRAVEL DESTINATION

If you are planning to travel, or if you just love packing bags and going on a trip, then this list is for you. The packing list that we have compiled includes everything that you will need. We’ve put together a checklist of important things to pack when traveling overseas.

 

These items cover different weather conditions while also keeping your luggage weight to a minimum. Not only for your trip overseas but also useful when you travel within the country as well.

 

While packing, just remember it’s not necessary to pack all of these items in one bag. You can distribute them among your luggage and keep the weight even. Some people like to dress light, with just enough clothes and toiletries for the trip. While others prefer to be prepared for any weather conditions and pack heavy, you can decide what is more important: Weight or Comfort/Safety?

 

You’ll find these and many more items on our comprehensive checklist. We’ve organized everything into three distinct categories: Essentials and Outdoor Gear and Toiletries. At the same time, do not forget to purchase fashionable Apple watch 6 bands to secure your Apple watch wherever you go.

PACKING LIST FOR TRAVEL

Essentials:

 

Clothing – The first category includes clothing essentials for any trip. Keep in mind that you will be packing for different weather conditions and keep the weight in mind as well. There are also other items such as footwear, accessories, and outerwear.

 

1) Casual Clothing – These are the clothes that you would wear on any normal day at home or at work. You can pick whatever outfit makes you feel good but just remember that you won’t be able to bring everything with you. You can choose your favorite t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers or shorts and sandals if it makes you feel comfortable. But only pack the things that will make you comfortable for your trip.

 

2) Travel Clothing – You want clothing that is comfortable enough but also lightweight so it doesn’t add extra weight to your luggage. This usually depends on the destination but you always want to blend in when you travel. If it’s summer, pick lightweight cotton and shorts because let’s face it, they are easier than jeans and long-sleeved shirts. And if it’s winter, consider bringing clothing that is warm enough but still made of lightweight materials.

 

3) A Couple Of Pairs Of Different Shoes – I’m a big fan of having one versatile pair of shoes that can be worn in all kinds of climates and conditions. For example, bring one pair of sandals that are closed-toe, sturdy enough to walk around the city but also waterproof if it rains. And then if you are traveling to a cold climate, bring one pair of durable sneakers. They are comfortable enough to walk in but also have thick soles so your feet stay warm.

 

4) Outerwear – Outerwear is really just another name for anything that you wear on top of …

Read More
Stitches

To Stretch Bar or Not to Stretch Bar

Time to talk about stretch bars. And no, this isn’t some strange workout fad I’m trying to get y’all into for 2018. I’m talking about the contraptions that we use to hold our needlepoint projects in place!

Stretch-Bar

What are stretch bars?
Stretch bars are literally bars, usually made of wood or plastic, that hold your needlepoint canvas in place while you’re stitching. Sounds useful right? It is!

I have a few sizes of wooden stretch bars that many of my canvases fit on to. I can break them down and store them when I’m not using them.

Stretch Bar

Do I really need to use them?
Yes….and no. Honestly it’s going to depend on the type of project you are doing. For example, I stitch belts on a fairly regular basis. Just last month I wrapped up this shark-eating-a-fish belt for my middle brother. Thin projects like belts don’t need stretch bars because if they do get pulled out of shape, they’ll be added to leather and fixed at that point.

When working a larger canvas however, having stretch bars to hold it in place can be so helpful to prevent the project from getting stretched out. Not sure you need them? Think about the needlepoint bag I made for my mom. It was a square canvas that once stitched, was supposed to fit perfectly on the pocket of a canvas bag. I forgot to use stretch bars so the canvas wasn’t a rectangle at all by the end. It could have been worse but I will always know when I look at it that it is slightly diagonal. And now I suppose so will all of you.

Stretch Bar

How do I use stretch bars?
Alright, so I’ve convinced you that you need stretch bars. Now what? Find a size that works for your canvas! If you’re going to sketch designs, I would recommend doing it before putting the canvas on bars. I often use mugs for example, to outline Christmas ornaments. I do this on a flat surface before adding the canvas to stretch bars.

Stretch Bar

When you’re ready to mount the canvas, connect the four corners of the stretch bars. Many are made in such a way so that they easily fit securely together. Align the canvas on the bars and use metal tacks to secure it. Don’t do one side at a time. To ensure that it stays even on the bars, start with the four corners and then do one tack per side, making your way around until you feel like your canvas is secure.

When you’re done with your canvas, all you need to do is remove the tacks, put away the stretch bars and get your project finished!…

Read More
Lifestyle

How to Create A Unique Bathroom Experience

A bathroom is a place where many of us spend most of our free time. For some, it’s a relaxing space to take care of personal hygiene, and for others, the bathroom is another room in which they go about their daily lives. The one thing that unites all people who use this room: we all want to enjoy an enjoyable and unique experience. Read below for tips on how you can create your own custom bathroom experience using a bathroom shower faucet set while doing what you love most, taking care of business.

  1. Standalone Platform Bathtub

If you have a standalone platform bathtub, you can install a bathroom shower faucet. Many people think they do not have to purchase bathroom shower faucets. This is because there’s already one included with their bathroom. However, this is no longer an excuse since these days, bathroom shower stalls are being manufactured without all the components.

Nowadays, people expect bathrooms to have extra features other than just being able to take a simple shower. For example, many bathrooms include modern features such as benches and shelves to place your towels or monitor while taking your showers. This means that if you want these modern features in your bathroom, you must install bathroom shower faucets.

  1. Fancy Faucet Design

Bathroom shower faucets come in different designs and styles that provide added beauty to your bathroom’s décor. Although people primarily use them for showers, they can also enhance the look of your bathroom if you choose the right design and style. So, if you want a fancy bathroom with an equally fancy bathroom shower stall, you need to purchase bathroom shower faucets capable of enhancing these features.

  1. Bathtub and Shower Combination

Some bathrooms feature a combination of bathtubs and shower stalls. If such is the case, you can install a bathroom shower faucet. This will ensure that water will not seep into other areas within your bathroom.

Bathroom Experience

  1. Contemporary Bathroom Décor

Some bathroom owners want their bathroom to have a contemporary look, so they often include bathroom shower faucets in bathroom décor. If you prefer your bathroom to have modern features like benches or shelves, you need to choose bathroom shower faucets with these modern design elements. This way, your bathroom will look completer and more well-designed than ever before.

  1. Small Size Shower Stall

If you own one of those small-sized bathrooms, choosing bathroom shower faucets designed specifically for smaller bathrooms would be the best option. This is because they purposely made these fixtures for spaces of this size. Bathroom shower faucets for small-sized bathrooms typically have a simple design that can complement any bathroom décor.

  1. Hands-Free Faucet

In the past, bathroom owners could not enjoy hands-free bathroom shower valves. These types of bathroom fixtures only became available during the last ten years. But they’re packed with a wide range of features that other bathroom shower faucets do not have. For instance, some bathroom shower valves even complete the look of your bathroom by including all modern …

Read More
Recipes

RED WINE EGGLESS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Okay wine lovers, let’s talk about the best way to use up the last drop in your red wine bottle: red wine eggless chocolate mousse!

 

It’s no secret that I’m a BIG fan of chocolate mousse. And look, I know that there is debate around whether something this simple is even mousse at all. The purists will insist that it isn’t but honestly, sometimes it’s okay to take a little shortcut when it tastes this good. If you’d be more comfortable calling it a red wine whipped chocolate treat, you do that but I’m gonna categorize this one as an ‘eggless chocolate mousse’.

Red-Wine-Eggless-Chocolate-Mousse

These past few weeks, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on my couch. This is largely due to the fact that all the Bachelor Nation shows are my guilty pleasure. That being said, even I’m starting to struggle with 2 hours of Arie’s season of the Bachelor on Monday followed by 2 hours on Tuesday and 2 hours on Thursday of Bachelor Winter Games. It’s probably a good thing that all of these shows are wrapping up soon so I can go back to watching re-runs of The Office.

Is there anything more perfect that indulging in chocolate and wine while watching The Bachelor? Nope! I taste-tested a few varieties of this red wine eggless chocolate mousse so that I could have the perfect version ready to go for a week of watching people try to find on love on reality TV. And also the real Olympics. I’ll never be done watching those.

Red-Wine-Eggless-Chocolate-Mousse

I don’t usually drink red wine but I’ll make exceptions if it’s the ‘89 Chateau Margaux that my dad bought to celebrate my birthday, or if it’s in chocolate. We haven’t gotten into the birth wine yet so for now i’ll settle for chocolate! If you’ve got a partial bottle that is open or if you are looking for an excuse to open up a new bottle, this is it. I went with a pinot noir but you can swap in your favorite red as long as it isn’t too sweet!

Red-Wine-Eggless-Chocolate-Mousse

Because this eggless chocolate mousse only has three ingredients, it is super easy to make! Two things you’ll want to think about while making it to ensure a successful mousse:

  • Let the chocolate and wine mixture cool before adding in the whipped cream. If it’s too hot, it will melt the cream and the wonderful, airy whipped cream you just made will fall flat. One of the ways you can cool it down is to transfer it to a bowl that isn’t the metal one you used in the double boiler. Make the whipped cream once the red wine and chocolate mixture is sitting on the counter in the new bowl. That should allow enough time for it to cool.
  • Once you start to fold the heavy cream into the chocolate mixture, start by folding in ¼ of it, then follow with the rest. As you fold, gently form a
Read More
Recipes

CHEESECAKE-STUFFED MINT OREOS

I know I’m supposed to love all of my recipes equally but these cheesecake-stuffed mint Oreos are actually one of my all time favorites.

I flew to New York at 6am last Friday, which completely threw off my daily life (and blog) routine. And y’all know how important my routine is to me. Anyone else have those days where their to-do list is set but when it comes to actually ticking boxes and completing items it seems to only get longer while the days get shorter? Yeah, that was me last Monday – Thursday.

Needless to say this post didn’t go up when it was supposed to but not to worry, these cheesecake-stuffed mint Oreos were at least able to make the trip with me.

I was visiting my youngest brother this past weekend and he LOVES Oreos so I knew that whatever I brought had to be something featuring his favorite cookie. He also loves mint so these were a no-brained.

If the photos aren’t enough of a hint, let me warn you that these stuffed Oreos are huge. I like to store them in the fridge because of the cream cheese but you’ll want to let them soften up a little by taking them out of the fridge before you bite into them. That thick layer of chocolate will be tough to break.

Ready to dig into these sweet and refreshing treats? The crunchy chocolate exterior and extra creamy minty center are the perfect pairing. It’s exactly what your day needed.

CHEESECAKE

Ingredients

1 package of Mint Oreos
4 ounces of cream cheese
1 ½ cups of icing sugar
3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

Pulse 5 Oreos in a food processor until fine. Add in the cream cheese, icing sugar and the insides of 10 Oreos (carefully separate the tops from the bottoms, save the cookie parts for later) pulse to combine. Once combined, cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

When ready to stuff the Oreos, take one tablespoon of cream cheese filling and roll it into a ball. Place on one cookie and press second cookie gently on top to secure it. Repeat until all the cookies are filled.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Place the semi sweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for about two minutes, or until melted, stirring every 30 seconds. Dip the now stuffed Oreos into the chocolate to cover the entire cookie in chocolate. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the cookies. Once done, refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.…

Read More
Lifestyle

How To Use Food To Personalize Your Wedding

Everyone I follow on Instagram seems to be attending weddings nonstop so I think it’s safe to say that there are lots of weddings happening on any given weekend. In this sea of weddings, it can seem daunting to stray from the cookie cutter wedding mold and have yours reflect you and your partner. Don’t panic though because it’s easier than you think! Since my wedding was just over a month ago, I thought now would be a great time to share my tips on how to use food to personalize your wedding.

PICK YOUR FAVORITE FOODS
This one seems obvious but it has to be said because the important part of this is compromise. I love mashed potatoes, but my husband is not a fan. Since mashed potatoes are such a classic wedding food, I assumed those would be a given but once we started hashing out the menu, we realized we were going to need to find another starch that we BOTH loved. Luckily we both love patatas bravas so we came to a consensus fairly quickly. On the potatoes at least!

Colin’s only request for the menu was to have lots of meat, something we actually both enjoy eating. My request was for lots of sweets (obviously). In addition to the lamb kofka, the cod in chermoula sauce and the peri-peri chicken, our guests were served a selection of tiny sweet treats on our dessert bar as well as a selection of fun ice cream flavors and toppings at our sundae bar. If you asked our friends two types of food that perfectly summed up my husband and I, meat and dessert would definitely be at the top of their list so it was pretty perfect.

Too often the bride and groom don’t have time to eat at their own wedding but I made sure to eat lots. Seriously, lots. My husband and I both made sure to load up on the cocktail hour bites we carefully picked out (there was no way we were not going to get our hands on those mac and cheese balls). I was even the first in line when the late night food truck opened its window! Pick foods you both love and make sure you designate someone to keep an eye on you and make sure you eat.

Food To Personalize Wedding

INCORPORATE YOUR CULTURAL HERITAGE
This will probably be more subtle than you think but nods to your culture through food is a nice way to pay homage to where you and your partner come from. I grew up in Quebec so it was really important to me to have poutine at the wedding. Similarly, my family has been based in South Africa for over a decade so the peri-peri chicken was a nod to that.

Don’t worry about having an entire menu dedicated to your heritage, but think about elements that you can pull in here and there. Sometimes they’ll be so subtle people won’t even notice! Our wedding cake is a …

Read More
Travel

Candle-Making: A Must-Do in Charleston

I don’t usually do travel posts on the blog, unless of course it involves seeking inspiration through food travels. When I took a candle-making class at Candlefish this past week however, I knew I had to share my experience!

One of my college roommates relocated to Charleston after we graduated and while I don’t make it to visit her as much as I should, when I do visit she makes sure to pack our time full of delicious food and fun activities. That’s the perk of surrounding myself with equally crafty and curious friends who love to get to know their cities, I always know I’m in for a good time when I visit!

The store is filled with lots of delicious smelling candles from Candlefish’s sister companies

Candle-Making

If you are heading to Charleston in the future, make sure to check if Candlefish’s classes! Whether you’re on a date, hanging out with friends or celebrating a bachelorette, you’re in for a good time. I would know because I saw all of those around the table.

Now that I’ve gotten my hard sell out of the way, let’s dig into what made my candle-making so memorable (besides the wonderful company of course – Thanks Morgan!).

In case you haven’t noticed from the photos in this post, the Candlefish space is BEAUTIFUL. Everything was light and bright and it was filled with more candles and prints than one should ever buy in one sitting. Don’t worry, I tried.

The store’s centerpiece is its library of one hundred carefully curated scents. And that’s where our class began. Before we crafted our candles we had to pick our scents! We got to make two candles each with the same scent so Morgan and I each picked one that the other liked so that we could swap candles once they were set. With one hundred options to pick from, it’s no wonder we ended up picking two different candle scents! I went with No. 4, a woodsy scent full of eucalyptus, fir balsam and woodland pine while Morgan went with watery and fresh No. 9, full of stone fruit, rose, moss.

Once we the scents were selected, we put our measuring skills to the test. Thank goodness I use my scale on a regular basis for my baking so I poured like a champ. I know it wasn’t a pouring competition but the ratio of essential oils to candle wax is important to stick to. Go too far one way and the candle won’t smell. Go too far the other way and it won’t burn.

It takes the candles a few hours to solidify so we had to wait until the next morning to come back and collect them. Since I overpacked for my 48 hour trip, I actually had them mail my candles back to me, along with a few other goodies I picked up in the store. Needless to say I’m anxious for them to arrive next week so I can start enjoying …

Read More
Stitches

3 Tips For Switching Thread Dye Lots Mid-Project

Whether you miscalculated how much thread you needed for a project or lost some of it (story of my life), the end result is the same: You’re out of thread. When you go to buy more, there no more in that dye lot. We’ve all been there at least once, just enough to never make the mistake again.

Luckily for you, I’ve made that mistake a time or two so I have some foolproof fixes that only the most sharp needlepoint critics would notice should this happen to you in the future!

Switching Dye Lots

USE ANOTHER COLOR TO BREAK UP THE TWO SHADES OF YOUR ORIGINAL COLOR
A few years ago I made a wedding gift for my friend Emily. Halfway through the project, I realized that I was not going to have enough thread to cover the entire background. Less than ideal. After a momentary panic, I pulled out the thread on the bottom half of the background and used the state of Virginia to divide the two background colors. The two different threads touched at so few spots it perfectly hid the imperfection.

So, next time you run out of colors, find ways to use the other elements in the project to break up the two different dye lots. Can you tell that the top and bottom of the door hanger are the same color but in different dye lots?

TRANSITION SLOWLY BETWEEN COLORS
I’m a realist so I know that there are times when you might not have a giant element to help divide the two thread dye lots. In those cases, soften the transition between the two colors by doing one row of one dye lot, and one row of the other, repeating for as much space as you can. Depending on how much thread you have left, how big the project is or how many other elements are on the canvas, this could go on for a few stitches or a few inches. You be the judge of what will look best!

GO BOLD AND SWITCH UP YOUR COLORS
The first two solutions help you hide the transition between two dye lots but it’s possible that you want to take your project in an entirely different direction. Instead of continuing with the same color, change up your project plans by either going with a shade slightly darker or lighter than the original color for extra shading, or going with something completely different to make a bold statement.

Next time you run out of thread and can’t find more in the same dye lot, don’t panic! Take a few deep breaths and think through which of these solutions will work best with your project.

Speaking of projects, I’m just over midway through the aquatic animal belt for my brother and I’m realizing that I’m out of the green background. Not ideal but luckily I’ve got some solutions to get through the rest of them (see above).

Do you have another go-to solution for when you run out of …

Read More
Recipes

Vegan Banana Coconut Semifreddo

Creamy tropical flavors in every bite make this vegan banana coconut semifreddo a must-make for your next gathering!

‘Vegan’ isn’t a word that I often use to describe my recipes. Almost all of my recipes contain eggs, butter or cream so when I found a way to make a banana-based semifreddo instead of custard-based ice cream, I was all about it!

What is semifreddo?

‘Semifreddo’ quite literally translates from Italian to ‘semi-frozen’. It is usually a custard dessert but in our case, we skipped the sugar, eggs and cream without losing that creamy, light texture that semifreddos are known for.

This dessert is great because it freezes well enough to hold it’s distinct shape, but is still creamy enough to slice! Plus I can top it with textured like toasted, crispy coconut flakes. In fact, make that a must. This must be topped with crispy coconut flakes for a maximum play of flavors.

Vegan Banana Coconut Semifreddo

Do you need any special tools?

That’s the best part of this – no special tools needed to make a batch of this vegan banana coconut semifreddo. Use any sort of bread pan, just make sure to line it with plastic wrap so that it’s easy to take out when you are ready to serve it.

 

How to make vegan banana coconut semifreddo?

Slice and freeze bananas a day before you want to start making the semifreddo. This is important because if they aren’t frozen, you won’t get that cold, smooth and creamy texture when you pulse them.
Once frozen, pulse the bananas in a food processor until creamy. Add in the sweetened condensed milk. Transfer to a plastic-wrapped bread pan and freeze until ready to serve.

 

What pairs well with this semifreddo?

I like to top mine with fresh banana slices and large spoonfuls of my favorite magic shell sauce!

 

Nutrition

Calories: 1100 cal
Fat: 11 g
Carbs: 237 g
Protein: 22 g

 

Ingredients:

3 frozen bananas
1 can (7.4oz) sweetened condensed coconut milk
1/4 cup magic shell sauce
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes

Instructions:

Slice and freeze bananas a day before you want to start making the semifreddo. This is important because if they aren’t frozen, you won’t get that cold, smooth and creamy texture when you pulse them.

Once frozen, pulse the bananas in a food processor until creamy. Add in the sweetened condensed milk. Transfer to a plastic-wrapped bread pan and freeze until ready to serve.…

Read More