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Christmas

Featured/ Frugal Tips/ Life & Motherhood

Christmas Shopping 2018

Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I am addicted to online shopping. This addiction started during my first mat leave when it was just easier to order things online and have them delivered to my door, instead of bundling up the baby and heading out to the stores or to the mall. I started off ordering books, baby items and household items from Chapters Indigo; then I graduated to ordering household items off The Bay; and then after a few trial and errors when it came to proper sizing, I’ve now started ordering clothes and shoes off of The Bay, Banana Republic, The Gap and J.Crew.

I’ve been back at work for over a year now and I am downtown 4-5 days a week so I’ll sometimes walk to the mall during my lunch hour. However, I find that there are better deals to be found online. Also, I hate trying things on in stores. I’d rather order clothes online, and then return them if they don’t fit! Most stores (like Banana Republic or The Bay) have really easy return policies where you can just send the clothes back or even return it in person in the store.

So with the Christmas shopping season upon us, 90% of my shopping has been done online. I mean, there are always a few items that you can’t easily buy online, like wine, but for the most part, I’ve scored some amazing deals on great presents online. The majority of the purchases were made on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if you’re on my Christmas gift list, you’re getting amazing, quality presents that I managed to get a great deal on!

Another reason why I love online shopping – Ebates!!! I mean, you guys have probably all seen Ebates commercials on TV where the actors say “get paid to shop online” or whatever, right? I know I’ve seen that commercial a million times and I’ve always just written it off and never looked into it. But then my sister told me all about it and she started getting cheques back from Ebates, so I signed up as well. I mean, you all know how I love Checkout 51 and getting cheques from that, so I thought I’d give this Ebates a try.

It’s really easy – you just sign up for an account at Ebates. And then before you shop online, go to the Ebates site first, and then click through to the online vendor that you want to shop at. Most of the online vendors that I frequent are linked on Ebates (Chapters, The Bay, Sephora, Banana Republic, etc). Then you just proceed to shop as normal, and once your order is confirmed, the vendor sends a confirmation to Ebates and you’ll get an email telling you how much cashback you’ve earned on your purchase! The cashback percentage will vary, but I’ve gotten up to 8% cashback on my purchases before. And when you spend hundreds of dollars at Sephora or Banana Republic like I do, that 8% really adds up! The cash accumulates in your Ebates account and every quarter, they’ll send you a cheque for the amount in your account! The last cheque I got was for about $35!

It is so easy. Honestly, the hardest part is to remember to go to the Ebates site first before you start shopping. I know I’ve forgotten a couple times, and I kick myself whenever I calculate the cashback that I could have earned!

If you’re ready to earn cashback on your online purchases, use my referral code below to sign up!

Click here to sign up for Ebates! 

 

(Cover photo: Free Stock Photo courtesy of picxclicx.com)

Beer and Wine Pairings/ Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Does anyone else feel like November is just going by too fast? Next thing you know, Christmas will be here! I feel like I’m behind on putting Christmas decorations up. So far, I just have my front entry way decorated, but I haven’t had time to put my wreath up on the front door or put up my Christmas tree. I have it written down in my to do list, but I keep on putting it off day after day. The goal is to get all the decorations up before the end of the month!

Christmas decorations are up in the front entry!

Christmas decorations are up in the front entry!

The baby is down for her morning nap, so I have a couple hours. Instead of putting up the tree though, I’m in the mood to make some cookies. With Christmas around the corner, I’ve decided to make some Ginger Molasses Cookies. I’m hoping that the smell and taste of these cookies will get me in the holiday mood and give me some motivation to put up the Christmas tree. These cookies are deliciously soft and chewy and are my personal favourite. My husband still prefers my Snickerdoodles over these ones, but too bad for him.

Oh, let’s talk about wine pairings! There are a couple of types of wines that would go very well with these ginger molasses cookies. For all you white wine lovers out there, a nicely chilled German Riesling would pair well with the spicy notes of the ginger in this cookie. My personal favourite is the Dr. Loosen Riesling. For all the red wine lovers, the bright acidity of a Pinot Noir would pair well with the richness of the molasses in this cookie.  I haven’t found a Pinot Noir that I absolutely love yet though – anyone have any recommendations?

cookies-and-dr-loosen

Give this recipe a try and please send me your Pinot Noir recommendations!

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Print Recipe
Serves: 12-15 cookies Cooking Time: 10 minutes bake time

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • White sugar to roll the cookies in

Instructions

1

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Set aside.

3

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and white sugar for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy. I used my hand mixer. Add the molasses and egg, and beat for another 2-3 minutes.

4

Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

5

Refrigerate the dough for about 20 minutes or pop the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. (I usually take this time to clean up the kitchen a bit and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F).

6

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and roll the balls in the white sugar. Space the balls about an inch apart on the cookie sheet and bake in the 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.

7

Cool the cookies completely and enjoy!

Featured/ Life & Motherhood

Top 5 Christmas Gifts for the Amateur Chef in Your Life

I know what you’re thinking – isn’t it a little too early to think about buying Christmas gifts? No, it is definitely not! I like to think of Christmas in terms of paycheques – for example, for me, it is 5 paycheques until Christmas. I usually start my Christmas shopping in October and set aside a certain portion of my 5 or 6 paycheques for Christmas shopping. I find that this way, I avoid the rush of running around in December navigating infuriating crowds at stores and malls, and I avoid putting all my purchases on a credit card and being surprised by the bill in January.

This year, in addition to starting my shopping early and avoiding Christmas debt, I have also added another goal of trying to shop local as much as I can to support our local merchants and small businesses. One of the local businesses that I admire and have a long history with is Mortise and Tenon located at 2421 11th Avenue in downtown Regina. You’ve all probably noticed some of my blog posts and social media posts over the past month, highlighting some of the kitchen gear that I love from this shop. Mortise and Tenon also carries home decor, clothing, furniture and other giftware, but in this post I will share the top 5 items from this local business that would make the perfect Christmas gift or stocking stuffer for the amateur chef in your life! Also, keep reading until the end, as we have a special offer for Culinary Cents readers to help you stay within budget for your Christmas shopping! 

#1 – A handmade wooden cutting board

 

Mortise and Tenon cutting board

Locally made wooden cutting board, made by Mortise and Tenon

Solid wood cutting boards are an essential tool in the kitchen for every amateur home chef. On any Food Network show, you’ll see that all the chefs use solid wood cutting boards. These beautiful, locally made, handcrafted cutting boards will seriously up your game in the kitchen. The one pictured above is the one that I have and it is made of cherry, walnut and rock maple. Not only is it a functional and essential tool that I use every day, it is also a stunning feature in my kitchen. I also bought one for my sister last year for Christmas, and hers is pictured below.

cutting-board-close-up

#2 – Natural soy candles from Burlap Bag

Baked Bread candle, available at Mortise and Tenon

A Baked Bread scented candle by The Burlap Bag, available at Mortise and Tenon

Now you’re probably thinking, how are candles considered kitchen gear? Well, in my kitchen, candles are essential! Our house perpetually smells like bacon or the heavy aromas of Vietnamese food (the smell of fish sauce can be overwhelming!), and no matter how high I turn on the ventilation or air exchanger, those smells just linger. Food aromas are delicious as you’re cooking and can serve to whet your appetite, but a few hours later, those aromas lose their appeal. I often need to burn candles in the kitchen or dining room after a meal to combat the food aromas, but I find that most candles smell too perfume-y and give me a headache.

These Burlap Bag candles however, are made from 100% natural soy beans and the scents are clean and fresh. Their subtle scents do not give me headaches, but they do an amazing job of filling the kitchen with a natural clean scent. I am currently burning the Baked Bread scented candle, and it literally smells like a loaf of freshly baked white bread! There many other food-related scents available such as Jazz Hands (a blueberry scent), The Bee’s Knees (oatmeal and honey) and Pumpkin Addict (the most natural pumpkin spice ever).

Another reason I love these candles is the unique packaging. These candles can easily be matched to any home decor, and are manly enough that I can display them on my husband’s liquor cart without him complaining!

Baked Bread candle, available at Mortise and Tenon

Baked Bread candle, available at Mortise and Tenon

#3 – Kitsch’n Glam Ceramic Measuring Cups

Kitsch'n Glam measuring cups, available at Mortise and Tenon

Kitsch’n Glam measuring cups, available at Mortise and Tenon

These Kitsch’n Glam measuring cups would make an excellent gift for someone who likes whimsical tools in their kitchen! I mean, stainless steel measuring cups are just so boring! I like these measuring cups because they are more stackable than my stainless steel measuring cups, making it easier for storage. Also, they match my teal kitchen backsplash!

Kitsch'n Glam measuring cups, available at Mortise and Tenon

Kitsch’n Glam measuring cups, available at Mortise and Tenon

#4 – Kitsch’n Glam Ceramic Stacking Bowls

Kitsch'n Glam stacking bowls, available at Mortise and Tenon

Kitsch’n Glam stacking bowls, available at Mortise and Tenon

Also made by Kitsch’n Glam, and just as whimsical as the measuring cups, are these ceramic stacking bowls. My favourite way to use these bowls is when I’m having an Asian meal with multiple sides. One bowl will hold kim chi, one will hold picked Asian greens, etc. They also make for cute little rice bowls as well!

#5 – Kitsch’n Glam Tea Towels

Kitsch'n Glam tea towels, available at Mortise and Tenon

Kitsch’n Glam tea towels, available at Mortise and Tenon

There is nothing I like more in my kitchen than crisp and clean tea towels. However, I don’t know if it’s just the frugal side of me, but I will hold on to old tea towels even though they are frayed and faded. I just can’t bear to throw them away and buy new ones. I only buy new tea towels when my old ones are stained beyond repair (and even then, I hate throwing them away and will keep them ‘just in case I need some rags’).

If you have anyone in your life like me, do them a favour and buy them these Kitsch’n Glam tea towels. These tea towels will instantly refresh the look in any kitchen!

#6 – BONUS! – Custom furniture

Okay, I couldn’t stop at just the top 5, I had to add a bonus sixth item. Mortise and Tenon also makes custom furniture, and if there is someone in your life special enough who you really want to splurge on, I would recommend ordering a custom piece of furniture for them!

We moved into our house exactly 3 years ago, and one of the items that we splurged on was a custom made dining room table, specially ordered from Mortise and Tenon. Obviously food is a big deal in our family, and my husband and I both wanted a big, rustic, solid wood dining room table where our family could make memories for years to come. This dining room table is a showpiece in our home, and I can’t wait to grow our family and have big family dinners around this table. We’ve already had some great Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners around this table, not to mention some serious board game nights as well!

dining-room-table

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All right, now that I’ve highlighted my favourite items from Mortise and Tenon, let me share a special offer with you guys. Between October 21 (today!) and November 30, if you show this post on your phone or mention that you were referred by Culinary Cents, you will receive 10% off your purchase at Mortise and Tenon! 

What are you waiting for? Get out there and do some early frugal Christmas shopping and support local businesses!