Every year I go through a roller coaster of emotions as Christmas approaches.
It usually starts with elation and excitement for the upcoming holiday season. I promise myself that I'll blog consistently, make pretty handmade gifts for my friends, and take time to enjoy the holiday season. Those feelings begin to transform into anxiety, with a touch of edginess, as I head into December. I begin to freak out about how much I need to get done in the precious few weeks before the big day. I frantically start working through my to-do list, without taking time to enjoy much of anything, which makes me feel sad and frustrated.
Although, I do enjoy the process of decorating our Christmas tree. It's the one "chore" that I find relaxing, although sometimes it feels like I'll never finish hanging everything up. This year my mom did most of the decorating herself... I don't know where the heck I've been. I might have hung 10 decorations, if so much.
Anyhow, by the time the week of Christmas arrives I'm a basket-case. I haven't accomplished half of what I had planned to do, and I usually have a cold too (probably brought on from being stressed). I'll stay up until 3AM Christmas morning, wrapping and frantically trying to finish cleaning my home office. I don't know why, but I can't enjoy Christmas if that room isn't clean!
On Christmas day, I get up and throw makeup on my face so I don't look like a zombie before heading downstairs to open gifts with my family. My mom and I then proceed to spend the rest of the day baking and cooking, which I enjoy but by the end of the day I'm exhausted.
This year, I told myself that things would be different. I would get my posts done early and schedule them so I could get some time off. I would cook things for my friends rather than make crafts, because I'm more likely to finish a cooking project. I also vowed to get out and enjoy some of the cool Christmas events that Toronto has to offer.
1:00Am 3:30AM on Christmas Eve, and I'm writing a blog post so we all know how that first goal went... I made some really unrealistic blogging goals for this holiday season, and then felt really guilty when I couldn't reach those goals. Guilt and holiday cheer can't exist together - you'd think I would know that by now.
I did manage to bake some treats for my friends though, and they turned out pretty well! I can't tell you what they are though, since I know that my friends read my blog. No spoilers here!
I also ventured into downtown Toronto to check out a few Christmas events, which didn't quite go as planned, but at least I tried.
Toronto Christmas Market (Nov. 28-Dec. 21)
First up was the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District (see first photo). I was so excited to check out this event! This old-fashioned street market provides guests with plenty of Christmas-cheer in the form of carolers, festive decorations, and unique vendors.
I spent over an hour in traffic trying to get to the market, while friends from out-of-town waited patiently for me to arrive. When I finally arrived, I was fairly disheveled and felt more ready for a nap than a night out. Regardless, the market was absolutely gorgeous to look at! We met up with another group of friends and headed to a nearby restaurant for dinner.
I didn't get to try any of the market food, or purchase any of the pretty decorations, so I wanted to visit the market again. I was supposed to go last week with my friend Sarah, but she ended up coming down with something and we had to cancel. Hopefully, I get the chance to visit again next year!
Cavalcade of Lights at Nathan Phillips Square (Nov. 29, 2014)
The next day, my friend Mandy and I thought it would be fun to go to Nathan Phillips Square for the Cavalcade of Lights event. For those who are not familiar with the event, you basically stand outside and listen to Christmas music as you wait for a giant Christmas tree to be lit. Once the lights come on, there's a concert and then fireworks.
We happily bounced around the square waiting for the tree to be lit, only to find that the music being played afterwards was less-Christmassy. Actually, if I remember correctly, someone was singing a cover of a popular Eminem song. We decided not to hang around for the fireworks, and headed towards to square's exit.
Apparently about 400 other people had the same idea, because we found ourself stuck in a swarm of people trying to crawl towards the exit. I have never felt so claustrophobic in my life! After spending 20 minutes fighting our way out of the square, we headed to Momofuku for a decent sit-down dinner. The Honey Sriracha wings were excellent!
Nutcracker High Tea at the Shangri-La Hotel (Dec. 2 - Jan. 4)
I attempted to find some holiday spirit in the city again, this time at Nutcracker High Tea in the Shangri-La Hotel. This was my favourite event and I highly recommend going if you can! My mom took me for my birthday and we enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours munching on delicious treats.
We ordered a pot of Royal Red Dragon tea, which was a mix of Oolong and Black Tea. I've never tasted a tea like this before! It had flavours of honey, mint and rose, which makes it sound like potpourri, but it was actual very subtle.
There was a variety of dainty finger sandwiches at the high tea. My favourite was the Lobster & Herb Mayonnaise sandwich on a brioche bun, yum!
Of course, you can't have a high tea without scones and desserts!
The scones were small and fluffy - nothing like the bitter hockey pucks I once made at home. I really do enjoy a good scone with Devonshire cream and jam. I was also impressed by the Christmas tree dessert on the plate. Formally titled as Le Voyage et La Valse des Flocons de Neige, this cute dessert was as intricate as its name! It is a peppermint-scented milk chocolate mousse, with a cocoa sponge and white chocolate snow. I have no idea how they made the snow... it didn't taste like grated white chocolate. The texture was super fine, and it melted as soon as it touched my tongue. That was a Nutcracker-worthy dessert!!
The dessert with the mouse was stollen spiced cheesecake with citrus bacaroise and candied lemon. It was cute, but it wasn't the tastiest item on the plate.
The Nutcracker High Tea is a bit pricey, but we found that there was more than enough food for two of us to share. It would be especially fun to take part in the high tea before heading across the road to see the National Ballet of Canada's performance of The Nutcracker at the Four Seasons Centre.
Farmers Market at Steam Whistle Brewing (Dec. 14 & 21 2014)
My last venture into the city was for the Farmers Market at Steam Whistle Brewing. My brother and I visited the market a couple of weekends ago, and picked up all kinds of delicious treats. I came home with tiny chestnuts from the Niagara-region, 2 different kinds of cheese and a package of spicy beef sausages.
The market is done for this year, but if you're in Toronto be sure to keep an eye out for more events at Steam Whistle.
If you've read this entire post, thank you! I really wanted to share my experiences with you, even though it meant writing this is the wee hours of the morning. I hope you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday or just a great day in general 🙂