Travel Diaries: Christmas in Quebec

Quebec is a charming city at any time of the year, but it's magical beauty truly shines around the holidays. The old cobblestone streets are lined with twinkling lights, trimmed in garlands of pine, and blanketed by a dusting of fresh snow. Locals and guests, alike, duck into quaint shops and cafes to escape the chilly air, while the melodic French language is heard almost everywhere you go. When it's time to venture into the winter wonderland, dogsleds race through the snowy woods, and the jingle of bells is heard as a team of horses pull a wooden sleigh through the swirling snow. Toboggan runs, skiing, snow tubing, and snowball fights are the only activities on the day's agenda until it's time to warm up inside the chateau with a cup of hot chocolate. Come along and explore this snowy winter wonderland with me!

A trip to the basilica of Sainte Anne de Beaupré is definitely a must-do! The cathedral is over 350 years old and welcomes over 1 million guests every year to it's spectacular halls. With glowing stained glass, twinkling rose windows, beautiful arching ceilings, and columns filled with crutches left behind from miracle healings, this place is absolutely breathtaking. One can't help but be in awe of the lavish detail and reverent beauty. 

Sleigh rides through the snow are quintessentially winter, and it is worth braving the cold for a beautiful journey through the forest. We happened upon a kind, french-speaking farmer who was delighted to take us on a tour through his beautiful snow-covered woodland. There's something about the sound of jingle bells on horses that brings to life all the cheerful carols sung over the years.

A short drive into the mountains brought us to Valcartier. During the rest of the year, this place operates as a water park, but in the winter, it transforms into a snowy playground for skiing, snow tubing, sledding, and more. I highly recommend snow tubing down the multiple runs that provide a generous amount of fun and laughter.

We stayed at the Chateau Frontenac, which, in my opinion, is the absolute best place to stay while enjoying the beauty and charm of Quebec City. With a rich history of 123 years of operation; beautifully appointed rooms and suites; impeccable, personalized service; toboggan runs; splendid views; hallways lined with rows of sparkling Christmas trees; and a collection of delicious restaurants, this place is not to be missed.

The streets of lower Quebec are something straight out of a postcard. Cheerfully decorated shops, German Christmas markets, and cafes provide the perfect atmosphere for a little Christmas shopping and dining. Visit Santa and his elves in the main square, and duck into Cochon Dingue for a quick lunch. Before you head back to the Chateau, pick up a sweet treat or two from Madame Gigi's where the most beautiful confectionary delights are made in house everyday! One thing is for sure, Quebec provides a bountiful collection of culinary treasures. From charming French cafes and traditional Canadian eateries, to upscale and trendy dining establishments, brilliant chefs will provide you with dazzling dishes sure to delight every discerning palate. 

A dash through the snow with your own team of highly trained and thoroughly excited huskies is an experience of a lifetime! As the sunlight sparkles through the snowy trees, hold on tight to the sled while you are whisked off on a magical, high-speed adventure, and yes, you get to drive. Be sure to take time after to play with your sweet and talented canine team to say thanks for the fun! I also recommend strapping on some snowshoes and heading out on one of the nearby trails.

Au revoir, Quebec! You are truly something out of a fairytale. 
Have you visited before? 

Home for the Holidays

I love having friends and family over for the holidays; it is a wonderful time to catch up on everyone's latest happenings and celebrate one another's successes. Each year I like to come up with a creative and beautiful tablescape for entertaining, and this year I was inspired by the shades of the forest, evergreens, juniper, teal, neutrals, and hints of gold. After creating the perfect invitation with Paperless Post, I got to work creating a table setting that reflected the lovely design. 

(Catch some of my previous Christmas parties herehere, here, and your invite to all other parties I've hosted can be found here)

I began with a simple white and gold runner, small pine saplings, and layered in a few candles at different heights to add extra light and interest. Tall teal taper candles and a big bouquet of white blooms mixed with pine branches created the perfect finishing touch to the minimalistic, elegant feel. Guests always appreciate the thoughtful attention to detail, and a special hand-lettered place card marked each person's seat. When setting the table, I like to take into consideration where guests should sit, and will often seat people by those with whom I think they will connect with. Gold flatware and chargers are some of my most well-loved and highly complimented items in my entertaining arsenal, and this time I added on classic white dinner plates and a special set of gold-rimmed dessert plates that belonged to my great aunt. It's such fun to add in special touches of heirloom pieces or little details that are meaningful to you, and it often prompts great storytelling when inquiries are made about various pieces! After the food has been served and toasts have been made, I always love taking a moment to look around the table, listening to stories being told and laughter being shared. Time spent together around this season is simply the best! 

After all, there's no place like home for the holidays! 

Shop my outfit: similar top | skirt | shoes | earrings |

What to Wear: Holiday Parties

 | Top | Skirt | Necklace |

Party with Friends: I like to be comfortable as well as stylish at a party, and this simple top and skirt combination is what I'm reaching for on my way out the door this season. Emerald green looks great on everyone, and the tulip hem on the skirt adds a little interest to an otherwise classic style. Add a few gold accessories, a fun pair of heels, and voila! Time to catch up with friends and try a few Christmas cookies. 

Office Party: When it comes to the office party, it's a good idea to stick with a classic silhouette in a festive color. Save the playful cutouts and lace-up heels for a get-together with friends. A simple shift dress in a cherry hue is polished and pretty when dressed up with a fun statement necklace and paired with nude pumps. 

Cocktail Party: When it's time to dress up, many of us reach for the classic LBD, but what I love about this one is the full skirt, pockets, and big bow detail that make it more playful and dressy than the simple shift. Paired with a sparkling statement necklace and strappy heels, this combination is festive, stylish, and the perfect piece to wear to dance the night away! A fun fact about this dress is that it's actually a custom piece that I was able to design with Eshakti. I loved being able to tweak things and create a pretty silhouette that I knew would become a closet staple. You can choose from dozens of styles and customize your own dress here!

Thanks to Eshakti for partnering on this post. 

Gift Guide: For Her

Giving gifts is one of my very favorite things to do! I absolutely love going to pick out special items that remind me of my friends or family, and around this time of year, we've all got a best girlfriend, sister, aunt, or coworker that's on our gift list.

Jewelry is one of my favorite things to gift friends, and recently, I've been into a fun statement earring, especially when it comes time to dressing up for the holidays. This gorgeous pair of earrings from Happiness Boutique are so pretty and fun. I've already worn them to a couple of events this season, garnering lots of compliments. The deep sapphire blue is so striking and a brilliant addition to a party dress or hostess outfit. I also picked up this pair. You can get 10% off your purchase sitewide through December 29th with the code: candiceelaineh

Shop more of my picks in the gift guide below! Whether it's a pretty piece of jewelry, a new lip color for the beauty maven, workout gear for your fitness friend, or something fun to delight your jet-setting girl on the go, this curated collection has her in mind! You may even find a few things to stuff in your own's ok, I won't tell! ;)


Gift Guide: For the Holiday Hostess

We've all received that last minute invitation, or perhaps put off buying a gift for a holiday party until... oh no! It's tomorrow...(or in two hours, yikes!).
The holiday season can bring lots of fun events, and amongst the lists of those we need to shop for, it can be easy to forget to put something aside for that friend's christmas get-together, office party, or tree trimming soirée. The best guests never show up to a party empty-handed, so it's a good idea to plan ahead. One of the things I always do, especially at the beginning of the season, is to pick up a few things that I can easily bring to any festive fête, so whether it's a secret santa, a surprise guest (hello, there!), or something for the hostess, I've always got a little something up my sparkly sleeve.

When bringing something for the hostess, I always try to think about what would be fun and useful. Some of my go-to items are pretty candles, a cheeky coffee mug (for brunch the next day), serving utensils, a charcuterie serving board, or a playful decor piece for the home. If you know the hostess well, a little sparkle, like a simple gold bangle, or a beauty item will be the perfect addition to her party look.
I've curated a collection of items below that are definitely on my hostess gift-giving list this year. With one of these in tow, you'll be guaranteed an invitation back!  ;)

p.s. If you're ever in a pinch, a beautiful bouquet of brilliant fresh flowers is always, always appreciated!


Holiday Invitations

| custom dress by Eshakti | similar here |

It's officially the start of the holiday season! Can you believe it's time once again? The holidays are one of my favorite times to host a party (although I look for every excuse to throw them throughout the year), and it's a perfect occasion to pull out all the stops to make things beautiful and festive. I love to send and receive mail, and it's always so exciting to see a beautiful card or invitation waiting in the mailbox! 

Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some of my tips and tricks for holiday entertaining, what to wear to your growing list of holiday parties, as well as a few ideas for gifting! Let's begin with hosting a beautiful and festive holiday party, shall we? A great party always begins and ends well, and it starts with a fabulous invitation, after all, this officially sets the tone for the event! When I want to impress, I turn to my friends at Paperless Post for the most beautiful invitations. From impromptu weeknight get-togethers to elaborate, glamorous soirées, I've always found the perfect invitation to use! Paperless Post has a beautifully curated collection, and you can completely customize both their online and print versions to absolutely wow and delight your guests. This year I wanted something that had a little bit of aqua to go with the colors of my upcoming party, so this stylish design was exactly what I was looking for. The design team was a dream to work with, and I couldn't be more delighted with how they turned out! Whether you're looking for the perfect invitation or a special holiday card, they've got you covered! 

Thank you to Paperless Post for partnering on this post. 

Thanksgiving Prep: Artichoke Quiche

Thanksgiving is just days away, and many of us will soon be setting the table and making the trip to the store to stock up on all the ingredients for a well-loved, celebratory meal with family and friends. In preparation for the holiday, I made a delicious artichoke quiche that is an excellent (and easy) addition to the spread of festive foods on the table. What's really great is that you can make this ahead and freeze it until it's time to serve; less time in the kitchen means more time spent enjoying good food and great company! The smell of savory, simmering veggies on the stove, along with a golden pie crust baking in the oven is one of my favorite parts of the process (aside from enjoying it, of course!). I found this fabulous recipe in this cookbook (which I've raved about before in THIS post!). 

If there's one thing that's most important at this time of year, it is to take a moment to think about the many blessings we have in life. While there's always things that we'd like to change, it is essential that we don't lose sight of the things we've been given. A sunshine-filled day, a roof overhead, laughter, friends, family, and food on the table are things that are often glossed over, but shouldn't be taken for granted. My wish for you (and I) is that we approach Thanksgiving, and every day, with a grateful and humble heart. Gratitude makes us all the more aware and attune to the beauty and blessings that always surround us, if only we pause long enough to enjoy them. 

"Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." 
Psalm 107:8-9

Artichoke Quiche

1 unbaked (9-inch) pie shell
2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichokes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4 eggs
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon tabasco sauce
8 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the pie shell for 10 minutes; set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Drain the artichokes, reserving the marinade. Sauté the onion and garlic in the reserved marinade in a skillet for 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a bowl until blended. Stir in the bread crumbs, oregano and Tabasco sauce. Add the artichokes, onion mixture, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour into the pie shell and bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm. You may freeze for future use.  
(Yields 6-8 servings)

Thanks to Simply Sarasota for partnering on this post
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