I’m not really sure what’s happened — but this year, my love of cocktails is outshining my love of sangria (hey… no hard feelings sangria — we had a really good run!). I’ve also been dreaming of publishing a lavender lemonade for years — but funny enough, it’s never made it’s way onto these pages. I had the most delicious lavender lemonade the summer before I started blogging at some small town in interior British Columbia on our way back from a music festival — and I’ve been determined to create an equally delicious lavender lemonade ever since! That said, I know there are tons of lavender lemonade recipes out there, but now that I have a few solid years of cocktail development under my belt and some incredible, unique, delicious ingredients in my bar, I thought I’d give it a go this summer!
So, while I fully intended this recipe to be a vodka based lavender lemonade, as I moved though a rather intense testing process (remember when I mentioned I was cocktail testing over the long weekend?), I ended up swapping lavender for lilacs and vodka for gin — and I’m so glad I did! My Japanese Lilac Gin Lemonade tastes like summertime in the country and is very near to my heart — incorporating Japanese Lilac blossoms from the tree at my childhood home in rural Alberta, honey from the hives just across the stream and Eau Claire Distillery‘s award winning Parlour Gin distilled from the flourishing barley crops and unique botanicals of Alberta’s prairies. This floral-kissed, lightly effervescent lemonade was created with a thoughtful, hand crafted, farm-to-glass approach and made for lazy summer days on the patio, easy entertaining and watching the sunset behind glowing fields of canola! Join myself and my Connecting Over Cocktails crew to indulge in a summer inspired cocktail menu (check out their creations at the end of this post!) and enter to win bottle of the best gin I’ve ever tasted, along with a Tour & Tasting for 2 at Turner Valley’s Eau Claire Distillery! Cheers to hot summer nights, refreshing gourmet cocktails and the celebrating the bountiful offerings of this beautiful land!
Happy Friday, friends! Things were a bit quiet here at JustineCelina during early June — and whenever that happens, I promise it’s for good reason! As I mentioned, I was working on a couple of exciting projects BTS — and this was one of them. We spent a beautiful Sunday earlier this month Exploring East Village Junction with Tourism Calgary — and you can read all about it in my second article for VisitCalgary.com!
If you’re craving an inner city adventure this weekend, I highly recommend spending a few hours exploring Calgary’s colourful East Village Junction! Tucked away behind the iconic King Edward Hotel on the corner of 4th Street and 8th Ave SE, EV’s liveliest lot showcases the vibrancy and charisma of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhood in an innovative, market-like community space where 15 local businesses and artisans have utilized shipping containers to create an entirely unique retail experience in Calgary’s core. Discover all #evJuction has to offer now through September 3rd — complete with unique wares for fashion, art, vintage and home decor enthusiasts, food trucks, delicious vegan eats, bicycle rentals, live performances and yes… even fitness classes! There’s something for everyone at Calgary’s East Village Junction Pop-up Retail Park — and today I’m sharing a handful of my favourite things to see, do, shop and eat!
Friends, welcome back for my annual (and very belated!) Blogiversary celebration! My 3rd Blogiversary went roaring by on March 2nd — but to be honest, I was completely engrossed in our Living Room Reveal and some other fun, last minute projects at the time. Earlier this year I chatted about changing things up around here and creating space to let life happen — and that’s exactly what I’ve done! There’s been a lot happening here at JustineCelina lately as we get ready to reveal the next rooms in our SPACE REFRESH series (coming your way later this month!) and I simply had to prioritize my time differently to make this all possible. March was one of my most creatively fulfilling months of my life — it left me completely exhausted but also incredibly inspired! In the two months since My 3rd Blogiversary I’ve reached some milestones I’ve dreamed of achieving since launching JustineCelina and they’ve reminded me exactly why I started this whole thing in the first place. So, although it’s a bit late and I’ve been chipping away at this post when I can, I couldn’t be more thrilled to share this Pantone Spring 2018 inspired 3rd Blogiversary soirée with you!
In the midst of it all, I came up with the concept for this celebratory post pretty last minute — about 10 days before the shoot (which, admittedly, was about 2 months ago!). It was so spontaneous, but serendipitous and things just fell into place (I shot it myself one sunny Friday afternoon with my tripod and self timer). This year, we’re going all out — because after 323 blog posts, almost a million views (OMG!), 180 000 images, 2 900 comments and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears (quite literally), I truly never thought I’d get here! My third year was one of intense growth, both on these pages and off of them — I hope you enjoy reading about 10 Things I Learned in my Third Year of Blogging in this raw, honest, unabashed post (you may need a sparkling glass of rosé to get though it!). Whether you’re new to JustineCelina (and there are a lot of you beautiful people — welcome!) or have been with me since the very beginning, I’m so grateful to have you here celebrating with me today! Continue Reading
Happy sunny Monday, beautiful people! If it seemed a little quiet around here during the beginning of April, I was working on a few exciting projects BTS — this one included. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world being treated to An Afternoon at SAKS Fifth Avenue with Tourism Calgary — and today I’m thrilled to share my experience with you in my first post for VisitCalgary.com!
After what has quite possibly been the longest winter in Calgary’s history, I’m sure we’re all in need of a little pampering — am I right ladies and gents? If you’re anything like me, spring evokes the desire to refresh your wardrobe, beauty routine and skin in preparation for the balmier weather that lies ahead. Last month, I had the opportunity to indulge in the ultimate girls day at the newly opened, 115 000 square foot SAKS Fifth Avenue located in Calgary’s CF Chinook Centre — the first location in Western Canada. And today you can come along as I share each luxurious experience and thoughtful detail — including a beautiful champagne lunch, my own private shopping suite complete with personal styling services, a diverse selection of the hottest designer labels, exclusive cosmetic, skincare and fragrance brands and an ultra pampering facial in SAKS’ spa-like treatment rooms!
Happy first weekend of spring, friends! Wow — what a crazy, whirlwind week this has been. Between publishing our Living Room Reveal on Monday, my Style Me Pretty Living feature on Wednesday (pinch me!), a very exciting FASHION announcement (which has now published!), to a jam packed calendar full of events and meetings, plus 8 rounds of testing for this recipe (and subsequent cocktail ingredient runs before noon!), I’m finally getting a fresh cocktail for you this weekend. Initially this recipe was supposed to publish on Wednesday to welcome the first day of spring, so let’s just say my Spring Equinox Kiwi Elderflower Smash is fashionably late (like our spring weather) — but she comes bearing gifts! I’ve teamed up with Eau Claire Distillery once again to give away a full sized bottle of Prickly Pear EquineOx to one of you lovely Canadians (check out the bottom of the post for details on how to enter!).
After a long, snow covered winter, I’m elated to unleash my Spring Equinox Kiwi Elderflower Smash — a post-hibernation celebration of spring’s refreshing flavours in cocktail form! I figured it was time to pump the brakes on the gin train (let’s be real… there’s been a ton of gin drinking going down here at JustineCelina!) and introduce you to a completely unique spirit to welcome spring’s arrival. Today I’m working with Eau Claire Distillery’s award winning Prickly Pear EquineOx — a sweet, lightly citrusy, barley based vodka incorporating Alberta’s Prickly Pear Cactus with a special blend of spring botanicals. Complimented by a refreshing bouquet of elderflower, kiwi, lime, a kiss of wine, a dash of bitters and a splash of soda, I’ve created a seasonal elixir that pairs perfectly with longer evenings and balmier weather. I’ve also teamed up with 4 talented food bloggers across North America to bring you the Spring 2018 Edition of Connecting Over Cocktails! If you’re looking for some inspired cocktail ideas as we transition into spring, we’re totally got you covered — stay tuned to see what my fellow Food Bloggers of Canada are mixing up for you this weekend!
I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I shared a pureed soup here at JustineCelina! And would you believe I’ve never actually published a butternut squash soup recipe? Butternut squash soup is a staple recipe in many kitchens during the cooler months — ours included. Although my Autumn Harvest Soup with Roasted Squash Seeds (published back in my early blogging days!) includes butternut squash, it also features a medley of fall produce — including apples, carrots and rhubarb. So, my standard butternut squash soup recipe remained unpublished over the years — you see, as a food blogger, these staple recipes often remain in my archives because I don’t think they’re exciting or unique enough to share. But, this winter I experimented with one of my favourite gourmet ingredients to really elevate this recipe — and here we are!
Today I’m thrilled to bring you my Truffled Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Sage — a luxurious, sophisticated twist on a cold weather classic. With just 10 ingredients, this creamy bowl of vegan comfort is a breeze to whip up and makes a great light lunch or accompaniment to dinner. Hearty butternut squash is oven roasted with onions, fresh sage and garlic — then blended into velvety goodness with vegetable broth, coconut milk, fresh ginger and a touch of heat. To finish things off, it’s infused with an indulgent drizzle of White Truffle Oil (my most recent culinary obsession!) and garnished with crispy sage for a restaurant quality soup you can enjoy at home. Thanks to a couple of elevated ingredients, this isn’t your traditional butternut squash soup recipe — but I guarantee you it’s just as simple to prepare! If you’re in the mood for some nourishing comfort food with gourmet flair to help endure these last few weeks of winter, I have just the recipe — and I’m also sharing my favourite source for high quality, affordable White Truffle Oil!
Remember the summer I acquired a taste for gin? It’s since become my favourite spirit. In fact, around this time last year I even ventured to Vancouver Island to track down an infamous local gin unavailable in Alberta (I also made a cocktail with that one!). Although the gin I brought home from my coastal travels is long gone, late last year I stumbled on Eau Claire Distillery via Instagram (their bottles are gorgeous and totally drew me in!). Imagine my surprise to find out we have an incredible, award winning distillery less than an hour from home! Over the holidays I took a trip to the visit their distillery in Turner Valley with my Mom (who loves gin) and my brother (who was home from New York and loves cocktails) for a tour and tasting — and we were all completely blown away by the quality of Eau Claire’s hand crafted offerings and their farm to glass approach. Now that I know they exist (and they’re local!) I actually can’t fathom using anything else in my cocktails! Over the last couple of months, we’ve padded our bar with several of Eau Claire’s artisinal spirits — including their most recent offering, Cherry Gin.
In honour of love day, I’m so excited to share my Rose Infused Cherry Gin Fizz! This feminine, fruity and lightly floral cocktail combines Eau Claire’s stunning Cherry Gin with my favourite Prosecco, a splash of fresh lemon juice and a Rose & Pink Peppercorn Infused Honey Simple Syrup for a contemporary spin on the classic French 75. My Rose Infused Cherry Gin Fizz is a beautiful addition to your Valentine’s Day menu, but can be enjoyed anytime you want to indulge in a gourmet craft cocktail at home! As always, it’s is free of dairy, gluten and refined sugar — and bursting with fruity flavours, floral undertones, unique botanicals and a refreshing effervescence. The best part? Eau Claire is helping me share the love this Valentine’s Day by giving away a Cherry Gin Cocktail Caddy valued at $99 to one of my Canadian friends — check out the bottom of the post for details on how to enter! Continue Reading