Fall Favourite Music Video

The edge of Blue Mountain, Collingwood

Despite the fact that one of the greatest parts of Toronto is the unexpected abundance of green space throughout its downtown (truly some of the most spectacular parks I’ve seen within a city), when September rolls around – it only feels right to escape to the countryside for just a quick minute. Although trendy trench coats, knit scarves and ankle booties have already indicated we’re well on our way into autumn, there’s nothing that embodies these months like the layers of coloured treetops on a drive outside the concrete jungle.

I was lucky to have spent a large portion of the last five days in a car. I never thought I would say that, but I suppose at this time of year it’s hard to be overly opposed to the idea of back-to-back road trips when the great outdoors are at their best. Last weekend, the nuts ventured off for a little ladies retreat to Howe Island – a tiny escape in between my native Kingston and Gananoque – which involved three or so hours of car time in between Toronto and our destination. The leaves were semi-golden and not yet fully turned, but the air was a September kind of crisp, causing the water to curl in the breeze. Lovely.

As soon as I got back from Howe Island, I hopped back in the passenger seat to head to Collingwood for work – a part of Ontario that, much to many people’s dismay I’m sure, wasn’t conducive to flying or rail travel. This, again, I was surprisingly fine with. I’d never been to Collingwood, specifically Blue Mountain – the man-made mini-Tremblant-like resort village that’s surrounded by leafy hills and Georgian Bay waters. And let me tell you, somehow, half a day of traveling later – the leaves had begun their transition, and it was scenic.

Needless to say, being back in the office seems kind of tragic. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised that during my assembling a typical little YouTube playlist to get me through the rest of the week, I stumbled upon a favourite (by no means new) cover of mine that I never realized had such a pretty fall-themed music video to accompany it.

Elton John’s “Your Song” is indisputably one of my favourite songs, seeing as I spent my childhood belting out his likeable anthems alongside my Dad – squealing with laughter whenever he’d goofily mimic John’s falsetto mid-“Bennie and the Jets.” Not only does the “Your Song” timeless melody hit a chord, but the lyrics – those lyrics – go down in history as some of the most memorable. When British indie-pop artist Ellie Goulding covered it a few years ago, I wasn’t sure if her pixie-like yodel would do it proper justice, but I immediately adopted it as one of the better covers of John’s tunes. When I saw the cover’s video, featuring an obviously adorable Goulding but, more importantly, picturesque shots of my favourite season, I grew even fonder of the old classic.

So, as we edge towards Thanksgiving – the prettiest weekend of the year – I thought I’d share this little clip to get you through your week. Happy Fall.

Pump It

I have recently come to believe…pumpkin is a way of life. Similar to cilantro, the flavours and spices that combine to make the savoury pumpkin dessert taste aren’t for everybody. I’ll tell you one thing though, it is most certainly for me. Before I get into this delicously simple recipe (things taste better when they are cheap and easy, no?) – I’m going to delve into some of my deep-rooted childhood issues.

If my Mom or Dad read this, I apologize for airing your dirty laundry and I still love you. Long, long ago when I was just a little Jess (or Jess the Mess to enemies, which I rebuttled and won with Jess the Princess – BAM), my parents must have assumed I wouldn’t like the taste of pumpkin desserts. I could have said something at some point about how I didn’t want to try it, I could have commented on pumpkin guts, who knows – but either way, pumpkin anything was really never a dessert staple at any of our Thanksgiving or fall-festive meals. Up until two years ago, when I brought two Aussie friends home for Thanksgiving dinner, did my Mom decide to add a little pumpkin pie to the menu so that our foreign guests could have the full Canadian Turkey dinner experience. Well, I might as well have been a foreigner too – because I looked at the brownish-orange dessert with confusion, hesitation and upset the way that they did. Until I tried it, and life as I knew it had changed. At 21 years old, I had found my calling. Pumpkin.

Ideal Costume

Now it’s really just a problem. An unhealthy, indulgent obsession fueled by a (most likely unintentional) lifelong deprivation of maybe my favourite dessert taste. Red Velvet? Nah, I’ll take a pumpkin pie. Frosted cupcakes? I’ll take some pumpkin loaf instead, thanks. September 21st as the first day of beautiful fall? Absolutely not; it’s the first day of beautiful pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks.

So, needless to say, if I can whip up some of this scrumptious fall flavouring in my own kitchen, in the form of a batch of cookies that I can eat into the late hours of the night with no judgment because I live alone – I’m going to be happy as a clam. Sue me, I love pumpkin. Here is a healthy, quick and easy pumpkin cookie that you can munch on at any time of year, regardless of what people say:

Pumpkin Cookies

What you’ll need to make 20 cookies: 1 1/2 tsp of sugar substitute (or 1 1/2 cup of fugar), 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. baking powder,  2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce (or light butter), 1/2 can of pumpkin puree,  1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and salt; put this bowl aside.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce and sugar-substitute. Then, add the pumpkin, egg and 1 tsp. vanilla extract to that apple sauce mixture.

4. Mix in the dry ingredients and whisk together until creamy and thick.

6. Take tablespoonfuls and plop onto a cookie sheet.

7. Bake for 20 -25, remove from oven and glaze with icing or dip in fat-free vanilla yogurt.

8. Don’t wear all black when baking…classic mistake.

9. ENJOY YOUR COOKIES! And, long live pumpkin…in a nutshell.

My camera conked out, but this is what they look like! YUM!

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Friday’s Fashion Fix

As Fall quickly approaches (sorry for the harsh reality), I find myself thinking more and more about leather. As one of autumn’s staples, leather begins to make more of an appearance as the months turn crisper; from shorts, to boots, to jackets. While my leather jacket has gotten quite the wear, I’m tempted to look for a black cropped version which I know would be just as versatile come September. If you don’t have a leather piece for Fall, you may want to look into one! Here are two shots of some gorgeous styling, with the help of some of those perfect black leather jackets I’m currently craving.

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Fall Music Preview

Fall is quickly approaching and before we know it, influxes of new autumn albums are going to drop with the leaves. The beginning of summer and beginning of fall are some of my favourite times to discover new music, because whether or not you realize – you immediately associate your overplaying of the fresh tracks with those strongly felt season changes. The first leaf turns a mahogany brown and falls at your toes or a pedal sprouts from a hibernated plant from under the newly warm sun – and those novel tunes are so very present in your head. And every year with the change of the seasons, the entrance of those songs into your life will be something you’ll remember.

So, let the musical ants come marching in. Several of today’s biggest acts are getting ready to sock it to us in the form of exciting new sounds that may re-define or re-affirm their greatness. Or, like some unfortunate releases in the past, we might sit there with the new LP’s in hand, puzzled and waiting for one of the songs to even mildly intrigue us. Continue reading