5 Things You Love About YOU

February spells one thing... L-O-V-E! When was the last time that you took some time to list a few things that you truly, abundantly and unapologetically love about yourself?

So, let's play a game.

I want you to take five pieces of paper...they can be any shape or size, it's just important that you have five of them.

Now I want you to write something on each paper that you truly love about yourself. They can be physical things, emotional things, things that you've maybe accomplished lately.

Take time to really let them sink in and choose things that mean the world to you. Here are mine!

  • I love my curls. As much as I hated them growing up and as wild as they would get (to the point that my Mom chopped all of my hair to an inch long for a few years), I love them. They make me who I am and show so much versatility.
  • I love that I am stubborn and challenge the world around me. I tend to not go with the grain, speak up for those who need a voice, and I really love that about myself. It shows courage, it shows determination, and while it may make others feel a bit uneasy, it makes me feel just  fine.
  • I love that I cry. Ha! This may come as a surprise to some of you (if you know me well...it doesn't!) but I cry a lot, specifically at the end of races. Often when I cross that finish line, I am a puddle of tears. It's raw, and it make me vulnerable. 
  • I love my thighs, or as I know them now, my quads. They are such a powerhouse and while growing up I often heard the term thunder thighs, they are pretty badass. They keep me going forward, the are slowly getting define and I see them as a pillar of strength.
  • I love my tattoos! (I bet you saw that one coming!) Each one has a story and a meaning. I have one for our sweet Arrow, one for my Dad, one for Owen, another for a special friend who passed away. The Scottish gaelic word for artist, an angel fish (that badly needs to be redone) and my boys' birthdates. And yes, there will be more. Why? Because they are a part of me and they tell my story. 

So what do you love about yourself? Make it count!!


Aphrodisiac Recipes for #Valentines Day! #recipes #food

Today's lovey dovey Valentine recipe comes from Dawn, author at READ eat DEW write. You can connect with Dawn on her beautiful blog, or on Twitter!

My grandmother always advised me, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I was probably a little too young for her to add that getting through to his libido wouldn't hurt. Over the years, I've had fun (and success) preparing romantic meals, so this Valentine's Day, I decided to revisit a few of my favorite aphrodisiac recipes in hopes of helping you (and me) catch Sir (or Ms.) Valentine's attention.
aphrodesiac images copy
I can't locate my copy, but there is a fabulous book called Intercourses, which aside from having tastefully erotic photos, is full of interesting tidbits about foods classified as aphrodisiacs, and easy to prepare, delicious recipes. The recipes featured here are not in that book, but once you start to learn about the different aphrodisiac foods, you can play around and create your own tantalizing dishes. First, you have to lose the kids (or the roommate). And get to the market.
Note: The weekend during which I intended to prepare and photograph the complete menu shared here, Philadelphia was experiencing a power outage of historic proportions. All photos featured here were borrowed from the "free to share and use" Bing library.
Cocktail Hour... lemon-rosemary martini; figs with gorgonzola and pine nuts, warmed in the oven and drizzled with honey
For the martini:
Combine simple syrup and in a shaker with vodka or gin (2 oz. simple syrup to spirits). Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a lemon twist. Optional: coat rims with sugar.
lemon rosemary martini
For the figs:
  • 2 whole, ripe figs, tops cut off to expose flesh & allow for cheese & pine nuts to be stuffed inside
  • small wedge of sharp gorgonzola cheese, softened
  • 1.5 tbsps. lightly toasted pine nuts
  • plain, lavender or orange-scented honey, for drizzling
  1. Press cheese and pine nuts into the top of each fig. Place in preheated oven (350°) and cook for about 10 minutes. The goal is to soften and warm the fig, and for the gorgonzola to melt inside and over the fig
  2. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey. Serve immediately on a small plate with a tapas size fork. Or, get a little messy and devour with your hands (finger licking up to you).
The Main Attraction... lollipop lamb chops w/vanilla-balsamic drizzle; caramelized fennel w/arugula
*Lollipop chops are simply a cut up--and cleaned up--rack of lamb. For two people, plan on 4-6 chops.
**The "drizzle" is made by steeping balsamic vinegar with an open vanilla bean. Since it's delicious on other foods as well (including vanilla ice cream) start with a ratio of one vanilla bean to 1.5 cups of balsamic. Simmer until the mixture is reduced by half. Easy. Peasy.
For the chops:
  • Lightly dredge chops in a salt-pepper-flour mix. (I use Wegmans' gluten-free pan-searing flour.)
  • Heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high until almost smoking
  • Sauté chops 1-2 minutes per side
  • Either plate chops and drizzle vanilla-balsamic glaze over each, or drop about 1.5 tbsps. of glaze onto each plate and place chops on top.
  For the caramelized fennel & arugula salad fennel 1 large fennel bulb 1/8 cup olive oil Kosher salt black pepper 1/4 lemon
  1. Cut the top and bottom from the fennel bulbs; remove tough or bruised outer layers
  2. Slice bulbs in half and remove the cores from the fennel. Cut the fennel lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices
  3. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and fennel slices
  4. Spread the fennel out in the pan to encourage browning
  5. Cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping the fennel slices every few minutes, until golden brown
  6. Remove the fennel from the pan and place on paper towels to soak up any excess oil; season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice
  7. Place a handful of arugula on a plate and top with a generous spoonful of fennel. Pour just a touch of extra-virgin olive oil over top, along with a squeeze or two of lemon. For an over-the-top version, add a medallion of fried goat cheese and sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.
Dessert: Strawberries w/aged balsamic vinegar, black pepper & honey whipped cream
For those of you who like exact measurements, I am not always the girl to go to; I am generally an "eyeball it and taste it" cook, except when it comes to baking. For this recipe, I trust you'll do just fine playing around.
strawberries and balsamic
To start off, buy yourself some plump, juicy strawberries, and bring them to room temperature before you start dousing them with balsamic and pepper. Next, grab a couple of your prettiest cocktail glasses or dessert bowls and fill them with hulled, sliced strawberries. Be generous; you're going to like these.
Just before serving, cautiously pour about a tablespoonful of balsamic over the strawberries and toss to coat. Next up, grab your pepper grinder and generously shower the strawberries. (I like to do this in a separate bowl then scoop into my cocktail glasses.) Scoop the berries into your serving vessels, and top with a hearty dollop of honey whipped cream. For the ultimate dessert high, pull out a tawny port or smoky scotch. The pros might not recommend that, but it's a crazy good combination. As is this entire decadent meal...
Happy seducing...


Valentine's Gift Guide: Amber Bryce, #jewelery #handmade #soul

I have had the pleasure of working with Amber Bryce on a variety of pieces in the past, and she most certainly has become more than just a jewelry designer to me. She speaks a special language...she speaks from the soul, and teaches you to listen to your heart and trust yourself.

Amber is offering the unique opportunity to work with her in a free consultation to create your Soul Signature piece. This is a process that I highly recommend; I wear my every single day and know that it is a piece that is attached to my very core.

During the process, you will will learn so much about yourself. You will learn what your heart truly wants, what you are afraid of {good and bad}, what has been holding you back, and how you are going to crash through those road blocks. It's an intuitive experience, and one you will not regret having.

Sign up for your free Soul Signature consult today!


Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Seacret, #deadsea #mineral #skincare

Have you ever considered what minerals can do for your skin? I mean we take natural supplements for our internal health and wellbeing, as well as vitamins and whatnot, but do you consider what minerals can do for the health of your skin?

Unlike many skincare lines SEACRET'S products were nurtured for centuries before they found their way into your home. Why try to improve upon natural perfection with dangerous chemicals? Seacret carefully follows natures lead and proceeses ingredients with care. For YOU, this means safe products with real results for glowing healthy skin

Where science meets nature, Seacret combines Peptides, Vitamins, Amino Acids, Essential Oils, many Anti-Oxidants and Dead Sea Minerals into their age-defying formula to regenerate your skin cells and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for mature skin.

Also available are luxurious body butters and creams, foot creams and scrubs, and even mineral rich shampoos and conditioners for your beautiful hair.

Clarify and replenish with Seacret!


Keep Calm and Kiss Me: FREE Valentines Printable

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Just a sweet little printable for this Valentine's Day, and yours FREE for the downloading and printing at home!

This year for Valentine's Day, I am feeling the need to bake and have an array of sweets for my sweet boys. Since the kiddo is a bit of a chocoholic {I do not know where he gets that from....;)}, there will be some sort of chocolate cupcakes, likely with chocolate buttercream and maybe some sprinkles to fancy them up.

My husband, on the other hand, is not a dessert guy or sweets guy...unless it's super rich dark chocolate or, on the totally opposite side of the scale, white chocolate. I think some truffles might be in store for him!

Then for me? Cookies. Give me all the sugar cookies with royal icing that I can whip up!

What are your Valentine's plans this year?


Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Love Me Knott - Bilton Creations, #jewelry #ldnont #handmade

Are you drawn to the raw power and beauty of natural stones? Designer Amanda Knott Bilton of Love Me Knott - Bilton Creations is and uses these elements in her handmade jewelry to create one of a kind pieces that are sure to become favorites in your accessory line up.

Love Me Knott - Bilton Creations also creates one of a kind bracelets, bookmarks and other accessories. All feature raw stones and silver, and are handmade. You can be sure that you are getting a truly unique handmade piece when you purchase from Love Me Knott - Bilton Creations!

Check out the ad in the Gift Guide, and mention it with your next order for 25% off!


Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Budding Artists, #art #ldnont #creativity

Committed to the promoting creativity, Budding Artists is located in London, Ontario and offers a variety of school and group based art fundraisers, studio instruction and creating custom keepsakes.

For Valentine's Day, Budding Artists wants you to Share the Love. Simply send in your child's Heart Art for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate!

As a extra special for Valentine's Day, Budding Artists is also offering 10% off travel mugs, coffee mugs and water bottles! A great gift for the kiddos to give mom or dad as a special keepsake!

I love the idea of turning your childrens artwork into keepsakes. It's such a sweet idea, and teaching them an appreciation for their art is something that I think is really important. Preserve those memories and their artwork with Budding Artists.


Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Noogle, #etsy #party #printables

Noogle is at it again with some fun designs for Valentine's Day!

Downloadable designs for Valentine's Day that are sweet and whimsical, different than your standard drug store or grocery store finds!

Designer Shannon Sheridan-Geldart specializes in designs that are kid-inspired for your home, parties, events, and more! She's designed printed invitations for Owen's birthday parties in the past, as well as digital designs for other parties that we've had, and she never disappoints!

Her custom party elements range from invitations to tent cards for your buffet table, but she doesn't just stop there. Need a door sign? Treat favor labels? Cupcake toppers? Banner? Noogle has it all and can custom design to suit your party needs.

For Valentine's Day, Shannon has a GREAT promo going for all Sweet Stella's readers!

Happy Valentine's Day from Noogle!


Rocky Road Cluster recipe, candy recipe

Need a quick treat to whip up for Valentine's Day? This recipe for Rocky Road Clusters is quick, easy and even the little ones can help out!


1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1 cup mini marshmallows

(optional: 1/2 cup peanuts)

Line two cookie sheets with waxes paper.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat your chocolate chips until melted, stirring every 30 seconds to avoid burning your chocolate. Once smooth, pour in your mini marshmallows and almonds and stir until coated.

Drop your cluster mixture by the tablespoonful onto your wax paper lined cookie sheets, then pop into the fridge to set.

These delicious treats make a great gift for teachers, babysitters, and grandparents. Just wrap up a few in wax paper and tie with ribbon!


Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: FMoon Origami Jewelry #jewelry #ldnont #handmade

I'm sure you've all seen origami before, but have you seen teeny tiny little origami owls, cranes and flowers made into beautiful jewelry?

I can honestly say that I have never seen jewelry quite like it, and think that it is really special. Created by a designer in London, Ontario, Fmoon Origami Jewelry is all handmade and individually designed. No two pieces will ever be the same, so you truly are getting a one of a kind piece of art.

FMoon is coming up with new designs all the time, including the beautifully handsculpted origami flowers above, just in time for Valentine's Day. Other designs feature butterflies, owls, and the iconic crane.

To see more from FMoon Origami Jewelry, check them out below!


Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Jamberry Nails #nails #fashion #beauty


Nail art and nail wraps are all the rage, and what a great way to accessorize your wardrobe in the dreary Winter months than with Jamberry Nails?

From every day chic designs, to ones that are perfectly sweet for Valentine's Day, you will find what you are looking for on Jamberry Nails. And as always, buy three get one free!

My favorites right now are Black Fleur-de-Lis Lace and City Lights. Both are absolutely stunning. Black Fleur-De-Lis Lace features a beautiful baroque design, full of intricate details, while City Lights is more subdued, with the added punch of metallic.

Greta for fingers and toes, Jamberry Nails are for everyone...even little girls! There's a brand new line of exclusive Jamberry Juniors for little nail artists!

Independent Consultant Amanda Simpson is also giving hostesses an added perk right now!

Hosting has never been easier than with Jamberry Nails! Contact Amanda today!


Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Custom Iced #bakery #ldnont

Have you ever had a sugar cookie that was just too good to be true? Well, I have and it came from Custom Iced, owned and operated by Claire Jackson, in Ilderton, Ontario. It was sugary and sweet, with the right about of buttery goodness...{mouth watering yet??}

This small batch bakery is whipping up delicious goodies...everything from custom designed cupcakes with handmade fondant toppers to beautiful cakes for first birthday cake smash photography sessions!

Claire's attention to detail and excellent customer service is getting her rave reviews! Check out these hand sculpted Minion fondant toppers!

She also specilazes in snowstopping pieces, like this giant cupcake that has been iced with flowers of all different colors. This is my personal favorite!

How fun would that be for a tea party, baby or bridal shower?! I love it!

To check out more of Claire's work, you can find Custom Iced on Facebook and on her website.


Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Baily Belle, #handmade #jewelry #accessories

You've seen me feature Baily Belle time and time again, and it's one Etsy shop that I continue to support and shop from. Designer Vanessa Baily has been creating up a storm of beautiful, unique and one of a kind pieces for her shop Baily Belle, and I'm thrilled to be featuring her in the Valentine's Gift Guide.

One of her newest pieces that I absolutely adore is her handmade customizable dreamcatcher necklace. I have never seen anything quite like it and it is so beautiful, it is worth adding to your collection.

Stunning right? As a special treat for Sweet Stella's readers, Vanessa is offering a great discount for Valentine's Day!


Valentine's Gift Guide #valentine #giftsforher #giftguide

It's here! It's here!! It's finally here!

The Valentine's Gift Guide is here, and there are so many great promos, discounts and deals from really beautiful companies in it, that you won't want to miss a page!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be featuring some of the amazing companies in the Gift Guide, talking about their products, services and why they are so amazing.

Need to send it to your honey and tell him which page your gift is on? Here's the direct link.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Valentine's Projects and DecoArt Giveaway

Well, Valentine's Day is tomorrow. Do you have everything checked off your list?

Beautiful centrepiece for that romantic dinner with your spouse, embellished with a little Glamour Dust?
Cute throw pillows to pump up your holiday decor, painted with SoSoft?
Whimsical dessert plate painted with DecoArt 3D Opaque Gloss Enamels?

Have no fear, all of these projects take just minutes and you can complete right in time to set the stage for a romantic dinner with your favourite person.

Dessert Plate
Level: Beginner
Materials: Ovensafe plate, DecoArt 3D Opaque Gloss Enamels

This project is so incredibly easy! Simply write the lyrics to a love song, a poem, or just a little sweet note on your dessert plate with the Gloss Enamels. Allow to dry for 4 days, then pop in your oven at 325F for 30minutes. Cool, and place your favourite dessert!

Heart Pillow
Level: Beginner
Materials: Cotton throw pillow, DecoArt So Soft fabric paint, paint brush

Another easy peasy project! With your paint brush, draw hearts with the So Soft fabric paint. Allow to dry and voila! Instant Valentine decor! For a more advanced variation, try wetting the surface a little and watering down the paint for a watercolour effect!

Glamour Centrepiece
Level: Beginner
Materials: Plank of wood, votive candles, Glamour Dust Ultra Fine Glitter Paint

First, put down some newspaper to protect your table, then paint your plank of wood {I used a $1 piece from Michaels} with your Glamour Dust Ultra Fine Glitter Paint. I brushed it on, then used a crumpled paper towel to blend the colours and swirl them together. Allow to dry, then cluster your votive candles and light to set the stage for a romantic dinner!

And now....it's time for a DecoArt giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by DecoArt. All projects completed and views expressed are my own, however I was provided product to complete them.