Category Archives: living
Posted by Sharon Auld
There’s something so special and magical about a rustic mountain lodge at Christmastime. When there’s a chill in the winter air, and the mountain peaks are blanketed with fresh snow, a mountain lodge beckons with the promise of warmth and coziness after wintry day on the slopes. At Christmastime, decked out in twinkling lights and greenery, a mountain lodge is never more welcoming.
Naturally Chic, takes us to Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff and shares with us this rustic mountain lodge, holiday inspiration. Tara Whittaker Photography captures it all!
From Naturally Chic:
“My inspiration for this table was simply the rustic beauty of the Wapiti Longhouse. I love this space! With a massive, fieldstone fireplace, wood beams, open timbers, and hard wood floors, it’s sheer perfection! The mantle is always decorated so beautifully for the holidays. It’s everything you want in a mountain lodge; rustic, warm, cozy and inviting!
I design lots of weddings, and while beautiful, I don’t always get to take full advantage of the raw, rustic beauty of this space. With this tablescape, I wanted it to complement the space. I wanted it to be warm, cozy and inviting!
I chose simple, rustic elements; a wood harvest table, a wood bench and willow chairs. I used lots of textures, lambskin, faux fur, and this great “wool sock” table runner with buffalo plaid napkins from Roots. Seasonal greenery, wood accents and lots of candlelight completed the look.”
“The centepiece is a simple, DIY project that anyone can do! It consists of a wood box and candles in glass cylinders (floating candles would be nice too). I used clippings from my yard and floral foam (available at any craft store) to secure it in place.”
“It’s no secret that I love wood; I used lots for this tablescape, including these gorgeous wood chargers from Celebration Creation (you don’t have to be a wedding planner either to rent some accessories from your local decor shop).
I used crisp white, modern china plates and vintage silverware for the place settings. To complete the look, I made wood menus and used small pieces of leather for place cards.”
“I hope you enjoyed my take on a rustic, mountain lodge Christmas! Cheers!” Sharon, Naturally Chic
Tablescape Design and Concept: Naturally Chic; Photography: Tara Whittaker Photography; Venue: Buffalo Mountain Lodge.
by Sharon Auld
What better way to make your holidays more meaningful than to spend it with each other? If you’ve been following along, you know we’ve been sharing ideas for starting your very own Christmas Eve Traditions. Whether you’re newly engaged, newlywed, or been married for years, we hope you’ll find inspiration in our ideas below, along with Part 1 and Part 2 of our Christmas Eve Traditions for Couples series.
Tara Whittaker Photography and Naturally Chic teamed up to take you on a mountain escape. What better place to spend some romantic alone time focusing on each other, than in the quaint mountain town of Banff? It’s especially beautiful in the winter with snow capped peaks, breathtaking scenery and welcoming mountain lodges. Cozy up with your special someone and meet them under the mistletoe this Christmas!
Christmas Eve Traditions for Couples
8. Dinner for Two at a Cozy Mountain Lodge
Glistening under a blanket of snow, at no other time do the mountains outside sparkle so brightly than in winter. Inside is no exception. Decked out in shimmering lights, shiny balls, candlelight and roaring fireplaces, a mountain lodge is the perfect place to rekindle a little romance.
At Christmastime, many places offer up traditional holiday fare. There’s no worry you’ll miss out on any of the festivities while you’re away. Skip the holiday preparation and fuss, and have dinner served up for two. All you have to do is sit back, enjoy and toast the season together!
To put us in the festive mood, Naturally Chic dreamed up a little holiday inspiration and created this rustic, holiday tablescape at Buffalo Mountain Lodge.
9. Romance in the Mountains
Celebrate Christmas in the Rockies and escape the holiday bustle with a romantic getaway. Perhaps get out on the slopes and enjoy the snow and fresh air! Then, cuddle up under a warm duvet, listen to a crackling fire and soak in the relaxed ambience. Together time has never been so inviting!
10. Watch a Holiday Movie together
After dinner, snuggle up and watch a holiday movie together. Whether it’s a classic such as ‘It’s Wonderful Life‘, a comedy like ‘Elf‘, a romantic comedy like Love Actually, or maybe even the action thriller ‘Die Hard‘, every couple has a favourite to watch year after year!
Here’s two, filmed in Canada, holiday movies with a local connection that you may not have seen. ‘Holiday in Handcuffs‘ is a romantic comedy filmed in the foothills of Calgary and area. ‘Christmas Lodge‘ stars Erin Karpluk, former resident of Jasper, Alberta.
11. Love Letters Wine Box + Mistletoe
This is one of the most romantic holiday traditions to start! It’s pretty simple, you write a note to your partner telling them how special they are and what they’ve meant to you throughout the year. You then share the letters and read them on Christmas Eve.
A fun twist, is to seal your love letters in a wood box with a bottle of wine. Then, you take the letters out and read them on the following Christmas over a bottle of bubbly. It’s a great way to reminisce the year that was and to express your heartfelt appreciation for one another!
12. Exchange a Holiday Stocking
This is a fun one and doesn’t have to be expensive! As a child, you probably received a stocking chalk full of tiny treasures and treats from Santa. Re-live the magic and fill a holiday stocking for each other. Have fun opening together and enjoying the spoils.
Our couples’ stockings were loaded with goodies from some of their favorite local shops.
Styling of Stocking items by Tara Whittaker Photography
From The Livery Shop and Coutu Kitsch…
A few Other Ideas for Christmas Eve Traditions
13. Enjoy the Holiday Lights. Take a stroll or drive and check out your favourite holiday light displays together. In Calgary, Zoo Lights is a spectacular, magical display! It’s a tradition you’ll treasure year after year, maybe with your own family.
Via Arvada Church | Photographer Peter Haley
14. Attend a special holiday presentation such as The Nutcracker. In both Calgary and Edmonton, the Alberta Ballet performs a yearly presentation of The Nutcracker and is not to be missed!
15. Take a Holiday selfie and make it into an ornament. Hang it on the tree to commemorate your Christmases together.
I love the idea of repurposing an old clipboard to make a photo holder via Organized Clutter.
So, tell us, what are your favorite holiday traditions to do as a couple? We’d love to hear from you?
Stocking + Stuffers:
Faux Fur Stocking available at Indigo.
Thank You: A very special thank you to Lauren, Pam, Kerrie and Bree from CRMR + Buffalo Mountain Lodge, and real life couple, our wonderful models Kari and Derek.
Posted by Sharon Auld
This week we’re taking you to Banff and sharing ideas for starting your own Christmas Eve Traditions. If you missed it last week, we shared Part 1 of our three part series on ways you can make Christmas Eve with your special someone even more memorable!
Whether your extended family lives far away or right next door, every couple will, at some point, have to deliberate on where to spend the holidays. Do you spend it with your family or with your partner’s family? Or, maybe you want to spend time alone with just the two of you? Perhaps you’re lucky enough to be able to split your time with both your families and spend some alone time?
Whether it’s on Christmas Eve or at some point during the holidays, make the most of your relationship by reconnecting and enjoying some time together. Escaping to the mountains is always a good idea!
Here’s a round up of more fun ideas to incorporate into your own Christmas Eve Traditions.
Christmas Eve Traditions
4. Outdoor Skating
Dust off your skates and head outside for some good old-fashioned skating! There’s nothing like skating on a frozen pond with a mountain view, but any outdoor rink will do.
As Canadians, most of us have childhood memories of skating with our families at Christmastime. If it’s been a while, harness your inner child and get outside and have some fun! You’ll get a healthy glow and maybe even burn off some holiday stress!
Popular skating areas include Lake Minnewanka (as long as the ice is thick enough); within the Town of Banff you can skate at an outdoor rink in town, or at the Waldhaus Rink at Fairmont Banff Springs. In Calgary, try skating at the Bowness Park outdoor rink.
5. Dashing Through the Snow
Maybe a romantic horse drawn sleigh through a breathtaking winter landscape is more your style? If you’re in Banff, you can head to the Warner Stables and the Banff Trail Riders will take you on a wintry jaunt! Sit back under the warm blankets and enjoy the ride. If that’s not enough, along the way you’ll also stop for hot chocolate and s’mores beside a warm campfire! What could be more romantic?
6. Window Shopping in Banff
It’s an experience in itself to stroll down Banff Avenue, breathing in the fresh mountain air, all while taking in the wonderful shops and boutiques. Along with the souvenir shops and eateries, there’s classic Canadian stores such as Roots, The Hudson Bay and Beaver Tails! You’ll also find shops that are unique to Banff such as Mountain Chocolates, a popular chocolatier (have you tried a ‘Bear Claw’?), and the Banff Candy Store among others.
7. Choose a Christmas Ornament Together
Decorating for the holidays is well treasured, but even more so when your ornaments hold special meaning. You might already have special ornaments given to you by family, but you could also choose a special holiday ornament together. Each year, choose an ornament that in some way represents your year together, or is meaningful to you in some way. Over the years you’ll amass your own special collection of ornaments to treasure and maybe one day pass on to your own children!
The Spirit of Christmas in Banff is the go to store for ornaments all year long!
Naturally Chic created this special box to hold treasured Christmas memories! Filling the box with all the special ornaments chosen throughout the years, would be a fun way to commemorate your Christmases!
Photography: Tara Whittaker Photography; and Design Concept: Naturally Chic, teamed up with CRMR and their their Banff venue Buffalo Mountain Lodge, along with Adorn Boutique (ladies fashion) for this inspirational shoot. Hair Stylist: the lovely Suzanne from Mountain Beauties, and Makeup Artist – the talented Nadine from Mountain Beauties; Models: real life couple Kari and Derek. Customized wood ornament box: Naturally Chic, White Ball Ornament: The Spirit of Christmas Banff; Men’s Plaid Pyjamas Pants from: Roots.
A special thank you to Kari and Derek, to CRMR’s Lauren Webb and Pamela Bigg, and Buffalo Mountain Lodge onsite Conference Coordinators Kerrie-Lynn Carter and Bree McMaster.
On Wednesday, we’ll be sharing more great ideas for Christmas Eve Traditions for Couples in our final segment of the series, Part 3! Don’t miss it, we’ve saved some of the best ideas for last!
Posted by Sharon Auld
The holiday season is a wonderful, glorious, hectic time! With attending parties and events, last minute shopping, wrapping gifts, decorating, family commitments and more, finding ‘together’ time can be challenging. While it’s not always easy, one way you can make the holidays a little more memorable, is by taking time together to start your own Christmas Eve traditions.
Naturally Chic, together with Tara Whittaker Photography, teamed up to share ideas that you can do together on Christmas Eve or throughout the holiday season! Whether this is your first Christmas together, or the first year you’ll be spending Christmas Eve alone, or even if you’re just dreaming of a more meaningful holiday experience, we hope you’ll be inspired by this three part Christmas Eve Traditions for Couples series! Our hope is that you’ll take time to reflect upon the season and spend quality time together!
Christmas Eve Traditions – Part 1
We’ve asked our very first guest blogger, photographer Tara Whittaker, to walk us through a few ideas for incorporating Christmas Eve traditions into your holiday! Here’s what she had to say:
“One of the best parts of being newly married or engaged during the Christmas season is the opportunity to create new traditions with your one and only. As a wedding photographer, it’s fun to see couples begin their new life together. It’s lovely to see them form a new identity with traditions and customs that they can continue throughout the years. Here are some festive suggestions (with a Calgary twist) for couples that are guaranteed to get them in the holiday spirit.”
1. Raise your Glass
Kick off your evening with a holiday cocktail at the perfect après work destination. The casual, yet chic Bar C Restaurant and Lounge on 17th Avenue, tops our list as the perfect spot to toast the holidays and sample the share plates. The Burnt Old Fashioned, complete with a toasted orange slice, is a personal favorite beverage. Cheers!
2.Table for Two
Enjoy an intimate dinner with the one you love. The Lake House is a spectacular setting at any time of year, but they’ve “decked the halls” for Christmas and upped the romance factor. We recommend a dinner for two near the crackling fire in the grand fireplace, while dining on a delicious dinner of Pan Seared Black Cod or Grilled Alberta Beef Tenderloin, to name a few of their specialties. Complete your dining experience with a holiday favorite, Sticky Date Pudding topped with honey ginger ice cream.
3. Gift Wrapped
If you love watching your loved ones open their gifts as much as you love receiving them, why wait until Christmas morning? Give your loved one a small, yet sentimental gift on Christmas Eve and see their face light up. Sometimes the best gifts don’t cost a thing, but are thoughtful and handmade. Consider a custom playlist filled with holiday tunes you both enjoy. Finish your evening on a high note!”
Shoot Concept Idea and Design: Naturally Chic; Photographer: Tara Whittaker Photography; Designer + Stylist: Naturally Chic teamed up with CRMR and their properties The Lake House, and Bar C Restaurant and Lounge, along with Adorn Boutique (ladies fashion) and Ed Williams Menswear (gentleman’s fashion) for this inspirational shoot. With Flower Arrangement provided by: Flowers by Janie; Hair and Makeup Artist: Brooke from Diva Salon Spa , Wood slice: Naturally Chic, Models: Shannon & Tyler, and a special thank you to Pamela Bigg and Lauren Webb from CRMR!
We have many more suggestions for starting your own Christmas Eve Traditions for Couples coming up in Part 2 and Part 3 as we take you on a mountain escape to Banff!! You won’t want to miss it!
Posted by Sharon Auld
Lake Agnes Couple’s Session
If you can get away to the Canadian Rockies, there are many spectacular locations for hiking. Hiking to the Lake Agnes Tea House is a popular trail in the Lake Louise area, and one not to be missed! Fortunately for us, Tara Whittaker Photography is sharing her summer couple’s shoot with Christine and Cody. Whether you live near or far, if this isn’t a destination you’ve made this summer, sit back with a cup of tea and live vicariously through these stunning images! The mountains will be here next summer, still beckoning.
From Tara Whittaker Photography on her Lake Agnes Couple’s Session:
“I was so happy to meet Christine and Cody who share a passion for exploring the Rockies and each other. We planned an evening hike to Lake Agnes and arrived just as the sun was dropping behind Mt. Niblock and Mt. Whyte. Here’s some images from our adventures that day.”
Situated near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, at an altitude of 2,135 m ( 7,005 ft), the Lake Agnes Tea House is a moderate hike from Lake Louise, with an elevation gain of 400 m (1,300 ft). After a forested hike on a decent path, the valley opens to reveal the beautiful Lake Agnes. At the Tea House you can sit relax, have tea and refuel with a hearty lunch of homestyle soup, fresh baked breads and sandwiches.
The Tea House, which was originally built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, was named after the original first lady of Canada, Lady Agnes MacDonald (wife of Canada’s first Prime Minister). She first visited the area in 1886, and fell in love with the idyllic lake and hanging valley! This was where the original Lake Agnes Tea House was built in 1901. Today, it’s enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year and the very spot Christine and Cody arrived to late in the afternoon, on this sunny, summer day.
From Christine on her Lake Agnes Couple’s Session:
“The mountains have been my second home since I was a child. I remember packing up the trailer and getting ready for a week of hiking and campfires in the summers, as well as bundling up and carrying my skis to the hill for some crisp mountain-side enjoyment. This routine has carried on right through to my twenties, where I continue to eagerly pounce on every opportunity to explore new areas of the mountains I hadn’t before. It gives me so much joy and peace being out there I can’t imagine not having them so close to my very home. Since meeting Cody, I’ve felt like a little kid again, making him come on every new adventure with me and exploring new places. And each time I do, he comes alongside with a big smile (partly because he’s laughing at the fact that I’m way too excited to get out there) and partly because he too, has enjoyed making new memories and finding new hidden gems with me. I love having the mountains as my home away from home, and someone alongside me to explore them.”
Thank you so much to Tara Whittaker Photography for sharing these wonderful images with us and for Christine and Cody for letting us follow along on one of their mountain adventures!
Read more about Calgary and Lake Louise wedding photographer, Tara Whittaker in our “Fireside Chat” Series here, or check out one of our most popular features: “Mountain Veils” from Tara Whittaker Photography!