Category Archives: HOME STYLE

Baking Style

So excited to have this baking beauty as a contributor on the blog! WOOT! I got to experience these amazing cookies and cupcakes over the holiday! So pretty and YUMMY!! Next up, some healthy baked treats to get us into the Livingholiisstyle – 14 Day Health Challenge I hope. Her baking looks and tastes so good – I can never say NO 😉

Hi Everyone. My name is Tiffany and I am a cookie fiend. Or a cupcake fiend. Whichever one strikes my fancy but usually both. From time to time I experiment with cheesecakes when I have more patience! I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with cooking and baking. Growing up with two other sisters, I was always the one hanging around the kitchen watching my mom cook and bake. I would sit around and play with my own little dough balls and taste all of her food before it was even ready! As I got older I would partake in Home Economics classes in high school and when everyone else was moving onto other extracurriculars I stuck with my baking and food studies classes. Now I bake in my free time when I’m not slaving away in the hospital as a nurse. My hobby centres around baking for big holidays because I love to experiment with different themed decorations. I’ve always been artistic and creative since childhood (despite my dad’s dearest wishes for me to become a genius mathematician doctor).

I will be sharing some of my baking creations through Jody’s blog! For this past Christmas, I made some sugar cookies and themed cupcakes. Every year I do a huge 2-3 day baking job (with help from my younger sister). Some years I’ve also made gingerbread cookies but it takes an extra half day for that. My favourite sugar cookie recipe comes from a blogger Sally’s Baking Addiction. She always produces amazing recipes and I’ve never once made anything from her site that wasn’t a hit! I followed the sugar cookie recipe exactly:

I decorated using her royal icing recipe and just played around with different colours and designs! The best thing about decorating is that it’s all up to the baker. You can do whatever you want.

I also made her amazing gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese icing:

These have the perfect consistency and the cupcake tops are completely flat when finished! (Which you want for decorating, otherwise they are muffins, not cupcakes). The cream cheese icing is tangy and not too sweet. I also made my own fondant icing using just two ingredients: melted marshmallows and icing sugar. I would recommend to NEVER do that again unless you plan on using all the fondant on making an elaborate cake. It was extremely messy and so much leftover fondant I ended up chucking out. Instead you can get a decent sized amount already made at Michael’s for around $5. I was just trying to save money, but the trouble was not worth the few extra dollars I saved.

Recipe Credit:


  • 2 and 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks; 180g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (yields an outstanding flavor!)

Royal Icing

  • 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tablespoons meringue powder
  • 6 to 8 Tablespoons room temperature water
  • black, orange, and red food coloring (I love this food coloring kit)
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract (if using) and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. If the dough seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
  • Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat (I prefer the nonstick silicone mat) to about 1/4-inch thickness. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
  • Stack the pieces, with parchment paper between the two, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.
  • Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a snowman cookie cutter, cut into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd dough piece.
  • Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. I like to decorate cookies directly on baking sheets so I can stick the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help set the icing. So place the cooled cookies back on baking sheets.


Real Estate & Technology

Real Estate and Technology

To my children, I am a luddite: I still read books (not e-books), shop in real stores and text in full sentences with proper punctuation. To my parents, I am someone who can’t put her phone down, stopped getting the newspaper delivered and sends e-mail invitations instead of mailed ones.  I am not always the first to embrace technology, but I do recognize that keeping up with automation and technical knowledge is essential. The reality is that technology is constantly changing and improving everyone’s lives – even the life of a city.  Modern technology allows us to share all sorts of information, so I thought I would share this information on the Living Hollis Style Blog.

 The smart city: how technology is changing real estate (Engel & Völkers blog 2017)

‘Smart’ is becoming the new normal. The word itself has changed slightly in meaning over the past 10 years, as new technologies emerge boasting even more features that help us manage and maintain our lives on a daily basis. Now it’s more common to meet someone with a smart phone than not, while watches, TVs, washing machines and lighting systems in our homes are all becoming increasingly connected and attuned to our needs. Now, these real estate trends are taking on a bigger target, and we’re starting to see a new modern phenomenon emerge: the smart city.

What is a smart city?

The United Nations has predicted that the global population will hit 9.7 billion in 2050, with 66% of people projected to live in cities. The smart city is part of this vision: our metropolises will become increasingly urbanised and more tech-heavy, with drones, autonomous vehicles and robots already being introduced into our modern service structures today.

These future cities will leverage data and technology to make life more comfortable for residents. Frost & Sullivan define the term as “cities built on ‘Smart’ […] solutions and technology that will lead to the adoption of at least five of the eight […] smart parameters”.

These parameters include smart energy – which we’ve already seen beginning, with heating systems controlled from your phone – as well as smart buildings, transport, healthcare, infrastructure, technology, governance, education and finally, the rather mysterious smart citizen. In terms of real estate trends, the ‘smart buildings’ parameter will have, and is having, the greatest implications and opportunities for the industry.

What is already happening?

Smart cities – or rather, the first incarnations of them – exist already. Barcelona and Singapore both have a base level of connectivity and integrated municipal services. Among other things, Barcelona has one of the cleanest surface public transport fleets in Europe, a bike sharing network and impressive green energy credentials. Its pneumatic waste management system automates rubbish collection in some districts, while underground delivery chutes decrease truck and noise pollution.

In the USA, Denver and Panasonic have worked together to designate a mixed-use development centre, Pena Station Next, as a hyper-connected community: a ‘smart city’ of sorts. Pena Station Next already has smart city solutions such as street lights mounted with security cameras and sensors, along with smart bus stops and parking meters. Here, Road X, an ‘intelligent’ Interstate 70, is already underway.

What does this mean for real estate trends?

Connected, smart buildings have the potential to reduce energy use, trigger preventative maintenance, and decrease operating costs. Utilising sensor technologies to track information such as motion, light, temperature and water flow, then automatically analysing the data to detect inefficiencies, and responding in a non-intrusive manner could all become part of how buildings function around us. According to JLL, smart buildings could improve general efficiency levels by 15-20% in the first year. In-depth building and occupant data would mean greater transparency in real estate transactions, allowing potential renters and buyers to better understand assets and commercial investors to better analyse the likely footfall.

The real estate industry has plenty of opportunities here to embrace smart city solutions and shape the evolution of these areas. The most obvious initial benefit for the property industry will be the enthusiasm and clamour of eco-conscious tenants, buyers and businesses to purchase a part of these efficient structures with lower running costs. Equally, however, the industry will need to move with the times and keep up with these changes as they come, to remain knowledgeable and up-to-date with these increasingly common futuristic properties.


Christmas Calm

I love Christmas decorating but I always think it is going to be stress-free and take me 5 minutes. However, reality is, 1 string of lights, 2 boughs and 2 bows and I am already 1.5 hours in and starting to stress. Ugh! So…after searching for some easy holiday decorating ideas, I came across these stress free holiday tips from Cynthia Ewer. Great ideas to give me more time to ENJOY and less time to stress. It is worth the quick read.  

Christmas Calm: Ten Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

November 16, 2017 by Cynthia Ewer

Sure, you love the holiday season–but just not so much of it! This year, you’re hoping to cut the crazy out of Christmas: to trim the celebration back to one that is sustainable and calm.

Question is, just how do you do less–and enjoy it more–during the Christmas holiday season?

If you’re aiming to simplify Christmas, take time to ponder ways to cut stress, save money and tame over-the-top traditions. Setting simplicity strategies in place early will keep you from being swept up in holiday madness.

Get armed! Try these ten simple strategies to calm holiday chaos and rein in the seasonal overkill this year.

10 Simplicity Strategies

Prune the to-do list. Ask, “If I don’t do this, what will happen?” Aim to knock down the list of chores to the rock-bottom necessity.

Cut the gift list. Rein in gift exchanges that have been outgrown or lost their meaning. Limit gifts to children only, draw names, or organize a gift exchange.

Wrap as you go. Who needs to spend Christmas Eve catching up on wrapping chores? Sticky notes will help you keep track of gift contents.

Buy, don’t bake. Turn your back on the oven this year. Supermarkets, bakeries and the freezer department of the discount warehouse are a great source for delicious, pre-baked holiday treats.

Call, don’t send cards. Reach out and touch someone … the easy way. Online greeting cards are easy, inexpensive and fun to send. No more lines at the post office!

Scale back décor. Substitute a simple door wreath for outdoor lighting, a tabletop tree for the over-the-top tannenbaum. Focusing holiday decor on the Big Three–front door, tree and focal point–can bring a festive feel to the house without day-long decorating sessions.

Cut the clean-a-thon. Focus cleaning attention on kitchen and public rooms; private areas can slide til season’s end. Better to schedule deep-cleaning chores like carpet cleaning until after the wear-and-tear of the holiday season.

Downsize dishwashing. Hand-washing fine china is nobody’s idea of a good time, so move to everyday stoneware. Simpler still: paper plates!

Finger food, not feast. A smorgasboard of tasty tidbits is easier on the cook and kinder to the waistline than a sit-down dinner. Share the work by hosting pot-luck events.

Stay home! Cuddling down close to the hearth beats holiday travel any day. A holiday “stay-cation” allows for evening drives to see the lights, family camp-outs in front of the Christmas tree, and evenings spent with carols and popcorn. Fun!

Simple Beauty

Simple Beauty

I found this article on the European beauty in minimalism helpful for maintaining a lifestyle that goes with the home style. Let me first say that I am not a minimalist: my walls are covered in art from tame to eccentric and I am person who needs colour in my life. But wouldn’t it be so easy to keep up with the household chores if we could just get rid of what we didn’t need and got each room organized?

The Beauty of Minimalism  (Engel & Völkers blog, 2014)

Minimalism is one of the most enduringly popular decorating trends, and it’s easy to understand why. Characterised by streamlined shapes, sparse furniture, and a serious lack of disorder, minimalist decor brings space and light into any room and keeps the focus firmly on the beautiful bare necessities.

Starting work on a minimalist makeover isn’t difficult: just follow our simple steps to transform your home.

Get rid of what you don’t need

A good way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to ask yourself “is it essential, or is it beautiful?” If it’s neither, put it in a box for charity. It’s best to keep furniture to a minimum, favouring basic items like couches and coffee tables over ornate bureaus and chests. Strip your home down, judge each piece independently and then decide which things you want to keep and select the most suitable location for each one.

Organise your storage space

Every household is filled with items that, while essential, are best kept out of sight. Bits and pieces such as computer cables, folders filled with paperwork, and DVDs are required for daily life, but in a minimalist home the old adage that there should be ‘a place for everything, and everything in its place’ really does hold true. Give your current storage space a rigorous clear out to make room for the things that you really do need.

Keep it plain and simple

Ornate décor is not at home in a minimalist household. Avoid patterned upholstery and carved furniture, keeping lines plain and simple without any distractions. Floors should be kept clean and clear: preferably in plain hardwood, but if you favour carpets then choose a block colour in a neutral shade. Move items that are cluttering up surfaces into storage spaces, leaving only a few splashes of colour where appropriate.

Add some objets d’art

Once your home is cleared out, it’s time to stamp your own character onto the clear canvas. Don’t get carried away: you only need one or two pieces per room to express your personality and make the space look lived in. Add statement pieces such as simple artwork on the wall, a vase of flowers on the coffee table, or place a hardback copy of your favourite book on the shelf.

Do it slowly

Rome wasn’t built in a day – so don’t try to change your entire home all at once. Start with one room and work from there. You’ll also find it helpful to keep coming back to review your decisions – make the initial changes and remove clutter, give it a few days and then examine your work again with a fresh pair of eyes. You may find that items you previously couldn’t bear to part with now seem unnecessary complications, so it’s important to review and simplify on a regular basis.

If you feel that your new minimalist interior still needs some statement pieces to complete the look, visit Engel & Völkers Interiors. Our beautiful collection has been carefully selected to help you create an elegant décor, perfectly complementing our equally luxurious property listings, from state-of-the-art design penthouses to deluxe minimalistic Villas with sea views. With impeccable taste and an effortless online shopping process, you’ll find everything you need for beautiful minimalist style.



Lobster PEI Style


Well, to have a great lobster dinner you have to start with the best lobster – PEI Lobster! We get our lobster at Water Prince Corner Shop (, the owners and staff are so friendly. I love that they know my dad by name, his usual order, with some added down home conversation.

Dad says the best lobsters are not too big, as he believes the lobster meat is not as tender in the large ones. So we always get lots of 1-1/2 pounders and believe me they are perfection. To make the meal complete, make sure to have melted butter, homemade potato salad and biscuits – and your set! I always recommend crackers, lobster bibs and extra napkins as this can be a messy meal. 🙂

It is so important to prepare seafood properly, so here is the lowdown from the best – tourism PEI  – Seafood Preparation!

A little PEI Lobster dinner.


PEI is famous for its lobster with bright red shells and juicy tender meat. Once so common that they were used as fertilizer, lobster has now become a gourmet delicacy. Lobsters have ten legs, beady eyes, long antennae and a crust-like shell. The bright red colour characteristic of the lobster is only achieved by cooking. When alive, lobster are usually greenish-blue and speckled with dark spots. The meat, when cooked, is a delicate white tinged with red.

Where to Buy

Delicious lobster is available from tip to tip on PEI throughout the year! Visit for a complete list of lobster retailers and markets in PEI.

How to Buy

Lobster may be purchased live in the shell, or freshly cooked in the shell. When purchased live, lobster should show some movement and the tail should spring back when straightened out. Lobster that show no movement when handled and whose tail hangs down straight, are dead and should be discarded. When handling live lobster, be careful of the claws as they can give you a severe bite. To protect the handler and to prevent the lobsters from harming each other in captivity, the claws are usually immobilized by placing an elastic band around them. When buying cooked lobster, check that they are a bright “red-orange” colour, have a fresh aroma and that the tail section will spring back into a curled position after being straightened out. Lobster is sold as either canners or markets, in accordance with the size. Canners weigh between 1/2 and 3/4 pounds (250-375 g) while markets weigh over 3/4 pound (375 g). Lobster is also sold as cold pack (meat, frozen in cans), hot pack (meat, heat processed in cans), cocktail, chowders, paste, and whole, frozen in the shell.

How to Store

Live lobster should never be placed in fresh water or on ice. Under ideal cool, damp storage conditions, lobster can live out of water for up to 36 hours. They can be stored in your refrigerator for several hours by placing them in a large container covered with damp newspaper or seaweed. Cooked lobster in the shell can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days if placed in a tightly covered container. Shucked lobster meat can be refrigerated for 2-3 days. Live lobster should never be frozen but cooked lobster freezes well. For best results, the cooked meat should be removed from the shell and placed in plastic containers, glass bottles or freezer bags. Prepare a brine solution of 1/4 cup (50 ml) salt to each quart (litre) of fresh water. Pour this over the lobster so that all the meat is covered and a 1/2 ince (1.2 cm) headspace remains. Whole cooked lobster can be frozen in individual heavy plastic bags. Place the lobster in the bag, being careful that the sharp shell does not puncture the bag, cover with a brine solution, seal tightly and freeze immediately. Whole cooked lobster may also be frozen in plastic pails with tightly fitting covers. Pack the lobster in the pail, cover with a brine solution, leaving a 1 inch (2.5 cm) headspace, cover tightly and freeze. To thaw lobster, place it in the refrigerator and allow 15-18 hours defrosting time per pound (500 g). To speed up the defrosting time, place the package under cold running water for 1/2 to 1 hour per pound (500 g).

How to Prepare

Lobster should be cooked either in clean seawater or salted fresh water (add 2 tbsp./25 ml of salt to each quart/litre of fresh water). Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the lobster and bring it to a boil. Grasp the lobster firmly by the back just behind the claws and plunge it head first into the boiling water. Cover, return the water to a boil and then lower the heat to a bubbly simmer. Lobster will cook in 12-20 minutes depending on the size. Canners will cook in 12-15 minutes, while large lobsters will require up to 20 minutes of cooking time. Timing should start only after the water has returned to a boil. Once cooked, the lobster should be drained immediately, They can now be served hot or chilled quickly by being dipped in cold water. It is important to cool the lobster quickly so that they do not remain in the temperature range in which bacteria multiply rapidly. If you wish to use the lobster in a prepared dish, you can now remove the meat from the shell. Lobster has an average meat yield of 20-25%. This means that a 1 pound (500 g) lobster will contain 3-4 oz. (100-125 g) of meat. It will take approximately 5.5 oz. (160 g) of meat to make 1 cup (250 ml). If using canned lobster for your recipes, remember that an 11.3 oz (320 g) can will yield about 2 cups (500 ml).

How to Serve

There are two methods for serving lobster in the shell. The shell can be broken apart using lobster crackers and the meat then picked out, or the lobster can be cut in half down the centre and the claws cut open with a large heavy knife. All of the lobster is edible except for the shell, the small stomach (hard sac) behind the head and the dark vein, running down the back of the tail. The green material in the body is the liver or tomally. This is excellent eating, as is the red material, or roe, which is found in the body of the female lobster.