December 25, 2011

joy filled day...

{while digging through her stocking}

I've been a bad, bad blogger. BUT we are heading home from the cottage to close on our new house in a few days....there will be many posts on that project to come!

Happy Christmas to all! xo

November 6, 2011

fall around here

We are enjoying a quick trip up to the cottage this weekend. It is crisp, yet sunny, outside - perfect for doing a puzzle by the fire at night and taking a fall walk during the afternoon. My daughter was loving her ride on daddy.

I also mentioned early in October that I was designing and constructing a costume for my toddler for Halloween. Well, it turned out ok, but it was much more stressful than I had anticipated. Last year's owl costume was a bit more straight forward. Figuring out the flower petals was a bit of work, but I think she ended up enjoying the finished product. And the neighbours seemed to get a kick out of our wee flower pot too! 

I wanted her to be a three-dimensional flower, not the kind I see everywhere with petals only around her face. The way I made it, she looked like a flower from all sides, and especially from the top. The petals were the hardest - I had to use a strong enough gauge wire so that the frame would hold and support the felt and tulle, but it also had to be flexible enough to mould nicely around her head. After wrapping tule, for what felt like years, the rest of the costume was easy. I found a green shirt at Walmart as well as a black pot which we cut the bottom off of. I used a bit of ribbon to hold up the pot and found a yellow cotton hat on the internet, and voila! We had an adorable pink flower!

{sorry for horrible iPhone photos}

She was so grown up that night - she ventured up to the doors, knocked while yelling "trick or treat", and remembered her "thank you" before leaving ALL BY HERSELF. 

We had to drag our 2.5 year old flower home that night. 

October 25, 2011

Something that's REALLY scary...

In keeping with all things spooky and a bit adrenaline inducing this month, I share with you the house we bought this past weekend. 


Yes, I know it all looks like one room, but I assure you it's not. We bought a LOT of red. And faux brick wallpaper. 

If I can't pull this into the 21st century, I need a new profession. :)

October 16, 2011

Halloween Chic

Halloween is just around the corner and I've noticed SPOOKY decor popping up all around our neighbourhood. Here are a few items I would choose to create a chic yet festive Halloween vignette in my entry...

1 - This adorable bat print on vintage French dictionary page looks sophisticated & scientific to me! $12 
2 - These ivory, orange and black poison bottles would look great (and ironic) with a single flower $15 for 3
3 - Random body parts arranged in a pretty bowl are always eery $20
4 - This skull stopper is super adorable and would look great plugging a plain bottle $18
5 - Love the subtle-spook that these "Devilish" titles provide, and they are beautiful shades of orange too! $42

Can you believe we are halfway through October already?!  

October 1, 2011

October is here...

...and you know what that means - Halloween is around the corner!

I never used to be a big Halloween person, I still am not. However, having a 2 year old forces me to think up a costume. And because I'm a crazy, over-think-the-details-designer-mum, I am feeling the pressure to design a cute costume for my darling daughter. 

How can I possibly out-do my creation from last year?  She was the sweetest lil' owl I've ever seen!

Here's to one October sewing project!

September 21, 2011

there's a nip in the air...

{via 1 2 3 4 5}

The air has turned crisp and cool where I am...and I'm LOVING it!

September 7, 2011

Feed Me: Dr G's {AMAZING!} Best-Ever Tuna Salad

I know many design lovers out there read Canadian House & Home magazine, but sometimes I think we breeze through things like the food features. Well, I do. Normally. HOWEVER, when I saw a page featuring Dr G's Best-Ever Tuna Salad recipe in the July 2011 issue I stopped dead in my tracks. 

It meant something to me because this restaurant happens to be a few blocks from my house and this salad is so tasty I really can't rave enough! I was so excited that H&H managed to get the secret balsamic dressing recipe from Dr G and so lovingly shared with us readers. I've now made this throughout the summer and think you should try it if you a) eat tuna and b) like cobb or chopped-type salads....and the dressing is the best part, so c) you like balsamic dressing.


Here's the recipe from H&H:
{A healthy lunch from Toronto's Dr. Generosity. Serve a scoop of this tuna salad on a large plate with shredded aged cheddar, grated raw beets and carrots, grape tomatoes, a hard-boiled egg, alfalfa sprouts, bacon, and a side of this famous balsamic dressing.}
Tuna Salad
2 cans solid white albacore tuna (water-packed), drained thoroughly
2 Granny Smith apples, finely diced and soaked in cold water and a little lemon juice (lemon juice adds flavour and keeps apples from turning brown)
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp honey 
1/2 tsp white pepper
Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups canola oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup cold water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
Yield: 4 servings

* You will notice that the measurements for the dressing ingredients are large. I always make a half batch and have and plenty to drizzle on greens, and just about anything I can find, for days. 

* I usually substitute real garlic for garlic powder

* I also tend to use a bit less water, but you can adjust to your preference

September 5, 2011

Project: Oakmount Facade

We JUST got back from a nice vacation in Maine last week. We survived Irene and just experienced a VERY windy Sunday last weekend and lost power for a day - but there was shopping to be done at the outlets so we managed to keep busy ;)

While away I put together a colour palette for a pair of semi-detached houses I'm working on in Toronto. The young couple want to give their house a mini facelift with new paint on their stairs, porch, railings, trims and door....and the owner of the attached house has agreed to spruce up her side as well. 

{"young couple" lives on the right}

I've chosen a few colour combos to consider which work with their yellow-pink brick (and a "salmon" front door colour as per request by the Mrs) and here's what I'm thinking:

* a creamy beige for railings, trims & risers
* a dark gray for the porch surface and treads
* a bright & fresh coral for door no. one
* a complimentary peacock blue for door no. two
* a dash & albert outdoor diamond runner for some pizazz

We're in preliminary planning right now so things may change, but I'm liking the vision at this point!

August 25, 2011

off to "the beach"...

We are heading out to Maine for my husband's annual family vacation in the morning. I am loving watching my daughter soak up, and become part of,  memories so cherished by her dad's family! 

Cannot wait!
{here's to sunshine, sand between my toes, good food, lots of smiles & only a small hurricane Irene}

August 19, 2011

Life & Liberty Hotel Review

Life has been so busy lately! On top of day-to-day responsibilities  - which includes constantly chasing a two year old track star - I have been:

1. trying to get my resume and cover letter ready for my big job hunt
2. searching for house listings in our budget
3. getting ready for vacation next week
4. working on a friend's kitchen reno
5. working on my sister & brother-in-law's house facade facelift
6. working on my bedroom at the cottage

Like I said, busy busy busy. But I always prefer busy over bored. I'm hoping to get some quiet time while we are on our family vacation in Maine next week to update the blog on some of my current projects but in the meantime, here's what we thought of The Liberty Hotel in Boston.

{old jail entry with new hotel tower in the background}

Alright. Overall we LOVED our quick stay at The Liberty Hotel. It was such a beautiful space, and I love when an old unused building gets a new job...prison turned hotel was quite genius. After spending some time at The Liberty, I realized how perfectly the hotel follows a carefully thought out design concept - my studio instructors at UCLA would have eaten this up! School is soooo about concept!

Some examples of concept:

1. take a look at the lobby. old-style atrium jail layout.

2. the restaurant upstairs is named Clink and is designed around actual jail cells, bars and all.

3. the bar on the lower level is called Alibi.

4. the Italian restaurant is named Scampo, which translates to "escape".

5. even the geometric patterned fabric on the guest room curtains looked like metal jail bars with a closer look.



I really enjoyed our time at The Liberty. They offer free yoga in the yard on Saturday mornings, and the free coffee in the lobby was some of the tastiest I've actually ever had. I highly recommend staying there. However, I have to also say that for more than $500 a night, I wasn't overly thrilled with our room. It was nice but had, what seemed like, really low ceilings (did help with the claustrophobic jail cell feeling!), a plastic shower floor insert (ick, not good with nice tiled surround), and only 19 of the more than 200 rooms where in the actual old hotel (wish I knew that when I booked). We were also greeted Saturday morning with construction in the room next door, but the hotel have us breakfast vouchers for Clink which saved us more than $60. 

{our room + our mess}

 {yoga in the yard}
{awesome hotel loaners}

Like I said, overall a great time. And if you like the bar scene, the Alibi patio seemed like THE place to be in Boston.

August 11, 2011

Our BAH-stan

We are back from Boston, and I have a new love.

We in arrived in Boston on friday night and ended up taking a loooooong walk after a good, not great, dinner at 75 Chestnut in Beacon Hill. It was rated the best restaurant by Best of Boston magazine so we expected more but overall it was fine. Our walk was really nice, the weather cooperated and the city was buzzing with people out enjoying summer. I think my love affair started early...

In the morning we planned to start the day with coffee at the hotel's restaurant Clink. We had a bit of a complaint for the hotel (which I will tell you more about in my review of it over the weekend) so they thoughtfully gave us vouchers for breakfast at our chosen location. Score! 

After nibbling on our breakfast we took the subway out to Fenway park. This was purely for the enjoyment of my husband. I'm not a big sports fan, and walking around a baseball stadium for kicks was not my thing. Nonetheless, we went. And it was crazy with fans gearing up HOURS early for the game versus the Yankees.

We ended up doing a ton of walking and found a great used bookstore and also stumbled on the Boston Public Library's book sale where I bought an old encyclopedia britannica from 1892 for $2. Didn't realize until later that it was the edition that contains old info and maps for California and Canada - a great memento from the trip and perfect for us Canadians/Ex-Californians!

We walked back towards the hotel and ate at Figs in Beacon Hill and our pizza was so delicious, I really can't rave enough. Their must-have choice was the fig & prosciutto and it was so good I am going to try and replicate it - rosemary crust with fig & balsamic jam, prosciutto, gorgonzola and green onion...mmm mmm! On our way out of the city we grabbed some cannoli at Mike's in the North End and rushed off to the Bon Iver concert...

...which was AMAZING!

From a tourist's perspective, Boston is very lovable - 
amazing old architecture (which I didn't take photos of due to impatient travel companion)
lots of green space
easily walkable
yummy food

It was a great weekend! 

ps. Check back to hear about our stay at the Liberty Hotel. 

August 4, 2011

Boston Blitz

Tomorrow morning, at an obscene hour, Geoff and I are leaving for a quick weekend trip to Boston! This is our VERY first getaway since having our daughter over two years ago, and as you can imagine, we are excited. There are also some nerves involved, as the thought of leaving the toddler behind is a bit scary too. 

While she will be in great hands, playing away at the cottage, we will be soaking in the luxuries of the Liberty Hotel and some tasty Boston food. When Stephanie first blogged about this hotel a few months ago I knew I had to check it out - it's an old prison turned hotel and just opened in 2010. 

Cannot wait to see this place in person...

...need a drink from the hotel bar...

...get a goodnights sleep in a pretty room...

...and tour the city on one of these!

{all images via Liberty Hotel}

The reason for our trip is actually to attend a concert. We cannot wait for Bon Iver too...

I'll let you know how it all goes! Have a good weekend!

July 31, 2011

HomeGoods. No, HomeGreats.

We Canadians have a tendency to complain mention how shopping is always better in the US. Well, I have to say that after two trips to my local Toronto HomeGoods store in the last month, I really have to disagree! I am shocked at the affordable furniture and accessories they have for my eyes to feast on and have not been disappointed at all, not even a bit. For some economical furnishings, I am coming back to this place. I can't say what the quality is like, but for the prices, HomeGoods is worth a try.

I believe this had a $600 price tag...solid, heavy wood people!

I know these chairs were only $200 each because I would have two for the ends of my dining table if I had my house by now...

Loved this for our cottage, maybe it will come home soon. Can't remember price but think it was around $300...

Yes! If I had my office, this would be delightful. It was $500...
ps - the table, not the ottomans :)

A fun little mirrored chest...

These Wegner wishbone stool knock-offs were $96 each!

And the only thing that actually came home with me from this list, a pair of wire farm baskets. Ah hem - $12 each!

I also picked up an adorable little glass and steel terrarium greenhouse thing that I love but didn't take a photo. I will show it off when my bedroom is finished at the cottage. We also loved this raw-edged shower curtain for one cottage bathroom, displayed so beautifully by my daughter for my mum via text.

July 25, 2011

Target + Missoni

I just read about Target's next designer collection with Missoni and almost fainted. Wow. I need a little Italian jewel-toned joy in my home accessories collection, and thus I've already started planning a short road trip to our friendly southern neighbour in mid-September. 

{via Missoni}

Cannot wait to see the home-wares, of course, but I'm also hoping to find something to add to my closet (and its lonely Missoni scarf). Coming to Target September 13, 2011.

July 24, 2011

Project: Muskoka Bedroom

I've started to think about our cottage bedroom and have been getting my hands dirty with some minor projects for it lately. While we are trying to save all of our money for our first house purchase, I am attempting to reuse old furniture and items my parents have hanging around - many of which were already one step out the door and on their way to the dump!

Here is a little peak at one item I salvaged from my aunt and uncle who have a cottage next door. This turquoise number has started its transformation...

It is an old, dovetail joint tool box from Scandinavia that has been waiting patiently for a facelift. My dad's uncle gave him an almost exact match which was never painted and it looks beautiful in the cottage entry. I can't wait to see this one in our bedroom! You will have to come back and see how I plan to use it...

July 18, 2011

Project: Muskoka Front Door

It has been hard finding time for blogging with this great summer weather we are finally experiencing in Toronto! As I promised a few weeks back, here are some after photos of our cottage front door, all painted and pretty!

We wanted something that worked well with the putty coloured faux-wood board and baton and shingles, and the orangey rough douglas fir accents. We were also trying to stay away from the usual cottage suspects - dark green, deep rust and brown. 

The solution: BURNT ORANGE

In order to minimize, or play down, the orange colour of the fresh douglas fir, we chose a burnt orange. It may seem the opposite, but by using an analogous colour-scheme (where colours are from the same side of the colour wheel) and using a colour that blends in with the redwoods, it actually makes the orange shade of wood less noticeable. Analogous colour-schemes are more relaxing and pleasing to the eye - perfect for easy living at a cottage! If we had chosen a blue or green paint, the colour-scheme would have been more dynamic complimentary scheme (where colours are from the opposite side of the colour wheel) and the douglas fir would have actually appeared more orange. 

July 4, 2011

the perfect napkin

While at the cottage and sipping away on these...

...and browsing through the June issue of Better Homes & Gardens, I found these PERFECT napkins. The best of both worlds, MYdrap are made from real fabric (cotton or linen) but breakdown after six washing machine cycles. I love how I can offer guests real napkins, in an assortment of gorgeous colours and patterns, and don't have to worry about keeping them free of stains forever.

They also come in various sizes from cocktail napkin to placemat, and are handily unrolled like paper towel. So cool!