Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Kitchen Chronicles: H20 no.

I need some help. It is starting to sink in that in just a week or two the ripping will officially begin. YAYYYY, oh wait. What do we eat? where do we eat? how is this going to happen???

I am learning that slow cookers and the microwave will become my best friends. My problem is that I am pretty limited in the cooking department and don't want to fall back on the same 3 or 4 meals. It may come down to that but I want to at least try some new things. I know a lot of you will recommend doing the back yard cookout, but the sad news is that our bbq died this spring and we will be building a new deck ASAP with a new exterior gas line for the bbq that will be installed when our new oven line is moved. So we will be waiting to buy the new barbeque until it can be installed too. Already it is apparent that our lack of foresight (which I can only attribute to pure elation that this freakin' kitchen is actually happening!!) is catching up with us.

Honestly, any tips, ALL the tricks and any advice you can offer as far as meals go will be much appreciated.

New purchases for the kitchen in the last week or two have been focused on the sink and plumbing.

The first was our sink. Kind of an important part. One 'must have' item on our list was an apron sink. Those run $1000 and up (and up and up and up if you want dual basins). And we don't want to go up. So we went to Ikea, where you can bag an awesome country sink for under $400.
This thing is HUGE. I think I could defrost 3 or 4 turkeys in this thing while simultaneously washing MungKee. It is going to eat up a lot of counter space, but I really love that it goes all the way back to the wall so you don't have to clean that grimy little inch of counter behind the faucet (maybe ours is just grimy because I don't clean it enough...).

With the sink safely home we turned out attention to the jewellery, aka the faucet. I only have what I am now deeming a minor hiccup on my hands now.

This faucet jumped out at us immediately. It is the perfect traditional touch to contrast our clean cabinet lines and the price at efaucets is within budget, so the green light flashed on!

The hiccup? This manufacturer doesn't make a matching pot filler for the range wall. DOH! I decided to pull the trigger anyway, get it home and see if I can perfectly match the chrome in person to another manufacturer. I will have to drag it to a few showrooms to find a suitable match, but when I do I will head back to ebay or efaucets to order. I am definitely seeing the savings add up when I order online versus local vendors.

So that is the status of our water fountain, as Wren calls sinks/taps.
Stay tuned on Tuesday for the cabinet style/layout breakdown, which may or may not change between now and then depending on our meeting with the designer on Monday...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Some Fashion for Friday

SOOOO glad I stocked up on some new sweaters for Spring. It can go from beautiful and balmy to cool and wet at the drop of a hat so sun dresses are not necessarily an everyday uniform.

No surprises, this sweater is from Rebecca Taylor. I think it is fair to say that when I love something I REALLY LOVE it. And lately that thing is pretty much anything by Rebecca Taylor.

The slightly bejewelled ties at the back are my favorite detail.

Past addictions include Juicy Couture, anything Anthro (admittedly still a fav), Gucci, and J. Crew (another continuing love affair). If you are in the Edmonton area and want to start some sort of clothing swap my checkbook will thank you!!

The thumb holes are super cute, but not that great for moms who are on their knees cleaning floors all day.

In an attempt to remind myself that it is indeed Spring, despite the recent rain, I wore this super sale Forever 21 dress on Sunday. I think it may still be on sale in stores for $12, so check it out maxi dress-istas!

I think it is time to hit the hair salon again, but I am sort of loving the length of my hair now that I can braid it again... so I may just go with a few highlights for summer. I'm just not a real 'hair in my face' kind of gal, so keeping it up or back is a must!

And speaking of fashionistas, my closet has been raided a LOT lately by this little one. Going from hating me combing her hair or anything girly, she has turned into the ultimate girly-girl overnight. She insists on wearing bracelets, necklaces, hair clips and a dress everyday. And while I rarely wear heels out, she has developed a major infatuation with them. She struts around the house, this is her favorite pair right now.

A cute pair, I agree, so I hope they don't get too much peanut butter on them!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lilac Harvest 2011

It's one of my favorite times of year. Besides the fact that it has been murky and gloomy all week with non-stop drizzle (great for the yard, bad for those of us with 2 year old who are desperate to hit the park), my absolute favorite time of year outdoors has finally arrived: Lilac season.

It is such a short window, when the branches of all our lilac trees are so heavy with blooms they nearly sag. We have at least 2 varieties of lilacs, and thankfully they don't bloom all at the same time so I know that when these ones die off I still have a few weeks left with the others.

I have no idea what the 'correct' way of trimming them is, but I like to bring them in when there is still a lot of unopened blooms. When they start to mature I find that the flowers are much more delicate and fall off easily, whereas these ones will still have a week or so to enjoy inside. And the scent is amazing as they open up!

Still wet from the rain.

My $1 auction jars and basket finally reach their full potential, doing exactly what I had in mind for them when they came home.

Even after lilac season has past, I am just so thankful that it is summer. There will be many more blooms to grace us with their beauty and perfume still.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

End of my Rope Dresser

I am dedicating today's post to my sis, Torri! She has been my mover/assistant for the last few weeks. Sean and I decided it was time to let the truck go (if you saw it, you know why...), as we honestly only use it once or twice a month. That's more than most people but not enough to justify crowding our driveway and paying insurance on it. And as if the timing couldn't be better, my sister bought her own truck! So she is the new WhiteBerry delivery girl.
And she helped me drag this sucker home a month ago. Typical, hideous 70's style furniture. And let me tell you how HEAVY this thing is!! It seems the uglier the furniture, the heavier it is...
The old owners would probably walk right past it today, it is so unrecognizable.
These kind of drawer fronts always look dated originally, but totally fabulous once the paint is on.
A couple coats of grey paint do the trick before some distressing. I didn't realize it until after, but I always seem to go with grey on these huge ones. Wonder what the subconcious meaning is?
In reference to the name of the dresser, Anthro knot knobs. They are probably my all time favorite knob and I will be distraught when my final 4 are used up!
Hope you do lots of this today!
Wren's Dream garland gets some use after coming down close to 2 years ago when her armoire came home. If you are looking for something similar, this one is by Wendy Addison.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thank you Lisa~

I have a big, belated Thank You to send out, it goes out to my longtime blog friend Lisa Leonard. If I could only pick one word to describe Lisa it would be thoughtfulbeautifulkindcreative. She is genuinely one of the sweetest folks on the face of this earth and I hope that one day I have the priviledge of meeting her face to face.

Remember when Wren was super duper sick a few weeks ago? By the end of the first week my tank was running on E, and one afternoon our doorbell rang. I looked like a train had hit me and debated on not even answering it, but Wren was napping and I didn't want the mystery guest to ring the bell again. So I reluctantly opened up to the FedEx man.

The surprise package was a gift for Wren that she can treasure for years to come.

Knotted together with linen, Lisa sent her a very special heart banner.

My heart melted as soon as I saw it. To think that Lisa would make Wren such a special gift, and that the timing could not have been better to raise our spirits was an emotional moment. It really hit home for me how small and special this blog community can be. With your sweet words and her thoughtful gift I felt so much support and love.

It is so true that good things come in small packages! THANK YOU Lisa, Wren has a lifelong treasure in this banner.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

La Posh Style Giveaway!!!

Staying on the topic of fashion 1 more day, I think we should giveaway some clothes! Yareli is the fabulous owner of La Posh Style, one of my favorite stops for online shopping, and she has kindly offered to let one lucky reader pick ANY DRESS they like!

Any dress, any size, any price!!!

If you've been wanting to transform your wardrobe or just need a fresh look this is your chance.

Of course I am not eligible to enter (pity party of 1 over here), but if I were the lucky lady these would be a few of my top picks.

This is an awesome date night dress! With a pair black heels or even boots... look out.

This one really fits for all the weddings and parties happening in my world this summer. Romantic but the blue makes it a little less frou-frou.

SIGN ME UP for this one!! The fun color and shoulder embellishment is sooooo me.

And because I am majorly obsessed with maxi dresses...

Sooo, how do you snag the dress of your dreams?? Leave a comment on this post telling me where you will be wearing your win out to. For a second entry head on over to La Posh Style's Facebook page and Like them, then leave a second comment back here.

You have until midnight Pacific time on Thursday May 26 to get your entries in!!

Good luck everyone!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Some Fashion for Friday

I have been feeling really great lately when I walk into my closet. Up until march I really hadn't put too much thought or effort into my wardrobe and I am sure it had a lot to do with the chaos involved in the major closet reno (check it out here). I liken it to cooking a gourmet dinner in a kitchen being renovated. Maybe not exactly but it felt kind of silly to be buying clothes when I was living out of laundry hampers.

Fast forward to today. Now when I go to get dressed I never feel like I have nothing to wear (I HATE that feeling!). And I have made a concerted effort to purchase things I KNOW will get worn, and will all work together. I am all about consistancy in our house, so it makes sense in my closet!

One of my absolute favorite purchases was this surplus sweater. I am a big fan of elbow patches and shoulder patches, but the girly detailing like rhinestone shoulder embellishments take surplus style sweaters to a whole different level.

It is great for cool spring/summer nights. I wore this outfit last night to hit the movies with my oldest BFF, Alexis (SORRY for being late.... again Al!).

Stylized fashion shoot? Hardly! Talking to a 2 year old over the railing is the reality of my super model life. Rebecca Taylor sweater, Esprit jeans, Christian Dior shoes.

Besides a couple sweaters and a handful of dresses my biggest addition to the new closet has been a variety of blouses and flowing tops (or my Jesus shirts as Sean calls them... guys just don't get it). The henley is one of my favorites.

My sucky attempt at winking at you. Cute? no. Creep? you bet!

I bought this necklace last week for $5 at forever21. Until just recently I have been a no-jewellery kinda girl, rarely even wearing my engagement and wedding rings. But I started rocking my EngLady initial necklace at the beginning of May and have developed a new appreciation for accessories.

Now that I feel a little revived in the wardrobe area I won't be so shy to step out in front of the camera more often. What have been your recent wardrobe additions?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Kitchen Chronicles: Prologue

Two and a half years later, I don't think it has quite sunk in that we will be getting this kitchen finished by Summer's end. I've talked about kitchens and cabinets and appliances for so long that I think it has just become surreal to actually picture them in our house! This is our first kitchen renovation and we truly have no experience with pulling together a project of this size. So if you have one on the horizon maybe you can learn from some of our mistakes because as people who have been there tell me, there are plenty. And it always feels good to have your friends by your side so you will be getting the full virtual kitchen renovation experience.

Let's start with the key component: CASH. Funny how that one little thing dictates everything...

We purchased our first home during the beginning of the housing boom, 2 years later we wanted to upgrade to this house and were lucky enough to have doubled our investment. Surprisingly, here in Edmonton home sales have somewhat softened but prices still continue to rise. And based on a bank assessment we have been paying a mortgage that was less than 50% of our home's value. As much as we had our heart set on paying for this entire house's renovations in cash and sweat equity, we were just taking forever to get enough to do this kitchen. Unexpected car repairs, vacations, and life always seem to pop up just when you are on the brink! But Sean took the initiative this month and called our fabulous account manager at the bank to see what she suggested. I think we both just kind of feel DONE with the renos at this point. We need to see some major progress and finished rooms so that we can get back to focusing on life!

So in the end we settled on a home equity line of credit that gives us the flexibility to get it done and pay it back whenever and however we choose. Interest rates are so low right now that the cost to borrow is REALLY worth it to us based on how fast we plan to repay it. The bank cleared us to use up to 50% of our equity, but we won't come close to that. Plus, the renovation will only increase the property value, hence our equity so we win on that end as well. Turns out debt isn't as scary as we made it out to be!

Despite the fact that we just recently gained access to the funds to finish this thing, we have been doing our homework for close to a year. We have talked with dozens of cabinet manufacturers and had several create 3-D mock ups of what we wanted along with pricing. We know exactly what we want and where we want it. Many of the manufacturers tried to talk us out of things or tried to sell us on others. For instance we want solid wood cabinets in a white finish, but almost all of them tried to talk us down to laminate before we even discussed budget. I have nothing against laminate cabinets, but I honestly have done enough research to know what I want and I don't think laminate ever looks the same as wood. Of course it costs more, but it just wasn't a compromise I wanted to make.

So we sat at a cross roads for quite some time. Do we bite the bullet and pay the $250-$350 per foot cost of white wood cabinets or do we just go ahead with laminate, in which case we will go with Ikea because their prices were still half of what the showrooms quoted? We agonized with this for a LONG time, had many heated discussions over it.

And then, like a bolt of lightening came my hero: Martha Stewart.

Just recently available here in Canada, we knew immediately after seeing them in person that they were precisely what we wanted. And the price? INSANE. Every style is under $200/foot. And with a little luck we waited until the 15% off event this past weekend and got them for even less. They take 8 weeks to order, but that gives us time to get everything ready.

Thankfully we had made a little headway last year when we bought our appliances (check out the adventure here) which made it a lot easier when getting quotes and talking with kitchen designers. And we have decided on a sink as well, so the actual time working with a designer is much more productive.

So here we go! The adventure is really about to begin. Our check list of things to do before the cabinets arrive is going to go down like this:
* pick out and order sink faucet and pot filler for stove
* have new, larger windows ordered and hopefully installed. They definitely need to be installed before counters.
* pick out a counter top and cabinet hardware
* have old cabinets ripped out and pantry walls torn down, chip up tile floor
* have new electrical for recessed lighting done
* move water lines to new sink location and add gas line for stove
* have beadboard ceilings installed in family room and kitchen, new recessed lighting.
* lay new wood floors and repair dry wall.

The mission? To do it ALL, including cabinets, counters and appliances (which we've already dropped $3000 on) for less than $15,000. Sounds crazy to me, so it's a plan.
I just need to find someone to do it all!

Monday, May 16, 2011

May Candle of the Month

It's about that time again! I feel sad that blogger was down for me all last week because sure enough this post got delayed and now the link to these Anthropologie candles is non-existant. So while I'm assuming they sold out online, be sure to check your local stores if you want to track one down. They were originally $24-$30 each, and were down to $14.95 and $9.95 last I checked.

I'm going to be honest, I was sold long before I took a sniff. The cute little painted ceramic containers and knitted 'scarves' (as I have dubbed them) are so fun that they truly could've been unscented and I would have scooped them up.
But lucky for me, they are not unscented! The smaller blue/white cannister is Jasmine Cedar and has 15 hours of burn time. The larger green/white one is Sugared Balsam with an estimated 25 hour burn time. I know they sound "woodsy" but actually have a very fresh, natural scent.
I don't know what initially draws me to woody scents, but as long as I can remember I have always loved them. One of my fondest memories is of my first solo vacation, I was about 12 years old and flew out to British Columbia all by myself to spend a week with my Aunt Carol. She is one of my favorite Aunts, but I actually think of her more like a best friend because we have so much in common. No matter how young I was she always treated me like a grown up.

On my mini holiday with her she took me to a neighboring farm she worked at that had a beautiful old castle on the property. It was featured in numerous movies and tv shows and I was isnstantly in love, but even more exciting was that she allowed me to pick out one item from the carriage house-turned-gift shop. I settled on a bottle of essential oil, but not knowing anything about flowers or scents I picked one solely on smell. The smell that I found to be most beautiful of all was Balsam. It was strong, fresh and hearty and I had absolutely no idea what it was.
I am sure most 12 year olds wouldn't have found much to excite them there but I actually still have that old half used bottle of Balsam oil. It was so precious to me that I used it very sparingly. Stealing a sniff every once in a while, and everytime I smell Balsam I immediately remember my magical little holiday.
And speaking of magical, Carol is close to completing one of the most beautiful homes I've ever set foot in on an acreage just a few minutes away. She hopes to move in June and once she is all settled lets cross our fingers that she will share a tour with us all (you know I've already been asking!!). It may take a year or two, but I know her yard will be insanely beautiful as she is a horticulturist and has quite the eye for landscape design.

Caitlin Rowe Giveaway Winners

If someone ever asks me what super power I would like to have I am leaning towards growing an additional 6 arms. Honestly, think about how much you could get done with 8 arms! I would be able blog with 2 hands, email with another 2, paint with 1, cook dinner with the other 2 and change a diaper all at the same time!

But I am sure the wardrobe for someone with 8 arms isn't all that cute since I'm sure your options would be limited. So maybe I will go back to saying mind reading or invisibility.

However, 8 arms is very cute when it is in the form of a pillow embroidered with a big blue octopus! I took the next jump in thrifting recently when I brought this pillow home for $5 (don't worry, no bedbugs here! I put it through the wash machine on Sanitize twice).

About 5 years ago I wouldn't have dreamed I needed anything at a thrift store, 3 years ago I would have told you you were crazy if you told me I'd every buy clothes at one, and up until just last week I cringed whenever walking by the blankets and pillows. Never say never! Because this baby happily resides in my almost-finished office as my thrifting badge of honor.

So since I only have 2 hands I am sorry this took so long to announce, but along with 'never saying never' I also believe in 'better late than never'.

Congrats ladies!! Drop me an email as soon as you can and I will have Caitlin send out your Taylor headband and Doris hair clip. And a BIG thanks again to Caitlin Rowe for sharing some goodies with us all!!!
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