Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!

I want to wish you a safe and happy 2012. Despite my long absences here during the kitchen overhaul (which turned into a life overhaul of sorts) you have hung around, shared words of encouragement and definitely made me smile. So thank you kindly for that!

In the coming year I am looking forward to lots of new adventures, simple pleasures and of course finding treasures.

So in 2012 I wish you nothing but the best and hope that some of your dreams come true.

Onwards and upwards as they say!

Friday, December 30, 2011

My latest obsession.

I know I've briefly mentioned my obsession with Starbucks' peppermint hot chocolate and latte. In general I'm pretty wild about heated beverages... but on a cold Canadian morning I am NOT loading Wren up in the car to grab a fix!

So my Mom and Dad did me a huge service by putting not only a Keurig under the tree...

but also a Nespresso milk frother. It sounds a little crazy, right? Who really needs frothed milk that often??? ME!! I use the thing constantly, actually more than the Keurig. The reason this thing rocks my world is that it not only froths the milk, but it HEATS IT!! Yup, your hot coffee doesn't have to turn lukewarm when you add cream or milk any more. Or you can make a rich, bubbly hot chocolate without ever bringing out a kettle or pot.

In short, I am attached at the hip with this gizmo. And I usually hate gizmos.

So now I brew a "teacup" size of coffee on the Keurig

Then also froth up a small batch of Peppermint hot chocolate, combine the two and VOILA! I have a homemade beverage worthy of a cold drive to Starbucks. And today it is COLD, so I am extra grateful to stay in my jammies a little longer.

Now that I am an at home Barrista I can't wait to try more K-cups. Any other recommendations by all you Keurig users? I just bought a pack of the French vanilla biscotti flavor from folgers but I am wanting to try more so let me know your picks.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Still loving White!

I hope you and yours had a Happy Holidays!!! We have spent the last few days floating among family and friends, having a blast. Santa was here and made one little girl pretty happy, and her mommy and daddy were spoiled as well. We are the newest members of the "WE LOVE KEURIG" club now and between my birthday and Christmas I have one big Anthro shopping spree in my future. With some birthday cash I also tracked down a new camera lens I've been lusting over on boxing day for cheap so to say I'm all smiles this week is an understatement.

But even before the holidays I was being spoiled. Back at the start of the month my mom finished her living room renovation and sent me home with this cute hall table after doing some painting for her. I think Wren deleted the original photo in my iphone, but it was just a simple oak table... just a little too much wood for my taste.

Some fresh white paint and a few black accessories really make it pop! in a subtle, relaxing way.

Another gift was the beautiful crock under the table.

I had been lusting after a big crock for some time and my lovely Aunt Carol brought this one home for me from an Antique show in November. The beautiful red wing on it makes me think of Wren every time I glance at it. THANKS AGAIN CAROL!!!

(I am going to try and do a photo tour of Carol's house soon, she just completed her dream home and it is stunning!)

My white paint is still getting a regular work out. I had a lot of client orders before the holidays since a lot of people wanted to jazz up their homes before having company, but I did fit in a few WhiteBerry items. This big old dresser was tobacco stained and dirty as can be (if that discoloration isn't a good anti-smoking ad I don't know what is!).

But the white treatment brought it back to life.
You probably saw this piece in a few photos of Wren's party. It is by far one of my favorite pieces in a while just because it is so elegant yet simple.

Anthro knobs give it some needed sparkle!

As much as I love distressed items, nothing beats a silky smooth new finish.

It was sad to see this one go, but I've been working on another fun piece for this spot I am excited to share so that's my only consolation.

Every holiday season I have a couple loving husbands who pick up a surprise for their wife. This cute little cabinet went home with one of my oldest and sweetest clients' Hubby. I wish I could see her face on Christmas morning! Hope you love it Suzy!!

As you can see I have no intentions of toning down my always present
love of white in the new year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Birthday Time

It was a great morning to have a birthday! About 10 minutes after waking up my best friend called to wish me a good day and confirm our plans for tonight.

Then Sean dropped of these beauties for me.

Along with a decadent breakfast only fitting for a birthday girl. The best part about being 28? Deciding that it is a-ok to eat junk food as a meal!

Tonight we are going out for a big family dinner then spending the evening at our favorite live Jazz lounge with my friends. It may not be an over the top birthday but it is shaping up to be a pretty awesome one.

TGIF everyone and thanks for all the birthday wishes in my last post!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh the weather outside is frightful

I whole heartedly agree with this sentiment, but in my case replace the tea with a Starbucks peppermint hot chocolate!
As we've discussed, I am a big book junkie! So I thought it was about time I keep my collection under control and much more share-friendly. I know I've borrowed plenty of books and they've turned up a few months later and I forget their owner, but somehow it never occurred to me to plate my books.
Until now! I found these cute book plates (80 plates in various designs) on clearance for $2 at Anthropologie a few weeks ago and I decided to make it my mission to get them all in my books today.
It's funny because this month has been unseasonably warm here, but for some reason I can't seem to shake a constant chill this week. Maybe I'm getting cold feet about turning 28 tomorrow!
Who knows but Sean is fed up with me wearing tuques inside the house all day and night.
Wish me luck as I gain a whole year at midnight tonight!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Martha Stewart Cabinet Review

It has been a LOOOOONG 8 months since our Kitchen reno began. The first 5 or so being the worst. Sean and I still have a few loose ends that we can finally tie up now that the kitchen installers finished last Monday, so these are not our *final* shots of the finished kitchen, but they are pretty close.

I know a lot of you have been asking for reviews on what we think about the cabinets now that we've had them for a little bit so I thought I would sit down and share my thoughts.

My first thought:
1. The price is unbeatable if you are after the look we wanted. We did about a year of research and price comparisons so we feel like budget wise they are really superb.

2. You MUST MUST MUST know exactly what you want! I cannot stress this enough. I am sure Home Depot has their share of talented kitchen designers but simply going in and asking one to design your new kitchen is not a good idea. In fact, even when I would share photos and ideas from Martha's own cabinet catalog our designer had no idea how to make it happen. Every single inch of cabinets were picked by Sean and myself. So if you are up for lots of pre-reno work and saving some money it is definitely a good route, but if you have a challenging space or want input I would go to a specialty kitchen store.

3. The good part about working with Home Depot is that when there is a problem or mistake they cover all the costs and send replacements, the bad part is that it takes about 8 weeks to ship anything. In the end our store gave us all the cabinet baseboards and decorative side panels free of charge to make up for all the delays, but I didn't expect anything and I am not sure all stores do this. But waiting for 3 different replacements at different times meant that it was 3.5 months of going back and forth from the day our cabinet installers began. If everything arrived correctly and was perfect it would be a totally different story and I would have had a finished kitchen back in August, so just be prepared to be patient.

4. Have all your appliances, faucet, sink picked out before you even arrange the kitchen measure. You probably heard me complain before that they nearly didn't agree to make the sink cutout because they didn't approve of the Ikea sink dimensions. That was probably the single most stressful day of our reno because they tell me this 2 days before our counters were to be installed so obviously the marble had already been cut. I had to get mad for the first time in the whole process and if it weren't for the fact that I had documented proof that our Home Depot measurer saw the sink, measured it and that our designer also knew I don't even want to know what disaster might have resulted (like having to get a whole new slab of marble for that section!). Document everything in email with your designer and have it all on hand for the measurer before you ever even meet with the designer!!!

5. As for the cabinets themselves, we are in LOVE. Totally worth the pain! All the cabinets have soft shut doors and drawers, nice styleing and some cabinets come standard with extra sweet features like sliding shelves. We thought our pantry cabinet would just be shelving, but were pleasantly surprised to have pull out shelves which is nice so things don't accumulate at the back!

3 seperate cabinets also surprised us by being pull out organizers! Can't argue with standard features like that.

6. Spending just a little more on decorative panels for the side or back of cabinets make a huge difference. One of the things I liked most about Martha's cabinets was the decorative elements. Things like build out baseboards, plinths and corbels can't be found at places like Ikea that have comparable prices. The single most expensive items in the kitchen are the corbles (they run about $500 each) but the panelling on the peninsula was not all that much money and gives a really custom look.

7. You can save $$ by doing store bought trim. I believe the Martha Stewart crown was about $150/8ft. While HomeDepot gave us the baseboards free of charge I still wanted to save a little money and get a custom look so I bought in stock crown at Home Depot for $1.30/ft and just had the installers put it up for me. Since Marth also makes paint, all the cabinet colors are available in paint and I brushed on some matching paint after they put it up! I probably saved about $250 in trim this way.

My biggest and final piece of advice is that even though you are going to a big box store that doesn't mean you can't have a custom kitchen. Have high expectations, be willing to think outside the box and express your ideas clearly and there is no reason why a budget friendly kitchen can't look like a specially design space.

So my final verdict? Despite some of the snags (you have to expect a few hiccups) the overall product is great. Our total bill for the cabinets, including the installation was $11,500. If you are a hands on person who is able to dedicate some time to planning then you will be really happy with them as well.

Now I just need to finish a few baseboards going into the dining room and tile by our phone counter to get it done~

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick Gift

Most years I am that person who has great intentions to get everything wrapped and ready by mid December but always seem to end up hunting down that last minute gift for someone on the 22nd or so. This year I worked extra hard to make it really happen and for the first time I succeeded. By avoiding the malls at this chaotic time of year I have had a little time to also get creative, and maybe this will help you out of needing to hit the stores yet again!
I read an interesting article recently regarding gifts and how much to spend. It seems that most people don't have any more gratification from a gift just because it cost more. Good news for those of us who like to do homemade Christmases. One gift in particular that I find difficult to find with short notice is a hostess gift. The token bottle of wine is pretty standard but if I have time I like to get a more personal item. If I don't have time I like to jazz it up with a small box and one of these:

I picked up a big box of horse shoes a few years back for a couple bucks but I've seen them since at western stores and at Lee Valley. With a whimsical linen bow tied on and a random item from my treasure jar sewed on (in this case a rainbow color pompom) it is a great box topper, or stand alone gift to bring luck to the recipient.
And who doesn't want more luck? I know they've brought me some since I have saved both money and a trip to the mall!
Proof for Sean that my random purchases and boxes of "junk" all have a purpose!
PS- You may have noticed that I have started tagging my photos. It isn't because I think they are super awesome, but because some lovely readers have taken the time to email me and let me know that a lot of my photos are turning up on Pinterest and other blogs and are being credited back to another blog. One blog even had my photos as their header! So hopefully this will cut down on confusion for innocent bloggers who think they are crediting the right site, and THANKS to all you awesome scouts who let me know~

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Third Birthday Wren!

It is still so hard to believe it was only three years ago that Wren was born because it feels like she has always been a part of our family, but at the same time it seems hard to believe that she is so big already!! For her big day we wanted to include all her favorite things, specially because it was such an exciting event for her this year. She hung out with her Grandma and Grandpa all day on Friday so I could get everything ready which was really fun for me because she didn't see it all until Saturday morning and the look on her face was priceless!
Balloons are one of her all time favorite things! Even a simple trip to the grocery store becomes difficult as we walk by the floral area and balloons are floating around...

Popcorn is another favorite and so are pickles so some dill pickle flavored popcorn was a good find. Kettle corn was the alternative for anyone not sold on her preferred flavor.

My love for all things at SuperStore made the beverage choices easy and even color coordinated with our party perfectly! These bottled italian sodas were both cheap ($2.50 each) and delicious!

I would not have gotten anything done if those little fingers were into everything on Friday.
Paper lunch sacks make cheap and easy loot bags.

Wren did help with one element and that was putting sprinkles on our cupcakes. I found these adorable cupcake liners at HomeSense for $2 back in September and am wishing I would have gotten more because they baked beautifully, didn't require a muffin tin so I could bake 2 dozen at once.

My ballon baby, oops, I mean BIG girl!

The whole day was a huge success and would have been flawless if both Sean and myself weren't fighting a horrible 24 hour flu that had us both nauseous and walking zombies. But once the guests arrived I totally forgot how bad I felt and we all had a blast~
We had the party on Saturday, but today is Wren real Birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Wrennie Girl!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

{party time} ... almost!

Gee. where do I start? I've been painting up a storm, finalizing the holiday shopping, FINALLY getting the kitchen done (long story involving FedEx!), and getting into party mode. It seems we have had non stop parties to attend and countless engagements lately which have our heads spinning, but thankfully there has been plenty of Christmas magic floating around here thanks to Wren and her fascination with everything Holiday and Birthday related!

I even convinced Sean and Wren to join me outside last week for an impromptu photo shoot during a morning snow fall. It is so important to me to get these memories saved and on film this year because it feels like it is her last Christmas as a baby (don't tell her I said that!), and yet it is also her first Christmas as a little girl.

I have completed COUNTLESS birthday projects in the last couple weeks but my last is definitely my favorite (mainly because it is soooo fast): S'more pops. I just dipped marshmallows in chocolate and grahm cracker crumbs and topped with a little flag.

Other projects include tons of bunting banners in the party colors of yellow and pink, setting up a popcorn station and doing custom grab bag and cotton candy bags for the kids. If you can't eat a ton of junk on your birthday when can you right? I was also excited to find a cool "table cloth" at anthro. You have already heard me rave about the disposable placemats by Cake but I am even more in love with their 50ft roll of "table cloth". It will be fun to let the kids draw and decorate it, and the sale price of only $14 was just icing on the birthday cake.

Because I am not all the savvy at paper stuff I turned to fabulous etsy seller: Pacokeco. She did some wonderful custom items for me and her prices are so reasonable, plus I love to support fellow Canadian ladies!

Just a couple more days until the big party... then a few more days until my birthday party ...then just a few more days until Christmas, and so on. You can see why this time of year is insane for us!
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