Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Well friends, the benefits from BlogPodium just keep on coming! While I was at BlogPodium, I spoke to the Blurb book people, and loved what I saw. Do you know about Blurb?

Blurb is a publishing platform where YOU can easily design and publish professional quality books. I asked the people at Blurb for a bit more information - are they photo-book specific? Who should use them? How customizable is it?  Blurb answered:

"When I say books, I mean anything from a photo book outlining your last vacation to a full-blown novel. Blurb is especially useful for creative types who are storytellers by nature because it enables you to customize every last square inch of your book. From the photography to the fonts, the design is entirely up to you"

You could make photo books, an instagram book, cookbook, notebook...the options really are endless. Here are some great examples of what creative folks have managed to churn out:

Love the idea of making a family cookbook with all of your favourite recipes!

A wedding book is SUCH a great idea - perfect place to put all your shots, and a great gift for your parents, new parents-in-law, or bridal party / groomsmen

Or you could do a much more modern take on the baby book... I have also heard of people making
"year books" - photo books that capture everything the family has done that year (what a great way to make sure your photos don't just live on a computer!)

Now that you know a bit more about Blurb....the exciting stuff happens....they are willing to offer a $35 credit to the lucky winner of my giveaway!! It's up to you what to use it towards...Here's how to enter:

1. Follow Interior Groupie (see my "follow" button to the right) and check out Blurb's website for all the fantastic book options you can do
2. Leave a comment below telling me what kind of book you would make, and what your inspiration is (recent vacation, wedding, family reunion, awkward teenage years, etc etc...)

That's it!
You can get an extra entry for tweeting about the giveaway (make sure to CC @InteriorGroupie and @BlurbBooks). Don't forget to come back here to leave a comment telling me you did that!

The deadline for this giveaway is midnight (EDT) JUNE 6th.  I will announce the winner (chosen at random from the comments) on Thursday June 7th...good luck!! *make sure to leave your email address if it's not connected to your commenting profile* This giveaway is from Blurb Canada, therefore only open to people ordering from the Canadian site (sorry US and International readers).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One man's trash is another's treasure...

Just last week I was reading Emily A. Clark's post 5 Things to Grab at Yard Sales. It's a great post with tips on items to buy at yard sales that will ALWAYS be useful. Pre-Blog Podium, the Mr. and I wandered Saturday morning for a coffee and pain au chocolat, and on our way back home a part of our street was having a yard sale! I looked around quickly at a few houses - focused on finding things that I actually liked AND were a good deal, not just clutter. We saw a bunch of junk (cassette tapes, anyone?), and a few treasures (to me) that I picked up:
How cute are those? A gold owl (seriously on-trend), and a (real) silver cup that I would love to use for a little vase for big flowers like peonies or hydrangeas. Can't go wrong with a unique / vintage take on a trend, and a high quality item. By the way...the owl was $4, the cup $1.50 - I obviously bargained to $5 for each because they were from the same seller.

Here's a pic of the owl in action:

I also bought this:

I know, kind of creepy to have a portrait of someone else, but I obviously bought it for the frame...and because it cost this much:

I heart deals, what can I say. But seriously, where else can you find a frame, of any size, for $2? It's begging to be spray painted (one of Emily's tips) - I'm thinking gold? Depending on what I put in there the existing finish could work too.

My next mission will be out-of-the-way antique markets...surely they won't have much for $2, but it's a fun treasure hunt none the less!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

BlogPodium2 - Recap

Can you believe the weekend is over already?? Sad, but it went by quickly for good reason - The second installment of Blog Podium took place this weekend and it was fantastic. As I mentioned in my Friday post, I was prettttyyyy excited for this little event. Well, not so little actually - there were about 200 very well-heeled, friendly, and inspirational bloggers there!

The keynote speaker, Nicole Balch from Making It Lovely was excellent. Do you read her blog? She was here as a keynote for good reason - her blog is pretty kick ass. Hearing her speak about how she turned her blog into a business, and be so open about her thoughts on advertising, sponsored posts, and in-kind sponsorships was excellent.
Photo via BlogPodium
Following Nicole's keynote we had a super-star panel, a mix of industry reps and bloggers. It was great to get insight from the industry reps regarding what they seek from blogger partnerships, and fantastic to hear the candid lessons learned and advice from bloggers Lindsay (Little House Blog) and Christine (Bijou and Boheme).
Photo via: Mango Studios
Here are a few photos of the gorgeous event space, the recently renovated Arcadian Loft in downtown Toronto:
photo via BlogPodium
centrepieces by We Create Hoopla; photo via BlogPodium
And of course, after all that "learning" we got to have some fun - mingling with the sponsors and of course the bloggers. 
Photo via BlogPodium
West Elm table, photo via BlogPodium
Indigo Table; photo via MangoStudios
GlucksteinHome table, via MangoStudios
Photo via MangoStudios: Barbara from HodgePodge, Lindsay from Little House Blog (and BlogPodium co-chair), Jen from Rambling Renovators (and BlogPodium co-chair) and Nancy from Marcus Design.

Barbara and Nancy won an AYA Kitchen contest and were flown here from Vancouver to attend Blog Podium! I can't wait to hear their take on the whirlwind trip to Toronto. They were both absolutely lovely, and their blogs are some of my regular reads. It was fantastic meeting them face to face and spending some time with them after the event!

I enjoyes meeting so many people this time around - impossible to name them all, but some that stand out are Emily-Jane from Not a House but a Home, who knows my neighbourhood like the back of her hand, and my fridge-twin Jeanette from This Dusty House - we learned we live only a few blocks away from each other! The things you learn when you meet people in person... Catching up with some of my favourite bloggers and some new-to-me bloggers was definitely a huge part of the fun. To top it all off, we got a BlogPodium book with mini bio's of all the attendees, so I have a number of new blogs to check out!

HomeSense sponsored a funny photo booth - this is one of my faves:
 via MangoStudios (click here for more hilarity) - this is Lindsey from Recreated, me, and Meaghan from Row House Nest

After mild what-to-wear stress, I put together an outfit from things I already owned (gasp! I know...)
A huge thank you to all of the people who put work into BlogPodium, the sponsors, and for all of the attendees I got to meet!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Faves - Blog Podium

Tomorrow is the 2nd Blog Podium event!

I am looking forward to it for a number of reasons.  One of the biggest reasons is the topic itself - The Business of Blogging. I'm really interested to hear words of wisdom from other bloggers out there who have successfully grown their blogs into businesses.

Another reason I'm looking forward to it is to catch up with all the bloggers who will be in attendance! I can't wait to see familiar faces, and meet some new people and discover some new blogs as well. And finally, they have some sweet sponsors, and it will be fun to get up close and personal with them.

Oh yah, and PS it's the weekend. Woot! Have a great one.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fabric fashion for my stools

On the weekend I headed over to Designer Fabrics to pick up some fabric samples for the stools I found on the curb a little while ago. When I did my initial post all you readers loved the navy and white ikat dot print, so I found one similar and a few other options.

Here are the plain stools (the plan is to add a cushion to the top - i would like to use them for extra seating outside in the summer, and potentially inside beyond that):
this version of the blue ikat dot is quilted...which isn't really floating my boat

neutral linear choices

The pillow in this photo is on my couch, along with green pillows. So, if I wanted to move these indoors I would like them to coordinate with this. Looking at it together, is it too many circles if I go with the blue ikat dots? I think I like the linear look of the neutral chevron on the right side. BUT I want something a bit punchier since these will be used outdoors as well.

Am I hoping for too much from one little cushion? haha Should I have one set for outside and one for inside? I like the look of the navy in the room, but I think maybe something striped or chevron would be the way to go.

Help? What do you think?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow...

Back to work today...instead of talking about that, let's take another little look-see at some of the stuff we did on the weekend. In addition to the backyard and herb planting I shared yesterday, we added some floral touches to our front yard.
 I love the colour of these bogonias with our gray porch!

We have a challenge with our front flower beds...the soil is very very sandy, and gets full sun. So, a lot of the stuff we have planted in the past has just uped and died because the plants can't handle the conditions. We added some peat moss and compost to the soil (peat moss acts as a sponge to keep moisture in, and compost provides nutrients) and chose plants that the nice people at Bill's Garden Centre directed us to.

Here were the gaps we were looking at before:

And now filled in a little bit:
Those little sprouts will eventually bloom with orange flowers...and they're perennials! Which means if they live, they'll come back year after year. I hope they will fill out in a couple of years. The giant bush in the middle of this photo is lavender. If you have full sun, dry soil, get some lavender! It smells amazing and it really took off again this year (it's a perennial too).
In the front bed we put two little plants that should bloom with yellow flowers. 

I'm happy with how it's filling's true what they say about gardening - you have to do it bit by bit. Plant some stuff, see what lives, what dies, what takes over, and what maintains its shape / size before adding too many other things.  It doesn't look like much yet, but I'm hoping in another month or so we will have some great blooms to show for it!

Kitchen Container Potager + Outdoor Extravaganza Link Party

Monday, May 21, 2012

Long weekend recap - sugar and spice

This weekend has been fantastic so far, and it's not over yet! Happy Victoria Day to all of my Canadian friends, I hope you are enjoying this long weekend.

This is the best weather we've had for a May 2-4 weekend in a LONG time. Sunny, hot, and just so perfect. I have tried to make the most of's a glimpse at what we got up to...

Saturday started off with heading to the fabric store to finally look for some fabric options for the stools I nabbed from the curb a while ago (more on that later this week).

Then we added "spice" to the weekend - we hit up the garden store and got planting! We planted some herbs and a few potted plants (tomatoes!) to kick off the planting season.
pretty picture of a chive flower

chives, mint, basil

oregano, thyme, parsley

rosemary, tomatoes

Sunday we hopped on our bikes for some sugar...Sugar Beach that is...
we just love biking the Don Valley trails down to this beach in the middle of the city!

Sunday night we had friends over for a BBQ:
ribs cooked low and slow on the BBQ with hickory chips (sorry...didn't get a photo of the finished product!)

homemade butter tarts, made by yours truly...yumm...

Our al-fresco dining was topped off with a fireworks show at the end of our street! These people are serious about fireworks, way better calibre than you would expect from a random end-of-street showing!

Today I'm realxing (aka blogging), and then we're heading out for our first golf game of the year...if you're on the course hopefully you don't hear "FORE" from me too much :)

Hope everyone had  / is having a great long to enjoy the sun!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday faves - summa summa summa time

Oh, Friday how I've missed you! This Friday is extra special as it marks the start of my office's "summer hours". Basically the Friday before long weekends and every second Friday in between we can take off at 1pm. Bliss. (fine print: we have to make up the time, but most people work more than normal anyways so it's toally do-able).

Excuse me while I get an early start to the first long weekend of the summer....

It's supposed to be ultra nice in my neck of the woods this weekend. Sun. 25 C +. Maybe 30. Maybe a "feels like" humidex.

Bring it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My (and Gwyneth's) favourite granola

I have been featuring a lot of food posts lately...probably because as you've guessed, I cook a lot. I enjoy cooking, it's healthier, and often tastier than what you can buy. Today's post is no exception...I have tried a number of different granola recipes with no luck. They're either too sweet, too oat-y, not crispy enough, or they end up burning (I was just following directions!). 

This past weekend I pulled out Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook My Father's Daughter and she had a recipe in there called "My favorite granola". I gave it a shot (with a few substitutions) and it is now MY fave granola too. {recipe follows after the photos}

mixed, before cooking

cooked, all brown and roast-y

Yumm. I put the raisins in whenever I eat it so the granola stays crispy :) I like to eat it with yoghurt (greek yoghurt currently), and some fresh fruit (this weekend was mango and banana).

And, just because I am so nice, I have typed up this recipe for you to enjoy:

Favorite Granola
-Gwyneth Paltrow, My Father’s Daughter

2 cups whole rolled oats (not instant and not steel-cut)
½ cup raw, whole almonds
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
½ tsp garam masala
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp fine salt
½ cup real maple syrup
3 Tbsp light agave nector or brown rice syrup
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Stir together the oats, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, spices, and salt in a large bowl.  Combine the maple syrup, agave, and vegetable oil in a small bowl and then mix with the dry ingredients. Spread the granola out on a non stick sheet pan or a regular sheet pan covered with parchment paper and coated with a little vegetable oil.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until evenly browned.
If you like your granola in clumps, remove the pan from the oven and push the granola around so it’s about 1/3” thick, letting it cook completely and then breaking it apart into small pieces.
If you like your granola loose, simply spread it out in the pan and let it cool.
Either way, combine the cooled granola with the cranberries. Keeps well for 2-3 months in an airtight container.

**I subbed in honey for agave because I didn’t have agave, skipped the garam masala, and used coconut oil in place of vegetable oil. I also kept the dried fruit out completely as I thought it would make the granola soft. I add raisins or apricots when I eat it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekend recap

I hope you all had a great weekend! Ours was full of fun friends - we went to a great rooftop patio for a friend's birthday on Friday night. On Saturday we hit the driving range for the first time this year. It was great to get out and swing the clubs...hopefully we'll get some time to play a round of golf next weekend. Saturday afternoon we drove to Hanover, ON to visit friends and their adorable daughter for dinner. Today, we hit the gym, did chores, gardening, and laundry, and part of my afternoon was spent doing this:

Not bad, right? Let's hope this weather continue through the long weekend next weekend!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday faves - setting the table

Another happy Friday to you folks! So happy it's the weekend...we have a birthday celebration for a friend tonight, a little weekend visit planned to see some friends and their daughter tomorrow, and then hopefully spending time outside puttzing around in the garden in the sun or maybe visiting the driving range for the rest of the weekend.

It's been a little while since I've had a dinner party but I'm always intrigued by lovely table settings. When I was young and had to set the table my favourite part was coming up with "unique" ways of folding the (paper) napkins! Too funny...maybe one of these will inspire a nice mother's day setting for you?
Here are some of my faves that I would love to try:

via NJS Design Events - How to Set a Table - isn't this SO useful?

Is this not the cutest napkin display you ever have seen? I want to do this.

via Homes - simple and cute, love the quatre foil plate

via Style Me Pretty - Love this (great use for all my old wine corks!)

These mini wood stumps are also a cute idea, and would look great on this table:
or this one:
via - Chalkboard place settings - how cute is that?
via - I am going gaga for this colour combo and the linen runners!
Anyone want to come for a dinner party so I can try them out? :) Hope you all have a great weekend.
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