Monday, January 31, 2011

Vroom vroom vacuum

We recently upgraded our beat-up-just-pushes-things-along-instead-of-sucking-them-up vacuum to one of these beauties:

via Miele - Miele S2 Contour
Our old one was a cheapie bagless one that we essentially used as a shop vac for the past year (plaster dust being enemy #1).  It didn’t start out as a strong vacuum and all the extra work we asked it to do did not help its performance at all.
We LOVE our new vacuum.  Isn’t it funny what it takes to get you excited now?  If you asked me 10 years ago, heck – even 3 years ago – if I would be pumped about a new vacuum, I would have looked at you like you were nuts.  Much like my friend Ashley over at Calmly Chaotic with her washer and dryer, I am welcoming this new little Miele with open arms.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In need of colour

Today was a gray day. I was out browsing some shops and realized how much I am craving colour right now when I was drawn to an orange bar of soap. 

The Interior Design show is on in Toronto this weekend and the Style at Home booth is full of colour - nice inspiration for today.

via Style at Home blog. Love the pops of orange and coral with the turquoise-y blues.

Here's to a little colour in your life!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday faves

Time for some Friday Faves! Seeing as I am in Ottawa this weekend, what better than to share some of my favourite things to do / places to see in Canada's Capital.


via Wikipedia
Bridgehead is a great coffee shop chain with 12 locations in Ottawa.  It offers fair-trade, shade grown, organic coffee and tea options, along with treats (delicious), grain salads, and sandwiches.

Kettleman's Bagels

via MetroMinute (Ottawa)

via OttawaXpress
In my opinion Kettleman's has the BEST Montreal style bagels this side of Montreal! My preferred location is the one in the Glebe - open 24 hours - located at 912 Bank St.  They also have locations on Carling Rd. and in Orleans.


via Eva's Food World
Beavertails are an iconic Ottawa treat! You can now get them year round in the Byward market, but a true Beavertail is had on the canal during Winterlude (starts Feb 4). If you've never been to Winterlude, or skating on the Rideau Canal, you really really should.  And it gives you a great excuse to have a Beavertail! (are you drooling yet?). My favourite variety is Killaloe Sunrise - cinnamon sugar and lemon - delicious!

La Brioche Bakery & Pastry

By far, the best baklava (and any other middle eastern treat) I have ever eaten has been from La Brioche. I discovered it with my roomies when we lived in the Glebe and haven't looked back since! It is still one of the places I visit each time I am in Ottawa. I don't know what it is (my theory is because they use rose water instead of honey), but their treats are to die for. Located at 866 Bank St. (a short jaunt from Kettleman's!)

Do you notice a theme here? Apparently I miss all food places in Ottawa...
Aside from the food places there are some cute neighbourhood shops that I like to frequent including:

Magpie Jewellery

Magpie started out as THE place to buy great silver jewellery, and since has added to its repetoire a number of inspired pieces from jewellery designers - everything from basic earrings to necklaces to wedding rings. Magpie is always fun to look around in (and guess where it is -- the Glebe! 799 Bank St.).


I first came across the Thann store shortly after I returned to a trip to SE Asia.  The products have subtle, almost natural scents (but most are scented) and the packaging is gorgeous.  The interior of the store is calming.  The first store I came across was in Westboro at 312 Richmond Rd. They have since opened one (in the Glebe! ha) at 829 Bank St.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vignette inspiration

I desperately need to add some life to the end tables I picked up last week for the living room. I got a great lamp this weekend with a black shade and silver base. I like the juxtaposition against the wood grain of the table (sorry I don't have a photo to share). I just bought one lamp because the matching lamp was missing the shade (I hope none of you do the bait and switch with lampshades that are supposed to be part of another lamp!!). I actually bought them both, came to the conclusion that I will never find a matching black shade for the one missing, and returned the shade-missing-lamp in the same shopping trip (but at a different store location). ha. I'm pretty sure the return cashier thought I was a nutcase.

In the end, I'm happy that I just got the one, since two would have been too symmetrical on both side tables. I guess everything happens for a reason.

So now I need to get some accesssories or repurpose some I already have to add substance and interest to the tables. To get my brain moving on this I looked up some inspiration for table vignettes and accessories. Here are some of my favourites:

 via {I don't know and I'm sorry...probably Decorpad!}  Not that I have this much room to work with on my end tables, but I've always liked this display. I want lamps like this for my bedroom night tables, but not sure if we can do that scale with the narrow space we have available.

via {another I don't know...probably another Decorpad}. I'm not crazy about the reds in this, but do love the silver birds!


Mod Silver Vases - photo
via ThisNext - I love these vases, particularly the one in the centre and to the left. They would complement my lamp really well on the other side table...
Wingard vases - photo

I don't know about you but I am ecstatic that tomorrow is Friday...Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homestore haven

A friend of mine came across this post today via Apartment Therapy (thanks Shannon!).  This store looks absolutely amazing! Will have to add it to a Paris city guide for when I go (hopefully) this year.

BHV seems to be a very large everything-for-your-home store situated right in Paris. Really impressive. The Apartment Therapy post does a good job describing it and showing images of the vast array of goods they have available. I would l-o-v-e to go and browse these aisles...

They have a website but unfortunately do not ship overseas. Regardless, if I was there here are some things that I would buy:

Tabouret TAMTAM
Cute for extra seating with a pop of colour! via BHV

via BHV

Cadre photo DUCK
Cute for a kid's room via BHV

They seem to have a lot of basics, and judging from the AT post, a lot of things that you need here and there (and can never find when you need them!) - e.g. their large selction of bells (a french thing?), hardware, etc.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

101: SOS?

I just watched the new episode of Sarah101 and I have to say I wasn't crazy about it.

Although Tommy said he thought that "masculine won", I disagree. I didn't think it was fitting for the space or the owner of the space. When this show started I was so excited to see Sarah adapt her design to not only different rooms, but different clients and client needs. I think to date it has been more of a highlight of Sarah's signature style as opposed to catering to each specific client.

Regardless, I watch and will continue to watch because I like the tips they give throughout the show. I find they highlight some things that most designers might consider basics, but us commoners can take in and apply to our homes to make them look a bit better. Also, the sources are great reminders of how many places we have in Toronto to visit for inspiration!

More than the tips, I love the Tommy/Sarah combination. My favourite part of this week's episode was when he pleaded with Sarah to wear shorter heels - too funny!

For more information on Sarah101 and to see past episodes click here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cabinet aesthetics

I have a white china cabinet in the kitchen and I need something in there to liven things up a bit. I would like to add another shelf above the plates (aka the big empty spot on the right) but can't find little pegs that fit the holes (believe it or not!). 

Here is our cabinet:
I would like to wallpaper the inside of the cabinet to add some life - here are some inspiration photos:
Doesn't that look great? And the cabinet is almost identical to mine, save the middle separation on mine. 

via Artessen

Now just to find the wallpaper and a free weekend to complete the project!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Key anniversary

My husband and I realized yesterday that we've had the keys to our house for over 1 year!  We missed the date (Jan 19th -- anyone else find there are too many anniversaries / important dates to track??), but have our move-in anniversary coming up on the 30th.

We have made a lot of progress on our house, but still have many other to-do's to keep us busy.

Any suggestions for celebrating? My ideas include some champagne (I love the bubbly stuff - any excuse works for me!) a nice home-made feast for dinner, and maybe tallying a list of projects we completed this past year (could be motivating or depressing, depending on how many more projects we have!).

I like Sherry and John's idea of shadow boxing keys from previous homes to keep the memories:

via Young House Love

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday faves


I need a little pick me up today so here's a post on some favourite things that I found online. 

NO WHINING - oatmeal and red - 14x18inch recycled felt applique pillow
Via Etsy

Via ApartmentTherapy: I LOVE these coffee cups - the vibrant colour and the stacking (I like being organized...). Can't wait for a relaxing saturday morning tomorrow with a nice latte or tea...

My favourite desert (and actually super easy to make too) - via GOOP. I know some people think Gwyneth is too much but I just love GOOP.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bedside colours

I need some ideas of how to paint the night stands (thanks for the suggestions so far - any additional ones would be great). Here are some photos to get the wheels turning in my head:

For colour inspiration - this wall colour is the same or very similar to ours. I love the pop of orange in the chair - but we already have coral on the bed pillows and touches of it in our bench so might be too much in my room. I do like the distressed blue of the desk though (and now that I look at this picture more closely I see their night tables are white with white bedding...albeit their tables are less solid than ours):

Dark gray is another option - like this one:

This is kind of cute! I like the bright distressed look of the doors with the main structure painted white...hmmmm....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The tables

Here are some photos of the tables we picked up last night!

The end tables for our living room are new...a set of 3 "nesting tables".  I don't plan on using them as a set of 3 all together, but a couple of pieces together look good.  Here is a photo of them...haven't had the chance to decide exactly how I want them (or put anything on them for that matter -- a lamp search is next!).

You will have to bear with me until I get some "stuff" on them :)  We are also looking for a new couch, and chair options so soon enough (hopefully) our living room will be duly transformed.

The bedside tables were great Craigslist finds. I'm not crazy about the current colour so will be refinishing them, which is fine by us. The question is -- what colour?  I think white would lead to too much white with the white instead I am thinking a white-ish gray, or even a dark gray. The wall colour here looks gray, but it has more of a green tinge in real life. I need to research some options and think on it for a while, but here they are -- perfect size for our little spot!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tables and more tables!

I have been looking for bedside tables for at least a few months now - apparently the standard width has jumped to 24" over the last little while. Our master bedroom is long, but it isn't that wide.  We needed something "slimmer" than 24". Finally found a great pair that I will refinish - now just to decide how to paint them (I'm thinking some tone of whitish-gray).

We also picked up end tables for our living room step closer! We got a set of nesting tables - mix of barn wood and metal legs. I love how versatile they are.

We got home just in time for Sarah's house and some dinner. I will post some table photos tomorrow and hopefully will have a more clear idea of how to refinish the bedside tables!

Monday, January 17, 2011

My first foray into marmalade

Yesterday I tried my hand at Marmalade! The recipe was from the Winter2011 edition of Food&Drink (one of my go-to favourite food magazines, for those of you in ON).  It was a time consuming process, but the end result was well worth it! The recipe's ingredient list is straight forward and simple: 1 grapefruit, 1 orange, 1 lemon, 5.5 cups of sugar (eek!) and 6 cups of water.  Really really simple stuff.  You have to boil it down about a hundred times, but it was fun. Marmalade turns out to be more my taste than my husband's, but I've always loved it so I'm sure I'll get through it all.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hall Nook / Dresser Project

On this snowy (again) Saturday I want to share one of my first re-furb projects.  I have learned that I enjoy re-finishing furniture - and this is one of my favourite projects so far.

The project started with our predicament of the hall nook. The previous owners closed off the hallway on our main floor. I suppose this was to "add space" to the living room, but it means you have to go through the living and dining rooms to get to the kitchen. The other problem with this space is the glass blocks they used on the top of the wall to "let light in".  Really?  I thought those were only used in the 80's.  This is the before:

I had a brainwave one day: why not put a dresser in our nook? It could hold all (some) of my extra purses, as well as scarves, gloves, mittens.  We do have a hall closet but it is quite small and there is not a lot of space for these extras. After a bit of searching I found a dresser posted on craigslist - here's what it looked like (notice that it fit perfectly):

I went about refinishing it - sanded it, primed, and painted it:

I chose a black glossy finish and hardware from Lee Valley (great source). I had bought a mirror that I had no idea where I was going to use (I just knew I loved it!). Low and behold, not only does it look great in the nook but it pretty much covers the glass blocks perfectly. Bliss!!

It has some Christmas/winter decor on it right now (I'm amazed that the pointsietta is still alive so it's sticking around for January!), but will update for the spring soon.

Happy snowy Saturday!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh Hawaii, how I love thee...

My friend just asked for some information and recommendations in Hawaii, and it got me daydreaming. The hubby and I have been fortunate enough to visit Hawaii 3 times, each time enjoying one specific island the best - Kauai is our little piece of heaven!  Here is a small sample of our photos:

This just makes me want warm-beach-no-work-days...ahhh....

Speaking of warm - I did "warm" power yoga today at Kula ( and it was great.  It was 31degrees C (as opposed to 35-40 for hot yoga) and it was definitely a challenging class. It was also only 1 hour long which was a nice length in the heat. Thanks Kula for a good way to end my Thursday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

snow snow snow...and some comfort food

Toronto got more snow today -- with the snow it makes me happy to commute via TTC!  The walk to the subway this morning was nice - the snow really makes everything quiet and pristine (at least for a little while)... I wouldn't say the snow is unusual, but after a green Christmas it's attention-grabbing when you get 20 cm's in a week!

Regardless, I'm nice and cozy at home and about to start on dinner.  What could be better than home made mac & cheese on a day like this?? I'm going to try Martha Stewart's recipe, and have high hopes for it.  Tonight will be turkey drumsticks (yes those huge ones) and mac&cheese.  Funny that I am actually interested in cooking, consider myself to be fairly competent in the kitchen, yet this is the first meal that I share publicly.

I will let you know how it is, but if you get a craving, here is the recipe I will be using - courtesy of SmittenKitchen:

avert thine eyes!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The befores....

So now the hard part starts where I actually have to POST something. 

I think I will start at the beginning - my husband and I moved into our house last January - so we are coming up on a year in our house! We had a true Toronto house buying experience - looked for 8 months, made 10 offers, and got our house via a bidding war (by then we were very experienced!).  Needless to say we saw a lot of houses and learned about what we loved, what we hated, and what we could live with. 

Here are some before photos.  Please remember -these are BEFORES and do not reflect our taste!  Case in point: the previous owner's adoration for faux finishes, in the colour scheme of orange, yellow, and green. I'm not sure the photos do it justice.  The furnishings (and mess) belong to the previous owners.

I will post after shots as we go. Since we've been here a year, we have made a LOT of progress but a lot of work has been behind the scenes: electrical (re-wiring the house to get rid of knob and tube that is so common in older homes), converting from oil to gas, getting a new boiler/HVAC system, re-doing the chimney, the list goes on...).

Enough said - I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Living Room:


Dining Room:

Stairs (note the *2* different faux finishes on each wall):

Odd little nook where they blocked the hallway on the main floor:
 Bedroom 1:

Bedroom 2:

 Master Bedroom:


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