Last minute hostess gift that you can make in a pinch

There are so many functions and parties at this time of year, and I don't know about you, but I can get a bit bored of bringing to same old hostess gift as a thank you. I saw this quick and easy gift ideas that I thought I'd share in case you guys find yourself in a similar position (a very fortunate predicament, I should add! Lucky us for having friends to party with!). You probably already have everything you need to make these, but a little pillaging around your backyard or in the local park may be required!

Herbal fire starters. I saw these on Whole Living and all that you need to do is bundle a few pine cones and some dried herbs in a piece of newsprint and secure it with cotton twine or raffia. Imagine how amazing they would smell when you light your fire. And they're chemical-free so you can feel good about your choice! Wouldn't a few of these make a lovely gift for your host? Might as well make a few extra for your own fireplace while you're at it!

Nursery wallpaper for my new baby?


I stumbled upon this wallpaper recently on Pinterest and haven't been able to get it out of my mind. I love the whimsical, soft, beautiful pattern and love the feel of it for a nursery.

How timely!

Turns out, I'm working on a nursery now in my own home! We're expecting a wee one in June and we couldn't be more thrilled. Yay babies!

Last time we didn't find out the gender of our baby so we did a pretty gender neutral room. You can see images here (I'm SOOO embarrassed about the photo quality here, so please try to overlook it if you can! I swear the room isn't this dark!). This time, it's looking like we won't find out again, but I think this paper on the one wall behind the crib (painted white), with white walls and some yellow accents could swing either way. What do you think? The design is by Julia Rothman for Hygge & West. You can see the other colourways here.

If you have kids, did you find out their gender? If so, what was your reasoning? I know some people like to be able to plan accordingly and have everything ready and in place. We loved the surprise last time, but truth be told, I'd really like to know this time. Mostly because of the nursery! If it's a girl I think I would go all out with pretty details.

Advent calendars

Don't you have the best memories of advent calendars as a kid? They were always such a fun reason to bounce out of bed in the morning and I'm excited for Brigs to have similar experiences.

I decided to make one for him this year and fill it with 20-month old appropriate gifts...think finger puppets, chocolate coins and the ever-popular stickers!

I made some very simple square bags using plaid fabric which are big enough to hold a Hot Wheels car, and bought a wooden tree form from West Elm that looked much more festive painted green (the tree came complete with 25 hooks already attached). I attached some navy ribbon with a glue gun (obviously forgetting to do anything about fraying ends!) and wrote the numbers on Martha Stewart label tags from Staples.

All in all, I'm happy with my afternoon craft. Despite time being impossible to find at this time of year, there is something nice about homemade gifts and decorations to get you in the festive mood.

living with men

Three years ago today, I married the most incredible guy. He's the best kind - sweet, funny, smart - and he's consistently like this despite the fact that I know living with me can be challenging at times.

To say I'm 'territorial' with my home wouldn't be inaccurate. I think it's an occupational hazard, but given my choice of interior design as a profession, it seems obvious (to me) that I would expect to make the design decisions for our home - with input from him on an as-needed basis of course! These three years have gone swimmingly in this department and I was a happy girl, until....

This arrived on the weekend after Cam won it in a golf tournament with his friends.
You guys! Seriously! What do I do with this? Obviously I'm really happy for him that he won it. His friends are super competitive and the fact that he won after not having played much golf since Brigs was born is a big deal. I get that. But the thing is over three feet tall. With a faux blue marble base and the finish on an electric blue bowling ball. IT'S ON OUR MANTLE! He insists it will stay there but if I really have an issue with it, we can move it to our bedroom. Ha!

What would you do? Anyone been in this situation before where compromising seems impossible! Do you think he'll notice in a week when it's not there and I've moved it to the basement? (Ignore that if you're reading this, Cam!).

week in review

It's Friday already! I can't believe it! This week flew by and all my good intentions to post regularly were overshadowed by the week's events, namely, Halloween.

I know there are lots of kids out there who had to postpone their Halloween celebrations because of the hurricane. Here, we got hit with strong winds and some rain and lots of power outages, but NOTHING compared to the devastation in the U.S. We're thinking of all of you that were affected and hope for the quick restoration of your communities.

Despite the rain and dismal weather, the kids in our neighbourhood were out in full force. Brigs got to enjoy Halloween for the first time, really. He was just 7 months last year, so didn't pay much attention to it, but this year, going door to door and being given treats was pretty incredible for him.

We dressed him up as a garden gnome. As encouragement we threw together a last minute costume for Cam because Brigs was not having it being the only one in costume. They looked so cute walking down the street together! Gush!

Isn't this photo funny? It looks like Cam's head is on fire. I haven't quite figure out 'night mode' on my camera!
 Every time someone gave him a treat in his little pumpkin bucket, he would try to sit on their steps and eat it. Needless to say, we made it to about 5 houses in an hour and then called it quits! It was so fun though. I'm so much more in the spirit of these events now that he's in my life. Don't even get me started on Christmas! I CAN'T WAIT!

Brunschwig and Fils 'Les Touches'...sort of

In the past, I've posted about designing your own fabric using fabric paint, and I've posted about using Sharpies to design your own china pattern, but the other day I saw this post over at Little Green Notebook and I wanted to share as obviously there are those out there who have decided to combine Sharpie and fabric for fantastic results.

Caitlin from Caitlin Wilson Designs decided to mimic the Brunschwig and Fils 'Les Touche' fabric by taking a Sharpie to an Ikea slipcovered chair. Isn't the result awesome?


On another note, aren't the floors in her kitchen lovely? I thought they were marble, but Caitlin posted about them here and revealed that they're actually peel and stick vinyl tiles from Lowe's.

Both images via this post at  Little Green Notebook

Favourite rooms of all time: Miles Redd living room

I'm back with a second installment of my 'Favourite Rooms of All Time" (did you see the first one?). This time, I thought I'd post about a living room that I saw back in 2009 in House Beautiful which I think is so moody, romantic and captivating. What do you think?

It's a NYC apartment for a fashion duo done by Miles Redd. I love the lacquered walls. They're so dark, but they reflect so much light that the room feels bright. And I love, love, love all the different colours going on. I love seeing rooms that aren't too matchy-matchy - that would get so boring after a while. This room implies to me that the homeowners chose items they loved rather than items that were strictly chosen to coordinate, and it so works. And the herringbone floors. Ah. Love!

What do you think? Do you like the dark walls? Would you dare? What about the colour combos? I'd love to know your thought.

Getting ahead of the chaos


 Welcome back to the work week! How was your weekend?

Things were pretty low key around here other than the fact that I'm trying desperately to organize my life and my home a bit which is proving a challenge! I'm getting busier all the time with my business (hooray!) and I'm finding I'm needing more childcare than I've had over the last few months. It's not easy to find flexible daycare options in Toronto. Here, once you've peed on the stick and got the positive pregnancy result, you immediately rush to your computer to fill out the registration forms and pay the deposit fees for a variety of daycares so that you can get on the waiting list and hopefully get a spot for when your child turns 1 and you're heading back to work (mat leave in Canada is 1 year...I know we're very lucky). After you've filled those out and dished out a considerable amount of cash, then you plot the ways you can tell your hubby that you're expecting! Maybe I'm exaggerating a teeny bit, but not much. So here I am with a 19 month old needing flexible care and it's the first time I've looked into it. Gulp! Fingers crossed I can find something soon.

Do you have a secret for feeling organized and on top of your game? If you do, man oh man would I like to hear about it! From what I gather, the secret to happiness, especially post-baby, is giving in to the fact that there will be chaos and there will be clutter in life. Everywhere. In your home, in your mind, in your purse. I'm trying to get my head around this concept, but I'm finding it a bit hard. Needless to say, I'm struggling!

It's no surprise to me that what I find most overwhelming and the biggest cause of stress is a messy house. I'm here all the time, both in a family capacity and a business one too. If I'm working on a project that has me looking at beautiful images of gorgeous homes and luxurious furnishings and look up from my screen to see the place littered with sippy cups and library books, shoes and electronics charges, I start to lose it. I lose it then I immediately proceed to self-beration for not being more on-top of things. This feeling reminds me of the article I mentioned a few weeks ago from the Globe that discussed how women are now measuring their self worth by the state of their home. I'm thinking I fit nicely into that described box! 

I've been reading up on organization over the past few days and have found pretty consistent advice from the women who have blogs devoted entirely to the subject. They all seem to agree that a little bit every day is the ticket to maintaining order and preventing chaos. That makes plenty of sense, it's just a matter of finding the 15 - 30 extra minutes in the day that they recommend where taking care of the house tops the priority list. When you're at home with a child you rely exclusively on nap time to do everything you need to do. Work, shower, exercise, clean, cook...whatever. Thirty minutes is a pretty big bulk of time. I'm trying to do it though. Today, for example, I took all of our DVDs (we had about 250) and removed them from their cases and put them into DVD sleeves inside binders. Despite the guilt I felt for throwing all of those cases the way of landfill, it has cleared up some considerable space in our TV room. I didn't go so far as to organize them by genre or alphabetically or anything as organized as that (that's crazy talk), but I love seeing more free space in my home. Now, instead of digging through piles of cases, I just have to flip through one of 5 binders to find what I'm interested in.

It is amazing how calming the process of purging and de-cluttering can be. Don't get me wrong, the actual task isn't so fun, but the result is addictive. You can get rid of 50% of your clothes, but I'm telling you, once you see your cleared out closet, you'll want to get rid of more. It's a very liberating feeling, and can actually make you feel like you have more stuff because everything you have, you use. Do you have that feeling?

So tell me, dear readers, do you have any strategies that you use that help you feel like your in control of the clutter and the chaos? What techniques do you use to keep yourself organized and one step ahead of the next mess. I would love to know, and I bet lots of other people would too!

Image: via Design Mom

Great sources for online art

Where do you guys get your art? I think my collection of prints started in university when the travelling poster sale passed through campus (it's a real thing, I swear). Nowadays, it seems most of what is hanging on our walls are photographs taken by friends and family (we know some awesome photographers, that's for sure), a few painted pieces by equally talented people, and a bunch of prints that I bought online.

Have you ever bought art online? There are certainly some incredible resources out there. Might I suggest a few?

 This site has everything. EVERYTHING. Pop by their site and spend hours browsing. The site has recently been re-designed so it's easier than never to find what you want. You can filter by a bunch of different categories making it simple and straightforward to find what you're looking for. Plus, you can choose your print then pick from a bunch of different framing options so that what arrives on your doorstep is not a poster tube, but a fully framed or canvas-wrapped, ready to be hung piece of art.

 20x200. This site is awesome for original photography and art pieces. Not only can you find limited editions of some beautiful pieces, but the price is incredible (think $20 for an 8x10). Amazing! You can also opt for framing from these guys.

Finally, Etsy. Who doesn't love, love, love Etsy? Seriously, it's awesome. I get lost in there for hours. Pure bliss. I've bought a few original prints from here and have been so happy with them. Check. It. Out.

Art sources:
Top - Wassily Kandinsky "Improvisation No. 31, Sea Battle"
Middle - Sharon Montrose "Flamingo No. 4"
Bottom - Black Boroque "Upcycled Dictionary Page Mod Blue Octopus"

Turkey and pie and family...oh my!


To all my Canadian friends and family who are celebrating Thanksgiving today (or who did or earlier in the weekend) I want to wish you all a very happy one and hope you've enjoyed some seriously delish meals with your fave people. It's been the perfect fall weekend here filled with crisp air and warm-hued leaves. Cam and I have been reflecting on all we have to be thankful for (a lot), and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how thankful I am to you guys who check in here and spend time with me when you could be doing a zillion other things. It means more than I can say, so thank you!

Enough cheese??? Then go eat some pumpkin pie and I'll see ou back here this week!

Image - Who wouldn't want to have a meal at that table!

Favourite rooms of all time: Barrien Benson dining room

I'm going to try out a bit of a series here for the next little while focusing on some of my favourite rooms of all time. These are rooms that I saw an image of once upon a time, and I thought them to be so incredible that I've never forgotten them. They are permanently etched in my brain and I use them as inspiration all the time - whether I know it or not.
To kick it off, I chose a dining room that was featured in Domino Best Rooms (available on newstands now for a limited time and, like all Domino magazine issues, is Awesome with a capital A!) This room was done by a great designer in Charlotte named Barrie Benson (stay tuned for a post on her work) and I absolutely LOVE everything about it, particularly the Schumacher Chiang-Mai pattern on the chairs (which I have on order for my living room - yay!), the gorgeous banquet that I imagine would have guests lingering for hours, and, of course, the round table. I love round dining tables - they're great for conversation, you can always squeeze a few more people than you thought possible and they're totally classic. Don't you think her choice of colour is amazing? It's bold but still has a hint of tradition to it. True dining room love! 

white t-shirts and pillow cases for the holidays?

Does anyone else have grand intentions to make as many holiday gifts as possible this year? Every year, without fail, I set out to do just this, and every year, without fail, I don't. This is my year! In making this assertion I realize that I need to find homemade gift ideas that fit with the stay-at-home-mom/entrepreneur time frame. In other words, things that I can make in the one hour post-dinner lull that is my spare time. These iron on transfer ideas have been just the kick I needed to get me into holiday crafting mode. Check back on December 26th to see how it all went down!

What about you guys? Any easy gift-making ideas that you've tried in the past that have been well-received? I'd love to know about them and post about them. I know there are lots of us out there that would love to make more but either don't know where to start, or start too late in the season and get overwhelmed by all the other holiday planning.

As scary as it sounds, now is the time to start getting those gifts ready. Yikes!

Images: one/two/three/four/five

Blue kitchens

I've been thinking about doing something for a while now....

I'm giving very serious thought to painting my kitchen cabinets dark blue.

Probably just the lower cabinets, but because my kitchen walls are blue now, a whole bunch of things will need to change - new wall color, accessories, hardware, etc. The cabinets are melamine and we're not going to be replacing them any time soon (major bummer), so painting them will be uncharted territory for me. Have any of you ever done a similar job yourself? Any tips or tricks?

As for color, I love the idea of a really dark, mysterious blue. Old-world blue...A deep navy with sapphire undertones.... I really hope that finding the right color will be the hardest part! I love the idea of doing this with brass hardware, but we just replaced our faucet 6 months ago and I fear it's set the stage for brushed nickel (I know, I know...multiple metals can look great in the same room. I'll get there...).

What do you think? Do any of you know of a great colour that I might check out? I'm itching to do this, so I'm hoping to get started pretty soon (that's code for 'hopefully sometime before 2014!).

Images: one/two/three/four/five

Are we too obsessed with home decor?

 There's a very interesting article today in the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, talking about how women are now measuring their success and self worth not by body image, as has been the case for years, but by the design and decor of their homes. The article argues that we are obsessed with perfecting 'the body of our home' - something we will never accomplish so long as we keep having access to images online to compare our homes to. Improving our homes, it argues, gives us a feeling of control when our lives seem quite the opposite. It says that even designers are intimidated and fear having people because they don't think their homes are nice enough.

I confess that I totally fit into that category at times. There is an endless list of things I want to do in my home that I lose track of all the progress I've already made. It's as if I don't want anyone to see it until it's perfect, but in reality, that could be years, or more likely, never! I always thought it was because this is my job, but now I realize that there are other women out there feeling the same thing. I devour interiors magazines and am guilty of striving for that look of perfection, knowing full well that I'm about as likely to have that impeccably styled and well lit an interior as I am to having Jennifer Aniston's legs! As the article suggests, if we compare our homes to the ones in interiors magazines, we'll never be happy.

I encourage you to give it a read and I'd love to know your thoughts on the subject. Do you think we're obsessed? We sure do seem to spend a lot of time focusing, discussing, comparing and analyzing our homes. We can be guilty of picking them apart. When our home is really an extension of our self, then I guess it isn't any different than nitpicking our bodies when looking at images of models in magazines.

I'd love to get a discussion going about this. I find it so interesting. Send me your thought when you have a moment.





The other day I was out walking with Brigs and I passed by one of my favourite kids boutiques, Kol Kid. They had a sign in the door advertising silhouette portraits by an artist from the U.S. who was only in town to do them for one day. Lucky for me, it was that day and the artist had a gap in his appointment schedule at that very moment, so I excitedly plunked Brigham down for a portrait of his own (meant to be? I think so!).

I absolutely love silhouette prints of kids. Dumb me had no idea that they are cutouts, not paintings (I suppose they can be both, but in this case, he cut the portraits). To my complete awe, the artist did 4 of them in about three minutes, and the likeness is amazing! I got one done for our house and three extra copies for the grandparents for Christmas (if any of you grandparents are reading this, sorry for the spoiler!). I couldn't be happier! The best part is that I had it done before his first haircut so the portrait totally shows all his long curls that now live in a Ziplock bag in my dresser (Creepy? Maybe!). The images above are of Brigs while the four below are a few others I found online that I thought were cute.

Images:Top two are mine - the others: one/two/three/four

Bad blogger

Is anyone still here? I can't believe how bad I've been at keeping up with posts lately so if nobody is checking in, I totally understand why! I'm hoping to turn things around this week, but the last few weeks have been tough personally, so I say this with some trepidation! Fingers crossed.

What did you get up to this weekend? These snaps are actually from last weekend when we spend some time in the country at - amongst other things - a zucchini festival. The middle image above is a decked out zucchini boat that was raced down the river to the delight of many a' cheering fan - mostly under 10 years old.

This weekend was supposed to be spent at my dad's place in Picton, ON, but one of our cats got really sick all of a sudden so we stayed here and hung out at the vet. He's in surgery as we speak, so hopefully all turns out well. I'm trying very hard to be a 'glass half full' girl, but when it comes to pets, emotions are pretty strong. They really are part of the family.

Do you guys have pets? I'm sure you can relate to feeling totally helpless. Any coping mechanisms you can share? I'm all ears!

a summery table for the last summery weekend

Can you believe it's Labour Day weekend already? What do you have planned? Does anyone else feel in a bit of a panic to tick off those 'summer must-do's' from 'the list'? I was really hoping to work on a few more creative projects this summer, but, as luck would have it, I've been busy working instead (have I mentioned that I've been busy trying to start up my own Interior Design business?). Those crafty projects will have to wait until things calm down a bit, but in the meantime, I wanted to share one project that I think could be the perfect, quick and inexpensive DIY for what might be the last of the summer outdoor entertaining weekends of 2012. That sounds so dramatic, doesn't it!

Isn't this table cute? It's a DIY using Washi tape to customize a table runner and candle holders. Have a look at Santa Barbara Chic for more info on the process and a few more images.

Most of all, I hope this long weekend is filled with picnics, Popsicles, beaches, bathing suits and fruity cocktails for you all. I'll see you back here on Tuesday (not technically fall, but it sure will feel like it to me when I see all the little kids with their giant backpacks make the slow trek back to school). Side note: This is the first Labour Day weekend where I won't be dreading going back to school in a long time. We counted last night that there have only been 8 Septembers in my life where I haven't been going back to school. Crazy, but it feels good!

Life lesson in protecting your wine from fruit flies

I think fruit flies are my least favourite part of summer. Maybe tied with wasps but definitely ahead of mosquitoes, and I HATE mosquitoes. I realize fruit flies are pretty inoffensive - they don't hurt or bite -  but I can't stand a swarm of insects around my food. They drive me crazy.

Recently I declared war on the fruit flies in my kitchen. I'm winning, although the fight drags on. Like any good army, they rely on numbers to succeed. I rely on paper towel and baby food cups. See below for an image of The Battle of Shiraz.

Admittedly, taking a sip is a bit of a pain, but at least I don't have to fish anything out of there between each one!

Weekend Review: First haircut

He went in a baby, and came out a boy. Sigh.

I love this last photo. It captures perfectly the look Brigs was giving the barber after the cut. He just sort of stared him down.

Busy busy

What do you guys think of this wall-size chalk board? I painted a section of our kitchen wall with chalkboard paint a few years ago, and I have to say it's pretty handy for making lists and leaving notes. The full wall is a big statement, but in this kitchen, it really works. My only thought is that you better have good penmanship if your writing is going to be the focal point of the room.

On the subject of lists, I've started with a new client and I'm finding I'm busy, busy these days. Posts will likely not be as regular for the next few weeks, but after that, I do hope to get back to my normal, daily schedule.

I hope everyone is having a great week so far!

Sara xo


Is summer really over?

Last week I listed all the furniture we had in our backyard on Craigslist. My reasons for doing this were simple: we need the space for Brigs to play and our giant patio set took up all the available space. I had no problem selling it. Turns out there are a lot of people in this city in the market for patio sets. It didn't take me long to figure out why.

After they sold, I went looking for a new set to replace it. This time much smaller and more compact. Three stores later I realized why I had no problem selling ours - there was nothing left. Seriously...nothing! As far as I was concerned, it was the beginning of August and there was still lots of summer left. WRONG. Summer is apparently totally over, folks. Time to bring out the sweaters and socks. Say farewell to patios and fruity cocktails. It's time to nest. Inside.

I shouldn't be surprised by any of this. I was at the grocery store the other day and the Halloween candy is out. At the craft store they had Christmas stuff on the shelves. Christmas! You know, the holiday in DECEMBER. Are we really supposed to be thinking about that already? My blood pressure is on the rise just mentioning this. 

In the end I was able to find four matching chairs at a chain store (although I had to buy them at 3 different locations) and a floor model of a table that will suit our needs. The next challenge was finding an umbrella. Again, I bought a floor model. Sigh. Our garden looks completely gross but we have plans to landscape it a bit in the spring...maybe some grass...maybe a built in bench. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the summer days until the bitter end. I live in Canada, after all people. Winter is COLD. If you think I'm eager to rush into that, you're crazy.

Did you guys get the memo that summer is over? I guess I always attribute the end of summer with the start of school - the Tuesday after Labour Day here. But I've noticed from other bloggers that some of their kids start school in early to mid August. What's the deal where you live?

Enjoy the last of summer everyone. Before you know it, it'll really be over.

Image from Absolutely Beautiful Things

Loving the set of Moonrise Kingdom

I know we're far behind in our movie going. Every time we get set to see a movie, we check the listings and realize we have never heard of any of them, and decide to watch Damages at home instead. You'd think when we have a babysitter we'd take advantage. We have to work on that.

Anyway, last night we FINALLY went and saw a movie. Moonrise Kingdom. Have you guys seen it? Hilarious! Cam is seriously into Wes Anderson movies so it was right up his alley, and I - not as huge a fan but fan enough - really enjoyed it too. It has a great cast, a fun storyline, and an awesome set! Which of those do you think I was most concerned with? You got it....the set!

The boy-scout themed movie takes place in a seaside town in 1965. When camping, nautical design and 1965 come together, let me tells ya, it makes for some really fun set design! It has me thinking that set design might be one of the most fun sounding jobs out there....hmmm.....


Tell me, did you see the movie? Did you like it? What did you think of the set?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Lovely Shelter All rights reserved
© Blog Milk
Powered by Blogger