30 December 2011

Best Wishes in 2012!

As the new year approaches, which we'll ring in as a family at home with take-out Thai food and a movie marathon in our pajamas, I got to thinking about the proverbial resolution process, and of what mine should be this year.

Speaking personally, I find the week after the holidays to be restful and happy as we hunker in at home, but also a little sad as another year closes out.  I suppose it's because my kids are both January babies, too, that the month makes me a wee bit blue: it's exciting to mark each and every milestone with them but as every year comes to an end, it closes not just on the possibilities for that calendar year but also another year on their childhoods.  Soon enough (too soon for this mum) it will be time to celebrate their coming-of-age and to encourage them to venture out on their own, and as the clock strikes midnight on the 31st and the new year is born, that time creeps closer.  I'd like to hold it off for as long as possible, but time waits for no mum, and so it goes.

So this year, instead of making resolutions that are bound to be broken, I'm making a commitment instead.  Too often I find myself getting bogged down in the negative and the mundane, and then all of a sudden a year has passed ... and another ... and another!  And I've missed out on all the great things that happened by turning my eye elsewhere.

Instead, I want to capture and focus on all the small, wonderful things that happen in our lives every day (you know the ones: attending your child's school holiday concert in the middle of the day, because you have the time to do so, or the perfect cup of tea AND 15 minutes with nothing to do but sit and drink it while it's piping hot ...) that are often overlooked.  
I'm calling my project 365 Blessings and I'm going to chronicle these blessings over the course of the year, to be shared with you all on December 31, 2012.  My commitment is to celebrate the lovely, the sweet, the exceptional and the banal ... everything that makes my life wonderful and me the luckiest woman alive.

Happy new year, everyone, and may your lives be filled with blessings as well.


28 December 2011

Our Regularly Scheduled Programming Has Resumed ...

This morning I had to admit to myself that I had run out of holiday-related excuses to avoid my ever-expanding To Do list <sad face>

Since the beginning of last week I was legitimately able to cite shopping and wrapping and baking and cooking and cleaning as reasonable reasons why NOT to be painting and editing and organizing.  That centerpiece alone took more than an hour of fiddling and fooling around to get it just right, and of course was totally worth it (read: it didn't even get used at all over dinner; we had too many dishes to accommodate on the table so my beautiful centerpiece got relegated to the coffee table during our holiday dinner!)  Then, obviously, were the Big Events themselves: three full days of Christmas cheer that was all kinds of wonderful, but tiring too.  Which brings us to yesterday, when I parked my butt on the couch from sun up to sundown, ate leftovers and watched tv until my brains started to leak out my ears I felt sufficiently recovered.

Now, with a week and a half left of my Christmas break before classes begin again and nothing more to do for the holidays except pack up all the decorations and begin the countdown to next year, it's time to start doing something productive around here!  I decided today is the perfect day to break out my trusty paint brushes and a can or two of paint, and go to town.  Specifically, I'm tackling my poor, downtrodden, ignored-for-more-than-a-year bathroom door, which desperately needs some good old lipstick-and-rouge attention.  She's looking pretty sad, I won't lie.  But I've got one coat on already, and hopefully by the end of the day she'll look good as new!

You'll notice that the middle panel isn't receiving any love with the paint, which is totally intentional on my part.  Eventually this will sport a flashy new piece of wallpaper, to give it some interest in an otherwise pretty boring hallway.  Layered on top of the wallpaper will be a piece of artwork, but both the art and the wall covering (which I hope to find a scrap of instead of having to buy an entire roll, saving both money and the environment) are as yet to be determined/found.  The rest of her, though, will be Benjamin Moore's Oxford White in a high gloss finish (the better to keep her clean, my dear ...) and since the painting is the most finicky and time consuming part of decorating her, I'll be pleased to get that done and off my plate.  Update photos to follow!


27 December 2011

Images of Christmas (Just) Past ...

Christmas chaos ... the storm before the calm
Gingerbread masterpiece courtesy of one 13-year-old, one 8-year-old, one four-year-old and one toddler
An intense game of Candy Land on Christmas Eve
Cuddles with A, little J and Dad/Uncle Daryn
(darned red-eye! this would be an amazing pic otherwise ... got to figure out how to fix that)
J and little J, horsing around
'Twas the night before Christmas ....
Opening stockings ... J's already engrossed in a book (within 2.7 seconds)
Dwarf African frogs = apparently the best Santa gift ever.
Everybody, meet Ginger and Swimmy.  Ginger and Swimmy, this is everybody ...
Tuckered out after a busy morning of opening presents and eating homemade quiche and tortiere
Christmas night at Poppa and Grandma's

I hope everyone had as wonderful a holiday as we did, filled with good times and good food with loved ones.  We are truly blessed.

23 December 2011

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Program With Some Christmas Cheer ...

Two years ago Daryn and the kids bought me the best Christmas present ever: DVDs of my favourite Christmas specials.  Up to that point, our busy schedule (that has only gotten busier!) usually had us missing my favs when they aired on TV, and it was bumming.me.out.  We'd manage to catch one or maybe two but never all three, and the year I missed all of them was totally awful.  I admit it: I cried.  Those specials have been a part of my Christmas tradition for so long, it was really upsetting to let them go.

So the family put their heads together and strapped their shopping shoes on, and hit the pavement looking for the DVDs to surprise me with.  And surprised I was!  They were the
best gifts ever, and every time we crack them open and cuddle up on the couch to watch them together, it reminds me to count my blessings (one, two, three of them).

So tonight's the night!!  Today we finish up the Christmas shopping - gifts and groceries alike - and most of the wrapping, and tonight we'll climb into our pajamas, eat lasagne on the couch for dinner like heathens, fill up on huge mugs of hot chocolate (with frequent refills) and have ourselves a merry movie marathon with the holy trinity of Christmas specials ...

images via here, here and here

... followed by a good night's sleep, so I'm nice and rested for tomorrow's activities (cooking and baking and wrapping, followed by Christmas Eve festivities at my in-laws and of course, wrestling with a holiday turkey and preparing for Santa's visit!).

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!!  I hope Santa's good to each and every last one of you!


22 December 2011

In Yer Face, Blogger Interface!

Thanks to Kelly over at Jax Does Design for pointing out that my 'Comments' section had inconveniently disappeared! I had noticed I wasn't hearing from anyone (and was starting to take it a little personally, like <tap><tap> Is this thing on??) but my powers of observation being what they are, I didn't notice the option was missing entirely. That's welcoming, isn't it? Hi, welcome to my blog ... but keep your opinions to yourself! Nice.

Anyhoo, nearly an hour later and with some serious assistance from Blogger Help, and the problem is solved!! Feel free to hit me up in the Comments. Not about this post, maybe, but on some others from the past two weeks that may have caught your fancy.  But only if you feel like it (no pressure).  'Cuz you know ... I've missed you ...


21 December 2011

Holiday Centrepiece = Done!!

Yesterday I mentioned my dollar-ninety-nine steal-of-a-deal spruce bough purchase from the Superstore and promised to share what I was doing with them (with no stairs or railings, and no fireplace, evergreen branches aren't necessarily an intuitive decoration in our house).  Well, here they are!

Aren't the candles gorgeous?  My lovely, super-handy friend was inspired by the leftover wood from the failed birdhouse project and made us each a matching set of three candles.  Not only are they so beautiful and exactly the kind of simple, rustic decoration that I love, but I have a laugh every time I look at them, too, thinking about the fun we had trying to make that damn birdhouse work!  They're perfect as our Christmas centrepiece.

The boughs were originally a lot larger and more fulsome, obviously, but after 40 minutes or so of stacking them this way and that and attempting (unsuccessfully) to nestle the candles in amongst them in an artful yet contained way, I gave up.

I borrowed A's round silver tray (which usually lives on her dresser and is home to her trinkets, her rock collection and her fish tank before the fish jumped out of the bowl and committed suicide) and I used it to corral the candle holders and provide a contained base for the evergreen.  I stripped some little branchlets from the main stems and just started filling the gaps, paying some close attention to making sure the branches were't flat.  They've all got a little movement to them, which is exactly what I was looking for.  The crowning touches, I think, are the two little birds, also brought by my friend when she surprised me with the candles.  They're just the perfect little detail to give the whole centrepiece some life and some whimsy.

Love it.  Now I just need to dust off the china and set the table, and it'll be turkey-ready!


20 December 2011

Inspiration Gallery #12 | Home for the Holidays

It's almost hee-eere!  I'm rolling out my checklists (and checking them twice), and buckling down on my holiday decorating in preparation for the big day ~ I picked up a bunch of beautiful and fragrant spruce boughs today at the Superstore for a steal of a deal at just $1.99! (I'll share what I'm doing with them tomorrow).

I love the final push towards Christmas, and of getting the house ready to host family and friends.  We usually keep our decorating to the more restrained side, but it's awfully tempting to go overboard: sometimes more
is more!  If you're like me and you're spending these final few days racing to the festive finish line, here's some inspiration to get those creative juices flowing ...

The rustic French provencal style of this room is beautiful enough, but the
gorgeous cool blue decorations ramps up the glam factor by a hundred
via here
I long for a fireplace all year round (and regularly lament that we don't have one), but never more so than at
Christmas.  There would be no limit to my decorating magic ... if only I had a mantel!
via here
I don't know if I could get my festive on in a such a contemporary decorating scheme, but I'd sure be
willing to give it the old college try!
via here
Shut up, right?  I know ... stop it.
via here
I love how festive these decorations are without being overtly "Christmasy".  They really celebrate the beauty and
the elegance of the whole season, and marry the outdoors within.  I *heart*
via here
The homespun, slightly spare look of this Nordic-inspired design
makes my heart go pitty-pat ...
via here
Only 4 SLEEPS, 3 HOURS, 1 MINUTE AND 45 .. 44 .. 43 .. 42 SECONDS to go!!!!
Visit the Christmas Countdown for up to the minute stats on Santa's arrival
via here

19 December 2011

It's Time to Bee-Eee Aggresive, Shoppers!

My to-do list is long today and formidable: Clean the kitchen within an inch of its life. Grocery shop for the holiday week. Finish my Christmas shopping (which is only half done), which means braving the malls.  I don't like any of these tasks individually and all three in concert is my idea of a living nightmare.  This pretty much sums up how I'm feeling today:

via here

Wish me luck.


16 December 2011

Making My Life List

I'm a great believer in "things happen for a reason" and as a result I don't think that at a time when I'm making great changes in my life, that I came across Nicole's Life List over at Making it Lovely by accident in early November.  A life list, to clarify by her definition, is not a bucket list.  It is not comprised of things one must do or check off before one dies.  It's more of a guide: a helpful checklist to encourage a buddy to remain open to new experiences and not to underestimate or overlook the huge importance of life's smaller moments.  It's entirely likely that not everything on a life list will get a little check mark of completion, but that's OK too.  Sometimes it's just the process of writing it all down that's important.

So reading her list got me thinking about my own life, which is in complete disarray right now, and about what's important to me on both a personal and professional level.  When I started making my own list, I found it a bit difficult to distinguish between a life and a bucket list, so I suppose mine is a bit of an amalgamation of both.  There are certainly things I can live without, though they'd be nice (seeing London, New York and Paris) but there are many more that I can't, so for me writing these down (and updating them frequently) is a way of harnessing my natural list-making tendencies and putting them to work in achieving my dreams.

Things I would like to:
·    Get a fifth tattoo
·    And a sixth
·    Flip a house for profit
·    Ice skate on the Rideau Canal
·    Work for a not-for-profit agency
·    Host a murder mystery dinner party for friends that requires us to dress up “in character”
·    Prepare a cookbook of family recipes, and cook everything in it at least once
·    Develop an original recipe
·    Take a photography course
·    Create a family time capsule
·    Spend a night at every former CP and CN Hotel (that are still standing) and bring home a poster to commemorate it
·    Invent something useful
·    Own season’s tickets to the Raptors
·    Volunteer at an animal shelter
·    Meet Tommy Smythe
·    Meet Margaret Atwood
·    Build a porch and/or deck with my own two hands
·    Rock a fascinator
·    ... the Northern lights
·    ... a wolf pack in the wild
·    ... an NDP federal government in my lifetime
·    ... London from the top of the London Eye, Paris from the Eiffel Tower and New York from the Empire State Building
·    ... my son graduate high school
·    ... my daughter graduate high school
·    ... my son graduate university
·    ... my daughter graduate university
·    ... how to knit: a scarf, a hat, mittens and a sweater
·    ... how to hotwire a car
·    ... to converse in sign language
·    ... to embrace my ancestry
·    ... to drive stick shift
·    ... when to stop talking
·    ... to play a musical instrument
·    ... to make fresh pasta
·    ... to line dance
·    Travel with the whole family overseas to live and work for a year
·    Participate in a séance
·    Ride in a hot air balloon
·    Travel across Canada by train, east to west, in the winter time
·    Take another trip to Disney World with the kids
·    Take a trip to Disney World with our grandkids
·    Become a locavore for at least one full season
·    Spend time teaching my children how to cook our family recipes
·    Attend a Barenaked Ladies concert (the original band ... I’m hoping they’ll do a reunion tour)
·    Attend a taping of the Colbert Report
·    Watch my boys ski the Rockies
·    Eat food I’ve grown myself
·    Write a book
·    Have my work published (it doesn’t have to be the book)
·    Celebrate every year of marriage happily
·    Live entirely debt-free
·    Earn a professional award (I’m not picky about what or when)
·    Renovate and expand our kitchen, to make it the heart of our home
·    Run for the Cure
·    Own my own business
·    Become a patron of the arts
·    Have my home featured in a design and decor magazine
·    Develop a signature style
·    Make a comfortable living doing something I love
The list is designed to change over time as I cross off completed items and add new ones.  The beauty of a list like this is that it's not finite, and it will grow and change as I do.  It's my hope (and my goal!) to update it often.


15 December 2011

Eireann Go Braugh!

I have a huge appetite for shelter magazine and I read them voraciously, but I'll admit that sometimes I get a wee bit exasperated with the interviews.  I suppose there are a finite number of questions in the universe that pertain to interior decorating and design, so it's understandable that journalists tend to ask the same thing over and over of new subjects:
    What was your inspiration?
          What makes this project unique?
               What made you a good fit for your clients?

The one that I always find most interesting, though, is this one:

     Who are your design/style icons?

Say what?
  Every time I come across this question in an interview, it makes me feel a little uncomfortable and, to be honest, a little fraudulent.  After all, I intend to make interior decorating a major - if not THE major - component of my next career, and yet I couldn't tell the difference between a Billy Baldwin or Dorothy Draper design if you paid me.  I have no icons of my own ... until today!!

In researching this month's
Design This Dish, I came across a ton of designs by Kathryn Ireland and I loved ALL OF THEM.  Now, of course I'm aware of who she is ~ I've seen her work profiled in several magazines and yes, I've watched an episode or two or Million Dollar Decorators ~ but until I started my research, I didn't realize just how much I truly admired (and coveted!) her designs.  But I'll let you be the judge; could you live here?

via here
via here
via here
via here
via here
via here
via here
via here
via here
via here
via here
My first design hero
via here

Who else has favourite designers out there, whose work influences choices in your own home, or who inspire your work (if you decorate professionally)?  How did you come across their work and what is it about your style icons that speaks to you? 


12 December 2011

O Tannenbaum

The tree is up!  We spent all of yesterday shifting furniture around and digging out ornaments (during which A. positively vibrated with excitement) and just before dinner my mum and brother joined us to decorate.

Yup, our tree is faker than fake, but we purchased it our first Christmas after we were married and have loved it ever since!  Daryn and A. put it together this year; here's the little one figuring out where all the branches go
Do these lights works?  How about these ones?
Tree is fluffed and lights are on!  I generally make the branches a bit fuller when I do it myself, but Daryn and A. aren't so picky and since they took on the task this year, who am I to complain?
The second decoration is hung
(I missed the first ball - that little, pretty orange one - that she hung while I was getting the camera ready!)
J. hates having his photo taken, so blurry and with his back turned was all I could get!
The height of lazy decorating ... my brother decorates one half of one side (the part he could reach from the couch) and my kids decorated the rest

He's not the most artistic or attractive of trees, but it's never been important to me to have a beautifully curated collection of ornaments or to decorate "just so".  I see many trees that are designed more than decorated and they're gorgeous, but they're not for me.  Our tree is a hodge podge of ornaments: old and new, handmade by my kids and mass produced, multi-colored and mismatched.  It makes me happy to see our whole history as a family on our tree each year and if I have to sacrifice good looks, then so be it :)

So now all that's needed are some wrapped presents underneath!  And how about you?  How did you spend your weekend?  Anyone do anything exciting and/or festive?


10 December 2011

Crushing on Indigo

Have you ever walked into a store and wanted to take every single thing home?  And not an expensive store: obviously any one of us could easily back a moving van up to the doors Elte or Hollace Cluny and fill 'er up!  But even my favourite stores don't always tick all my boxes and it's a rare retail outlet that I walk into and pretty much want to clear the place out.

Today, however, Indigo Books and I were
sooo on the same wavelength.  I dropped in while doing some Christmas shopping this afternoon, intending to pick up a few magazines and whatnot for stockings.  Instead, I ended up finding a long list of wish-list items for myself!  I didn't buy any, of course, but that doesn't mean I can't love and admire them, and maybe share them with the world and for the benefit of my dearly beloved family and friends ... :)

Here are a few of my favourites:

1. Brass Antler Bottle Opener, $14.50
2. Large Perforated Porcelain Candleholder, $29.50
3. Gardenia Mercury Glass Candle, $30.00
4. Hand Cast Triangular Sculptured Bookend, $25.00 ~ on sale now at $10.00 each
5. Laerke Teapot, $15.50

6. Chunky Rib Pillow in Natural Wool, $39.50
7. Owl Salt & Pepper Shakers, $16.50

all photos via and products available through Indigo

Now all there is to do is sit back, relax and keep my fingers crossed that Santa thinks I've been good this year!


08 December 2011

The Christmas Decorations Cometh ...

Sometimes the simplest decorations are the prettiest, and I think the best ones are the ones you come across unintentionally.  Take for example my bowl full of beads.  When I was preparing to decorate Finny's lampshade, I clipped off red and green beads from long strands purchased from the dollar store at a buck a piece.  What I ended up with was the most lovely little bowl of Christmas cheer ...

I like them so much I think I'm going to fill another bowl for our sideboard, maybe surrounded by candles in varying heights.  Yeah, that's the ticket.

I was also excited to come across the holiday aisle at our local Superstore (which, granted, has been up for a while but I've been steadfastly ignoring it.  With the onset of December, however, I'm free to enjoy!).  My Nanny was a huge Loblaws fan and for as a long as I can remember, always did her shopping there.  So it's no wonder that nothing says "Christmas" to me quite like this ...

Specifically, this ...

Terrible photo, I know ... sorry

and this ....

and most especially, these ...

It's our Christmas tradition ~ passed on from my grandmother since the President came to market with these coordinated papers and bows ~ to purchase a new box every year, and this weekend is the weekend!  Sure, I've already purchased a few gifts and some little stocking stuffers, but this is the real deal.  And now the only question remains: which patterns should I choose???