Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The 6 places where I think I'd like to live

Well, this is just going prove again that I am capricious. My selection of places I think I'd like to live in are varied - and if I did not have to consider practicalities I would try each one of them for a bit. Or maybe that long awaited lottery winning could give me access to a selection of holiday homes, allowing me to move around as my fickle self desires.

  1. New York. I like the buzz, it's cosmopolitan and exiting, has great shopping and food, it never sleeps, it's diverse and so American. Would I love it forever? I don't know, but I'd give it a try...I'm sure we'd be in for a great adventure.
  2. Paris. I lived there as a student. I'd like to experience it as a working adult. I love the food, the shopping, the old buildings, the walkability, it's central Europe location. The city is chic, beautiful and just so uh la la. I think as a family we could manage just fine, we speak the language, we'd just have to snag ourselves a great apartment and get used to the bureaucracy.
  3. Los Roques. Los Roques is an Archipelago National Park in the Caribbean, belonging to Venezuela. It's paradise, untouched, has beautiful ins and hostels and it's one of the places where I was the most relaxed ever. I would like to run a stylish bed and breakfast, enjoy the beauty, the sun, sand, beach and ocean. Could I maintain such living for an extended time of my life? Probably not, but this is a dream, isn't it?
  4. Maledives. Los Roques was paradise in the Carribean, the Maledives are paradise in the Indian Ocean. It took me 30 minutes to walk around my island. No TV, no radio, just sand, sun, reefs, ocean and good food. It's exotic, it's remote - again, a perfect place to welcome tourists or become a dive instructor. I'm sure my kids would love the home schooling and beach life, right?
  5. Amalfi coast. Who would not love Italian living and be at the ocean? I'd get my ocean fix, great food and history. I'd be with stylish Italians and live in a beautiful part of Europe. I'd really have to work on my Italian, not quite up to par anymore- but la vita Italianita would be sublime.
  6. Cyprus. And last but not least, Cyprus would be on my list. It's where West meets East, it's Mediterranean, has a lot of history, great food and diverse landscape. The beaches are beautiful and the people are welcoming and friendly. I'd probably have to have some kind of tourist related job and I don't speak Greek or Turkish, mhhh, could be a problem.

If jobs, languages, family and such would not be an obstacle, where would you like to live for a while?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Me? Really?

Thanks to Nat from Style-ing with Children for passing me the stylish blogger award. I am humbled and pleased that she enjoys reading my blog.

Now I need to tell you seven things that you don't know about me. This is proving to be harder than I thought:

1. My absolute dream would be to live in a house right by the beach.
2. I was born in Toronto, but grew up in Switzerland.
3. I sold all my stuff, packed my bags and moved to Canada in 2003 - just for a change.
4. I met my husband online.
5. I really enjoy watching Formula 1 car races.
6. I import chocolate powder from Switzerland for the perfect glass of chocolate milk.
7. Sunflowers make me happy.

I'm nominating two food blogs, one is my dear friend at foodieinberlin and the other is Rosie from Sweetapolita. Both of them do wonderful things with food. Check them out.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Custom Bench Part II

Finally the day arrived. Our kitchen corner bench is finished, has cushions and a custom table! The bench itself has been done for a while now, but I've been delayed on the cushions for a bit. First the fabric was delayed, then the wrong fabric was delivered and lastly - making cushions is much harder than making throw pillows. I totally underestimated the challenges a fitted cushion cover has (8 corners, straight seems, wrangling in the foam) and making them in vinyl will be great for clean up, but is really hard to handle. It's sticky, stubborn and really thick, which makes that final manual hem a painful experience. Although not perfect, it's done and they will serve their purpose well.

My hubby made the table. We were looking for a rough unfinished wood table with steel legs. We used 2 inch thick white oak which is sanded to be smooth but does not have any stain or even protective finish. Any future stains and marks will be left and/or sanded going forward. The size is perfect and it's nice and heavy and won't move on the tiled floor.

The throw pillows were the easy part of the job. I'm at a point where I can whip those up in 15 minutes a piece, which is nice.
I'm glad one of our key projects is done. I'm really enjoying the extra seating, the storage and the table top for food prep, baking or other activities. The one thing I'd do differently? I'd probably spend the money to have the covers done professionally...I know it's expensive, but for me it was a painful experience. I realized that my sewing skills are no where close to where they were when I was 13.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Playroom!

In our last home the playroom was in the basement and no matter what the weather was it felt cold and uncomfortable. So when we searched for this house, having an above grade space for family time was top of our check list. Well, you see here what that space looked like originally. Pros where the above ground location and bright space, cons were the faux wood panelling, icky carpet, weird ceiling panels and challenging shape.

The playroom was our big renovation priority along with a new heating and cooling system. My hubby did all of the work except for the carpet install. He and his buddy's enjoyed the demolition, then there was some framing, insulation (sound insulation in the ceiling), drywalling, allot of mudding, sanding and painting and tataaaaaaa our big renovation was done.

Now, why am I posting a year after completion? Well, I was not writing a blog back then and the biggest challenge was to take a picture of the space when it's tidy.

We really like this added living space, we have our office here so we get to spend time at the computer while the kids are playing. We put down another carpet, despite the tendency for stains, just to have a soft area to sit and muck around. Once the kids are older we'll take up the carpet and finish the hardwood underneath. One thing that did not work according to plan was the magnetic paint we used on the large wall. We put on two coats and most things won't stay put, so I've had to revert to push pins for all the art that M and D create. Have you used magnetic paint successfully?

I also love the bright window, the storage, the built in speakers and we took full advantage of some of the strange nooks by building in the desk. Sometimes I wonder if we should have just painted over the panelling in order to get the job done faster? Not sure. Doing this kind of work with two little kids was hard and took much longer than anticipated.

Happy birthday to our playroom and to many more hours of fun!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Crafty St. Patty's day

My kids were asked to show up at daycare wearing green to celebrate the luck of the Irish. Eagerly we rifled through our closets and I was surprised that my kids have a very limited assortment of green clothing. I managed to get M. dressed in a very pale green shirt and D. sported a mossy green polo.

To upgrade the St. Patty's feel we decided to craft some pins with cupcake liners, craft paper, pipe cleaners, painted green paper and a lot of glue. M was very happy to help in the creation. Both kids wore them with pride and M's actually survived the day!

Did you wear green or drink green beer?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

9 ways to keep your sanity with kids

Being a parent isn't easy and it's near impossible to prepare for the vast changes you go through as a family. It starts of with sleepless nights, immense masses of laundry and continuous feedings. But as they grow and change, so do the challenges you face. Ours are now 3.5 and 2 years old. M is our girl, and D is her younger brother - we love them both to death, but its incredible how they can drive us crazy.

So here's a short list of what we try to do to keep our sanity while we go through the daily adventures of having young kids.

1. Divide and conquer. This is key when you have more than one child. Don't try to do everything together all the time, you'll fail and everyone will be in a foul mood.

2. Eat out at a restaurant or coffee shop with your children from an early age. You'll get a break in doing all the cooking at home and your kids learn to behave in different situations. Don't be discouraged if you have a bad outing, the next one could be faboulous. Also, be realistic of where you take them, the multi-star rated place where they expect silence is probably not the right choice, but it doesn't have to be the golden arches either.

3. Your kids will be in a bad mood some days, as will you - accept it, don't try to fix it and don’t take it personally.

4. Plan outdoor activities even when it's rainy or cold. It will allow the little ones to be loud, excerpt energy and get fresh air. You'll be amazed at how much easier bed time is.

5. Plan family vacations at least once a year. All of you need a change of scenery and schedules. Don't expect vacations to be restful (you're not on your honeymoon!), but you’ll make incredible memories that even little ones will remember.

6. Organize regular date time. We book our babysitter once a month ahead of time, just to ensure some adult time. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a couple of hours without kids. Also think of times you'd want a babysitter during the day, to go shopping, have lunch or go to an early cocktail.

7. Ensure you have me time. Something you like to do on your own - be it creative, sports related, coffee time with a friend, a beer with a buddy. You need time that is not related to your family commitments.

8. Switch duties with your partner on a regular basis to avoid resentment or thoughts of the other having the easier job. We switch bedtime duties each night; this allows both of us to spend one bedtime with the little one, the other night with the older one. Same with cooking, craft time, etc. It also allows your kids to think of both of you as equals and involved in everything, rather than crafting only being a ‘mommy’ thing.

9. Involve your kids in activities around the house, such as baking, cooking, doing laundry, folding laundry, hanging pictures, shoveling snow. We think of many of these things as chores, but they think they are amusing and they try so hard to do well. You might take a little longer, but one day you'll have to force them to shovel that path and now they want to help, so go for it.

These are things that work well for us, and they still manage to drive me bananas at times, so go figure. Anything that works really well for you?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stale bread can be so good

Mix some egg, milk, vanilla and sugar and stale white bread turns into a beautiful breakfast along with sirup and berries. Hope all of you had a sweet weekend. We had very well behaved kids and a wonderful two days.

One photo a week - 11/52

Our cat Leo is almost 17 years old and is a master in demonstrating what the good life really is. Looking at him we keep saying that he's got it all figured out and that we want to come back as Leo in our next life. Lot's of sleep, good food, a little in and out, occasional wonder he's aging so well.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Me time

Every parent knows that having 'me time' is essential in keeping your sanity. Now it's not always easy to find that time and even harder to have some consistent time away from your kids. In October I decided to sign up for a class in pottery, offered by the city. I had done some pottery in high school and I remembered that I really enjoyed it. I wanted something I could literally sink my hands into while having a creative outlet.

Well, here I am six months in and am surprising myself with my patience. I tend to want to be good at something right away or not do it at all - this is not like that. I started off really small, dinky, crooked and was a little discouraged. But I was having fun, so I continued. I'm getting a little better now, a little more consistent - I am seeing very slow progress. Most importantly though, I am taking 2.5 hours every Wednesday night and am doing something just for me...I'm getting my hands dirty, I'm having good and bad days, I have ideas that I can implement and sometimes not...but I'm having fun.

So here's to 'me time' and my family and friends that will be getting pots, bowls and mugs for every upcoming birthday and will hopefully not be too disappointed in their less than perfect appearance.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I'm taking an online course on blogging, which includes some work on photos and photo styling. I'm really enjoying the content, in particular the photography lessons. Our homework last week was to create a mood board and this is what I created. Maybe it's the dreadful dump of snow we got, or the fact that spring is not in sight yet...but all of the things in this picture make me think of water and ocean and summer days and I can't wait for winter to be over.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

One photo a week - 10/52

Banana bread with chocolate chips for breakfast, fresh flowers and a pretty cup. Some sweet things to brighten up yet another snowy weekend.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Little red bed

I seem to be drawn to red these days. I would never wear red, but I keep adding a splash of red, particularly with blue. I've done it in the playroom and the mudroom and now my son's room.

D. turned two last week and I told you how I was painting the pine toddler bed red. Well, the painting is done, the bed assembled without the IKEA instructions (!) and we are having a rough weekend getting the little man to adjust to the change.

First he did not want us to disassemble his crib and kept throwing his blanket and pillow back in. Once it was out of the room he was ok with the new bed, but thinks it's just a game - no way he'll be sleeping in this thing! Well, two very long 'going to bed times' in and we have no choice but to buckle down. Both times he fell asleep because he was exhausted - as was I!

Anyway, one big step forward and the room is turning from a blue and green nursery to a red and blue toddler room. Oh, and this bed will grow with him, it expands to a full twin.