Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Doormat


Our front door faces north and is not covered very well from the elements. In the past we've tried a couple of doormats and were not impressed with how wet they stayed after extensive rain. So when we gave our front door a face lift we also addressed the doormat issue and decided to tackle this Martha Stewart one.

It's super easy and I like how it turned out. My hubby used his table saw to cut the pieces and finally had a legitimate reason to use his drill press - allowing for perfectly spaced holes, time after time. The only thing that bothers me slightly is that the slats are not always perfectly aligned due to the flexibility of the rope. Hubby thinks we could use dowels to separate the slates if we attempt another mat, which would make it more rigid.

Now we have a doormat that drains dirt and water and dries after a big rainstorm. Not too shabby, right?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

One photo a week - 22/52

M had her first ballet recital yesterday. She did quite well and most importantly she had a lot of fun. She was quite pleased that her costumes were purple and had a lot of sparkles. Amazing what a girly girl she really is.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One photo a week - 21/52

Top of the CN Tower, 134 floors up! Taken with an iPad, excuse the quality but it captures the view through the glass floor and my daughter not scared at all!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The big city



Last weekend was a long weekend here in Canada. In addition to the Monday off, we also took Tuesday off and headed to the big city - Toronto. Our drive down went quite well with only minor toddler complaints. Let me tell you - the hotel room bunk beds, the pool and the hotel craft centre were an absolute hit with them!

Holidays with the little ones is never a vaction, they take extra time, their moods are fickle and they get hungry and tired quite quickly. However, a big city holiday is just that tad bit more difficult - I never realized in the past how much more traffic there is in down-town TO, the crowds, the stairs to the subway, etc. After a while they would both just give up and hubby and I built up our biceps carrying them around the city. (a stroller would not have helped with all the stairs). It was hard, but we had a great time, we saw some really touristy things, we did 0 shopping, we ate a lot of junk food, had an exeptional visit to the zoo and best of all - both kids fell asleep at 8pm all three nights - we were shocked and super pleased! Best gift ever!

My hubby drove back today with the kids and I stayed for work and will be taking the plane back on Thursday. I walked and walked today, browsed through stores and had to wrap my head around not having a schedule, no place to be and no kids to look after. I'm finding it difficult to just think about 'me' time - I miss my little family already and then I tell myself that this is good for me...time away, every mom needs that from time to time, right? It's just telling that the only purchases I made today were for a handsome man, a beautiful girl and gorgeous little boy...mhhh, I should at least go out and get a pair of shoes, right?

PS: I wanted to post my photo of the week on Sunday - taken on our iPad - but technology got in the way and I'll have to post week 21 when I get back home.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Road trip with kids - a few tips


Now that D is 2 years old, travelling is getting a little easier for our family of four. We decided to take the upcoming long weekend as an opportunity to get out of the city for a change of scenery and routine. We're packing up the car and driving to big ol' Toronto where the buildings are tall, the shops are a plenty, the hotel room is great and the pool is provided. We know it won't be easy, but we need to get out of our rut and expand our horizon a little.
Planning this road trip reminds me of the things that have worked for us in the past and will hopefully make this trip more pleasant as well.
  1. Bring two separate DVD players or other electronic entertainment. It will keep them engaged for a while and avoid fights (my turn, I don't want Dora, etc.)
  2. Bring snacks and drinks. There is nothing worse than hungry kids strapped in a car seat.
  3. Travel during times that are conducive to a nap. Every minutes that they are sleeping makes the trip easier.
  4. Get the biggest hotel room you can afford, the more space you have as a family the more pleasant your stay will be. Having a kitchen and a pool will make the experience so much better.
  5. Let your kids pick some toys they want to bring along. Allowing them to choose engages them and makes the trip a fun experience.
  6. Traveling by car allows you to have a little suitcase for each child - again, they get to pack their own bag and it makes it much more exiting.
  7. Bring favourite bed time books to keep some familiar routine in the new environment.
  8. Our older daughter loves to see where we are going - showing maps, Google street view and the GPS feature keeps them interested in the journey ahead.
  9. Don't forget Tylenol/Advil and Band Aids - you don't want to be running around for a pharmacy when your kid is feeling ill.
  10. Things are not going to go smoothly all the time - roll with the punches and don't take things too seriously - you are on vacation after all.
Any suggestions you have to make our road trip with kids a pleasant experience? Do you travel with your kids?
PS: according to random.org the winner of the birthday give-away is Carrie! Please contact me so I can arrange mailing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My chocolate mousse


My friend Suzy posted a recipe for chocolate mousse last week. In her post she mentions the mousse I've been making for years. I was taught the recipe in cooking class with the TipTopf cookbook. Most Swiss will be very familiar with this book as it covers anything from a delicious mousse, to baking bread, how to prepare meats and fish and traditional Swiss meals. If I'm ever looking for a straight forward recipe that goes back to basics - TipTopf is my choice.

I don't need the book for this recipe anymore - I make it for most potlucks or when I'm asked to bring dessert. It's simple, fast, transportable and soooooo good. I didn't actually make it this week - there was no reason to have such decadence in our fridge, but Suzy asked for the recipe, so here goes...

Chocolate Mousse
(adapted from TipTopf)
serves 4 very generously

  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 100g of high quality dark chocolate (I usually use 150g)
  • 2 dl of whipping cream (almost 1 cup)

  • Beat eggs and sugar until fluffy
  • Beat eggs whites until stiff
  • Beat cream until whipped
  • Melt chocolate
(I learned to melt chocolate by breaking it up in pieces and putting it in a heat proof bowl and then pouring boiling water over it. The oil of the chocolate keeps the water on top. Let it stand for a couple of minutes until the chocolate is soft and melted then carefully pour out water. I still find this to be the fastest and best way to melt chocolate.)

  • Combine egg/sugar mixture with melted chocolate
  • Carefully fold in egg whites
  • Carefully add whipped cream.

Make sure to combine well, but don't over-stir as you'll loose the 'bubbles' that make mousse so special.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. You can serve the mousse in individual cups/bowls or you can refrigerate your large bowl and scoop out nice sized servings with an ice cream scoop or large serving spoon. Serve with shavings of chocolate or berries.


Photos: 1, 2

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One photo a week - 20/52

My little guy likes to give me flowers - he picks them from my garden and hands them over with great pride. His sister picks them by plucking them at the bottom of their stems allowing for a nice presentation in a vase - 2 year old D does not do that - he plucks them close to their heads leaving short little stems. This is were I gather little tiny cups and display them on my kitchen window sill...I might not have any tulips left in my garden, but I get to see them every day in my kitchen...

PS: don't forget your chance to win a piece of jewellery, see details here!

Friday, May 13, 2011

We are turning 1 - do you want a gift?

After blogger.com went down for a good 24 hours and deleted my post, let's try again!

Fishly News is turning one this week and I've decided to give you guys a chance to win this beautiful necklace by Andrea Waines. It's sterling silver, sits right on your collar bone, is handcrafted in Canada and reads: Play each day.

This blog allows me to play - it gives me creative outlet, pushes me to take more photos, allows me to share stories and communicate with people across the globe. Thank you to all that follow along.

To enter:
  1. leave a comment on how YOU play each day
  2. follow my blog
Give away closes: CLOSED
Winner: One
Price ships: Anywhere in the world
Announcement: The winner will be chosen by random number generator and I'll post the winners name in an update.

Andrea does not know that I am giving away this necklace, she did not make me write about her jewelery, but I find her pendants and earrings to be so cute and her messages are meaningful on so many levels.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Our door gets a face lift

This is the entrance to our house as of last week. Our front door was an issue from the day we viewed our house. The picture below shows you the original burgundy colour which we lived with for 1.5 years. It matched the original garage door which we had to replace our first week owning the house and the burgundy vinyl shutters you can see bits of in below picture. We removed the ugly shutters last year, replaced our house numbers and the mailbox.
The reason the door only got a face lift last week was that we could not decide what we wanted to do with it. We had people come in and give us quotes for a new door, but the cost was quite high and I did not like any standard versions readily available. I also felt that the original 1.5 inch thick solid cedar door should be preserved if possible.
I learnt a lot of things when I started researching 1950s doors.
First, they are 1-3 inches taller than a standard door today, which makes replacing them quite costly.
Second, doors in those days did not have dead bolts and when we first got the house our only 'lock' mechanism was that tiny round push lock on the inside!
Third, because of lack of dead bolt, door handles were placed a good 1.5 inches farther in on a door, which meant that our deadbolt installation led to a our handle not being aligned with the bolt hardware. You might come across this 'diagonal' look when passing 1950s houses.

Once we decided to refurbish rather than replace there was quite a bit of work to be done.
  • Sanded down door to wood (removed 3 coats of paint)
  • Cut out new hole for hardware
  • Filled old hole, sanded, filled, sanded, etc.
  • Removed old storm door hardware which was just 'hanging out' without a door to go with it
  • Replaced all insulation strips
  • Painted 4 coats of BM space black
  • Painted door frame in BM branchport brown to match grout of brick
  • Painted interiour door side white to brighten up our darkest corner of the house

I'm sure this won't be our forever door, but I think the improvement is big and as usual my hubby did most of the grunt work, so kudos to him!
These are few examples of how 'new' doors look like that have that 1950s vibe. I also really like Karen's new door that she had made for her California house.
Our next step is to paint our sage coloured siding, address the concrete paint on the stairs, remove the planter hook and look at options to replace the railing.

Do you try and restore the old, or do you replace as much as possible?


Sunday, May 8, 2011

One photo a week -19/52

Hope all of you are enjoying your weekend. Finally the sun has come out and we are spending many hours outside. Happy Mothers-day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Find the blue

Sources: 1,2,3,4
I posted about changes to my bedroom the other day and how I added some blue for the summer. Then I looked at Coastal Living magazine and I looked at my house and confirmed that blue is indeed my favourite colour. I try different colours, but I always go back to blue. My wedding colour was blue with green, our first nursery was blue, my powder room is blue, I own a lot of blue clothing and all of my couch cushions are different shades of blue. So I wandered over to my Pinterest boards and gathered more blue...
Source: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
I find blue to be incredibly versatile. You can have the cottage/beach blue, mod blue, 80s blue, dark and light blue - I find most spaces decorated with blue to be fresh, crisp and happy.
Source: 1,2,3,4
All of these images make me want to infuse blue into all of our rooms. While I think blue is used a lot in bathrooms, I have not seen a lot of blue kitchens or bedrooms. Blue used on exteriors seems to be more common close to the ocean.
Source: 1,2,3,4
Do you have a go-to colour? Or do you stick with neutrals or use the entire colour palette?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The blues



For the first time ever I decided to switch a couple of things in our master bedroom for the summer. In our master we have neutral walls and when I first decorated I looked for warm browns to complement the floors and our original wooden closet doors. I also used some yellow found in a piece of art and introduced yellow with cushions, items on our barn board shelf and our curtains. It's a very comfortable and warm room - but I had this urge for a small change and to 'summarize it' a little. So I introduced blue.
I switched our bedding to pure white and added some blue pillows and a blue quilt. Then I changed some items on the shelf above our dresser, took out the yellow items and added blue ones.
I bought some very reasonably priced curtain panels at IKEA with blue polka dots. They are bright and quite sheer, allowing a lot of light to pour in the room through the two windows.


We have not spent a lot of money on our master bedroom, there are always other priorities in our house that seem to make investment into the master move down the list. We have a very basic bed and dresser, our window treatments are not custom, but I've gathered a couple of pieces that I really like, such as the Tibetan side table and our custom barn board shelf. Maybe one day we'll get a fancy bed or even a great rug, but I think these little seasonal changes are adding interest to our room and I'm quite liking it, especially as my only purchase was the curtain panels.

Do you change your decor according to seasons? Is your master bedroom top of the list for re-decorating or does it never make it on the list?

PS: sorry about some of the bad lighting. I've not had much luck being home on sunny days.