Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Reading III

While we are off on our beach vacation, I am leaving you with a small Summer Reading list. I asked each one of  these wonderful bloggers a couple of questions to give you an idea of who they are. I hope that you enjoy these blogs as much as I do and that you visit often.

Today being Friday it's about food. These two  wonderful food bloggers are not only brilliant cooks but also amazing photographers that draw you in with every post.


Sprouted Kitchen: Never has healthy food looked so good. With photos that draw you right in, Sprouted Kitchen gets you every time. The authors of 'The Sprouted Kitchen' cookbook make your stomach grumble.

1. What is your favourite blog that you can't wait to read as soon as a new post is published?
Oh man, I can't pick just one! I love the writing on Seven Spoons, Happyyolks and Smitten Kitchen. I love Heidi's ideas at 101cookbooks, Ashley's creativity on Not Without Salt and I have a dozen more I check often. 

2. How is it to work on cooking a meal with a camera documenting all your steps?
I am pretty quick in the kitchen, so it's tough for me to slow down so Hugh can document the process a bit. Even when he is photographing something, I move on to the next step because I can't handle being still in the kitchen! It's a place of productivity for me, just standing around drives me nuts. I've gotten better because I realize he can only do what he does well, when I give him the tool to do so by slowing down :) It's fun to do together, good for both of us!

Not Without Salt: Fresh seasonal recipes and exotic travel - all documented with amazing photography and great story telling. Ashley's tomato pesto is my favourite.

1. What is your favourite blog that you can't wait to read as soon as a new post is published?
Both Sprouted Kitchen and Seven Spoons - Those are the two that force me to drop everything if I see a new post is up. With beautiful imagery and dreamy words they lift me out of the chaos of the day to day and fill me with inspiration and fresh burst of energy.

2. How does all your travel affect your cooking and photography style?
I LOVE visiting new places for many reasons but mostly because of the new flavors I'm introduced to. Coming home from Morocco I began to add mint and preserved lemon to everything. Back from Belgium I braised pounds and pounds of beef in beer and dipped whatever I could get my hands on into tangy vinegar-spiked mayonnaise. And most recently I've been tucking coconut and rum into things having returned from the Caribbean. I love the recipes these places inspire and the world of flavors they open me up to.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Reading II

While we are off on our beach vacation, I am leaving you with a small Summer Reading list. I asked each one of  these wonderful bloggers a couple of questions to give you an idea of who they are. I hope that you enjoy these blogs as much as I do and that you visit often.


Today we're talking pretties - little things and small projects that can pretty up your home or add a special something to your party. DIY inspiration, colour inspiration, glitter, tissue, flowers and all.


House of Earnest: Hand made projects and party style made easy. You'll love Erin's style and easy projects - lot's of fun DIY to be found here!                                                                     

1. What is your favourite blog that you can't wait to read as soon as a new post is published? 
I think it depends on what I'm after that day. If I just want a quick design fix, I usually go to Note to Self, if I want to spark my mind with innovative creativity for my DIY mindset, I cannot miss Oh Happy Day, and if I want to just swoon and beautiful things, I usually head to Snippet and Ink.

2. How does your day job affect your blog style and things you write about?  
That's a hard question! My day job requires long hours at an office away from home, which means that I do less hands-on projects than what I would otherwise do. I think I've found a nice balance of projects that can be done easily in a weekend, because that is all the time I have to spend on them too!

A Subtle Revelry: Party styling done differently - lots of pretty details and hand-made touches. Always a bit of whimsy and out of the box ideas. Creator of the great e-mag Styled.

1. What is your favourite blog that you can't wait to read as soon as a new post is published?
I am an avid reader of many blogs on a daily basis, but one that stands out as a recent obsession is Alli's blog hooray. She just did a site redesign and every photo she snaps is more inspiring then the last.

2. How does your day with twin toddlers affect your blog?
The joy of having toddlers running around while I work is that there are always two perfect models to grab:) They really do bring so much inspiration, dimension and life to my work. The downside is that I often end up with an extra smudge here or an imperfection there, but even that has found it's way to grow on me.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Reading I

While we are off on our beach vacation, I am leaving you with a small Summer Reading list. I asked each one of  these wonderful bloggers a couple of questions to give you an idea of who they are. I hope that you enjoy these blogs as much as I do and that you visit often.

Today I'll introduce you to some great DIY talent - be it little party projects, full-fledged furniture builds or colourful flea market updates. Enjoy! 


Chez Larsson: Benita is a power house to be reckoned with on the DIY front. She'll tackle anything to make her home fit her needs while staying true to her clean and fresh look.

1. What is your favourite blog that you can't wait to read as soon as a new post is published?
I'm always eager to read Young House Love. Sherry, John and I share the DIY bug, that's for sure :). Another (Swedish) favorite is House of Philia.
2. What is the most complex DIY that you accomplished in your current home that makes you smile every time you see it?
The front yard of my house which was such a big weed ridden mess and is now a river pebble n' concrete paradise. The difference is so huge I almost can't believe it myself when I approach the house coming home from work at night.


Young House Love: A young couple, a little girl, a tiny dog and lots of love for their work-in progress house. You'll find inspiring DIY home renovations, garden updates, furniture builds or even party planning - nothing too scary for Young House Love.

1. What is your favourite blog that you can't wait to read as soon as a new post is published?
I love reading my friend Katie's blog, Bower Power, since we're friends in real life and it makes me feel connected to her and her projects. I have about a million favorite home blogs though, haha, so it's hard to pick just one!

2. If you won the lottery tomorrow, what project would you tackle?
Ooh, that's fun! I think my fantasy project would be to reconfigure the roof-line of our house. You know, add some peaks to our flat little ranch so it's full of charm and dimension from the curb? Maybe someday...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Food Files

In summer I try to use the BBQ as much as possible - it's fast and keeps the heat outside. We usually cook our greens outside as well - this time it was bok choy with a hint of hoisin sauce.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Teacher gift with a twist

It's that time of year - teacher's gifts! M has her last day of school tomorrow. We kept it simple with a lemon fresh twist.  An IKEA glass jug, some beautiful yellow lemons and a bag of fine sugar will do the trick this year. M helped me assemble the packages and I created a tag. The tag says: "Have a refreshing summer". Fast, sweet, simple and doesn't break the bank.

Photo by Jeff Kauck Photography 
type arrangement by me

Monday, June 18, 2012

With happy thoughts...and sprinkling of pixie dust

We did it! The sun was shinning, the cupcakes were baked, the tables were made and the kids all came. M celebrated her upcoming 5th birthday with pirates and fairies and had a grand time. We almost ran into some issues after learning that Canada is having a helium shortage (?) and therefore we had trouble finding all the balloons we needed - but 30 minutes before the party we got them to the house - ufff!

We had a pirate table covered in a great pirate tablecloth that my boss lent me, the great pirate flags were also from her. We dragged out one of our halloween skulls, added favour bags and a set of very popular pirate swords. The favour bags had the Disney Peter Pan book, an eye patch, fairy wand and stickers in them - and enough room to carry home the piñata loot.

Food and drinks were found on the 'waterfall' table which we made with strips of fabric and streamers.

Bruno got a large piece of plywood and finished it with some stain we had left over. Balanced on two recycling bins it was the perfect table for 12. M chose gold cups and plates because pirates and fairies dine off gold.

The kids loved the 'walk the plank' and I opted to get a regular store bought piñata, but covered it in happier looking paper. We filled it with candy, pencils, chocolate coins, necklaces and other little pirate treasures. We also dispersed a ton of gold coins throughout the wooded areas of the yard - all the kids spent so much time hunting for their treasure - this was such an easy and fun activity!

Vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese icing and the cupcake toppers made for a great afternoon snack - we served it with ice cream because of the afternoon heat.  At the end we turned on the sprinkler and everyone was very happy.

I'm ready for a 2 day nap now - going to Montreal the day before a birthday party is not advisable, it made everything just a bit more stressful than it would normally be - that, and the helium shortage!

**Oh, and I got a bubble machine which is sooo worth it! They have a great selection at ToysRUs.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Food Files

Last weekend we celebrated my grandmother's 85th birthday with this Martha Stewart Raspberry Cream Layer Cake. Pretty and pink - and few things are better than a buttery cake with whipped cream and smashed berries.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pirates and Fairies

Invite without address information
M's birthday is the beginning of July, during summer vacation. Because of that, we decided to have her party a couple of weeks in advance. We sent out these invites - a theme that M chose.

We'll be incorporating a couple of Never Land references throughout the party. And because I'm away in Montreal the day before the party, I decided to buy cupcake toppers on Etsy rather than baking a cake - this will make basic vanilla cupcakes pretty.

We also want to have a crocodile piñata, which I have yet to find. We've seen owls, dogs, horses and many more animals, but no crocodiles - we've got all the pirate loot to fill a piñata, so maybe I'll have to make one myself following Jordan's instructions?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Visiting Raincoast Cottage

I'm over at Raincoast cottage today sharing the space where we create. Thanks Sandra for having me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tuesday Nights

Every Tuesday Night in Spring and early Summer we head out to the soccer field. If weather permits we eat our dinner picnic style on the field before the games starts - it's a family affair. Next year, D will be joining the team on Monday night, so we'll be outside twice a week. It's great when it's warm and sunny - not so much when rainy and cold. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Food Files

Don't blueberries scream summer? I'm liking how the bright noon time sun and the dark blue of the berries create a summery colour palette. 

The berries are on sale at the store right now so we got a lot of them to eat for breakfast and snacks.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You said

I want to thank all of you that took the time to answer a couple of questions - I really appreciate your comments. You might wonder why I put together a survey in the first place? Since my blog is a diary of things that happen to me and my family, why would I care what people think?

Well, I wanted to figure out some of the inconsistencies that I was seeing on my comments, versus my google analytics and things that were being pinned. At times I felt that posts that I didn't care that much for got very high readership and reactions, while others that I truly enjoyed felt like they fell flat with you guys. Should I care? Probably not. Do I wonder? Yes, I do. Do these survey results solve the mystery? A little bit.

Here are some of the highlights that came out of the survey:
  • You guys REALLY like the renovation and home-decor posts, followed closely by photography. This blog never started out as a design blog - looking back at 2010, I only posted about decor or renovations four times. But as we kept working on our house, these topics became more relevant in our day to day, and I've been having some nice conversations with my readers about this topic. I'm sure it will remain a big part of this blog as we still have a long list of things we want to tackle.
  • Feeding into result #1 - you guys want to see even more renos and home tours. I will continue with those posts because I truly enjoy them. 
  • But you also want so see more posts on parenting. I found this interesting.The thoughts on parenting will probably pop up here and there. I find those posts particularly hard to write - not because they are very profound or I'm some psychology expert, but not rambling and gathering my thoughts in a manner that is digestible is incredibly hard. I also don't want to offend anyone and I don't want to sound presumptuous. So I'm glad you enjoy them, but they won't be a regular feature.
  • Someone wanted to see more messes and I guess that's fair, as photos on my house tour are taken when things are at their best. However, showing a pile of laundry needed to be folded isn't really something I need to remember 20 years down the road, is it? And don't we all have splatters of toothpaste on our sinks and sand in our entryway? It seems like everyone now wants to see each others mess - but why? Don't you tidy up a little before you welcome guests over for dinner? Why wouldn't I tidy up a bit before I welcome you to my house through my blog?
  • A whole bunch of you skipped the question of what you you'd like to see less of, so the results are not very clear. I guess that's a good sign? Nothing out there that really bugs you.
  • Consensus was that I comment enough in the comment section, that I give enough information about pricing, but a little more would be great, and that I share enough of my personal life - although you wouldn't mind hearing more from time to time.
  • You guys are mostly happy with the amount of times I post and the way the blog is designed.
  • Two specific comments I wanted to respond to - not to post on a defined schedule, but rather when I have something to post and the other was about wanting to see more writing.
    • Having a schedule is very helpful for me, people who know me personally know that I'm very organized, like to plan ahead and love schedules. I like to know when things happen and how. I like to control things as much as I can and posting on a schedule really keeps this endeavor more pleasant and calming for me. If I really don't have anything to say I probably wouldn't post that day, but most times I could post five or more times a week if I had the time to do it. Implementing the schedule last year, really streamlined this hobby and I think takes less time away from my family and makes my time in front of the computer more efficient. I might reconsider the amount of posts a week, but I'll most likely stick to a schedule.
    • On writing more: I'm not a writer, I never considered myself a writer. English is not the first language I learned to write as a child. Although I've had to write for my job on occasion, I don't see myself as a writer at all. I am a visual person and I'll try to describe my thoughts and reasoning as best I can, but I will never write a novel.
I hope my comments give you a little insight and I want to thank you again for the time you spend here and the conversations we share - they really mean a lot to me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lightning storm and another project

Last week we had a huge lightning storm. We were on the road at the time so we parked at the Ottawa River and watched the storm come in. The lightning and thunder were an impressive play of nature. Unfortunately there was some damage to our neighbourhood, power went out for some houses for 24 hours and some very large trees came crashing down. 

We got this tree stump from a neighbour a block or so away. We took it before the city came to pick it up. The tree came down completely and the root system was torn out of the ground - the roots were at least 10 foot high, so you can imagine the size of the tree - this stump is just a miniscule part of it. I always find it sad when those huge trees come down, they are so old and really define the look of a street.

This stump is going to be our next project for the bathroom. While I need to wait quite a while for the wood to fully dry our plan is to sand it and make a stool out of it. Either finished with polyurethane or a fun coloured top. It will tuck perfectly next to the bathtub.

*It was fun to see my top picture published on the CBC news site that night (the power of Twitter).

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Food Files

Easy dinner at the Doyle household - chicken or beef with salsa, peppers and some Monterey Jack cheese in a soft tortilla. Served with sour cream for dipping and we've got some happy little dinner guests. If I'm lucky I get to add some beans, but that decreases the likelihood of the food being eaten.