Wednesday, June 30, 2010

School's Out Baby!

Okay folks, it's that time of year again.  School is out for another year.  Let the wild rumpus begin.  Are you celebrating it's end or are you fear ridden by it's sudden approach?  I have friends who fall into both categories but I will share with you that I am definitely in the celebration camp.  Mind you, this is only the first day.  

So this is how the first day has unfolded so far.  I slept in.  Ahhh, already I love summer.  I spent time lounging around in pj's, sipping coffee and watching my daughter perform various dances and singing a very heartfelt rendition of "Any Dream Will Do" from the play Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.   My son and husband went to the bank to open up a bank account for my son who has a paper route now and will need somewhere to stash all the bags of money he'll be earning.  Both kids were invited out by friends which left me with time on my hands so I went to the gym.  Only one child has returned home and it's almost dinner time.  Day one has left me looking forward to day two.  

One of the survival strategies I put in place each year that works brilliantly is to create a list for each of the little darlings that includes summer rules.  There is essentially a "must do" category followed by a "don't even think about it" category.  This works because it sets out on paper all the things that we expect and this minimizes the yelling and fighting.  

I am also going to try a new list this year.  I want to create a list of things that the family decides should be done before the end of summer.  It can be simple things like eat ice cream at the beach or it can be more out-of-the-ordinary things such as whale watching.  Once the list is created, it will give us some direction for our long, lazy days.  I know I need that to stay focussed or the summer will slip by.  We will work on our list over the next couple of days but here is my current list that includes both family activities as well as fun without the kids:

- Spend Canada Day at the beach with friends and family listening to Lilith Fair (we decided against the $100 ticket price so we won't see it but certainly will hear it);
- Go to Whistler and try zip lining for the first time;
- Attend Theatre Under the Stars to watch my friend Lori perform;
- Spend a weekend visiting friends Kris, Andy & Piper in the Okanagan;
- Visit Tofino with friends visiting from Ontario;
- Try surfing in Tofino with said friends;
- Go whale watching in Tofino with said friends;
- Visit Ontario;
- Lounge by Ginny & Marty's pool playing lifeguard and bartender.  (Don't worry, all the kids could outswim me any day of the week);
- Go bike riding...lots;
- Increase my running time by 10 minutes;
- Do an art project with the kids (ideas?);
- Cook one meal per week with my daughter;
- Bake a cake;
- Visit Seattle with the family for the first time;
- Go sea kayaking at Deep Cove with the family;
- Read any book on my bookshelf that hasn't been previously read;

So this is the very partial list.  What do you have on your summertime list and what do you think I should add to mine?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Decorating with Flowers

 Very often I pass a flower market that sells gorgeous orchids and I think about buying myself one...but never have.  I was just gifted with a beautiful orchid this weekend and now that it's in my home I feel like I will always need to have one.  There's something simple and elegant about an orchid that brightens up an area or an entire room.  I will confess that I am terrified of killing this beautiful flower as I have with so many other plants that have made their short way to my care.  I am told they are easy to care for and require only occasional watering.  Hmmm, we'll see about that.  I am going to do a little research and hope to swell with pride that I am able to keep the orchid healthy and blooming.  I will let you know if the lovely flower survives however, if it doesn't you will never hear another word about it...ever!

This newest arrival got me thinking about how often I have fresh flowers around.  My lovely husband will often bring flowers home and when he does there tends to be enough to fill a couple of vases.  I, on the other hand, am more moderate in my purchases.  I lean towards simple flowers like gerbera daisies or tulips and love bouquets with plenty of leaves.  

Now that summer is in swing, look to your garden for fresh flowers rather than the flower shop.  A couple of snips from your garden is enough to create a small posy arrangement that can add just enough colour to a small table or nightstand.  

Flowers are not the only delights you can find in your garden. Look for branches that aren't too heavy and fill a large vase with them.  Whether they have flowers or not, they look stunning and can fill a large space that is crying out for some drama.  

Do you have some ideas on how to create a simple and beautiful arrangement?  Let me know.  I love to hear your ideas.
Photos:  2,3,4 & 6; 5

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Hour with the Roses

At my suggestion (read: constant nagging) we became a one car family.  Both my husband and I work from home and the kids walk to school.  Seems like one car was just sitting in the driveway and never being used.  It seemed like a practical, economical and just all round good idea.  Well it's not very often that I like to admit to being wrong but this is one of those instances.  Having only one car with two working adults and two extremely busy children, not to mention the busy social lives of all 4 people,  is not a good idea after all.  So while we ponder the acquisition of the next second car, our issues continue to cramp my style.

Today is Wednesday and a very important day in my fitness regime.  While I am active and engaged in some sort of physical fitness 5 or 6 days a week, Wednesday is king in that workout routine.  I take a high intensity spinning class followed by a workout in the gym with a trainer who sees far more potential in me than I see in myself.  I can't miss this class, ever!  

Our dog is suffering from a couple of different doggy ailments and today she needed to be at the vet's office at 11am.  I needed to be in a different part of the city for my class at 11:45 which posed a bit of a riddle for me. An appointment later in the day made taking a cab or bus not a great option.  I decided to get dropped off at the gym 1 hour before my class in order not to miss it.  In an hour at home I can multitask my butt off and get various tasks completed, including but not limited to writing, cleaning, cooking, tiling, organizing, painting or entertaining.  The suggestion of sitting around for an hour is not appealing to me necessarily.  So off I went with book in hand ready to take on that hour.

Did I mention that this same gym is where my son plays the home games for his lacrosse team so I spend 1 or 2 additional days per week here in addition to a Saturday class I take.  All this to say that I spend a whole lot of time at this place each week.  Upon arriving I decided to find an outdoor area to take in the nice day.  During the next 60 minutes an urban oasis was revealed to me.  This concrete building that I knew only from the inside out had another side altogether.  I found a bench tucked away inside a green area of lush vegetation.  I adore David Sedaris and happily sat reading while the minutes flew by.  

Slightly before the class began I started to wander.  Flowers and green everywhere.  When did all this happen?  Surely it wasn't here on Monday when I was here.  Wouldn't I have seen it?  So this is what happens when we're forced to slow down.  I was literally sitting beside a rose bush and while there was not a chance I was going to get up and smell those roses for fear of looking like a walking cliche, there were two toddlers who came running over and one said to the other, "Look, they're roses.  Smell them".  And they did.  No way could a day get better than that.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tea Towels


id you ever stop to think about the tea towels you use or are they simply utilitarian in your home?  I have to be honest and say that the only time I have ever paid any attention to my tea towels was immediately after our kitchen renovation when everything was perfectly styled for about 2 weeks.  Once I moved on to a different room in the house the perfectly styled kitchen went back to it's previous "lived in" look.  

Recently I discovered this funky little online shop called ToDryFor that sells beautiful tea towels and they have seriously got me rethinking those shabby rags in my kitchen.  Check them out to see the entire collection but here I've brought you a little sampling of what great items they have in their store.  I am now hanging my head in shame and getting ready to replace the old with some bright and cheery new towels.  
Food Inspired Towels to brighten up your work area in the kitchen.  You don't even need to enjoy cooking with these fun towels around.

Whimsical towels could be a fantastic hostess gift. Fill a basket with home baked muffins and a great tea towel for an enviable housewarming gift.
Want to add a little French flair to your kitchen...voila!!

If you'd rather be reading than cooking, here's the one for you.  Maybe these tea towels are too nice to actually use in the kitchen.  What about framing one (or a collection)...could be fun!

Get your own record of mid century chairs.  These two are calling my name, don't you think?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pink Love

I don't know where men stand on the issue of pink but I do know that women seem to be divided by those who think it's fantastically under appreciated and those who think it's for little girls.

I am in the former group.  I love pink!  I adore pink in fashion and although I don't currently use any pink in my own home design, I would someday like to broach the subject with my husband.  If you are a non believer you probably think it's ridiculous to consider decorating with pink but just like with any colour, we don't cover the walls and furnishings with pink.  Little touches are enough to make a statement and that's really what colour is about.  

While there's really not much pink to speak of in this room, it has a presence because of the white backdrop.

Make pink front and centre with a strong piece of art and you don't need much of it to make a statement.

Just like with any other colour we use, apply different shades of pink to create a layered effect.                                                Photos - Cabbage Rose
You might not own the ultra cool Smeg fridge but why not paint your ugly old white one in a delicious shade of pink for a very modern look in the kitchen.

For great colour combinations, look at these or play with your own inspiration.  

Pink & Grey
Pink & Chocolate
Pink & Lime Green
Pink & Navy

Monday, June 7, 2010

Creating and Sticking to a Budget for Decorating

Budgets and timelines are the most difficult aspects of any home project to stick with.  If you're doing some serious shopping, don't step a foot outside your door without having first created a budget.  

Start by being honest about what you can afford to spend.  Decide that you won't go one penny above that budget.  Once you have determined the amount, list all the items that must be purchased or acquired through other means.  Don't leave out even the smallest item.  If you need lamps, remember to add light bulbs to the list.  If you are purchasing items online, remember shipping costs and if you have will purchase large items don't forget the delivery costs.  Create your list of items and keep it handy.  You'll be thinking of new additions constantly.

Next, break the budget down by item.  Of course, the most important items in the room should be the bulk of the budget, ie sofa, chairs, tables.  It's going to be impossible at this point to allocate exact dollar values to the items but try to be realistic by doing a bit of research ahead of time.  Determine whether there is anything in your home that can be refinished, reupholstered or reclaimed.  This could save money and keep the budget on track.

Get creative with your shopping.  Unless your funds are unlimited, which is not the case for most of us, there is going to be a mix of high and low purchases.  If you are a diy-er maybe you can shop your local thrift store for items that can be redesigned to suit your space.  This saves loads of money but you'll need to have some extra time on your hands for painting, sewing or fixing.  Shop ebay, craigslist and local newspapers for second hand items that are in good shape.  Look for school sales.  This is a great way to buy art in particular.  Hit the garage sales on the weekends but get there early before all the best stuff disappears.
Most importantly, spend time tweeking the budget on a regular basis.  If you've budgeted $3,000 for a sofa and it ends up costing $3,800 you need to reduce your other categories by that same amount.  Set yourself up for success and you're new room will be so much more beautiful to you in the end.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Which White is Right for You?

I don't think there was ever a time that I didn't like white walls but I love them more as the years go by.  I have learned to understand colour through design and I know that the reason I love white is so that I have a backdrop for the art that I really, really love.  

Besides just liking white, it's important to understand the colour theory (oh, but that's for another post!) as well as what we want out of white.  Is is expected to be self sufficient and carry the show or is simply be the meek and mild wallflower in the corner.  

These are images that I've broken up into categories so that if one strikes your fancy you might better understand what it is you want from your white walls:

Simply Subtle
Do you have a love for the simple, uncluttered and unadorned?  Then white all round with a little help from either one strong colour or pattern is all you need.  But even then, it's moderation baby.  Keep this look as simple as possible because white is the star here.

Bold and Beautiful
This is all about colour.  White is the backdrop for something, furniture or a theme that includes just one great colour and is carried throughout the room in a big and bold way.

White and Wood
This is a match made in heaven.  I've never met a wood that didn't love white.  From shabby chic to the utterly elegant and then to the most eco friendly, white is the quintessential partner to wood.

Photos from this great blog

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