xmas 2007 192

RBC rewards 101 + a giveaway!

28th August 2014

Are you guys ‘points’ people? You know, have the cards for the different places you shop and earn points that you can redeem for various products? I DEFINITELY am. My mum was always big on points, and we took quite a few family trips thanks to various travel rewards programs.

Dan and I both had travel reward type credit cards when we first met – he was with RBC and I was with another Canadian bank. One of our early Christmases together he brought me down to Florida on RBC points, and after seeing how easy it was to book the exact flight I wanted, it lured me over to RBC. I have since been converted to their visa card program, with it’s excellent rewards system.

Speaking of that Florida trip, here we are back in 2007… before careers, house, baby, and all that. Plus super blonde hair and oversized hoop earrings. They were my jam.

xmas 2007 195

xmas 2007 192

We tend to always save up the points for travel, but when the #RBCRewards101 campaign came out, I headed on over to RBCRewards.com to check it out. I totally hadn’t realized the number of different products you can purchase with points – it’s not just flights and car rentals. You can get gift cards, Best Buy and Future shop products, all kinds of stuff. We love to save ours up for travel though, so what I was even more excited about? The fact that if you shop through RBCRewards.com you can earn WAY more points per purchase — that trip to Mexico (or Italy? Or Turks and Caicos? Ahhh …) will come sooner than we planned! The retailers that have signed up to give you bonus points include the Apple Store, ALDO, Banana Republic, Forever 21, GAP, The Home Depot and Lowe’s (!!), Indigo, Old Navy, Vistaprint, Walmart, and hundreds of others. Seriously how did I not know this?? I am definitely going to be purchasing through the RBC “eMall” from now on when I’m doing online orders.


I’m not quite in the “back to school” rush yet with Maya as she is only 1 year old … but I know a lot of other parents who are doing some big orders right now. This would be a perfect way to get a little extra bang for your buck. Maybe let you go on that March break trip you’re dreaming of? RBC has also created a “Back to School” hub with some videos that you can check out here.

Okay so now for a giveaway. This one is only open to Canadians (sorry non-Canadian readers - another giveaway to come soon..!). The prize? A $25 gift card to either Target, Esso, Indigo, or Best Buy. You’ll rank your preference and they will do their best to get you your top pick. Enter through the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Finer details: You may enter to win across multiple blogs (that are participating in the RBC Back to School campaign), but can only win on one. You must be 18 and live in Canada (excluding QC). You can expect to receive your prize 4-6 weeks after the contest closes.

Disclosure: I am part of the RBC Rewards Back to School Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

DIY bunk beds 7 - via the sweetest digs

cottage DIY: the bunkie bunk bed tutorial

26th August 2014

Okay so last you guys saw we had just finished the basic interior on our cottage bunkie (here), and re-finished the dresser (here). You can’t have a bunkie without bunk beds, so here is our bunkie bunk bed tutorial (say that ten times fast!).

DIY bunk beds 1 - via the sweetest digs

Sleeping space had to be maximized, so we knew we wanted to do two sets of bunk beds along either wall of the bunkie. We looked at a few bunk bed options at several stores, but since we needed very specific sizes and wanted a clean-lined look, my Dad decided that he would custom build them. It is pretty sweet to have a woodworker Dad…

The following instructions aren’t perfect, but they give you the general idea of what my Dad did. He made the frames for each bunk out of 1×1 lumber on 3 sides. The 4th side is joined to the other two by metal angle brackets (the frame is already painted white in the photo below).

DIY bunk beds 2 - via the sweetest digs

Then he put some 5/8 plywood on top of the frame (after the frame had been affixed to the wall). This is the tricky bit, as the plywood is the same length as the room, so it was difficult to maneuver into place.

DIY bunk beds 3 - via the sweetest digs

Once those were in, he put 1×6 poplar along the front edge. This was to hold the mattress in, and to add a decorative touch.

DIY bunk beds 5 - via the sweetest digs

DIY bunk beds 4 - via the sweetest digsWe purchased mattresses and duvets from IKEA, which was helpful to know those dimensions ahead of time.

DIY bunk beds 6 - via the sweetest digs

The ladder and railing were also made out of poplar – 1×3 pieces. The ladder is affixed to the bunk bed and is straight up and down, to not take up too much space in the narrow room. It also just comes to the bottom bunk rather than all the way to the ground, so that access underneath the bottom bunk is free and clear. A railing piece was added along the top bunk, you know, to keep people from falling out.

You’ll get a sneak peak at some of the accessories and finishes in the photos below (!!).

DIY bunk beds 7 - via the sweetest digs

We took the grey paint we had used on the ceiling, watered it down, and gave the poplar a grey wash. I really love how you can see the grain through, but it gives it a weathered kind of look.

DIY bunk beds 8 - via the sweetest digs

I couldn’t have been happier with the floating and minimalist look of the bunk beds. Go, Dad, right?

That’s about it for the how-to’s on the bunkie. Next post will be the full reveal. Just need to go and edit those photos …

What are you guys up to these days? Are you having any end-of-summer holidays? If you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed that we are in the adirondacks (new york) for these last 2 weeks of August. Dan’s family has their cottage here, and it’s always a ton of fun. We’ve had Maya’s 6 cousins here with us… the girl could not be more thrilled. Social butterfly, that one. 

home tour 6

a last look at the bungalow: final home tour

20th August 2014

Since we are mid-build on our house, I thought it was the perfect time for a last look at the bungalow. It’s definitely bitter sweet – I really loved our little house, and we put a lot of effort into making it a home that was suited perfectly to us.

The turquoise front door was always a happy way to enter the house. I liked the way the colour played off the red brick, with black accents.

home tour 1

Here was the entryway. It certainly wasn’t big, but we had some fun with it by adding that DIY floating shelf, hanging a minty green mirror, and painting the ceiling chevron.

home tour 2

Although it needed a bit of touching up, I was sad to see this little bit of ceiling get torn up during the reno.

home tour 3

Here was the living room, in its last iteration. Over the 4+ years we lived in the bungalow this room changed a bunch, but I was happy with the light, fresh, and colourful vibe of how it ended up. I have plans for a pretty different living room scheme in the renovated house. I’m thinking mostly black and white and wood, but still with touches of my first love – minty turquoise. home tour 4

home tour 5

home tour 6

The adjoining dining room had a similar vibe, with the harvest table that I built with my Dad, two-tone buffet, and old pine chest (where I kept all my craft supplies – needed the storage space!).
home tour 7

home tour 8

We gave the kitchen a facelift by painting out the oak strip cabinetry, adding hardware, and adding the vinyl peel and stick striped tile. Even though it still eventually needed an overhaul (cabinets were old, appliances were seriously vintage, layout wasn’t great, etc), this kitchen suited us just fine for the years we were in it.
home tour 9

home tour 10

Down the hall came our one bathroom, which we renovated a few years ago. Luckily this bathroom has stayed fairly untouched during our demo, so it will remain as our main floor bathroom post-reno.home tour 11

I never felt like I got the master bedroom to look how I had envisioned it, but there were a few projects that I liked. One was this headboard, which I think we’ll use again in our new bedroom (maybe with a few fabric?) …
home tour 12

And the other were those painted closet doors. I loved that something so simple – paint and some tape – totally transformed those ugly ducklings.

home tour 13

Hands down my favourite room in the house was Maya’s nursery (slash mini office in the corner). It was so cheery and had so many handmade touches, that we will bring into Maya’s room in the newly built house.

home tour 14

I loved making the raindrop mobile and ribbon garland while I was pregnant and waiting for my little girl to arrive.

home tour 15

And the pink + gold dresser came out just as I had hoped, so this guy will definitely be moving into Maya’s future room with her.

home tour 16

home tour 17

The best part about the room? This girl!!

home tour 18

Luckily our basement will remain pretty much the same after the renovation (we are trying hard not to damage it too much) but the stairwell down to it will look pretty different. The few things we did here – artwork, yellow door, and stair runner – all made the space feel pretty fun.

home tour 19

This was us on our moving day! We gave the little bungalow a kiss and although are sad to say goodbye to it as-it-is, we couldn’t be more excited about the larger family home that it is becoming. I’m giddy just thinking about all of the new spaces that I have to decorate. Confession? I think about each room and how I want to decorate it pretty much every night as I’m falling to sleep. #Obsessed.

home tour 20

Okay now for the fun part. This home tour is a part of the Canadian Bloggers Home Tour that is going on this week! Be sure to check out these other bloggers for their fabulous homes. Seriously, there is so much good eye candy in here, and lots of project ideas.

cdn bloggers home tour


AKA Design

The DIY Mommy

Northern Style Exposure

Echoes of Laughter


Pop of Pretty

Rambling Renovators

Craftberry Bush

Elliven Studio


First Time Fancy

So Much Better With Age

The Creek Line House

The Sweetest Digs


Clean and Scentsible

The Happy Housie

Just Beachy

Dans le Townhouse


The Uncommon Law

This Little Estate


the ikea 2015 catalogue: favourite things

18th August 2014

The IKEA 2015 catalogue just came out. For me, it’s like getting a new design magazine or something – so many styled rooms with great ideas and new products. I just love looking through it. Although I haven’t gotten my hands on a hard copy yet, I did take a look through the online version and pulled some of my favourite pages (you can access the online catalogue here for the US version, and here for the Canadian version).

This colourful headboard is tons of fun and would add a graphic punch to a mostly-white room.


It wasn’t one specific product in this next page, but the whole room that caught my eye. I like that the back wall is painted that deep gray, drawing your eye in, and the use of curtains was clever. If you had a bachelor apartment, this would be a great way to close off the bedroom section.


An orange shower fixture? So fun.


There are so many great kids things at IKEA. I love those green ombre gym mats, and that wood cabinet on the back wall could be customized with paint, wallpaper, chalkboard paint, etc.


If they had have had this crib when we bought Maya’s, I would have been tempted to get it - I love the colour, rounded edges, and drawers underneath.


I’m pretty positive that we will be using one of IKEA’s shoe cabinets when we move back into our house. Such a clever storage solution, and seems to come in various sizes these days. Also, that forest green coat rack is pretty rad.


The bookshelves in this room just did it for me. Don’t they add so much personality to the room? And I love the frames and things stacked up on the top shelf.

7 I love the loungy vibe of this next room. The white walls, raw beams, big windows (without window treatments), huge sectional, cushy rug.. don’t you just want to relax here and read a book?


Some clever paint ideas here. One is to paint the bottom half of the wall to create the effect of a chair rail or wainscotting – I especially love the contrast of the black and white. And the next is to do the tiled pattern on the floor. I’m also kind of dying for that green pendant for some reason. Just love the colour and scale.


I couldn’t believe the inexpensive prices on these beds that have very clever built in storage systems. SO brilliant – particularly for smaller houses.


This moodboard had me with the slightly grey-washed wood dresser, graphic rug, and hits of green. The emerald green seems to be getting trendier, hey?11

One thing I know for sure? Some of those Ranarp light fixtures will definitely be making it into our home at some point. I am crazy for the matte white and brass combo.

12And lastly some dinnerware. I like the blue + white set, but what I really fell in love with are those pink tumblers. Don’t they kind of feel like they belong in a diner? Maybe with a big milkshake?


Anything catch your eye in the 2015 catalogue? Do you love to browse through IKEA’s stuff like I do? 

first birthday party - pink gold turquoise

maya’s first birthday party

14th August 2014

This past weekend we celebrated miss Maya’s very first birthday. It was a pretty exciting and emotional day – probably more for us than for our little girl. We survived our first year of parenthood! You know I couldn’t help myself, and of course had to throw her a first birthday party, right?

I didn’t have any real “theme”, but decided to stick with the colours that were in her nursery – pink, turquoise, and gold. We had the party outside on Dan’s parents’ farm, so there wasn’t really too much decorating to do.

I pulled out our old dining room table (it’s being stored in the barn there anyway – easy!) and used it as the main dessert table. I also put up a chalkboard easel to write a little birthday message.


A great trick is to get some wrapping paper in the colours of the party, and then use it as a table runner, like I did here. I used some double sided tape to keep it down, but as long as you have some heavier items on the table, it won’t go anywhere.

I put out my cake stands with goodies on them, and then dotted some flowers around in my gold-sprayed mason jars.

The gold letters are from Chapters (LOVE them!), and the rest of the party supplies were either from my existing stash or Target. I find Target has great party stuff – various colour options and patterns. I got the “Hooray” cake topper, hats, and a few other things from the Oh Joy collection a few months ago.


Here is my “make a cake look good” secret. These were plain old cakes that I baked from boxed (thank you, Duncan Hines!) – 4 layers. Then I just put them on top of one another using some icing as the “glue” (again, store bought icing), and layered the icing over the whole cake. It was looking like a lopsided mess by this point. Not pretty. But how to save it? Stick it on a pretty cake plate, pop in a topper, and put some flower buds along the bottom. I promise – it’ll look pin worthy.

For drinks, I decided to do a little drinks station. I found a card table in the barn, and so again covered it in wrapping paper. This time from front to back, taping it along the legs of the table. We did two different fruit punches – one berry, one orange/mango – in the dispensers. Then I set out a bunch of different fruit (blueberries, rasberries, sliced peaches, strawberries, etc), some club soda, and wine (white + rose), so that people could make their own cocktails. With a bunch of kiddos and breastfeeding mamas in the group, I wanted to have fun non-alcoholic options.


The wine and beer was kept on ice in some fun, vintage buckets.


I had looked up different games and activities for a first birthday party and the only thing that really caught my eye was a time capsule. I loved that idea, and paired it with a polaroid wall.


For the time capsule, I grabbed a wood box from the dollar store and painted the top turquoise and wrote “Maya’s Time Capsule” with sharpie marker. Then I had small cards and pens ready for the party guests to all write down a little note to put into the capsule.DSC_0491

We sealed it shut, and Maya will get to open it on her 18th birthday. It’s hard to even imagine that birthday in 2031! After the party, I also added in some of the trinkets from the day, and the front page of the newspaper.

Behind the time capsule table was the polaroid wall. I went through our photos of Maya from this past year, and pulled out the ones that demonstrated “firsts” of some kind. Then I used PicMonkey to put a polaroid lens on them and add the text, describing what that first was. I had them printed in 4×6, and just tacked them up onto the wall.

They ranged from first steps, to first swim, to first hotel stay, to first time having a diaper change in the trunk of the car. It was so fun to do! I think I’ll include these into some kind of book for her down the road.DSC_0496

As for the party itself, it was low key and fun. We did the usual activities – like birthday cake!

Here we are bringing out Maya’s personal cake. She was standing up in her high chair with excitement. Ha!


It was her first time having cake, so after some curious looks as to what this big thing was, the girl didn’t hold back. It was HILARIOUS.

She, plus the high chair, needed a serious hose down afterwards (cue the outfit change!).first birthday cake

Everybody was so generous and brought some lovely gifts. Taking the paper out of the bag was of course the highlight for her. DSC_0684

It was just so nice to sit and relax on a perfect, sunny day with so many of our friends and some family (we saw my family the day before at a wedding, and will be seeing Dan’s family next week, so it was mostly a friends affair).

I had won a gift card to Just Play Toy Rentals – a company here in Ottawa that rents toys for all kinds of occasions. I got a variety of things (tunnels, race cars, etc) and they were a total hit. I absolutely recommend them for any local folks!

Oh and the swing set at the farm? So perfect for kids of various ages.


And the cows. Man those things provide great entertainment.


That was it! Couldn’t have been better. I threw a bunch of labels on the photos below — you know, for Pinterest purposes.

first birthday party - pink gold turquoise

birthday cake

drinks bar

first birthday party - polaroid wall of firsts

first birthday time capsule

Happy first birthday, my darling girl! We are so lucky to have you. This year has been full of joy, laughs, goofy grins, and adventures as a family of three. You sure do keep us on our toes! We love you.

top ten tips to support a new mom

top 10 tips to support a new mama

6th August 2014

I have been meaning to write this post forever, but somehow it kept slipping. Since Maya is almost a year old (!!), it was about time I got around to it. After having Maya, and having such amazing friends and family around, I definitely learned a thing or two about how best to support new parent. These are my top 10 tips to support a new mom.

Oh – If you’re not a super good friend of this new Mum then you might not feel comfortable with all of these (laundry, cleaning house, etc), but if this is your good gal pal, know that she will REALLY appreciate it, AND will return the favour when you are the one with spit up on your shirt and have been up all night.

Also an acknowledgement >> This was written from MY perspective: as a new mum, having given birth, and with a partner who went back to work when the baby was a few weeks old. Most of this advice can also be applied to new Dads, adoptive parents, or families of any variety – but I just wanted to acknowledge the lens with which this post was written.

top ten tips to support a new mom


1 >> Bring a meal for the fridge/freezer

If you think it’s a pain to cook dinner for yourself, just imagine what it’s like to cook when you have just become a parent and have this new little being around who needs attention 24/7. It basically falls to the bottom of the priority list. Dan and I received some delicious meals from friends and family during those first 6 or 8 weeks that made SUCH a difference. Finding time to cook (or even grocery shop) in those early days is really tricky, and you basically just want to plop down on the couch whenever you have some downtime anyway, so having ready-to-go meals is a lifesaver. And you can freeze pretty much anything (burritos, stir frys, cooked rice, pasta sauces, etc). So if you are going over to meet a new baby for the first time, bring a balanced meal. My go-to is often a couple of quiche that the parents can stick in the oven and pair with some salad or fresh veggies for a nutritious meal.

first cry

< Maya getting her first checkup, the night of her birth >  

2 >> Wait to be asked, and don’t stay for longer than 2 hours

As a new parent, you are exhausted, and visiting with people is tiring too. Even though you (the friend) might want to dash over the second the baby is born to get a peek, don’t. Just wait until the parent(s) have had a second to settle in and have invited you over. I know for us, with the challenging breastfeeding/pumping stuff that was going on, I just wasn’t in a headspace to invite anyone over for the first 10 days or so.

Once you do go over for a visit, even though you are probably just sitting on the couch chatting and coo’ing over the baby, anything past 2 hours can feel long. Make sure you don’t overstay your welcome - you don’t want your visit to have caused your mummy friend to feel even more tired than she already is.


< A moment of peace in the midst of a day of breastfeeding and pumping struggles > 


3 >> Hold the baby and let her take a shower

So when you’re a new mum and often at home by yourself with the baby, there tend to be very few opportunities to shower. If your baby sleeps well in a crib, then maybe you can squeeze one in during a nap, but you might also be totally exhausted and just want to rest while baby sleeps. And often newborns like to be held or worn (ie. baby carrier) when they are snoozing, so you can’t really hop in the shower then. During those first weeks with Maya, I basically only ever showered when someone else was there – usually Dan or my Mum. Eventually I showered when she was sitting in her bouncy chair (in the bathroom so I could glance at her every now and then!) and later got into the habit of showering during one of her morning naps once she was cool to be solo in her bassinet. If you’re visiting a friend with a new baby, offer to hold them and let the Mum have a decadent 20 minute shower all on her own. Even if the baby is crying – just deal. Your pal will thank you for the total luxury you bestowed on her – believe me.


< Nana and a sleepy Maya > 


4 >> Tell her how great she looks

After going through labour, getting used to my body post-baby, and only getting sleep in small spurts, I was not feeling all that awesome about my appearance. I know it really doesn’t matter (everyone is going to be looking at the new, sweet baby anyway!), but it does take a toll on your confidence. So even if your friend has huge bags under her eyes and spit-up in her hair, tell her just how great she looks.  She’ll probably laugh it off, but it will make her feel good. Promise.


5 >> Make the tea

Don’t expect that your new mama friend is necessarily going to think of offering you a drink or snack when you get there. If she remembered to brush her hair, that’ll be plenty. So put on the kettle for you both or pour some juice, and maybe bring a snack to share.


6 >> Throw the laundry in

Carrying a laundry basket up and down stairs and throwing the laundry in isn’t really top priority for a new mum, and can be tricky if there has been a c-section, a babe who likes to be held all the time, etc. If you’re going to be there for an hour or two, why not throw in a load when you arrive and go change it over part-way through your visit? It seems like a small thing, but it might be that chore on her “to do” list that has been nagging her. My mum seemed to do all of our laundry every time she would come over for like the first two months – it was so luxurious not to have to think about it!


< spending time on the couch – what I did most during those first weeks > 


7 >> Tidy up

I’m not talking about doing a big deep clean on your pal’s whole house, but if you notice that the dishes have piled up, or the bathroom could just use a wipe-down, why not take 10 or 15 minutes out of your visit and do it for her? She will be hugely grateful. I remember feeling way too tired and overwhelmed to clean the house, but it totally bothered me when it was untidy or dirty. We brought dinner over to some new parent friends the other day and made sure to do the dishes afterwards, wipe down the kitchen, and take the garbage and recycling out.


8 >> Leave the house

This one isn’t going to be for every situation, perhaps the new Mum is rocking her PJs and just wants to hang at home, but sometimes new mums can be having serious cabin fever but are a bit anxious about going out with the baby alone. Help her pack the baby up into the stroller or even in the car for a big outing (!), and go out with her. She’ll feel great after doing it, and will feel more confident with you there to help her. Even just a trip to the local mall or park is a big deal.

first bridgehead run

< my first post baby walk to the coffee shop >

9 >> Be understanding of your new friendship

Having a baby means that the dynamics of your relationships change. When you may have been able to go out easily for dinner and drinks, or to a workout class, or whatever, it’s more tricky when baby comes along. Just be understanding that she may need to schedule dates with you around naptimes, or that she might need to cancel at the last minute if she’s having a tough day with baby. It’s frustrating, but just be understanding. If you are a friend from out of town and you used to chat on the phone on a regular basis, understand that even if you don’t have that regular phone date like you used to, your pal still loves you! Even though she cares about you and really does want to know what’s going on in your life, talking on the phone during that fairly brief naptime or after the kiddo has finally gone to bed can feel exhausting. Maybe text or email with her instead in the meantime – that way she can answer at her own pace (like at the 4am feed).


< one of my best girlfriends coming over for some auntie snuggles > 

10 >> Tell your friend what an amazing parent they are

When you are a new parent, it is overwhelming and you really don’t feel like you know what you are doing. I’m someone that has grown up with children all around me, and have always been really maternal, and I felt so ridiculously anxious when Maya was first born. Like had no appetite, knots in my stomach, and felt nauseous with anxiety. I thought I would be cool as a cucumber and instead I worried that I was doing everything wrong and just felt like a fish out of water. Tell your friend what a wonderful parent they are. I promise they will appreciate it.


So that’s it! I guess the most important thing of all is just to be there for your friend – however she may need you. Becoming a mum is such a life-altering thing and to have support around you, particularly in those early days, is huge.

Do you mums (and Dads?) agree with this list? Anything you would add? Anything anyone ever did for you that was particularly helpful? 


my weekend according to instagram

5th August 2014

If you guys follow me on instagram, you will have noticed that there was a wedding, girlfriends, and anniversary celebration all packed in there this past weekend.

When I was at Queen’s University for my undergrad, I lived with five girlfriends. It was way, way too much fun, and I love them all dearly. Can you believe that it took us seven years to have a full reunion? There have been times that all but one have been together (two weddings and some birthday celebrations), but it took until my girlfriend Renita’s wedding in Toronto this past weekend to get all six of us. We had about 24 hours together and we made it count.

First – the gorgeous bride and handsome groom. You can tell it was a fun wedding, hey?


A selfie, of course. I have some serious crazy eyes going on (how does one eye look SO much bigger than the other?!), but I still love the photo. There is a lot of happiness going on here.


Here were five of us waiting pre-wedding. It was raining reaaaally heavily outside, where the wedding was supposed to take place, so just after this photo we kicked things into high gear and helped transform the hallway into a wedding alter. #lastminuteweddingplanners


Luckily the rain let up after the ceremony though and we walked over a simply gorgeous reception. The first dance was lovely, but you should’ve seen the dancing going on on this floor into the wee hours of the morning. There were live Caribbean drummers and just a whole lot of shaking.


We were slightly obsessed with documenting our reunion. #360. (We lived at 360 Brock Street in Kingston back in the day).


Oh and this guy was a total star. The other fellas weren’t able to make it, so Danny was at a table with all of us ladies. Luckily though, he is pretty used to our constant chatter and giggles – he was around back in the Queen’s days and just gets it. Ha!


The next day, we got our tired butts out of bed and strolled around Yorkville in Toronto. Besides getting coffee, our priority was getting ourselves to anthropologie. So much love for that store.

This fixture was hanging from the second floor. You could totally DIY a smaller version of this by dipping some paint sticks or shims into a few different colours of paint and hanging them from something like a piece of driftwood.


I always get such inspiration from the patterns and colours in anthro. All of this dishware and the painted chairs had me at hello.


And of course getting into the change room and trying things on is way more fun with girlfriends around. None of us walked out empty handed.


After enjoying the rest of the day together, we sadly had to part ways. Most of the girls were headed back home to Vancouver. I was feeling pretty blue, but luckily Dan and I had some more celebrating to do over the weekend – our 3rd wedding anniversary! Our actual anniversary isn’t until tomorrow, but since Maya was staying with my parents, we decided to tack on the extra night and celebrate.

We stayed at a boutique Inn in Picton – which was on the way home from Toronto – called The Manse. It’s an old stone building that has been totally renovated and has the most gorgeous landscaping.


Dan was a super clever husband and called ahead to have flowers in our room for me. Well played, honey.


We didn’t really leave the Inn – it was just too nice! The chef is AMAZING and so we had dinner there in the dining room. It was 3 courses of heaven. And then the next morning, after another delish meal for breakfast, we just lounged around by the pool and hot tub. Pretty blissful.



After 3 nights of being away from Maya (longest ever!), we were pretty giddy to come home to her. I don’t think she really missed us one bit – she was having way too much fun with Nana and Grandpa – but we gave her some extra squeezes and snuggles last night anyway.

Do you guys have any little roadtrips planned for this summer? Did you do anything special this past weekend? Any weddings to go to? Oh and if you want a glimpse into what I’m up to, follow me here on instagram!



furniture redo: a navy and gold dresser

1st August 2014

We basically just needed one piece of furniture for the bunkie, besides bunk beds, and that was a dresser.

I searched the online used sites for quite a few weeks, but it was tricky as the dresser had to be a fairly specific size that didn’t seem to be popular. I was spotting either really tall, narrow dressers (“tallboys”) or long, large dressers. I needed something in between, but not as small as a nightstand. And I didn’t want anything too ornate or with french country lines. Oh, and it had to be solid wood. No laminate. After a while, I finally spotted a fairly basic, solid wood dresser for $50 and snatched it up.

I totally forgot to take a before photo (bad blogger!!), but I knew exactly what colour I wanted to paint it for our by-the-lake bunkie. Can you guess?


Ha. Navy probably isn’t too surprising, huh?

The colour is called Fly by Night Blue by Valspar, which my Mum and I picked up when we were down at the Lowe’s in the States. It’s a paint & primer in one (semi gloss) that is meant for furniture and other high use areas.


My mum painted it and in the end did 3 coats, with a light sanding between each. The glossiness of the paint did show some of the imperfections in the wood, which is a bit annoying. It’s really only visible in certain bright light though, so it really isn’t the end of the world. Not sure if I would use this paint again for a similar application, though..


For the hardware, I wanted to go with brass. I am smitten with a navy + brass combo. Classic, don’t you think?

I hit up Lee Valley Tools (my go-to place for hardware) and came across these small rectangular antique brass pulls (“A” in the link). They were $3.70 a piece, so it was under $30 for all six.



And here is the full dresser in all its navy + brass glory. This was when we first brought it into the bunkie (sneak peak at some of the other accessories!)…

And once we hung the mirror and started to style it a little.

DSC_0604A little cottage chic, wouldn’t you say? I know I still need to get to the actual bunk beds in the bunkie… but I need my Dad to chime in on that one as he was the one who did the building/assembling.

Have you guys been re-doing any furniture lately? Where do you go to get new hardware? Oh, and happy long weekend to my fellow Canadians. We’re off for a girlfriends wedding today and tomorrow in Toronto, and then spending a night at a beautiful Inn in Prince Edward County on Sunday for our wedding anniversary. 3 nights without Maya - our longest stretch ever. We’re like giddy teenagers over here.



house reno: a progress update

31st July 2014

There has been a flurry of activity over at our house in these last few weeks. My last update – here - was after they had gutted the interior of the house. Well, a lot has happened on our house renovation since then.

First they peeled off all the brick. It filled a whole dumpster worth – which can actually be ground up and used as fill again, so it’s a “clean” dumpster – but not before I grabbed a brick to save as a keepsake. Not sure what I’ll do with that yet. Maybe use it as a bookend?


They were waiting on the excavation, so in the meantime got started with framing the second story. It’s only on the existing bungalow, so it looks rather tall and lopsided at the moment. Once the new garage is there (to the left of the house) with a second story above it, it’ll all make more sense.


Speaking of the garage, the excavators came and tore up our old free-standing one. Apparently there is a video of it coming down on our contractor’s phone. Need to hunt that down!


It has meant that our backyard all of a sudden feels SO much bigger. Sure there are piles of construction material back there, but we are totally starting to envision the potential.


After the garage came down, they took down a large tree that was in between us and our neighbour’s place. It was really starting to intrude on their house, and there was no room for our new garage with it there, so it had to come down.

And then a bunch of digging went on. All the way around our existing house to fix the foundation and put in weeping tile and draining systems (all of the old weeping tile had disintegrated), and then also to pour the new foundation for the garage.



On the inside, the new ceiling/floor system for the second floor started to go up, and a few new windows and doorways were cut.


As of this week they have poured the footings for the new foundation and back deck, and are working on the drainage systems around the house. Things are a-moving! I really can’t wait to start to get that garage up and see our vision start to come together.


a day at the beach: family photo shoot

29th July 2014

A few weeks ago, Dan, Maya and I headed off to the beach (Britannia Beach in Ottawa, for you local folks) and had a family photo shoot. Before I get to those ones though, I am taking a little step back down memory lane. Here is Maya at our first family photo shoot — she was 5 months.

{Photos by Baby & Belly}



I swore I wasn’t going to do “baby in a bucket”. And yep … here is the baby in a bucket. Whoops. Just too darn cute.343A2420


I love her “what the … ?!” face in the photo below.

It is wild to think about how much she has grown, learned, and developed in just these last 6 months. The baby is disappearing, and a toddler is emerging.

{Photos by Michelle Ma Belle Photography}

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“Give me those bubbles, Mum!”


SO typical Maya – complete ham.gemma011




gemma020 - edited


I wasn’t sure what we should all wear for the photos, so kept it simple in light neutrals. I think it’s a pretty safe bet. Oh and I brought a few props along with us — a blanket to sit on in the grass, some of Maya’s books, and the bubbles.gemma021


The photographer was Michelle from Michelle Ma Belle Photography. Michelle is also a mum and so totally gets how to photograph with kiddos. She is easy going, fun, and has great ideas. I felt like it was going to be super awkward out in public taking photos (our other shoot was in a studio, and 99% of just Maya), but it was totally chill. Michelle made us feel at ease, and I hardly even noticed the other folks at the beach.

It was a hot day, Maya hadn’t napped in the car ride over so was on the cranky side, and Dan had taken his air cast off his leg and was hopping around on crutches (and would then throw the crutches to the side for the photo) — and Michelle was just totally helpful and relaxed. I can’t say enough good things about her!

gemma023 - edited



Isn’t she a great photographer? I love the way they turned out. And just an FYI that this post was in no way sponsored – I just wanted to share my experience!

Have you guys done any photo shoots? I try to snap lots of photos of Maya, but as she gets older, I get worse about it. It’s nice every once in a while to get some really great ones by a professional. Plus, then Dan and I get to be in them too! I’d love to do some with the grandparents at some point.