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weekend in review: Etsy craft fair

30th September 2014

This past weekend was the Etsy: Made in Canada craft fair here in Ottawa (and others were held all across Canadian cities). It was my first time participating in a craft fair. I packed up my little print shop, and am happy to report that I had *such* a great time – lots of sales, great feedback from customers, and it was so fun to meet other local crafters and shoppers.

I really wasn’t sure about what was going to be the best way to setup the table, and although I have a few ideas about how to do things differently next time, I don’t think I looked like a total newbie (I hope?!).

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It’s funny. The prints that I thought would do really well weren’t necessarily the big sellers. It’s so hard to predict what people are going to be into! IMG_20140926_170741

I have a few new ones in my shop. There is definitely still a strong black and white vibe, and lots of triangles.

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“But first, coffee” print.
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“You make life magic” print.graphic 31- love you more

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“goodnight sleep tight” print.graphic 26-etsy1

“you me oui” print.

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“just a small town girl” print

There were something like 150 other Etsy sellers at the fair in Ottawa. All had just gorgeous products. There is so much talent!! I feel like I need to do a whole separate post highlighting some of the amazing Ottawa vendors.

In other news, the weekend here was gorgeous. There is nothing I love more than a beautiful fall day with the changing leaves, bright sunshine, and a crispness in the air.
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We got outside for a walk, but didn’t make it all the way to the end of the trail as someone was getting cranky in the carrier. Now that Maya is so mobile, the girl always wants to walk by herself… which as you can imagine, slows down the walk a fair bit. There are frequent stops for leaves, rocks, and other interesting things. Every day is an adventure with this little one!

IMG_20140928_130439How was your weekend? Do you love the Fall as much as I do? Did any of you Canadians make it to any of the Etsy craft fairs?

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setting up for success: RESP accounts

26th September 2014

We’re hitting pause on the home design front and talking money sense today guys. This is an especially good one for any Canadian parents out there.

After Maya was first born, once I was able to pull myself together enough to put on anything but pyjama pants and leave the house (you know what I’m talking about, mamas!!), one of the first things I did was make an appointment to open up an RESP – “Registered Education Savings Plan” – account for her. Maybe it seems like overkill to have jumped to doing this when she was only a few months old, but I had been watching an episode of CityLine where they were talking about how important it is to contribute to your child’s RESP as early as possible. There were some pretty stark numbers that really stuck with me — even if you put in the exact same overall contribution, there was a huge difference if you started it right away, versus waiting until your child was say 10 or older. All those years of earning interest compounded to a much higher end amount. I knew I wanted to start contributing as early as we could.

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So off I went to RBC (our bank) and met with one of their advisors to create the new account. It was really pretty simple – they walked me through the different investment options, I chose something pretty safe, and then it was just a matter of the logistics of opening up a new account. I’m able to view it online, which is nice since we do online banking, and we can make contributions anytime. We setup a monthly withdrawal of $100 so we are constantly contributing in a way that doesn’t feel like a huge sacrifice. Then at the end of the year, with generous family members who give contributions in place of Christmas gifts, we top up the account.

And you know about the matching program, right? Here is how it works: The Canada Education Savings Grant matches up to 20% on the first $2500 contributed annually. This means an additional $500 a year in the RESP, up to a lifetime maximum of $7200. So yeah, it’s pretty sweet. Assuming we are able to, our hope is to reach that contribution every year so that we can reap the full rewards of the matching program as early as possible.

We got the matching last year, and it was pretty exciting to see the account grow so quickly. Whether Maya wants to use it for university, college, an apprenticeship, whatever, we really hope to be able to support her as much as we can. This monkey is already growing up way too fast for mummy and daddy… !

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You can find out more about RESP accounts here, and can even enter the “Grow your RESP with RBC” contest. There are 4 prizes of $500 to be won! There is also a twitter party happening on Wednesday October 1, 2014, with six $100 gift cards up for grabs. Head on twitter and search for #RESPwithRBC to participate!

To the parents out there – have you been able to open up education accounts for your kiddo(s)? Was it pretty straight forward? Do you set savings goals for yourself?

Disclosure: I am part of the RBC RESP blogger program 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.

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getting hitched: vintage wedding decor

24th September 2014

Okay so you saw the vintage window turned seating chart that I DIY’d for my girl Courtney’s wedding, but I left you hanging on the rest of the details of the beautiful day. The venue was Ottawa’s Mill Street Brewery – an old stone building right on the water – and we filled it with vintage wedding decor.

We used a mixture of things – vintage blue mason jars, old hardcover books, jute string, white flowers (peonies!!) love!, succulents, white linens, log pieces, exposed stone, and wood elements.

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It all came together really beautifully. The venue also had some chalkboards affixed to the wall, so I broke out some chalk and wrote a few little sayings. Tip for this? Design something on the computer and then print it out so that you can copy it and not have to rely just on your own handwriting style.CR-151

CR-1032After seeing it used in this wedding, Courtney hired a linen company to come and do this pipe and drape to create a nice backdrop for the ceremony. The fabric was gauzy and super romantic. With the large plants on either side, it created a really natural vibe.
CR-439My girlfriend Caroline and I were on site the morning of to pull things together, along with Courtney’s uncle who had provided all of the gorgeous flowers and plants (there were so many, and they were so beautiful… total heaven!). Together we all prepped the vases, name cards, linens, etc, but couldn’t really set it all up since the ceremony and reception were taking place in the same room and all of the table settings had to be kept off to the side. During the cocktail hour, the staff put the tables into place and Caroline and I whipped off our shoes and ran around that room styling our little butts off. As you can imagine, there might have been a bit of a nervous sweat happening, but we pulled it off.
CR-792 We placed log slices along each table and then haphazardly placed the vases, pots, and books on top and beside them.CR-796

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Place cards sat right on top of the napkins. They were luggage tags with the names on them, and then had different coloured washi tape along the bottom so that the waiters could identify who had what meal (fish, veggie, chicken, etc). Clever way of identifying that without putting a weird mark on the cards or something.CR-845 CR-800 I did mention Courtney’s uncle and his ridiculously gorgeous flowers, right? Seriously though. CR-802

CR-866 CR-803 The dessert table was full of goodies from the talented Andrea of the Short & Sweet Kitchen (another pal of ours!). Isn’t the ombre cake sweet? And let me tell you, those cupcakes were to.die.for.

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The key to a dessert table is to give it some height. Use cool old boxes flipped upside down like we did here and a mixture of cake stands. The white letters are from Chapters. CR-810 CR-1023CR-1022

And now for some people pictures. Here are the girls, just after we had buttoned Courtney’s dress up. Doesn’t she look gorge? CR-140

And the more accurate photo….

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A few of Courtney and Richard. He’s a pretty dapper dude, huh?
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It was a beautiful day, with a beautiful couple. Love you two!

All of these stunning photographs are care of Bonnie at Findley Foto.

Many pieces displayed in this wedding were care of my little rental company, Pieces of Love Vintage Rentals. If you’re planning a wedding in the Ottawa area, feel free to get in touch!

Did you guys go to any weddings this season? Or maybe you’re planning your own? I don’t know about you, but I can happily browse Pinterest for wedding decor ideas for an obscene amount of time. I wish we could do our own wedding all over again just so I could do different themes every time!

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DIY wedding: vintage window seating chart

22nd September 2014

Do you remember that old 6-pane window that I turned into a picture frame, and then painted with Annie Sloan chalk paint and gifted it to my brother and sister-in-law for their nursery? Well, before it ended up on baby Mae’s walls, it also moonlighted as a vintage window seating chart at my girlfriend’s wedding.

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Here it was after my original makeover (see that tutorial for how to add wire for hanging photos). DIY vintage window turned picture frame

And then where it ended up in baby Mae’s nursery. DIY vintage window picture frame - the sweetest digs

But let’s back up to the seating chart. My girl Courtney was getting married, and had decided on elements like vintage blue mason jars, old hardcover books, and beautiful succulents for her wedding decor. I knew the vintage window would fit in perfectly. I pretty much forced myself as her wedding stylist along with another pal, Caroline, so I took over the seating chart duties.

To make the little sheets that would hang in the window panes, I grabbed some cream coloured cardstock and downloaded the “Travelling Typwriter” font. Instead of doing a sheet of paper per table, since there weren’t 6 tables, I organized all of the names alphabetically and then identified the table number beside their name. So it looked like this: “Name…………………. Table No”.

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Then it was just a matter of printing and cutting out the sheets of paper and clipping them onto the wire. Here is a pic I snapped on my phone that night. You’ll see I also made a “Name & Table No” piece for the top, and a “Find your seat” sheet to sit on the wine barrel. The whole thing took very little time to make and looked pretty darling. DIY vintage window seating chart - the sweetest digs2

And here is a much more beautiful photo, care of their lovely photographer Findley FotoDIY vintage window seating chart - the sweetest digs1

More photos of their gorgeous day to come later this week!

Okay seriously, vintage windows … you can use them in so many different ways, hey? Don’t hesitate to ever grab these on the side of the road if you ever see them in someone’s garbage. Junkyard gold. 

Blogpodium recap, daycare + house news

17th September 2014

How has your September been so far, guys? It has been a busy one in our neck of the woods.

Like I mentioned before, we started daycare with Maya, which overall has gone well. The first few days she bounded in with a huge smile on her face. Now that she gets what’s going on, she cries when I drop her off, which totally breaks my heart. I’m hoping that that will subside soon? It’s funny right – one the one hand, you want them to miss you, but on the other, you want them to be really happy and love going to daycare/school/etc. The good news is that I really like our daycare provider and feel super comfortable with her, so I know I’m leaving Maya in good hands. I get the report back everyday of what activities they did and it always sounds like tons of fun. Way better than boring old mummy – ha!

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Such a cheeky monkey.

It has been nice to get my head back into work. I am doing some consulting in my field – public health and development – which is great. I really enjoy the flexibility of contracts and consulting. Because Dan has a full time, stable gig, if I have small gaps between contracts it’s not the end of the world. Right now I am doing a 3 month contract for a small hospitals initiative around Ottawa. I have also been helping a few folks/businesses setup websites (not sure how I got into the business of website creation… but one thing can lead to another sometimes), been busy with my Etsy shop (I’m in a big craft fair in a few weeks – my first one!), and keeping this blog afloat. Oh, and you know, the whole house renovation stuff. Needless to say, it’s been busy. Plus the long commute while we are living an hour outside of Ottawa (during the reno) has posed an extra challenge. It’s all fine – we just need to be hyper organized and don’t have much of a social life right now.

Since the last time I posted about the house reno, we have been able to actually go up onto the second and third floors and walk around. It’s really amazing to get to stand in this new space that we spent so much time planning and thinking about. It was good to get a feel for the sizes of things, and roughly plan out where furniture might go. Framing is pretty well finished, the roof is on, and the windows are going in as I type. The trades – electrical, plumbing, and HVAC – have also been busy doing their thing. I would guess that we are about a month away from drywall, which is the part that I am so pumped about.

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Probably the space I’m most excited about – my 3rd floor loft studioIMG_20140905_153622

We have been making decisions daily about various things – where plugs should go, how to integrate the older windows that we are re-using (to save $$), how to deal with the angles of the ceiling in the bathroom we didn’t anticipate, what roof and siding material to go with, etc etc. Plus finishing details like hardwood floors which need to be ordered and booked. It’s busy, but both Dan and I totally love it. We can’t help but chat house all the time. IMG_20140905_153626

I also headed off to Toronto this past weekend for BlogPodium – a conference for design + lifestyle bloggers. It was FABULOUS, as usual. This year, I went to a mixture of “the business of blogging” type workshops, and the crafty ones. I made a penant with the girls from We Create Hoopla (LOVE them!), and a shelf with the folks from Ryobi Tools. Oh, and did I mention that I got to meet Scott McGillivray and Bryan Baeumler? Yep, pretty much in DIY girl heaven.

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No big deal. Just Alicia, Heather and I with BB.

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C/O Snapshot Photobook

There were over 25 amazing brands there, so I got to chat with them directly about possibly working together in the future. And of course, I got to see and meet so many of my blogger friends. It’s funny you know – like being in a room with a bunch of friends that you have never actually met in person, but know a ton about. I adore those girls (and a few fellas – I’m looking at you Chris!).

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So that’s the scoop on life around here lately. I have a few DIYs that have been sitting waiting to get completed and I just haven’t had the time. Need to get a move on, as spray painting weather is soon going to be a thing of the past.

What’s been going on with you guys lately? Has it been a busy September? It has all of a sudden turned into fall weather here, so I have broken out my boots and light jackets. Although I’m not pumped by the fact that winter is around the corner, I love sweater weather, don’t you? 

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en route to blogpodium 2014

12th September 2014

So I am en route to Toronto today for tomorrow’s BlogPodium conference.  It’s an amazing Canadian conference for design + lifestyle bloggers, organized by the fabulous Jen Flores.

I have been going to Blogpodium since the very first ½ day event as part of the Interior Design Show in January 2012. I remember being so incredibly nervous. I came in, almost peed my pants when I realized there was a red carpet area to have my photo taken (How do I stand? Do I have something on my teeth? Is my hair frizzy? Do I look like a huge loser here by myself?), and then proceeded to sit solo in the audience with people chatting all around me. About halfway through though, I started chatting with Laura Collins, and suddenly felt way more comfortable. A few more chit chats later that evening (with Britt, Tanya, EJ, etc), and I felt like I had known these gals for ages. They were fun, easy going, we had lots of similar interests (surprise surprise!), and lots of them didn’t really know many people either.

For a bit of fun, I looked back at my photos to see what I could find. Here we are, circa Jan 2012.

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via my daily randomness

And then the next one, later in 2012. Maybe this one was more formally the “first” BlogPodium? Anyhow, I was super nervous all over again. However, like the first event, I started chatting with some gals at my table and quickly relaxed.

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And then there was last year – a totally different story for me. I was only 6 weeks post giving birth to my baby girl, but still determined to go. With major anxiety, I left Maya at home with her super capable Dad. It looked a little something like this…

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I packed up my breast pump and headed off to Toronto. My first night away from this munchkin. Look at those skinny minny legs and socks falling off the feet!

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Admittedly, I felt like I wasn’t totally relaxed last year (pumping breastmilk in the public washroom, anyone? Ha!), but I still so enjoyed the event.

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Even won a prize from The Home Depot! 2013-09-21 11.32.12

And now today, leaving my girl again at home with Dad, but with MUCH less anxiety this time. Except for deciding what to wear. Think I’m going to go casual this year with jeans, boots, and black tee.

Every year I go, I take away new information, a renewed motivation, so much inspiration, and the best part, new friends. Can’t wait!

Also – Did you catch my hair colour changes? Blonde to dark brown, and now to ombre (okay, mostly blond) again. Apparently I can’t make up my mind.

Are you a blogger going to BlogPodium? Say hi, if you are. Can’t wait to meet you! What are the rest of you up to this weekend? Any big plans?

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a nautical bunkie makeover reveal!

11th September 2014

Finally! I can do a reveal of the cottage bunkie. It’s been a long time coming. I first posted about making it over last summer, and then baby and life took over, and so my parents and I finished it up this season. Well, we can happily put a fork in it. This nautical bunkie makeover is done-zo.

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Remember when it looked like this, as my Dad’s former workshop?

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Well it was re-worked to double as tool storage at the back, and bunkie with deck at the front.

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The deck and glass railing really help to show off the lake view. The plan is to put a chair up there so you can grab your cup of tea and sit and relax with a book.DSC_0624 DSC_0629

From the inside, it had been jammed with tools and other junk, and there were only the two small windows.

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And now it is this light, fresh, and beautiful space.

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Seriously, who wouldn’t want to sleep out in this cute bunk house? My mum has been sleeping in there on the regular since it was finished. Likes it better than her own room!

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The black frames were from Target and I put in some vintage nautical prints – anchors, shells, sailboats, that kind of thing. I’ll have them up for sale in my shop shortly.

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The blue and white striped bedding was from Target. We bought it at the end of the season last summer, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be in their stock anymore. I did see some really similar bedding over at HomeSense recently though , and this collection at Target is pretty similar.DSC_0588 The dresser was a thrift store find that was made over with navy blue paint and new hardware from Lee Valley Tools. The mirror above came from HomeSense (the Canadian version of HomeGoods). I love the injection of brass into the room – it adds a lot of character and warmth.DSC_0554I had thought that I was going to search out fabric and make the drapes, but when I came across these pre-made ones at HomeSense, I was sold. They had some interest with the grey wavy pattern, but weren’t overly bold. Paired with a black curtain rod, they add a certain crispness to the space.DSC_0601 I was really happy with our decision to keep the walls white and paint the ceiling in a light grey. It definitely adds more dimension to the room.

I usually can’t stand ceiling fans, but the newer sleek modern ones really aren’t so bad. This 3-blade beauty came from Lowe’s, and totally works in the room.DSC_0602

We installed the holder for the fan remote behind the curtain, so you always know where it is, but it’s out of sight and won’t get lost at the back of a drawer or something.DSC_0599DSC_0604

Here is a recap of the blog posts associated with the bunkie makeover (more source info there, if you are looking for it!):
-Design Inspiration
-Exterior Finishes
-Interior Finishes
-Dresser makeover: navy + gold
-DIY bunk beds

What do you think? Definitely has a cottage vibe going on, right? I just love makeovers like these. I have so much fun shopping around for everything and pulling it all together. Especially when it’s for my parents – easy clients, that’s for sure! 

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Maya’s first year: Shutterfly photobook review

8th September 2014

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I love photobooks. Do you guys have “baby books” that your parents did for you? Or maybe you have done them for your kids? Well, I haven’t done one of these for Maya as I knew I wanted to do a baby’s first year photobook for her instead. I keep a journal with funny things she does and milestones, but this was the spot for all of the photos we have been snapping since last August (which you know for a new parent is A LOT).

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I used Shutterfly for my pregnancy photobook (see that here) and was so impressed with not only the quality of the book and ease of using their software, but I loved the design templates. I went through the ones that they have for baby books, and fell in love with the ‘Hello World’ design. I found the designs to be modern and clean – nothing too frilly. And the great thing about their designs is that you only use what you want. You can have really basic pages just with photos, and then mix it up with their templates.

shutterfly1If you are making a photobook with a lot of photos that go in a chronological order of some kind, here is a tip. The longest part can be choosing your photos – I copy/paste them into folders by month. Then, when I am making my book, I upload the photos one month at a time. I upload that month, create all the pages, then no photos are left in the photo tab, and then upload the next round. That way you don’t have like 100+ photos in the photo tab and you are scrolling through trying to figure out what should come first, what to collage on a page together, etc.

As usual, the book arrived quickly and packaged carefully. It is lovely. I have flipped through it at least a dozen times already. Even Maya pointed to the photos of her and squealed (I always wonder if she recognizes herself, or just thinks it’s some cute baby?! Ha). DSC_1038

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I really like that you can put text on the spine of the book, and add photos to the back cover. DSC_1013

So remember my monthly Maya photoshoots? Well, I was able to fit them all onto two pages here. I *love* it. It is so sweet to see how she grew over the year. I feel like each month captured her funny facial expressions, long limbs, and look at that last one… practically running! DSC_1014

For the first time ever, I upgraded to the “lay flat” pages. It means that when you open the book the pages lay perfectly flat rather than bending from the spine. I have to admit, it’s pretty lovely. I feel like the book might stand up better over the years with this feature… we’ll see.
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All of those “firsts” photos that I had prepared for Maya’s birthday party (see that here), I uploaded onto a few pages at the end of the book. DSC_1026

And I always like to have some pages that are just one full photo. They are really pretty stunning all blown up like that. I used the photos from our 2 family photoshoots that we have had since she was born as I knew the quality of the photos was really good.
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A bit of a love theme going on, as you can see. 
DSC_1036Cute, right? Oh and Shutterfly always has rotating sales on their products. Usually a % off the photobook, extra pages for free, and/or free shipping. Definitely keep your eyes open for those deals, as you can save a lot! You can always create your photobook, and then just have it saved and ready to place the order.

Do you guys make photobooks? Any tips for doing them quickly? The longest part for me is always choosing the photos to use. Man, it takes forever… but the result is always worth it. 

*Disclosure: I am working with Shutterfly on their baby campaign, and so received this particular photobook for free. All opinions are my own though (as always), and I order from Shutterfly on the regular! Love them. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog!

 

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Etsy road trip + latest faves

5th September 2014

So remember the Canadian Etsy roadtrip that I gave you the heads up on the other week? Well, it happened, I missed it (boo!), and it looked like it was awesome. Here is a recap video. Worth watching even just to see the cute displays of goods – Etsy peeps know how to do it right.

My latest etsy obsessions?

I’m crazy for these bracelets. Love the bright pops of colour and sort of edgy-girly vibe. They are all 50% off right now (only $10!)… I’m sorely tempted to put a few in my shopping cart.

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This pillow is amazing. Aztec pattern + turquoise = my heart is skipping a beat.

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I definitely want one of these decals for our front door when our house is done. Doesn’t it make the front door seem so cheery?

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This little apron would be so cute for any kiddo.

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And these plush ice cream cones? Please. I love them.

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Lastly, this clutch had me at hello. So, so gorge, right?

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Oh, and as an aside, did you also know that Etsy is doing a series of pop up craft shows across Canada on Sept 27th? It’s the ‘Made in Canada‘ event, and they are in a bunch of locations. I’ll be at the Ottawa event for sure (I actually have a booth!). Let me know if you plan on going!

Have a lovely weekend, guys. Any special plans? I think we might try and get away to the cottage even just for a day. I feel like the warm weekends are slipping away… Need to take advantage while we can!

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our latest news: summer, house, life

2nd September 2014

Well, we are back from our 2 weeks away in the adirondacks (upstate NY). It was totally lovely. We were there with all of Dan’s family – 7 cousins all under the age of 5 (!!). The weather, despite a few cool days, was warm and sunny and gorgeous. We spent afternoons by the lake, I tried stand up paddleboarding for the first time (loved it!), ate lots, slept lots, and relaxed. When you are at home by yourself with baby everyday, it definitely felt like such a treat to have Dan there 24/7 for two whole weeks.

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Beansie totally loved swimming. Squeals of delight – especially when we let her go in totally naked. So fun!

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And guess what happened this morning? We dropped Maya off at daycare for the first time! I was obviously nervous (typical mummy), but she just went right in, left me, and headed off straight to the other kids and toys. I barely got a kiss out of her. Ha! My social little butterfly. Anyway, I’m starting a 3-day a week contract (consulting, so my own hours, which is nice) and continuing to run my other small businesses on the side. I’m planning on keeping Maya at home with me on Fridays, so we are hoping it will be a nice balance for everyone. We’ll see how it goes! Right now, as I sit at my computer solo, it’s feeling totally strange…

Oh, and the house. Here are some photos of how it is looking these days.IMG_20140831_163842

They have got all of the framing done, which is neat because now we can really start to see the new shape come together. It was looking super rectangular there for a while, so to have some rooflines up is great.

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As you can see they have started to wrap the house with insulation, and some of the sheeting on the roof is done. This week they should be finishing that, and getting the shingles on. I had to make a quick decision on the shingles while we were away so they could get ordered, so I went with a basic solid black from BP Shingles (the company our contractor uses).  I had originally been thinking a grey, but with the grey siding we are going to use (Hardie Board in Iron Gray), it means that I don’t have to worry about greys matching.

This is the backyard. Those concrete pillars are for our future deck. Yes – A deck! After living with just grass back there for 5+ years, we are seriously pumped about creating a nice outdoor space. Right now the building of the deck is on the list for our contractor, but if money gets too tight, we might put it off and build it ourselves next summer. We’ll see…

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As with any project like this, you always have to expect some delays. I won’t get into all of the details, but the permit process back in the spring/early summer got a little crazy. It got lost in sending to a certain section of the City department, so we didn’t get all the feedback right away. Anyway, it took about 2.5 months to get everything approved and sealed – about a month longer than we had anticipated. Then, last week, the truss company made a mistake and didn’t allocate for one of the stairwells. It had to go back and be partly re-built. Another week (or more) delay. Anyway, you expect this kind of stuff, but it’s still a nuisance when it happens. We had hoped to be almost done with the trades (electrical, HVAC, plumbing) around now, but we’re probably about 6 weeks behind where we originally thought we would be. In any case, we better be back in here by Christmastime!

Here’s hoping that we are smooth sailing from here! Cause we’re pretty giddy to move in….!

IMG_20140831_165618Did you guys do any kid dropping off this morning? Daycare? School? This always feels like the “real” start of the year to me. I used to LOVE the first day of school. So excited to bust out my new jeans and school supplies. I still get the feeling like I want to go out and buy a new planner and set of pens and pencils.