Category Archives: uncategorized


Getting sleepy

1st May 2014

**This post has been brought to you in collaboration with Carpetright**

Let’s have some pillow talk today, guys. I’m curious – what size of bed do you guys have in your bedroom? Single, twin, double, queen, king, california king?

I had a single bed until I was about 14 and then changed rooms and graduated to a double. I did the double bed thing all through University, and in my first post-Uni apartment with Dan. In that little apartment Dan and I had, you couldn’t have fit anything bigger than a double, and since we are both fairly tall and really like our space when we sleep, we couldn’t wait to upgrade. Our very first purchase after we bought our house was a king size bed. Go big or go home, right? And let me tell you, it’s ah-mazing. When you just want to get some good sleep and not feel your partner tossing and turning, or get away from some snoring, a big bed is the best. I totally commend couples who sleep in small beds, but man, I like my uninterrupted sleep. If I go to bed early, Dan can come in hours later and totally not wake me up. As a light sleeper, this has been amazing. And plus, there is so much room to bring Maya in and have a good family snuggle! I can totally imagine her, and a future brother/sister, coming in on weekend mornings and jumping on the bed to wake us up.


We bought a medium firmness pillow-top mattress and it has made the bed so ridiculously comfortable. Even when I’m at a hotel, I usually still can’t wait to get home to my own bed.

Carpetright, a leading UK retailer for floor materials and beds, has a huge selection of mattresses available online. From memory foam, to orthopaedic, to ones with temperature control, there are a ton to choose from. The only thing I wish we had done differently when purchasing ours was to go for something made with more natural, organic materials.

Okay so tell me – what size of bed do you have? Do you love it? 

**This post has been brought to you in collaboration with Carpetright**

easter egg- edited

repost: an easy easter garland (with paint chips!)

15th April 2014

The fact that I’m very much a “real time” blogger means that on weeks like this, when the baby has been sick for 6 days and I have been bogged down with trying to get permits and paperwork in order for our reno (+ taxes, etsy business, and other regular life stuff), I just don’t have any content to post. Ugh – sorry guys! My poor monkey has had a fever, projectile vomiting, diarrhea, no appetite, and a crazy terrible diaper rash. She is on the mend, but it’s been a doozy.

As you can imagine, I haven’t done much to decorate for Easter this year. But I did pull out my easter egg garland that I whipped up last year using leftover paint chips. It’s so simple and still one of my favourite little holiday decorations. Check out the full post here for the tutorial.

easter egg- edited

Have you guys done any leftover paint chip projects? Doing anything to get ready for Easter?


we’re baaaack!

11th March 2014

Sorry to have totally dropped off for the last 10 days or so, guys! Can you guess where we were? Puerto Ricooooo (for some reason I always need to say this with my terrible spanish accent and lots of emphasis on the “oooo”! Ha)! One of my best girlfriends was getting married and I was in the wedding party, so it was a fabulous excuse to jet off for a week of fun in the sun.

I had full intentions of publishing some blog posts last week, but completely forgot my power cord to my computer. In the end, that was probably a great thing as it meant I could only occasionally check my email via phone, and instead did a whole lot of this.


Not too shabby.

Today I am getting life back in order here – groceries, laundry, etc – but will pop back in later this week with a post or two! Catch you then!

Oh and in other news, I entered East Coast Creative’s “Crafting with the Stars” series here. There is no way I’ll make it to the top 12… but you need to head over and check out the other entries. There are SO many amazing projects you guys. Seriously. But if you want to show this girl some love, head on over and click on my entry — #144, plus also enter yourself for their giveaway for a Punta Cana vacay. Uhhh hello! Amazing giveaway, right?


heart age 1

getting heart healthy

6th February 2014

So I know blog posts around here usually have something to do with DIY projects, decorating, crafts, parenting, etc. but today I have something a little different. When I was recently approached about the ‘Heart Age Calculator‘ on the Shoppers Drug Mart website, the public health advocate in me was keen to partner up on their campaign for heart health. I don’t talk about my work too much, but I have been working in public health since graduating from my undergrad (and went and got a Master’s in it a few years ago).

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada, and your heart might be aging faster than you think. It’s important to calculate your cardiovascular age and understand your risk profile in order to do the right things to keep yourself healthy. You want to keep that ticker going strong!!

This ‘Heart Age Calculator‘ on the Shoppers Drug Mart website is an online tool to help you assess your risk of things like heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular disease by answering some simple questions. It’s all fancy and smart – the only scientifically validated online tool available that provides a personalized heart age and cardiovascular risk profile as recommended by the Canadian Cardiovascular Society guidelines.

heart age 1

It asks you questions about your height, weight, exercise levels, smoking, blood pressure, etc.
heart age3

I completed the test and luckily it said that my cardiovascular age is 27.1. Yay! I’m 0.9 years younger than my actual 28-year old self. I was pretty pleased to see this, as heart disease runs in my family – my grandmother had 3 heart attacks when she was pretty young.heart age4

You probably know these already, but there are 5 major risk factors when it comes to heart health. It’s the usual stuff of not smoking, getting enough exercise, and eating properly, but do you have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked every so often? We all should – it’s important! heart age5

So it’s time to get heart healthy! Head on over to the Heart Age Calculator, and give it a try. It only takes a few minutes – I promise. And it might be just the thing to encourage you to start living a healthier life.


Disclosure – Although this post has been sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart Inc., the opinions and language are all my own, and in no way do they reflect the views, opinions or positions of Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. or its affiliates or licensees. Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information within this blog post and will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information or for any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

christmas day!

merry merry!

26th December 2013

I hope you guys are all having a wonderful holiday!

We had a lovely Christmas day yesterday — we ate fabulous food, did lots of laughing, opened such thoughtful gifts, ran around with the kiddos, sipped daiquiris on the beach, gave our little girl lots of kisses, and rounded it off by playing a great game of scrabble while watching Love Actually.

christmas day!

a selfie from the beach

We are soaking up the last rays before we head back home (where the Christmas celebrating will continue with my family!).

I hope you are all making some happy memories with your loved ones. I am feeling so overwhelmed by what a wonderful year 2013 was for me and my little family, and I hope you are feeling the same way. Thank you for popping by this little corner of the internet – I am so grateful for all of you! Sending you tons of holiday love and best wishes for a healthy, happy, and adventurous 2014. I’ll see you back here in the new year!


17th June 2013

Yo, ladies and gents! I just wanted to pop in and let you know that it might be a bit of a quiet week around here. We had my baby shower over the weekend and it was seriously lovely! I have lots of photos and party-related projects to share with you guys!! However, since my weekend was so jammed I had no time to prep any blog posts (and of course I’ve got a super busy week between work, etsy, and other commitments – yikes!). Will try and get a good baby shower wrap-up post by Wed or Thurs on here, but we’ll be back to the regularly scheduled programming next week. Promise!

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at me prepping the favours for the baby shower. Can you guess what they were?


Ta, ta, for now! xo

back to the program

22nd April 2013

We’re baaaaaack! Had an absolutely stellar week in New York City – lots of visiting with family, eating, and strolling about. Totally unplugged from work, emails, the blog, etc. It’s great to do that every once in a while (but I’m paying the price this morning – yikes!). Check back in tomorrow for the full scoop and picture overload (need to upload those to the computer tonight..!!).

DSC_0844-editedHope you guys had a great week! Has spring sprung where you are? We happily arrived back in Ottawa yesterday to green grass and kids playing on the street. Sayonara snow!!

gettin’ to know the jam jars

28th March 2013

Alright, so time to get a little more personal on here. Last week I asked you guys if you had any questions about me, or this blog, to help celebrate Blogiversary week! Here goes…

In case you’re scratching your heads about the title of this post, “jam jars” is my nickname. Has been ever since I can remember. I’m not sure why… I think one of my siblings came up with the moniker because “gem” sounds like “jam”. Anyhoo, it stuck. Maybe this has something to do with my mason (ie. jam) jar obsession?!



Alright. Time for the questions.

“I am always curious as to what type of magazines you get your inspiration from? I stand in the magazine section wondering if there are other magazines I should be reading, as they are often a cheap source for collecting ideas.

PS you always have the cutest clothes, jewelry and style <3″


Magazines are SUCH a great source of inspiration – and I love actually flipping through something in print rather than looking at everything online. One of my fave things to do is go to Chapters, grab a starbucks, and browse around the magazines!! I have a few subscriptions – Style at Home, Canadian House & Home, and House Beautiful. Style at Home and Canadian House & Home are staples for me – I have been getting them for years and although some months are better than others, they always provide great inspiration, have affordable products and ideas, and I really like the general aesthetic. My third subscription changes year to year – last year it was Elle Decor (gorgeous photographs, but everything too out of my price range), the year before it was Better Homes & Garden (nice, but I couldn’t get into the gardening section), and now House Beautiful (I’d say I’m a lukewarm fan). My other faves that I read at the store or buy as a one-off are the HGTV magazine, Do It Yourself Magazine, and Flea Market Style magazine. Plus, there are tons of other crafty magazines at a big store like Chapters that I browse through for new clever ideas for DIY projects. Oh and you know what else? I love to browse through flyers that I get in the mail for decor shops – they usually have beautiful photos and you can get some great inspiration (like for a knock-off DIY project!).

And thanks for the ‘PS’ comment, Jessica! I’m definitely no fashionista, but I think a few more posts about how I choose my clothes and accessories is in order! I’d love to get tips from the rest of you, too :)


“Is blogging worth it or more work than a person ever imagined?”

blogs poster

via here

For me this is a no brainer – blogging is TOTALLY worth it. However, I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t take a lot of time, effort, and energy. I have been posting 3 times per week for the last two years, and those posts don’t just magically appear. Most are DIY tutorials or updates on room transformations, so every post requires actually doing the project, photographing it, uploading and editing the photos, writing the post, and then publishing it. You get into a bit of a rythm, but it does take time. Since I work a normal 9-5 job, all of this takes place in the evenings and weekends. Besides preparing posts, there is a lot of other work that comes along with being a blogger: Setting up your website and fixing code issues as they arise, promoting your posts (via facebook, twitter, etc), reaching out to other bloggers to form relationships, marketing yourself to brands, seeking advertising partnerships, etc. Some of those latter items totally get put on the back burner for me. If you’re looking to write a blog that stays pretty personal though – not looking for large readership and monetization –  then lots of those things may not apply. So bottom line? Totally worth if for me (I get so much enjoyment out of blogging!), but it’s by no means a get-rich-quick scheme. I make a very small part-time income from this hobby — so if you’re looking to get into blogging for monetary purposes alone, it’s probably not the best idea.


I joined your blog in the fall so I know little about your background. What kind of jobs have you had? Anything in design that sparked this interest? Did you take school in this field? Just curious.

Gemma & Dan's Engagement

My background! Okay, here’s the quick recap: Grew up in Ottawa, went to Queen’s University for an undergraduate in health studies, traveled the world for a while, moved back to Ottawa for a few years and worked for two not-for profit health organizations (one focused on global health research, and the other on reproductive and sexual health), moved to England and did my Masters of Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and am now back in Ottawa working in project management for an organization that coordinates health services in this part of Ontario. So that’s the on-the-resume stuff. Although public health (and more specifically reproductive and maternal health) has been a passion for a long time and what I’d like to continue to pursue in my career, I have always had a creative side, too. There was evidence of this early on – as a kid I used to churn out rainbow drawing after rainbow drawing – and later, continued to take art classes on the side throughout my schooling and started really getting into interior decorating once I had my own apartment. If there were enough hours in the day, I would love to go back to school for interior design, but I would always want to do both – public health and design work. And when I say ‘design work’, I am using the term broadly – in this I include being a blogger, running my little etsy shop, running my new vintage rentals business, and taking on design clients from time to time. I plan to take a year of maternity leave once Baby Sprout arrives in late summer, and following that, will try to actively pursue both passions in part-time capacities. That would be the dream – a little of column A and a little of column B!


Have you ever used It’s my favourite free software for planning my rooms, my yard, my renos.



via source

Yes, yes, yes! I luuuurve floor planner. So easy to use and is a great way to visualize a room (and free!). The other online tool I often use is olioboard. They are great for creating beautiful moodboards, which is something I like to do before starting any room makeover. It’s a nice way to gather all of the elements you’re thinking about for a room into one place and see what they look like together. For clients, this is particularly important so that they can visualize how everything is going to work together.

A huge thanks to those of you who sent in questions (Jackie, Jessica, Bonnie, and others!). It’s fun getting to hear what you folks are interested in, and to answer some of the more personal stuff that I never think to share. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate!

3rd blogiversary

Have a very happy Easter weekend, you guys!! I’ll be back here next week and will share the results of our survey (fill it out here if you haven’t already), and the giveaway winner (enter here if you haven’t yet!). So much exciting stuff! Thanks for celebrating blogiversary week with me, guys! You guys are just the BEST and give me the motivation to keep getting my crafty/DIY on, and to keep writing about it! Hope your long weekend is full of family, fun, and chocolate :) 

blogiversary time

25th March 2013

Well, it’s that time of year again…. Blogiversary (it was technically on March 14th, so I’m a little late on this – whoops)!! This time we have hit the big 3-year mark. It’s hard to believe that my first post was a whole three years ago. Amazing how time flies and how much this little space of mine on the internet has become such a big part of me. Writing that first one-paragraph post back in March 2010, I never would’ve guessed I would be still writing 3 years later, enjoying it so much, have created a little network of friends and readers (who I adore!!), and even ventured into the business of monetization on the blog. Thank you guys (thiiiiiiiiis much!) for dropping in here and making this whole thing a lot of fun for me.

3rd blogiversary

I thought it would be nice to start the week off with a little survey. I would really love to hear from you guys about who you are, and what you enjoy (or don’t enjoy!) about the blog. I adore having you guys pop in here on the regular, and I want to make sure that the blog is working for you guys. So pretty pretty please, do me a solid and fill out this survey. It’s super short and will only take 5 minutes tops. Link:

survey button

Thanks guys. You’re da bomb!

Coming up for the rest of blogiversary week? A sweet giveaway from this ultra cute etsy shop (jewellery!!), an easy-peasy Easter craft, and the results from this survey + answers to your questions about me (if you haven’t already, send in any questions you have about me or the blog – big or small – either by email or leave a comment here – thank youuuu!).

the DIY files: a vintage card box

1st March 2013

TGIF! Hope you guys have been having a good week. Mine has been busy – I was travelling for work and then got stuck thanks to a big snowstorm that hit Ottawa on Wednesday. I got home yesterday afternoon (just a day later than planned), but this girl is tired! It’s amazing how much things tire me out way more than they used to, pre-pregnancy! Anyway, I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend at home with the hubs. I see some winter walks, hot chocolate, and a few crafty projects in my future.

So… remember my no-sew fabric bunting that I whipped up for the Wed by Hand show? Well, that wasn’t the only bunting I put together. The other was a teeny tiny paper bunting for a ‘cards’ box.

Supplies? An old book of sheet music (bought from the thrift store a while back for projects like this), scissors, a 1-hole punch, and some string.

Cut out matching triangles to size. I needed at least 5 to spell out “c-a-r-d-s”. Then it’s super simple (well, the whole thing is super simple, frankly) – just hold punch in the top corners, string the string through, and write out whatever you want on the triangles. I used a black sharpie and free-handed “CARDS”.



Here is the final product! Cute, right? I just used a bit of scotch tape to tape the bunting on the back of the box.


The old toolbox is one part of the inventory for my Pieces of Love business, and I think it makes such a sweet box for cards or other stationary at a wedding/event.


I know I’m a little bunting obsessed… they are just too sweet. Have you guys done any paper ones? Have any other good ideas about collecting cards at a wedding? Or cute card signs? Do tell. And what are you guys up to this weekend? Anything fun?