Monthly Archives: July 2011

What happened to dessert?

Remember my musings on summer desserts?

Well, this is what I came up with and it was delish! And super easy – I almost felt like someone who really knows how to cook!

You should try it too!


Antique Hunting, Farmer’s Markets … sans kids!

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated our 10th Wedding anniversary. A significant milestone, yes, but we opted to keep things low-key to mark the occasion.

My parents took the kids to the cottage for the weekend so we were kid-free from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. The break from the everyday with three kids 6 and under was enough to celebrate!

We decided to do a mini-road trip and check out the St. Jacob’s Farmer’s Market. It had been years since I was last there and it didn’t disappoint.

First, we checked out some antiques …


Stunning Blue colours caught my eye


An old globe ... USSR and all


A paddle from a family reunion in 1963!


Red, Red, Red!


I walked off with some lovely glass milk bottles for just $4 for all of them. More on that and what I’ve done with them in another post.

After checking out some antiques we got hungry …

The chip wagon was calling our names!

Nothing like fries soaked in ketchup & vinegar


And then you wash them down with some fresh lemonade …

The best lemoade I've ever had


The fries and lemonade refreshed us enough to wander around the market – it was a blistering hot day but the stalls were just bursting with fresh produce … it was killing us not to buy anything as we weren’t headed directly home and it would just spoil.

My favourite stall was the fresh cut flowers. Here are some gerbera daisies … just like I had in my wedding bouquet.

After the market we decided to check out the Elora Gorge. It was awesome!

First we had some yummies we’d bought at the market …

Mmm .. havarti & ham kielbasa



Then we hiked around the gorge

It was starting to get late after calling nine Bed & Breakfast’s (note: make reservations in July) we found one that would take us … it was outside of Fergus … and a fairly random place to stay. The people were lovely, it was clean and very nice but boy did they like their flowers.

We stayed in their only available room that night … the “Garden Room”. Each room had it’s own theme and the owners had clearly put a lot of thought, care and love into how they decorated. It just wasn’t my style – a “little” over the top if you know what I mean.

Yes, that is a sunflower lamp


Painted sunflowers all over the wall & a picket fence!


We did a final hike on Sunday morning and were amused at our choice … it was in a marsh area so there were lots of bugs but we made the most of it and ran part of the way! The view from the lookout tower was spectacular!

We loved exploring parts of Ontario we hadn’t been to before – there is so much to see!

So, that’s how we spent our kid-free weekend. No schedule, just wandering around. It was like a weekend-long date and was fantastic.

How would you celebrate a significant milestone? What do you like to do with your partner?

Blending the New with the Old

I am a huge fan of modern architecture. I love the simplicity of the clean lines, the use of shape and the mix of construction materials.

This morning I flipped open the Globe & Mail’s Real Estate section and on the front page was a renovated 1890 brick farmhouse in Creemore. The house is a brilliant mix of modern design while respecting and incorporating the original design and vintage of the home.

The old farmhouse has a narrow clapboard siding while the new addition has a wider wood siding – all unified by the colour.

So many new builds or additions create homes on steroids and too few incorporate their environment and pay homage to the age of the original home or lot. I’m not a fan of driving down and country road and being able to see a giant stone and stucco house miles before I arrive at it. It’s too Donald Trump for my liking (note small size of image in relation to what I think of it) …

The architect for the Creemore house featured in the paper today is Christopher Pommer of Plant Architect. His firm was founded on the notion of designing buildings to fit within the context of their surroundings. They aren’t interested in replicating a historical style but rather taking what’s there and bringing a fresh, modern look to it. Building something new while respecting the old.

If you get a minute check out the portfolio for Plant Architect. Tons of projects – some small scale, some complete rebuilds – each one completely unique.

Here are some more photos of the Victorian farmhouse in Creemore … if it ever goes on the market I will line up to bid on it!




Do you like to blend new with old? Or, do you prefer architecture that screams “look at me!”?


images 1, 3 – 5 via here, image 2 via here

Cool Treats

My magazine subscriptions have been trickling in since the end of the Canada Post strike and I devoured the latest edition of House & Home last week.

During my initial flip through the mag I lingered over this amazing living room in jewelry designer Maryan Keyhani’s house. She’s curated different styles of furniture yet kept a unified look by using a neutral colour pallete and clean, simple lines. I love how bright and open this space is.


But then I was stopped in my tracks. Literally. Inspirational home design ideas were thrown out the window.

All I could focus on is this Chocolate Chip Ice Cream sandwich. Sooo tempting and it looked like something I could actually make!

Look at the yumminess …


Decadent right?

But wait! The cover of the August issue of Chalelaine featured this!

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches … oh yeah!


The weather here is hot and humid. So today instead of cool design musings, I bring you cool treats. Literally.

I’m having some friends over on the weekend … should I make the Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches or the Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches?

An empty nest …

I am currently kid-free. Enjoying the moment and have no particular time that I’m due home. What a treat.

My parents took the kids to the cottage for the weekend. I think kids and grandparents will be tired by the end of the weekend but it was a big love fest on all sides as they departed this afternoon.

Did I mention we are now kid-free?

Gonna hit St. Jacobs tomorrow first thing …

Then a hike in the afternoon maybe around here?

Then … who knows! What I do know is that the only waterbottle I plan on carrying is mine and the only snack I am packing is my own. If the car stops it is only for a grown-up pit stop.

Lordy. I am excited … maybe will even have some antique finds to share next week too!

What are you doing on this fabulous summer weekend?

Have a seat … in the shower

I am currently working on a bathroom renovation for client’s who live in a wonderful Victorian house. Everything about the house is amazing. Soaring ceilings. Detailed mouldings and tall windows.

The master bath, however, needs some TLC.

We’ve nailed down the design plan and are looking to start construction in mid to late August. There are a couple of details to be finalized but one in particular is still being debated.

It’s the throne … and I’m not talking about THE “throne” but rather the shower throne. Where do you sit down or rest your toes to do whatever you need and want to do in the shower?

I had originally specified a teak fold-down shower bench like this one …

via moi

I chose the fold-down bench instead of a built-in bench for a few reasons.

One was to maximize space in the shower area.

Also, a bench that is built-in can be at a higher risk for water leakage (this shouldn’t be a problem with a good contractor but any time you build a cavity that need tiling and a marble slab on it you run a risk).

The third reason was to help manage the budget. Building a built-in bench or having a custom slab of marble cut requires more labour and material to install.

The fold-up teak bench is economical, cost conscious and just looks damn good.

Here’s a shot of a teak bench in another bathroom …


I’m all for sharing a balanced perspective … so here are a few shots of bathrooms with built-in bench seats …

Or what about this one? You could have a nap in here ….


Here’s another bench seat …


Another option is to have a custom slab made and installed as a bench seat ….


And finally, another option is to extend the adjacent tub deck into the shower area …


If it was your shower, what would you prefer? Fold-up, built-in or custom slab?

summer holidays … 9 weeks of fun (and some work)

The kids have been out of school for almost two weeks now. They are happy to have the time off and the break so far has been good for all (yes, if you know my kids, I will likely eat those words by mid-August!).

However, the school break for holidays brings a whole new meaning to figuring out how to get work done while keeping things running on the home front.

It was easy when the kids were in daycare. The school calendar meant nothing – the only time daycare closed was on stat holidays.

Now that my older two kids are in school full-time dealing with school holidays (especially 9 weeks in the summer!) has become a bit more of a juggling act. And by juggling, some days, I mean throw all the balls up in the air and hope I catch some.

I thrive on structure. I love knowing when I have time set aside to do what I need to do. The school year is great for this because I can map out work time, school (for me) time, volunteer time, home stuff time etc. There is never enough time to get everything I want done but I generally subscribe to the theory that the important things always happen … somehow.

This Steven Covey matrix is a helpful way to prioritize.

Summer is a bit more of a scheduling challenge. July & August. 9 weeks. I need to figure out how to keep the kids occupied, get my own work done AND enjoy our all-too short summer.

Camps are expensive to put the kids in all summer. Grandparents are an option for some help. But what it really boils down to is a colourful cocktail with a little bit of this and a little bit of that (is it inappropriate to use a cocktail analogy when referring to your children?).

So, here’s what I’ve got figured out for this summer in an attempt to keep my own sanity and get it all done!

Week 1 we took a family holiday and did lots of this …

That’s swimming, 6 year old style, in case you weren’t sure what you were looking at.

The kids are signed up for a few camps, some time with their Grandparents and family time at the cottage.

Then I’ve got a laundry list of field trips like trips to the zoo, berry picking, the beach, the Toronto Islands and Niagara Falls.

All this means that while I’ve managed to eek out some time during regular business hours to work … I’ve shifted a portion of my workday to the evenings after the kids go to bed. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

All great plans, right?! Of course, my original plan to dial back my project work during the summer months might have been made when I was dreaming or something. Best laid plans …

I know it will all get done (mostly, somehow) … the key to making it all work will be to clearly set client expectations, be realistic about what I can and cannot do and make time for fun.

Will see how it all works out and let you know.

If you are a working parent, how do you manage the school break for summer holidays?

Images via here, here, here, moi & moi

Street View: Windows

I’ve been thinking about windows in streetscapes particularly after hearing Tommy Smythe speak a few weeks ago.

He showed us fantastic pictures from his recent trip to Scandanavia. I was struck by the impact of the windows in the design of all the buildings.

Windows in a street scene often demonstrate the element of repetition and serve to draw the eye along the street or up and down the building.

The repeated windows, the close proximity of the buildings in this image of London, England draw the eye along the street

The windows in this Cophenhagen street draw interest and force your eye to move along

On holiday, we stopped for lunch in Montpelier, Vermont and these windows spoke to me

More thoughts on windows in a future post – I’ve been on vacation this week but wanted to share some things that struck me. Do you ever notice windows in streetscapes?

PS: Check out this window display I came across in Montpelier, Vermont. It was put together by a grade eight student who loves dolls. So creative and detailed!

Images via here, here and moi

The State of the Union

It was a bit odd not to be in Canada for Canada Day (why?) but it’s been great to hang out with family and celebrate the 4th of July holiday instead.

A sense of pride, a sense of community – these characteristics have jumped out at me over the past two days while vacationing in Southern Vermont.

Vermont Symphony Orchestra

Last night we went to an outdoor concert put on by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra followed by showstopping fireworks.

Today we went to a 4th of July parade. Everywhere we went people were in holiday mode, celebrating family, friendship and community.

Young, old, those who serve, sports teams, music and of course groups expressing their political opinions all walked with pride today down the main street of their hometown.

As I learned last weekend community is all around – it’s about sharing and celebrating things you have in common with others. And maybe raising a glass or two while you are at it!

Here are a few shots of today.

Main Street USA

A beautiful day for a ride

Those who serve

Of course, the firetrucks from every neighbouring community





This summed up my thinking about community  …

Happy 4th of July to my US family and new friends I’ve met this weekend!

Have you celebrated community lately?

images via moi & here

Happy Canada Day!

It’s a beautiful summer day! Happy Canada Day to all!!

To me, Canada Day is about cottages …

Haliburton Heaven

This year, if you are in Ottawa it’s about royalty …

Or, Canada Day can be about Road Trips …

I’m hitting the road this year … a long awaited family vacation. Can hardly wait!

What are you doing this Canada Day?

images via here, moi, here and here