Thursday, 15 December 2011

* Holiday Hostess Gifts *

Alright, it's been a week since I've last posted. I am officially a slacker.

I love the holidays - the food, the music, the functions - but what I do not love is the extra strain on my already busy schedule.

Between working full-time, Christmas shopping (which I've almost finished!) and maintaining what I consider to be a fairly active social life, I've had almost no time for projects around the house, let alone the energy it takes to write about them!

Hopefully once the upcoming marathon of festivities is behind me I'll get back on track, but in the meantime I'm just warning you, these posts might remain few and far between.

Since everyone reading this probably has a number of functions of their own coming up, here are a few ideas for cute and practical hostess gifts that won't break the bank...

Cheese Tray or Mini Cutting Board + Cocktail Napkins 
+ Festive Spreader

$20 or less and these items will always come in handy.

How About A New Take on the Cookie Jar?

If memory serves me, Winners has these bad boys on for $9.99!

Homemade Mistletoe!

You can never find it when you want it, so click here for some DIY inspiration and spread a little holiday love! 


Friday, 9 December 2011

Faux Fireplaces!

In the few days since I last posted, I've had lots of people come to me with the same question... "You have a FIREPLACE?!?!"

My reply? Hell yeah, I do!!! :)

Finding an apartment with an honest to God, wood-burning fireplace in the city is just about impossible, which is why it never occurred to me or to Marc to add it to our "must have" list while we were looking for a place.

Nearly two years later now, I can say that we absolutely L-O-V-E having our fireplace and the novelty hasn't worn off in the slightest!

Thanks to Marc's dad, who kindly hauls loads of firewood home from hunting trips for us (and delivers it right to our door!), throughout the fall and winter we're burning bright three to four nights a week!

For those who aren't so lucky, and long to cozy up fireside on the regular, there are a couple alternatives to consider...

I'd say the easiest alternative to the real deal is the "yule log", AKA the fireplace channel on TV during the holidays (which you can actually buy on DVD accompanied by music and soft crackling noises!) A step up might be one of those mini plug-in fireplaces with glowing plastic embers...

Not sold? Yearning for a real mantel where you can display photos or hang stockings? In that case, maybe this next idea will better suit your taste... GET YOURSELF A MANTEL!

Who says you need a chimney to have a fireplace?! Whether you buy it or build it, your home can have a beautiful makeshift fireplace, complete with lights, candles,  or any other decor you could imagine for the new focal point of your living space.

Here are a few examples I've come across that may peek your interest...

What do you think? Would you make the effort to create a faux fireplace in your home? If so, check out this great post I found on Apartment Therapy with full DIY instructions!

Have a great weekend!


P.S. Just a quick note to one of my best friends who will be getting married tomorrow... CONGRATULATIONS Nicole & Michael! Love you guys and can't wait to share in your big day! XOXO


Monday, 5 December 2011

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!

This weekend it seemed like everyone was putting up their Christmas trees and getting into the festive mood, whereas I had yet to give a thought to decorating.

I didn't want to put up my little tree if the place was messy, but wasn't feeling a deep cleaning either, and Marc certainly wasn't pushing for it, so it was up to me to get the Christmas ball rolling...

Finally late Sunday night I decided to just get it over with, and wouldn't you know it, from start to finish the whole undertaking took just a half hour!

Not bad, eh? Yes, it's small and currently a little cluttered by a box full of firewood and gifts, but I love having it up and I especially love that I don't have to think about it until after the holidays are over!

Since our place is fairly tiny, and can feel crowded even without seasonal knickknacks, I try not to go overboard with other decorations.
A couple festive tea towels or candle holders here and there, a snow-globe (my personal fave) and some lights, and we're done...

Will you go all out with decor this year or will you be keeping it to a minimum to avoid extra holiday fuss?


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

My Design Wishlist

With my Dad's side hailing from Minnesota, my family and I have always celebrated American Thanksgiving as well as Canadian.

This past weekend marked my fourth turkey dinner in the last two months, and with those family functions behind me, it's officially time to start gearing up for another jam-packed Christmas season!

I've yet to bust out my tree (not our tree, mine... Christmas is definitely not Marc's scene!) or hang any lights, but one thing I have done is give plenty of thought to my shopping list.

Being the compulsive list-maker that I am, I've also created a wishlist for myself, just for the hell of it!

It's a little ridiculous and self-indulgent (duh, it's a blog) but nonetheless, here are a few items that would feed my insatiable appetite for colour and also keep in line with my mid-century modern taste...

Turquoise KitchenAid 2 Qt. Curling Teakettle - $29.99

Vetiver Green West Elm Herringbone Quilt  (Queen) - $150

Vintage Walnut and Gold Sunburst Clock - Prices Online Vary

Turquoise Urban Outfitters Madeline Chair $349

Anthropologie Zinna Handles (for I don't know what... yet) - $18 ea

Perhaps an Eames Molded Plastic Armchair or two from DWR for good measure - approx. $262 ea

Too extravagant for a Christmas wishlist? Yes. Collectively out of my own budget? Definitely! But what can I say?

When you spend most of your time trying to work within your budget, a little unrealistic daydreaming  is bound to occur here and there!

What's on your design wishlist this year? Will you pick up items for yourself or the house while shopping for loved ones? Do tell!


Friday, 25 November 2011

Home Is Where Your Wall Art Is... Guest Post by Holly Kent

For several months my friend Holly was on the fence about whether or not she wanted to leave Toronto.

As any good friend would, I discouraged her from leaving me our fair city, and wouldn't you know it, after great consideration she's staying put. Hooray!

We all know the mere idea of moving begs the question, when you're seeking a fresh start and about to create a new home for yourself, what do you take with you from the last one?

Read on to find out what Holly just couldn't live without...

Earlier this year, I got it in my head that I was going to pack up my car and move over 3000 kilometers away. I had the whole thing planned, right down to where I would stop along the way. 

I knew exactly what I was going to pack. I planned on getting rid of most of my books, to the surprise of everyone, and almost all of my clothes. 

The only things I knew I would hang onto at all costs were the things on my walls here in Toronto, where I stuck around. 

I even figured out how I was going to wrap my wall art in quilts and duct tape.

Here are a few pieces that made the cut...

My Leonard Cohen poster is the  pièce de résistance. 

It's from a concert in Belgium in the 1970s; I wasn't there. I bought it on ebay and spent a fortune getting it framed. 

My mom hates it - she has this idea that Leonard Cohen is going to seduce me. 

She's probably right.

Next is my gorgeous poster of the Giller Prize-shortlisted This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky. 

It's so near and dear to me; I loved the book. 

One of my best friends, and Krista's sister, Jenna Illies, did the publicity, and I helped plan the launch that the poster was made for, which is how I stole it. 

Plus, it's a really, really pretty cover.

Lastly, these photos of my grandmother and uncle. 

He was the New Year's Baby in 1954. 

I love that you totally can't tell that he would grow up to be a hermit in Death Valley, California who we once suspected to be the Unabomber. 

Isn't my grandmother gorgeous? 

I have a lot of other stuff on my wall that makes up for the fact that I never painted, but I don't want to take up the whole blog. 

Thanks for having me over, Krista!

Side note: I'm really glad that I didn't move.


Thanks for sharing, Holly! YOU STAY HERE.

I also love the cover of This Cake is for the Party and remember that poster standing tall at the book launch... nice steal! 

My sister is good friends with author Sarah Selecky and is currently working on publicity for her latest venture, an online writing course called Story is a State of Mind.

I may not be writing manuscripts over here at NofW, but I think the course is a wonderful idea and I have a sneaking suspicion that most bloggers would agree with me...

Just because you're writing about something you love, or writing what you would want to read, that doesn't make it easy... and making time for it is another battle altogether!

If you want to hone your writing skills or focus your creativity, check out Sarah's program here - the program launches December 12th! 


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

"The Boutique"

Right before I moved in with Marc, I bought a terrific walnut dining table with a secret built-in leaf that I absolutely loved. Since my last apartment didn't really have much room for a table, this was a huge thrill!

It was the right price, thanks to an Ikea "Wacky Wednesday" sale, and it fit the space perfectly, but without chairs to sit on it was still a little tricky eating at the table...

I didn't want to spend an arm and a leg on a brand new set, so my Auntie Lisa suggested I head over to what our family now affectionately refers to as "The Boutique".

The Boutique is a dingy hotel furniture liquidation store located in the northeastern part of the city, where millions of new and gently used pieces are just sitting there, marked down to decently low prices and begging to be revamped!

Whether you have your eye on modern pieces of furniture, antiques or misfits like these, a little imagination and the ability to look past slight wear and tear can end up making all the difference in the world to your space and style.

In Auntie Lisa's case, a little paint went a very long way for a couple of dressers and a nightstand, and most recently she's reupholstered a [now] gorgeous pair of club chairs. These finds alone were inspiration enough to get me in the car and headed north to hunt down chairs of my own!

With Marc's help, I ended up taking home four simple wooden chairs (like the one pictured above with worn navy fabric) that suited our table perfectly.

For over a year now they've served their purpose, and haven't looked half bad, but with the new fabric we finally picked up this past weekend they're sure to look even better in no time!

Stay tuned!


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Inspired Ideas - Mason Jar Meals!

As I've already said, I'm slowly making changes and additions to our kitchen to make it a little more livable...or at least more lovable, as last I checked renters aren't allowed to knock down walls.

Since the kitchen is supposed to be the heart of the house, I think what I do in it should matter just as much as how it looks, and this past Sunday I did something new in my ugly kitchen that I really enjoyed...

I made Marc and I mason jar lunches! 

No, not these ones... but I spotted this photo while poking around on Pinterest and immediately thought the idea was right up my alley!

I've made a habit of packing my lunch every single day (to save myself $50+ of unnecessary expense and to make sure I eat decently well-balanced meals), so this seemed like a really cool way to do so that could help me ward off a little lunch-time monotony.

You might say that bringing a home-made meal or leftovers in a jar may not sound all that different from packing your lunch in ziploc containers, but it just is

Jars are beautiful, they have a nice weight to them, and at the end of the day they just make food look more appetizing. What's not to like?!

For my first go at it on Sunday evening, I threw together what we had on hand:
  • quinoa with soya sauce and sauteed onions, diced green/red peppers
  • grilled seasoned zucchini 
  • tomato wedges baked with parmesan and dried basil from our own garden 
  • hard-boiled eggs sliced and sprinkled with salt, pepper and dill

There you have it! Different, delicious (if I do say so myself) and perfectly filling... not too shabby for my first try, eh? 

To find out how you can make a batch of mason jar meals that will last you over a week click here ... all kinds of appetizing combinations await!


Thursday, 10 November 2011

* The Ultimate Stocking Stuffer *

Did I ever mention that I’m part of the Lottery Team at the Heart and Stroke Foundation?

No? Well I am! And guess what!?!

Midnight TONIGHT marks our deadline for the
2012 Calendar Lottery
Early Bonus Prize of $25,000!!!

Pay it Forward

The holiday season is fast approaching so click HERE to purchase a six-pack for just $125 and give your loved ones the ultimate stocking stuffer!

This is literally the gift that keeps on giving... giving away CASH! And I should know, my coworker Wendi and I take turns calling our lucky winners every day!

...I kid you not, this is part of my job!

All of us on the team have been dying to call someone we know with the happy news of a GREAT BIG WIN and I want to be the first to do so, so ORDER NOW for yourself and your loved ones!

Not only is this Calendar a great gift, all of the monthly images were taken in Ontario and have been generously donated by amateur photographers who support our mission to save lives...

Buy your Calendars today for chances at all of our WINCREDIBLE prizes and help our team raise funds for ground-breaking, Heart and Stroke Foundation research that gives all Canadians longer, fuller lives.

From all of us, to all of you... GOOD LUCK!!!


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Simple Pleasures - Our Floating Bookshelf!

Last night marked the fourth year in a row that I've attended the Giller Light Bash with my girlfriends.

It's become something of a tradition to attend each fall, and as usual we had a great time schmoozing with publishing folk, dining on tiny delicious h'ordeuvres, and joining in on the excitement as the Giller Prize winner was announced.

[Photo By: Dominique Lamberton for the Toronto Standard]

This year's event was held at The Burroughes Building, right in my neighbourhood, and as far as my dancing shoes and I are concerned, it was a huge success!

I've never been a huge reader myself, and only pick up books here and there (usually with a recommendation from one of my sisters or friends) so when I do polish off a new novel it becomes something of a trophy for me and I adore having "my books" around me or on display around the house.

I'm fairly sure everyone in my family has the ever-reliable Billy Bookshelf from Ikea, myself/Marc included, but this past year we bought into a cool new way of displaying our books...

The floating shelf!

This shelf cost a whopping $15 at Indigo and while we only have one of its kind at the moment, not a soul walks into our house for the first time without asking about it.

It's just one of those silly things that catches your eye or makes you think, but most importantly adds a little fun to your space!

What do you think? Do you display your books in a way that thinks outside of the typical shelf or coffee table box?


Friday, 4 November 2011

Kitschy Goodness!

Last week I mentioned I want to slowly transform the kitchen but I haven't gone into much detail as to how I plan to do this...

No doubt about it, I'll definitely need to paint, but my next order of business will be something a bit more simple. I want a kitschy little print to cheer the place up a bit!

I'd like to place it above my stove, so it'll have to be 4x6" or 5x7" max, plus the extra few inches if frame. Here's a drawing I did on my iPad...

Until recently there was a shop on Etsy called Hanzz or something that had the cutest kitchen utensil art that looked just like that one I sketched... then wouldn't you know it, I hmm'ed and hah'ed too long about this silly $12 print and now I can't find it anywhere!

Here are a few that I really like...

[The Word Shop]


[Cloudless Sky Studios]

[Graphic Anthology]

[Graphic Anthology]



What do you think? Any preference?
Have a great weekend :)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A Very Special Day...

Halloween has come and gone, and this year that means two things...

1. It's time for my Halloween pumpkin reveal! Unfortunately I got lazy and made what Marc referred to as a "Holy Pumpkin" instead of trying to top last year's owl...

His Nightmare Before Christmas was way cuter...

And #2. Today is mine and Marc's 3 Year Anniversary!

That's right, three years ago we went to the movies to watch one of the most respected films of modern day cinema... oh wait, no, it was just Kevin Smith's Zack & Miri Make a Porno ;)

Happy Anniversary MLo! Time flies when you're having fun :)