Thursday, October 28, 2010

BROWSE LIST ~ Featuring Beauty Safari and Giveaway Chance!

I recently found myself in Jordan Village with a little bit of extra time to kill. I've visited this store, Beauty Safari, a few times before and love how luxurious it is. I thought I would post a few photos for a sneak peak. They have some really great lines available and even better ideas for Christmas shopping. From soaps and bath bombs, to fabulous pillows and fun shower caps, there's a gift for anyone on your list. Yes, the men too!
Pop in sometime and prepare to be wowed. Or, if you can't make it out, check out their website here.

Yes, the furniture pieces are available to purchase... and they're gorgeous!

Doesn't it look fabulous!

Also, as for a giveaway!! - Head over to My Sweet Savannah: here , and check out the lovely little giveaway that you can enter to win! She's giving you four chances to win a $50 gift certificate to sosobella. Use it for a little something pretty for yourself or check off one more thing from your Christmas list! While you're there, take a peak around her blog. I promise you'll find more than a few fantastic ideas and inspirations! It's one of my favourite reads!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ruffles and Rust ~ Highlights Courtesy of Maison Douce

This is an event that I've seen advertised for what feels like forever... and of course, every time I see this poster, I wish I could go. However, it's just wasn't possible this year. Maybe next year!
So, seeing as I wasn't able to go, I live vicariously through those who did! I decided to share some fabulous photos from the blog Maison Douce.
To view them all, click here.

Engagement Photos - Becki and Nathan

Literally, hours ago, I was out and about with Becki and Nathan, shooting some engagement photos. They didn't want anything crazy, so me not being a professional wasn't a problem.
As you'll be able to see, they're super photogenic and, from the shot above, way too much fun to shoot.


I love the chippy pink paint of this door - it makes the most amazing headboard!
This week, as the reclaimed rustic item, I'm featuring old doors. They really are so versatile and so gorgeous - especially when they're old, painted, and chipping. Here are a few different uses for different types of old doors, as well as a project involving reclaimed door panels that I've been working on.

These gorgeous old doors make for a pretty headboard! Keeping the original sea foam coloured paint really brings the whole room together.

This has been one of my favourite tear-outs from an old Country Living magazine for sooo long! I love absolutely everything about it; the ironstone collections, the spice jars, the shelving and especially, the painted door. How handy is that?

This old door has been transformed into a little bench, perfect for a mud room or hallway.
(side note - - love the flea market sign in the background!)

And finally, my projects. I took old door panels that were white, cleaned them off and stenciled things onto them. It's a super easy project (unless you're planning on hand cutting the custom stencils like I did)!

This one is my favourite - it's in my kitchen. I just love how it has the trim detail around the edge making a sort of frame around the stenciling.

Who Needs Starbucks?

It's probably a good thing, for my wallet and my waist, that there isn't a Starbucks conveniently down the road. The closest few are about 25 minutes away - just beyond reasonable justification. When I was younger, one of my first jobs was as a barista at one of the local shops and to be honest, I loved it! The free drinks and coffee were great perks, but I loved the people! It was fast-paced, fun and really let you get to know the locals. I mean when you're up to open a coffee shop at 5 am, you very quickly get to know everyone in need of caffeine!
I've always wanted to have an espresso machine of my own. You know the really pretty silver, retro looking ones? I have a little spot picked out right on my counter. The problem is, they are just so darn expensive! Until I can convince my husband that it's a necessary purchase - similar to his record machine repairs or his surround sound recently - I'm using an inexpensive model that I got as a gift a while ago.
It's a little espresso machine that has two features - brew or steam. There are no buttons and it's as basic as basic can be. But it works! It's taken me a little bit of practising to get silky smooth foam but I think I've finally mastered it.
I figured I would do a little tutorial on how to make a simple latte for anyone who has a machine collecting dust on their counter. Or, even for those of you who spend a decent amount on coffee each morning, when you could just make your own. I know that sounds absolutely ludicrous, but think of all the money you'd be saving... then think about that list of fabulous vintage things you've been waiting to get. Mhmmm. I know. Makes, it a little easier to swallow.
Anyway, here it is! It's super easy, it just takes a few tries.
So, first, pick out some coffee beans in a very dark roast. I always pick Starbucks Espresso Roast. Make sure it's ground for an espresso machine! I get mine from Walmart in the States because it's honestly less than half the price for a pound of coffee, then if you purchased it from Starbucks here in Canada. It already comes ground, but for a drip coffee maker, so I just whirl it around in my food processor a few times.
Add the appropriate level of grinds to your machine (mine is in a little handled holder) and lock in place. Make sure the machine is full of water and that the espresso pot is in place as well. Once everything is good to go, fill a 2 cup measuring glass or a proper milk foaming pitcher, with about 3/4 cup of milk. I typically use 1% milk but the higher the fat content, the denser your foam.
When the machine is ready to start steaming, place your pitcher under the steam wand (careful to avoid touching it since it's so hot) and begin steaming your milk. Once your milk starts bubbling away, slowly lower the pitcher just enough until the crazy bubbling turns into a quieter sucking sound. Continue for a minute or so (you'll feel the milk heating up) before you stop steaming. Then, set your milk aside and brew your shot of espresso.
While brewing your espresso, pour your hot milk (holding back the foam with a spoon) into your cup. Fill it about 2/3 of the way.

Working quickly, so your shot doesn't spoil, pour the shot of espresso into the cup.

Next, gently fold over your foam a few times to make it silkier, and then spoon it on top of your latte.

Tada! A perfect latte in minutes, right from the comfort of your own home. You can work on some variations too, like adding flavoured syrups to your cup before adding your milk making it a flavoured latte. Or, add some chocolate syrup to it for a mocha. My favourite is a pump of vanilla and some caramel drizzle on top for a Caramel Machiatto (which, by the way, only means the shot of espresso is poured through the foam). To make it a cappuchino, just do a about 1/4 milk, a shot of espresso and the rest foam. It's really a lot of fun - and makes your morning coffee that much more exciting. Plus, what a fabulous way to end a dinner party! And, as for the machine, I've seen some for about $50 at a Target or something similar. It will pay for itself in 2 weeks if you get a latte each day from Starbucks!

Anyway, try one! Before you know it you'll be able to whip up even the most intimidating orders:

- solo grande, non-fat, extra-hot, light foam, caramel drizzle latte anyone? Sadly, that's actually my usual.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Extreme Makeover ~ Upstate New York

So how many of you have a dream house? There was a small town, not far from where we grew up that had an old general store type building at one of it's intersections. Every time we would drive past that shop, my dad would say "There's my dream house." He would then go on for a few minutes about how he would convert the front into a little store, and what he would fix and how much he loved it. Over the years, that shop was eventually turned into a beautiful house, and my dad moved on to his next dream house.

This is my dream house.

My dream house was a huge old manor in the small town we grew up in. It was the old doctors residence and was empty for a long time before a local church started using it for kids clubs and things. I fell in love with the big, old, cream brick house with pretty green shutters one summer when I attended a kids camp there. It has two kitchens (one was part of the servants quarters in the back) and fireplaces in every room. There were creaky old floors and huge tall ceilings. It also had an old carriage house beside it. It was three storeys and needed a whole lot of work. I imagined it being my first home, shortly after getting married. I would spend my days fixing it up and wallpapering, restoring it back to the gorgeous estate it once was. The fantasy went something like many of the scenes from It's a Wonderful Life. The house did actually go up for sale at one point, and was even reasonably priced - I was just too young. Every time I drive past it I can picture what it would be like living there. The new owners haven't changed much about it, just enough updates to make it livable I'm sure. Maybe one day...

Until then, I always appreciate those who find the beauty and potential in long-forgotten homes. Worn and ragged, they look so desolate and almost eery. But there are some people who have the gift, like my father, of looking at such a house and envisioning it restored to it's original glory. Most of these houses have good bones and potential, they just need a little vision and love - and sadly, money. Anytime I come across one I can't help but imagine how gorgeous it could be and what it would be like to call it home.

Lisa and Mark Hellman are one of those couples. The transformation they made possible in the old Upstate New York estate is astounding. It was a year of complete renovations, but the end result was a fully restored 106 year old gorgeous home. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Take a look here to view the full flip book as featured in Country Living.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oo la la ~French Macarons!

This past Saturday, I awoke to the sound of my alarm, in the dead of the night... seriously. It was 5 o'clock in the morning and there wasn't a hint of sun anywhere in the sky. I had a dinner party that night to prepare for and one of the things I was anticipating the most was my trip to the St. Lawrence market, downtown Toronto.
So, off to market I went. My parents tagged along for the ride and we made it there within an hour, just before all of the Saturday morning crowds would start to appear.
Our first stop, as always, is a little Greek stand on the lower level. They make the greasiest of greasy breakfasts - perfect for Saturday mornings. My mom, Willen and I shared one while we went over our lists of things we needed to get.
Our first stop, and one of my favourites, was the Stonemill bakery stand. It's quite literally wall to wall baking: rows of fresh baked bread, bins of baguettes and piles of warm muffins, croissants and pastries. It's carb-laden bliss for anyone who enjoys something sweet with their coffee or some fresh bread with dinner. First, I picked out a baguette and two of their artisan loaves, cranberry pumpkin seed and roasted garlic. Next, I filled a bag with a few pastries to enjoy with coffee for on our drive to church the next morning. And finally, and most excitingly, I couldn't resist the little molten chocolate cakes. My sister-in-law and I are chocolate lovers and they'll be perfect warmed with some hot chocolate after skating this week.
Up next was the produce section. I was planning on roasting some vegetables so I wanted a few different varieties. I left with some purple fingerling potatoes, sprouts, little carrots and golden beets.
From there I moved onto another favourite, the coffee stand. It's a booth that's lined with rows of coffee beans. There must be 60 different varieties of beans! It makes it almost impossible to choose just one. I finally, after much debate, settled on their Holiday Blend. It's a combination of Bavarian chocolate, spices and hints of orange. It was divine.
I would then go on to pick up my meat from the butcher, and hold my breath as I walked through the smelly fish sections, and eventually end up on the other side.
Before all that however, I stumbled across a new booth that I hadn't seen before. It was something so special I couldn't resist sharing!
As I left the roasting booth, I saw this girl setting up a cute little booth. I noticed these colourful little circles she was setting up and hung around for a minute, patiently waiting for her to get herself established before going over to check theme out. As she hung the sign I heard myself let out a tiny little gasp of excitement.
"Lemon Tree Patisserie ~ French Macarons"
I was so jealous. I have always wanted to make these perfectly round little French treats. They're the prettiest of desserts and remind me of Marie Antoinette whenever I see them. They are in an entirely different league then the North American version, macaroons. Leave it to us to ruin something so lovely.
Anyway, I picked out a soft pink Vanilla Bean one and a green Pistachio one to bring home. They were even more delicious than they looked, and they were almost too perfect to eat. The tops were smooth and they were perfect circles of slightly crisp and chewy macaron. Between the two cookies was the butteriest of butter creams, infused with flavour. I really enjoyed them.
Anyway, it is my goal to attempt making them week. In the mean time, I'm looking for some flavour inspiration.
Enjoy these!
Perfectly French. This was an article done on Bobbette & Belle, French pastry specialists in Toronto.
Lavender macarons.
Hazelnut. The flavour options seem endless!
This is Paulette - a bakery that specializes in macarons. I always wished we had something similar in our area so you can imagine my excitement when I found one in Toronto!

My most favourite cake pedestals. One day I would like to have a lovely little collection of them on display in my kitchen. They would look even more lovely with some french macarons.

Check out her website - - or better yet, stop in to her booth and pick up a couple to try at the market sometime! They're worth it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rustic Retreat

I was just sitting in my basement, watching my son play, listening to a collection of old swing records. It's kind of a typical fall-kinda day out today and I'm waiting for my petite gateaux de chocolat to cool before I can add the frosting. I'm browsing collections in attempts to find some inspiration for my Harvest Dinner & Wine Tasting tablescape and I couldn't resist sharing this. I don't know what it has to do with tablescapes, but, it came up in the search results none-the-less.
How adorable is it! Talk about a charming little retreat. It has all the fun of camping and enjoying the outdoors, with all the comforts of a quaint little cabin.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

RECLAIMED RUSTICS ~ Vintage Cutlery Herb Markers

Okay, so this is going to be a couple different "upcycles" for my Reclaimed Rustics section this week, but in a super short post because it's 5 o'clock and I need to get started on dinner. Tonight is the first night for public skating at the arena in town and my father-in-law and husband have been patiently waiting to take Willen (who's still only 16 months) out skating. It's going to be so much fun for him (and them!) and I've got a bit to do before we head out.
So, here it is. My herb pots that have done so well on my back deck are about ready to be emptied until next year due to the cold weather we've been having lately. The problem is, they still look so full of life! I decided to try them inside beside my stove so I can continue to have fresh herbs at my finger tips. I found a cheap little bar with some hanging tin pots to plant them in this weekend so I got busy transplanting them this afternoon. They look so adorable hanging under my chalkboard ~ un petit jardin d'herbe! So it's not really a new use for them but it's saving them from my compost pile for now!

I was able to find one reclaimed rustic project to add to the little display, giving it a little more character at the same time. I had salvaged a whole box of old cutlery one time and found a set of metal stamps at an antique store about a month ago. I used the forks to create little garden markers and the stamps to stamp the names of my herbs in them. They look fantastic in the little tin pots and just make the whole thing so much more charming!

The different markers - it's even better that the herbs are in my kitchen because it makes the cutlery markers that much more fun.

I hung a few sprigs of rosemary with some twine as well. I figured since I was transplanting it, might as well dry it.

I'm also repurposing an old match holder and using it to hold my chalk and eraser by my message board.
The herbs - thyme, sage and parsley.
I also picked up this old carrier at the Country Living Fair and I'm going to use these cute little old jars to make a rustic little spice holder.
So there you have it. That's a few, simple ideas for a little indoor herb garden using reclaimed pieces. And the best part? My kitchen smells like fresh herbs all the time!