Friday, February 25, 2011

All In A Day's Work

 Yesterday, with the threatening snow storm keeping me off the roads, I was forced to stay home and make myself busy. I knew from countless e-mails, back and forth, that my husband was going crazy at work, trying to get everything done so he could have tomorrow off. We are heading out of town for a wedding and decided, since it'll be just the two of us, to make a weekend of it.

Now, I have a list of a million things that I can do in my house. I've got rooms that can be de-cluttered, painting to do, mending and ironing, and the list goes on. But, many of the things I felt like doing, like sewing some new throw pillows, or painting my guest room, were new projects. I forced myself decided that my time would be best spent getting some much needed cleaning done. The unusually warm day this week brought hope for spring, and with spring comes spring cleaning. I figured, even though it's only the end of February, it wouldn't hurt to get a head start.

I spent the entire day puttering around the kitchen. Shelves were cleaned,walls were wiped and floors were scrubbed. This gave me a chance to do a bit of budget redecorating, as in taking items from around the house and finding a new home for them. Does anyone else do that or is it just me? I call it shopping the house. Sometimes I surprise myself with what I can pull together from other rooms, or things that I've forgotten about.

By the end of the day, everything was tidy and put back together.... just in time for me to have to make dinner. I opted for something easy; home made pea soup (which requires minimal prep and a quick clean up).

Here are a few pieces I relocated, which freshened up my shelves a bit.

Have a lovely weekend! We're heading out super early tomorrow so we can open the Toronto farmers market. That means the best pastries and the greasiest of breakfasts! From here, we're heading North to ski country for our friend's winter wedding. I'm sure that I'll be stopping along the way at as many little antique shops as I can!

 I added a few small ironstone pitchers I had.

 This is my favourite little ironstone serving dish. the delicate gold trim plays up the gold script on my vintage encyclopedia of food - a Christmas gift from my husband a couple years ago.

I added a few little jars of old silverware, and a little goblet of some odd teaspoons I've found along the way. 

This old H was from an old storefront. I've had it for a few years, but for some reason, haven't really used until now! I don't know why, because I love it. It makes a simple focal point on the shelves and adds some height. 

These parlor spoons look great in this old Ball jar. It's got that rusty old clasp for the top. 

And finally, I added a couple simple white pitchers beside my sink. One holds my brushes and things for dishes, and the other is the perfect petite little pitcher for a few flower cuttings. These are now a week old, and they look just as nice as they did last weekend!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Awaiting Spring

An Amaryllis bulb ready to burst into three, giant white blooms!

 I just wanted to share a few little bits of spring that are brightening up my house.

Today was gorgeous, as I mentioned previously. I have enjoyed having the window open, while the sun streams in. I've been craving a break from all this snow and cold, and today was exactly what I needed. It's so refreshing to feel a slight breeze in the house, and the warmth of the sun.

However, the weather won't be staying like this for much longer! Spring is still a while away. That doesn't mean it can't feel a little more like spring inside until then!

One of the easiest ways to brighten up your home is with some gorgeous flowers. Cut flowers can get expensive to replace each week, so why not add some potted bulbs around your home?

There are a few particular favourites this time of year for me, like white Hiacynths, which look gorgeous (and smell even more amazing!) in old ironstone serving dishes. And, another favourite would be Paperwhites. I've had pails of them (literally), in my bay window for a few weeks already. They last a decent amount of time, but once they start looking a little droopy, I swap them out for new ones.

Currently, my Amaryllis bulbs are in full bloom. They are tall and elegant, and have huge, bell shaped blooms. I plant mine in large, pedestal glass vases so they look extra tall. They make a dramatic centerpiece.

And, a new addition, is a small little fern, which looks lovely in a small tabletop greenhouse.

These arrangements and bits of green bring so much joy! They make the house feel alive, and add hints of fragrance to each room. They're the perfect pick-me-up, and a great way to celebrate the coming of the new season.

 I love this little terrarium and the fern was $2!

A simple, white enamel pitcher full of white Azaleas and white Waxflower. It's a $10 bouquet and it lasts and lasts! The Azalea blooms remind me of cherry blossoms and the tiny waxflowers always remind me of wild flowers! 

 Aren't they gorgeous?

Baking Day - Caramel Pecan Rolls

This morning was an early morning in our house. For some reason, my son decided that he was up and ready to face the day, not long after the sun had come up. We snuggled in bed, reading books, for as long as he would sit still. But, eventually, I had to drag myself out of bed and face the day.

I decided to make a batch of sticky buns, or caramel pecan rolls as they are technically called. Now, please don't get the wrong impression here - I love to bake, but, I do not bake, especially things that require kneading and rising, this early in the morning. It just won't happen in my house. Let me get up and have my coffee first, then, maybe. Maybe. But, due to my early riser, I had felt like half the morning had gone by before I saw 8:30. So, I figured I would make the most of it.

This particular recipe is an adaption from an family recipe, and it's actually quite easy. It's just a little time consuming with the rising. It's the perfect thing to mix, knead and prep when you wake up, but the rising in between, and then baking time, gives you plenty of time to hop in the shower and get ready.

Caramel Pecan Rolls
Makes 14 medium rolls.

- Dough -
3 1/4 cups of flour, spooned and leveled
1/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp, or 1 packet, of active dry yeast
1 cup of water
2 tbsp butter
1 egg
- Filling -
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of butter
2 tsp cinnamon
- Topping -
1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans, whole or chopped

In a small bowl, stir together topping ingredients, except the pecans. Spread in an ungreased 9" x 13" pan, or 2 - 8" pie plates. Sprinkle desired pecans on top. Set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry dough ingredients, reserving 2 cups of the flour. In a small saucepan, heat up water and butter until melted, but not simmering. Pour into dry ingredients. Add egg and mix on low until combined. Once incorporated, stir in flour. Fit with dough hook and continue mixing, but on medium, for another 2 to 3 minutes. While the dough is kneading, mix the filling ingredients in the toppings bowl. Set aside. The dough should come into a clean ball once kneaded. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to a 15" x 7" rectangle. Spread the filling mixture onto your dough. Beginning with the long side, start rolling dough, tightly, and press ends to seal. Trim ends off with a knife, and slice into 1" slices. Place each roll, trimmed side up, onto the topping in your pan. Cover and let rise for a good 30 - 45 minutes in a warm place, ideally near a fire or stove - until doubled in size. While waiting, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once buns have rose to the right size, bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes, before turning out onto your serving plate to continue cooling.


 I like to use 2 smaller pie plates because 7 buns fit snuggly into it and they turn out into a plate sized circle. Plus, this means that I can send one circle into work with my husband, and keep the other at home for a treat!

 He was up and ready to help, pajamas and all. He loves baking with mommy.

 For this recipe, I use freshly grated cinnamon. I just use cinnamon sticks that I buy in bulk, and grate them on my fine rasp. I find this gives a more refined cinnamon taste than the powdered cinnamon. It's more coarse so it's not as evident, but it's still there, just a little more subtle.

My cousin called just as they were rising. I told her I was putting coffee on so she better get over here so we could enjoy them while they were warm from the oven!

 Our coffee dates include our little munchkins - all 3 of them, so they usually mean lots of running around and not so much chatting. But, it's still nice to get together so I try to make it special. There's nothing like enjoying fresh baking from the oven with a nice up of coffee - pretty dishes and all!

They were delicious. Not as airy as ones that I usually pick up from our bakery in town, but I think I could improve that with a little more practise! 

They were so yummy in fact, that I enjoyed a second this afternoon, while browsing through the new Martha Stewart I picked up last night. I still am waiting to get my hands on a copy of the new Flea Market Style, but it's still not out here! Until then, this month's MSL is the gardening special issue! It's all about gardening and focuses mainly of growing your own food! I looking forward to getting lots of inspiration for my own little patch. Oh, and by the way, it's GORGEOUS here today. I'm sitting on my couch, basking in the sunlight, and I had to open my window slightly because it was getting so warm! Spring is on it's way!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Items In Shop

[Trio of Trays - $15.00]

Here are a few new additions to the shop!

Head on over and check them out here.

 [Old Geography Textbook - $9.00]
 [Vintage Feed Sacks; Set of 3 - $25.00]
 [Herb Markers - $10.00]
[Pair of Music Readers - $25.00]

[Blue Ribbon Coffee Jar - $10.00]

Monday, February 21, 2011

Workshop Makeover

The workshop is finally done!

It's nothing glamorous, but it's functional. It houses everything that I need for my Etsy shop, for any sewing projects and for all of my creating. It was important for me to have a space to do the things I needed to do, without having to worry about clutter and mess.

Ideally, I would love to have a beautiful office space that matches the decor of my house, but really, that's totally not practical for me. I need a space that is functional, with tons of storage, that I can close the door to when the day is over, whether I'm finished what I was doing or not.

So, the most practical place was in my basement. Our basement is partially finished with a bedroom, cellar and family room, but the rest is still unfinished. The unfinished section is my laundry area, and now this work space. Because it's unfinished, it means ugly cement and exposed ceilings, but who cares! I just filled it with things that inspired me and I don't even notice!

Anyway, so here's a peak at what it looks like.

Apothecary jars house packaging bits like twine, tags and postage. An old condiment carrier fitted with little goblets is perfect for holding jars of paper punches, flash cards and other little goodies I add to my packages.

The vintage pieces give the space charm and make it more personal for me!

I tacked images of some of my favourite things to the back wall of my desk, under the shelves.

My inspiration board - always changing and evolving with my tastes and styles.

A massive drafting desk, which is super industrial, is my actual desk. It's nice and high, and has tons of working space! This is especially handy for packaging - something I'm constantly doing with the shop!

Behind the desk is a giant work bench. It's the length of the whole space and really rustic! I love it. It's perfect for storing everything! Also, the top is really rough, which means I don't have to worry about damaging anything when I'm stenciling or painting. One end houses my sewing machine and baskets of fabric scraps.

And finally, my main inspiration. It's always nice being encouraged!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wedding Bouquet - Trial

I went to market this morning to pick up some flowers to do my trial bridal bouquet for an upcoming wedding I have this month.

These wedding colours - orange, red and pink - suit this bride perfectly. She's someone who is bright, contagiously happy, and very vibrant. Told you ... perfect match. But, that's how it goes.

I thought I would post a few photos of what it turned out like. I was pretty impressed at what was all available locally today. The actual bouquet won't have as many roses, and will included a few luscious, pink peonies, hints of pink wax flower here and there, and a few pops of bright orange - maybe a lily or two.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Colour Inspiration - Bits of Blue

[Country Living]

I'm loving the pretty knobs and pegs to hang things on, like these pretty tins in this case.

This morning, mid-February - in Canada, I should add - it was a balmy 10 degrees outside!

I don't know about you, but that gets me excited for spring! Now, for all of you realists out there, I know that we have a few more long weeks of winter left. But this was a lovely little taste of what's to come.

So, as I sat and drank my tea, on my sofa in the living room, I watched our white landscape slowly melt into hints of green and brown. I could just imagine the little robins, bouncing around, looking for worms.

Then my mind started...

This is always a tad embarrassing for me to admit, but my mind wanders so much! And, the connecting thoughts from start to finish can be quite random.

This is how it went today...

A - Wow, it looks like spring out there today.
B - Wasn't it just groundhog day? What was his prediction?
C - I love Bill Murray.
C - Oh, I wonder when we'll see the first Robin.
D - Ooo, Robin's Egg shell blue... I love that shade.
E - Why don't I ever have any blue in my house?

And don't be fooled - this entire process probably took about 47 seconds. Sad. I know.

So, in light of the thaw today, I decided to be get a little inspired about blue.

F - "Bluuuuue mooooon.... you saw me standing aloooone."
Oh dear.

[Martha Stewart Living]

Delft Blue - a Dutch staple! There are some gorgeous blue patterns, and I love the idea of displaying them on a wall in a pattern. This same look could be achieved with everything from plain ironstone, to any pretty floral patterns in co-ordinating colours.

[Martha Stewart Living]

Farmhouse fresh. I love this look - the hints of blue in the farmhouse towels and the bowl. I like subtle bits of blue. Painting the backs of the cabinets add a great visual accent, and a dramatic pop. It would be an affordable way to add colour, which is especially good for those of us who's tastes evolve so quickly! Painting the backs of the cabinets another shade would be a day's project, as opposed to repainting the whole kitchen, which could be daunting. Oh, and I love what's in the cabinets too!

[Country Living]

This is a great way of adding subtle bits of blue without it being over powering. The faint aquas compliment the crisp whites perfectly. They blend well and create a really fresh and pretty coastal cottage look! I'm loving that bread box!

[Country Living]

This is another great way to incorporate blue into a completely neutral room. The rustic blues of the fireplace match the rest of the rustic pieces in the space and compliment the crisp white furniture. I adore this living room, especially those chairs and that little bench built in the back by the fireplace.

[British Country Living]

Love. Love. Love. I heart British Country Living... seriously. How gorgeously simple is this little writing desk? The plates look amazing and that gorgeous blue desk is just perfect. It's petite and dainty, so the colour, though bright blue, is subtle!

[Country Living]

And, something else I'm so in love with right now - - vintage ticking! It's that grayish blue. I've been searching for the perfect piece to do a window seat cushion for in my living room. The walls are gray, and this would be a great accent!

[Country Living]

This is a great entryway too! The checked blue flooring, and painted blue doors are lovely.

[Country Living]

And this enamelware!! Way too much fun. Talk about adding pops of blue... can you see these all displayed on a shelf?

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Winner - Secret Garden Cottage Giveaway

Jo just posted the winner of the giveaway that The Growers Daughter sponsored.

Congratulations to Sandi from Wayside Treasures!

I can't wait to pack this up and send it to you.

Be Mine, Valentine

I'm sending all you lovely ladies some Valentines Day love today.

May someone show each of you how wonderful and special you all are, and make you feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

I'm feeling like I've recovered from a weekend bout of the flu. It wasn't pretty. But I'm feeling much like myself this morning.

I woke up to a lovely little gift from my husband consisting of a stack of magazines (including the new Spring/Summer issue of Cottage Style - only their second printing!) and a box of yummy dark chocolates. My husband knows me well. We don't do big gifts, or extravagant dates - they're not in the budget. Oh, and I got my mushy card... my husband is really good at writing heart-felt messages in his cards. I really look forward to reading them whenever there's an occasion that calls for a card. It makes me feel special! I remember working retail and having guys come in at 5 pm on Valentines day, rushing me to "throw something together" for "around this much". They would then pull out a cheap card in a little plastic bag, scribble their name at the bottom and rush out.

Every time I had that happen, I would say a little prayer for that wife, and for that marriage, and then another for my own and how blessed I am to be married to my husband.

So, today, on a day that can make so many feel so loved, and sadly, so many feel unloved, may you all feel truly loved today.

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
1 John 4:10

PS. This is my favourite little Valentine.