Simple & Neutral Christmas-y Shelves


Friday, December 19, 2014

I'm still all about keeping it simple, natural, and neutral when it comes to Christmas decorating. Maybe one year I'll live on the edge and decorate with lots of colour and sparkles. Oh who am I kidding - that will probably never happen! 

For our dining room shelves, I used a combination of white ceramic dishes, real greenery, and a few Christmas decorations made with natural materials. 

After fiddling around with these shelves for a good three hours, I was finally happy with how they were arranged. 

I'd still like to know how it's possible that I can spend three hours decorating a shelf and oh, about three minutes folding laundry before I am bored out of my tree.


What about you? Are you into white and neutrals or colour and sparkles this year?

Sharing Here:

Inspiration Gallery Link Party @ Design, Dining, and Diapers
Frugal Friday @ The Shabby Nest

Our First Ever Family Photo Session


Friday, December 5, 2014

Well hi there.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that we had our first ever family photo session. I finally made the decision to go for it after I lost all of my own pictures on a fried hard-drive (sniff, sniff). 

Some of the reasons I was avoiding family pictures:

- the awkward head tilting thing
- the matching outfit thing
- the stare-into-each-other's-eyes-and-look-romantic thing

I also have a tendency to smile so hard in pictures that it looks like my neck veins are going to pop out. And for some reason in every single picture (but not in real life of course) I have like, ten chins.

Despite my initial reservations, I'm so happy we had the photos done. I might even put one of them in a frame one day.

Here are a few of my favourites. But please remember that when these were taken I was still on crutches (I had to throw them out of each frame) and my knee was locked in one place and wouldn't bend. Oh yeah, and I had the first trimester "pukies". Good times!!! 

I was this close to ordering some Christmas cards from Minted (such a cool looking site). I backed out at the last second though. I couldn't stand the thought of having an awkward picture of me on someone's fridge. Ahhhhhhh! 

I'm posting these on the internet because a) I said I would and b) I absolutely have to show you how cute my little dude is when he gives the stink eye. 


What about you, have you ever have family photos taken or do you dread it like me?!?

P.S. We're ordering pizza, taking Coops to family swimming at our local pool, and then putting up our Christmas tree tonight. What a great start to the weekend!

My Super Cute Homesense Christmas Finds


Friday, November 14, 2014

For the last few years I've been really into the natural, neutral, less-is-more Christmas decorating approach. In the past I've had a hard time finding store-bought Christmas decor items that fit my style and so I would rely heavily on real greenery and, well, that's about it.

When I walked into Homesense a few weeks ago I almost had a panic attack. MUST HAVE ALL THE THINGS! I could have easily dropped at least $500 during that shopping trip. I tried to keep things under control though and limited my purchases to items that cost less than $30 each. {Alex, you should be so proud.} 

So here is my little collection of recent, Christmas-y Homesense finds:

Well, how did I do? Would any of these little trinkets have made it home with you? I am excited to visit a local greenhouse tomorrow to get some fresh greenery. I seriously doubt I'll be trekking through the bush with tree clippers and garbage bags to chop down my own pine boughs this year. :)

Big Boy Room Ideas + A Big Purchase


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Almost five years ago, back in February of 2010, I painted horizontal stripes in one of our spare bedrooms. At the time we were heavily invested (emotionally I mean) in our Ethiopian adoption process. I was so gung-ho to paint those stripes - just hoping and wishing to start our family with a sweet little boy or girl from a land far away. Sigh. International adoption in Ontario moves at the slowest pace of all time. Just sayin'.  

Fast forward to today. We've got Coopaloops in our teeny bedroom and Little Diego on the way. We're still on the wait list for adoption (with no end in sight) but we're running out of room! For now,I've decided to move Cooper into the empty, stripey room. I don't have the heart to paint over the stripes though, so I'll be working with those in my little design plan. :) 

Here's what I have so far:

I know it's nothing too exciting but I think it's a nice, neutral start. I can always add some colour and interest with a quilt, pillows, wall art, and toys. 

Since I was basically out of commission for the past 3 1/2 months (brutal morning sickness + my gimpy leg) I'm kind of running out of time to get things done. 

So, when Restoration Hardware Baby advertised that everything in their online store was 20% off I went ahead and ordered two items on my wishlist:

It's the Millbrook Iron Bed and the Henley Stripe Duvet Cover. Since I just love the lamps that I bought from RH, I'm super duper excited to get these items in the mail next week. 

And three cheers to me for deciding on something quickly for once. A due date deadline certainly helps!

What do you think of my choices so far? Any other suggestions for the Coopster's new room?

New Kitchen Cabinet Hardware


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Back in the summer I decided on a whim that I just couldn't live another day with crusty, old, never-been-painted-since-we-moved-in kitchen cabinets.

The handles on the cabinets were doing bad things to my brain. I really wasn't a fan.


We tried on several occasions to find same-sized handles so we could just swap them out, but the old ones were such an odd size we couldn't find a single style that we liked to replace them with!

So, we had to wait until we were ready to patch, sand, prime, and paint all of the old holes. I am so happy to say that the prep work is finally done.

The only thing left to do is to figure out the measurements and install the hardware. I'm guessing that in a newer home this job would be a little bit easier. You see, in our older-than-old house the drawers and cabinets are all slightly different lengths and widths. I'm trying to remember that it's, ahem, charming and not annoying. ;)

In the meantime, I thought I'd share what we chose for new hardware. After shopping around at all of our local home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe's, Home Hardware) I was having a hard time finding a choice that I loved. (Since this is just a quickie fix for our old kitchen, there was no way that I would be ordering any fancy schmancy hardware from Lee Valley or anywhere.)

It was quite a surprise when we went to our local Canadian Tire and found some really nice, chunky, brushed nickel cabinet hardware. Sold!

We chose knobs for the cabinet doors and bin pulls for the drawers. They don't look the greatest in the packaging but check out the picture of them up close!

Pretty, right? I can't wait to get them on our cabinets! I'll make sure to share a picture once we get them all installed. 

Now, the only bad part about painting the cabinets and getting new hardware, is that now we are talking about possibly replacing the laminate counter with some butcher block and maybe installing an inexpensive beadboard backsplash. Uh oh.


And the Muffin Obsession Continues


Saturday, November 8, 2014

I think this calls for a mini-celebration. One, I baked muffins. Two, I finished painting the kitchen cabinets that I started painting in August. I've accomplished more in the last two days than I have in the last two months. Awww, yeahhhhhh.

(It's probably not a good thing to celebrate that I ate half of the muffin tray within a few hours of baking them but let's just focus on the positive for today.)

So I took an old boringly-named recipe (Classic Bran Muffins) and gave it a new name. And some chocolate chips. And then they were the best things ever because they were healthy (uh, bran?) and they tasted scrumptious especially once slathered with generous smears of butter. Mmmmm, butter.

The new recipe is called "Raspberry Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Bran Muffins". Apparently according to Pinterest if you title something with 10 of the ingredients it sounds a lot fancier.

Raspberry Chocolate Buttermilk Bran Muffins

Servings: 12
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Ready In: 40 min


1 1/2 cups wheat bran
1 cup buttermilk*
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar**
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raspberries***
1/4 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

* If you don't have buttermilk on hand, pour 1 tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar into a 1 cup measure. Add milk until you have 1 cup total liquid. Let stand for 10 minutes.
** Loosely packed
*** Chopped into pieces


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand for 10 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, beat together oil, egg, sugar and vanilla. Add to buttermilk/bran mixture.
4. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended.
5. Gently stir in berries and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom. Cooper loved these muffins. He even ate TWO in one sitting. The next day though, he turned his nose up in disgust. Sigh. Toddlers. ;)


Oh, and did you want to see some cute pictures of my kid with bedhead? Of course you do. 

In other news, I finally got a new hard-drive and got most of my programs re-installed. I'm still waiting to hear if the data recovery place can restore any of my photos and files from my old one. Fingers crossed!!!!

Have a great day, and hopefully a muffin.

One More Little, Big Thing


Thursday, November 6, 2014

The number one reason I quit blogging, neglected my dearest Homesense, and made zero progress on the home front for the last three months?

I was queasy. And when I say "queasy" I really mean "trying-not-to-puke-my-brains-out-every-second-while-lying-incapacitated-on-the-couch."

Say hi to Little Diego (according to Cooper).

I am relieved to say that the nausea seems to be letting up a bit and I can now eat semi-normal foods instead of what I've been living on for weeks on end: buttered noodles, English muffins, and saltines.

So much for my vow to eat super healthy and exercise like an all-star. ;)

There. That's all my happy (woot, woot!) news for today. It's almost afternoon nap-time (for me and the Coopster) so I've gotta run.


Oh, hi. And 10 Things.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Hello, friends. I've missed you.

1. I disappeared.

Thank you so much to those of you who wrote me an email or a little message to check in and see if I was okay. I'm okay! I'm alive! I'm back!

2. I decorated for fall.

Brace yourself. I went wild and crazy with the fall decorating this year. I bought an owl. Then I put it on a shelf.

I really outdid myself this year, yes I know.

3. I tore stuff in my knee.

Yup, busted. I wish I could say that I was break-dancing when I did it. Instead all I can say is that I have wobbly bones and stood up in a weird way. I've been on crutches for the past four weeks and am currently on a wait list to see a specialist. Let me just say that chasing a toddler with only one good leg is mentally and physically challenging.

4. I've made absolutely no progress on any home related projects since August.

Not one iota of progress, people. You know what, though? I'm okay with it. After a nice long break I can feel the motivation starting to kick back in a little bit.

5. I went to Homesense for the first time in three months.

It was magical, really. I bought a cartload of Christmas stuff just to make up for my long, heart-wrenching absence. Alex was thrilled when he brought all the bags in from the car. Hee hee!

6. I took a break from offering photography sessions until at least the New Year.

By the end of the summer I was pretty overwhelmed. I was working on photo sessions every nap time and every night and still couldn't keep up. I finally realized two things. A) My workflow is way too slow. I need to take some time to learn some shortcuts, and B) I was not charging nearly enough money for the amount of time I was putting in. So, I made the super hard decision to take a break. I'm finally catching my breathe and learning some new, technical, kinda boring (but super helpful) things.

7. I'm pretty sure my kid is a creative genius.

I will let the following pumpkin speak for itself. ;)

8. We had our own family pictures taken.

This is huge. HUGE. Since I am the world's least photogenic person I usually avoid being in pictures at all costs. After my hard-drive crashed (see #9, boo hoo) I realized that I had not one good photo of our little family. So I bit the bullet and hired my talented friend to take our pictures. We had the session a few weeks ago and should be getting the final gallery later today. Eeeeeeeek!

9. My hard-drive crashed and burned.

Remember how I have computer tech-y hubby? Remember how I was taking a break from photography to get organized and become more efficient? Well, one of the things on my list of to-do's was to back up all of my stuff. I'm pretty sure Alex nattered at me a thousand times to back up my pictures on this giant box he has in the basement. I kept replying, "Yeah, yeah. I'll get to it later." Well. Guess what happened my friends? While I was working on organizing some folders on my desktop one innocent Wednesday afternoon, my screen went completely black. And then everything was gone. Yup, all my photos of my dearest little Coopster. Yup, all my school work from the last few years. Yup, all of my family photo sessions. Yup, all of my everything. I pretty much cried for three days. Then, I gave myself a pep talk and told myself that there are way worse things than a fried hard-drive. It was a major lesson learned for me and a major I-told-you-so for Alex. ;)

P.S. We sent it away to see if any of the data can be recovered. It may cost a small fortune but I'm willing to try anything. Fingers crossed!

10. We've been doing fun things.

Despite the busted knee and the fried computer, we've been really happy just enjoying the little things.

Like: Halloween crafts, birthday parties, Coop's first ring pop (guess which picture?), a hockey game, a trip to the pumpkin patch, and of course trick-or-treating!

Thanks so much for dropping by. I'll see you again soon. :)

Project A.D.D. At It's Finest


Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Of course the only sensible thing to do, after spending two days cleaning your ridiculously messy house for company, would be to decide after seven years that it is time to paint your kitchen cabinets.
I did enjoy a gloriously clean house for one afternoon before the destruction happened. And in all fairness, it was a rainy morning and I decided to tackle only one cupboard and four drawers to minimize the chaos.
I love that even though Alex has concrete floors to finish leveling in the basement, he came home that night after work and said, "Let's bring Cooper to his grandma's tonight so I can help and we can do most of the painting together."
I am so grateful for the help because we all know that painting kitchen cabinets two at a time would have taken me about ten years. Oh yeah, and I probably would have lost interest after painting the second one.
Right now I am trying to forget that I have the front door paint colour to choose for the Fixer Upper, emails to reply to, a sample pot of paint to test on the door of the shed, a post about our deck-survival-box half written, a photo session to finish editing, and about five loads of laundry to put away again.    
Project A.D.D at it's finest, folks. ;)
P.S. After I took the above picture I gave Alex heck and made him put on a mask while he was sanding!

Mudroom Closet Organization - Before and After


Sunday, August 17, 2014

You know how we have that extra little room off of our kitchen? (We call it the breakfast room even though no one ever eats breakfast in there.) It has an old found-at-the-side-of-the-road table that Cooper and I use for painting, colouring, and crafting.
Picture - Circa 2011
Most of the time, however, the room functions more like a mudroom. You see, a few years ago Alex cut a hole in one of the breakfast room walls so that he could install a door that would lead out onto our future deck.
Picture - Circa 2011
Well now that the deck is built, and we use the door about a million times a day, we were in desperate need of some storage and organization. 
Beside the door on the left, we have a mirror with hooks and a bench with some cubbies, but three little baskets were no longer working for all of our shoes, hats, sunscreen, bug spray, etc., etc., etc.
I also had no place to store all of our new outdoor cushions and accessories from the elements.
It became very clear that I would need to clean out the dreaded breakfast room closet, which for the last little while had become the catchall place for junk that we just didn't know what to do with. Now before I show the pictures (and you start looking for the "unfollow" button on this blog) let me just say that once upon a time this closet was organized. I'm still not sure how the mess got so out of control. It was mostly Alex's fault.
Are you ready? What horrors lie behind door #2 you ask?


Just for fun....... included in the pile of junk was...........
- a laminator
- Alex's stereo that was brought upstairs because of the basement reno
- a bowl full of clothespins
- a facial steamer
- a hose holder that I bought 4 years ago and never installed outside
- a Christmas wreath
- an old nintendo
- gauze
- a plastic bag full of random cables
- two dog cones
- a stack of Country Living magazines dating back to 2006
Gulp. How embarrassing!
Here's how I tackled the awful mess. First, I emptied out the entire closet - all of it's contents were spread out over the breakfast room for a good two weeks.

The closet was the only one left in the house that hadn't been painted since we moved in, so I decided to paint the inside a nice, clean white (it was cream coloured and quite scuffed up).
First, I gave every surface a good scrub with TSP. Once rinsed, I filled in a few nail holes with wood filler. Once everything was dry I primed over the really dark scuff marks, the wood filler, and the attic hatch that Alex made one year (apparently our little back roof had no insulation).
Once the primer was dry I gave the entire closet two coats of paint - Simply White by Benjamin Moore which we already had on hand. Once the closet was painted I started weeding through the junk figuring out what to keep, what to relocate, what to give away, and what to throw out. (Yes, the entire stack of old magazines went into the recycle bin. Sniff, sniff.)
I decided to reuse the white shelf that was already in the closet. I used the shelving unit to store our outdoor throw cushions, some outdoor accessories, and my deck-survival-bucket (more on that tomorrow)(or the next day).
On the top two shelves I stored our chair cushions as well as two galvanized bins for more concealed storage (more on those tomorrow, too).
Since Coopaloops can open the closet doors I made sure that I kept the bins and their contents out of his reach. I also stashed the cream cushions up on the highest shelf because they are really easy to put up and pull down.
To the left of the shelving unit I tucked in our large loveseat cushion.
On the right hand side of the shelves I tucked a large, metal lantern that would get rusty in about a day if I left it outside.
I was able to squeeze all four yellow chair pillows on one shelf. Alex was teasing me and said that I need a whole closet just for cushions. I guess he was kind of right, hee hee.

The galvanized tray is for when we eat outside. It's really handy for bringing out condiments, napkins, etc.
Every time I walk by the closet now I smile inside. I no longer have to live in secret shame. It's a great feeling.
Here are some side by side pictures to get a better idea of how much better this closet looks!

I learned a big lesson during this little project.

Dear Self: Don't be a hoarder.


White Shelf - Wal-Mart
Cream Cushions - Pier One Imports
Blue Pillows - Homesense
Yellow Pillows - DIY Project, Fabric from Fabricland
Tray - Homesense
Driftwood Ball - Homesense
Bucket with Rope Handles - Homesense
Metal 'Tool' Bins - Marshall's
Lantern - Homesense
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Cozy.Cottage.Cute. All rights reserved © Blog Milk Design - Powered by Blogger