Friday, December 16, 2011

Country, city, summer, choices!

If you know me, you know that I love weddings - weddings of all sorts, sizes and styles - and I have been dreaming of the day when I could finally pay the cashier for the stack of bridal magazines while proudly displaying my engagement ring.

When Derek and I got engaged this year, on my birthday (one of the best days of my life), I was so excited to begin planning our wedding.  Originally I dreamed of a romantic backyard wedding at my parents' house, with a vintage flare.  I was picturing a crisp white tent, a pastel colour pallet and vintage tea tins used as flower vases and me in a tea-length wedding dress with amazing shoes.

Here are some images I used as inspiration for my dream backyard wedding (mostly found through Pinterest...please tell me you have an account and are as obsessed as I am!)

Tea tin vases compliments of Martha Stewart of course.

  I love the vibe I'm feeling from this homey picture from Green Wedding Shoes.

If my table looked half as good as this one, I would be one happy bride.

A backyard wedding is not complete without strings of glowing white lights.

There are a ton of dresses I love, but this photo makes me drool - found on The Cinderella Project.

Alas, my backyard wedding was not meant to be.  Even though the idea makes me so excited and happy, it would be a ton of work for many people other than myself.  And probably pretty expensive once all is said and done.  Also, we were pushing the wedding date to summer 2013 so that we could move into our condo first (July 2012). That would add up to an almost 2-year engagement.  Something that doesn't really bother me, but Derek is obviously really anxious to call me his wife :)

SO!  On to our new favourite wedding idea - An intimate evening cocktail party at one of our favourite downtown restaurants....on New Year's Eve 2012!!!  

We are in love with the idea of a cozy evening affair with our closest friends and family.  The fact that we can ring in the New Year together will also be a bonus (not to mention add lots of sparkle and cheer to the décor and theme!)

Here are some venues we are considering (in no particular order)
As of today I have spoken to the event coordinators at Eighteen and Fraser Café.  We have a meeting at Fraser Café next Tuesday and I am really looking forward to it.  Here is why:

  • Fraser Café is located in New Edinburgh, our soon-to-be neighbourhood, which we are in love with.  I like the idea of keeping the wedding personal, so having our wedding a block away from where we live seems perfect.  
  • Fraser Café has amazing food.  We have only been once, but it was definitely one of our top 3 dining experiences.  They are known for using seasonal and local ingredients and their menu includes a "chef surprise" which is exactly that - a spontaneous creation made by the chef!  Really cool, if you ask me.
  • They have recently added a private dining area beside their restaurant called Table 40.  It can seat up to 45 people for a sit-down meal and can accommodate more for a cocktail party.  This room is beautifully designed, from the pictures I have seen on facebook, and has it's own entrance, bar and washrooms.
  • Best of all, there is no fee for renting the space.  We pay for the food and drinks and that's it!  Since they have this extra space and will not have to shut down their restaurant (unlike some of our other options) they won't lose out on their regular business.  
Now that we are planning a winter wedding, here are some pictures that I am finding very inspiring:

I love this colour pallet - blush, neutrals, with some sparkle for the NYE festivities.  Very soft and romantic.  I think it would be easily attainable also.

Here are some ideas on how to add woods-y neutrals.  I think the pine cones are perfect for adding a natural and organic element with texture (and a bit of Christmas). 

I thought a tea-bar for the backyard wedding would have been really nice, but then I stumbled across this hot coco bar which I love even more!  How fun and delicious would this be for after dinner along with a selection of liquors?

There would still be lots of opportunity for DIY touches - I think this looks pretty simple and straight forward from Martha Stewart.

I am still planning on going with a tea-length wedding dress.  I love this look.  The bonus of having an indoor wedding - wearing whatever shoes I like since I won't have to worry about my heels sinking into the grass :)

As of right now, I do not have any solid plans - just a lot of crazy ideas bouncing around in my head.  Once we settle on our date and location I think details should fall into place more easily.  We also need to discuss budget...ewww, don't you hate that word?  We both know that we want to keep costs as minimal as possible, so I will be trying my best to come up with ingenious ways to do so.

Any feedback, suggestions, ideas for a NYE wedding?  I know some people who are against mixing engagements and weddings with birthdays and holidays, but it seems as though we are already on that track...I think it just doubles the excitement and celebration!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Junior - it's what we have named our Christmas tree this year.  Maybe we have a thing for naming items in our home?  We picked her up at the corner of Montreal Rd and St Laurent Blvd in Vanier.  Yea, I just said that....

I think the whole process of selecting the tree and getting her in the car took about 30 seconds.  It was hilarious.  We parked the car, walked into the roped off area with all the trees, tried to negotiate a price for about 5 seconds (we only had $40 cash), looked at 2 trees, chose the second one and left....probably without getting a deal.

It might have  had something to do with the fact that we had a fresh pizza from Louis' in the car.  In our opinion, Louis' has the BEST pizza in the world.  If you haven't been, you have to go.  Our favourite is half Hawaiian and half combination on thin crust.

Anyways, we love her and I couldn't wait to get her in the door and decorate her!  I think Derek could sense my excitement and kindly allowed me to take the lead on decorating our tree this year.  What a guy....or maybe he was just more interested in the pizza....

Over the past couple weeks I have been (secretly) collecting ornaments over my lunch hour...mostly from the Zellers downtown on Sparks St.  Do you know how cheap and pretty their ornaments are?  Not to mention I also discovered that they carry an Alfred Sung line of clothing and I picked up a couple tops for under $15 each!

The colour scheme I was going for this year was silver sparkles with mostly pink and some green ornaments.  We have a lot of purple in our home decor right now, so it fit right in.  

It took us a few minutes to get her set up in the tree stand - I will admit this was somewhat stressful.  Then I poured way too much water in the base and we had a mini flood.  But that was after we had to remove some bottom branches with my brand new Cuisinart scissors.

She is only 5 feet tall, so she fits in the apartment perfectly.  I love the way she turned out and the glow coming from the white lights.  It makes everything so cozy.  

One of my favourite new additions are the matching love birds I placed at the top underneath my disco ball star.  

I was trying to experiment with the settings on my camera to get the best picture.  I actually found some of the best pictures came from my phone.

Putting up the Christmas tree is definitely a key activity in getting into the Christmas spirit.  I've been to a few parties so far this December, including Derek's work party at Le Chateau Laurier this past Saturday (amazing), but I'm finding it difficult to get in the mood without snow.  I am really hoping for a white Christmas and some cooler temperatures so that the outdoor rinks can freeze...not to mention the canal.  If it's going to be cold and dark outside all winter, I at least want to be able enjoy some winter activities!  You with me?!

I hope everyone is having a really great Christmas season so you guys have your trees and decoration up yet?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Small space...many seats

Has anyone heard of the Make Room by Urban Barn?  It's a really amazing online tool I discovered which allows you to create floor plans for any room you like!  The dimensions of your space are entered into the system, and from there you can do anything....

  • add windows, doors, closets, staircases, etc.
  • choose flooring finishes
  • insert furniture
  • include details such as electrical outlets, baseboard heaters, fire places, vents, etc.

As we anxiously await our move-in date (July 2, 2012) I have been doing a lot of window shopping for furniture.  We probably won't make many purchases until we actually move in and get a feel for the space, but we are also keeping our eyes peeled for sales...boxing day is coming up!  If we see something that we really love and think will work with the style and feel we are going for,  we can always store it at my parents' house (and cross our fingers it fits and works in the condo).  

The style we are both into right now is modern with clean lines and shiny accents, and some antique/rustic pieces to add warmth and texture.  I love colour and try to infuse it with pillows, throws, accents, art, and fresh flowers (when Derek buys them for me...).  I keep the basic pieces and wall colours pretty neutral.

Here is a picture of our condo's floor plan:

And here is the floor plan I've created using the Make Room tool for the Living/Dining Room:

Through the online room planner, I was able to insert symbols which represent furniture that I'm currently interested in.  By going to the stores' websites I am able to input the furniture dimensions to ensure they will fit in my space.  Then I can play around with the layout to see what I like best.  I am continuously changing the placement of furniture and adding/removing pieces. 

Here are a couple pieces of furniture that I'm really excited about....

Allow me to introduce Cedric.  

We love him.  He has clean lines, is the perfect colour grey, with slightly feminine tufted details and is a full 89 inches long - that is almost 7 and a half feet!!!  I used an only converter for that btw....  Derek and I actually first met him in person at Urban Barn in the Market and immediately feel in love.  He's really comfortable and we figure 4 people could definitely sit very comfortably together on this couch.  Plus, it's not a bad bed for overnighters.    

We think he is perfect for our condo because he does not have a bulky back or arms which take up space and will add a lot of seating while still looking chic.  At $999.99 we think he's a pretty good bang for our buck (maybe cheaper if he goes on sale).  And how fun it will be to dress him up with colourful and textured pillows!?!?

PS - I also love that his name is Cedric.

Next up, we have Europa!  The extendible glass table which reaches a full 79.5 inches in length.

If you look at the floor plan I've created, I think she will fit perfectly over top of an area rug, and act as a good divider between the kitchen and living room.  We will be able to hang a light fixture above the dining table which will also help identify the dining space.  

She's long and narrow which will allow for maximum seating, without being bulky and her shiny chrome plated and steel frame will pick up on the shiny hardware we will have in the kitchen.  The glass top won't take up any visual space which will help keep things light and airy - an important aspect, in my opinion, when decorating a small space.  

We haven't seen any dining chairs we are in love with, so I will keep you posted on that.  We definitely want something comfortable and inviting, and definitely versatile since it's right beside the living room furniture and not in a closed off dining space.

Here are some looks I love:

I love that these chairs look beautiful from all angels 
found here

these look very comfortable and the tufting matches Cedric the couch
found here

I like the idea of having larger matching head chairs 
found here

As for what else is going in the living/dining room.  I would love:
  • a hutch or book case for the wall behind the dining table
  • a low bench dividing the dining and living room
  • 2 comfortable sitting chairs to face Cedric
  • a large coffee table

As I mentioned, we would like to add some rustic wood pieces into the mix, and I think the coffee table is the great piece to take that on.  I really like the look of these:

found here  

found here

found here

We haven't decided if we will put the TV on the wall in the living room or squeeze it into the den with a sofa. We think it's a decision we will need to make once we've moved in and can get a feel for the space.  At least we have options - even with only 760 square feet!

Anyone else taking on the challenge of fitting as much seating as possible into a small space, or mixing modern with rustic pieces?

Until next time!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The dessert exchange

Do you guys participate in Christmas dessert exchange parties?  This is somewhat of a new concept to me.  Until a few years ago I had not heard of the "dessert exchange" and I don't remember my mom participating in them when I was growing up.

First of all, just so everyone knows - I am not a skilled baker - unlike my best friend Ashley, who is the go-to-girl for cakes and cupcakes.  See some of her talented work here...

monkey cupcakes for her sister's baby shower

safari animal cupcakes for her nephew's birthday party

a birthday cake for the biggest Bruin's (or maybe just Chara) fan I know

So, even though I am not necessarily the best baker (nor am I really a fan of baking), for the past few years I have participated in the annual Shanonna Christmas Exchange.  Hosted by my friends Shanon and Donna of course.  It's always a blast, and the dessert exchange is really secondary to all of the Christmas celebrating that is going on.  Fine by me- maybe people won't realize that my contribution is less than desirable.  

This year we are baking for 22 people.  YES, 22!!!  It's crazy.  Thankfully, my mom took pity on me (I've had a few baking disasters in the past) and invited me to spend a Saturday afternoon with her where she would basically hold my hand and walk me through baking a million 132 sugar tarts.  I was so relieved.  

My mom is an excellent baker.  This is her recipe book.  I think it's about 30 years old. One day we'll have to go through it and make sure we can preserve all our favourite recipes.  

Here's the recipe we followed.  Half English, half French.  (Just like me!)  Hardly any instructions were written down, my mom seems to just know what to do in her head.  This always impresses me.

We started with the pastry shell. 

I combined  
  • 1 package Crisco
  • 5 cups flour
Using a butter knife, I "cut" the Crisco into the flour.  If you don't know what I'm talking about check out this video.  The person in the video is using a pretty fancy utensil, but I found the butter knife worked out fine.  Basically, you want the end product to be sort of crumbly.

Then I added 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
into a measuring cup and beet it together.  Once it's mixed together well, fill the measuring cup with cold water until it reaches the 1 cup mark.

To roll out the pastry, I made a ball which was about the size of a grapefruit and placed it on the clean and "floured" surface.  I rolled out the pastry, trying to get it as thin as possible (you don't want really doughy tarts).  Then, using a drinking glass with flour around the rim, I cut out as many circles as I could.  This was pretty fun.

After cutting my circles I filled my ungreased mini-muffin tins with the pastry shells.  They don't need to be perfect, I think the imperfections give the tarts character. 

To make the sugar filling, I combined
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 drop vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon water
After mixing the filling together really well, I used a glass measuring cup with a spout to pour the mixture into my tart shells.  I filled them about 3/4 of the way.  This amount of sugar filling only fills about 8 tarts, you can choose to double/triple the recipe if you like. 

Then you pop them in the oven for about 18-20 minutes at 375 and wait for your little tarts to turn a nice, golden brown.  I freaked out a bit when I saw the filling puffing up as they baked - I thought they were going to explode.  But once they came out of the oven and cooled down the filling settled.

mmmm, just look at that gooey sugar filling.....melts in your mouth

I'm pretty impressed!  With my tarts and the fact that I took these picture with my phone.

I packaged them up in a large winter boot box with wax paper.  They are currently stored in my freezer until Saturday when will I create 22 individual packages that hopefully look something like this: 

Apparently the tarts can stay in the freezer for a few months a be a-ok as long as they are stored well.  And don't even think about the nutritional info for these tarts.  It's basically all crisco and sugar...enough said.

This recipe makes about 8 dozen mini tarts.  And you will need to make roughly 12 batches of the filling.

Hopefully the ladies enjoy them.  I'm really looking forward to the stash I will be coming home with.  Derek might be more excited.  

Anyone else participating in these crazy dessert exchanges?  Anyone have awesome recipes they want to share?

Until next time!                           

Sunday, November 27, 2011

La Tiffani II

Derek and I are currently living in a 480 square foot bachelor(ette) apartment close to downtown Ottawa.  We have lived here together for 1 and a half years.  Without having any walls dividing our space to create "rooms" I think we have fared pretty well.  Our relationship is still intact.  

We admit
  • the quarters are very tight,
  • we have to go to the bathroom to actually be in a different room
  • and sometimes my clothing smells like dinner if I leave my closet door open....

But!  I think it's been really great for our relationship.  We have learned to respect each other's space, share (the tv), and be conscious not to push each other's buttons.  It's no fun being angry or annoyed with someone who you can't get away from (especially in the winter time when it's not as enjoyable to be out on the balcony or sitting on a park bench...)

We never planned on staying in our little place for too long, so this past spring we began working with our real estate agent, Kim, who helped us find our perfect downtown condo.  For us, deciding on purchasing a centrally located condo was an easy decision.  We were both on the exact same page in terms of what we were looking for:
  • a new build so that we could put off the move for a little while (honestly, we love our little bachelor(ette) and aren't ready to leave just yet)
  • underground parking (ideally included with the price of the condo)
  • one bedroom
  • one bathroom
  • enough room for a dining and living area
  • a balcony
  • decent storage space
  • central location (no more than 5km from downtown, where we both work)
After visiting some move-in ready condos and a couple sales centres for new builds (other favourites being Central and SOHO Lisgar) we decided La Tiffani II, located in the Vanier/New Edinburgh area, was perfect for us.  

Here she is - The Bennett!  760 square feet....with WALLS!  We couldn't be more excited for our move-in date of July 2, 2012.  

Not only do we get a nice size living/dining room and bedroom, we also get a walk-in closet and a den!  Other luxury items we are really pumped about are the washer/dryer, dish washer and the island in the kitchen.

I have so many ideas and dreams for our future home that it gives me butterflies.  We've actually already selected all of the finishes for her (flooring, cabinets, hardware, appliances...) and I will definitely share our selections and how I (I mean we...) came to our final decisions.  

I also plan on sharing what we learned through buying our first house.  What helped...what we would do differently.  It was definitely a learning process and we were both really stressed out at times.  Truthfully, until we actually move in, there is still a lot to be done in terms of dealing with lawyers, mortgages and money.  

Mostly, it's been really exciting.  We love seeing the building grow right before our eyes (we currently live across the river from the building site).  

This picture was taken from the lobby of our current apartment.  La Tiffani II is the shorter building on the right.  It is going to be a replicate of the middle building, which is La Tiffani I.

More to come on why we selected The Bennett model and why we are so excited about the building itself and our soon to be neighbourhood.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

And it begins...

Hello!  And thank you for stumbling across my brand new blog.

I love reading blogs.  I think it’s because I am nosy and curious about other people's lives.  Especially when they are sharing about...
  • interior decorating
  • DIY projects (of any sort, but mostly involving interior decorating and weddings)
  • wedding planning
  • pregnancy and parenting
  • and anything along the lines of cute pets, delicious and easy recipe ideas, and sometimes health and fitness...
A couple of these topics are particularly relevant to my life since I recently got engaged (yippee!) and will be moving into a newly built condo with my fiancé summer 2012 (double yippee!!!).  Interior decorating and wedding planning have been taking over my mind...and I will admit – I do love it.

Some blogs I follow mention how they use their blog as a diary of sorts.  A way to journal their projects while sharing experiences and progress with friends and family.  Since I was young, I always kept a diary.  One of the most hilarious (and sometimes embarrassing) things to do is read old diary entries.  I find it so interesting and amusing to read what I was going through, what my interests were and how I imagined my future to be.  A good reason to start a blog, right?

I see that blogs can also be a great source of advice, feedback, information and even a way to make friends.  All things I am interested in – reason #2!

I am looking forward to journaling...I mean blogging...about getting ready for the big move from bachelor(ette) apartment to condo, wedding planning and anything else I’m excited about in between. 

I hope my blog will be entertaining and informative.  Something you will enjoy reading over a cup of coffee (or other favourite beverage of choice). 

Until next time...