Thursday, May 31, 2012

[ fitflops ]

IT SEEMS I can never have enough shoes and today I picked up yet another pair of sandals. This time, Fitflops. I love the thick sole and the soft suede of the ruffles...

Does anyone own a pair of Fitflops? And if you do, am I going to love these as much as I think I am?


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

[ what's in the box? ]

I CAME across an amazing fab find yesterday.. at one of my favourite stores - Pottery Barn...

hmmm... what's in there?...

only the most fabulous coat rack!

When you live in an apartment with concrete walls and aren't allowed to hang anything up or install hooks, this is a lifesaver. I almost did backflips when I found it.

I love the numbers that go all the way around...

Now to decide where I need it most... the entrance, the bathroom, the bedroom...


Monday, May 28, 2012

[ cozy chic ]

WHO SAYS you need a big room to have a chic space? This room is pretty compact, and yet it's got so much style packed into it...

I think what makes it work are the pale walls and low-contrast upholstery which keeps things light, but the darker, patterned rug gives it plenty of graphic punch. And I love the narrow bookcase that jams a lot of stuff into a tight spot. This room just shows that if you choose the right pieces, a small space can sometimes work even better than a large one.

[country home]

Friday, May 25, 2012

[ come for dinner ]

THERE ARE so many things I just love about this dining room. The long vintage Italian work table sitting in as a dining table, the mix of pale yellow and mint fibreglass chairs and that crazy glass light fixture...

Isn't that turquoise piece gorgeous? I can just imagine an old buffet and hutch that you might inherit from your mother or grandmother given a new life with some beautiful paint and glass knobs.

[country living]

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[ a divine deck ]

NOW THAT outdoor entertaining season has arrived, I find myself missing our Muskoka place more and more, especially when I saw this gorgeous home in Portland, Maine.

the gorgeous wrap-around veranda...

the stunning deck extending out towards the water...

I can already smell the pancakes in this kitchen...

and the porch just welcomes you inside.

The birds chirping, the swish of a canoe paddle... sigh. It's doesn't get any better than that.


ps: thanks for your sweet words about the fire near my hometown. It appears that any immediate danger has passed with the bit of rain they thankfully received and the ongoing work of the firefighters. It's been an unusually dry spring and any bit of lightning poses a danger. Our 50-year old family summer cottage was also surrounded by a separate fire but it looks like that area has been spared. 

[whitten architects]

Monday, May 21, 2012

[ somethins burnin ]

HAPPY MONDAY everyone! To all of my Canuck friends, Happy Victoria Day - (aka May 24) long weekend!

Nothing too exciting going on here in Dubai but it sounds like my hometown in Northern Ontario is surrounded by forest fires right now. This pic was taken about 4 km from my parents' home...

So far the town has not been evacuated - they are still trying to bring the fire under control. The entire city of Timmins is surrounded by forest fires on all outer highways so it looks like many family summer cottages are at risk as well.

Here's hoping for some rain! And that everyone's homes are safe.

I appears that the closest fire has been tackled and there will be no need for my parents to evacuate (thank goodness!). As for the other fires, no updates so far.


Friday, May 18, 2012

[ nautical cushions with french seams ]

SOUNDS FANCY, huh? Well, they're easy and here's how I made them.

It's been a little while since I finished my white slipcovers and I've been meaning to make some cute cushions for them. I found some nautical striped fabric at IKEA and 2 existing 18" cushions ready for a new life. I chose mother of pearl buttons to add a little sheen.

I bought about a metre and a quarter of fabric and realized that I could simply cut the length into one long strip for each cushion. I ended up having enough to make the 2 covers I needed, plus enough for a table runner leftover.

To finish the ends, I measured, pressed and sewed them, making sure that one was wide enough to accommodate the buttonholes, and that once folded and overlapped, the fabric would be long enough to go all the way around my pillow form.

I measured for the buttonholes and decided on their placement. {I decided not to centre the side buttons on the navy stripe like the centre button since it would space them too far apart.}

I set my machine to the buttonhole function {I started at 1, not at 2-4 as shown in the pic}

I attached my plastic buttonhole foot {this machine came with one, my other machines haven't had one but it's not necessary}. I started at the bottom pin and sewed my buttonhole all the way around. I tied off my threads.

Then I carefully opened up each buttonhole using my seam ripper and trimmed off any threads afterwards.

I folded my strip of fabric exactly how I wanted it to appear completed, with the finished ends overlapping in the centre. I made sure that it was at least 18" high to fit my pillow form {mine ended up about 18 1/2").

I made sure that the centre of the buttonhole was sitting on the stitch line of the end underneath. The stitch line was where I would be sewing on my button.

Now for the french seams!
It sounds fancy but it's not. Pin the sides together, exactly how you've just laid it out, with right side of fabric facing out.

Sew with a narrow seam allowance {1/4" or less}. If you find it too difficult to sew such a narrow seam, sew it a bit wider and trim it down afterwards.

Turn inside out and press.
With fabric still inside out, stitch again, this time with a wider seam allowance {about 1/2"}.
You now have a french seam.

Turn right side out and press. See how nice and clean everything is inside? No raw edges or mess.

Sew on buttons and insert pillow form. Done!

I love how quick these were ~ just over 2 hours for both pillow covers, even with those fancy french seams! I don't always make french seams. Sometimes I'll do some zigzag or overcast stitching to finish things off or just trim my seam allowances with pinking shears.

I love how fresh they feel on the white slipcovers and how the background colour ties in with the natural linen of our sofa. 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

[ wise words ]

WHENEVER I'm feeling a little embarrassed about how pale I am even though I live in Dubai, I see a bad self-tan walk by and am reminded that...

And I'm ok with being my pale, translucent self.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

[ light bright ]

TODAY I'm smitten with this charming kitchen. I love how the light just spills in through all the windows and makes a compact space feel large and open. And who doesn't love a dutch door?

I've never been a fan of narrow galley kitchens but I could easily work in this space. Have you ever had a galley kitchen?


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

[ arab dress ]

EVER wonder why Arab men wear white kanduras and Arab women wear black abayas? Well, I came across the answer while reading Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper this weekend...

Kanduras and abayas hail from the traditional dress Arabs have been wearing for centuries. The harsh desert climate meant people would choose lightweight materials to cover as much of the body as possible to protect it from the sun and sand. The loose fit gives it a modest shape and allows air to circulate. The light colour of the men's kandura came from the natural hue of cotton, although the bright white is more recent since the invention of bleach. Now other discreet colours are also worn occasionally to add a personal touch. Clothes were shaped by practicality and what resources were available. The kandura has been a wardrobe staple and there has been no practical reason to change it.

Women like to wear colourful dresses in light cotton or silk with trousers of the same material underneath. For modesty, they cover their outfits with a lightweight black abaya with a matching head scarf in public. Very thin, the black fabric still covers completely and filters UV rays from the intense sunlight. Historically, women wore black to distinguish themselves from the rest of the tribe when rival tribes would confront one another. Since women and children should not be harmed in an attack, they would gather together and it was easy to distinguish them from a distance. Nowadays many abayas are adorned with intricate embroidery and beading to personalize them.


I can see why the white works, but with temps here going as high as 120F (49C) in the summer (it's already 107F, 42C today), I can't imagine adding a black layer over my clothes no matter how thin the fabric. I don't do very well with heat. Thank goodness for air conditioning!

[sharjah news/abc news]

Monday, May 14, 2012

[ my almost famous spaghetti and meatballs ]

HAPPY MONDAY everyone! I hope you had a great weekend! I ended up doing everything I had planned ~ I'm about 1/2 way through my book Girls in White Dresses and I'm loving it so far {she's got a great sense of humour}, we saw Avengers {which my guy wanted to see}, then we saw Five Year Engagement {which I wanted to see} and I whipped up a batch of my spaghetti & meatballs.

I realized that it's been a while since I shared a recipe so here's my delicious sauce and meatball recipe. You'll seriously never want to buy jar sauce again ~ this is so easy, makes a lot, and you can just freeze portions into ziploc bags for later. Why buy jars of sauce? It's delicious even without the meatballs!

lisa's almost famous spaghetti & meatballs

what you need for sauce:
3/4 cup finely chopped onion (or about 1/8 cup of dried minced onion)
3 cloves minced garlic (I use the kind in a jar)
1/4 cup olive oil
6 oz can tomato paste
2~ 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (or 3~500g cartons of crushed tomatoes)
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar
1 3/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine (I buy the tiny bottles and freeze the half leftover for next time)
1/4 cup water

how to:
In a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add in tomato paste and swirl it around a bit (this removes the uncooked taste of it). Stir in tomatoes and all the other ingredients. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. 

While the sauce is simmering, make the meatballs...

what you need for meatballs:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (I keep a bag in the freezer and take from there)
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
1/4 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
sprinkle of dried minced onion or onion soup mix
1/4 cup milk

how to:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix together well with wooden spoon. Form into balls (I like mine about the size of large truffle chocolates and usually get 26-30 meatballs). Put bowl of balls into fridge while sauce is simmering.

Once the sauce has simmered for an hour, simply drop the meatballs into the sauce (I know! No pre-cooking the meatballs required! This gives them a nice, soft texture. If you prefer a chewier meatball, you can fry or bake them before adding to the sauce). Cover and continue simmering for about 50 min more and meatballs will be fully cooked. Serve over pasta. Yum!

I've received a ton of compliments on this simple recipe and I guarantee that it will become your new go-to spaghetti and meatballs recipe! Mangia!


Friday, May 11, 2012

[ happy weekend! ]

SO WHAT  have you got planned for this weekend? I plan on...

a bit of reading...

definitely a couple of these...

maybe seeing this...

and cooking up some of this...

Have a great weekend everyone!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

[ a pretty welcome ]

THIS PRETTY porch caught my eye ~ the gorgeous summery turquoise chairs and jars and unexpected vintage-feeling furniture pieces. Such a charming mix for a lovely, welcoming front porch entry or small sitting area on the back.

Have you spruced up your porch or deck area yet?

[better homes and gardens]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

[ message on my bottle ]

I HAVE a new addition to my bottle family! I found this cute little toilet water bottle with a ceramic stopper and thought it would be a lovely piece to add to my old bottle collection.

It may not even be old, but I think it's an interesting addition to the group.

Have you added anything to a collection lately?


Monday, May 7, 2012

[ barn love ]

I'VE ALWAYS had a thing for old barns. Someday I hope the property I own will have an old barn on it ~ perfect for transforming into a giant studio space for fixing up old furniture and a workshop for my guy.

When I saw this home and the beautiful way the owner incorporated old barnboard into the decor, I think my heart actually skipped a beat. Salvaged from an old Muskoka barn, it is now centre stage in this home.

I just love that old grey patina and the character it adds to the stairway and modern kitchen.

What do you think? Would you clad your walls in old barnboard?

[house and home]

Friday, May 4, 2012

[ happy weekend! ]

WOULDN'T it be fun to browse around in this little shop? I'm imagining it filled with all kinds of vintage pretties. Definitely where I'd like to be spending my weekend afternoon. What have you got planned?


Thursday, May 3, 2012

[ salvage savvy ]

THERE'S NOTHING I love more than finding interesting pieces and transforming them into gems. And when I saw this home in Country Living, I instantly fell in love with it.

With pieces from Craigslist, eBay, salvaged wood, a bit of chalk paint, and lots of imagination, this home is filled with charm and beauty on a budget.

The Craigslist wing chair and settee were reupholstered using dropcloths, the pendant lamp created using a lantern and IKEA lighting kit, and a repainted armoire was transformed with new mirror from Lowe's.

Inspired by a gorgeous table from Restoration Hardware, some salvaged wood, screws and glue were used to create a replica. Yard sale chairs were painted with chalk paint and a pendant light was sanded to give it an industrial look.

Salvaged doors were transformed into chic barn doors with casters and plumbing pipe.

Brass house numbers were painted aqua for the stairs and a lampshade was decoupaged with dictionary pages.

Isn't this a great home? It just shows that you can have a gorgeous, unique home no matter what your budget ~ just think outside the box.



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