Jordana

Personal: July Update of My 2020 Goals

Back in January, I drafted a list of 20 things I wanted to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020. At the end of each month, I’ve shared an update with you about what I have (or have not) been doing. Here’s the original post, and here are my updates for January, February, March, April, May, and June. Here are the updates of what I have been doing during the month of July, if you’d like to know.

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1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.
Well, my 41st birthday just happened, so I’ve had a chance to reflect on the list of challenges my family and friends gave me for my 40th one year ago. I LOVED having new challenges from my family and friends. Each challenge was well-suited to the person who gave it to me, so I enjoyed learning new things with them in mind. I accomplished quite a bit, which is great, but I still have things left to do (movies to watch, books to read, things to do and see in Italy). I’ll keep the list close at hand, so I can check things off in the year ahead. In July, I checked off “visit Shannon in Ottawa,” which was great. My friends hosted a fun (socially-distanced) lobster fest at their new house, and I was so pleased to attend!

2. Travel.
This month I traveled to Ottawa for two nights to visit family and friends (see #1), and it felt great to have a change of scene. The weekend was very low-key. I also enjoyed an incredible 2-night vacation at Langdon Hall. I am so grateful to have made this possible this year. I took advantage of LH’s 2-night special rate, and it was well worth it. The scenery, food, and service remains top-notch, and I’m already eager to return (no surprise there, right?). Now that I’ve experienced the 2-night stay, this might be what I have to continue to save up for! It was so special.

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region.
No progress.

4. Experience more art.
I have been keeping an eye out on special pieces of art to buy, and I have been a fan of 15-year old Juliet‘s fruit art since she started posting them on Instagram not too long ago. I was fortunate to snap up this resin piece before she even posted it to her online shop (her pieces sell quickly!). It arrived last week, and I was happy to add it to my fruit art collection in my kitchen.

5. Play more board games.
My Dr. Mario skills remain strong, but beyond that, I haven’t made much progress on board games or my puzzle this month.

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

Done!

7. Wear more dresses.
Yes! This has been such an easy goal to accomplish in July. I find them so easy and versatile. I ordered a few colourful dresses from a new-to-me company, too.

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.
See #7. My dresses are colourful!

9. Save money.
This is so hard to do when you’ve quit one job, haven’t started the next job, and spent two nights at Langdon Hall. Eek! #workinprogress

10. Plan a major bathroom reno.
Completely on hold.

11. Eat more vegetables.
Sort of making decent progress

12. Buy more fun socks.
No sock purchases this month.

13. Connect people.
I was happy to introduce two people in real life after they had only communicated in online/text contexts. That was fun. I also connected a friend to my young artist cousin, so he could commission a piece of art. That was fun, too

14. Clean closets regularly.
No progress.

15. Trust my gut.
Yes, I’m still doing this. I feel good about trusting my gut.

16. Get a facial.
I was close to booking one this month, but I didn’t. It’s on my list for the fall/soon. This will not help me with #9.

17. Embrace soup.
I haven’t made any soup this month.

18. Clean up my shoes.
Done (previous months).

19. Pass on my magazines.
Yes. I continue to pass on magazines. This has been an easy goal to work on each month.

20. Have fun.
Yes, I’m still at it! I’m finding reasons every day/week to celebrate happy moments and make happy memories with family and friends!

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And there you have it – my July update. Thanks for reading! Have a great week, everyone! Here’s to a happy August!

Personal: April Update of 2020 Goals

Back in January, I drafted a list of 20 things I wanted to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020. At the end of each month, I’ve shared an update with you about what I have (or have not) been doing. Here’s the original post, and here are my updates for January, February, and March. In March, I only worked on three goals, so I had high hopes for April even though the month started off with more self-isolation. Here’s what I have been doing, if you’d like to know.

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1.Complete the challenges that my family and friends set for me for my 40th birthday.

The month started off with a Star Wars marathon. I have watched five movies this month. There are so many! I have watched the movies in the order of release and I go back to this chart (see method 1) to make sure I’m on the right track. So far, the first one (released in 1977) – Episode IV: A New Hope – is my favourite.

2. Travel.

All travel is currently still on hold on account of the ol’ Coronavirus. Once the province is out of self-isolation, I am off on a road trip. Somewhere. Not sure where. Anywhere. Suggestions?

3. Learn more about the Waterloo region.

I have taken a lot of walks around my neighbourhood, and I while I haven’t really learned anything new, I have been enjoying observing the architecture of the houses and buildings in my community.

I also read Losing the Signal by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff. It tells “the untold story behind the extraordinary rise and spectacular fall of Blackberry.” It was interesting to learn more about the evolution of RIM/BlackBerry.

4. Experience more art.

I have been dreaming about art I’d like to own one day. Caviar20 is one of my go-to spots for art dreaming.

5. Play more board games.

Over Zoom and FaceTime, I’ve played euchre, Yahtzee, and war (the card game) with friends and family. Good times.

I also got hooked on a challenging puzzle, which then motivated me to place an order for another one. It should arrive any day now, and I have a second one added to my wish list.

6. Master my mom’s signature cake.

I tried to minimize my sugar intake in April after a very sugar-heavy March, so it was a no-go on mom’s cake.

7. Wear more dresses.

I love wearing dresses to work. Now that I work from home (and it’s still cold), I only wore a dress once this month.

8. Consider adding more colour to my wardrobe.

No progress.

9. Save money.

I have made a decent amount of progress on this goal because everything is shut down. While I haven’t spent money at restaurants, bars, cafés, and clothing stores, I have spent more money at the grocery store and online. I have made a few new fun purchases, but since shipping is slower than usual these days, I don’t have any of my purchases in hand quite yet. When I do, I’ll update you!

10. Plan a major bathroom reno.

Zero progress.

11. Eat more vegetables.

Yes! It has been easy to increase my veggie intake via salads, soups, and side dishes.

12. Buy more fun socks.

No progress.

13. Connect people.

I was able to make some connections for my students. Yay!

14. Clean closets regularly.

I spent one weekend cleaning out two spaces: my linen closet and my tool/storage room. I’m happy to report that I cleared out quite a bit and there’s now empty space in both closets (ready to be filled?)!

15. Trust my gut.

I had a few decisions to make this month, and I’m happy to have trusted my gut as I made them.

16. Get a facial.

I didn’t have a facial this month because all the spas are closed. I have, however, used up just about all the fancy product samples that I had collected. Does that count?

I’ve also put my Clarisonic back into my morning routine, and my skin feels so soft. It’s a good little gadget.

17. Embrace soup.

I didn’t try making any new soups this month, but I did eat soup that others made for me.

18. Clean up my shoes.

I’m happy to report that my shoes are no longer scattered all over my bedroom floor. I have cleaned out my shoes, and my closet is looking much more organized.

19. Pass on my magazines.

Yes! I did this a couple of times in April! I currently have subscriptions to Architectural Digest, Style at Home, and House & Home.

20. Have fun.

Zoom meet-ups with friends and family have continued to be fun in April. Weird times, but we’re managing to stay connected to share some laughs. I hope you are, too!

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Have a great weekend, everyone! Here’s to a positive May!

Personal: Reflections on Life in the Age of COVID-19

I haven’t felt much like blogging. I haven’t felt like writing about kitchen design and cottage dreams as I have in the past. I still like reading about what other bloggers are writing about, but I haven’t felt much like contributing. I’m sure I will again in time because I do think reading and writing about non-pandemic and non-work related things is fun and interesting not just for me, but for readers, too.

What do you have to say about this? Do you want some non-COVID-19 content to break up your days? Fashion, travel, art, food…are you craving these distractions? Should I get back to writing regularly about things I am dreaming about?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been heavy on my mind since mid-February when I learned of the outbreak in my relatives’ small town in Italy (the epicentre of the Italian outbreak, which I still find hard to believe). After 40 days in two hospitals in a neighbouring town, my uncle returned home just after Easter. We are grateful for his recovery.

Once March rolled around in Canada, everything went topsy-turvy! We’re now into week 6 of the working from home / self-isolation life, and I’d like to take a moment (or a few) to reflect on what’s been going on because (a) I want a written record of what I’m doing and feeling to look back on (yes, someday), (b) I think writing is therapeutic, (c) I want to share my gratitude, and (d) I want to reconnect with my White Cabana community (hey, that’s you!).

WORK

I’m incredibly grateful for my work.

I teach at the university. As of March 17th, the university moved just about all of its operations online. I do wish the university gave everybody a couple of days to breathe/regroup/plan before it moved everything online, but it didn’t. As such, the first two weeks were incredibly taxing. It was hard to keep up with emails, Zoom/Teams/Skype meetings, new programming options, and new platforms for teaching and learning. It was a lot. Overall, the last six weeks have been non-stop action, and I have been tied to my computer perhaps more than ever before (yes, even more than when I was writing my PhD dissertation).

My students were appreciative that my course continued as per usual (just about). They did presentations and group work online and managed the change incredibly well. We shared stories of successes, challenges, and some laughter, too, in our virtual class. It’ll be an end-of-term to remember!

The university has since announced that the spring semester will carry on online, too. As such, the prep work continues. This new learning environment has given me new challenges and opportunities to learn, and for that, I am grateful. I don’t like being stagnant in my teaching approaches. I have the sense that the fall term will be online, too, which means a rethinking of program offering and course delivery. It’s an interesting time!

There are many challenges ahead for Canadian universities: enrollment concerns, international student attendance, and faculty training to teach remotely. There are incredible challenges for our students, too: learning in a completely online environment, socializing at a distance, lack of summer jobs, residence closures, and maintaining good mental health. At this point, the list of challenges seems to be never ending.

That said, we are in this together.

Students, staff, and faculty have adapted and are creating new ways to teach and learn. New communities online have developed. I attended a meet-up organized by my academic association a couple of weeks ago, and I was able to “meet” people in my academic community whom I had never encountered before. It was a rich, informative session, and it reminded me that I am part of a group of committed educators. I have learned more about the research and best practices about online teaching environments, and it’s been good to stretch my brain in new directions. (I do love learning, remember).

I am excited about the work that I do. For that, I am so very grateful.

PERSONAL

The biggest change in my personal life is the lack of face-to-face interaction with family and friends. I know you can relate. I am absolutely okay to be alone (I have lived alone for a really long time!), but I do miss the freedom of going for walks with others, inviting people over for dinner, and visiting my parents.

In addition to Zoom parties with friends and family, I have had a coffee date with my neighbour on our respective porches, and I spent three beautiful weeks at Lake Huron. Friends have left baked goods in bags hanging on my front door. These interactions with family and friends – although brief and from afar – have been special.

I know there is a lot of chatter online about people taking up new (or old) hobbies. Sourdough and bagels seem like top picks! So is mask sewing, painting, and spring cleaning. Because of my work life, I haven’t had much time to explore new hobbies…or even return to old ones. I haven’t jumped on any COVID-19 hobby trends, and I haven’t taken up TikTok dance challenges. That said, I have made more meals than ever before, enjoyed quiet hours of reading, and tried a few new recipes.

I know there are so many recipes floating around online, but these are the new to me recipes that I would highly recommend: this pasta dish, this roast chicken, and these nodini (bread knots). So good! So easy!

MENTAL

I haven’t been so concerned about being alone because I am committed to maintaining a decent social life (Zoom parties every week!), and I connect with my family a lot. But when I step out into the world, I feel uncomfortable. I go for daily walks, and I stay far away from others. I say hello and smile at passerby, but it’s from a distance, and it feels so weird. Six weeks in, and it still feels weird. It seems that everyone is scared of everyone else these days.

I avoided stores for as long as possible. I had no desire to go to the grocery store. I didn’t love grocery shopping pre-pandemic, and I really don’t like it now. On my last trip, I told myself I would buy enough food for a month, so I wouldn’t have to go back. I think I have two more weeks to go. Fruit and veggie supply is dwindling, I have to admit. But I’m determined to eat up everything in my house before I have to go back to the grocery store. Hello paranoia! It’s terrible! Does anyone else feel this way?

A simple task from the past has turned into one that I really do dread! Why? Well, I think it’s because I don’t like seeing empty shelves, the grocery store is quieter than usual, there are stricter rules to follow (e.g., aisle directions), and I get lost in thoughts about how many people have touched the grocery items. When I came home from a big grocery shopping trip two weeks ago, I washed everything. Every item got at least a rinse. I’m not sure if this is necessary, but it made me feel better.

It’s ridiculous that I am so dramatic about making trips to the grocery store. I am lucky to live within walking distance of three well-stocked grocery stores, and I haven’t had to be so concerned about what to buy and prices. I’m grateful. Others, many others, are struggling with even finding access to food. Affording food. It’s a basic human right, and people struggle. It’s terrible at any time. It’s terrible in this uncertain period.

HOW TO HELP

I know I am fortunate. I have a beautiful home. I have plenty of food. I work. I have great friends and family. I know there are many others who are less fortunate.

I have chosen to donate to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region because I want my community to be nourished. There are so many organizations and people to support during this challenging time, so, if you are able, I encourage you to look within your community and donate to areas of need.

THANK YOU

I am grateful for all the people who are working in our essential services. I thank them as I’m being assisted, and I am more patient with them (and line-ups) than ever before.

A sincere word of thanks or an extra few minutes of conversation does seem to make everyone a bit happier – even if it is through plastic barriers and face masks.

Be well.

Personal: March Update of 2020 Goals

Here’s the original post, my January update, and my February update if you’d like to get caught up. If not, here’s how I’m making out with my 20 things I’d like to do/see/eat/think about/read in 2020.

March has been quite challenging (you know, the ol’ COVID-19 pandemic). I haven’t accomplished much on my list at all! I have only worked on numbers 11, 12, and 20 (so I’ve only included them in today’s post). Three items? Here’s hoping I’ll do better in April!

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11. Eat more vegetables.

I have continued to eat more veggies! I continue to have salads in heavy rotation, and the other day I made broccoli with bacon. Yum!

12. Buy more fun socks.

I picked up this trio when I was at Winners early in the month.

20. Have fun.

Regardless of where I am or what is happening in the world, I am still trying to have a bit of fun every day! I have been fortunate to be at a cottage for just about three weeks, and I consider daily beach walks fun! I’ve even started a new rock collection to remind me of this place and this time.

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So there’s my brief March recap. I’m ready for spring and an interesting April (but maybe less world-wide pandemic kind of interesting!).

Comment: What do you know about world news?

Do you keep up with the news? Watch it daily? Do you follow local news? World news? What do you do to stay informed?

I stay informed of world news through my friends and my Twitter feed. My friend Tim loves to tease me about not staying more informed on daily happenings around the world. He’s ready to discuss politics and world news at every moment. Sometimes our conversations start by him giving me the short version of the news that has happened (that I have missed or ignored) since the last time we chatted. Is this problematic? He always encourages me to stay more informed, but I admit that depressing world news is not my cup of tea.

I like to stay informed about local politics – elections, transit issues, community news. I always vote. I read up on Canadian federal election issues. I generally know what’s happening around the world, but it’s very surface-level. I read enough so that I know what my economics students are discussing. I encourage them to stay informed, read up on issues that they’re passionate about, and use their right to vote.

That said, in terms of global politics, I only have so much brain capacity for Trump news, so I ignore a lot of it.

Is this so wrong?

What about you?

I’m curious. How do you keep up with the news? What news outlets do you read/listen to? Do you and your friends discuss world issues and politics regularly?

Uptown: My Urban Jungle

I have always liked to have plants around my home. I like having to take care of them, and I definitely like watching them grow and take shape. Yes, science also tells me that having plants improves air quality and people’s mental health. Bonus!

I do my best to place my plants in appropriately sunny spots and keep to a good watering schedule, so that they thrive. The plants that I currently have are doing quite well, which makes me smile each day.

Want to peek inside my home and see what’s growing?

I have two fiddle leaf fig trees growing in my living room. I bought the tall one six years ago when I moved into my home. It has changed shape over time because I have had to cut it back and get rid of dead branches. It’s growing like a champ now! I bought the shorter one at Ikea just a few months ago.

fiddle leaf fig

My mom and I each picked up one of these at the beginning of summer. I don’t know what it is, but it does love to be in the sun.

Can you identify this plant?

My mom bought me this begonia, and it’s growing wildly. I love it so much! The leaves are huge, and each day, it seems like I see a new leaf bud. It’s the best! It’s in direct sunlight, and I’m not moving it from its home anytime soon because it’s doing very well here.

begonia

I have a collection of orchids that take turns blooming. At the moment, a purple one is in bloom. It’s from a few years ago, and it has bloomed regularly. I have to watch my watering routine carefully with my orchids. They only need a touch of water each week.

orchid

I have a few ferns in my current collection. This frilly one sits on one of my side tables just out of direct sunlight.

Here’s another frilly fern that is currently on my dining room side board. I’m still experimenting with putting it in different levels of sunlight, but I think it’s happy to be hanging out with a bunch of plant friends!

Beside the fern is a coin plant. I love the airy nature of this plant so much.

fern (coin plant in the background)

My kalanchoe is from May when I picked one up for me and my mom from the St. Jacob’s market. It’s bloomed a couple of times already. It currently has one bloom open, but others are on their way.

kalanchoe

I have a bunch of Pothos plants that I gather together in one large white container. These plants are the easiest and fastest growing plants I think I have ever had. If you’re not sure if you have a green thumb, buy one of these. They never die. I cut them back a lot, root the cuttings, and then plant them once they’ve rooted.

Pothos

This next plant really puts a smile on my face. It’s a poinsettia that I bought last November. A poinsettia! It is nearly one year old, and it’s looking full and healthy. I’m not sure if it’ll turn white again.

poinsettia

Finally, this little succulent (I think it’s a succulent) was an Ikea purchase from a few years ago. About one year ago, it wasn’t looking too great, so I chopped it way back and hoped for the best. It’s growing well now (very slowly), and I love it’s mini size.

a mini plant

That’s my Urban Jungle plant tour. I do have a few more, so maybe I’ll share them in a future post.

Personal: A New Venture

A little while ago, I mentioned that I’ve been working on a new venture. I’m ready to share it here, and I would love your honest feedback! Starting something new is definitely a touch scary

Many of you know that I’m a part-time blogger. I am passionate about design, art, style, and the colour white (of course). Beyond this, though, I have always been interested in language learning and teaching. I have a PhD in applied linguistics, and I have been an educator at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels for many, many years. I have most recently completed an MBA degree because of my growing interest in business, and, more specifically, business communication. I’m now ready to take on another project that combines my formal education, work experience, and professional interests. 

I’m starting a business.

Why not, right?

I’m starting a consulting business. As a consultant, I’ll lead workshops for organizations on how to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. These professional development workshops will help help employers and employees refine their communication skills. I cannot even count how many times I hear people (a) complain about the quality of their employees’ communication skills or (b) admit that their own communication skills are weak. I’m here to help!

In my workshops, participants will develop their skills in the areas of report writing, blog writing, email writing, verbal presentations, and more

Here’s a peek at my website, if you’d like to see. I’m happy to take your feedback!

If you know anyone (in Waterloo region, preferably) who may need my services, let me know

Thanks for your support, dear readers!

Comment: Memories of Technological Advancements

On the recommendation of a friend who attended the True North tech conference in Waterloo a couple of months ago, I listened to the book Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations written by Thomas L. Friedman who was a speaker at the conference. The book was interesting. In it, Friedman talks about the intersection of three major forces affecting current and future generations: globalization, technology, and climate change. The book has made me think about how I use technology every day, how I wish I could use it, how I avoid it, and what I may experience in the future. 

Things, as we know, change rapidly these days. Just a few weeks ago, I ran into an issue with my DVD player…as in, I hadn’t used my DVD player for 6 years, so when I tried to use it to watch DVDs I took out from the library, I couldn’t because I didn’t have any cords to connect the DVD player to my TV. Cords? Wires? This felt like an ancient set-up! A friend lent me a bunch of cords and in this pile, I found the one I needed. Colour-coded pieces of plastic on either end of the cords…one set to hook into my DVD player, the other set for my TV. It felt like an unncessary challenge even though not too long ago, this was our only option to watch movies at home. 

More recently, when I was cleaning up my office, I came across one of my first ever cassette tapes – The Minipops – and I thought, what am I going to do with a cassette now? I don’t have any way to play it! So did I get rid of it? No, of course not. How could I get rid of The Minipops? I’m holding on to this tape for nostalgic purposes.

So Friedman’s book, combined with these two recent experiences, has had me reflecting on other defining memories of technology in my life.

In elementary school, I remember when my dad brought home an electric typewriter. I actually remember its arrival into our home. It was white and grey. Typing seemed to go at lightening speed! I typed short stories and reports for school on that thing. I felt so fancy. I think it may still be in my parents’ basement. I wonder if it’ll feel fast if I go type on it now.

If you lived in Canada in the 1980s, and you banked at Canada Trust, then you may remember the roll out of the Johnny Cash machine…an automated teller. I remember the Johnny Cash machine because my mom worked at the bank at the time, and talked all about the Johnny Cash machine and how it was going to change the work of tellers. I remember her talking about setting up, using, restocking, reconciling the “Johnny Cash”. Oh my goodness, just thinking about it makes me laugh. Watch this Johnny Cash machine commercial for a walk down memory lane.

In Grade 13, I remember sitting in computer class (not typing class, but actual coding class) and my teacher was teaching us about the world wide web. We explored Yahoo. During that same year, I had a friend who was quite tech savvy and taught me about ICQ, which was an online space for chatting. At night, when we were at home, instead of calling, we’d meet on ICQ. It would take what felt like hours to get the computer and modem in my parents’ basement up and running. And then my friend and I would be on ICQ chatting about nothing in particular. No phone calls. Just online chats about homework and such.

When I was graduating and applying to universities, I applied to computer science programs, just barely knowing what computer science was all about. My sister’s friend was finishing her degree in computer science, and everyone told me that there would be so many jobs if I had a computer science degree. I took computer science in my first year at university, and I remember learning computer coding like JAVA to get little worms to move across the screen. I remember spending hours in the computer lab trying to figure out code. I liked it, but didn’t love the non-social aspect of my program, so I dropped it and continued on with French, which had always been my major. Coding now? Kids can do it on apps! Oh, how things have changed!

When I was studied in France in my third year of university, I walked down the street to the Internet café or public library to send emails home. It was part of my daily or weekly routine. I sent letters, too, at the time, but emails were immediate, so by the time anyone received my mailed letters, they were full of old news. I remember creating a new email address just to categorize the stories from France. My parents printed every email I sent. Every single email. They gave me the stack of emails on my return. Printed emails. Can you imagine? Now my parents are more into texting on WhatsApp and using FaceTime than they are into emails.

It was also in France that I got my first cell phone. It was dirt cheap to buy and maintain. I’m not sure if it was because I was in Europe, but text messaging at the time was called SMS (which stands for short message service). People would say, Envoie moi un SMS (Send me an SMS). I loved my little portable (cell phone). It was blue, and the buttons were squishy. I think I still have it stored away in my parents’ house. I should really find the little blue cell phone and store it alongside my old cassette tapes.

In about 2006 or so, I was doing my masters and one of my friends introduced me to this thing called Facebook. At the time, it was a messaging system that was only for university students to communicate with other university students. It was such a closed community! He told me about “some guy” who started Facebook in the United States, and it was only now being rolled out into Canadian institutions. I think I felt privileged to be a student, so I could have access to it. It was during my PhD, about seven years after I first joined Facebook, that I deleted it completely. I have been without Facebook for about seven years now, and I don’t miss it.

I remember when my friend Johanne started Fashion in Motion, a fashion blog, in about 2007 or so. She posted about her blog on Facebook at the time, and I was intrigued, but confused. I remember having coffee with her somewhere in Toronto where she explained to me what a blog was. I thought it was so interesting. An online platform to share ideas. I ended up writing a weekly column on Fashion in Motion, which then gave me the confidence and know-how to start White Cabana in 2010.

Most recently, just a few months ago actually, Kitchener-Waterloo launched the region’s light rail – the ION. This has been a major piece of news for the Waterloo region for years. I feel that the ION has made our region modern, efficient, and ready for future growth. Unlike Canada Trust all those years ago who hired Johnny Cash to be the face of the automatic teller machine (ATM, by the way!), the ION did not launch with a celebrity. It may have been fun if Justin Bieber came back to the region as the face of the ION. Imagine!

These are some of the strong memories I have of the impact of technology in my own life. I know it’s cliché, but it really is hard to believe how fast technology changes. It does not seem so long ago that I was playing The Minipops on my yellow Sony sport walkman!

Celebration: My Birthday!

Well, the day is here! It’s a big one, and I’m looking forward to celebrating with family and friends all (long) weekend. I’m so very grateful for everyone’s love. As I head into this new year (and new decade), I can’t help but reflect a bit on life.

I’ve enjoyed an incredible, adventurous, and curious life so far, so I thank my parents for all that they’ve done to encourage me and to ensure I’ve had fun experiences along the way (with a side of strict discipline). They instilled a love of travel and learning, for which I’m forever grateful. I’m also determined, responsible, hard-working, confident, and loyal because of the lessons I learned from them.

My sister and brother-in-law have been great guides along the way, too. Sure, my sister may yell at me when I’m being ridiculous, but both her and her husband have provided me with so much valuable advice about work, education, opportunities, relationships, and more. I’m sure one of the highlights for them had to be when I set up a Tinder profile (when it was first launched!) sitting around their dining room table in Manhattan. Let’s just say that I didn’t have much control over my swiping that night. My highlights of our time together, on the other hand, has been the birth and growth of my three nephews and niece. These kids are the cutest and provide us all with much entertainment! Since I don’t see them in person often, I appreciate our FaceTime chats.

I am lucky to have developed friendships with so many great people in all the cities I’ve lived in and traveled to. My friends have welcomed me into their homes and made me feel like family. Going on a family trip with a bestie or being called an “honorary cousin” means so much to me. When I’ve been far away from my own family, my friends have made me feel right at home. I am indeed grateful.

My cousin has had the following quote in her email signature for years, and it’s the quote that has been by my side as I think about this next year and decade.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

This quote is a nice reminder to celebrate happy days, make room for fun, not stress the small stuff, and be grateful for what life holds. And with that, I’ll leave you today with this collection of fun vintage photographs. I hope they make you smile.

Underwood Archives via Buzzfeed
Head View by William Vanderson via Fine Art America
Hula Hooping in South Melbourne, 1957 via Imgur
Sausage Snatchers – Getty Images
Boys’ band, Montmartre, Paris, by Bruno de Hogues
Complete uplift: Rose Finn-Kelcey handstand on the beach via The Guardian
On The Caterpillar, Women’s Pub Outing, Clapham, London, 1958 via ArtFido

Have a wonderful weekend!

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.Watch These Videos. Oh my goodness. Who loves James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke? I love it. And this latest one with Celine Dion just made me smile and laugh. She’s such a character.

If you want to be impressed and you’re okay with tearing up, watch Kodi Lee‘s audition on America’s Got Talent. So good.

2. Netflix. I’m slowly watching David Letterman’s My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Kanye West was the first guest on Season 2. I’m not a huge Kanye fan, but I thought it was an interesting interview. I also liked watching Letterman try on Kanye’s Yeezy clothes. Episode 2 was with Ellen Degeneres. I have always like Ellen, so I really enjoyed this interview. She’s candid, likeable, vulnerable, and funny (of course).

3. Food. Rachel Parcell shared an Instastory of hootenanny, and I had no idea what it was. So I looked it up. It’s a breakfast food that is kind of like a mix between pancakes and French toast, but not really. Here’s one hootenanny recipe, but there are plenty of others online.

4. Read this. I liked this list of 22 tiny things to do this summer to feel joy.

5. Beauty. Are there any fans of shellac nail polish out there? I love (love, love) how it looks and how it holds up for extended periods of time, but I hate (hate, hate) how it leaves my nails once it has been removed. I had shellac on for my trip to Japan for April, and my nails are still healing. It’s awful. Does anyone else get annoyed by the poor state of your nails after shellac polish has been removed? What do you do about it?

The Friday Five: Things on My Mind

1.French bloggers. Do any of you have any recommendations for bloggers (or Instagrammers or Youtubers) that write and speak in French? I’ve started following Daphne from Mode and The City and Sabrina from Sab The French Way (I met her in Paris…she’s lovely, beautiful, happy, and energetic just like she is in her videos). I want to listen and read more French.

2. Bathing suits. Do I need more? No, of course not. I mean, I live in a country that has only two months (maybe three if you count June) of summer weather. But when I find bathing suits I like and are reasonable in price, I snap them up. When I saw this one on The Vault Files, I started browsing the H&M site. With free shipping and free returns, how could I not put a few in my shopping cart? When they arrived, I was pleased. I ordered several sizes because I find H&M sizing so unpredictable. In the end, I bought and kept this one, this one, and this two-piece. I’m set for the summer. Now I just need the sun and warmth to arrive!

3. Jazz. I was invited to TWH Social‘s first jazz night with Brownman Ali – an award-winning trumpeter. Every Saturday in the month of March, Brownman will lead an all-star ensemble through five eras of Miles Davis’s jazz. If you’re looking for a great evening out in Kitchener, go! Tickets are $20 per person and the show begins at 9pm. Learn more here.

4. Costco. I have been a card-carrying member of Costco since December, and people continue to ask me what I buy there. I guess since I don’t have a family, people are curious. So what do I buy? I have gone about once a month and the things I’ve bought most regularly are: gas, yogurt, spinach, eggs, milk, almond milk, fruit, meat (I divide it, wrap it, and freeze it) and crackers (e.g., these). On my most recent visit, I picked up this Kate Spade blanket for about $20. It is so soft!

5. Netflix. I spent the last couple of weeks watching The Blacklist. All 22 episodes of Season 1. It took a while, but I was hooked. Have you seen it?

Beauty: My New Dior Mascara and More

I’m not usually one to carry on about beauty routines and products, but I have a new mascara, and it amazes me. It has impressed me so much that I want to share it with you. While I could have shown you a photo of the product, I have opted to include it as just one part of this post where I am sharing my full daily beauty routine. Interested? Read on!

I preface this whole post by letting you know that I’m very much a newbie when it comes to skincare, makeup, hair, and everything related to the beauty industry. In highschool, when many of my friends were perfecting their makeup brush strokes, I was living it up with a soap + water face cleanse, Maybelline under eye concealer, and Maybelline mascara. On special occasions, I’d really change things up by adding Nivea moisturizer. Since then, my routine has pretty much stayed the same. Every so often, I’d eyeshadow and eyeliner.

A couple of years ago, a friend recommend I visit the MAC counter and ask for some advice. So I did. The MAC people helped me pick a new under eye concealer. They also suggested an all-over BB cream and blush. I even bought some brushes! I continued to stick with my Maybelline mascara.

In Paris a couple of weeks, I opted for a mini-makeover at the Dior counter. Why not, right? I wasn’t intending to revamp my eye makeup, but I was curious about their concealer options. So one thing led to another, and boom, I have a whole new daily eye makeup routine.

Here’s my morning makeup-less face:

Here’s my makeup routine “before”:

Step 1: Cleanse and moisturize. I have been using Cerave for a couple of years now on the recommendation of my doctor. I’m pleased with both the cleanser and cream. I use this duo every morning. I use the cleanser before bed to remove my makeup.

Step 2: BB Cream. I use MAC’s BB cream when I go out, feel like putting more effort into my makeup routine. I think it evens out your skin tone, but sometimes I can’t even tell what it does.

Step 3: Under eye concealer. As per MAC’s recommendation, I use the concealer under my eyes.

Step 4: Mascara. I have used Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara for decades. Yes, decades. I like it. It’s easy. It’s cheap. I can find it everywhere. For this post, I used the waterproof version because that’s what I had. Normally, I have used the traditional variety (with the green and pink container). I normally curl my eyelashes with a Revlon eyelash curler. I’m due for a replacement, and I’m considering buying the Shiseido lash curler when I’m in Japan.

Step 5: Vaseline. I use Vaseline on my lips in the morning. Throughout the day, I use a variety of lip balms. I generally like Burts Bees, SunBum, and Chapstick. Every so often, I remember to apply my MAC neutral-shade lipstick.

Step 6: Optional items. Every day, I skip the BB cream and stick with under eye concealer and mascara. If I go out or I’m in the mood to make an effort, I add eye shadow, eyeliner, brow liner, and blush. I haven’t perfected the application of any of these items.

Step 7: Evening cleanse and moisturize. I use the Cerave cleanser at night to remove my makeup, but I now moisturize using any variety of Valmont products. Oh, these creams smell so good and they feel lovely on my skin. I have enjoyed using every product that I have been given by my friends at Langdon Hall (the Langdon Hall Spa uses and carries Valmont).

Here’s my face after the application of MAC BB cream, MAC under eye concealer, Maybelline Great Lash mascara, and Vaseline on my lips:

Here’s my routine “after”:

My routine since Paris has stayed just about the same as above, but I have replaced products, and I’ve added another product.

Steps 1 and 2: As above.

Step 3: Under eye concealer. The Dior beauty consultant in Paris applied an under eye concealer in a small triangle area under my eye.

Step 4: Highlighter. After the under eye concealer, the Dior beauty consultant applied the Flash Luminizer highlighter all around my eye. I now do the same. For both the concealer and highlighter, the beauty consultant told me to use (and tap) my finger to apply the makeup. So I’ve put my brush aside for now and I’m trying things out with my finger.

Step 5: Mascara. This is where things get dramatic in terms of my beauty before and after. The Dior Pump ‘N’ Volume mascara is magic. It extends my lashes like you wouldn’t believe. I usually do one coat of mascara, but the Dior beauty consultant said that I can keep applying it if I want to be extra dramatic. She applied it on both sides of my top lashes and a touch on my bottom lashes. My routine is to stick to one layer on the top lashes.

Steps 5, 6, and 7: As above.

Here’s my face after the application of MAC BB cream, Dior concealer, Dior highlighter, Dior mascara, and Vaseline on my lips:

Here’s a close up of the eye makeup evolution:

To be honest, I don’t notice much difference in the concealer/highlighter between the two brands in terms of coverage and colour, but I do find the Dior products to be much lighter and more silky than the MAC products.

I hope you can see the difference in the mascara. This is what I find to be the most noticeable, and I’m pretty happy with my mascara splurge.

Personal: The 10 Year Challenge

One of the newest hashtag crazes on Instagram is the #10YearChallenge whereby people post side-by-side photos: one from 10 years ago and one from recently. Many photos, as you can expect, are of people’s faces or bodies to show how they’ve changed – more wrinkles, fewer baby faces, more weight, less weight. Captions are generally amusing or introspective.

I, too, got on the 10-year reflection bandwagon. The side-by-side collage brought back so many memories and made me think about the last 10 years. It was a full decade to say the least.

10 years ago – September 2009 – I was on Amherst Island at one of my oldest friend’s wedding. She and I met when we were 7 years old when our families traveled to Madeira Beach. Each summer, we’d reunite and be kids under the Floridian sun. As we got older, we started getting together in Canada, too, no matter where in Ontario each of us lived. Fast forward twenty years later from our initial meet-up, and I was her Maid of Honour. So fun! I loved the navy dress I wore. The wedding ceremony, party, and weekend on the island were great. There were many jumping photos taken that weekend, and this is one of my all-time favourites of all the jumping photos I have taken over the last 15 years!

The photo on the right was taken by one of my other best friends in August 2018 at Madeira Beach (still going and still loving it!). This particular jump came at the end of our long walk on the beach, and the rainbow had just come out. It was a cue for me to start jumping under it. You can’t see all the laughs my friend and I have had over jumping photos, but, trust me, there were many! It was actually with this friend that the jumping photos really got going about 15 years ago – in the Canary Islands of all places! So many happy memories.

And in between these photos? I had so many beautiful moments and experiences to celebrate. I have celebrated marriages, babies, and home purchases with friends and family. My three nephews and niece were born. I traveled as much as I could solo and with friends and family. I started and finished my PhD. I started and finished my MBA. I bought my first home. And it was featured in a magazine. I have learned so many renovation skills. I moved cities twice. I got a great job. And then some other challenging work, too. And a few other projects because why not!? And then there was a book! My brain is always getting its exercise! I started and have continued my blog. And I have met so many great people because of it. I have much to be grateful for.

Of course, there were less than stellar moments, too. Cancer caught multiple people in my family, my last two grandparents passed away, and my aunt lost her battle with cancer. There were breakups, and there was work stress. There were sleepless nights and worries. There have been challenging days, weeks, and months with me, my friends, and my family. As cliché as it sounds though, these experiences have made me more thoughtful, more aware, more confident, more reflective, and more trusting of my gut.

Overall, the last 10 years have been pretty great. I feel lucky. I feel proud. I feel happy. And I can only hope that the next 10 years bring me similar joy. And 10 years from now, I hope I am still jumping!

Things on My Mind

Here’s a bit of a review of what’s been on my mind lately, including music, movie, and book recommendations.

1. THE Book. For so many months – and a couple of years, too – my friend/colleague/co-author/mentor and I have called it The Book. Now, The Book has been published, and I am so thrilled. So so so thrilled! Mastering Academic Writing has been one of my most fun and rewarding writing projects thus far, and to have had fun, shared laughs, brainstormed over so many meals with a good friend made the experience that much more positive and memorable. Copies of our book arrived from our publisher, Sage, over the holiday break, and it made for quite a happy mail day!

The book is intended for upper year undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors who are looking for a great writing resource and guide. Now, it’s not a boring academic textbook (if you ask me!); we took an informal, approachable tone as we offered instruction, examples, and notes about academic writing. It’s affordable, too! If you’d like to know more, let me know. The book is available at Sage and Amazon.

Don’t be surprised if you see it pop up again on White Cabana.

2. Music. For the last month or so, I’ve been listening to French radio (89.9 FM – CBC – Ici musique – in Waterloo) and French tunes on Spotify. It’s not only been a needed change from my usual pop/rap/top40 tunes, but also I can brush up on my French listening and comprehension skills (in preparation for my February vacance à Paris!). On Spotify, I’ve had Lisa LeBlanc (Dump the guy ASAP is a hit) and Mackjoffat (Music Face is my current fave, but it’s in English) on repeat.

3. Blogosphere. Remember the good ol’ days of blogging? When people read blogs daily? When bloggers wrote daily? Before Instagram took over everyone’s phones? Before bloggers applied rose-coloured tints over every darn photo? Yeah, me too. I had brunch with Melissa over the break, and we chatted about how things have changed and the approaches we observe from afar from influencers, vloggers, bloggers, and more.

I have barely changed my approach to blogging even though I know the blogging world around me has changed. I blog every day unless I’m on a break. I read blogs daily, too. I like to read about people’s real lives, their Pinterest and DIY fails and successes, and what they do in the spare time. I continuously learn from others, and I’m inspired by a lot of what I see on my daily blog visits. Who’s with me on this?

4. Movies and Netflix. Oh my goodness. I have watched so much Netflix. Too much, in my opinion, but such is life. I guess I’m in post-book, post-MBA relaxation mode. I don’t love being a couch potato, but I didn’t argue with myself about it over the holidays.

So what did I watch? Just about every cheesy Christmas movie set in Belgravia, Genovia, anyotherovia. I don’t recommend any of them unless you’re embracing a cheesy couch potato lifestyle.

I also watched Birdbox. I was scared at first, then I wasn’t. It was okay. I didn’t love it, but it is worth watching on Netflix. And I also watched Theory of Everything. I really enjoyed it.

And in the theatre, I opted to watch The Favorite. It was interesting. Funny but quirky but not too quirky. Great acting, costumes, and set design. Plus, if you’re a fan of Emma Stone, you’re going to enjoy her performance. The movie had the audience laughing. I recommend it.

I also went to see Mary Queen of Scots, and it was excellent. I learned a lot, really enjoyed the acting, and, of course, the costumes were amazing.

5. Books. I’m still listening to Haruki Murakami audiobooks. I love that they’re all set in Japan. I started a collection of his short stories. This is the first time I’ve read (or listened to) a collection of short stories. I like that they’re quick, but I don’t like that there’s no time to develop plot and characters. I also can barely remember any story that I’ve listened to. There was one set in a hotel, there was one about a teenage romance…see, the details escape me! There are too many stories to remember! But do I still enjoy his writing? Yes.

Personal: 6 Things on Mind

1. Books. I finished another Haruki Murakami novel a couple of weeks ago. It was called Dance Dance Dance, and it was great. I also finished The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham. I’m now onto another Somerset Maugham – Of Human Bondage – and I think it’s going to take me a while to get through as it’s quite long. I’m just about to start Nudge by Richard Thaler to break up the line-up of British and Japanese literature.

2. Christmas Market. It’s Christkindle Market in Kitchener this weekend. It’s a great time to be outdoors, take in the Christmas crafts, and munch on traditional German food (and mulled wine, too)!

3. Holiday dresses. I love that so many bloggers are sharing round-ups of lovely holiday dresses. But why oh why are so many of them $1000+? I’m on the look out for more affordable options. Are you interested in a posts of (affordable) holiday outfits?

4. T&T Supermarket. Oh my goodness. The T&T supermarket (focused on Asian foods and products) opened up in Waterloo yesterday. A friend and I went after work, and we couldn’t believe the chaos. The parking situation was a mess. And there was a massive line up to get in. We were surprised. Needless to say, we had no desire to wait in line for groceries, so we left. I’ll check it out in a few weeks. Has anyone been? Do you have a T&T in your city? Do you like it?

5. End of term. The term is over. My class is done. I have final papers to mark this weekend. My students worked hard, and I look forward to seeing how they translated their ideas into their final writing task.

6. Music. I recently heard Lisa LeBlanc on the radio, and I’m hooked. Lisa is a 27 year old singer songwriter from Montreal. I’ve had her new bilingual album – Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen – on repeat for weeks.

Personal: A Walk Down Memory Lane

It’s happening. It’s finally happening. After years of saying “I really need to go to Japan,” it’s actually happening. I booked my trip a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been reading anything and everything in preparation. I have 6 months to plan and finalize details of my trip as it is in April 2019. I.Am.So.Excited!

I haven’t been to Japan since I was about 5 years old, and you can bet I’m going to try to recreate some of these photos from the 80s.

What are the chances I can find this place?

(side note: I used to love my Cabbage Patch t-shirt)

I’m pretty sure these are supposed to be for washing your hands rather than for drinking. Does anyone know?

And I had to include this one of my dad. He carried around that Beta video camera everywhere we went. Could you imagine doing it now? Luckily, a few years ago, we transferred all of our family’s Beta videos and slides (yes, slides, too) and 8mm film (yes, that, too) into electronic forms, so we were able to see photos and videos that we hadn’t seen in 30 years!

What are the chances I can find any of these places? They’re likely all from Kyoto. Wish me luck!

And if you have any recommendations about Japan, leave a comment, please!

#WhiteCabanaWearsPink: CIBC Run for The Cure

As you may remember, each October, pink invades the white pages of White Cabana with #whitecabanawearspink. Why? Because October is breast cancer awareness month. There will be an influx of pink posts beginning on October 1st (with a bit of a head start today). Not only that, but I’ll be donating all the money earned from affiliate links and ads to the Canadian Cancer Society. As a reader, you can do your part by getting really click-happy (that is, click every darn link you see, and tell your friends to do the same). The more you click, the more I can donate!

Dainty Lion Floral

This Sunday, September 30th, I’ll be running (or run-walking) the CIBC Run for the Cure in Kitchener-Waterloo. Who will join me? Who will tweet with me? Who will run in their cities?

I run for so many people. My mom, my aunt, my cousin, my friends. Too many women, in fact. I also run for all the family members who support these women as they go through their tiring treatments. I run for all the people who support my fundraising efforts.

I am grateful to doctors working hard on their research, organizations that raise money, nurses who are there to educate and attend to patients, scientists who are advancing knowledge, and technology that can detect previously undetectable abnormalities.

I’ll be dressed in pink for #whitecabanawearspink. You can learn more about why I run – and donate, too, if you like – on my fundraising page.

Thank you, dear readers.

Uptown: Shower Mini Makeover

If you’ve ever seen my house in person or really paid attention to my stories here on White Cabana, you probably know that I dislike my upstairs bathroom. It’s huge. It has a corner jacuzzi tub that I rarely use and the smallest corner shower. When I bought my house five years ago, I did a quick reno – removed the shiny grey wallpaper, painted the 80s wood trim on the cabinet, and replaced the counter, sink, faucet, and lighting. I also tried to draw the eye up from the grey tub and linoleum floor by crafting a giant inkblot art wall.

This was a good mini makeover, and it’s still serving me pretty well. And since I’ve spent my renovation budget on other things in my home – painting, tiling, doors, trim, and my laundry room – there has been no room in my renovation budget for the big bathroom.

So I’ve had to continue to get creative. With input from other creative people, of course!

When my sister was over a couple of weeks ago, she encouraged me to rip out the disgusting shower door and replace it with a pretty curtain. Just rip it out. Sure.

Yup. I thought this was a manageable DIY task.

  The Before

So, one morning, when I was still in my pajamas, I took out my tools and started removing a dozen or so screws. I chiseled, hammered, pushed, and pulled the door and frame out of place. It was gratifying.

The Tools (perfume optional)

I then scrubbed the built-up gunk off of the marble step. This made a huge difference. I felt like I had a brand new shower.

I filled all the old shower door screw holes with silicone, hung a shower curtain tension rod, and added a pretty curtain. Done and done.

The After

This was an easy DIY that has made a big difference. The whole project cost about $50 (for the rod, shower rings, shower curtain and liner). Yes, I still dislike the corner shower, but at least I don’t have a dirty door to look at every day. Much improved!

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s a bit of what has been on my mind – and in my life – lately.

1. Plants. I am so pleased with how two of my plants are currently growing. The first is my avocado plant that I started to grow from seed way back in the fall. The second is my fiddle leaf fig that I had cut back a long while ago, and it’s only now sprouting new leaves. So exciting!

2. Kingston. I took a trip to Kingston a couple of weeks ago, and it made me so happy to go back. I lived there for two years, and every time I visit, happy memories trickle back into my brain. I’m thankful that I’m able to continue making memories there even during very short visits.

view of my old waterfront apartment and balcony

3. Heated floor. The One Room Challenge is over, and my bathroom/laundry combo room is done. But when I saw this photo from the team at Warmup, it brought back memories of planning. I like the layout plan of my heated floor (photo source).

4. Art. When I was at Ines‘s house a couple of weeks ago for an essential oils party (with Christine and Hollie), I was impressed by all the art she has around her home. This sweet little piece by Frances Hilary Hahn really made me smile.

5. Elora. I drive over to Elora several times each year. It’s about a 30-minute drive from Waterloo, and it’s such a pretty town for a day trip. It was nice to see the progress of the Elora Mill, too. I’m thinking that the place will be pretty great once it’s all done. I look forward to taking a tour – and hopefully planning a longer stay, too!

That’s all for now. What have you had on the go lately? What’s been on your mind?

One Room Challenge: Laundry Room – Week 5

We are near the end of this spring’s One Room Challenge event.

I can barely believe it actually. This week 1 before post seems like a distant memory now that all my new pieces are in place. This is definitely going to be a dramatic before-and-after feature, so I hope you’ll stick around until next week to see the big reveal.

For now, here are a few glimpses into my transformed space.

My Blanco Liven sink and Urbena faucet were installed. They’re surrounded by a white quartz countertop and a custom cabinet.

My drywaller made the greatest invention to cover my water main valve.

My pocket door is one of my favourite features of my new room.

And my new mirror adds some classic shine to this high-functioning room.

Finally, my WarmUp floor heating thermostat was installed, and it works perfectly. My floor warms up in minutes, and it’s definitely a luxury for this space. Without the floor heating system, my tile floor is so cold!

Over the next week, I’ll be adding all the finishing touches: shower curtain, toilet roll holder, and art. It’s going to be a fun week!

Check out my week 1, week 2, week 3, and week 4 posts to get caught up on all the action. And for more inspiration, click on over to the posts from the One Room Challenge’s featured designers and guest participants.

Thanks to Blanco and WarmUp for collaborating on this project. All opinions are my own.

Architecture: A Beautiful Barn

I saw images of this Texas barn venue on Pinterest, and I was eager to see more. The White Sparrow Barn looks to be primarily used as a wedding venue, but I think a party of any sort would be beautiful in this stunning space.

Pretty, right?

The Friday Five: 5 Things on My Mind

Here are five things that have been on my mind this week.

1. Toronto

Of course Toronto has been on my mind. There’s no reason why we should ever associate people with “mowed down.” A tragedy. An awful tragedy that is too close to home. To learn more and to stay informed, I’ve been leaning toward reading articles from The Conversation, which is an academic source but written for a general audience. Articles like “Why he didn’t shoot?” and “The dark possible motive” are just two of the several that I read.

2. Babies

Congratulations to Daniela who gave birth to her second baby. Yay! A sweet girl has been welcomed into our family.

3. Music

This week I attended a house concert by Keenan Reimer-Watts who is a Kitchener-Waterloo musician. He created original music for the harpsichord and guitar, and it was quite the evening. I especially enjoyed how he explained his composition process. I was amazed by his talent. Also – this was the first time I had ever seen or heard the harpsichord. (FYI: It’s not a harp.)

Keenan also taught us about his organization Busking for Change. In this movement, buskers and audiences come together to support the environment.

4. Reading

The new edition of Toque has been released. This is a free magazine (yes, print) that features articles about local places and people. I enjoy reading it because I always learn something new about Waterloo region (and Guelph and Hamilton, too)!

5. Post-MBA Life

Well, it’s true. I’ve moved into post-MBA life, and it’s been pretty fabulous so far. I’ve seen lots of friends, read some books and magazines, and started to plan and book mini-vacations. I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to complete another degree, and I enjoyed learning a ton over the last 4 years. But I’m now looking forward to having a bit of free time.

One Room Challenge: Laundry Room – Week 4

Welcome back to the One Room Challenge, everyone! Are you enjoying seeing all the progress participants and guests are making? I sure am! If you’ve just joined in on the White Cabana laundry/bathroom reno fun, check out my week 1, week 2, and week 3 posts. Week 4 means things are starting to get pretty!

Last week, I showed you a relatively cleaned-up space (a big change from the weeks before where I showed you a fully gutted space). In the past couple of weeks, the WarmUp heated floor was installed. The drywall was finished. Pipes were in place. And things only improved from there!

The major game-changer to the look of my space this week was the tile install. Like my other tradespeople, my tiler was top-notch. Honestly, everyone, I feel so lucky to have worked with my team of tradespeople. I was worried pre-reno because I didn’t have any  contacts in Waterloo, but one thing led to another (one phone call led to another), and I ended up with great people!

My tilers were so precise. And my room looks amazing because of their work. Have a look:

The picture above shows the space as you walk into it. The stacked laundry unit will be on the right side against the wall. It may not seem much to you, but all those pipes and holes in the wall mean major progress for this space! Of course the new pipe set-up increased my costs, but it was worth it. My plumber did a great job, and everything is much tidier than it was pre-reno. And the dryer vent was moved up high which makes much more sense. So tidy! I love it!

I went with ceramic hex tiles in a marble-esque pattern. So pretty. I had considered marble for the space, but because of all the water spillage that can happen in this workhorse of a room (and Waterloo’s awful hard/soft water issues), I just didn’t want to risk ruining marble.

On this side of the room, I’ll have my toilet. The sink will sit in between the toilet and the stacked laundry. My plumber cleaned up some of the pipes that you see in that wall hole. So good. And my drywaller has fashioned the best cover for that hole, too. I just don’t have photos of it yet, so stay tuned.

And on the left side of the room is this beautiful shower! Oh my goodness! What a treat to have a shower in this space. Small but mighty! That’s what I keep saying about this room, and that’s what I continue to believe. My team installed this basic 34″ x 34″ shower, and it’s going to be so convenient for me and my guests once the space is done. The flooring is a continuation of the 2″x2″ hex tile from the rest of the floor. It’s easier on the eyes. On the wall, I went with my fave – a subway tile. This tile is 4″ x 12″, and I’ve got pretty small grout lines. I’m really happy I opted for this larger version of the classic subway tile.

Did you notice how everything lines up so well? Sign of good tilers! They completed this job in just three days, and I was very pleased that this part of the project progressed so quickly.

I opted for grey grout everywhere, and things are looking sleek and clean…just how I like it! Isn’t it exciting to know that the full reveal will be in just two weeks? I can’t wait!

As per usual, I encourage you to check out what the One Room Challenge guest participants and featured designers have been up to during week 4.

If you’d like to see more of my ORC progress, see my week 1, week 2, and week 3 posts. Thanks to WarmUp for supplying my new floor heating system. All opinions are my own.

One Room Challenge: Laundry Room – Week 3

Welcome back to the One Room Challenge. Today marks the halfway point of this 6-week makeover journey, and things are looking pretty good in my new laundry/bathroom…even though the photos in this post (and my week 1, week 2 posts) are full of dirt, dust, and mess!

This week, I’m sharing what happened after the plumber gave my pipes a makeover. He installed a shower, as you may recall, so when he left there was a big trench in my room. The floor needed patching, the walls needed insulating, and there was still a bunch of plumbing to take care of.    the beginning of a beautiful shower

check out those pipes

insulation installation

My drywaller patched up the floor with cement(I keep calling him my drywaller, but, honestly, Chris can do everything!). Once that was dry, my electrician (aka my dad) and my tiler got to work.

drywall installed

In terms of electrical work, quite a bit needed to get done. Dad installed new lighting, updated outlets, and did the prep work for my floor heating system. He also installed a new fan.

new electrical

In terms of the floor heating system, I’m very lucky to be working with WarmUp on this project. The people I have been working with from WarmUp have been phenomenal. Really informative and great communicators. I was so pleased that they were as eager to work with me as I was with them!

To get the floor ready for the heating system, my tiler first installed the WarmUp insulation boards. These insulation boards not only prepped the flooring for the heating mats, but these boards will also ensure more energy efficiency.

WarmUp insulation boards installed

After the boards were secure, my tiler laid down the heating mats – the DCM-PRO membrane.

Dad was then able to install the cables on the mats. The cables were tested before, during, and after installation to ensure the product’s resistance had not been altered. Dad let me know that the installation of these cables was eaaasssy! Good to know, right? He liked the simplicity and straightforwardness of the DCM-PRO system, and he liked the contrasting colours, too, because this meant that everything was really easy to see.

WarmUp floor heating mats and cord installed (no heating on the right side of the photo because that’s where the toilet and vanity will be installed)

Stepping out of the shower onto a heated floor is going to be divine!

 

After everything was installed and tested, the tiler put a skim coat over the WarmUp floor heating system, so that it would be ready for tiles.

I encourage you to check out what the One Room Challenge guest participants and featured designers have been up to during week 3.

If you’d like to see more of my ORC progress, see my week 1 and week 2 posts. Thanks to WarmUp for supplying my new floor heating system. All opinions are my own.

One Room Challenge: Laundry Room – Week 2

Well, my first impression of the One Room Challenge event is great! I have been enjoying learning about the people and the projects in this new-to-me community. There are so many creative people out there doing beautiful things, and I encourage you to have a look at the One Room Challenge featured designers and guest participants to be inspired about home renovations and interior design.

As you may remember, I’m currently tackling a laundry/bathroom renovation (see my Week 1 post for before photos). I keep calling the space my laundry room, but, in fact, this space serves a dual purpose. I primarily use it for my weekly laundry sessions, but it is also used as a guest bathroom. I was fortunate to have a finished and functioning space when I moved into my home five years ago, but it was beyond dated.

A refresh has been in the pipeline for quite some time.

The layout of the space – laundry, sink, toilet – will not change in my new space. But I have broken down a wall to squeeze in a shower. This is major. This has required quite a bit of plumbing.

While my family and I tackled the demo, I have four people working on putting things back together: a framer/drywaller, a plumber, a tiler, and my dad (aka pseudo-electrician). Each person is super skilled, and while I hadn’t worked with three of these people prior to my project, they have each lived up to my standards of high quality craftsmanship. These people are gems, let me tell you! I feel very lucky!

My framer, plumber, and electrician were the first people on the scene. My framer took down existing doors, installed (or reinstalled) studs, and installed a pocket door.

While the framer took a bit of a break, the plumber got to work. I had a lot of items on my plumbing to do list on this job: installation of brand new shower plumbing, switch out/clean up of old pipes, installation of new ball-valve switches, etc. The space got dusty and messy, and I enjoyed watching the progress each day.

This laundry/bathroom turned open concept!

a grid of pipes and 2x4s

This p-trap makes me happy because it means a more efficient plumbing set-up for my laundry and sink.

I lived with a trench for a little while.

There wasn’t much left of the original floor. No loss there!

And because I know some of you like to see pretty things during the One Room Challenge recaps, here’s the art I’m going to use in my new room:

Clothespins (c/o)

I encourage you to check out what the One Room Challenge guest participants and featured designers have been up to during week 2.

Note: See my Week 1 post to get updated on my One Room Challenge project.

One Room Challenge: Laundry Room – Before – Week 1

Well, it’s official. I’m taking part in my first One Room Challenge (ORC) as a guest participant. If you’re unfamiliar with the One Room Challenge, it’s a twice-yearly event that happens in the design blogger community where design bloggers makeover a room in 6 weeks. 6!

Calling it Home started the challenge over a decade ago, and ever since, design bloggers have been putting their best foot forward.  There are two lines of participation at this point. First, on Wednesdays, a group of 20 featured participants will share their progress (see their week 1 posts). Then, on Thursdays, any design blogger can participate as a guest participant. You can check on everyone’s progress at the One Room Challenge site as well as on individual blogs.

So how will I participate this year? So what am I going to feature over the next 6 weeks? My combo laundry room/bathroom. And I’m pretty darn excited! (If you’re new to White Cabana, here’s a peek into my home.)

To be honest, I started this project weeks ago, but progress has been s…l…o…w. Given my work/life schedule and my lack of contractor contacts in Waterloo, renovating the space from top to bottom in 6 weeks wasn’t looking promising. 12 weeks, maybe. 🙂 But I can definitely feature it in 6 weeks! And that’s what I’m committed to doing.

Warning: This post contains some colourful before photos that may hurt your eyes.

Here’s what this room looked like on the day I took the first tour of my (future) house five years ago. Soon after I moved in, I removed the support bar (and about 30 others around my house), the shelf unit above the toilet, and the glass shelf. I also painted the wood strip on the sink cabinet and covered almost the whole floor with a big, white bath mat.

And then I lived with it. Year after year. I lived with a hideous pink/grey/gold laundry/bathroom. It hurt my eyes every time I had to do laundry.

Here’s what my space look liked a couple of weeks ago. Note the floral wallpaper. Awful. And the accordion door. Awful again. And the drop ceiling. Convenient but awful. And the lighting. Awful.

To be honest, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this space. It’s been great to have a finished laundry space and extra bathroom for guests. It’s also been really enjoyable for me to see people’s reactions when I show them this space. Easy entertainment. On the other hand, though, the wallpaper and floor combo has always made my eyes hurt. And I hate not having a big laundry sink. A little vanity just doesn’t cut it for my needs.

While I did hire tradespeople for this makeover, my DIY-loving self could not leave it to them to have all the fun. I spent about two weekends in demolition mode. We took everything back to the studs, so that I could have a blank slate.

The space is small, but the makeover is going to be mighty!

Here’s what the space looked like post-demo day:

I know it’s not pretty and tidy, but I actually like this part of the reno process. I like to see all the pipes exposed, to see how things were originally set up, and to think about ways to make things better.

I know the tradespeople I have hired are going to make it better than ever before. On the technical side, new electrical and new plumbing is being installed. I also said goodbye to the awful accordion door, and my framer installed a fabulous pocket door. Things are already looking bright.

As for my design plan?

I’m going with this marble-like ceramic hex tile on the floor:  this classic 4×12 subway tile on the walls:

this quartz counter on the cabinet:

this Blanco Urbena faucet on the sink:

My crew is also going to do some more reframing and add a heated floor. Hello luxury!

My custom cabinet is ready for pick-up, and my Blanco sink is going to look gorgeous on top of it. I have settled on a shower trim kit (finally…after buying and returning a couple). My original design plan continues to guide me, but I have had to make changes to it. Overall, my space’s design could be described as “a massive dose of white with a touch of grey”.

Thanks for following along my first One Room Challenge! If there’s anything specific you’d like to see or learn, let me know in the comments.

The Friday Five: Things On My Mind

Apparently, I have no shortage of things on my mind lately. Here are five of them.

1. Burnt

I hadn’t watched TV in several weeks, but last week, I had two hours to spare, so I sat and watched Burnt (without falling asleep!). Bradley Cooper speaking French, gorgeous food, and good scenery make for an enjoyable movie as far as I’m concerned. It was worth watching.

2. Ravenclaw

I recently learned that many of my students know what house they belong to…as in Harry Potter house. I had no idea this was a thing, but they taught me about the online quizzes you can take to determine your house. I’m a Ravenclaw, which isn’t that surprising since Ravenclaws are curious and creative people. If you’ve done other personality tests (um…do you know your colour? I’m heavy on the green with a side of yellow), then you might see similarities between these and the Harry Potter house quizzes. I think I have a bit of each of the houses, but to varying degrees. I think I’m certainly Ravenclaw with a side of Slitherin. Am I making any sense to anyone?

3. Mycorrhiza

I attended a biology lecture last week about mycorrhizae fungi which live in a symbiotic relationship with plants. It was absolutely fascinating. These microscopic mycorrhizae can access nutrients far beyond where plant roots can access them; in return, plants provide the mycorrhizae with carbon to live. I learned how mycorrhizae can help to increase the speed of growth in seedlings after major disasters such as a forest fire. That’s the (really) short version of what I learned.

4. Post-MBA Life

I figured out what I’m going to learn about post-MBA. Plants! Yahoo! I’m not intending to do a biology degree or anything crazy like that, but I think I’ll try to audit a course or at least attend biology lectures at the university when I can. See point #3. It inspired this decision.

5. Popcorn

Do you like popcorn? Do you buy it or make it? I’ve had a discussion about popcorn with all of my immediate family members over the last month (I know, I know – mycorrhiza to popcorn – call me crazy). I’ve tried sea salt flavours of Skinny Pop and Boom Chicka Pop, and I’ve enjoyed both. But I like freshly popped popcorn, too. I can’t yet decide which option I like better. And is freshly popped “healthier” than pre-bagged?

The Friday Five: 5 Things on My Mind

My mind has been busy this week. Here’s what has been on it…

1. TD Canada Trust Wait Time

As soon as I noticed my credit card was compromised last weekend, I called TD Visa. There was no real rush, however, since I was on hold (hold!) for 45 minutes. Is this normal? I was expecting to be on hold for maximum 10 minutes. Not fun. It took about 5 minutes to resolve my issue.

2. Credit Card Theft

I’m 99% certain that my credit card info was stolen via an Uber transaction. Not cool. I can’t prove it though, but maybe TD can. What a pain. Saving credit card info online is super convenient at the time of purchase, but incredibly inconvenient when a theft happens. Time to start with a fresh card. And time to stop saving info in my account.

3. Doors

To be honest, I have found door purchasing intimidating. Tiles, fabric, furniture, I can do. But doors? I found it hard. Luckily, Metrie and Northfield Trim and Door (here in Waterloo) have been guiding me through this door makeover project. I’ll let you know how installation goes.

4. Heidi Klum on Ellen

I watched this clip so many times. It made me laugh so much!

5. Essie Nail Polish

Did you know that Essie has launched a new series of nail polish? I learned about this via Carly, and since the “True Love Color” polish was on sale, I picked up “Pinked to Perfection”. It’s an all-in-one nail strengthener and polish, so it’s just what I need. I’m weekend ready!

Uptown: Project ByeByeBifold

When I bought my house almost five years ago and started to renovate it, I began a series on my blog under the category “Uptown“. If you ever see this in the title, you know that it means that I’m back in the reno game and sharing ideas and progress with you.

Back in December, I got in a fight with my bifold closet door, and I declared it my final fight. I have been living without a door since then as I had no desire to put it back into place. The open concept closet, though, is not my thing. And lucky for me, this was only one of two bifold doors that I have in my home. I have disliked my bifolds ever since I moved in, and even though they’re a space-saving design for my hallways, I find them quite annoying.

So this is where Metrie comes in! I had eyed Metrie’s doors at Vanessa’s home and Sabrina’s home, and I wanted the same sleek design for my home, too. When I was at Vanessa’s house in the summer, I was impressed not only by the style of her doors, but the weight of them, too. They were just beautiful! Yes, I’m talking about doors. And when I met the Metrie team at BlogPodium in September, I was even more impressed.

Vanessa Francis

Sabrina Smelko

In January, I said #byebyebifold and worked with Metrie to order new doors. While there are several great options for door designs, I knew exactly what I wanted. I made my decision very quickly. So, what did I order? The Masonite Lincoln Park door.

Masonite Lincoln Park

Nice, right?

For one hall closet, I am going to have double doors, and for the other closet, I’ll have one single door. The existing bifold doors will be a distant memory! #byebyebifold

The install hasn’t yet happened, but when it does, you know I’ll be sure to share my before and after photos. And, no, this isn’t a DIY job for me. I’m just waiting on an installer to get things a-rollin’!

Thanks to Justine and Metrie for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

 

The Friday Five: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s what’s been on my mind lately.

1. Perimeter Institute concert series. Last week, I attend Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen‘s concert at the Perimeter Institute. What an enjoyable evening out! The Perimeter Institute – PI – is one of my favourite buildings in Waterloo. It’s an impressive building that is on the edge of Waterloo Park, and I certainly enjoy the (mostly) white interior.

2. Anne. I (rather quickly) binge-watched Anne a couple of weeks ago. Surprisingly, I’m eager for more episodes. Does anyone know what’s going on with this series? It brought me back to my childhood, and I’d happily watch a few more episodes.

3. Winter boots. I’m already so tired of wearing winter boots. I enjoyed Carly the Prepster’s winter boot post, and I smiled when I read it because I have just about the exact collection (and then some). Multiple boots are a must for our winter weather, especially when you have outdoor activities to do each week.

4. Design fails. This Instagram account had me laughing out loud. Look at the photos, and read the comments, too. Hilarious! I think I should submit a photo of my wallpapered furnace. I’m sure it would make the “please hate these things” cut. (source: Jacquelyn Clark)

5. Door knobs. I’m thrilled to be working with Direct Door Hardware again this year. I worked with this company when I first moved into my house because I replaced all of my exterior door locks and knobs. The selection was awesome, and I really enjoyed the interactions I had with the company staff, so I was happy to work with them again on my door makeover project.  My knobs arrived last week, and they’re so nice. Do you want to see them? Great! I’ll be sharing more news of this project in the months ahead.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Uptown: Laundry Room Design Ideas

2018 is going to be the year I tackle my laundry-bathroom renovation. The space has been stuck in the 80s/90s what with its floral wallpaper and really old everything else. I am so eager to get it back to its studs and start fresh!

I haven’t bought everything, but one thing is completely set – my sink and faucet. I’m lucky to be working with Blanco on this reno, and it really wasn’t hard for me to settle on two essential pieces items – the Blanco Liven laundry sink and Blanco Urbena faucet – both in white, of course!

Beyond these two pieces, I’ve been collecting ideas about other items as well. Here’s one of my design boards.

laundry sink, faucet, wall tile, floor tile, art, cabinet door, countertop, towels, shower trim, bath mat

As you can see, I’m going for a simple, modern space with white as the main colour (of course!). I think I’ve settled on white subway tile (but I might go for a larger version) for the walls and a grey-ish floor tile. I think I’ll need to go custom for the cabinet and counter, but I haven’t finalized that yet. And I have to settle on a laundry/dryer combo (not pictured), too. Much to do!

All of these are the pretty things. In addition to them, I (or people) will replace the insulation, install a ceiling, redo the door framing, improve the plumbing, and who even knows what else. That’s how renos end up going, right?

Thanks to Blanco for sponsoring this project. All opinions are my own.

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

These are five things that have been on my mind lately.

1. Outlander. I’ve continued to watch Outlander, and I recently finished season 2. Oh my goodness – I loved the episodes set in France so much! But I also continued to enjoy all the scenes set in the Scottish highlands. And now I am adding Scotland to my travel goals because it looks just so beautiful (and, yes, I know that some scenes weren’t shot in Scotland). I came across real-life photos of the two main characters – Jamie Fraser played by Sam Heughan and Claire Fraser played by Catriona Balfe – and I was surprised. I just imagined that they would look exactly the way they do in Outlander. But they don’t. And seeing them in modern clothes was kind of surprising. p.s. I can’t be the only one who has a crush on Jamie Fraser, right?

2. Barre. I’m continuing with barre classes this month. I have loved every class that I have attended. I think it’s mostly because the music playlists are fantastic! I just feel like singing and dancing the whole time (instead of doing planks for way too long). Have you tried a barre class? What do you think?

3. Grocery delivery. Have you ever had your groceries delivered right to your door? I haven’t, but just today two friends (at separate times in the day) talked to me about it and I received news about Instacart, which is a same-day grocery delivery service brought to us by the Real Canadian Superstore and Zehrs (via Loblaw Companies Ltd.). How’s that for timing? Grocery delivery was today’s hot topic! Apparently Instacart has already been offered in Toronto, but it has launched in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, and Guelph regions today.

And here’s a bonus for you – first time users can enter the code HIKITCHENER (3/31/18 expiration) at checkout to get $20 off an order of $35 or more, plus a free first time delivery.

4. Tumeric. What does everyone know about tumeric? I don’t know anything about it, but it has come up multiple times in my life in the last month, and I feel like I need to do some research about the benefits of this spice. One of the cafés in town (DVLB) has this tumeric warming tea that I really enjoy. And this weekend in Grey County, I learned about elixirs with tumeric in them that help with fighting winter illness. Then I did a quick Google search and found this list of benefits of tumeric tea. Thoughts?

5. Travel + People. Travel is often on my mind. This past weekend, I had the chance to work with Grey County to explore new-to-me parts of Ontario (you may have followed along on Instagram with #WhiteCabanaGoesToGreyCounty). My posts are definitely still in draft form, but you’ll see them on the blog over the next couple of weeks. For now though, I have been thinking about all the people I met on my 3-day journey. I feel lucky to have come across such happy, welcoming, and interesting people because these people made my trip that much more rich, informative, and fun. Some people. You know? You just can’t help but be thankful your paths have crossed! Who’s with me?

The Friday Five: 5 Things on my Mind

These things have been on my mind recently.

1. Travel. Do you travel a lot? When? Why? For pleasure? For work? I have loved to travel since I was little (my parents put the bug in me since they were quite the adventurers when we were a young family). I really enjoyed my solo trip to Nashville in December, and I’m looking forward to another short getaway to Grey County (Collingwood area) here in Ontario soon.

2. The holidays. I had a great time celebrating the holidays with family and friends throughout the month of December. And while I had a wonderful time and felt (and feel) very grateful, I was also thinking about loved ones who couldn’t join in on the fun or those who are no longer with us. The holidays are great, but they can also be tough for a lot of people for so many reasons. It’s easy to get wrapped up in gorgeous Christmas decor and beautiful Pinterest DIYs, but at the same time, all of these happy images don’t share the whole story.

3. Outlander. One of a friend’s recent Netflix suggestions included Outlander, so I gave it a try over the holidays. And then I got hooked. I’m just about finished season one. Have you seen it? What do you think?

4. 2018 Home Reno Plans. I had a fight with one of my bifold doors on the weekend. It got so bad that I had to leave the house (dramatic, I know). When I got back and had another fight with it, I ended up breaking the handle and the track gadgets. Oh my goodness. Annoying. I have hated my bifold doors since I moved in almost 5 years ago, so I am making #byebyebifold a priority. I’ll be checking out some places in Kitchener-Waterloo, but if you have any recommendations, let me know. If all works out, I’ll replace 15 interior doors in the months ahead.

In addition, I will be starting renos on my bathroom-laundry room. I have been wanting to rip this room apart for as long as I’ve been in my house, too, but other tasks have been higher on the to do list. I’ll share my design ideas soon.

5. Italian New Year’s Traditions. New Year’s Day always means a massive feast at my parents’ house with our extended family. Beginning the year with family and food and sharing well wishes for the year ahead has been a wonderful tradition (even though everyone is tired from the previous evening’s late-night celebrations). This year, I opted to add in another Italian tradition – a dinner called Cotechino con Lenticchie (translation: large pork sausage with lentils. I used a combination of this recipe and this recipe. The Italian custom is that the coin-shaped lentils bring prosperity and the cotechino brings abundance for the year ahead.

And another New Year’s Eve/Day tradition is to wear red undergarments to bring in good luck for the year. My Nonno was always talking about this tradition at our New Year’s Day gatherings when he was alive.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Stay warm!

2017: Some Highlights

We walked down memory lane a couple of days ago with a post dedicated to my 2017 sponsors. Today, I’d like to share a some additional highlights from 2017.

1. Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation: I continued my fundraising efforts again offline and online (#WhiteCabanaWearsPink) this year, and I was able to donate $250 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Metastatic Breast Cancer Fund (October). I ran the 5K here in Kitchener-Waterloo alongside survivors, supporters, friends, and family.

2. BlogPodium: I hadn’t been to BlogPodium – Canadian conference for bloggers – for a couple of years, and I was thrilled to attend this year (September). I met up with bloggers I’ve known for years and met so many new people. It was an enriching and fun day, and I learned a lot.

3. Style at Home: I still can’t believe my house was featured in Canada’s Style at Home magazine (June issue, page 40) and again in Style at Home’s High/Low Special Issue. People still bring it up or find me because of it all these months later. This was really a dream come true!

4. Travel: Traveling is always a highlight for me. In 2017, I took a chance on a new hotel in Buffalo, NY, and I was pleasantly surprised by both the hotel and the city. Who knew Buffalo had much more to offer than outlet malls? I also enjoyed a great trip to Nashville this month, and I’ve been sharing my reviews offline to friends and family. Next week, I’ll share my recap online, too. And, of course, I headed to North Carolina to visit my nephews and niece (and sister and brother-in-law, too) and had a great time playing around with all of them! Finally, I took my yearly summer trip to Florida and enjoyed just over two weeks of serious relaxation on the Gulf Coast.

5. Invited Speaker: I was thrilled to be invited to give a presentation about blogging to upper year design students at Sheridan Oakville (#WhiteCabanaGoestoSheridan). I do love teaching, and this opportunity meant that I got to work with students in a new, creative environment on aspects of blogging and writing.

2017 was a great year, overall, and I’m grateful for the opportunities that came my way, and I am proud of all that I was able to accomplish both on- and offline. I’m certainly eager for 2018, too, as I’ve got a few special projects already in the works, and I’m hopeful for a fabulous next 12 months!

Personal : 7 Things on My Mind

These seven things have been on my mind lately.

1. Slippery Stairs

I had tears in my eyes from laughing so much from watching slippery stairs videos.

2. Starfish Baby

This video of a baby starfish made me laugh, too.

3. Food & Drink Magazine

LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine – holiday edition – really gets me in the spirit. The recipes look just too good! I don’t yet know what I want to try making, but it’ll be something!

4. Pine Sol

Do you take the advice of your favourite bloggers? I do. And if Erica Cook of Moth Design puts her stamp of approval on something, I especially take note. She has discussed cleaning on her blog in the past, and most recently, she sang the praises of Pine-Sol. So what did I do? I added a jug on Pine Sol to my shopping cart the last time I was at the grocery store. For the first time in my life, I bought Pine Sol.

Now, I normally mop my floors with hot water and white vinegar. This has worked out well in my opinion, but I’m always happy to try something new. So I bought the purple Pine Sol and gave it a try. I was pleased. The scent was pleasant, and my floors looked clean. I also took Erica’s suggestion and put a little bit of Pine Sol down all of my sink drains, and I feel like this small effort makes a difference for my pipes” overall cleanliness.

5. Nashville

I’m going to Nashville soon. I have barely done any travel research! Any recommendations? As per usual, my go-to spot for a guide was Design*Sponge. I just love the city guides that Grace and her team review and post. (Side note – Did you know I wrote one for the Waterloo region?)

6. Barre Workouts

A friend and I recently signed up for barre workout classes. These sessions really prove to me that I’m not a delicate ballerina. Ha ha. They’ve been fun so far, and it’s been nice to have something new to do (as if I needed anything new in my life right now!?).

7. Taylor Swift

Am I too old to listen – and enjoy – Taylor Swift’s music? Nope. Don’t think so. I have had  Reputation on repeat.

Personal: 5 Things on My Mind

Here’s today’s list of things that have been on my mind lately.

Starbucks Rewards

Do you collect them? I do. I barely notice them, but then, when I get an email saying that I’ve earned a reward, I get happy. I usually stock-pile my rewards. Then, when I’m having a crappy day or I don’t feel like making lunch or I’m out with a friend, I can treat myself (or us!). It’s a little welcome bonus.

Essie Gel Setter Top Coat

I’m not very into beauty products, but I’ve been using this top coat for about a year now, and it’s amazing. I also use the Essie Grow Stronger base coat, and I’m sure the combination of these two polishes helps to make my nails shiny and strong.

Pop-Up Windows

Pop-up windows on websites annoy the heck out of me. Is there a way to make them permanently disappear?

Bird Seed

Does anyone have any recommendations for bird seed that actually attracts birds? I keep buying the blocks of seeds, but the birds aren’t coming.

L.L.Bean Boots

I caved. A pair of classic, 6″ L.L.Bean boots are on their way to my house. I took advantage of a 25% sale and clicked buy. I was obviously influenced by bloggers who love them (talking about Rox-Anne and Carly!), and while I would have preferred them in an all-black version, they have such a strong reputation (and following) that I’m hoping I’ll make use of them on my fall and winter walks, even though they’re a touch more “New England prep” than my usual style. I can’t believe how many L.L.Bean Boot buying guides are floating around the internet. Google it. It’s nuts!

Fashion: #WhiteCabanaStyle

For the past couple of years, I’ve been documenting some of my outfits on Instagram using #WhiteCabanaStyle. People seem to enjoy them, and it’s been amusing for me to look back at my outfits to see what I like or don’t like about them. What is easily noticeable as you scroll through the hundreds of outfits is that, regardless of season, black and white are my go-to colour options. Are you really surprised?

What do you think of fashion/style/outfit posts? Would you like to see more/less of #WhiteCabanaStyle on the blog (and Instagram)? Be honest. If it’s just-too-much-Jordana for your day, let me know!

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Personal: 6 Things on my Mind

A couple of weeks ago, I shared 5 things on my mind. It was a text-heavy post (in that there were no photos), and I actually quite liked the change of scene. You? Today, I have 6 more random thoughts to share.

Cancer

It’s awful. It’s heartbreaking. And it happens to the nicest, best, kindest people. Why? Life isn’t so fair sometimes, is it?

Thanks again for working together to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research via my #WhiteCabanaWearsPink efforts. Yesterday, I made a donation to the Metastatic Breast Cancer Fund.

Candy

I brought Halloween treats to my students yesterday. They clapped when I told them. I thought that was awesome. They seemed to appreciate the small gesture, and I think it’s fun that adult students still get excited about candy treats. It’s the little things in life, right?

Halloween

Speaking of candy, I gave it out to about a dozen or so kids in my neighbourhood last night. Everyone was in such a cheery mood. When I really think about trick-or-treating, it is kind of strange. Getting candy from neighbours wearing funny outfits? But it is amusing, and the kiddies are just so excited when you open the door and dole out candy.

Breakfast with Strangers

I met a friend for breakfast at Kitchener Market last weekend, and, as friends do, we chatted about all sorts of things. When a man and his son opted to share our table (as KW people do), we started a group conversation. It was such a nice welcome. I mean, who talks to strangers these days? We weren’t glued to our phones. We were in conversation. So simple. So enjoyable.

Masquerade

I’m headed to a masquerade event this weekend. It was fun picking out just the right mask. Guess what? It’s not white. (It’s black!)

Movember

It’s November 1st today, which means it’s the official start of Movember. This is a month-long campaign (and year-long, too!) that raises money and awareness for prostate cancer and men’s health.

Architecture: White in Waterloo

The fall is generally a beautiful time to be outdoors. Since it’s neither ridiculously cold nor unbearably hot, it’s the perfect season to be outside and go for long walks. I’ve been doing my best to go on early morning walks, and they’ve honestly set my days off right. Yes, of course, it’s challenging to wake up extra early, especially when it’s dark outside, and throw on workout wear, but once I’ve gotten a few steps in, I feel awake and I’m happy. I also love the post-walk feeling. I feel fresh and ready to begin my day.

Besides feeling great, I absolutely love looking at the beautiful houses around Uptown Waterloo. Honestly, they are some of the prettiest ones I’ve seen! This past weekend, I managed to take my walks during the daylight, so it was especially nice to snap a couple of photos. Look at these two beauties!

This first one has beautiful symmetry, a gorgeous entry, and a pretty pair of fall urns. I just love the style.

This second one is smaller in scale, but so darn pretty. And the white Audi Q5 in the driveway basically has me moving right on in! Love it.What do you do to stay active? And are you like me in that you love observing the architecture in your neighbourhood?

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#WhiteCabanaWearsPink: Fashion

For the last couple of weeks, pink has taken over White Cabana mostly through the world of interior design. Today, pink’s coming through brightly through fashion. Get ready to be inspired by some lovely outfits.

Sketch Forty Two

La Petite Noob

Jennifer Lake

Rosie Londoner

If you’re looking to bring some pink into your wardrobe this season, here are some options to get you going.

playsuit, purse, shorts, jacket, earrings, vest, booties, UGG boots, cardigan, shoes, purse

*Affiliate links have been used. All earnings from affiliate links this month will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation as part of my #WhiteCabanaWearsPink series.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things On My Mind

I know I have said this before, but my life is truly hectic sometimes. It has been one heck of a fall term at work, and while everything is going very well, and I’m happy, I barely have a chance to sit, think, plan, question, etc. Well, today, I’m just doing that. I’m sharing five life things that are currently on my mind. Just because I feel like it. And only a bit of it has to do with white, in fact.

MBA Life

Oh my goodness. The end is near. I can feel it. I’m half-way through this term, and then I have next term, and I’ll be done my MBA. Cannot wait. I’ve been completing this degree on a part-time basis for about 3.5 years. In the spring/summer, I loved the two classes that I took (Negotiations & Project Management). I was dreading this term because I opted into Mergers and Acquisitions. Why, you ask? Well, the course offerings were slim this term, so it was either that or taxation. Seemed like the better option for me. It turns out that although the course is a challenge, I’m learning a lot and enjoying it. Who knew?

Post-MBA Plans

I feel like once I’m done my MBA, I’m going to have so much extra time on my hands. Weekends will no longer include team meetings, evenings will no longer mean rushing to class, and reading will include novels, not textbooks. Pretty exciting! But it also makes me nervous. What am I going to do with the extra time? I’m thinking about volunteer options in my community. Do you volunteer? Where? When? Why?

#WillTravelForWhite

I started another Instagram account. Right…as if I had nothing else to do. Well, when I saw that Autumn had a #WillTravelForYellow and Sabrina had started #WillTravelForPink, I knew I had to snap up #WillTravelForWhite. It’s been so fun to create an all-white Instagram page. I know it’s probably what White Cabana should be on Instagram, too, if I’m keeping “on brand,” but I really don’t like duplicating content, so I’d rather keep White Cabana Instagram as a place to share things from my life both in white and beyond. Check out #WillTravelforWhite and let me know if you like it.

Reno on the Brain

I’m (just about) ready to tackle another project in my house, and if all goes as planned in my brain, it’ll be my basement laundry room/bathroom combo room. Oh, it’s a gem of a before, let me tell you! I will be sure to share the before, not to worry! I don’t think I’m ready to tackle any plumbing on my own, but I have already been scoping out tiles as I haven’t used my wet saw in a couple of years now! It’s time.

Elena Ferrante Books

Several of my friends and colleagues have recommended Elena Ferrante‘s books, and I finally ordered the first two in the Neopolitan Novels collection. I’m only about 50 pages into Book One, but I’m enjoying it. Have you read any of these books from “one of Italy’s greatest storytellers”? (I’m reading them in English, by the way. Maybe when I’m done my MBA, I’ll read the series in Italian to brush up!)

Phew. It feels good to get these ideas out of my brain and onto the screen. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Event: #WhiteCabanaWearsPink 2017

To raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, once again this October, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink. What does this mean exactly? Well, a few things. Let me share:

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Donation of Ad and Affiliate Income

I will be donating all income generated from affiliate and Google ads this month to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Click on all those sidebar ads (and buy stuff if you’d like). The more you click (and buy), the more that I can donate! Easy, right? I’ll try to highlight the affiliate links when I include them in my posts this month, so you can get extra click happy!

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CIBC’s Run for the Cure

I will be running (or, more likely, walking) 5K – in pink – this Sunday, October 1st in Kitchener Waterloo as part of CIBC’s Run for the Cure.

I’ve been doing this run on-and-off for the last decade or so, and this will be my second year walk/running the Kitchener Waterloo event. I loved it last year – located at the Conestoga Doon campus. Stay tuned for #WhiteCabanaWearsPink style posts.

If you’d like to donate, please do so at #WhiteCabanaWearsPink. Every little bit helps, of course, so if you could forego a coffee or two this week and donate the money instead, I would be so darn thankful!

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#WhiteCabanaWearsPink Series

Every Monday, #WhiteCabanaWearsPink.

Yes, this blog has an all-white aesthetic. But every so often, it’s great to explore another colour. So, just like last year, every Monday in October, I’ll explore pinkness in the design world. It’s going to be fun!

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Thanks in advance for your support, dear readers.

See the 2016 #WhiteCabanaWearsPink series, if you’d like.

Food: How To Make a Cappuccino

I recently added to my Alessi collection, and it was a very happy day! I bought the Alessi 9090 espresso maker designed by Richard Sapper.

As with many Alessi items, this one has a story. It was the first product that Alessi produced that was for the kitchen. It was released in 1978, and since then, the company has sold over 2 million machines. The 9090 won a Compasso d’Oro award in 1979, and it was Alessi’s first object to be added to MOMA’s permanent design collection in New York City.

This is a short video from Dezeen where we hear the story of the 9090 from Alberto Alessi:

And now, to the cappuccino! Here’s how I make mine:

I gather my machines – the Alessi 9090 (or, generally, a Bialetti maker) and my frother gadget from Ikea.

If you’ve never used a stove-top espresso machine, then you’ll need to know that it comes in three parts: the base, the middle, and the top. In the base, you put the water (in this machine, I fill it just to the gold steam screw). In the middle – the basket – you put the ground espresso coffee. In terms of coffee, I like Illy and Lavazza, but I also buy what’s on sale. And I recently picked up espresso from Ikea, which I’m looking forward to trying out soon.

A coffee dispenser is handy, but it isn’t essential. After you fill the base with water and put the basket in place, you put the dispenser on top and turn the dial twice (or more for packed, stronger coffee). The dispenser dispenses just enough coffee for any size of espresso machine.

The Alessi 9090’s top attaches to its base via a patented lever-lock system. It’s pretty cool. If you’re using a Bialetti, at this point, you would screw the top onto the water-and-coffee-filled base.

Turn your stove onto high and put your espresso machine on top of the burner. If you’re using a gas stove, keep the flame smaller or the same size as the base of your maker. If you’re using a traditional burner, move the machine so that it’s on the element (off-centre). This ensures that the full base is getting heated and it also means that the handle won’t get hot from the element’s heat.

While the coffee brews, get your milk ready.  I like to heat up my milk on the stove, but a microwave will work, too.

Side note – I love my parents’ Wolf stove!

When your milk is heated (after a few minutes), use the frother to froth the milk.  

Another side note: Check out my parents’ dedicated espresso machine cabinet. It makes me laugh every time I see it. And what’s even funnier – there are more machines stored elsewhere in the house. We do love espresso, and I guess you just never know what size you may need!

When the coffee whistles, it’s done. You can check on the brewing process by carefully opening the lid.

I like to pour my coffee in first, then add the milk. But if I need a bit more coffee, I confidently add it in post-milk. 

To finish, I top off my cappuccino with a sprinkle of cinnamon (and a side of peach pie, when possible!).

Are you a cappuccino fan? How do you make yours?

Check this out – I’ve been writing about coffee since 2010!

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Please Vote for White Cabana!

As you may remember, this here blog has been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award (woohoo!) in the Best Colour Inspiration Blog category. There are only a few more weeks for the Amara Interior Blog Awards voting period, and I’d be thrilled if you could take a moment to vote!

The #IBA17 awards have a lot going on! There are over 800 blogs nominated across 10 categories. Isn’t that amazing? There are so many beautiful blogs in the round-up, so I would strongly encourage you to have a browse, learn something new, and vote for some very deserving bloggers!

Thanks for your support!

Design: Caribou Cabin in My Home

A couple of weeks ago, I shared news of Canadian newcomer Caribou Cabin. This shop designs, customizes, and manufactures chalkboards, magnetic whiteboards, and pinboards. The company generously sent me a beautiful square (34″ x34″) linen pinboard – white a white frame, of course.

Soon after the order was placed, my massive shipment arrived at my doorstep. The board was wrapped carefully and arrived safely to my home in Waterloo. When I saw the grey linen for the first time, I was impressed by the quality of the item. And the grey matched my home perfectly.

I leaned it up against the wall behind a cabinet in my living room which houses my radio, record player, and typewriter. I pinned up some memorable items from my office that I knew would look pretty and would also remind me of happy celebrations.

As I took my photos, I thought that the pinboard in my living room would be the perfect spot to showcase Christmas cards. And the great thing about the pinboard is that I can move it to other areas of my home such as a hallway landing area or office. The office is certainly an obvious spot for a pinboard, but I don’t think it’s the only place for it.

Thanks to Caribou Cabin for sponsoring this post. All photos and opinions are my own.

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News: Amara Interior Blog Award

I know last week was a little light on the blog posts. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but it did. I’m back on top of things this week, and it’s going to be quite the week of fun posts! I’m starting off with super news –

I’ve been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award for the Best Colour Inspiration Blog category. Fun, right? I’m super pumped, so thanks to the kind person who nominated me!

I’d love your support for this award, so if you feel so inclined, would you please click on over to my Amara IBA voting page and cast your vote? Pretty please!?

As per usual, there are a ton of amazing blogs to discover and support in the Amara IBA awards, so I would encourage you to browse and vote as much as you can!

Thanks, as always, for making White Cabana part of your day! And thanks for casting your vote!

p.s. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues, too!

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Two for Tuesday: Birthday Balloons

It’s all about balloons today because it’s my birthday! Yipee! Hip hip hooray!

via Wit & Delight

via Green Wedding Shoes

I’m taking the rest of the week off from the blog because I like to really make sure my birthday extends for as long as possible!

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The Friday Five: Spring Home Maintenance Update

Just two weeks ago, I shared an update about my spring home maintenance task list. I’m happy to report that I’m now able to cross two items off the list. Two! Yay! That’s major! I’ll be honest, it was fairly easy to do because I took advantage of Father’s Day sales! Yup. That’s right. This single lady loves everything that is currently marketed to dads…BBQs, tools, machines. Oh my goodness. It’s true! It’s totally true! I think I love power tools just as much as I love peonies…it’s all about balance, right?

So…here’s my updated home maintenance task list:

  1. Garage door opener
  2. BBQ
  3. Bathroom fans
  4. Closet organizer
  5. A hallway light

This list makes me very happy! I picked up this Chamberlain garage door opener when it was on sale (yay!) from Canadian Tire and paid for Canadian Tire’s third-party connection to install it. Done and done. So far, it’s working like a dream. And since it’s a belt opener, it’s much quieter than my old chain opener. Belt. Chain. Yeah, I learned about these things this month. Thanks, Dad.

I ordered this BBQ when it was on sale (yay!) from TSC – The Country Hardware Store. It’s getting shipped directly to the store, and I should be able to pick it up any day now. Then I’ll have to pull out my tools to put it together. Any advice?

Since I won a Home Depot gift card a little while ago via a Twitter party, I’m going to have a browse through the options for the other items on the list. You know, just making my way around all the hardware stores this month! Fun!

If your dad is anything like me, he may be interested in the following five items this Father’s Day.

extremely quiet ventilation fan, $107, Home Depot

ball pendant, $19.98, Home Depot

ClosetMaid closet organizer, $158, Home Depot

And for future home maintenance task lists…

Nest thermostat, $329

chrome shelf unit, $98.97

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! And Happy Father’s Day!

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