Jordana

Uptown: A Look at My Kitchen

I have already shared photos of my main floor powder room. Today, I’m revealing the after photos of my kitchen. I took forever to finish up the last bit of grouting (there was a space that I was too lazy to fill), and¬†I was putting off the photos until the backsplash was really fully complete. The before photos of my kitchen are pretty horrific. Honestly, I look back at them and I wonder what the heck I was thinking when I actually bought my house! They’re that bad!

So what did I do to my kitchen to get it white and bright? Here’s a list:
– primed and painted the walls and ceiling
– tore down a dividing wall beside the stove
– installed some new lighting
– installed some additional cabinetry
– installed a marble countertop
– installed a single basin sink
– installed a backsplash (I did it myself!)
– installed an over-the-range microwave
– changed the cabinet hardware

Yes, it was a lot of work! Still on the to do list? The floors are still on my wish list. I’d really love to install hardwood floors.

Okay, here are the after photos:

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In case anyone is wondering – I generally do keep my kitchen this tidy. I took everything off of my fridge and the stack of papers/books/magazines off of the table for the photos, but other than that, my kitchen looks like this every day. The stove and floor could use a scrub, but c’est la vie.

Sources:
marble counter – Natural Stone City
sink – Vigo via Home Depot
microwave – KW Appliances
backsplash tiles via Kijiji (for only $10!)
toaster – Cuisinart
KitchenAid stand mixer
oil & vinegar bottles – Diane von Furstenberg
salt & paper shakers – Chapters Indigo
small tray – Crate & Barrel
large tray, milk glass, light fixture, embroidered cherries framed Рvintage
tea towel, plant pot, table – IKEA
chairs Рvintage, painted by me (inspired by Joan Miró)
black & white fridge magnet bottle openers – Alessi
watermelon art – painted by me (age 5)

Books: What I’ve Been Reading

Winter¬†in Canada. It sucks. I have complained¬†so much about it (and I just can’t stop). It puts such a damper on my mood and motivation. I’ve tried to embrace it in the past, but, really, it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve been coping with the cold, dark days by watching a lot of television (I’m sort of completely sick of television now, too) and by reading more books¬†(rather than just my usual stack of magazines and list of blogs).

In addition to about a dozen academic books (for a fun-for-me project that I might share one day), I’ve read¬†the following…

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

I’d recommend all three books. Gone Girl was a slow start for me, but once I got into it, I couldn’t stop reading it. It was amazing. The Rosie Project and Rose Effect were both amusing and interesting. Because¬†one of the main characters is a professor, I could relate.

I’ve also been reading a whole bunch of money and tax books. Here are some¬†of them:

White-Cabana-booksI think Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s books have been the most relevant,¬†useful, and¬†informative.

Uptown: A Look at my Powder Room

I haven’t posted any¬†photos of my home for quite some time. Most of the major work is done (yay!), although I always have something on my to do list (e.g., my basement bathroom). I am¬†so¬†proud of all that I have accomplished in the 1.5 years since I moved into my home. The house looks nothing like it did when I moved in. I slathered gallons and gallons of paint on every single wall, changed a bunch of light fixtures, cleaned for hours on end, tore down a wall, and so much more.

I haven’t taken after photos of every room, so this past weekend, I devoted some time to doing just this. I am just about ready to share a house tour. I really should post the before photos, too, to make things extra dramatic (maybe I will¬†one day)!

For now, here’s a look at what my¬†powder room. This¬†space was completely gutted, and nothing (besides¬†some of the walls) was salvageable (you can see some before photos here and here). It was¬†a disgusting space, really, and that just sums up the before.

White-Cabana-Powder-Room-1 White-Cabana-Powder-Room-2 White-Cabana-Powder-Room-3 White-Cabana-Powder-Room-4 White-Cabana-Powder-Room-5I am so pleased with how this little room came together. Me and my family did the work ourselves, so the only cost was for supplies and fixtures. Little money, big impact. I especially love the floor in my powder room because I installed it myself. Who knew I would ever do such a thing!

Sources:
Tommy faucet – Delta c/o
cabinet & sink – IKEA
hex tiles – Twin City Tile
twin flush, energy efficient toilet – Costco
vintage Chanel poster – Les Puces flea market, Paris
mirror – HomeSense
towel bar – Umbra (it’s a paper towel holder)
linen towels – vintage
milk glass – vintage
light fixture – vintage
toilet roll holder – Bed Bath & Beyond
baseboards, light plates – Home Depot

Photos by me.

Marketplace: Swarovski Crystal and Traditions

Swarovski - The Magic of Crystal

Before I could barely even string a sentence together, my mom taught about Swarovski crystal. I know, right? She tells me stories of going to the Swarovski factory in Austria when I was quite young and buying pairs of Swarovski animals. There was always a pair Рone for me and one for my sister, she said.

She hasn’t added to her collection in quite some time, so this past Christmas, I thought I should spoil her. I picked up a¬†couple of sweet little animals to add to her collection. Swarovski‘s growing collection is¬†amazing…as is my mom’s!¬†Here’s a peek into her collection…

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a pair of crystal squirrels

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a pair of bears

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a pair of bunnies

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a hedgehog (this one might be my favourite!)

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a kangaroo (my sister brought this one back from Australia)

View the entire collection at Swarovski.

Photos by me.

Blog Spotlight: Behind the Blog Tour

I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled “Friday Five” series today because¬†I am thrilled to be part of a “Behind the Blog” tour that Sabrina (Hands and Hustle) has organized this week. You may have seen other bloggers’ day-in-the-life contributions earlier in the week,¬†and today¬†Vanessa and I are ending the week with our behind-the-scenes look into our lives as bloggers.

Ready? Okay. Let’s go.

1. What time do you wake up and what’s a typical breakfast?

I wake up to my alarm clock at about 6:15am every¬†weekday.¬†I eat just about the same thing every day: toast with my parents’ homemade jam, berries or a fruit of some sort (I love fruit), a glass of water,¬†and a latte.

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On the weekends, I often¬†have a pain au chocolat from Golden Hearth¬†Bakery after I’m done my grocery shopping at the¬†Kitchener market. I also love making¬†waffles (I use a recipe from Gourmet). Yum. I do love weekend¬†breakfasts!

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2. Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do? How do you find the balance between blogging and work? What are the pros and cons? If blogging is your full-time gig, explain how that came to be.

I sometimes tell people¬†that¬†blogging is my full-time job and being a professor is my part-time gig. In reality, it’s the other way around. I¬†finished my PhD in Education last year (focused on language learning and teaching), and I currently teach¬†academic writing at university. My students call me Doctor, but my blogging friends¬†know me as the gal¬†who is obsessed with white. My two worlds rarely collide, although I’m increasingly¬†trying to make small connections between them.

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Balancing blogging and work can definitely be a challenge. Giulia and I actually presented a session at BlogPodium 2013 about balancing a day job and a successful job. I’m not an expert, and I usually take on more than I should, but¬†I also really love my down-time, so I make sure I have a good chunk of it in my weeks!

I treat my blog as¬†a part-time job…a really fun, interesting, engaging, and rewarding¬†part-time job. I don’t put pressure on myself, and I am content with allowing the blog to evolve organically.¬†I try to remain professional, committed, educated, and approachable in my blogging life, just as I approach¬†my academic work.

3. Where did you grow up (what city/town, do you have siblings, can you share any stories about your upbringing)? Where do you currently reside?

I was born in Toronto, but¬†I spent the first five years of my life in Saudi Arabia (I know¬†it’s¬†a bit random). When I was five, my family¬†moved back to Toronto. I have lived in Toronto, Kingston, London, and Waterloo (all in Ontario, btw), and I have spent quite a bit of time in France and Switzerland. I currently live in Waterloo, Ontario, and I really do love living here. I used to think I was a big-city girl, but I’m not really. I completely appreciate the ease of small-towns, and the people in Waterloo are¬†so¬†kind.

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via Atmosphere

Some readers may already know that I have one older sister, Corie, who recently moved with her family from Manhattan to North Carolina. Many of our FaceTime conversations revolve around design trends, blog news, or our upcoming travel plans. I am certainly looking forward to spending time with the team soon.

4. Outline your average, typical day.

Typical? I’m not sure I have any really typical days, but I guess my weekdays generally go something like this:
–¬†wake up early
– shower, get dressed

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– eat breakfast, make lunch
–¬†check in on¬†Twitter and Instagram
Рupdate/check White Cabana, read a blog or two, respond to a few emails
–¬†walk to work, call¬†family members for updates
–¬†work all day¬†(with a quick break for lunch at noonish)
Рwalk home from work (I love my walking commute!)
– make dinner, eat dinner
– do a blog/social media check/update, read my mail (hopefully a magazine, too)

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Рgo to class (my MBA classes began in September) or do errands or hang out with friends or do homework or blog
– check in with friends/family via texts/social media/email/phone calls
– read blogs or a book
– fall asleep

While I do respond to blog-related emails¬†and reader comments throughout the week, I spend weekend days drafting¬†upcoming posts. Because my day job can be¬†pretty hectic, I prefer to keep my blogging work¬†flexible. I don’t use an editorial calendar, for example, because I don’t want to over-schedule my life.

5. What’s your dream job/career? How are you working towards that?

When I was young, my dream job was to be an architect. That didn’t work out. I think I¬†didn’t actually know what path I needed to take to achieve this goal.

Then I¬†thought computer science was for me. Although I began my undergraduate degree with a major in¬†computer science, I realized that this wasn’t for me. Although I thought it was totally cool when I managed to make a “worm” move across the computer screen through the¬†coding I had created, my computer science program didn’t seem to promote collaboration, and I felt pretty isolated.

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via Hunting for George

I sort of always knew that teaching was for me. My concurrent education program (I completed my¬†BA and BEd at the same time) was great.¬†I learned a lot and I thought that teaching elementary school would be amazing. It was…until I needed a change.

I headed to grad school…just for a bit of a break, I thought…and¬†after my Master’s degree, I went back to teaching elementary school.

I was a primary school teacher for a year after my Master’s, but I¬†became¬†quite frustrated with¬†teaching.¬†I had so many questions about education, and I didn’t have time to investigate any answers. So, I returned to my happy¬†place…university. Five more years at university and I’m now Dr. Jordana. I (mostly) loved doing my doctoral work. Those five years were hard, rewarding, interesting, engaging, and fascinating. I was happy with every project I took on.

Now, I’m doing what I love. Teaching at a university is really rewarding.¬†I learn as much from my students as they do from me, and I really do feel forever young.¬†My work is energizing, interesting, and fun.¬†Working in higher-education is fascinating and the learning never stops.

Speaking of learning, I¬†didn’t stay away from courses for too long after my PhD.¬†I am now¬†pursuing an MBA degree on a part-time basis, and I’m loving it (well, mostly loving it – who knew accounting could be¬†so tough?).¬†I’ve been asked the “How long are you going to be a professional student?” questions so many times. I think my family has finally figured out that they should stop asking.

I’m very happy where I am¬†now in life and work. That said, I probably wouldn’t say no to an academic job in, let’s say, Paris!

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6. What would be your dream dinner-party guest list? Explain why you chose each person.

Oh, man, this is hard and requires much thought! I love meeting people who have diverse interests, so I would want my dinner guests to have diverse work and life experiences. For a celebrity-focused dinner party with people who are dead or¬†alive, I’d like to dine¬†with the following group, and I might¬†ask them the following questions:

Audrey Hepburn: Who is your favourite shopping partner?
Seth Godin: What book do you think everyone must read?
Martha Stewart (this would be risky; she would certainly judge my food):¬†What is the one collection you’d never give away?
Sophie Kinsella: What’s in your handbag?
Leonardo DiCaprio – Do you ever sing the Growing Pains theme song?
Gwyneth Paltrow: What’s coming up next? A GOOP store?
JD Salinger: Have you taken a ride on the Central Park merry-go-round?
Audrey Tatou: Would you ever really travel with a gnome?
Kristin Wiig: Who makes you laugh?
Ina Garten:¬†What does¬†Jeffrey cook for you when you’re off cooking duty?
Matt Damon: Do you want to come to my next dinner party?

I’m not so¬†sure how this mix of people would get along in real life, but it would be neat to ask these celebrities some¬†questions.

7. What’s one thing you’d like to start, one thing you’d like to stop, and one thing you’d like to continue?

Start: my basement renovation
Stop: complaining about things not worth complaining about (e.g., vacuuming)
Continue: to make travel plans

8. What’s your current obsession?

Design: I have been obsessed with Alessi for quite a while now.
People: I love spending time with my high-energy nephews and niece (even though they wear me out).
Food: Pizza. I could live on it.
Celebrity news: Prince William & Duchess Kate Middleton.

9. Link to 5 websites/blogs you can’t go a week without.

This is such a hard question for someone like me who reads a lot of blogs! Six of my frequent reads are:

Lark & Linen – Jacquelyn’s photos are beautiful¬†and I love her “Scenes from my Weekend” series on Mondays (which is now going to shift to “Scenes from my Week” because of Jacquelyn’s new design venture).

Rambling Renovators – Jennifer is one hard-working lady, and¬†she’s been¬†a leader for many¬†bloggers. I really look forward to her Friday Love List column.

Atlantic-Pacific – Blair Eadie’s style is top-notch. I want absolutely everything that she wears.

Love Taza – I think I actually have zero things in common with Naomi, but I keep coming back to her blog. I think it’s because I started reading her when my sister and her family were living in Manhattan. They sort of lived parallel lives.

A Beautiful Mess –¬†This blog documents the work of a¬†whole team of talented and artistic people. They live a much more colourful life than me, that’s for darn sure. ¬†I’m mostly interested in the recipes. I’ve tried a few of them and they always work out.

Swiss Miss РTina always posts something new-to-me and interesting. I really like her aesthetic.

10. Tag and mention 1 blogger who you’d like to partake in this feature.

I would love to know how Erica Cook manages her day.¬†She’s uber-talented and seems so very nice.

***

Interested in learning about other bloggers involved in this Behind the Blog series? Check out the schedule:

Monday, September 29th
Sabrina Smelko – Hands and Hustle
Brittany Stager – My Daily Randomness

Tuesday, September 30th
Brittany – Gallery No. Eight
Kelly – Glitter Diaries

Wednesday, October 1st
The Party Girl
Renee – Renee M. LeBlanc

Thursday, October 2nd
Katie Rose – Wild Rose Buds
Hilary Ramsay – House of Her

Friday, October 3rd
Vanessa Francis
me!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Event: BlogPodium 2014 is this Saturday!

Every year at around this time, design and lifestyle bloggers gather in Toronto for BlogPodium. Led by Jennifer Flores, and organized by a crew of talented people, BlogPodium gives bloggers and brands the opportunity to take their conversations offline. Yes, of course there will be lots of Twittering and Instagraming going on during¬†this Saturday’s BlogPodium, but I know I’m not alone in saying that one of the best things about the event will be the face-to-face¬†conversations.

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There is so much to look forward to this year. I have no doubt that these speakers, these sponsors, and these exhibitors will make for a rich and informative day at the historic Fairmont Royal York.

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 via

I’m especially looking forward to this year’s BlogPodium because¬†my first ever ceramics collaboration with Toronto’s Inspirations Studio will be up for¬†auction. Here’s a teeny peek:

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 White Cabana + Inspirations Studio

In addition, I will be presenting for the second time at BlogPodium. My roundtable discussion, titled Blog Writing 101: Crafting a cohesive, concise, and conversational post, will be centred on how to write effective and credible blog posts.

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I’ll be sure to share a recap of the big day in the weeks that follow. If you are itching for the play-by-play, follow along¬†via Twitter and Instagram.

p.s. I haven’t yet figured out my outfit.
p.p.s. Walk down memory lane Рread my posts about BlogPodium 2012 and BlogPodium 2013.

Furniture: The Jordana Desk

Okay. I’m not kidding. There’s a desk named Jordana over at Joss & Main. Jordana! Can you believe it?

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Jordana Desk, $216.95, Joss & Main

I need it. I want it. I have to have it.¬†There aren’t even keychains/magnets/bracelets/pens/USB drives/lanyards/etc. with my name on it, but a desk? A desk!¬†I mean – me and desks go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s just too perfect.

Thanks, Corie, for sending me news of the Jordana desk.

 

Uptown: To Do List Update

I haven’t posted a house update in many months. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen some random¬†house photos already. Last year was full of major renovations, and so many changes happened in my once dark-burgundy home.

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white-on-white-on-white jewelry station

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teak and white in my living room

My original to do list (August 2013) was lengthy and full of major projects. Some additional items got crossed off the updated to do list (March 2014):

Рremove wallpaper in basement bathroom
– install a shower in the basement bathroom
– paint touch-ups (all over)
-office organization
-office art wall
-install fire smoke alarms (again)
plan patio

Since then, I have added – and crossed off – a few more tasks:
have a garage sale (read about my garage sale with Tim)
-finish touch-up tile work in kitchen (seal grout, add missing tile, caulk again)
-install foyer tiles
magically find 2 small side tables for my living room
-find one small table to match my chaise (to replace the existing ottoman)
-upholster my two Danish teak arm chairs (seen in photo above)
clean up/organize the garage (again)
-paint basement
BBQ a lot

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coffee Рjust because

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I’m starting to organize my not-so-pretty-but-oh-so-useful garage supplies

Renos have slowed down slightly¬†over the summer¬†as there weren’t immediate changes that needed to be made. My¬†basement (storage central) got cleared out a bit after my recent¬†garage sale. I have had the paint (thanks, CIL) for many months, and I’m itching to break it open and start slathering white on the dark walls. I could do a major bathroom/laundry renovation down there, but I honestly don’t know if this is the year that I’m going to do it. Please hold.¬†I have also had my marble foyer tiles stacked neatly for months, but I haven’t found the time or energy to focus on installing them in my foyer. Soon, yes?

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Ah, flowers, they’re so pretty (thanks, Anita)! They almost make me forget about the DIY to do lists that are waiting for me!

Featured: Designer Insights + Terry’s Blinds

I¬†was recently contacted by UK-based Terry’s Blinds to share my top 5 design ideas¬†for the fall, and to explain a little about where I draw inspiration for the company’s Designer Insights series.¬†Here’s a peek…

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My top five:

1. Ceramics –¬†beautifully crafted, exceptional quality, simple design (e.g.,¬†Alessi’s Colombina Collection Table Set)
2. Lighting – glamorous and structured (e.g.,¬†Black Rooster Decor’s white glam saucer pendant)
3. Objets that encourage discovery (e.g., Barbara Barry elegant lens)
4. Nesting tables –¬†easy, light, transferable (e.g.,¬†Mitchell Gold & Bob William’s Foster nesting tables)
5. Flowers – year round (e.g., beautiful white and green flower arrangements)

You can read the full interview here.

DIY: How to Paint an Air Conditioner Unit

Seeing all the rust on my air conditioner unit, I really just wanted to bite the bullet and buy a shiny new one.¬†But thinking about my bank account,¬†I quickly realized that I didn’t¬†want to spend a fortune on a new unit when mine, although rusty, worked perfectly fine. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a¬†couple of cans of spray paint (I used Rustoleum), read this article¬†sent to me by Hogg¬†(thanks!), and got to work.

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before: I muted the colours in this¬†photo, and it’s still¬†disgusting

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before: the rust was¬†horrible, the muted photo¬†only¬†provides a glimpse into the condition of the unit (this is perhaps the ugliest photo I’ve ever shared on my blog)

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during: one coat of paint

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after: rust has disappeared!

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after: this looks like a brand new air conditioner

Here’s what I did:

1. I cleaned and scrubbed the unit with a CLR + water mixture. I then rinsed it off*.

2. While the unit was drying, I taped plastic bags on the wall surround and around all the pipes. I also unscrewed the top grate so I could cover the fans with plastic, and I weaved plastic in between the grate and the filter/fan/unit**.

3. When the unit was dry, I sprayed two coats of Rustoleum Tremclad rust paint*** (letting the paint dry in between coats) all over the unit and the rusty metal bars that hold it up.

4. When everything was dry, I removed all the plastic, and screwed the top grate back on. Done.

The project took about 3 hours from start to finish. I could have put on a 3rd coat of paint for fun, but I was too lazy (2 coats covered very well). I feel like I have a brand new unit, and the side of my house now looks so much more attractive!

* I would recommend scrubbing with a wire brush. I didn’t have one, so¬†it took me a bit longer to scrub and chip the old rusty bits off the unit.

** I covered the fan and the filter parts with plastic, but I’m not entirely certain this was necessary.

*** I didn’t paint the unit white (big shock, right?). Instead, I chose a colour that matched the grout in between the bricks.

In the Kitchen: Making Bread with the KitchenAid Stand Mixer

Okay, okay. Since you already know that I love my KitchenAid stand mixer, I’ll get straight¬†to¬†my recent¬†bread making¬†experience.

Although I was a bit hesitant to make bread from scratch, I was also very curious and determined. I opened up the¬†handy KitchenAid recipe book that came with my stand mixer, and I flipped to the page that had the “basic white bread” recipe.¬†I prepped all of my ingredients, I followed the directions exactly, and here is a photo-heavy recap of¬†what happened…

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basic white bread recipe from KitchenAid + packets of active dry yeast

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butter, salt, sugar, milk melting on the stove

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4.5 cups of flour to start (I probably ended up using 5.5 cups)

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mixing 2 packets of active dry yeast with warm water in a warm mixing bowl

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mixing all of the ingredients: yeast, water, milk, melted butter, sugar, salt, and flour

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level 2 speed for a few minutes

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mixing the dough with the dough hook until the sides are clean and the dough is sticky

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sides of bowl are clean and dough is sticky

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see – I told you – clean bowl!

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dough in a oil-lined bowl

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risen dough after 1 hour in the bowl

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punched dough

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rolling out half of the dough

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rolling up the flattened dough

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into the loaf pan it goes

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risen dough after 1 hour in the loaf pan

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after 30 minutes¬†in the 400¬į oven

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the recipe made 2 loaves (one is wonky because I had to DIY a loaf-type pan)

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golden bread

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crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside

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the best way to enjoy fresh bread – with Nutella

The bread was FANTASTIC! It was perfectly golden, had a crunchy crust, was soft on the inside, and¬†the recipe worked! It was as time consuming as bread making is (I think it took about 10 minutes to prep, 1 hour of wait time so the bread could rise the first time, 1 hour to rise the second¬†time, and 30 minutes to bake in the oven).¬†I did a bunch of other things around the house during the wait & rise times, so I really didn’t feel like bread making was a whole lot of work. Oh my goodness –¬†I could probably live on fresh bread and Nutella*. It’s too darn delicious!

Oh – and I know I’m “supposed” to eat healthy, grainy, brown bread, but sometimes¬†I just don’t care. White and simple¬†worked perfectly for me!

* This is not a sponsored post, but if Nutella wants to offer me with a year/lifetime supply of Nutella, I’d be grateful, and I’d make fresh bread more often!¬†

In the Kitchen: Blythe’s Blueberry Muffins

One of the first recipes I tried after my friend¬†Johanne gave me Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter a few years ago was¬†Blythe’s blueberry muffins. I have been making them ever since because they’re so darn good and easy!

I recently gave them a try using my KitchenAid stand mixer. I didn’t really need to use the mixer, but I wanted to because I love it. Here’s how things turned out.

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prepping the mini muffin tins

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prepping the KA mixer

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prepping the ingredients

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mixing everything together

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fresh blueberry mini muffins – just in time for breakfast!

Here’s the recipe taken from Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter:

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs (preferably organic)*
1/2 cup whole milk*
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar, divided**
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

*I use whatever milk and eggs I have in my fridge.
**I always forget about the extra sugar, and I tend to under measure the sugar, especially in muffin recipes.

Directions

Heat oven to 375¬į. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners*. Whisk butter, eggs, and milk in a bowl. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients***; fold in blueberries. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups; spring with remaining 1 tsp sugar. Bake until muffins are golden brown and a knife comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.

*I often use mini muffin tins, and I think I can usually get 24 mini muffins and 8 regular sized muffins with one batch of the recipe.
**I threw everything in the mixer at almost the same time, and the muffins still baked perfectly.

Uptown: Lighting around the House

It’s a civic holiday today, which means I get to spend an extra day at home doing projects, seeing friends, and exploring Waterloo. Happy Monday to you all!

Way back in the fall, I¬†wrote about Venini lighting. I also shared the fact that I had¬†acrylic versions throughout my house, and that I had wanted to get rid of them right away.¬†I have a massive one in my foyer that I hated, but once I painted the walls white, the light fixture completely grew on me. That one light (and the matching versions¬†in the hallways) started a domino effect in terms of the lighting for my home. Let’s take a tour, shall we?

The foyer chandelier came with the house. It is big, and it has a gazillion light bulbs.

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All the hallway lighting came with my house as well. I have a few of these smaller versions, and they take a few lightbulbs each.

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I knew I wanted to replace the dining room chandelier and my bedroom fan, so when my mom and I found this amazing chandelier at the Habitat ReStore, I grabbed it. I love the little balls on this version, and it ties in nicely with the hallway lighting.

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In my bedroom, I have two smaller versions¬†to match my dining room chandelier. These ones are my favourites. They’re sweet, little, and a little less 80s glam than the others.

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Do I want to invest in the crystal version of these? Maybe one day if I find them on super sale.

Personal: A Birthday Week

It was my birthday last weekend, and while there were no balloons or sprinkles à la every-Pinterest-party-photo, I had a few days of celebratory fun.

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my birthday crown

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lazy morning patio time

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a birthday selfie – wearing my new favourite sweatshirt

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Cutting pizza with scissors – doesn’t everybody do this?

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flowers from the Kitchener market

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homemade chocolate cake by my mom – delicious!

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Elora, Ontario

birthday-9horse & buggy parking only – Elora, Ontario

DIY: How to Make an Inkblot Gallery Wall

My¬†big bathroom was a disaster when I moved in to my house last year, but I knew I couldn’t¬†spend a whole lot of money on a full bathroom reno. Instead, I opted to make minor, but high-impact changes, to the space. I ripped off the silvery wallpaper (ugh!), painted out the wood trim on the 80s vanity, installed a new countertop and over-mount sink, and replaced the faucet, mirror, and lighting. I also cleaned the heck out of everything. The renos definitely improved the space, but the¬†grey/cream linoleum flooring and the grey tub and tile surround were distracting. Rather than trying to change these things, I decided to create a high-impact gallery wall to divert people’s (and my)¬†attention. I think it’s working, too!

I’ve been slowly filling in my Rorschach-inspired gallery wall as I come across frames of different sizes in thrift stores, yard sales, and stores. When I’m out and about, I try to find frames that might fit an empty space on the wall. When I have a few frames, I start painting the inkblots. And then I hang them where I feel they might look best (I only created one extra mistake hole so far…yay). I can be quite impatient so I didn’t wait until I had all the frames/art to start hanging them¬†up. I constantly add to the wall. Here’s what it looks like now:

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The upper left corner still needs to be filled in. Other than that, the wall is just about done.

Making inkblot art is super easy. Here’s my step-by-step process:

1. Find a frame (I only use black frames or borderless frame).
2. Cut a piece of white paper to fit inside of the frame. (I tend to use¬†bristol board because it’s strong and thick and the paint¬†won’t seep through.)
3. Fold paper in half.
4. Plop/drip/spread gobs of black paint on one half¬†of the¬†paper¬†(I use artist’s acrylic paint, but craft paint from a¬†dollar store also works fine).
5. Refold the paper in half.
6. Rub your hand over the folded paper. Smoosh the paint around through the paper.
7. Unfold the paper. (I love this step!)
8. Surprise! What do you see? (This is the best part!)
9. Let the paint dry.
10. Frame your art.

What do you think? Do your eyes Рor your brain Рhurt from staring at the wall too long? What do you see in the inkblots on my wall?

Photography: Back in Time

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Gita Scolastica Milano – 1964

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Foto in Occasione di una Partita di Calcio – 1964

That’s my dad up there (top photo: black suit, bottom photo: second from right) in 1964 with his¬†friends. He was 18 or 19 years old in these photos. I love how they’re all suited up. So hip, yeah?¬†How are photos from the 60s so darn hip? Will people¬†think the same thing 50 years from now of our selfies and digital photos?

Thanks to my dad’s highschool friends for sending these photos.¬†Photographer unknown.

Books: My July Reading List

I¬†was never the reader in my family. I only started to really enjoy books when I was about 16. Since then, I’ve read a decent amount of books for pleasure, but most of¬†the books that I have read¬†in my adult life have really been all school and research related. I try to keep a few for-pleasure books in my rotation, but I don’t get through them as fast as I’d like. One of the things I wanted to do on my Floridian vacation was to read. And so that’s what I did.

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The Orenda by Joseph Boyden: This isn’t the type of book I’d naturally reach for, but a friend was telling me about it before I left, so when I saw it at the library (yes, that’s right, I go to the library when I’m in Florida), I thought I’d give it a try. After reading the first 10-20 pages, I didn’t actually think I was going to make it to the end, but then I really got into it, and I’m so glad I did. This award-winning Canadian novel is¬†beautifully¬†written. The historical narrative is set in the early 17th century, and depicts the struggle and conflict of native life in Canada.

The Jane Austin Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo: This one falls into the enjoyable chick lit category. It was a quick and mostly entertaining read. As the title suggests, it was a very Jane Austin type of story.

The Body Book by Cameron Diaz: This book can basically be summarized by the following statement:¬†the “secret”¬†to a healthy¬†life¬†is to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Obviously this is not really a surprise, right? There’s nothing really new or thought-provoking in this book, but¬†it’s¬†well-organized and an easy read.

Florida-White-Cabana-8Everyday is for the Thief by Teju Cole: A student I met earlier this year mentioned Teju Cole, and so I thought it was about time I focus on his writing. The reader follows the main character from NYC to Lagos, Nigeria. In this original work of fiction, the main character (who remains nameless) tries to make sense of the fraud he witnesses and the changes he has observed in his home country of Nigeria.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington: Do you remember the world pre-Huffington Post? I barely do! HuffPost is¬†the¬†go-to hot spot for news and¬†information. It was interesting to read Arianna’s stories and her approach to work and life (balance, people, balance!). She has some valuable pieces of advice¬†to help us thrive in achieving our goals.

Marry Smart: Advice for Finding The One by Susan Patton: This book was written by the author of that article advising women to find a husband while they’re young¬†before it’s too late. Ugh. The¬†book was ridiculous and¬†condescending. I really just hated it. The¬†writing was less than stellar, but I won’t even get started on that. If it wasn’t such a¬†quick and amusing (as in, how did this actually get published?) read, I would have stopped reading after page one.

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding: A great girly beach read. Who doesn’t feel a connection to Bridget Jones? I won’t spill the beans, but in this story, Bridget has aged, has kids, and learns all about social media.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova: I really enjoyed this book. Although the story is more sad than light-hearted, I liked the character development and the way the characters interacted with one another. They felt real. The main character, Alice, is a professor who is dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s. I saw myself in her at some points.

Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons by Seymour Schulich:¬†The author is¬†the Schulich. If you’re in Canada and you attended a post-secondary institution, you¬†may have taken classes in a Schulich building. Schulich. Is. Everywhere. I¬†enjoyed Schulich’s¬†perspectives on business, philanthropy, and relationship building.

I also read Good Boss, Bad Boss¬†by Robert I. Sutton¬†(many worthwhile points)¬†and¬†a stack of amazing magazines (House & Home, Southern Living, Dwell, Martha Stewart,¬†Air Canada’s En Route, etc.). Beach time is the perfect time to get lost in texts!

I’ve¬†now got¬†two books on the go: Italo Calvino‘s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and¬†Jennifer Weiner‘s Then Came You. Both are enjoyable so far!

And that’s about all I’ve been reading. It’s¬†been an eclectic mix of¬†texts this month!

Art: I’m a Ceramics Designer

Okay, so I’m not really quitting my day job to become the next Jonathan Adler, but I am currently working on a very cool project which has required me to put on my very first ceramics designer hat (eek – so exciting!). Let me explain.

This fall’s BlogPodium will feature¬†a local organization called Sistering¬†that offers supportive and educational programs to homeless¬†and¬†marginalized women, so that they can develop new¬†skills and have more control over their lives. Inspirations Studio is a division of¬†Sistering that develops participants’¬†knowledge¬†about crafting ceramics.

This year, I have the opportunity to design a collection of ceramics in collaboration with the artists at Inspirations Studio that will be auctioned off at BlogPodium in September with all proceeds going back to Sistering. Earlier this spring, I met with¬†Victoria at¬†Inspirations Studio, and I shared my designs. Under¬†her guidance and instruction, the artisans¬†are¬†bringing my designs to life (um, amazing!). The process thus far has been really cool and creative, and the items are coming along so darn beautifully! I’m impressed, and I’m eager to see the final products soon (it’s so hard to be patient, but I’m trying).

white-cabana-ceramics-inspirations-studio-2 white-cabana-ceramics-inspirations-studio-3 white-cabana-ceramics-inspirations-studio-1 I hope to eventually share more stories from the artisans at Inspirations Studio-4

 Inspirations Studio, photos by me

I hope to eventually share stories from the artisans at Inspirations Studio and the full production process, but for now, here’s a very small sneak peek of one of my designs¬†(I can’t give everything away quite yet!).

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photo by Victoria

Christine Dovey of Bijou and Boheme is also busy designing items, and attendees of BlogPodium have a chance to win a¬†chance to design pottery of their own! I encourage you to submit your design if you’re attending BlogPodium this September.¬†Read all about it here.

Personal: Vacation Status Update

7_4_14_MarkAddisonSmith-1Mark Addison Smith

I don’t know about you, but I always find that coming back from vacation is so much work. Why the heck does it take so long to get reacquainted with real life activities?¬†I tried (and mostly failed) to squeeze in the following yesterday after a tiring travel day on Saturday¬†(flight delays are so annoying, aren’t they):
Рa pile of laundry that somehow managed to take almost a full day
– tidying and cleaning of the house even though I tidied and cleaned the house before I left (seriously, how much tidying/cleaning does one house need?!)
–¬†finding room for new purchases (while¬†cleaning out closets)
– putting away a gazillion little items that belong in a gazillion different places around my house
Рvisits with friends and family to share vacation stories and photos/get updated on news while I was away
Рemail time (I tried to keep my vacation very low-tech)
– grocery shopping (I didn’t quite get to this, but good thing I have parents who always give me food when I visit them.)

Yes, life is tough sometimes, isn’t it? (insert smiley face) Seriously, though, I’m so thankful that I had 2 full weeks to relax on the beach and tune out real life. I had a most excellent time in Florida¬†and I look forward to sharing photos and stories soon. Now, tell me, what did¬†I¬†miss while I was away?

 

Blogging: Unexpected Mini-Break is Over

You’ve heard me say how fun blogging is, right? Well, it is. Except for those times when malicious coding somehow infiltrates your blog, and it takes hours for expert programmers to remove the code and make sure everything on your site is as it should be. Yeah, those days are not so fun.¬†I just had a couple of these days, but they’re now over, and I’m back to regular blogging! To celebrate…

4-15-14-you look like the right type-mark addisonvia You Look Like The Right Type

Yes?

In the Kitchen: Making Pasta (again)

Remember when I first attempted making fresh pasta with my KitchenAid stand mixer and pasta attachments? I started with¬†the recipe that was in the KitchenAid recipe book. I failed. It was horrible. I then tried out my mom’s very vague¬†recipe and it worked perfectly. Well, some of my family members thought I shouldn’t have been so harsh on the KitchenAid recipe and that, surely, it was my fault and I did something wrong. (I followed the recipe¬†exactly, but noone seemed to want to take my side.) Anyway, when my parents were over last weekend, I tried the KA recipe again (under my mom’s supervision). The recipe calls for: 4 large eggs, 3.5 cups all-purpose flour, and 1 tbsp water. My mom suggested that I reduce the amount of flour by 1/2 a cup. So I did. I followed the exact recipe but I only used 3 cups of flour. I¬†let the stand mixer do its job, and me and my mom watched over the bowl. I could tell something wasn’t right. After a bit of mixing, I dumped the¬†dough out onto the counter and I knew it wasn’t right. It didn’t¬†feel like it was supposed to feel. My mom was pretty surprised (“but you¬†followed the recipe, you reduced the flour”, she said). At this point, I added a bit more¬†water, then a lot more water, then more flour. It wasn’t coming together the way it should have. I gave up. I left my mom to knead the dough for maybe another 5-10 minutes. There was a lot of kneading involved. In the meantime, I started a new batch with her trusted (and very vague) recipe. It worked out perfectly. She was still kneading¬†the original batch of dough, while I was done with my new batch. White-Cabana-pasta-1

here’s mom hard at work White-Cabana-pasta-2

here’s mom still trying to fix the broken dough, my new version is in the mixer

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dough 2.0 is done and mom is still kneading dough 1.0

I tried to measure her recipe this time and it’s something like this: – 1 egg per person – 3/4 cup of flour per egg – a bit of water (I think I may have used about 1 tbsp) – a bit of salt (I might have used 1 tsp) Dump all the ingredients into the bowl with the paddle attachment. Mix for 2 minutes. Dump the dough out onto the counter and knead for 1 minute. After Mom finally got the first version of dough to the right texture,¬†I¬†got to work with the¬†pasta attachments. First, I used the flat one to stretch out long flat pieces of pasta. I set the¬†knob on the cutter¬†to position 1 and then worked my way to number 5. I set¬†the mixer speed to 3 or 4 and the whole process was quick and easy. white-cabana-pasta-6white-cabana-pasta-7white-cabana-pasta-1 When all the dough had been passed through the smooth stretcher attachment,¬†I attached the fettucini (and then the spaghetti) cutter¬†to the mixer (quick and easy) so that I could pass the long sheets of pasta through to make the noodles. I floured the pasta sheets before passing them through the cutter. white-cabana-pasta-5white-cabana-pasta-10white-cabana-pasta-3white-cabana-pasta-4white-cabana-pasta-9 white-cabana-pasta-11 I like twisting the pasta into round spirals, but I flour the heck out of them before doing this to avoid sticky strips. The pasta (both versions) turned out very well, and it was delicious paired with fresh tomato sauce (I tried my mom’s sauce recipe, which she thought was almost as good as hers…tough crowd). In the end, neither of us¬†are sure of the amount of ingredients that my mom¬†used to adjust the KitchenAid dough, but if I try the recipe again, I’ll start with 2 cups of flour and add more as needed. KitchenAid sent over another version of the recipe when they heard I was in pasta-making distress (via Twitter, naturally), so I may give that one a try too.

Thanks, Mom, for your help and for snapping some great photos!

In the Kitchen: Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I hosted my parents¬†this past weekend and I¬†just had to show off my KitchenAid stand mixer. (I’m a Leo. We like attention.) I decided to test out this lemon poppy seed cake recipe that Joanna Goddard featured earlier last week. To everyone who is reading – this cake was super easy. If you like lemons and cake and poppy seeds, you should make it.

My¬†KA stand mixer worked brilliantly and made the whole cake baking process go really quick and smoothly. For beautifully styled food photos,¬†have a look at Joanna’s post. For photos of my version, keep reading…

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sugar, flour, and poppy seeds are measured out

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butter and sugar are creamed together with the KitchenAid paddle attachment

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flour is added once the sugar and butter are creamyphoto 1

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eggs, milk, poppy seeds & lemon zest are added at the end

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photo 3the dough is poured into a buttered & parchment lined loaf tin

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after about 40minutes in the oven, the cake is ready

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a sugary lemony icing is poured and poppy seeds are sprinkled on top

Here’s the complete recipe – from April Carter of Rhubarb and Rose¬†(via Cup of Jo):

Recipe: Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

For the cake:
¬ĺ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature¬†
¬ĺ cup sugar
1 ¬ľ cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
¬ľ cup milk
¬ľ cup poppy seeds
Zest of 2 lemons

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
Juice of ¬Ĺ lemon
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 350F and butter and line a one pound (4¬Ĺ x 2¬Ĺ x 8¬Ĺ inch) loaf tin with baking parchment. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, poppy seeds and lemon zest and beat until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and remove the baking parchment.

While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. Use a spoon to beat the powdered sugar with enough lemon juice to form a runny but opaque glaze. Set the cooled cake on a wire rack and drizzle over the glaze. Sprinkle over the poppy seeds and allow the glaze to set for a few minutes before packaging up. 

Let me know if you give this recipe a try. I would love to know how it turned out for you.

Celebration: Happy birthday, Reef!

My second nephew is 4 years old today! He loves pasta carbonara (without the peas or bacon, which basically means pasta noodles), making everyone laugh, milk, and climbing just about everything. One day I know my sister and brother-in-law might just have to install a climbing wall in their house.

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superior rock home climbing wall

Taking a few days off this week

Conference season comes around every spring for many of us academics (it also comes around in fall and winter – really, it just never stops, but nevermind that). The season is much like camp – it’s a chance to see old friends, meet new people, eat, drink,¬†and be merry. In addition, conference season¬†gives¬†academics a chance to share their research, field interesting (and sometimes tough) questions, engage in a lot of (hopefully) fascinating discussions, and support/challenge/question/persuade¬†colleagues from around the world. Although the season is a busy one, it’s also extremely energizing.

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Needless to say, it’s currently conference season and I’m kind of all over the place this week. I need a few days off from the blog and I hope you don’t mind! If you need a little White Cabana in your lives during this mini-break, please catch¬†me¬†on Instagram or Twitter! Thanks for understanding!

In the Kitchen: Making Pasta with the KitchenAid Stand Mixer

I’m in love with my KitchenAid stand mixer. I’ve used it several times and it hasn’t let me down. It’s¬†pretty darn mighty! After baking up a few delicious treats over the last couple of weeks, I thought it was time for me to¬†make some pasta. KitchenAid¬†generously sent over¬†the pasta cutter trio and I was pretty excited to test them out. Short story – I love them. Long story – keep reading.

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KitchenAid’s pasta roller & cutter¬†set

I grew up helping my mom make pasta with the classic Italian crank pasta machine. My mom¬†always took the lead on the dough making, and I was on crank and fluff-with-flour duty. I’ve made pasta¬†with my own machine, too, even though my Italian parents were pretty shocked when I told them that my cheaper machine was Made in China. “You need one that’s Made in Italy, Jordana.”, they said. Um, yeah,¬†it’s a touch life, I lead, I know.

Anyway…

Fast forward to last week when I opened the KitchenAid package and learned that the pasta roller and cutters were Made in Italy. Awesome. Way to go, KitchenAid!

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top to bottom: fettucini cutter, spaghetti cutter, pasta roller

I decided to use the pasta recipe that was in the KitchenAid recipe book…4 eggs, 3.5 cups of flour, 1 tbsp water…mix with dough hook for 2 minutes…etc.

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Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t work out for me. It was a big fail. My dough, even after more than 2 minutes with the dough hook, was so darn crumbly! Not sure exactly why. I tried adding more water, then another egg.¬†It was a mess.

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crumbly dough

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I couldn’t save this dough

I didn’t give up, though. Instead, I tried out my mom’s recipe. It goes something like this…an egg per person, some handfuls of flour, just enough water. So vague, I know. This is what all of her recipes are like! But, just like probably every Italian Nonna has ever said, you just need to feel the dough and recognize when you’ve hit the¬†right consistency and texture. Anyway,¬†I put the ingredients in¬†the mixing bowl, attached the dough hook, and gave it a spin for a couple of minutes. Things were looking pretty darn good! I then spent a minute (or less) kneading the dough by hand.

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after kneading – top: my failed project;
bottom: my mom’s winning recipe

When I reached the right texture (smooth, not too wet, not too dry), I knew I was ready to move on to the attachments. The instructions that came with the attachments & stand mixer were clear, and inserting the attachments was really easy and straight forward. No problem there.

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First, I used the pasta roller to flatten out chunks of dough. I started with the knob at 1 (widest space between rollers), and then worked my way to 5 (much smaller space between rollers). I set the machine to level 2 – not too fast, not too slow. Once the machine was on, the rollers got a-rollin’.

Kitchen-Aid-pasta-19Next, I switched attachments to make spaghetti and fettucini. I floured everything up so that nothing would stick.

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I ate some for dinner (I made pasta carbonara), obviously, and I froze the rest. Amazing.

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The pasta roller and cutter attachments make easy work of pasta making. Let me tell you, they’re really awesome and work so quickly. Incredible. I thought about my Nonna who used a wooden roller the size of a dining table to roll out the dough and then cut it into strips¬†all by hand. Gosh, I don’t think I could have done it her way – I’m much too impatient!

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Oh – and I also could never be¬†a no-carbs gal. I’m too much of a pasta fan!

Many thanks to KitchenAid  & Hayley for sending me the pasta roller and cutter set.

 

In the Kitchen: The KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer

Although I’ve been thinking about the KitchenAid stand mixer for some time now,¬†I only finally¬†bought myself one¬†last week.¬†Everyone and their brother/mother/sister/friend¬†seems to have¬†one¬†and they all rave about how great it is, so¬†I had little doubt that it would be fabulous. There are plenty of colours to choose from, but it was an obvious¬†choice for me.¬†I’ve used my KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer¬†twice already¬†and it’s worked out very well! No surprise there, right?

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The first thing I ended up baking with the stand mixer was the brownie recipe that was listed in the instruction/information booklet that came with the mixer. It was very easy and straightforward and the end result was ab fab chocolate goodness. I also made madeleines and they turned out perfectly. I love the fact that the mixer can do the work while I measure out the ingredients. The convenience factor is awesome!

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I used the plastic pour¬†guard at one point, but I didn’t really need it. I was just trying to use as many gadgets/attachments as possible.¬†I used the paddle¬†attachment (above) for the brownies, but I used the whisk attachment to whip up¬†the¬†eggs for the madeleines. Switching¬†the attachments is easy and quick, as is cleaning them.

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I am very happy that I opted for the lift-arm mixer rather than the bowl-lift mixer. The arm lifts at the flick of a switch and the bowl attaches securely and simply to the base.

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Here are the brownies before I put them in the oven:

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It’s a stylish machine, yes, and it looks wonderful on my counter (a stylish appliance? really? this is what I’m talking about these days? how old am I?), and so it seems¬†I’m joining the “it’s so great, everyone should have one” club.¬†I’ll share a few more¬†photos in the upcoming weeks as I’m eager to try the pasta roller/cutter attachments!

Marketplace: A Kitchen Investment

Do you know what I think goes really well with a marble countertop? One of these…

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KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer

Um…I bought one! It’s been four years since I wrote about wanting one and¬†I finally took the plunge and made the big ol’ purchase! I’m SO excited. Now let’s just hope I can bake something delicious with it! I’m going to put it to its first test in my kitchen when I bake up some¬†madeleines¬†later in the week.

Uptown: Kitchen Counter Style

Now that all the reno dust has settled in my kitchen, I get to play around with my countertop displays. On one side of the kitchen, I’m housing my toaster, kettle, and knife block. I’ve left a large part of the counter free of gadgets because it’s a nice long workspace. On the other side, on the counter between the stove and the fridge, I added my new little white radio, but the line-up isn’t as good-looking as I know it could be.

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I put a little request for style advice out on Instagram and the IG community had some great responses (thanks Giulia, Anita, @TouchofPink2012, @erinpconner), so I tried them out.

First, I tried gathering some things into a small tray…

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Next, I tested out a larger one…

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I had the trays in the house already, so it was no big deal to test them out. I also have little¬†containers in¬†a variety of¬†materials that I played around with – they’d be perfect for holding sea salt (not that I really ever cook with a whole lot of salt, but this is not about practicality, it’s about style!).

Finally, I placed a piece of artwork behind my radio and Soda Stream. The painting that I leaned against the wall might be too big for the space; I also think that I want to hang it on one of the kitchen walls.

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And that’s about as far as I got. I¬†need more styling practice.¬†I also realize¬†that I never actually use paper towels, so it’s really pointless to have them taking up valuable counter real estate.¬†More changes ahead!

Erica Cook is such a styling master and I would like to follow her lead. I’ve been on the lookout for fancy black & white bottles of cooking supplies (what I would use them all for is beyond me), but I’ve had zero luck as of yet. Take a look:

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Erica Cook’s IG

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Erica Cook’s IG

I am really enjoying¬†being on the styling stage of my house reno. It’s about time!

Update: I just found this article about how to style a kitchen countertop on The Everygirl. The photos are beautiful. I’m afraid of styling the countertop too much – I’d rather have an empty counter so I have space for food prep than a countertop full of cookbooks and bowls¬†of just-for-show lemons.

Design: Collecting Collections

I’ve written about my collections fairly regularly over the years. Each collection is slowly growing – especially now that I have a whole house to fill – and I love each of them. My Eiffel Towers are currently housed on top of my dining room buffet, my menagerie is sort of spread around the house as is my silver collection, and my milk glass and Sophie Conran pieces have a new spot in a glass-fronted Billy bookcase.¬†I also have an expanding collection of¬†DIY inkblot paintings¬†and¬†mugs. How many collections is too many?

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Covet Garden Issue 40

As I was reorganizing one of my kitchen cabinets this past weekend, I noticed that I also have a collection of espresso makers. How’d that happen? They’re such handy little things, so I guess I find them hard to resist.

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espresso makers – photo by me

All my collections have their place in my home, so I feel as though it’s okay to keep adding to them. When I run out of room, I guess I’ll have to stop. Then again, I could always move into a larger home?!?¬†

Blogging: So, you want to be a blogger?

While blogging is not my full-time job, I am very committed to it, take it seriously (but not too seriously because that wouldn’t be so fun, right?), and approach my blog work as professionally as I can. I have learned so much from many bloggers I have met online and offline, and I really try to give back to the community when I can. I had the opportunity to give a presentation at BlogPodium 2013¬†(loved it!) and I hope to do so again in 2014. In the meantime, I had the pleasure of writing a guest post for the BlogPodium blog. It’s a great read (if I do say so myself) for people who are new to blogging or who are just about to start their blogging journeys. If you’re interested in reading my post, click here. Let me know if you have any questions!

The Friday Five: Uptown Update

So, it’s been a while since I’ve shared an update from my home uptown. You would think that because I have completely hibernated this winter, I should have been able to tackle a lot indoor projects, but with the evening darkness and my general laziness, I really didn’t get that much done. Plus, I am dealing with the most ridiculous kitchen cabinet maker (more on that one day soon), which has stalled much of the work that I needed to get done in the kitchen. Nonetheless, I have made some progress and¬†here are a five updates:

1. Kitchen: The last time you saw the kitchen, it looked like this. Since then, one of the new cabinets was installed, and my dad installed my over-the-range microwave. This made a huge difference in the kitchen as it freed up a whole counter section and really makes things feel lighter.

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2. Kitchen: Since I took the above photo, I finished installing the backsplash (thanks to Tia and Jeff for cutting the tricky ones for me), but I still need to grout it (hopefully after work today).

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3. Big Bath: I have shared a small peek of my big bath¬†and a couple of before photos here. A lot has changed in the big bath. In addition to the tearing off of wallpaper, new paint on walls and ceiling, and new towel bars, I now have a modern rectangular sink on top of a new laminate counter and updated vanity doors (thanks to the power of paint!). I wanted to keep the current reno cost down just in case I want to plan a bigger reno down the road (ideas, ideas!). I’m still looking around for lighting options and I have to hang up the mirror. It’s by no means a beautiful room (yet), but it’s a big improvement from day 1.

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4. Big Bath: It has taken me quite a while to figure out what kind of art to put in the bathroom. At first, I thought I wanted something huge and loud. But then I couldn’t find anything that I liked, and I wasn’t sure I had time to paint something myself. As I unpacked my old gallery wall, I thought I could put it up in the big bath. But when I laid it all out, I felt it was too colourful. Then I leaned my DIY Rorschach-like art against the walls and I kind of liked it. Left it there for a few days to see if my thoughts would change. They didn’t. I painted up some more Rorschach-types, framed in frames that I already owned, and then hung them up on the bathtub wall. I’m really really liking the black & white art wall and I’ll continue to add to the grouping.

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5. Dining room: I hung up my white doily art on one of the dining room walls. I lined up the bottoms as I had done in my last apartment, but I just read somewhere that art should be lined up from the top. Have I made the biggest faux-pas ever?

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Bonus:

6. Entryway: I used Capture to give the carpet in my entry a refresh. It worked! Here’s the before (top) and after (bottom).

White-Cabana-Uptown-reno-4So, that’s a quick update from Uptown to end the week. My to do list is look pretty great – even though I keep adding to it. Here’s where I stand (see¬†original to do list):

–¬†change all the door locks to¬†these Schlage locks
– remove wallpaper in¬†all three¬†bathrooms ‚Äď one left!
–¬†choose a paint colour
–¬†paint the whole house white (the walls are currently¬†brown, beige,¬†burgundy,¬†pink, and green)
–¬†plant hostas
–¬†install a new vanity in the powder room¬†and upstairs bathroom & install¬†these gorgeous Delta faucets
–¬†install a screen door off the kitchen so that I can open the door to the deck without letting in all the bugs
–¬†buy a Ficus plant
–¬†break the big wall down that exists between the living room and dining room
–¬†break the small wall down that exists in my kitchen
–¬†patch up the walls after so much destruction
change all the light fixtures (I started with this one)
–¬†buy a new couch (looking at¬†these ones)
install new kitchen countertops
– install a shower in the basement bathroom
–¬†buy tiles for backsplash &¬†install backsplash

Here are some of the new additions:
– paint touch-ups (all over)
-office organization
-office art wall
-install fire smoke alarms (again)
-plan patio

I LOVE seeing so many things crossed off the list! Yay for progress. This spring I’m looking forward to (learning how to and) installing a stone floor on my small back patio and watching my hostas grow.

Have a great Friday & happy weekend, everyone!

The Uptown series documents my experiences as a new homeowner. Fun times ahead!

Travel: More Photos from Paris

Okay, so over the last week and weekend I spent some time uploading my photos from Paris. It seems like the trip was ages ago, but I’ve only been back in Waterloo for two weeks. I’ve got another few things to share, hope you’re enjoying the recaps as much as I am!

I saw this photo image on a wall sort of near the Mus√©e Picasso. Possibly a Banksy? What’s his trademark?

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I loved this ceiling in the children’s shop Bonton.

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I came across this doorbell somewhere in St. Germain. I thought it was pretty.

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I stumbled upon the Swedish Institute in Le Marais and I liked the tidiness of the café tables.

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This is the view from the Sacre Coeur. So cool.

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This white-on-white-on-white building was in Montmartre. The cobblestone streets are so charming, but can really wear down shoes.

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While I was eating lunch outside one day (yes, in February!), I spotted this guy. I was impressed by how he managed to transport the table (it’s white, how perfect) on his Vespa. Who needs a mini-van?

White-Cabana-Paris-8I took very few typical tourist shots on this trip. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed another collection of things I spotted in Paris last month.

Photos by Jordana.

The Friday Five: Place Des Vosges

Place des Vosges¬†in Le Marais is one of my most favourite places in all of Paris. It’s beautifully rosy and completely symmetrical. The archways are lovely to walk under and the centre courtyard is the perfect place for throwing a frisbee (not me, but I’ve seen others do it!), lounging around, and taking a break from the noise of the city. It is the oldest planned square in the city and it has a long and interesting history¬†(going back to 1604!) that included several name changes (Place Royale to Place des Vosges and back again). At one point it was simply a lawn for hosting duels. People like Cardinal Richelieu (French prime minister) and Victor Hugo (author) lived in the apartments of Place des Vosges (during various centuries). Like all of Paris, this place has a story to tell!

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Happy Friday everyone! Have a wonderful weekend!

Uptown: Progress Update – Kitchen

You’ve now seen the progress I made over the holiday break on my powder room and living room. Today I’m sharing photos of my kitchen. Here’s what it looked like before I moved in:

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I have now finished painting the kitchen (Chantilly Lace like the rest of the house), additional cabinets were installed, and lighting was changed.

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Above – you can see that I do in fact have some colour in my home. I painted these chairs with Miro designs when I was living in Kingston about 7 years ago. The table is from Ikea. Don’t pay attention to the floor – I’m still undecided about what to do with it. I also have to put up the blind. (Oh, and the stuff on the floor has now been moved.)

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know that my kitchen got a dose of pretty too in the form of new carrara marble counter tops (remember my indecision?). They are so lovely! The counter top is from Natural Stone City in Kitchener and I could not be more happy with the service I received. From start to finish, the NSC team was professional and efficient.

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¬†The faucet has now been installed (thanks Dad!) and I will soon install the backsplash. I have been using the one-basin sink for almost a week now and I’m really enjoying it.

Uptown: Progress Update – Powder Room

Hi all. I’ve had a good couple of weeks offline and I hope you have too, but now I’m back to regular blogging, tweeting, and instagramming (new verbs, don’t you love them?) and I’m excited for what’s to come in 2014.

I had grand plans for my 2 weeks off from work – mainly I wanted to sleep in and watch TV. Instead, I had a total of 2 lazy days (one of which was Christmas) and spent much of the rest of my time working on my home. Painting, organizing, building Ikea furniture, unpacking boxes – it was a full-time job, really. Things are looking¬†much¬†better and I’m happy to share some of the progress with you this week.

I’m starting with the powder room as this is the room that is (pretty much) done. This is what the small space looked like when I took a tour pre-sale:

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And here is what things are looking like these days:

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You already know that I took a crack at installing the hex tile floors. I just love how they turned out. While the process took some time, it wasn’t that hard. Delta was kind enough to send over the Tommy faucet¬†and it looks beautiful with the Ikea sink cabinet. I bought the mirror at HomeSense and the Umbra towel holder at Canadian Tire.

I’m still trying to narrow down the art options for this small space but that’s it. This room is (almost) done!

Tomorrow I’ll take you on a mini tour of the living room.

 

Uptown: The Countertop Decision

I still haven’t quite decided about the kitchen countertop. Annoying. I think I’m close though. Here are the issues.

1. I thought that I was going to just go for quartz but then I started hearing things about marks, chips, and stains.

2. So then I went back to thinking of laminate as I thought it could be a great affordable temporary option. But then, by the time you pay for installation, sink, etc., it’s not really cheap-cheap. It’s just the cheapest option but not actually really dirt cheap, you know?

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Formica

3. So then I went back to thinking that if I was going to spend money on the countertop, I might as well go for Carrara marble as I know what my sister/brother-in-law and my parents paid for theirs (both have larger kitchens than mine) and, in fact, the price seemed to be comparable to quartz. But when I got the quote from my Kitchener-Waterloo kitchen people, it was way higher than quartz…aka…not really in my budget.

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Carrara marble

4. So here we are now, I’m rethinking quartz. Friends on Twitter were kind enough to pass along some positive views of quartz to help me out. Maybe quartz really is the wisest move for the moment. I’d go for the plainest of the plain – no sparkles, flecks, or any of that jazz. I’ve picked one out but I can’t remember its manufacturer. I should know this, right? If I go for quartz and my espresso maker leaves a mark on it, I’m going to be very annoyed. Just sayin’.

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Personal: Weekend Recap

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good! It was my convocation on Friday which means that I’m now officially Dr. Jordana! So excited! It was a very special moment to walk across the stage, be admitted to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the president of the university, and to be hooded by my supervisor. The ceremony was perfect – fancy, traditional, and the orchestra performed beautifully. The day went by quickly but I was so happy that my parents and my aunt were there to celebrate with me.¬†I wore my regalia proudly and my family were great paparazzi.

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¬†me and my new favourite outfit; don’t be surprised if you see me wearing this often (ignore my hair – I didn’t brush it and it was really windy – oops)

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words of wisdom; yes, indeed!

On Saturday, I zipped around the city, worked on getting more work done at the house, and, for the first time, hung up coats in my hall closet (this is an amazing achievement as, up until now, it has been filled with packed boxes). Huge progress!

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one my Venini-like chandeliers

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finding my old friends with each box I unpack

Sunday was a day for organization and virtual family time. We are so lucky to have things like Skype and Facetime, aren’t we? My immediate family lives in three different cities but we talk every day through various means. It’s pretty amazing how we can stay so connected.

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Thanks Zia Silvana – they’re beautiful!

The weekend was also a day for remembering Zia Rose¬†who lost her battle with breast cancer two years ago. I can still hear her,¬†“Have you met my niece, the doctor”¬†(she was saying it pretty much since the day I got into grad school). If she were still with us, I know she would have come to my convocation and I would have heard her use her “football cheering” voice to cheer me on.¬†I listened to The Rose a few times throughout the day in honour of her. Listening to the song always gives me happy memories of my aunt.

How about you? What did you get up to?

Images by me (and my paparazzi).

Uptown: Grouting Tiles

I’m pleased to announce that I have now completed the tile work in my powder room. I ordered the grout – smoke grey – from Twin City Tile¬†and grouted the floor over the Thanksgiving long weekend. I am SO incredibly pleased with the floor and I am SO glad I decided to rip out the vinyl.

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Grouting was easier than laying the tiles down. I was certainly less stressed about this part of the process. How did I get the job done? I followed the directions on the grout package as well as the instruction I received from the Home Depot tiling workshop I attended and the mini lesson I received from Silvano at Twin City Tile. I mixed the grout powder with water and stirred it all up (with a paint stick – it was a small batch so this was good enough) so it had the consistency of pudding or icing (tiling and grouting is just like icing a cake!). I used the spatula (grout spreader) and moved the grout into the spaces like I’ve seen on TV (honestly!). I let the grout dry for about 10-15 minutes and then spent quite a bit of time (over an hour maybe) cleaning the tiles very carefully. I knew I couldn’t leave any grout residue on the tiles otherwise my floor would be ruined. I spent so much time wiping the grout off with a damp sponge just as I had been taught (one direction, rinse the sponge after each wipe, etc.). It was time consuming but very satisfying. I then let the grout dry for a few days (I think it only needed 24 hours) before I actually stepped on the floor.

The room is¬†almost done. Since¬†the last powder room progress update¬†I bought a new toilet (dual flush – so fancy) and a new mirror.¬†I (and my handy parents) now just need to…

– sand the walls
– prime the walls
– paint the walls
– buy baseboards
– install baseboards
– install vanity (this one)
– install faucet (this one)
– install toilet
– install light fixture
– install mirror (from here)

And then the room will be ready for a big reveal!

Architecture: The Perimeter Institute

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A couple of weeks ago I attended the BrainStem festival at The Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario. The exhibits were very scientific, techy, and kid-friendly. It was an energetic and very public-friendly event. While the interactive science activities were pretty cool, I was really interested in the self-guided building tour. The Perimeter Institute event coordinators did an excellent job creating a tour that had us walking up and down the stairs and going through all the cool conference rooms.

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I am so impressed with the architectural gems in Waterloo. The Perimeter Institute and the CIGI Campus are just two of the buildings that have injected vibrancy and innovation into the city.

Photos by Jordana.

Video: White Cabana + Princess Margaret Lottery

When I toured the Brain Gluckstein-designed Princess Margaret Lottery Oakville Showhome I had the opportunity to share my opinion about the house with the Princess Margaret team. Yesterday the final video was published (thanks team PMLotto!). Have a look:

And while you’re watching videos…have a look at what other bloggers liked about the Oakville showhome: Thalita, Casey, Sarah, & Fatima.

Have you bought your ticket yet?

Event: Brian Gluckstein & the Princess Margaret Show Home

As if my fondness for Brian Gluckstein could grow? Well, it did. Last week. Let me tell you about it.

I drove to Oakville one evening after work to attend a preview of the Oakville show home¬†for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Welcome Home Sweepstakes.¬†The house – from top to bottom – is pretty darn gorgeous. While it wasn’t all white, there was a lot of white¬†and I was happy to see it. The open concept kitchen, family room, office, and a few bathrooms (I lost count of them, to be honest) were quite white. The other spaces were full of muted blue, grey, violet, and yellow. Each room was quite beautiful. It wasn’t the “don’t touch this because it’s so precious” kind of beautiful but more like the “have a seat, stay a while, get comfy, can I get you a coupe of champagne” beautiful. Ok, that’s kind of fancy too; but it didn’t feel untouchable.

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main floor living room

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upstairs grand hall

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kitchen

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kitchen cabinet detail

The furniture and many of the accessories is all from the Brian Gluckstein collection and the art was sourced from around the world. I didn’t sit on any of the furniture out of fear that I’d mess up a pillow and Brian would have to come and expertly re-chop it (chopping pillows is still in style, in case anyone wanted to know). But if he wasn’t around, I probably would have tested out every seat in the house.

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main floor – grand hall

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GlucksteinHome details

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upstairs bedroom mirror

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substantial doors in a bedroom

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possibly my favourite piece of art in the house; Key by Tritan Braho

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pear art

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dining room details; my mom has this same antique tea set

I really eyed the details in all the bathrooms to see what details I could translate into my own home. The tile work and use of mirrors was lovely. And the towels were so new and fluffy.

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tile floor in the master bathroom

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basement bathroom; photo snapped by April

Ever the academic, I had to check out the office. I loved that it had a great big cork board (old school Pinterest) and a wall-to-wall desk. I’d really put that thing to work.

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main floor office

The mouldings, the fireplaces, the tiles, and the lighting were all very impressive.

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 lighting around the house

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fireplace in the main floor living room

So is there anything I don’t like in the home? Yes – two things. One:¬†The wine cellar was a nice addition but I probably would have cut out the exercise room and made the wine cellar a whole lot bigger. Two:¬†What really annoyed me as I walked through the house were all the TVs. Oh my goodness. There were a gazillion TVs in the house. They drove me crazy! Brian, Brian, Brian – why? How many TVs does one beautiful house need?

Overall, the house is really beautiful and the work that went into building it (in only 5 months) is incredibly impressive. Brian, the architect, the tradespeople, and all the other people who had a hand in this really did a phenomenal job.

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Did all bloggers listen to Brian Gluckstein and tweet at the same time? (I spy Jennifer, Leigh-Ann, Brittany, & Tim)

Mr. Brian Gluckstein remained friendly, warm, and funny as he talked about the house and his design career with all the guests. Oh – and I couldn’t leave the home without taking a photo with him. I also took the opportunity to ask him if the bathroom in his own home is still as beautiful as it was when it was photographed for House & Home. The answer? Yes. The books are all real and they’re still there.

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Me and Brian; photo snapped by Leigh-Ann

So? Did I convince you to buy your ticket? Good luck!

Many thanks to Brian, Cheryl, and the Princess Margaret Oakville show home team for welcoming us so warmly!

Related posts:
1. Remember when I toured the product design office of GlucksteinHome? That was fun!
2. Did you see that Brian Gluckstein was featured on The Coveteur? 

Photos by Jordana.

Uptown: Saying Goodbye to Vinyl

…and a whole bunch of other things around the house!

Things have progressed chez moi. Things are also slow going. While I can do without the mess and chaos, I’m loving the reno. It’s so satisfying to see things getting done the way that I want them. My dad has been helping out a lot and my mom will soon be joining the efforts (I’m putting their retirement to good use).

Here’s what’s been happening…

1. My dad removed the vanity and toilet from the powder room. The nice people at the Home Depot taught us about compression valves and we gave them a try. They’re great so far. I may not have a working faucet in this bathroom but the valves are shiny and clean.

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2. On Friday night I decided to rip out the vinyl in the powder room. Took the baseboards right out as well using a spatula and a crowbar. I probably didn’t need the crowbar but it was awesome. I love tools!

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3. Before I ripped out the floor, I visited a tile shop. The photo shows some of the tiles that I’m considering. But I think I decided to go for the 1″ white matte hex tiles. It’s going to look great! I’m going to try to tackle the floor in the next week or so. Wish me luck!

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4. Dad has been doing a lot of electrical work around the house. In addition to moving ceiling and lights, he has started to replace the light switches. The square version instantly modernizes a room. The effect is really surprising (to me, at least).

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5. I finished painting my bedroom a couple of weeks ago. At the moment, the ironing board is a feature in the room – I’m working on changing that! I am¬†very¬†happy with Chantilly Lace.

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And that’s about it for now. More to come soon. Happy Friday!

*Due to a computer server issue, the original post vanished. I have rewritten this post.

Travel: New York City

I was lucky enough to spend this past weekend in New York City. My trip was off to a rough start because my 3 hour drive from Waterloo to Toronto (3 hours…instead of 1.5 hours) meant that I missed my Porter flight to Newark. I sucked it up and paid the $150 fee to get on the later flight which was delayed an hour. I was seriously on the verge of tears when I found out about the change fee and the delay and I was so completely frustrated from my 3 hour journey in traffic that I ended up hating my very first experience with Porter. I ended up getting into Manhattan at midnight after an 8 hour journey (8 hours!).

The rest of the weekend made up for my flight. I met my 3-week old niece, played with my three nephews, caught up with my sister and brother-in-law, and went shopping with my mom. I also spotted white all over the city.

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Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams

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Dean & Deluca

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Fishs Eddy

Photos by Jordana.