Jordana

Uptown: Priming with PARA Paints

I am happy to report that I making progress on the painting projects in my house. (I wish I could say the same about some of the decisions that I still have to make.) The hallways were a dark deep red and the kitchen was a dark brown so I felt like the walls in these spaces needed to be primed before I painted them white. The walls were all in great shape so I didn’t do anything besides wipe them down. I probably should have lightly sanded the walls but I usually just skip the sanding step if the walls are in good shape. Tsk, tsk, right?

I used PARA Paints professional latex primer* for this job and it worked beautifully. It went on smoothly and covered the dark walls very well.

Here’s a look at the upstairs hall. The ceiling is super high and luckily my dad brought his 21′ ladder and was brave enough to deal with the high points.

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Anyway – the place is so much brighter now that the hallways have been primed with white. I am so excited about the transformation that my townhouse is going through.

* Thanks to PARA Paints for their support.  

Celebration: Welcome Giselle!

I am so so so excited to share the news of my niece’s birth. My very first niece! I’m too thrilled! Giselle was born exactly two weeks ago and has been getting a lot of love and attention from her 3 older brothers (and her parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc.).

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Tutu Lulu Cream Bunny

 

I am definitely looking forward to meeting Giselle and seeing the whole crew in NYC soon.

Welcome to the world little Giselle! xoxo Zia Jojo

Personal: Saying Goodbye to My Jeep

Can we take a moment to mourn the loss of my Jeep?

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The transmission broke last week and it just wasn’t worth it to put more money into the car so yesterday my dad arranged for my Jeep to be taken to the scrap yard. Oh, I’m sad. Although I haven’t driven it for a while, I was – and am – attached to this car.

Jeep

Jeeps have been my favourite car since forever*. While mine guzzled gas, I absolutely loved driving it. We all know that I like the Fiat 500 but I love my Jeep. I used it to commute to university every day during my undergrad, to drive from Kingston to Toronto countless times during my Master’s, and to move and start my PhD in London (not to mention all the driving to work over the years). Me and my Jeep have been on so many long trips together and so it’s no wonder I’m sad. It’s the end of an era.

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What about you? Are you attached to your car?

*Long before the Fiat 500.

Photos by BG.

Uptown: Scenes from My Weekend

Well – the long weekend brought with it a visit from my dad and a whole lot of progress on my home renos. There was a wall that needed to come down, furniture to be moved, plants to be planted, electrical work to be tackled, and a lot of heavy duty cleaning to be done.

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In preparation for the weekend o’ work (and beyond), I made two lists: one for dad and one for me. His list includes a lot of my electrical wishes (and some of his too) and my list includes a lot of “buy major piece of furniture/lighting/vanities/things” and “make a decision about paint/furniture/lighting/vanities/things”. Needless to say, his list now has more crossed off of it than mine.

I learned how to remove a wall this weekend. My dad did most of the work but in between scrubbing everything in my kitchen, I watched what he did. What a big job that was. But now it’s done! I have full access to my dining room from living room and kitchen and the flow in the house is so much better. Awesome.

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 breaking the wall

My dad and I took down the two large mirrors that were in the upstairs bath. (Gosh those things were heavy.) Doing this meant that I could take down the last of the wallpaper (hiding behind the mirrors) in this bathroom. I felt like I needed to pop open some champagne to mark the occasion. What a task that was. And, yes, I still hate wallpaper. I will never put wallpaper up. Ever.

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upstairs bath – progress; mirror removed, wallpaper almost removed

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upstairs bath – all patched up; light to be removed soon; vanity to be replaced soon

I cleaned the heck out of my kitchen. As in – it took me 2 hours (or more?) to clean my fridge. Another 2 hours to clean my stove. And no, I don’t think I’m exaggerating. While the kitchen cleaning tasks were time consuming, they were also extremely satisfying. My fridge is especially beautiful.

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deep cleaning of the fridge

While I’m talking about the fridge – I would like to share my satisfaction with my fridge. It’s a Samsung. That’s all I know about the make of it. The fridge is on top and the freezer drawers pull out. So convenient and such a step above anything I’ve had in my previous rentals.

IMG_5761using power tools

I grabbed my dad’s electric screwdriver (with a little light at the end of it!) to put a cabinet back together. His screwdriver was awesome. I want one but it’s not in my  budget. Glad to have been able to borrow his. He loves it and is definitely not ready to donate it to me.

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You may remember that I took down the wallpaper (and the enormous amount of leftover wallpaper paste) in the powder room. I patched up a lot of the wall damage but there’s still a bit more to deal with. But never mind that. This weekend dad removed the vanity wall light and created a new light box outlet thing in the middle of the ceiling. I haven’t settled on the light fixture yet (remember all the decisions I still have to make?) but at the moment I’m thinking either a plain globe light or a small crystal chandy. There is still a lot to be done in this small room. I will replace the vanity, prime and paint the room, install a new light, and hang a new mirror (maybe this one).

What a satisfying weekend of home repairs and organization. I’m thrilled with how things are shaping up around the house.

***

Interested in reading more about my reno? Keep your eye out for posts titled “Uptown”.

20 Below & Giveaway: Palomino Blackwing Pearl Pencils

By the time you read this I will be in London, Ontario, presenting my 5 years of PhD work to a conference room of examiners. I’m emotional. I’m nervous, excited, happy, sad, proud, confident, and scared. I’m mostly thrilled. If I am successful then I will change my name to Dr. Jordana. If I am unsuccessful, I will cry. Please send positive vibes my way. A lot of them s’il vous plait!

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It seems quite fitting that on this very important day (keep calm, carry on) I write a post about office supplies. I have used SO many different types of office supplies in my 12 years of post-secondary education. Today I’m sharing some news about pencils. Beautifully functioning white pencils. The best. They are the Palomino Blackwing Pearl pencils. Palomino just introduced this line of pencils and anyone who loves design and the smooth writing style will be sure to pick up packages of these!

BlackwingPearlCroppedPalomino Blackwing Pearl pencils, $19.95 for 12, Palomino

For those of you who love history…”The Blackwing pencil was first manufactured in the 1930s by Eberhard Faber, but was discontinued in 1998 when the machine that created the distinctive square ferrule (the crimped metal that holds the eraser) broke and could not be repaired.” What happened next? Well, Palomino bought the brand, sorted out the ferrule manufacturing, and brought the pencil back! There’s more to learn about the Blackwing legend and about who uses this pencil.

The Palomino Blackwing Pearl can be bought online at Pencils. If you’re in the Toronto area, you can buy Palomino at the following supply stores:

1. Phidon Pens Limited (Cambridge)
2. Laywine’s (Toronto)
3. Midoco Art & Office Supplies (Toronto)
4. The Paper Place (Toronto)
5. Wonder Pens (Toronto)

Did I jump at the chance to test these out? Of course I did! And I’m a fan. They function beautifully and the square ferrule stands out in my collection of classic HB2 pencils!

And now – here’s a chance for you to test them out too…

GIVEAWAY:

Palomino is offering to send one lucky winner a package of the new Palomino Blackwing Pearl pencils. To enter this giveaway, simply finish the following statement: The last thing I wrote by hand was…. Add your sentence to the comment section below. Contest ends on Monday August 26, 2013. This contest is open to readers in North America. Good luck and happy writing!

Thank you to Palomino & Kim S. for offering this giveaway.

Uptown: The To Do List

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I enjoyed a weekend of shopping for quartz, shopping for couches, creating to do lists, and prepping for my dissertation defense (8 days!). I also had a few visits with friends and family which was nice. It was a full and happy weekend!

I have lot of projects planned for my townhouse but they have different priority levels.

At the top of my to do list are:

– change all the door locks to these Schlage locks
– remove wallpaper in all three bathrooms – 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 (Okay, this wasn’t really a priority but sometimes it feels satisfying to add something to the list just to cross it off!)
– 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) (Breaking news: I bought a couch yesterday…after I prepped this post!)
– install new kitchen countertops
– install a shower in the basement bathroom (once I figure out how to reconfigure the space so it is more efficient)
buy tiles for backsplash & install backsplash
– find a plumber in Kitchener-Waterloo
– find a drywaller in Kitchener-Waterloo

Other projects that I’ll be tackling over the next few months include:

– replace all the electrical outlets and plate covers to white (I have about 5 different varieties around the house and they are making me crazy!)
– install new bathroom fans
– reupholster my teak arm chairs for the living room
– refinish my Eames dining room chairs
– replace ventilation fans in bathrooms
– create a better functioning laundry room
– find a sweet round kitchen table to replace my square one
– plan a better patio space

I hope you’re all still interested in following along with the progress updates.

Happy Monday!

The Friday Five: Bedrooms

It’s Friday! Who is excited for the weekend?

I’m a month into my new job and it’s been going great. I love the work and I love where I’m living in Waterloo. What I could use is a bit more sleep-in time. Days are busy with work and nights and weekends have been busy with prepping for my dissertation defense (11 days!) and planning out home reno projects. Who can sleep-in when there’s all this excitement? There are boxes stacked in my bedroom so, at the moment, it’s nothing like what a serene bedroom should look like. Soon enough, right? I’m hoping that by the end of September I will feel much more settled.

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via Desire to Inspire

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via Desire to Inspire

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Rebecca and Dan’s Toronto home, via Style North

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via 79 Ideas

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via Snob

 Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Blogging: Tick Tock

Time has just flown by today…only getting around to blogging now! Working on my new work-life balance-routine I guess.

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Rusch clock, $2.99

Oh – I have been forgetting to share the links to two posts that Giulia and I wrote for the BlogPodium blog: Getting EducatedOrganizational Wonders to improve your blog’s function and style. There is a lot of great information on the blog so if you’re interested in learning more about blogging, I encourage you to go have a look. Happy reading!

Uptown: A Little Bit of Progress

I thought I would take a moment to talk about the updates I’m making around my house Uptown. It feels great to be in Kitchener-Waterloo and I’m really loving so many things about my new house. I’m learning new things about renos and home repairs, I’m getting to know every home improvement store in KW, and little-by-little I am making my house feel more like me.

There are three bathrooms in my house. They’re great spaces but they are all covered in wallpaper. The wallpaper in the upstairs bath came off quite easily and left no wallpaper paste residue. The walls up there are in great shape and just need some minor touchups (of that plaster/putty stuff) before they get primed and painted.

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upstairs bath – wallpaper removal fun

The powder room was a whole other story. The decorative paper came off without any trouble. But…the wallpaper paste decided to stay behind. The look was disgusting. The removal was a major pain.

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powder room – before – two patterns of pink & cream wallpaper

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powder room – the wallpaper paste disaster

My dad bought and applied some wallpaper paste removal but that didn’t work. Then I found two solutions via Google so I alternated between them: (a) hot water + fabric softener + baking soda, and (2) hot water + vinegar. The vinegar solution worked better in the end, I think, but the fabric softener solution smelled better so I kept using it. There was A LOT of scraping involved. And A LOT of rubbing with a rough sponge. And A LOT of cleaning up with a soft sponge. It was time consuming*. The walls look half-way good now but of course there are (more than) several areas that need putty. The powder room looks much brighter so that’s definitely something to celebrate. Removing the wallpaper in this room was a huge job and I’m glad it’s over. (One more bathroom to go.)

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My parents came for a visit this past weekend and with my mom’s help I’ve narrowed down my paint colours down to two! Huge accomplishment! I’ve been staring at the paint chips in every room in the house in different lights over the last month or so. Now I’m going to buy small test cans of each colour and paint large patches in each room. I hope by doing this, I’ll come to a final decision about the colour. In case you didn’t know – I’m painting my whole house white. All of it. Yes.

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paint options with tile and carpet

I picked up pretty white tiles that I will eventually use for my kitchen backsplash**. The tiles look great with the paint options and the existing cabinets (Ikea I think). So far.

I’m still dating my couch options. I love the Lee couch but I priced it out for two fabrics and one will be $3000 and the other one will be $3800 (plus tax & delivery). I’m not sure I feel like spending $4000 on a couch.

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Lee Industries sofa

I am really fond of the following two sofas from sofa.com but I have to do the final pricing on each. They’ll likely come in around $2500 or so.

 

The Saturday Sofa

The Saturday Sofa

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The Snowdrop Sofa

Restoration Hardware has a nice option too. It would like be around the $3000 mark. I haven’t yet seen this one in person but I will soon enough. I really would prefer two large seat cushions but I don’t the the RH sofa has this option.

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Restoration Hardware sofa

Alternatively, I could also go the more affordable route with Ikea’s Karlstad in a couch or sectional style.

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The Karlstad is a good-looking and comfortable sofa but it has a different feel than the ones above. It would change the whole look of my living room. Oh – and I’m aiming for a light grey fabric for my future sofa. Thoughts?

My parents helped me plant outside. I’m leaving all the gardening choices up to my mom since she is a retired florist. She knows what’s what. I only requested that hostas be in my garden since (a) I think hosta is a funny word, and (b) it seems like everybody is always talking about where they planted their hostas, the colour of their hostas, and how their hostas are growing. I think it’s hilarious…and I want to be part of the hosta club. I don’t have a big garden but I have just enough patches of land to let me play around.

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new white flowers & some of my new hostas

My proudest moment so far in this reno business has been installing a new kitchen light. I wasn’t sure I could manage it on my own but I did! I watched a few how-to videos online (and over the years I’ve observed my dad change a few) and then I got to work. I learned about my Breaker Box and I made sure I shut off the right breaker switch for the kitchen light. I set up lamps around the room so I could see what I was doing (I decided to change the light at 9pm or so?!). I used one screwdriver in the whole process. So handy. After the electricity was shut off, I removed the existing fan/light fixture and unhooked the wires. Once the fan was down I put up my new light. Black wire to red wire and white wire to white wire. I used plastic screw caps to attach the wires. A few screws later and my light was up! When I switched the power back on I really was praying that I’d have light. And guess what? I did! I honestly couldn’t believe it. Changing a fixture is not hard at all but it is a little scary, what with the electricity bit. But as long as the electricity is off, there’s nothing to worry about. Right? So, one light installed and about 15 more to go! (I haven’t narrowed down the choices for the other rooms.)

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before

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 after

So there you have it – a few updates from around the house. Much more to come so stay tuned!

*Note to self: Never install wallpaper. Ever.

**You may be wondering why I bought backsplash tiles before doing anything else? I found them for a super deal on Kijiji and I couldn’t let them go! More on that in a future post.

***

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

Celebration: Happy Birthday To Me!

It’s my favourite day of the year today! C’est ma fête!

Bolia-wallpaperBolia wallpaper clouds

For the first time in, gosh, I think all of my life, I’m actually working on my birthday! I think I’m still in shock about this fact. It’s exciting though. And I have a great dinner with family and friends tonight Uptown to look forward to. I’m eager to discover all the new-to-me restaurants in my new ‘hood.

 

Uptown: Moving In, Starting New

So…the last few months have been quite the adventure. In addition to wrapping up my PhD life in London (defence date set for August 20th!), I got a job, bought a townhouse, packed up and moved to a new city (Waterloo, Ontario). Things have been hectic to say the least but I’m definitely excited for this next chapter on my life.

While my new day job means that I’ll be trying to put my 12 years of post-secondary education to good use (12 years! Wild.), my new evening and weekend programs will consist of making some changes to my townhouse. And since I am a design blogger I think it’s only fitting that I document my renovation projects here. Yes?

So, let me introduce you all to the new series on White Cabana called Uptown. Where did the name come from? Let me explain.

As an outsider, I find the area of Waterloo quite confusing. People in this part of Ontario actually refer to this area as Kitchener-Waterloo (KW for short) because the two cities are basically attached at the hip. There are other communities around KW such as Cambridge and St. Jacob’s which are sometimes roped into the KW area as well. To add to the KW confusion, there’s a King Street for every cardinal direction and getting off the 401 and into KW can be a challenge even for the most skilled GPS system.

As if things weren’t confusing enough, the “downtown” district of Waterloo is actually called “uptown” and “downtown” Kitchener is called “downtown”. Uptown Waterloo, downtown Kitchener. Both city centres are on King Street. Confused? Yeah, me too. But with each day I’m here, Uptown Waterloo seems to roll of the tongue a little bit more naturally.

So, as I live near Uptown Waterloo, I thought that Uptown would be a great name for this series (actually, it was my Dad who came up with it and I agreed). So, anytime you see Uptown in the title, you’ll know that you’re in for a townhouse update!

Fashion: Styling with Saffron Road

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A couple of weeks ago I was invited to style outfits and be part of a  fashion shoot with Jennifer at Saffron Road in London, Ontario. I had so much fun!

I browsed the amazing designer collections…

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and tried to apply what I’ve learned from America’s Next Top Model in my own personal fashion shoot!

For my first ensemble I went for all-white. The Theory peplum shirt was so crisp and is a great match for a skirt or pants. I paired the shirt with a textured knee-length Theory skirt. I added a bit of gold and sparkle with House of Harlow’s starburst necklace. The House of Harlow shoes added more texture to the outfit, not to mention, a lot of height.

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(worst smeyes ever)

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such a great pair of heels!

For my second look I grabbed a gorgeous Lida Baday suit. I love the black and white pattern and the boxy modern jacket. Generally I’m a fan of a classic pencil skirt so this suit was a clear winner. I paired the suit with a beautiful silky transparent black Theory shirt. The outfit is complete with a beautiful black leather M0851 tote and nude-coloured strappy heels by Modern Vintage. I opted to wear my own stack of silver bracelets and bangles to go with this outfit.

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And here’s one last photo of Saffron Road’s all-white fitting rooms…you can imagine how pleased I was to be in there. White is the perfect backdrop for the beautiful clothes in this London store!

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I learned quite a bit from my photo shoot…

* I am becoming such a big fan of the brand Theory. The few pieces that I already own and the pieces I tried on at Saffron fit me well and are made of fabrics that feel so good.

* I love Lida Baday but the pieces that I picked didn’t fit me as well as I had wanted them too. They’d definitely need tailoring. The fabric was absolutely beautiful.

* Modelling is harder than it looks. Figuring out what to do with your face and your body is tricky. Note to self: watch more episodes of America’s Next Top Model.

* I tried to channel one of my favourite fashionistas Blair of Atlantic-Pacific when I was styling outfits but this, too, was harder than I thought it was going to be. I had the whole store to choose from so I’m not sure why I felt challenged. Maybe I was simply overwhelmed?

* Sometimes it’s just best to trust the salespeople. When they’re good, they’re good. They know the labels, the merchandise, and spend so much time with clothes and getting to know what works on different body types that it is worth drawing on their knowledge.

Update: Good news for shoppers –  all Theory items are currently 50% off at Saffron Road. So if you’re in London, be sure to stop in! But don’t think you’re going to be able to buy the white shirt in the first photo because I went in about a week after my fashion shoot and bought it. I needed another white shirt.

Many thanks to Jennifer and the Saffron Road team for welcoming me in. Photos by Jennifer. I have previously written about Saffron Road here.

Fashion: Elizabeth & Clarke Subscription Shirts

You know that good things come in threes, right? Well, I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of three great tops from new-to-me designer Elizabeth & Clarke based out of NYC.

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I love the simple logo.

Elizabeth & Clarke is a clothing company that specializes in neutral-coloured shirts for women. (Right up my alley, I know!) Elizabeth & Clarke works by subscription meaning that if you’re a subscriber, you will receive a new box of shirts delivered right to your door every three months…as each new season begins. There are three subscription options. The “serious clotheshorse” receives 3 shirts per season at $20 each. The “busy modern lady” receives 2 shirts per season at $25 each. And the “woman who hates to shop” receives 1 shirt per season for $30.

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In the summer box, I received The Arden (white), The Liz Lemon (white) and The Hurley (black) (all named after famous Elizabeths in case you didn’t realize). I’m usually a bit hesitant to buy clothes online because I can be quite particular about fabric but these shirts did not let me down.

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Elizabeth & Clarke’s The Liz Lemon t-shirt, Joe Fresh shorts, brand unknown shoes, Fossil watch, collection of silver bracelets, iPhone 4S

Elizabeth-Clarke-White-Cabana_2Elizabeth & Clarke’s The Arden shirt, Versace Jeans pants, brand unknown shoes, Fossil watch, collection of silver bracelets, iPhone 4S

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 Elizabeth & Clarke’s The Arden shirt, Fossil watch, collection of silver bracelets, Longchamp purse, iPhone4S

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Elizabeth & Clarke’s The Hurley shirt, H&M pants, Via Spiga shoes (I know my mom is rolling her eyes at this photo because I opted not to brush my hair first…oops.)

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Elizabeth & Clarke’s The Liz Lemon t-shirt, Levi jeans, Nine West shoes, Fossil watch, vintage necklace

So, what’s my verdict? Well, here is what I am impressed with:

– The Liz Lemon t-shirt and the The Hurley are made of such soft cotton that I didn’t want to take either of them off! They hang nicely and are both really easy to wear.

– The size chart works very well. I like the sizes I got because they leave room for a bit of shrinking (which I always end up doing even when I try not to) but I could have gone down a size and they would have been just fine.

– The service I received from the Elizabeth & Clarke staff was perfect. Friendly, respectful and efficient. The box of shirts was wrapped really nicely too!

– The shirt styles are classic and modern (that combo exists, right?). I can easily pair each shirt with existing pieces in my wardrobe and – I know I’m biased – but nothing really beats a cool white shirt!

– I love the subtle back pleating detail of The Arden and I wish I had captured it in a photo. It’s the little touches that count, right?

– All three shirts have washed well. Washer + dryer. Easy.

Here is something that could be potentially annoying:

– The Arden suffered from static cling unfortunately. You can’t tell in the photos above but it basically stuck to my jeans. Maybe after another wash or two the static cling will disappear. It also needs ironing so if you hate ironing, this isn’t the shirt for you. (I like ironing so this doesn’t bother me.)

Overall – like I said at the beginning of this post – I’m very pleased with the three shirts and I’m already looking forward to the fall collection – hello elbow patches!

***

Many thanks to Melanie Moore, co-founder of Elizabeth & Clarke, for sending these shirts my way. Photos by Jordana.

Event: Blog Break

Dear Readers,

I thought I would find time to blog while in Victoria but it’s proven to be more difficult than I had anticipated! Time for a blog break. Of course I want to leave you with something lovely to look at while we take a moment to pause so here’s a photo from the airplane as we flew to Vancouver. Snow on mountains…white, white, white!

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Back to regular posting next week!

Be well.

Jordana

Photography: Multiples

Who knew The Home Depot would be such a great place to practice taking photos with my new camera? While I was there a while ago, I snapped so many photos of multiples…stacks and stacks of the same item. I thought these photos looked particularly interesting.

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spray paint cans

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caulking containers (sorry – I don’t know what the official name is)

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Home Depot painting caps

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paint rollers

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Home Depot tubs

Photos by Jordana.

Photography: Buying a New Camera

I have been wanting to buy a new camera for a while now – something small enough to carry in my purse, better than my iPhone 4S and Canon Elph (I do still love the Elph), and something with a great lens that would produce gorgeous photos. Oh – and in the $200-$300 price range (always on a budget, I am!). So when my photographer friend Joel told me about a great sale on Panasonic’s Lumix LX5 at Black’s, I had to check it out (with his help of course). After his explanation of its features – and my many “Are you sure this is what I want?”, I decided to order it online as there were none in stock in London. A $500 camera for $250 and  it’s got a Leica lens (cool)! Needless to say it was an exciting afternoon! It was even more exciting when it arrived about a week later.

Unfortunately I got sent a camera that had previously been opened/used/touched so I contacted Black’s (oh, the power of a tweet) to inquire. The service I received to resolve this issue was so efficient and friendly that I might just be a Black’s fan for life.

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 me and my LX5, photo by Joel (with a cell phone)

Me and my camera are becoming the best of friends. We’ve already gone to The Home Depot, to work and to Toronto. There’s much to learn about photography and I think this little LX5 is going to show me the way.

Thanks to Anthony S. at Black’s for providing excellent customer service. Thanks for your advice Joel. 

Celebration: Happy Birthday Duke!

Duke, my oldest nephew, turns 4 today. This little guy currently is fascinated by tornadoes…

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via

and dinosaurs…

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via Retronaut

Random fact – Duke thinks I am going to send him a tray of meatballs. Yes – quite the imagination at 4 years old! I’m not going to be the one to tell him that I’ve never actually made meatballs and I doubt Canada Post would mail them to NYC even if I did make them. The little cutie definitely keeps me entertained!

Happy Birthday Duke!

Travel: Dallas: Live Large, Think Big

I took my cowboy boots to Dallas a couple of weeks ago and they sure did feel at home! As did I! The Dallasites (Dallastonians?) warmly welcomed me to their city and I covered quite a bit of ground in between my work obligations. Since the weather was perfect-for-me – 20C and sunny every day – I managed to stock up on some real vitamin D. I sure as heck did not miss the snowy grey weather in London. Here’s my report for y’all…

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 never-ending Sonic drive-up area

Downtown

My conference was at the Sheraton downtown and this area is mostly modern and shiny and full of concrete. I barely saw any grass and trees were minimal. I was expecting more of a hustle-and-bustle atmosphere because of the cluster of hotels and office buildings but it was a pretty quiet neighbourhood. I honestly don’t know where everyone was.

Dallas_White Cabana_6 Dallas_White Cabana_3 Dallas_White Cabana_8

downtown Dallas

Fort Worth + Billy Bob’s

While I spent most of my days at the conference, I still managed to find energy to explore the city too. I was lucky to have a friend (of a friend of a friend) as my tour guide for a bit and together we stomped our boots at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth. Oh. My. Goodness. It was amazing! A feast for the senses, really. The country music, the cowboy boots, the plaid shirts, and the belts all grabbed my attention. And the hats – yes, please! I experienced a bit of culture shock to tell you the truth. There was just so much to look at. The people were friendly, happy, and their dance steps blew me away. Away, I say! I was completely jealous of all the couples – young and old – who were showing off their fancy footwork on the salt-dusted wood dance floor. Just incredible. It was definitely worth the drive to Fort Worth (about 40 minutes from Dallas).

Dallas_White Cabana_10

Shopping

I ventured out to Target (of course) and walked out of the store with less money in my wallet and a whole lot of – well, I’m not quite sure what. Isn’t how it always goes on trips to Target? (side note: Target opened in London while I was away!)

On my hunt to find a “quaint” or “charming” area, I stumbled on the West Village. Newly built (well, everything looked pretty new) residences, restaurants and shops fill a few blocks just around the corner from the City Place DART station. It was very convenient and easy to get to by public transportation. The boutiques carried a unique selection of clothing brands and if I had more time I’m sure I would have picked out some interesting items.

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West Village, Dallas

The Mavericks

This is the conversation I had with a scalper near the American Airlines Center when I noticed crowds of people and heard loud country music.

Me: What’s going on here tonight?
Scalper: The Mavericks are playing.
Me: Oh yeah. What sport is that?
Scalper: What? [you can imagine the look I got!]
Me: I’m a tourist.
Scalper: Basketball. Dallas Mavericks.
Me (noticing his t-shirt): Oh. I get it. Nice t-shirt.
Scalper: Where are you from?
Me: Toronto.
Scalper: Oh. You’ve got the Raptors.
Me: I don’t follow basketball. But yeah, the Raptors. Thanks.

So, after that exchange, I thought I should try to go see the game. So – guess how much I got a last minute single ticket for the Dallas Mavericks versus Oklahoma City (insert team name here) game? Um. $5. Yeah. Crazy, right? It was a right-place-right-time kind of thing. I would never have gone out of my way to go watch the game. Remember – I don’t follow basketball (but I may start now!). I was fully entertained throughout the (3 hour?) game. The excitement of the crowd was like nothing I’ve really experienced. Let’s Go Mavs!

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An intense basketball game at the American Airlines Center, Dallas

Transportation

Okay. So. I had some interesting experiences with transportation around Dallas. I didn’t rent a car for this trip (but would on a future trip) so I relied on public transportation (aka the DART light rail) and taxis to get me where I needed to go. The DART light rail was awesome. It is probably the cleanest version of a tram/metro/streetcar that I’ve come across.

Taxis – well – those were interesting. I think I took about six different taxi rides and I had to help each driver navigate. I pulled out my own map on at least three of the trips. It made me laugh in the end. Everyone was nice and pretty talkative and two of the drivers had actually been to Toronto which was cool. Niagara Falls is a big hit, apparently.

Oh – and every time I asked someone for walking directions they pretty much looked at me like I was crazy. I quickly learned that people don’t care much for walking and Dallas is really a driving city. The DART was mostly empty every time I took it.

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stonework at a DART station

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 Victory Station

Dallas_White Cabana_9stairs versus escalator at the City Place station

So there you have it – a short summary of my 4 days in Dallas. Would I go again? Yeah, probably. What better place to learn country dancing?

Photos by Jordana.

 

Cleaning: Capture Review

Many of you know by now that the love of white actually runs in my family. My sister and her husband’s NYC apartment is white-white-white (remember her artwork) and my parents’ new kitchen is super white too. We all agree that a white space is clean, refreshing, and matches every accent colour. But…for it to remain looking fresh, a white space needs regular cleaning. My sister recently called sharing happy news of her latest cleaning success (yes, we do seriously have these kinds of conversations).

You see – Team G (as we affectionately call my sister, her husband, and their three kids) purchased the well-designed Crate & Barrel Petrie sofa, chair and ottoman – in white – about four years ago.

Crate & Barrel Petrie sofa

The pieces are comfortable, fit perfectly in their living room, and have stood up quite well with three young boys climbing on them, jumping on them, and using the cushions to make forts and slides (Oh, did I mention it’s a great place to “hide” jelly beans for an Easter egg hunt? This is what Manhattan living is all about!).

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photos by Corie

Believe it or not, Team G’s white sofa set is still in excellent condition, but, being white, the pieces do need to be cleaned every so often (to maintain my sister’s high standard of cleanliness, I might add). Team G previously hired a professional cleaning company to come in and clean the couches but my sister was less than pleased. So imagine my delight when she called to tell me about a new cleaning product that was inexpensive and actually worked! Hooray!

So what is this “magic” product? It’s called Capture.

Capture

I asked Corie some questions about the product and here’s what she had to say…

***

1. What made you buy Capture? How did you first hear about this product?

After 4 years and 3 kids, my beloved white Crate and Barrel Petrie sofa was looking a little, shall we say, “worn”. Professional cleaning here in New York ranges from $300-$900 a pop and I wasn’t so impressed the last time we took that route so I went online to see if anyone had any clever ideas about how to clean my white couch. Someone mentioned Capture casually and I decided to check it out and give it a shot.

2. What products did you buy?

Amazon.com sells a “Dry Rug Cleaner Kit” that consists of a pre-mist, a powder cleaner and a brush.

3. How much did everything cost you?

A mere $25!

4. Describe the cleaning process.

I basically misted each section of my couch then sprinkled the powder on and gave it a bit of a rubbing with my hand. I didn’t use the brush as I was worried the bristles were a bit too hard for the weave of the fabric (I imagine the brush would be terrific for a carpet, however).  Then I let it sit for a while – the instructions say 30 minutes but, I figured “3 kids + white couch” warranted a little longer.  Following the waiting period, I carefully vacuumed all the powder up. Voilà – clean!

5. How long was the process?

About 2.5  hours with the 1 hour waiting time.

6. Describe the end result.

I’m pretty pleased.  Our couch doesn’t look brand new but it looks a lot better now. And it certainly looks better than it did after we had the professional cleaning done a year ago.

7. Was the product successful in getting out stains?

It did a great job of getting out (mostly, not entirely) newer stains and wear on the armrests.  

8. What stains didn’t come out?

Stains that were much older did get slightly better but not significantly so.

9. How does your experience with Capture compare to other products/cleaning services you used?

I’m quite pleased – well worth a few hours of effort and a minor financial investment!

10. Would you buy this product again and repeat this process? If so, how often do you think is necessary (for your lifestyle)?

I used up the entire kit I purchased and intend to purchase a new one to spot treat stains while they’re new.  Following that, I’ll probably undertake the process every 6 months or so – again, 3 kids + white sofa!!! What was I thinking?

***

Well Sis – I’m thinking that you were thinking that you didn’t want to sacrifice design just because you had kids. I think you made a wise decision. And look – the upkeep of a white couch isn’t so bad afterall, is it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Capture! My own couch cushion covers are machine washable so I’m okay there – but my white carpet could use a refresher soon.

Celebration: White Cabana Turns 3!

I almost ended this day without celebrating White Cabana’s fourth anniversary! Where has the time gone? I guess when there are so many projects on the go these kinds of things happen (Shame!). I really need to take a cue from my own birthday and start planning blog anniversaries the day after one ends.

So, thank you readers for coming to visit us each day for your dose of white goodness. I hope you’re having as much fun as we are! Perhaps we’ve surprised you with some quirky objects or injected a sense of calm into your day with serene spaces this past year. Thank you for engaging with white, for sending me photos of whiteness in your lives, and for emailing and tweeting me with links to interesting things that have caught your eye.

Thanks to the White Cabana contributors – Johanne, Troy, Mackenzie and Corie – who take time out of their busy lives to share some white moments with the rest of us. I am beyond grateful to you all for sharing your very different perspectives of white!

Much love to you all!

 

Lulu Guiness_Perspex Lips Clutch_$390Perspex Lips Clutch, $390, Lulu Guinness

Needless to say, I am looking forward to continuing the celebration of the beauty of white for another year and to sharing with you my current obsessions with this colour (or non-colour, some would say). I hope you continue to visit as often as your busy lives permit.

Jordana

p.s. Celebrating White Cabana: my first post, first anniversary, second anniversary.

Winter: Real Snowflake

We had our first snowfall of the season this past weekend. Light flurries began on Friday and while I was walking to my car after work I noticed a few snowflakes landed on me and stayed long enough for me to snap a couple of photos. This snowflake, in particular, caught me by surprise as it is shaped like a star.

photo by me (not altered)

Pretty amazing, don’t you agree?

Travel: Pittsburgh

I spent this past weekend on a father-daughter trip to Pittsburgh*. In our short visit we managed to learn a bit about the history of the city and we explored quite a few neighbourhoods. Unfortunately I don’t have many photos to share because I mistakenly erased most of them while I was uploading them to my computer (darn!). Here are a few photos along with a recap of our trip highlights.

view of downtown Pittsburgh from Mount Washington

  • We stayed at the Wyndham downtown, located right at the tip of the city, where we enjoyed a beautiful view of Mount Washington as well as the intersection of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers.
  • From our hotel we walked to the Strip District where we browsed a few food stores. There are a lot of interesting old buildings and signs in this small area.
  • Did you know that Heinz is from Pittsburgh? Neither of us had any idea until we saw Heinz signs on buildings around town (e.g., the Heinz theatre, the Heinz lofts, Heinz field).

Heinz lofts, Pittsburgh

  • We took a drive up Mount Washington and we are glad we did because the view of the city was pretty spectacular. From the designated look-out points the downtown core looked amazing as did the rivers, and the many bridges that connect different sides of the city.

Carnegie library, Pittsburgh

here I am enjoying the view of the river and downtown Pittsburgh

  • Squirrel Hill and South Side were other neighbourhoods we visited – although very briefly – and I would be eager to spend more time in each of these places on a future visit.
  • We had some pretty good meals during our stay. We had read about Pamela’s Diner in several guides so we decided to give it a try (apparently President Obama is a fan of their hotcakes). The atmosphere was lively, the service was friendly, and the food (we each ordered hotcakes, of course!) was fresh and tasty. We ate dinner at Nola in Market Square one night and, again, we were treated to a delicious meal with a cajun influence (I had alligator tacos!).
  • And of course, no visit of a city is complete (for me) without a trip to the university (or, in this case, the universities). The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are just two of the several universities that are in Pittsburgh. They are neighbours in the Oakland district. The University of Pittsburgh, affectionately called Pitt, was established in 1787 (wow!) and Carnegie Mellon is a well-known private institution which has beautifully kept buildings and grounds.

As you can imagine, it was a very full weekend of travel, work and sightseeing. Next time I head to Pittsburgh I’ll have to attend a sporting event – Pittsburghers (?) seem to really love supporting their teams (Steelers & Penguins, right?!). Do you have any other recommendations this US city?

*Truth be told – I was there for work and I’m pretty sure the only reason my dad wanted to come along was so that he could put his newly acquired GPS gadget to work. Ha ha.)

Celebration: White Cabana Gets a Makeover!

I am so happy to reveal White Cabana’s new look! It’s a bit more sleek and a bit more white (yes!).

There are a few more things to work out over the next little but for now please note that the new web address is whitecabana.com.

I would like to extend some very heartfelt thank you to some people who have helped make this all possible:

Shannon from AKA Design – Thanks for convincing me that a blog redesign was something that I could actually handle. It worked! Thanks also for taking the time out of your very busy life to answer my questions!

Patricia from Mira Belleza – Thanks for designing such a beautiful site…and for answering my ongoing list of questions.

The Namespro team – Thanks for making the blog transfer process so easy. Your technical support team was so incredibly supportive and clearly answered my never-ending questions!

(Is anyone noticing a theme here – my questions!?)

White Cabana’s fabulous contributors – Johanne, Mackenzie & Troy – thanks for being an awesome and very intelligent team!

My family – Thanks for giving me the thumbs up on all the blog design previews I sent you!

White Cabana’s readers – Thanks to you for stopping by the blog on a daily basis! I am so happy to share my love of white with all of you!

And before I leave you to enjoy a very lovely Monday, here’s a look back at White Cabana’s style…

White Cabana – the original header designed by Johanne

White Cabana – live until October 2012

White Cabana – live since October 2012

Photography: A Walk Down Memory Lane

Before the age of 5 I had seen a good chunk of the world thanks to all the amazing family trips my parents planned. Even before I really figured out what traveling was all about, I had caught the travel bug. When I was at my parents’ place over Thanksgiving weekend I had a chance to look through some family photo albums. I always enjoy the walk down memory lane. I can remember the cities and countries we visited and I try to imagine how my parents traveled with two small children to such far away places.

Here is a very White Cabana worthy photo of me at a beach in Portugal when I was 4 years old.

photo of me taken by my father

My tastes haven’t changed too much, have they? Beach, white, red – I’m a happy girl!

How about you? Did you travel as a child? Do you travel with your children?

Travel: Florida Vacation

This past weekend I made a quick trip to Florida and boy-oh-boy was it worth it! I was hesitant to spend the money on a flight (did anyone follow my decision making on Twitter?) since I was just in Florida last month but I am so glad I decided to go. Four days of sunshine, ocean swims, and shopping trips (not to mention meals cooked by my parents and nightly ice cream snacks), made me feel so spoiled. I’m so grateful I had the chance to go!

photos by me

Where would you go for a four day escape?

The Friday Five: Family Trees

I have been working on my family tree on and off for at least five years now. It’s nowhere near complete. It keeps growing as I meet more family members (which is always nice) who can provide more information about relatives. Sometime in the future I need to go to the small Italian villages where my parents were born to learn more about my family history. For now, I’m happy to fill in names and dates as I learn them. My family tree is in very rough form and I never have a paper that’s large enough to fit all the info so I keep taping on paper extensions…

my family tree: this is only my mother’s side…I have another paper roll for my father’s side.

Maybe one day I’ll work it out so that my family tree is as pretty as one of these…

Diamonds Family Tree by Martha Stewart

Family tree by Melinda Beck via Martha Stewart

Inspired Goodness

family tree, Martha Stewart

How about you? Have you ever worked on your family tree? Any tips?

Design: Review of King & Grove Tides South Beach

As I mentioned last week, during my two weeks in Florida, I made a quick trip down to Miami. South Beach to be more precise. While the beaches, the nightlife and the architecture were all selling points for me, one of the things that I was most excited about was staying at The Tides. As in The Tides! Perhaps you’re already familiar with this hotel because I featured it on my first ever post on White Cabana. The iconic hotel is also known for the interior design work by Kelly Wearstler. Yeah, her.

If you’ve not yet heard about The Tides, let me introduce you to it.

The Tides, one of the King & Grove group of hotels, is perfectly situated on Ocean Drive.

The Tides lobby

My friend Shannon and I were instantly impressed with the courteous service we received by all staff members. They treated us with a smile and did their best to make sure our stay was as perfect as it could possibly be. Check-in was a breeze and staff had answers to any question we asked. Over our two days at The Tides, we always felt extremely welcome.

Photos from around the hotel (L to R; T to B) – console and lighting by the elevators, numbered door, cream window shades, Miami news of the week, K & G paper and pencil set, artwork

Each hotel room is at least 550 sq feet. This basically translates to spacious, larger than normal suites. Our room had two double beds, two desk areas, a seating area, a walk-in closet, and a spacious bathroom. While the hotels on Ocean Drive are not directly on the beach (as opposed to where we stayed at Madeira Beach), all rooms have an ocean view. Complimentary wi-fi is also offered which made our stay that much more comfortable.

Photos from around the hotel – bathrobes, white linens, large furniture pieces, orchids, restaurant, outdoor dining area

In classic Kelly Wearstler style – big, bold, glitzy and glamorous elements are found throughout the hotel.The furnishings throughout the hotel are golden and pink with large hints of white. Linens are all white, of course. The number of mirrors in our room was impressive. There were two large full-length mirrors and another couple of large mirrors throughout the space (perfect for two ladies who like to admire their tans, hmm…). The bathroom was large, comfortable, and full of marble. Delightful!

Bathroom included white linens and toiletries

The outdoor pool area was beautiful although much smaller than I expected. The chaise lounges were a perfect place to relax after a hard day at the beach (hee hee). On Troy‘s recommendation, we ordered the guacamole and had it delivered to us poolside (yes, we indulged!). It was perfect (although the delivery charge did make us laugh).

Poolside at The Tides

Complimentary breakfast in the hotel lobby was a good way to begin the day. The basics – coffee, tea, pastries and apples – were served in a casual and inviting manner.

Breakfast at The Tides and a water station by the fitness centre

And, if you haven’t already noticed, a variety of patterns and textures were every where to be found!

Patterns at The Tides – poolside and in the lobby

While we definitely did enjoy our time at The Tides, this review would not be complete without a brief look at some of the less luxurious aspects of the hotel. One of the first things that my friend and I noticed in the bathroom was the toilet paper. Um. It was so un-luxurious. I’m talking the 1-ply variety. I would have expected at least 3 ply. Right? I know it may seem ridiculous to mention the toilet paper but it really struck us as being a bit odd. Second, while the shower stall in the bathroom looked gorgeous, it did not function very well. Each shower resulted in a pile of water on the floor outside the tub area. The shower head was good – it was the hinged shower door that was the culprit. Not a very big deal but a definite design flaw. Third, while the bathrobes were comfortable, they were not as plush as I have experienced elsewhere. They did look great hanging on the padded hangers though. Finally, there was a $2 per coffee charge for the in-room coffee station (Nespresso I believe). I was surprised by this as I’ve stayed in many hotels where the coffee and tea in-room is complimentary. The issues I mention here really aren’t make-or-break issues but if The Tides is trying to be the best of the best, well, I would encourage the hotel to consider these points.

And a word of caution – be sure to make use of the in-room safe while you’re staying at this and any other hotel. Unfortunately our credit cards were compromised during our stay which has inevitably left a sour taste in our mouths. An unfortunate ending to an otherwise very pleasant experience.

Photos by me.

The Friday Five: Kitchen Renovation (Almost the End)

Six months ago my parents began a renovation of their main floor kitchen, laundry room, and powder room. You may have read about the progress here and here. I’m happy to report that the kitchen is (almost) complete. Here are five views of their new space.

What’s left to do? Well, my parents are currently dealing with a kitchen table DIY and the hunt is back on for the perfect set of chairs. It’s almost the end!

Custom kitchen by Parada Kitchens. Photos by Brunida Kaso.

Travel: Miami

While my friend Shannon and I spent the majority of our vacation in Madeira Beach, we did take a quick trip to Miami. The drive from Madeira was easy minus the fact that once we got to Miami we spent an hour trying to find South Beach (um, yeah). The highways are so well-maintained (tolls everywhere!) and the drive across the Everglades was pretty cool even though we spotted no alligators and almost ran out of gas. Oops.

Once we arrived in South Beach we spent most of our time at the beach. It’s a much wider beach than in Madeira and the water is more clear. We loved the fact that our hotel offered chaise lounges and umbrellas for its guests. This definitely made our time at the beach that much more comfortable.

beach chairs before they get their blue cushions

Being a fan of architecture, I was excited to take photos of all the art deco buildings that South Beach is famous for. Unfortunately, we used up all the sunny time at the beach and when we did finally get to the sight-seeing portion of our two-day trip, we got rained on. I only managed to snap a couple of photos.

We did have lunch at the very art deco Jerry’s Famous Deli. The inside was awesome – and very red and gold. The light fixtures got my attention as did the menu. I didn’t have much energy to read through it all (it was vacation, remember?) so I settled for a BLT and lucky for me it was good.

at Jerry’s Famous Deli

The trip was much to brief so I’m definitely looking forward to going back on day in the future. Have you been to Miami? What are your favourite places to visit?

Photos by me.

Celebration: A Poem

If you’ve been following regularly then you know that I love singing the praises of my extra talented group of friends. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by generous, honest, intelligent and kind-hearted people. Yes, indeed! Last month for my birthday my friend Suparna wrote me a sweet little poem. I asked her permission to share it here.

Through meadows green, on stones so clean

Skips the birthday girl

A calm day down Forest Way

She pauses at the door with a curl.

Why so quiet? One cannot deny it

The elf that lives within

Generally sings with tones that ring

Clattering pots and cups of tin.

She says, “Hello?” and feels she must go

But stops when she senses the smell

Of freshly baked cake and all that would make

A girl enter without ringing the bell.

It was dark inside, enough to hide

A GREAT BIG elvin party

Who flipped on the lights and screamed with DELIGHT,

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY JORDANA GARBATI!”

While my birthday has passed, I just love re-reading this made-for-me poem. Thanks Suparna!

p.s. Not only can Suparna write and rhyme, but she also coaches a Quidditch team for her students in Singapore. She has yet to tell me exactly how she goes about this!

Event: My Floridian Vacation

Well, well, two weeks sure can fly by! How have you all been? Thanks to those of you who continued to visit the blog and who said hello on Twitter while I was away.

I had a most excellent vacation in Florida over the last two weeks – I soaked up plenty of sun (yes, I wore sunscreen), swam every day, did “some” shopping, and ate delicious meals. Today’s photos are a bit random but there you have it – it is Monday after a vacation after all!

My family has been a fan of Madeira Beach ever since I was 6 or 7 years old. I loved being there as a kid and I still love it after all these years. It’s one of the few places I can completely relax. It’s easy living and the people are nice. In addition, the Gulf of Mexico is gorgeous, the beach is well-maintained, and the sand is squeaky clean (yes, it actually squeaks!). My friend Shannon and I stayed at Ocean Sands – the best place in Madeira as far as I’m concerned (and not just because it’s white).

As with many beach town shops, the clothing is bright and bedazzled. I managed to find one white t-shirt at John’s Pass.

I wish I counted the YOLO sightings over the two weeks we were in Florida. Every other person seemed to have it emblazoned on their t-shirts.

We also saw some interesting signage in our travels…

At first we thought the sign (above) spelled “right” incorrectly. But then we realized that maybe the sign was supposed to say “straight”. Maybe. Either way, it amused us.

This isn’t how we spell pretzel in Canada.

Finally. Way to go Marshalls for this little touch in the dressing rooms.

I wish we noticed this sign (above) last year – we were pretty much attacked by seagulls as soon as we stepped foot on the beach with our ice cream cones. This year we knew better.

We had some fun with an underwater camera. And we definitely stayed within the limit.

Above: Will you be my girlfriend? Yes. No. Maybe. I guess the girlfriend said yes!

Below (same car): Cutie driving.

I’m not sure what they teach in driving school down south but I’m 100% sure it’s fully unsafe to sit on a lawn chair in the back of a pick-up truck.

Stay tuned for a review of our stay at the King & Grove Tides South Beach and some photos from Miami.

Event: Blog Break

Well…it’s time for this gal…and this blog…to take a break. I’m off to pretend I’m a retiree down in Florida. I’m so looking forward to a couple of weeks of real down-time. As such, I’ll be taking a break from the blog for the next two weeks. I’ll pop in to say hello if possible…otherwise, let’s meet back here in two weeks. Yeah? Great!

14 days lying on this beach – yes, I feel very lucky!

(And yes, I realize the photo is over-exposed but I think it looks cool. Photo by me.)

Stay well!

Jordana

The Friday Five: Home Office Storage

Okay – I’m going a little crazy in my home office ever since I had to move out of my work office earlier this week. I had to move all of my books and files home and the chaos is making me nuts! I have a lot of books and files – as do most people in the academic world – and finding room for them in my home office (so thankful I have one!) is harder than I thought. As a result, I’m not being as productive with my organization as I’d like to be. And in the midst of all my reorganization I get mad at myself for (a) having too much stuff and (b) not being able to find a spot for it all in my 1200sq foot apartment. (Honestly – how do New Yorkers do it!?)

So here’s a peek at what I’ve got so far…

In one desk drawer I have my supplies organized in this handy drawer divider. I’ve used mini clear plastic bags to organize little items like band-aids, file labels, and batteries.

In the office closet I have stacked these clear plastic bins to organize everything from office supplies (how many supplies does one girl need?) to books to Christmas decorations to picture frames (Does anyone want small picture frames? I have a bin of them!). Everything is labelled because (a) it looks organized and (b) I love my label maker.

I only have a long two drawer filing cabinet (that I painted white, of course). I think I really need a four drawer cabinet but I’m scared of filling it up. I have designated one drawer for personal things and one drawer for work files.

About ninety percent of the binders I use are white. They are much more appealing on my open bookcase than a colourful group of binders would be. They are filled with PhD-related things (aka my dissertation – no big deal).

Finally, I use IKEA’s magazine folders and labels for current work-related projects. They are lined up and looking good on my bookcase.

I think one of my main problems that I have is that everything is half-size – 2 drawer filing cabinet, short bookcases, shallow desk drawers – so I feel like there’s just not enough room to fit both work stuff and fun stuff in this one space. I was sad when I had to empty all my bookshelves of my for-pleasure books and fill them back up again with work books. Sigh.

How do you manage to have both work and personal items in one space? What rules do you follow to get rid of things?

I’ll be reading Mo + Mo’s advice again this weekend – always a source of minimalist inspiration!

Have a great weekend!

Photos by Jordana.

The Friday Five: Around Town

It always makes me happy to see bits of white wherever I go. Here in London over the last few weeks I have seen white in some of my favourite places to hang out.

white fire extinguisher at Saffron Road

Thames Pool_White-Cabana_London Ontario

white life buoy at Thames Pool

Bag Lady_White-Cabana_London Ontario

white cream and milk containers at The Bag Lady

Morrissey House_White-Cabana_London Ontario

white menu at The Morrissey House

white mug & table on my balcony

Any London readers out there? Where are your favourite places to go?

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Note: If you see something white, snap a photo and send it my way for our White Out series (whitecabana at gmail dot com).

Photos by Jordana.

Architecture: London, Ontario

Okay – it’s time to take a break from all these beautyrelated posts I’ve been writing. Let’s get back to design and architecture! I’m taking you to London, Ontario today…

When I first moved from Toronto to London four years ago, I have to admit that I really didn’t like it. It’s not that I’m one of those “Toronto is the center of the universe” people but I didn’t really get a great vibe from the city and I found it really hard to meet people. Fast forward 4 years and I now find myself really enjoying my time here. I love that I live in the downtown core – close to independent shops and cafés, and there certainly are a lot of interesting things to see.

The architecture of the houses in my neighbourhood continue to surprise me. The houses that have obviously been well-taken care of have amazing details. Even the not so well-loved houses have great architectural details and I like to imagine who has lived in them and what stories each house might have to share.

Like I said in my last post about London architecture, many of the original houses in the city are made of yellow or red brick. I think they look equally striking in black and white.

houses in London, Ontario

Photos by me using my iPhone and the Camera+ app.

The Friday Five: Mugs

Do you have set criteria for the mugs you use? Do they all match? Or are they random? Does size matter? Colour? Shape? My mugs have one thing in common – they’re white (or mostly white). Surprised?

white and black J mug from Anthropologie

white and black J mug from Chapters Indigo (thanks Shannon!)

white mug from GlucksteinHome (thanks GH Team!)

black and white mug from Gstaad (featuring a scherenschnitte design)

black and white mug from Beauty’s in Montreal

I hope you all enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea!) in the summer sunshine this weekend. Enjoy!

Note: You can see I’ve been enjoying many meals and tea breaks on my balcony except for one day when it was raining.

Photos by me.

Interiors: Kitchen Renovation. The Progress.

Way back in February my parents began a major renovation of their main floor. They tore out the floor, the powder room, the laundry room, the kitchen, and the family room. And then they put it back together again (with the help of a few very talented people). I’m happy to report that the renovation is almost – almost – done! And it is gorgeous (I’m not just saying that because it’s white, either). Here is a sneak peek of some of the details.

kitchen cabinets (wood with dovetail construction) – Parada Kitchens

kitchen cabinets – Parada Kitchens; Wolf stove ready to be assembled; counter ready to be installed

Sub-Zero fridge – ready to be unpeeled

a sweet vintage crystal chandelier (you won’t believe the deal my mom got on this one!)

fireplace mantel with carrera marble surround

fireplace mantel detail

Note: If you’re in the Toronto area and you’re looking for a kitchen cabinet maker my parents definitely recommend Parada Kitchens. My mom, who is very particular about quality, craftsmanship, work ethic and design (among other things – sorry Mom but it’s true), was quite impressed with Parada. (And no – they did not get a deal on their kitchen because I just wrote all of this.)

Photos by me.

Photography: IKEA Patterns Revealed

Yesterday I posted some up-close photos of patterns I spotted on IKEA products. Did you guess what the products were? Take another look before scrolling through this post to see the answers.

Pekannot plant pot, rattan, $39.99

Glimma unscented tealights, $3.99/100 pack

Sparsam low-energy spiral bulbs, $8.99

Alina bedspread and 2 cushion covers, $99.99

So – were your guesses correct?

Photos by Jordana.

Photography: Patterning at IKEA

On Mondays I love to head over to Jacquelyn’s blog because through her Scenes from My Weekend series, she shares interesting photos from her weekend activities. It is not as though she does something grand every weekend but the subjects and composition of her photos are so lovely. She has a great eye for detail and her honesty comes through in her posts. I encourage you to click on over and check out what Jacquelyn has been up to.

Today I thought I would try out a super mini scene-from-my-weekend à la Jacquelyn. I was in Toronto on the weekend doing an assortment of things, one of which was a trip to IKEA (I needed to stock up on crackers). I took some photos of the interesting patterns I saw. I wonder – can you name the four products in the photos below?

I’m such a fan of repetitive forms.

Photo by me using iPhone + Instagram + Pic Stitch.

Books: Blurb + Giveaway

I have been raving to my friends about Blurb ever since I wrote my first book for my nephew’s second birthday. For that book, I illustrated pictures of fruit, scanned them to my computer, and then uploaded them to a Blurb template. I then wrote the vocabulary to match (in three languages of course – that’s my academic side coming through!), finalized a few details, and pressed publish. In a matter of weeks, my first Blurb book arrived in my mailbox and I spent quite a bit of time showing it off before I handed it over to my nephew.

a preview of my first Blurb book – a multilingual book about fruit

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that I have since published a few other books for each of my nephew’s birthdays. I am pleased with how each of them has turned out (and I think my nephews are too) and Blurb has been an easy company to work with.

customizable copyright & dedication pages

sssshh…this one still hasn’t been opened…it’s for Reef’s second birthday next week

here are my nephews reading Duke’s third birthday book about shapes

While I have not made my books available to the public, this is definitely a possibility with Blurb and something to pursue if you have written something that you want to share with others. On the other hand, if you’re at a loss for words but you want to compile photos from your last vacation, then consider Blurb the place to do so. The company offers quite a few design options, page templates, and bounding possibilities.

Want to get started? Well, look no further! Blurb is offering one lucky reader a $35 promo code to use toward a Blurb book. To enter this giveaway simply leave a comment and tell us what type of Blurb book you would like to create. And do it quick – this contest ends on Thursday June 7th, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random.

Note: Contest is open to Canadian residents only.

Photos and books by Jordana.

20 Below: StickyGrams

I’ve barely had my iPhone for a month and I’ve been loving every minute of using it. One of the first apps I downloaded was Instagram and last week I read about StickyGram, a company that turns Instagram photos into small fridge magnets. Well – I ordered a collection of photo magnets for my brother-in-law’s birthday and decided to order a few for myself.

Here I am with my nephews – a photo of the first time I met each of them.

Me and my nephews (who have all grown since these photos were taken)

I am now reminded of these happy moments each time I look at my fridge.

As far as companies go, I was thoroughly impressed with the ease of uploading, the speedy delivery of my order, and the competitive price ($14.99 for 9 magnets plus free shipping worldwide). I’ll definitely be a repeat customer!

Celebration: Happy Birthday Dad!

Hi Dad. I know it’s early in the morning and you’re reading the blog. I posted this extra early just so that it would be here as soon as you logged on. Surprise!

cast iron French oven, Le Creuset

I know you’re going to enjoy putting your new Le Creuset to good use in your new kitchen!

Happy Birthday Dad!

xo

J