One Bedford: Deck Inspiration

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

As I mentioned in my last post, I was really impressed with the entrance at One Bedford. What I loved most were the straight lines and wood colour of the dividers. I would love that look for our deck and fence. Mark says that the wood is natural, worn over time, but I couldn't tell. What do you think? We're also looking for accent colours for our house and I'm really loving the green-grey around the frame.

The dark rock used in the garden caught my eye as well. We have grasses with white rock on our deck and just last week I was saying to Mark that I wanted to try the dark variety. Super pretty.

Morning at the ROM

Monday, April 28, 2014

This weekend Mark and I took the kids to the ROM. Even though it will be 18 years this year that I've lived in Toronto, I've never actually been there, so I was looking forward to the visit. I mostly wanted to take the kids to see the dinosaurs and check out the Crystal (funny enough just as I was writing this, this popped up from BlogTO on my FB feed....I don't think it's that ugly ;)).

The really funny thing is that half way through the visit I turned to Mark and said: "Where is all the wood? You know the curvy wood structure I wanted to see?" He says: "Are you talking about the AGO??" Oops. So it turns out that's where I really wanted to go but oh well. It was a fun day regardless.

We took the subway there too of course which was even more exciting for the kids. On the way out of the train at one point, Mila's little boot fell off between the platform and the train and Mark decided to get down on his stomach and use our golf umbrella to get it. It was quite the little spectacle! I was stressing, but also thankful because I really like those boots ;).

I always forget how pretty certain parts of the city are until I visit them again. On our way back to the subway I took a couple shots of One Bedford and The Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music. I loved what One Bedford has done to its main entrance and the Conservatory is just breathtaking.

I really need to go on more adventures around the city!

What were you up to this weekend?

Friday Find: Modern Wall Planter

Friday, April 25, 2014

I have it in my head that I want a wall garden of some sort this summer. Like a huge one for veggies. This one wouldn't really hold veggies but it's super sweet, no? I love the straight lines. 'Cause you know, I'm a straight lines kinda gal.

Modern White Metal Succulent Wall Decor & Planter from Urban Mettle on Etsy

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Interview with: Christine Tremblay-Sloan, inspiring teacher and art gallery owner

Monday, April 14, 2014

Do you remember being in high-school and there being that one teacher who just jived with you? He or she was cool, seemed to understand you, cared about you and others around you and helped you excel. I envision Christine Tremblay-Sloan to be this type of teacher.

Christine was a couple of grades behind me in high school and although I didn't know her super well then, I started to get to know her spirit and personality through Facebook all these years later. I know, I know. You're thinking that's just Facebook, who knows what's going on behind the screen. But Christine has been really open about her life, successes and challenges over the years. She makes you feel like you're in her inner circle. You're part of her crew. 

She's super inspiring: she's an art teacher, she's done triathlons, she's co-organized runs and walkathons for a best friend she lost in the Haiti earthquake, and most recently, she opened up an art gallery Galop Gallery where she showcases local talent and teaches art. I wanted to interview her because I think she's a fantastic role model to her students and people around her. Find out more about Christine below.

Tell me about Christine Tremblay-Sloan. What do you love to do, hate to do, wish you could do?

Love: Love love love to play sports, cycle, and be artistic (paint, sculpt, photography).

Hate: Hate hate hate to clean (my husband can attest to this), oh and I also dislike driving at night, especially in the rain.

Wish: If I could do anything it would be a full-time artist who travels with her kids and hubby around the world.

How long have you been a teacher? How has it changed your life? What do you love most about it?

I have been teaching for 10 years all at the same highschool I attended (which is kind of neat) and it has changed me by allowing me to balance my life with a young family and as an active member of my community. I love teaching and sharing artistic experiences with my students. It is always an adventure and I always have a smile on my face.

What are you passionate about outside of being a teacher?

Just to inspire people and to promote the arts for all ages. Expressing yourself artistically is such a lovely way of finding an inner peace, everyone can find some way of expressing themselves in a creative way.

Tell me about your new venture as an art gallery owner. Why did you choose to open the gallery?

What a dream come true for me. We moved to Cardinal, Ontario over a year ago and right from the get-go I was so inspired to create (I'm thinking my view of the beautiful St. Lawrence River every morning when I wake up has something to do with it). I discussed the possibility of doing something creative for the community and my friends Tammy and Karie were sort of thinking along the same lines, but more on the artisan/crafters side of things. So we decided to come together and create a creative space that would act as an art gallery, artisan market and creative meeting spot. I get to follow my dream of selling and displaying my own art, and that of the creative people in this community, as well as bringing artists from all over to educate and inspire.

What is your favourite form of art?

I enjoy so much, but currently I'm playing with watercolour and ink mixes non-stop. They work well together and I enjoy seeing what I can create. But if I had the time, I would play with clay non-stop.

What has been your biggest challenge in your life?

Having a hysterectomy and being sent into early menopause because of tumours I had at the age of 31 was quite a bumpy road. My children were 2 and 4 and I could not have gone through this without the love and support of my husband, my family and friends. The healing after surgery was a big challenge, but it was the anxiety and the depression that came with it that was the most challenging. I am so thankful for the support; I could not have gone through this without them. Three months after my surgery I raced in a triathlon for "fun" and it was the most amazing feeling ever. Art, sports and adventures with my boys are what keep me grounded and I am so thankful for the three of them every day.

Favourite fruit?

Bananas, strawberries and kiwi....together or separately!

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Hmmm...well next on our list of places to visit are The Czech, Austria and Eastern Europe. Then New Zealand and Faroe Islands...maybe not in that order, but definitely on my list of must sees.

Thank you so much Christine! For more information on Galop Gallery visit its Facebook page here.

Belly Bootcamp

Friday, April 11, 2014

Happy Friday!

I just popped in to share something fun with you today. When Mila was about two months old I was part of a video promo for Belly Bootcamp, the program I had been part of since I was pregnant with Leo. The reason I'm sharing it now is because Belly Bootcamp owner Dara Bergeron just launched bbTV as yet another tool to help get new mamas into shape.

This was an amazing class for me and I highly recommend it to any new mother or soon-to-be mother. She has many locations now all over the city and in Mississauga so there might be one close to you!

Check out Belly Bootcamp here.

Sunny yellow

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Scarlett Ribbon
So I heard something wonderful... it's going to be 15 degrees by the end of the week! Ahhh! To celebrate I've gathered up some pretty sunny yellow things from Etsy to add to the warmth.

| 1. Tamar Shalem | 2. Jull Made | 3. SKmodell |
| 1. Dimensions Home Decor | 2. mintESSENCE | 3. Retro Menagerie | 4. Astarix |

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Gadget-Free Sunday

Monday, April 07, 2014

Last weekend I read this article in the Globe and Mail and it really struck a chord with me. It's all about being distracted by our screens. So many times I find myself reaching for my phone when my kids are eating their breakfast or sneaking into the office to "check on something". Leo now assumes I'm in the office and yells: "Mommy where are you? Are you checking something??"

I think it's pretty sad and the article made me realize it.

The funny thing is that I shared the article with my friends on Facebook and half of them said it took them several tries to get through it because they were distracted with other things. I read it in the actual paper and I got distracted. I finished it over two days.

This past weekend I decided that we were going to have a gadget-free Sunday in the house. My husband isn't as bad as me, but he can still get really distracted with his phone. He has a business to run so I get his need to be on top of everything. He agreed only to check his phone in the morning and evening to make sure nothing was popping up for work (he has guys that work on the weekends sometimes). Oh and he wanted the iPad to play music which I agreed to... just as long there was no addition 'net surfing involved.

I've done this before with my iPhone of course, but I think part of its ease was that I had my trusty computer to fall back on. This time we were shutting it all off and I even put a calendar with family photos that I had made in the past on top of the computer to stop me if I tried to open it. It worked! I went to check the veggie box to see what I was getting this week and when I saw the family photos I told myself I didn't need to check and that it would be a surprise.

So that's it. I lasted the whole day without texting anyone, without checking Facebook, without reading a blog, without blogging! And it was great. We cleaned the house! We played outside! We did the groceries!

The reality is that I do all of those things on the weekend anyway, but it takes me twice, or three times as long to do it because I'm always stopping to "check something." This time we did it all without distraction... well I have two kids so they were distracting enough, but you know what I mean. We were present with them and with each other.

I highly recommend having a gadget-free Sunday. It's kind of the easiest day to do it. Pretend like it's the 1980s when no stores were open on Sunday. Remember those days?

What do you think? Could you go a day, or even a weekend without checking anything?

How to have a simple dinner party

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

On Friday Mark and I had a little dinner party and although I didn't take any photos, and I'm not really an expert, I wanted to share some things I have learned along the way about hosting.

Make it an adults-only party.
This isn't meant to sound x-rated, having an adults-only party is merely a chance to have conversation without distraction. When we sent out the invite for the dinner party, Mark and I requested adults-only because, let's face it, we all need a break and it's fun to get dressed up and go out sans kids for a change!

Make sure all of your dishes are ready and clean.
I made sure to have all our plates, cutlery and wine glasses ready for the party, but I didn't clean extra glasses. We keep our wine glasses in the dining room and they tend to get dusty and because they're in the dining room, people automatically reach for those even though I had some ready on the table. Next time I'll make sure everything is clean and ready to go so people aren't reaching for dusty glasses!

Make something simple, and make it in advance if you can.
I learned this from my dad and Mark's aunt. Well to be honest both of them make a ton of food, but they are super organized and have it mostly done before everyone gets there.

Here's the big pro to making dinner ahead of time: you get to visit with your guests. Too many times we've had dinner, or been for dinner with friends and family and you never see them. They're in the kitchen the whole time putting last minute touches on the food. This is a party for me too so I want to visit. I invited them over after all! Also when my friends got here Friday night, they all congregated in the kitchen which would have made it really tough to get anything done last minute.

Originally I wanted to try something new: stuffed portobello mushroom wellington from my Southern Vegetarian book but I chickened out. I think I would rather try this with a smaller group.

Instead, I made a mushroom and spinach lasagna from Real Simple. I made it in the afternoon and kept it in the fridge so that all I had to do was pop it in the oven and serve it when my guests arrived. To accompany the lasagna I made a super delicious salad, also ahead of time (dress the salad right before dinner) and bread. My friend offered to make this insanely yummy dessert so we were set.

Clean up as you go.
There is nothing worse than having a BIG pile of dishes staring at you in the face when you have to run upstairs and get ready. I always try to clean up as I go which leaves fewer dishes to deal with after everyone is gone. Plus, if everyone is going to be hanging out in your kitchen, you don't want them staring at your mess from earlier in the day!

Have some appetizers prepared.
I wasn't going to put out any appetizers before dinner because by the time everyone got to the house we were going to be eating right away. But last minute, we put out some cheese, nuts & crackers and it's a good thing we did.

As I mentioned, everyone came into the kitchen to chat for a bit before dinner; one couple was a bit late and another was putting their baby to sleep upstairs (back to the first point: sometimes you have to bring the babies to the party so be prepared for that too! We had a pack & play ready to go upstairs for the baby), so it was nice to have a few appetizers with our wine while we waited.

Make sure you get your timing right.
Now something I'm still learning is when exactly to put the food in the oven. Because we were a bit late eating, my lasagna was a bit dried out. I'm still working on that timing thing. I tend to get overly excited and sometimes put my food in too early! I think the best thing to do is to put it in a bit later than you think!

Those are my tips for having a pretty simple dinner party. We don't go crazy, but we always manage to enjoy our company and relax for the whole dinner. The point is to have fun!

Have anything to add? What's your best tip for throwing a dinner party?
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