Saturday, May 31, 2014

an easy and inexpensive front door makeover

After our big renovation awhile back, our front door and porch were a little stressed looking.

We've never really done anything to the front of our home. It just sat there sadly, looking all worn out and tired. We want to do some major landscaping at the front and build a new porch. I'd also love to do something with that angel brick. Maybe paint. Oh and the siding. I'd love to go dark.

So, until we can do more, I wanted to paint the front door.

Here is the before shot. 

Don't judge. It keeps the burglars away ;) (fingers crossed, knock on wood).

and tada! the after...

I still need to find a new exterior light fixture and I want to stain the porch a charcoal/black colour . But don't you think it looks SO MUCH BETTER!?

The initial plan was to paint the sidelights etc., Benjamin Moore's Wrought Iron and paint the door another shade of gray with a blue undertone --> Smokestack Gray.

I loved the Wrought Iron right away. I knew I would because we used it at the back of the house. Unfortunately, the gray came out more blue and just didn't work for our house. I think if it was darker it might have provided a nice contrast. So a little exterior paint lesson for you is to go darker than you think you need. I've heard as much as 50% darker. 

This is what the door looked like with the Smokestack Gray.

We played around with mixing some of the Wrought Iron in the Smokestack to try to get a darker shade but in the end I didn't like it on my door. 

Lesson learned. Test! (I was in a hurry) and go darker than you think you need because outdoor light will inevitably visually lighten it.


Friday, May 30, 2014

a little garden party and a GIVEAWAY!

Have you done your spring planting yet? 

I just started this week. Eek! I'm so late... but I'm glad I waited because I got to take advantage of an afternoon of learning from the pros at a Presidents Choice Garden Party. 

loved these PC Max Touch garden gloves! ha ha text + garden at the same time

The event was held in my friend Lindsay's pretty garden. You might know Lindsay for her lovely house featured on her very popular blog Little House Blog. But, did you know she also has a great garden?  I covet it. She has the perfect mixture of sun and shade. And a beautiful weeping willow tree.
You see, I have a shady garden. It's lush and green but lacking the sunlight to plant a vegetable garden.

I want Oscars Vegetable Garden! So darn cute.

These guys. Garden experts extraordinaire --> Peter Cantley and Bob Martin gave us lots of tips on how to care for our container plants and introduced us to a few new products including this kale bowl (below). I also got some advice on how to deal with the abundance of dirt (read: no grass) in my shady yard.

We all planted a pot to bring home.

Here's mine. It's green, of course, for my shady garden :)

Such a great event and I even have something for you! 

PC Garden sent me home with a $50 Gift Card that I will happily give away to one of you. You can use it to get some great Presidents Choice garden products! 

Just leave me a comment, and maybe some garden advice ;) 
**If you share this giveaway on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook be sure to follow me there and let me know by leaving a separate comment for each time you share, so I know, and it will get you an extra entry too!!  Contest open to Canadian residents only this time.

I'll draw for a winner on Tuesday June 3rd. Good luck!


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dear Mom...

A photo of my brother and I with my sweet Mom.

I think we were approximately the same age as my children are now.

She's been gone for 4 years. We all miss her terribly. That ache inside never goes away.

So today I will hug my kids and be thankful.

If you are celebrating with your Mom today, I wish you a joyful day. 

If you are missing your Mom like I am, I send you a big hug. There is nothing one can say, right?

Now I need to go find my kids and tell them how much I love and appreciate them.

Happy Mother's Day.

Debra xo

Thursday, May 8, 2014

wrap up something special

Just a couple of quick ideas if you are in need of a gift this weekend for a special lady in your life.

Head to a craft store or even a dollar store and pick up a plain wood hinged box. Then fill it with little gifts like these.

For someone who loves to wrap pretty gifts and send happy mail, fill a box with stationery, gift tags, vintage stamps (or current ones), baker's twine and little embellishments such as mini clothespins and cotton spun toadstools. 

I love gifting like this because you can have fun with it. The box below is filled with a soy candle, soaps wrapped in japanese paper, a pretty bracelet and a favorite hand cream.

Tie your box with string or ribbon and add a simple handmade tag embellished with my favorite thing - Washi tape and there you have it, a pretty and personal gift to give.

There are so many ways you can fill these boxes. 
Here are some more ideas:

*For the gardener - pretty garden gloves, jute twine, floral scissors

*For the baker - pretty recipe cards, bakers twine, parchment muffin cups, vanilla beans

*For the crafter - pretty craft supplies

Hope this helps if you are stuck on a gift idea.

PS: Toadstool cards, baker's twine, tags, mini clothes pins and vintage stamps are in my shop or will be soon. 


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Backyard Style -- an interview with Matthew Mead

With Mother’s Day on the horizon I caught up with Matthew Mead to chat about what inspires him in the garden, how he celebrates with his wife Jenny, and the women who are so much a part of his past, present and future.

image courtesy of Matthew Mead from Backyard Style

Get to know Matthew in this fun Q&A including a peek at his fresh new book Backyard Style. After this long winter, Backyard Style is a breath of fresh spring air! It's full of great decor ideas, diy's, gardening inspiration and delicious recipes you can use all spring and summer. It's always fun chatting with Matthew. I hope you enjoy it too!

images courtesy of Matthew Mead, from his new book Backyard Style


1. Congratulations Matthew on your new book Backyard Style.  It’s
gorgeous! You have inspired me, as usual… I can’t wait to get into our backyard this season. But everything is a little late this year so I’m using the extra time to plan a little more. I’m curious, do you spend time planning out your garden every year? How do you change it up year to year?

I live in the northeast so it seems like after a long winter it always takes way to long for spring to emerge.  I don't do a lot of planning, I like to be inspired by what I see at the garden center.  We have an older home on a small parcel of land in the city and have lots of border gardens with hostas and ground covers.  I really favor urns and containers for container plants and I like to mix lots of flowering and graphic leafy specimens to make up my landscape.  I really favor shrubs and trees like lilacs and peonies and bridal wreath.. they are the same varieties that my parents and grandparents had in their yards.

2. What is inspiring you this year in the backyard?  Are you drawn to any particular colors this year?

Lots of whites and greens... lots of containers spilling over with lobelia and candy tuft and ivy.  Love succulents and how they look planted with mosses and herbs.

3. Do you have a favorite type of garden? Shady with lots of verdant greens, or sunny and colorful?

We have a towering silver back maple so everything is in the shade... we use lots of shade loving ferns and astilbe to create interest in the yard.  I'm not one to have really showy blooms... but I will likely plant a single color of zinnia this year... one of those new painted

4. I know you share a special love of flowers with your wife, Jenny. Will you tell us more about that?

One of our first excursions was picking wild pansies in a field near a local bank.  We bonded over that and often look for flowers to enjoy every week in our home.  We also collect botanical prints and paintings and enjoy seeing flowers in vintage books and postcards... something botanical is always within eye sight in our home.  Flowers are such a miracle and for us they are benchmarks for each season.

5. How do flowers and botanicals fit into celebrations with your

They are always the star of the show.  I think our decorating style is based around creating mantels and perches to feature vases of leaves and flowers.  Having something living and blooming in your home is very grounding and comforting.  We love to make centerpieces for dining tables and coffee tables and to give as gifts.

Matthew's Mom

6. How will you celebrate Mother’s Day with your Mom?

I usually cook for my Mom and wife... but we have had lots of back to back holidays in the last few weeks and birthdays so we are going to a wonderful Italian bistro in a neighboring town.  We will stop and visit a garden center to bring home some special things to all plant together.

7. I’d love to hear more about your Grandmother, Matthew. What role did the garden/outdoors/nature play in your relationship with her?

She had a natural affinity for the garden... her entire yard was a constantly blooming bower... Her yard was filled with interesting trees and shrubs including a fragrant Mock Orange shrub.  Lots of special plants and perennials.  She had a neighbor friend who extended her garden into her yard to make a really large park like atmosphere. She taught me to appreciate these growing wonders and taught me the names of the plants in her garden.

8. What are your most treasured collectibles that you bring outside? What are you on the hunt for this year?

I like urns and columns and pedestals for perching flowering containers.  I have a favorite alabaster plant stand that I use in the yard to show off a plant or flower arrangements for a gathering.  I collect old iron urns all year long to line a bench or windowsill... they add instant garden style.

9. I love how you transformed your garage into a summer room last year. It is the perfect space to entertain. Do you have any tips to share on creating an outdoor space?

Don't hesitate.. find a way to get yourself outside and create a gathering space.  look for flea market furniture, add an umbrella, make a patio of crushed stone... whatever you do carve out the time and make a space to relax and eat and enjoy conversation... everything tastes better and is thoroughly more fun when enjoyed al fresco.

Matthew Mead's summer escape -- converted garage turned summer room

10. I know you love to cook for your friends and family. What do you always have on hand to serve a quick meal or snack al fresco?

Fruits, fruit juices, wine and ice to whip up fruit cocktails and wine coolers.  Lots of soft but flavorful cheeses, Marcona almonds, crisp flat bread crackers, marinated olives and bread sticks.  For an evening gathering,  fresh berries, chocolate wafer cookies and dark chocolate for melting and dipping.  I love icy drinks, especially iced chai with sweets... so I always have a pitcher cooling and ready for ice.

PS --> I've spotted Backyard Style at Indigo in store and online. 
It is also available on Amazon.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Etsy Pop-Up at West Elm Toronto ( a re-cap)

A bit over due, however, I thought I would share a little re-cap of the fabulous Etsy Pop-Up I participated in last weekend at West Elm in Toronto. The Pop-Up was curated by Emma Reddington of The Marion House Book and Home Editor of Chatelaine Magazine. 

I was honored to be invited by Emma to participate. I know I told you about the event here but I thought I would share a few pictures and thoughts on the event.

My one regret was that I wish I had the time to wander around and chat with the other artists at this event, but I didn't. It was busy, which was great. It was so nice to meet people I had only interacted with online, including some of you who read my little blog here.

My pop-up neighbour, Heather Shaw of Pi'lo was lovely and her products are just gorgeous. Have you seen her work? It was nice to chat with her about creating and business. I love meeting other people who "live what they love". It is always so inspiring.

I also had a chance to chat a little with Avril Loreti. Another lovely and talented lady. Have you seen her beautiful textiles?
Thanks Avril for the tips and I look forward to seeing you at the Junction Flea this summer :)

Glory Hole Doughnuts was there sharing there to die for creations. I'm ordering these for my next party! So delicious!!

A big thank you and shout out to the team at West Elm Toronto especially Carlos for hosting this Pop-Up. It's so amazing that companies like West Elm like to connect with and are supportive of local business and makers through events like this.

Also a thank you to the team at Etsy for organizing this great event. I love the momentum I see happening on the Etsy Canada front. Some exciting collaborations are going on! 

It's exciting to see Etsy teaming up to host events and collaborate. In 2009,  I organized a one day event called A Spring Handmade Market. It featured local Etsy makers at The Gladstone Hotel. I was passionate about sharing handmade and I still am. I'm happy to see a version of it being carried on by Etsy's Toronto Street Team!

By the way, did you know that West Elm has made a public commitment to purchase $35 million dollars worth of handmade goods over the next two years. You can read about it here and Design Sponge just wrote a piece on the Etsy and West Elm collaboration here.