Friday, March 30, 2012

april desktop

I haven't made a desktop picture for a while, so I thought April would be a great month to do just that. Also, if you still need a printable calendar, the April calendar options from my three calendar series are still available on Flickr.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

wish list

It's my birthday tomorrow!

birthday wish list

Clockwise from top left: Tiny budgie necklace from Lulubug Jewelry (the most perfect signature necklace for me, even if I get it later than my birthday -- hint hint!; macarons from Duchess Bakeshop (and maybe a cheese pie for breakfast since we'll be in the area); I finally got the paint mixed for the main floor living room and I'm really anxious to get after it! I'm painting it manta grey from Debbie Travis's paint; the only movies that are kind of interesting me are Friends with Kids and The Hunger Games but I don't know if I'm interested enough for $30. Maybe something on Netflix instead; petrie sofa from Crate and Barrel (we'll be doing a sit and compare test on our final two choices, but I kinda hope this one wins -- I also hope those cushions are removable); a day out visiting all of my favourite thrift shops (I've already done the south end Value Village this week, so I'd like to visit Find and the west end Goodwill);  More Rayman Origins. This is the prettiest, funnest, two player game we've played in a long time.

Monday, March 26, 2012

a garden plan

I read an article in last year's July issue of Real Simple magazine about flower arranging. It was kind of the typical flower arranging 101 article, but I really loved the way they described a simple bouquet.

"Create a foundation; add large face flowers; weave in wispy elements."

I thought this was the most perfect way to go about planning a garden. Especially if, like me, you love having plants that you can also bring indoors to enjoy. If you plan your garden like you would plan a bouquet, everything you plant will be useful and you should never be without enjoyable flowers all season long. Plus your backyard should grow into and form its own bouquet-look naturally.

{foundation elements}

You can think of foundation plants mostly as foliage plants. That is, those plants with either small insignificant flowers or none at all.

Some foundation plants I really love include solomon's seal, ferns, and dogwood. Any sort of tree or small shrub is perfect for this task as well so consider the colour of leaves and branches when choosing bushes and trees. When it comes time to trim back branches, you can easily add them to a bouquet to provide structure. And don't forget that flowering plants can be used for foliage when they're out of season, too. I think some great foliage can come from plants such as the leaves from bleeding hearts.

Large taller flowered plants like monkshood and delphiniums can also anchor a garden and create a foundation, so you're not entirely limited to leafy plants.

Foundation plants are the first plants you should think about when planning a garden. Beginning with a solid base will make figuring out the size and shape of the design that much easier. Planting the larger base plants gives you a better idea of what flowers can fit around, under, and between them.

{face elements}

Next are face flowers. These would be considered the star of the show so think large commanding blossoms. Some of my favourites are peonies, alliums, roses, lilies, irises, and oriental poppies. These are the fun and exciting plants that everyone is immediately drawn to.

{wispy elements}

I think wispy elements are the most creative and pretty element you can add to a garden. Typically, these are the light, airy, and sometimes oddly shaped flowers. They're beautiful on their own but don't command the same attention as face flowers. I would also include ground cover in this category. It would be easy to remove runners from some varieties to add to bouquets, plus they create a more layered look to a garden which is something I think wispy elements add to a bouquet.

I love the options given by Real Simple. These include columbine, bleeding hearts (the flower portion), sweet peas, and ferns. Some options that I've included in my garden so far are coral bells, speedwell, and lamb's ears. I'll be looking to add some of these next year: astilbe, baby's breath, fleeceflower, foxtail lily, honey suckle, clematis, lady's mantle, liatris, lily of the valley, meadow rue, poppy varieties (like icelandic and californian), and sea thrift.

I would also go so far as to include herbs in this category as well. Nothing would be prettier than a few sprigs of rosemary or basil mixed into a bouquet and it would add such a nice smell!

You definitely don't have to be an expert gardener to have a great yard. Just like decorating, whatever you like will always work together and you should never be afraid to make mistakes. If you really love a plant but you're not sure it'll make the winter, plant it and wait and see.

Friday, March 23, 2012

friday fixations: n.e.e.t. the book

The other day, I finally received my N.E.E.T. magazine book!

Back during Christmas, I entered a giveaway and won my choice of book cover! Hurrah! N.E.E.T. magazine was the first online magazine I ever religiously read, so it's very exciting to actually hold something published by them. I've been lingering on every page since!

I love Gemma Correll's art so that's the cover I chose. Is it weird that I kinda want to frame the book just cuz of the cover?

If you've never read or heard of N.E.E.T. magazine, I suggest you head on over to their blog and look around. Their magazine is a mix of fashion, food, crafts, and decorating. There's lots to love!

Monday, March 19, 2012

spring seeds

I was trying to come up with some Easter gift ideas for the Greek parents, but this year, I didn't really want to do the standard candy, bunnies, and chicks. I've done that already and how many stuffed bunnies do people really need, anyway? So since Greek mom likes to garden, I thought it might be nice to send some of my favourite seeds and create more of a spring package instead of one that's specifically for Easter.

I've also been chatting away with a Greek cousin and with the economy in Greece being what it is, I thought it might be nice to send her a little care/happiness/spring package, too. I thought she'd like to have some seeds so that's when I decided to split my seed packets to share between the parents and our cousin.


Making a new seed envelope really couldn't be easier. All you need is some wax paper and a sewing machine.

First, I opened a purchased seed packet and unfolded it very carefully so I'd have a template. It's exactly how I used old envelopes to make templates for different papers here. I didn't want to sew three sides of the package, so I turned it on its side and made them close horizontally instead of vertically as they are usually sold. Wax paper folds really easily, so all you have to do is fold along the lines and sew up the sides! Done.

sweet pea

I tried to match the thread to the colour of flower, but that's not really necessary and it can be kind of a pain since I had to wind four different bobbins and then rethread the sewing machine for each packet. But if you're into that, have at it!


To close the top flap, I used a sticker that I printed myself. I did a quick internet search and found simple line drawings for each of the flowers. I wanted to make the stickers circular, but my stupid printer didn't print properly so I had to go with square. If I had my way, I would still have them be circular. It would have contrasted better with the rectangular packet.

Now because these are going to the Greek parents, I chose to label the seeds with a picture of the flower because they can't read english so anything more would be lost on them. I'll definitely explain more to them in a letter but all of these seeds have the same basic requirements so it's not really too big of an issue not to have planting instructions. We all know about sunflowers, right? Right.

However, you could easily print out a label that has the name of the flower instead of a picture of the flower, too. Whatever floats your boat.

mixed poppies

Finally, if your seeds are really tiny or if they come in a foil packet, leave them in the foil. The poppy seeds above are mine from when I lived on the farm (I sure hope they sprout!) but they're a little too small and rolly to just stick into the wax paper envelope. I made my own little foil packet by carefully pouring the tiny seeds onto a square of aluminum foil and folding it up.

I really like the idea of sharing seeds. Every time you look out and see that flower growing, you'll think of that friend who gave the seeds to you. Besides, I've always thought that seed packs in the store have way more seeds than are really needed, so why not share them instead of sticking them in a drawer to be forgotten about next year?

Friday, March 16, 2012

friday fixations: joan

This is something a little different as I don't usually talk about fashion but with St. Patrick's day looming, I have had zip ideas for the day. Actually, no, I had one idea but some other blog "stole" it from me, so I had to move on (I'm sure her's are better than mine would have been. I can make a lot of things but I've always had difficulty with those).

I've also been struggling to put together friday fixations lately because I'm not really fixated on much at the moment other than a few projects around the house and Joan from Mad Men. Is that weird? I think my fixation on her is two-fold. First, I'm really anxious for the return of the show (I curse myself for finishing all of the seasons on Netflix this early); and second, every time I go for a walk, I think about her and her amazing posture. Shoulders back, head up, chest out -- I love how she's so confident and doesn't apologize for anything.

This is just a collection of things that would work in my life that are inspired by Joan. Along with a St. Patrick's day outfit (that's not screaming St. Patrick's day) because you can't really talk about Joan without talking about her amazing fashion sense.

Peach bow blouse, green pencil skirt, and yellow flats: I love that Joan always wears form fitting dresses and skirts. I love that she's not ashamed of her features and chooses to show them off instead of hiding them. This is a similar look that I think I can get away with as someone who doesn't wear dresses often enough and has only been in heels once in their life.

Black studs, golden pen necklace, four-leaf clover pin, and flower ring: If you've seen the show, it's pretty hard not to notice Joan's pen necklace. She wears it all the time at the office. She's also sometimes seen in a fancy brooch (I love that they're pinned closer to the shoulder), so I thought it'd be nice to include the clover pin for St. Patty's. The ladies all wear clip-on earrings (to make it easier to answer the phone), but I chose some simple black studs instead. The ring is kind of a wink at the episode where Joan makes a Hawaiian themed brunch for two.

Sofa, umbrella, take-out containers, and starburst mirror: As you know, I'm trying to find a sofa right now and I think that grey sofa is such a lovely modern one with a hint of a vintage vibe. The umbrella plays off of both Joan's love of take-out and the colour of her apartment (pink pink walls!). She also has a large ornate mirror and I thought the sunburst mirror was a nice modern play off of that.

One of my all-time favourite Mad Men scenes is when Joan plays "C'est Magnifique" on her accordion. It's a really sad and powerful scene, but the song makes it really beautiful, too. It's been in my head all week long. View it here. Would you believe that I actually have an accordion somewhere, too? A pink one. Wherever did that go?

See where to purchase any of this stuff over on Polyvore (probably my new favourite site).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

marinated mushrooms

A while back, I had some marinated mushrooms from the store and wondered why the heck I'd been living my life so long without having them on a daily basis. So one shopping trip, I found myself craving marinated mushrooms but the store didn't have any.

So that got me thinking about making my own and now any time I see mushrooms on clearance, I make marinated mushrooms. Because we love mushrooms. A lot.

The last time I made them, however, I didn't have quite enough mushrooms so I thought I'd halve the recipe but I completely bungled the amounts and they weren't quite like the batches I remembered from the past. We still ate them, of course. Straight out of the jar or with supper. With any meat. And for lunch.

Chicken, tzatziki, mushrooms. Can't really go wrong.

Find the recipe here. I suggest doing a taste test after they've sat overnight. They'll still taste like plain mushrooms if you don't give them that curing time. And I think next time I'm going to use garlic powder along with the minced garlic for a more intense garlic flavour. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

sofa king

This weekend, we spent some time looking for a new sofa. The sofa we have on the main floor right now has recently been causing a majority of back related problems for both of us and it's just a little too small and a little too uncomfortable.

I didn't realize we would use that room for as much tv viewing as we do, so even though I had planned to take my time looking for a sofa, it's gotten to the point where we desperately need something more comfortable if we plan on making that our primary netflix watching area.

I always look at the shape and design of a sofa and then I sit in them. They must pass the sit test! There are so many sofas that look so nice, but as soon as you sit on them, you quickly realize they were meant for looking at not sitting on. 

These are two that caught our eye this weekend. Now that I see them side-by-side, I definitely prefer the grey sofa. We've already got that beige-y ultra suede fabric on the sectional downstairs and I'd really like to avoid all of those beige, brown, cream sofa choices. Besides, the grey one is larger and more spacious and (just by comparing the two in pictures) it looks as though it'll stand up to repeated sitting without eventually looking sloppy. Doesn't the cream one look sloppy already in comparison?

I'm really drawn to grey right now. I've been contemplating painting a feature wall in the main floor living room a deep grey, so I guess it's no wonder I would be drawn to a grey sofa, too. And look! I've actually pinned some pictures that are pretty much exactly the same tone of grey I'm thinking about! 

Source: via idle on Pinterest

It's good to note that a grey sofa and a grey wall doesn't look at all strange and I can really change things up easily by changing the colour of the accessories since grey works with pretty much everything.

Now I mentioned the sectional in the basement, so I did think that maybe we could move the sectional upstairs and look for a new sofa downstairs. Mom suggested one with built in recliners, so we looked at those options, too. They were all tufted, poufy, man-cave messes PLUS none of them have recliners that are side-by-side. We like to sit together so I feel like if one of us is reclining, the other won't. The only other option, it seems, is a cup holder console in the middle. Please explain the middle cup holder console to me. We're not in a car. That's what side tables are for.

The only one that marginally peaked my interest was this one from La-Z Boy which was the least revolting out of all of them (and it would go in the basement, so that sits a little better with me), but it's not even an option since the reclining is on the two outer seats. Also why the ugly armrest cushions? Why are those standard on sofas these days? People are too lazy for throw pillows now?

Speaking of lazy, there's always this option. The sofa bed! I kid, I kid. That's a little too lazy.

The search continues. I still dream about the two thift sofas I passed up this last year. The purple brocade and vintage poppy pattern will always be in my heart. I might have to take a trip to Find and maybe I'll discover something as equally amazing as those were.

Here are some resources from Design*Sponge if you're looking for sofa inspiration, too: sofa guide, sectionals, and sofas under $1000.

Friday, March 9, 2012

friday favourites

{fridge candy dispenser} How cute is this? It kinda makes me rethink my hatred towards ice dispensing fridges.

{hanksy} I've always been a big Hanksy fan (a street artist who uses Banksy as inspiration for Tom Hanks inspired pieces), but these are probably my new favourite works: You had me at Jello and Ted Dancin'.

{honesty} I really like and believe in the sentiment expressed in this post about food photography. I should start practicing it more.

{snow art} All I want to know is how is he measuring these things out?!

{parties in a box} I love this idea for themed packages from You Are My Fave. I think I have to do one for Easter! Check out St. Patrick's Day, Paris, and Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

brown cows

Do you ever want an ice cream float but have no ice cream? Well, a brown cow is kinda the same thing.

I read about them a long time ago in a magazine somewhere and thought, "pop and milk?! gross!" But then, as with all things, I couldn't get it out of my mind and had to try it.

Did you also know that they now make a Rolo chocolate Nesquik syrup? I really wish they'd bring back banana. Do you remember banana milk syrup? That was some of the best stuff ever! I just stopped typing for a bit... I was off on a tangent dreaming of different flavoured milks.

I don't really know if there's much of a difference if you use chocolate or rolo syrup in a brown cow because, honestly, I haven't had a proper brown cow since high school! The modified rolo brown cow is delicious, however, and if ice cream floats are your thing, you should really like this.

{brown cows}

milk (any kind will do. I used almond and although it tends to separate when mixed with anything, it's still good)
root beer
chocolate syrup (the rolo is very good, but not necessary)

Fill a drinking glass half with root beer, half with milk, and a squirt of chocolate syrup. Mix and enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

the complete book of the garden

It's been snowy, so I thought I'd warm myself with thoughts of spring by looking through some of my old gardening books.

I'd love to have some sweet peas climbing somewhere. They were one of my gram's favourite flowers. She always had a bouquet of them around.

I love this orange. I wanted all pinks in the garden, but I think I could make room for some orange, too.

I still have an old fish tank I've been meaning to convert into a terrarium.

I also want to find some bleeding hearts for the yard this year, too. They're one of my favourites. Wouldn't it be sweet to have a small hedge of them?

I wonder if we'll get any flowers on the apple tree this summer.

Idle Husband surprised me with a cyclamen last month, and I've actually kept it alive so far. It's even managed to put out some new leaves. That's pretty good for a house plant as I haven't really had much luck keeping them alive lately. I think it takes a while to figure out what plants will grow happily in a new home.