Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kitchen Advice Needed

This is our kitchen at the present time.  

This summer I will be painting the cupboards white.    I have always loved a white kitchen and can't wait to see the change.  We also need to replace the stove and fridge with stainless, although that may have to wait for another year, as we have a leaking sliding door that needs tending too.  

I took some photos of the kitchen so you can see the 'before', and you can help me make a few decisions.

Last summer we had the bookcase added at the end of the counter, a new deeper countertop put on, and bought a dishwasher - that's right folks, we washed all our dishes by hand for the past 8 years.  I can tell you we loooove having a dishwasher now.  

So now on to my questions.

1.  What colour should the hardware be?  The metal finishes already in the kitchen include: the sink and faucet which are stainless, the dining room light (in the picture below on the left) is black, and the kitchen light (in the picture below on the right) is stainless.

I have seen a lot of kitchens with black or oil rubbed bronze.  I doubt oil rubbed bronze would be a good idea, much as I like it, as it would introduce yet another finish.  I was leaning toward stainless, but I was wondering if the more recent trend is toward the darker finishes.  We also have a dark counter so the dark might look better.  What do you think?

2.  Should we do knobs or handles on the upper cupboards.  I'm assuming handles would be fine on the lower cabinets, but I was considering knobs for the upper cupboards.  The only considerations, would be that the knobs mean filling one of the holes in the door, which means the whole process takes longer.  Is it worth it?

3.  Should these two cupboard doors be removed to have open shelving or should they have glass-front doors?  I love the look of both.  Making it into open shelves would be much easier as we would just need to add some trim.  I don't think we could do the glass-front doors ourselves because of the curved part of the door.  Not sure about that, though.  I would put beadboard on the backwall of the cupboard and paint it - what colour?  the green of the backsplash?  the white of the cupboards?  another accent colour?

4.  What should we do about the stove vent hood?  It could be replaced with a microwave/vent hood unit.  We could build a traditional wooden structure that encloses the vent.  We could get a sleek stainless vent.  Not sure what to do.  If we don't put the microwave over the stove, then where should we put it?

I'm counting on you to help me out.  Toss me some advice - I may or may not take it but I would love to hear lots of ideas to mull over.  Is there anything else I haven't thought of yet? 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holiday Magazine with Matthew Mead

Head over to Holiday with Matthew Mead to find out how you can win the opportunity to have your blog or online shop mentioned in the magazine. Holiday with Matthew Mead is a  "book-azine" celebrating and offering inspiration for the Christmas holiday season. To be released in October 2010, Holiday is offered via online orders only - in limited quantities - and will not be sold on newsstands. But, by simply following the BUY HOLIDAY MAGAZINE link below their banner, you can reserve your own copy of this beautiful magazine, with guaranteed delivery of the magazine straight to your mailbox!  Holiday with Matthew Mead is 144 pages of holiday inspiration with well-known and admired designers, bloggers and top-notch features, printed on beautiful paper and not drowning in ads!

Now, head on over for your chance to win!

Earth Hour

Saturday was Earth Hour and we were supposed to turn off our lights for an hour between 8:30 and 9:30.  

So we had to do a little preparing.

It also seemed like a good day to finally plant the pots of seed, which really should have been planted a couple of weeks ago.

We collected a bunch of these yogurt containers,

punched holes in the bottom of each container,

labelled them with the names of the seeds (and other random things - thank you Kate),

filled the pots with soil and planted the seeds (all done at top speed by William),

 watered each pot and covered the tray with plastic wrap.

And now we wait!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Culinary Adventures Around the World - France

We are cooking our way around the world and have finally arrived in France.  Since I started this long-term project over a year ago (you can read here about how it all began), long before I had a blog, most of the countries do not yet have posts done on them.  So far these are the countries I have made a dinner for:
  • Ireland (see the recipe here)
  • England
  • Norway (see the recipe here)
  • Russia
  • The Ukraine
  • Poland
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Italy (see the recipes here)
  • and now France

I made two recipes from France - Salade Nicoise and Seafood Stuffed Crepes.  They both were very highly rated by everyone in the family, so I'm sure I'll be making them again, especially the salad.  I'm not sure why I never made the Salade Nicoise before, as it is anything but complicated, but now I have.

I used a Salade Nicoise recipe from (What a fabulous site - chock full of heart-healthy recipes.)  Here is the recipe:


Salad Ingredients:
2 small potatoes - peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
16 green beans - ends trimmed and halved
4 cups lettuce leaves 
14 oz (420 g) canned light tuna in olive oil - drained and broken into chunks
2 tomatoes - cut into wedges
1/4 red onion - thinly sliced and rings separated
4 anchovy fillets -halved lengthways and cut into pieces
3 eggs - hard-boiled, peeled and quartered
16 black pitted olives

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic - minced
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the potatoes until tender (10 minutes), adding the beans for the last 5 minutes of cooking, then set aside to cool.
Arrange the lettuce, potatoes, beans, tuna, tomatoes, onion, anchovies, eggs, and olives on plates.
Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.
Pour the dressing over the salad and serve.

I had a little more difficulty with the seafood stuffed crepe recipe as I had to put together a few different recipes, so I'll give you what I made, since it worked really well.

CREPES (from The Canadian Living Cookbook, 1987).

3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth in a food processor.
2. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.  Stir before cooking.
3. Heat crepe pan (or frying pan) over meduim heat, brush pan with butter before cooking each crepe.  Use a 1/4 cup measure to pour batter into pan, tilting pan so batter covers bottom.
4.  Cook about 1 minute or until lightly browned, turn and cook other side 30-60 seconds or just until lightly browned.
5.  Stack crepes as they are cooked.  Use immediately or store at room temterature for a few hours, or wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days, or place wax paper between crepes and freeze for up to 2 nothes.
Makes 12-16, 7-8 inch crepes.


1 pkg  salad shrimp (fresh or frozen, with tails removed)
2 lbs (900 gm) haddock fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
1 pkg scallops
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour

Melt the butter in a frying pan.
Stir in flour, mix, and cook for 1 minute.
Then add seafood and cook for a few minutes until scallops and haddock are cooked.


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese (I used a French cheese)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a frying pan and add flour.
Cook for 2 minutes.
Whisk in chicken stock, milk, and salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring often until thickened, for about 8 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese until smooth.

Assembling the crepes:
Spread about 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Spoon about 1/3 cup of seafood stuffing onto the centre of each crepe.
Roll up and arrange in a single layer in prepared pan.
Drizzle remaining sauce over the crepes.
Bake in 375 (190 C) oven until golden, bubbly and heated through, about 35 minutes.

Bon Appetit!

Linked to Recipe Party at Remodelaholic

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blogs that have Inspired Me

To my great pleasure and surprise, I was recently awarded the Sunshine Award by Sarah at Dream in Domestic.

I am supposed to pass this award on to 12 other bloggers, but that seems like a very difficult task to narrow things down to just 12 as I read so many (just ask my family about how long my list of favourites is).  So I got the idea from A Tranquil Townhouse, a witty, pretty Australian blog, that I found through the beautiful blog A Room for Everyone (also Australian - see how talented those Aussies are), to mention 12 blogs that have helped, inspired, supported and generally shown kindness to me in my early blog days.  Well, it really still is early blog days, but I mean really early wet-behind-the-ears blog days.

So here they are (in no particular order):

1. Restyled Home.  Now I know Linda doesn't really do Blog Awards, but that's because she probably has been given millions over the years and she is super busy running three blogs - Restyled Home, as well as Flea Market Style, and Holiday, and writing for magazines with Matthew Mead.  Not only is she amazingly talented but she has been unfailingly gracious and helpful to me starting up my bloglet.  Linda was the first person who wrote a comment on my blog - back before I could even figure out how to get my blog to show up on Google.  Anyone else have that problem?  Anyway, she also answered technical questions and gave me oodles of encouragment.

2. Low Tide, High Style.  Kat was one of my first Followers and is one of my most frequent commenters.  What blogger doesn't love that.  We have emailed back and forth about everything from blog technical questions, to decorating, and family up-dates.   Not only has she been a joy to get to know over the past few months, but she also happens to live in the house that has my dream kitchen, which she also happens to have designed. 

3. Colour me Happy.  Maria is a talented designer (I mean she even teaches colour courses and has her work in magazines) who has also taken the time to be kind and sweet to a new blogger like me.  It is very flattering to have a certified colour consultant say she likes the colour of your front door - it does wonders to your decorating ego.
4. French Buttons.  I think French Buttons leaves the sweetest comments.  She always makes me want to do my best to show her beautiful pictures of Ontario.  She used to live here and recently moved to Vancouver Island (which happens to be one of the most beautiful places in Canada so I have to work hard to compete with all that loveliness).  You can follow along on her blog as she explores her new home.

5. A Day in the Country.  Heather is living the other life I would have liked - on an organic blueberry farm in British Columbia (okay that really is a lesser known fact about me).  If I was ever to meet Heather I would look forward to chatting with her adorable daughter, checking out her farm, and going to the bathroom at least two or three times (she has two of my favourite bathrooms so I would need to go at least twice to visit them both and possibly more for repeat visits). 

6. Three Ring Cottage.  Gina and I are like twins separated at birth and she got to live in Texas and I got to live in Ontario.  We both started our blogs at the same time, we are both Speech-Language Pathologists, she grew up with Yorkie dogs and we now have one, and her father's family even came from Ontario - how strange is that.   

7. Full House.  Not only is her blog full of crazy gorgeous inspiration pictures, she has a crazy gorgeous house, all the while raising twin girls and triplet boys (get it  - a full house), and taking the time to leave me inspiring, friendly comments.  I don't know how she stays sane, let alone keep a blog going.  My hats off to you!

8.  Haute Design.  I don't know where Sarah finds all the gorgeous ethereal photos on her blog but they are just dreamy.  Not only can she find dresses and rooms to make you sigh, but she takes the time to stop by my blog and sends some encouragment my way. 

9.  Our Castle.  There is hardcore renovating going on at Andrew and Meredith's Toronto house.  There doesn't seem to be anything they won't tackle, from rebuilding stairs to laying down hardwood.  They also took the time out to write a post just for little old me on the differences between all the diffetent types of saws.  So if you want an armchair view of hard work happening, head on over to their blog.

10. Blue Clear Sky.  Not only does Elizabeth have a pretty blog, full of creative ideas, but she happens to be the first blogger I have met who lives near to where I do.  We work in the same town and she lives in the same town where my parents live.  Our houses are also about the same age and have a lot of similarities to them. 

11. Just Beachy.  Chris is the energizer bunny of home renovations.  There ain't nothing this girl can't do.  She was the inspiration behind me doing most of the work on the mini-bathroom redo.  Okay, so I was using glue and finishing nails and Chris uses big, gutsy nailers and saws, but I felt like I was channelling her can-do attitude.

12.  Hartwood Roses.  I have only recently found Connie's blog, but I admire people who are really informed on a topic and Connie knows her roses.  She runs a nursery that specializes in antique and rare roses and she also is renovating her house.  Connie is one of those intelligent, well-informed people who is an inspiration to be around.

There is my list, after much agonizing, and decision-making as there are sooo many I read and enjoy.  I hope you take the time to visit some of these lovely blogs and enjoy them too.

Friday, March 26, 2010

News, News, News, and NEWS

I have news, lots of news, and even some very exciting/thrilling family news, which of couse, I'm saving for last.  Not that all the news isn't exciting and thrilling but the last one is BIG NEWS.
First I wanted to congratulate Maria who not only is sweet, talented, gorgous and writes the very informative blog Colour me Happy, but is a follower of this blog, for having her photo and a write-up in the recent Style at Home magazine.  Here is a picture of the page, in case you don't get the magazine.


Cobi Ladner, whose dining room I talked about in a previous post, emailed me to let me know that she had linked my blog to her Facebook page.  Being a F-B novice, I had no idea what that meant.  It took me awhile but I finally got on Facebook to Cobi's page and low and behold there is my blog.  Here's a picture of it (with my early spring tulip header):


I forgot to announce at the beginning of the week, the winner of my Ten Thousand Villages store giveaway.  The winner is Deb who has already given me her address, and her goodies are on the way to her.


I was pleased, honoured, and excited to be given my first Blog Award today.  Sarah, the lovely blogger at Dream in Domestic, who is kind, smart, and thoughtful passed the Sunshine Award on to me.

I'm supposed to pass it on to 12 other blogs.  This will take some thinking on my part to narrow it down to 12 bloggers, so I will save that for another post.


And now for the BIG NEWS.  Our eldest son, Malcolm, announced that he and his girlfriend, Christie are engaged to be married.  We are thrilled to say the least.  Christie, our future daughter-in-law, is sweet, kind, intelligent (she loves physics, but I won't hold that against her), and cute as a button.  She is going to be a lovely addition to the family.  The wedding is planned for next May so there will be plenty of event planning happening around here over the next year.

Friday Photo - Another Mountain View

As I mentioned in the past, I do like photos of views through windows.  I'm certainly not the first to shoot this photo of Lake Louise from inside Chateau Lake Louise, but I still love it. 

I thought I would put both of my favourite Lake Louise photos up on one post.  Which do you prefer - through the window or with the poppies in the foreground?

Lake Louise, Alberta (2007)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Front Porch Spring Decorations

I saw this cute spring basket at Under the Table and Dreaming and I have to say I was inspired.

Until recently this is how my front door looked:

Great for winter, but time to springify it don't you think?

When I saw that lovely white basket, I remembered that I had a flat-backed basket hanging around doing nothing much, so I put it to work. 

I removed the apple decoraton, added some pussy willow branches, trimmed it with some brown polk-a-dot ribbon, and hung it on my front door.

Last fall we bought an antique copper tub that I keep on the front porch.  I have been slowly adding willow and birch branches to it as I find them.   On a recent walk I found a lovely long birch branch and brought it home - much to everyone in the family's gufaws.  Okay it was really big, and it did barely fit in the car.   The things we do for the sake of home beautification.  I trimmed the length of the branch a bit and added it to the old copper tub.  Luckily for me, a bird's nest fell out of a tree in a recent wind storm, so I wired that into the notch in the branches.

It looks more like spring now, dontcha think?

Linked to:
Spring Fling Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage
Spring Fling Party at the Blessed Nest
The Inspired Week at The Inspired Room

Cute Houses in Halifax and More

Kate, our 17 year old daughter, flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for a few days over March break.  She went to check out two universities to see if she wants to attend there next year.  Kate was very fortunate in being in Halifax when they had record-breaking warm, sunny weather.  Halifax is a lovely maritime city on the Atlantic Ocean and Kate took some photos for me to share.

There were lots of adorable clapboard houses painted in a rainbow of colours,

with amazing trim,

and doors painted coordinating colours.

I think I was meant to live there.   Is that beautiful, or what?

Then there is the gorgeous harbour.   I mean, every city should be built on the ocean so you can get views like this.

And the university - looking just like a university should.

I can certainly see why Kate is keen on going to Halifax for univesity, but since it is about 50,000 km from home you can see why I'm not so keen.  Although, if she were to attend university in Halifax, I might be able to get to visit Halifax now and then, and that would be fun.