Monday, January 30, 2012

Look What Landed on our Mantel

I've had an idea for decorating our mantel that I've been itching to try for a few months now.  I couldn't interrupt the Fall-Hallowe'en-Christmas flow, though, so it had to wait. Can you guess what my idea is?

Yep I had the rainbow fairy visit my mantel.  I thought it would be a fun challenge to decorate the mantel like a rainbow using things from around the house.   As you can see I lack in the purple and orange sections, but more than made up for it in the blue ranges.  It was a lot of fun to hunt the house for things I could use.  Thank heavens for Anthropologie bowls.

The sideboard is at the other end of the room and I needed to do something with it as well.  I had rescued a few pieces of wood from my parent's woodshed at the cottage recently and was pining to use them in some way.  After some pondering it occurred to me that if the rainbow was at one end of the room, then the other end should be all white - all the colours rolled into one!

Anyone else have a collection of bark and wood?  Hmm, I thought not.  I love their textured weathered look and love including them in my arrangements.

Have you ever created a vignette that was a little out-of-the-box so to speak?  It was fun to do and we're enjoying the cheery colours at one end of the room and the calm natural palette at the other - just what we need to look at during all the sleet and snow and rain that we have been having in this crazy winter.

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Linked to WOW Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style,
Delightfully Inspiring Thursday Link Party at Delightful Order,
Spring Decorating Link Party at The Lettered Cottage

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Toronto Blogger Meetup 2012 and a Giveaway

Saturday was another Blogger meetup here in Toronto.  The room was crowded and the talk buzzed.  There was wine and nibblies and speeches and prizes.  I have to confess that I'm always a bit of a nervous wreck before I go, but once I'm there I enjoy myself.

Cameron MacNeil from House and Home talked about trends and showed us some of the pages from an upcoming issue of Canadian House and Home magazine.  I couldn't find a pen in my purse to write down his ideas (and don't have an i-phone unlike most of the rest of the guests at the meetup) so I didn't remember the other trends, but the ones that stuck in my head are:

  • patterned and colourful bed-linens
  • yellow
  • watercolour palettes 
Yep, you heard it here first folks.

Brian Gluckstein talked about what inspires him, which is apparently a lot of things.  He told us he takes random pictures of almost anything, including taking a close-up picture of a woman's skirt (true story).  Any colour or pattern or texture that grabs his attention is photographed and many of these images end up on his blog and some serve as inspiration for his design work.

Cassandra from Coco+Kelley talked about how her blog developed and grew.  She really stressed if you have an idea go for it even if it doesn't pan out because taking those risks are also what can really make a blog be successful.  She also emphasized the importance of community and building contacts with other blogs, both big and small.  She suggested if you contact a blog asking to do a guest post try listing several ideas you could post about.  Cassandra also worked at Anthropologie for a year which I found very interesting.  We chatted about that after.  She is lovely and charming and warm.

I didn't know most of the bloggers that I chatted with, but there were a few that I recognized like Pam from Cherish Toronto, Tim from Design Maze

and Jennifer from Rambling Renovators (holding the delicious chocolate pops we got to eat).

I also met a university student named Jude who had attended the same High School my kids went to and is friends with Gabriela the photographer for our son's wedding.  Small world, eh?

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing sponsors.  I didn't win anything this year, but boy were the prizes ever good.   The sponsors also contributed to the most fantastic swag bags that we each got to take home at the end.  You can see all the goodies I got laid out on the chair in the photo below - a throw and a muffin tin and cute paper liners from IKEA; paint decks from both CIL and Brian Gluckstein (love me some paint decks); some toilet paper (okay, the box it is in is designed by Jonathan Adler, but I just thought I'd be funny and tell you all we were given TP); a coffee travel mug; a green shopping bag; and magazines and coupons.  What fun!

Thanks to the organizers and sponsors for a great event.

One of the things we were given was a copy of the February issue of Canadian House and Home.  Now since I'm a long-time subscriber to that magazine I already have that issue which means I would love to give my extra copy away to someone who is interested in reading it.  Due to the high cost of shipping, I"m going to limit the giveaway to Canada and the United States.  Leave me a comment if you are interested and let me know that you are a follower and I'll enter your name.  I will draw a name on Saturday, February 4th at 9:00 am EST.  Please be sure that you leave me your email so I can contact you for mailing information.  If I can't reach the winner in 24 hours I will redraw a name.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Shipping Container Cabin Update

A post I wrote about shipping container homes (which you can find here) in May of last year gets lots and lots of hits every day - like often up to seven times as many hits as the next most popular post.  That's a lot of interest in shipping container homes!  I'm not surprised at the interest in shipping container homes, though, because they are just so inspiring.  I would love to get my hands on a couple of shipping containers and do a little creating myself.  Of course, that isn't going to happen anytime soon (although you notice I'm not ruling it out for the future) so I have to satisfy my interest by keeping up on other people's container homes. 

I contacted the owner of this wonderful cabin that I showed in my original post to see if he would mind me using more of his photos in a blog post.  Well not only was Steve (see how I'm on a first name basis with him now) pleased to let me use his photos, but he took a bunch more for me as well.  It turns out Steve is married to a Speech-Language Pathologist so you can see why he would be so charming - it goes with the territory.  

Last fall Steve and his wife painted the exterior a warm beige colour (good choice Steve's wife) and have been working away completing the interior.  I'm excited to welcome you inside Steve's little cabin in the woods.  I have uploaded both labeled and unlabeled floor plans so you can have an idea what direction the pictures are taken.

This is the view from the front door looking over to the right to the sofa (a pull-out bed) and chair in the sitting area.  You can also see the bedroom through the doorway on the left.  The ceiling shows the corrugated grooves from the shipping containers.

I love the simple white kitchen - white kitchens are always my favourite!

Behind the curtain is the bathroom/utility/storage room.

A nice little wood stove is tucked into the corner to keep things warm.

I understand the desk is going to have a half-wall built behind it to separate the front entrance from the living room.

And finally, looking out the windows to the forest.

... and the forest. 

I've been studying these photos and peppering Steve with questions about the details of his cabin so I thought I would share what I have learned.

Steven's main concerns were to keep the costs down and to make the cabin easy to maintain.   He chose to build using shipping containers because of security issues.  When he leaves his cabin, he simply closes and locks the doors at the end of each of the three containers.  There are no other windows or doors so it pretty much morphs from sweet little cabin to Fort Knox.

The cabin is off-the-grid so is powered primarily by solar panels.  The microwave oven that you can see in some of the kitchen pictures will soon be going as it is run on the generator that is being used while the construction is going on.  He has installed a two-burner stove and may purchase an oven that cooks on the stovetop and is very popular with the boating community.  He was unable to find a refrigerator that would work on the solar panels so he is using a small Coleman cooler that runs on a battery and is kept in the storage room and he may upgrade down the road.  For more kitchen details read this post.

Steven is in the process of looking into restoring an old well that is on the property.  Even if the water is not drinkable, it will be very useful for washing up etc.  There are plans to install a water system with a storage tank in the bathroom/storage room and build a homemade shower in there as well.  The problem with most water systems is dealing with them in the winter so Steve is looking to install an indoor water system that can be used in the winter with minimal fuss.  At the present time he brings in water to use for drinking and cooking and they have an outhouse.  You can see in the photo below the temporary water system he has in the kitchen using a vintage water cooler. 

I think this little cabin is great - it's kind of like the Boxcar children meet IKEA (did you ever read that story?  Kate and I both read it when she was young and loved it).   You can read more details and see the progress pictures on Steve's blog, Tin Can Cabin.  

This is definitely a cabin I'll be keeping my eyes on to see how it develops and changes as Steve and his wife use it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WISH Wednesday #15

Did you know that January 25th is the day to celebrate the life of the Scottish poet, Robbie Burns?   In his honour, I saved a pretty picture of a tartan tablescape for WISH (Weekly Inspiration for a Seasonal Home) Wednesday.

I love the simplicity of the piles of apples on the table, the red lanterns, the pretty embroidered napkins, the posey of leaves at each place setting, and of course the red tartans.  So pretty!


While we won't be having haggis or even drinking whisky, we can say the Selkirk grace that Burns wrote:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
And sae let the Lord be thankit.

Monday, January 23, 2012

So Many Firsts in One Weekend for My Airplane Friend

Some of you may recall that I sat beside a young fellow from Southern India on the plane coming back from India this summer.  We stayed in touch and have had him over to visit several times.  There is a chance he will be leaving in a month so we thought we should make his Canadian education complete by taking him to our family cottage.  We also invited the friends I went to Bangladesh and India with and made an expedition of it.  

Now a Canadian winter is about as opposite to Southern India as you can get, so Jacob had a weekend of firsts.  He's been in Toronto since August so he has seen snow and ice (despite the fact that this has been a very warm and unsnowy winter), but he hadn't seen deep snow or icicles or frozen lakes!  Imagine seeing all of this for the first time.

We couldn't have arranged for better winter weather if we had tried.  It was clear and sunny on Saturday with a fresh deep layer of snow on all the trees and the temperatures were -10 on Saturday and -5 on Sunday which meant it was cold enough to make the snow pretty, but warm enough that we could enjoy the outdoors.

Doing things for the first time is one of the joys of traveling and living in new places.  I will never forget riding on the rickshaws in Bangladesh  for the first time and I'm sure Jacob will never forget his first time walking through snow that was up over his knees.  I was counting all the firsts on the drive back to the city and came up with at least ten.  Here they are in no particular order:

1.  Keeping warm when it is -10 outside.  Jacob had to buy himself a winter jacket, scarf, and gloves back in the fall when the temperatures started to drop so he had some, but not all of the proper clothing. You can get by without boots in the city, especially in a mild winter like this one. So we outfitted Jacob with my husband's winter boots, a pair of splash pants to keep the snow off his pants, and a thick pair of mittens. He learned to make sure the splash pants were fastened on the outside of the boots to keep the snow out. And he learned how painful it is to take photographs with bare hands in the winter - oh the things we do to get some great shots!

2.  Walking through knee deep snow - which is very! very! very! tiring!

photo taken by Jacob

3.  Seeing icicles - he was pretty excited to see even some little baby ones when we first got there, but was very excited when we went to see the ice flows on the rock cuts at the side of the road.

4.  Seeing frost on the windows.

5.  Eating new foods like porridge for breakfast and French Canadian Pea Soup for lunch and drinking a warm mug of hot chocolate when you come in from the cold - and melting snow to get water to cook with and to wash the dishes in.

photo taken by Jacob

6.  Seeing a snow angel. Kim obliged and made him one - what are friends for if not to make a snow angel for you!

photo taken by Jacob

7.  Going tobogganing. The conditions on the cottage road were perfect for tobogganing and we all took at least a few turns. Jacob loved it although he was a little nervous at first that he would kill himself. Fortunately he survived and had loads of fun.

8.  Walking on a frozen lake and seeing fishing huts. The lake was frozen, but I wasn't sure how solid it was so we stuck to the shore. 

9.  Going on the roof to remove the snow. For some reason, William and Jacob took this job very seriously and spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to remove snow from the roof and trying out different techniques. There's nothing like a project that engages your brains and your brawn.

10.  Sleeping under three heavy quilts to keep warm - ahh - nothing like it!

That's a lot of firsts for one weekend, don't you think?

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Linked to A Good Life Wednesday at A Beach Cottage