Guest Room Design Inspiration

guest room design

I’m here today to provide you with a little bit of eye candy in the form of some photos that have been providing some serious inspiration for our guest room. I am loving all the crisp white bedding, neutral colours and in particular, the patterned pillows.

You see, we have been in our house for just over a year and a half and have made some good progress on the main floor but have neglected much of the upstairs. I think that is both the blessing and the curse of split-level and two-storey homes; doors can be closed and no one will ever be the wiser!

Well, let’s just say I got sick of closing those doors and looking at the, quite frankly, terrible colours we had on our walls and decided that enough is enough. And so began #operationnocloseddoors.

We’ve spent the better part of this weekend priming and then painting the room. Next up will be adding the new baseboards and window frame. Even after just one coat of paint, I can’t get over how different (and much better) it looks!

guest room design

As for furniture, we purchased some of it, and had some already but I am still on the hunt for things like pillows and other decor. Right now I am leaning towards some beautiful pillows from none other than Caitlin Wilson. We got a great deal on a new mattress from The Bay during their recent Bay Days sale and purchased this bed that reminds me of the beautiful iron bed frame I keep pinning, but is significantly more affordable and available to pick up, instead of ordering online.

I’ll be sure to show some photos of the actual room (including some before photos as well). For now, enjoy these photos of beautiful, cozy and inviting rooms that are inspiring me in designing our own.

Now, who’s coming to stay once it’s done?

guest room design

Inspiration photos: Caitlin Wilson & Studio McGee

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The Perfect Baked Oven Fries

Is there anything better than a plate of piping hot, crispy, salty french fries? The correct answer to this question is ‘no’.

I’m a sucker for a good french fry. No matter how much I tell myself that I shouldn’t have them and that they are not good for me, I just can’t convince myself to get the side salad instead. What can I say? I’m always on the hunt for the best french fries I can find.

Who could have predicted that this hunt would end with a recipe for homemade baked oven fries that puts most others to shame? Certainly not me.

baked oven fries

I first discovered this recipe years ago on one of my favourite food blogs, Annie’s Eats. I had tried making baked oven fries in the past, but they just never compared to the deliciously crispy deep-fried version I would get at restaurants. This recipe was a game-changer. It is a little bit more hands-on than your typical oven baked fries recipe, but it is totally worth the effort.

I recently rediscovered this recipe, and it has been put on our menu every week since. Just now, as I’m writing this post, I’m wondering when is the soonest I can make them.

Please, do yourself and your loved ones a favour and make these baked oven fries. Just be prepared to make them regularly after that.

burger & baked oven fries

Baked Oven Fries (recipe originally here by Annie’s Eats, via Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 russet potatoes, cut evenly into fries
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and move an oven rack to the second lowest position. Cut up the potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Cover with hot water and let soak for up to 20 minutes. Put 4 tablespoons of the vegetable oil on a heavy, rimmed baking sheet. Tilt the sheet to evenly coat the bottom of the pan with the oil. Sprinkle the pan evenly with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Drain the potatoes and set them on a clean dish towel or paper towels. Pat until dry. Wipe the bowl out so it is dry and put the potatoes back in the bowl. Toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the foil and continue to bake the potatoes until the bottoms are spotty golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, and rotating the pan after 10. Use a metal spatula and tongs to flip the potatoes and keep them in a single layer. Continue baking the fries until they are golden and crisp, about 5-15 minutes. Continue to rotate the pan for even cooking.
  4. When they are finished baking, lay them on a paper towel to absorb some of the excess oil. Season with additional salt to taste.
  5. Enjoy!
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My Favourite Everyday Concealer

If there is one product in your beauty routine that you need to be able to count on, it’s your concealer. A good concealer takes you from ‘how much did I have to drink last night and did I even sleep at all?’ to looking fresh faced and ready to take on the day. I have tried a fair number of concealers but I always end up coming back to Clarins Instant Concealer.

clarins instant concealer

As far as I’m concerned, it is everything you want in a concealer: moisturizing, long lasting, medium/high coverage and easy to blend. Typically, this is what I will use to conceal dark circles and blemishes, unless they require some serious attention, in which case I’ll use the Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage.

For the most part, I enjoy the simplicity of the packaging and that you can squeeze out just as much as you need, which is usually not much, because a little goes a long way. My only qualm is that sometimes if I put too much pressure on the tube before opening it, product will start coming out once I take the cap off and it is more than I need. This doesn’t happen very often, though, and I just make sure to be very careful!

clarins concealer

According to the Clarins website, it comes in 4 shades. I use shade 01 and it is the perfect shade for me. I even find that it works as a brightener under my eyes, which is a huge bonus on those days where I could have used a couple of extra hours of sleep.

My favourite way to apply it is to use gentle patting motion with my fingers. You can’t beat a makeup tool that is free and easy to clean! I usually set the concealer with some kind of powder to make sure it doesn’t crease and has some extra staying power. Lately, that has been the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder.

The texture of the product is really nice and light, and leaves the skin looking fresh and awake. The only real downside is that there aren’t many shades to choose from. If you can find your shade, I highly suggest you try it out!

In the following photo, I’ve used the Instant Concealer in 01 and set it with the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder.

clarins concealer final look

The Clarins Instant Concealer retails for $32 at The Bay, and can also be purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart. Alternatively, it can be purchased directly from the Clarins website.

Have you tried this concealer? What’s your current favourite? Let me know in the comments, as I’m always on the lookout for the next best thing!

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The Perfect Snack (AKA Healthy Banana Muffins)

Everyday, when I get home from work, I do two things: change into comfortable clothes and scour the kitchen for a satisfying snack. More often than not, if we have any junk food in our house, that is what I deem to be a ‘satisfying snack’ and I go to town. Typically, this ends up with me being too full for dinner until much later, which isn’t exactly ideal when I like to try to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

More recently, I’ve been trying to make sure we have something both satisfying and somewhat healthy to eat as a snack either after work or any other time hunger strikes. I had a couple of very brown, very sad looking bananas haunting me on our kitchen counter and had just saved this recipe from Cookie and Kate, so I knew it was meant to be.

healthy banana muffins cooling

These muffins taste great and make the perfect snack. They are healthier than most muffin recipes by using whole wheat flour and a little bit of maple syrup for added sweetness. The best part is that you can mix everything in one bowl, which means you can quickly clean up the dishes as you wait for the muffins to bake. They are great right out of the oven, but I also like to freeze them for quick snacks during the week! No one wants to meet Hangry Kelly.

banana muffin

Healthy Banana Muffins (recipe originally from here by Cookie and Kate)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I have also used avocado oil)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2-3, depending on the size of the bananas)
  • 1/4 milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I usually put at least double the cinnamon)
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats (plus more for sprinkling on top of the muffins)
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on top)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease muffin tin or place muffin wrappers in tin.
  2. Beat the oil and maple syrup in a bowl using a whisk. Add eggs and mix well. Next, mix in the mashed bananas and milk. Then add the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a spoon until just combined.
  4. Divide the batter into the muffin tins or wrappers by filling each about two-thirds full. Sprinkle each of the muffins with a small amount of oats and the turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake muffins for about 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!

 

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Toast & Tea At Home: Home Office Lighting

We have been slowly but surely working on finishing our home office. If you have completed any home updates, you know how it goes, but it always seems like just when we think we are close to finishing a particular job, we run into some little issue that needs to be addressed. Little issues have a great way of taking (what feels like) an eternity to be resolved. Nonetheless, I am here today to talk about something very exciting: lighting!

As this is our first home, this is the first time that I have been able to decide exactly what kind of lighting I want and where. I really think that lighting makes such a difference in the overall feel of a room, so I have had fun scouring the internet and local stores to find the perfect lighting.

Typically, I am not someone who goes into one store, sees a nice light fixture, and makes a purchase right away. Finding the perfect light fixture (or piece of furniture, for that matter) entails many hours of browsing Pinterest, looking at any online light sources I can find, and searching in local stores. Especially when it comes to making bigger purchases that I hope we’ll be happy with for years to come, I like to be sure!

I recently shared our design plans for our home office, but at that time, hadn’t quite decided about lighting. Since then, I think we have a better idea of what we are looking for. We are still trying to decide between a flush mount, semi-flush mount or a pendant, but otherwise there definitely seems to be a theme going on with all the brass and small black accents. I’d love to hear which ones you like best!

The following are options we are considering. Currently, I think we have it narrowed down a bit more, but that can sometimes change on a daily basis. I swear, I’m not crazy, but don’t ask my husband.

 

flush mount & semi-flush mount lighting for office

Flush & semi-flush mount lighting

01. AllModern semi-flush mount | 02. Shades of Light prism ceiling light | 03. Circa Lighting basil flush mount | 04. Schoolhouse Electric semi-flush mount | 05. Rejuvenation semi-flush mount | 06. Circa Lighting sophia flush mount | 07. Rejuvenation cedar & moss flush mount | 08. Pottery Barn classic schoolhouse flush mount | 09. Circa Lighting siena flush mount

pendant lighting for office

Pendant lighting

01. Circa Lighting hicks pendant | 02. Schoolhouse Electric royce pendant | 03. Rejuvenation eastmoreland pendant | 04. Rejuvenation cedar & moss pendant | 05. Serena & Lily scalloped chandelier 06. Rejuvenation cedar & moss pendant | 07. Schoolhouse Electric fuller pendant | 08. Circa Lighting moravian star pendant

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Winter (Skincare) Warriors

Winter in Canada is no joke. It often starts to get really cold in November, and really doesn’t warm up again until at least April or May, depending on the year. Unfortunately, what this means is that my skin looks and feels dehydrated for pretty much that whole time. My hands always seem to suffer the most and become dry, and even sometimes cracked, for a good portion of that time. Enter my winter skincare warriors.

winter skincare hand products

Most winters, I make it my personal mission to find the best and most moisturizing hand cream. I’ll usually try at least a couple of new hand moisturizers each year, but always come back to my tried and true Hemp Hand Protector from The Body Shop. It is thick, creamy and ultra-moisturizing. When my hands are in rough shape, I like to slather some on at night and put a pair of cotton gloves on to keep the moisture in. The only bad thing I have to say about it is that it has a very strong scent which I am not particularly fond of. However, the cream is that good and I haven’t found anything comparable, that I can look past the scent.

Two other products that I feel deserve an honourable mention are the Buckler’s Chapped Skin Remedy, which I picked up at Viens Avec Moi late last year, and the Leaves of Trees Pink Grapefruit Argan Lotion, which I purchased at Goods Shop. I have to admit, both products initially drew me in with their beautiful packaging, and then pleasantly surprised me with the product. One of the things I love most about the Buckler’s Chapped Skin Remedy is that it is all natural and unscented. I don’t always like putting heavily scented products on, because they linger and can be too strong. On top of that, it is also thick and moisturizing. The Leaves of Trees Pink Grapefruit Argan Lotion, on the other hand, has a very fresh, citrusy scent. It’s not too sweet, which I love, and isn’t overwhelming after it’s rubbed in. As a lotion, I’d say this one isn’t quite as heavy duty as the other two, but it is one that I like to carry in my bag when I’m out and about.

winter facial skincare products

When it comes to my face, I like to keep things pretty simple since I have somewhat sensitive skin. For most of the winter, I have been using the Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream for Sensitive Skin both in the morning and at night. I like that it’s very moisturizing, absorbs into the skin pretty quickly and is fragrance free. When my skin is feeling particularly dry, I have been using this sample of the Fresh Rose Face Mask, which I find helps my skin to feel a bit more soft and moisturized.

My lips have been particularly dry this winter, and Vaseline Lip Therapy and Harlow Wo(Man) Body Salve are what I have been using to keep them soft and smooth. The only downside to these are that you have to use fingers to apply it and so I often only use these at home. My favourite lip balm in a tube that I can use while I’m out is the Nivea Hydrating Lip Care.

That’s it for my winter skincare warriors. What are your favourite products to use during the winter? I am always on the look out for the next best thing!

 

 

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Elderflower Grapefruit Gin & Tonics

If you’re anything like me, you are counting down the days until winter is over. It’s dark and grey outside and I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen the sun in weeks. I needed a little bit of sunshine in my life, so I used this recipe for inspiration to create a citrusy and refreshing cocktail. It’s simple to make and is perfect to sip on as a pre-dinner cocktail, at the end of a long day or just because.

I haven’t always been the biggest fan of grapefruit, but I love the sweet and tart flavour it provides in a cocktail. It’s refreshing without being too sweet. The rosemary is really what makes the cocktail, though. If you haven’t tried adding herbs to your cocktails yet, then you’re truly missing out! It was just this past year that I started getting into cocktails with herbs and now, I can never look back. My favourite herb to add is rosemary, but sage and basil are great as well.

You’ll notice that the recipe includes specific types of gin, elderflower liqueur and tonic. While I think you could use any brand and still end up with a good cocktail, these specific ones add a little something special to the drink. Plus, both Split Tree and Dillon’s are local Ontario companies so you can feel good supporting local while enjoying your delicious drink.

Please continue reading below to find the recipe, and let me know what you think if you try it!

Elderflower Grapefruit Gin & Tonics

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Dillon’s Rose Gin
  • 3/4 oz St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 3/4 oz Split Tree Tonic No 3
  • 3-4 oz club soda
  • 1 slice of pink grapefruit (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 rosemary sprig

Directions:

Add 3-4 ice cubes to your prettiest glass. Squeeze the grapefruit into the glass. Add the gin, elderflower liqueur, tonic and club soda. Garnish with extra slices of grapefruit and the sprig of rosemary. Enjoy!

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Home Office Design Inspiration

Happy Sunday!

A project that’s been in the works for a long time is updating our home office. As soon as we moved into our home, almost a year and a half ago, we knew we wanted to turn the fourth bedroom into a home office. It is on a different floor than the rest of the bedrooms, so it just made sense to us. Also, we are both teachers, so it will be nice to have a dedicated space to work at home.

I’ve had a vision of how I’d like the office to come together all along, but admittedly, it has taken some time to complete. Lucky for me, my husband is very handy and has been doing most of the work himself, with some help from his family. He did lots of work on the office during our time off for Christmas break, and we are closer than ever to finishing the room. I can’t wait to see it when it’s complete!

I, on the other hand, am not so handy, so my jobs have mostly been design and painting. Hey, someone’s got to do it! Until recently, I just had the vision of how I wanted the room to look in my head. I decided that I should create a vision board, so we can start looking for pieces to add once all the work has been done. As I always do, I visited Pinterest first to find images that reflected what my vision was, to help me create a solid plan. Below are a few of the images I found and have used as inspiration.

image via Studio McGee

image via Emily Henderson

image via Studio McGee

Some of the items in the vision board below are exactly what we plan to use, like the paint colour (which is already on the walls), and the Ikea bookshelves and extensions (which have also already been built and installed). Some of the other items are either pieces that I have my eye on, or ones that I will use for inspiration in my shopping. For instance, I know that I want to include a more traditional rug that is mostly red based with some hints of blue. More recently I have been obsessed with finding the perfect vintage rug. The search continues!

I love the idea of having a leather desk chair because I think it will add warmth and sophistication to the room, and will contrast well with the paint colour. I really love this West Elm one that I may just have to purchase the next time they have a good sale. I also really like this one, which is slightly more affordable. The desk in the image is from World Market, and while I love it, I think I am going to try to find an antique desk at a local store. There are some great local antique shops in Ottawa and surrounding areas and I think I might have some luck. We recently picked up an antique ladder to put in the office from Tin Barn Market, and I am in love with it!

Last but certainly not least is that lamp. This exact one is the Goodman Table Lamp from the shop at Studio McGee and it is perfect in every way. I am currently on the hunt for a similar but more affordable option. Until I find one, I’ll continue gazing lovingly at this one.

Without further ago, my vision for our home office. Do you currently have any home updates in progress? I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

Ikea Billy bookcase & extension | West Elm leather chair | World Market campaign desk

Studio McGee lamp | Anthropologie hook | He Said, She Said desk plate | Rifle Paper Co. notepad

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Starting 2017 Off Right

Hello and Happy New Year!

First of all, I apologize for the radio silence. This post was intended to go up a week or so ago, but I was having some technical difficulties. In any case, it’s here now and as they say, better late than never, right?

I feel as though I only hear about people expressing relief at the fact that 2016 is over, but I have to be honest, 2016 was a pretty good year for me personally! Amongst other things, I got a permanent teaching job and married my best friend. All in all, a fabulous year that I definitely look fondly back on.

With that being said, I do look forward to 2017. There is something funny about the start of a new calendar year that forces us to reflect on the past while at the same time considering the future. I am not big into New Year’s resolutions, but I do often like to reflect and think about ways I might be able to make positive changes to my life in some way. So here you have it, my resolutions for 2017.

Spend more time with family. 

My husband and I are lucky enough to live in the same city as our immediate families and in his case, many of his relatives as well. While we do see our families fairly regularly, I would like to make an effort to spend even more time with them, and particularly host people at our home more often.

Spend time being creative and doing things I enjoy.

This might sound silly, but lately, more often than not, I find myself spending my free time using technology in some shape or form whether it’s on my phone, my laptop or watching Netflix. I really want to make an effort to spend more of my time actually ‘doing’ things that I really enjoy whether that is baking, taking photographs or completing some DIY project for our house.

Actively work to finish furnishing and decorating our home.

We have been in our house almost a year and a half and I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that in some rooms, it looks like we could have moved in last week. On the one hand, furnishing a house is a very expensive endeavour (!!!), but on the other, I think things just get pushed to the side, doors get closed, and people are none the wiser. My goal for this year is to move beyond just looking to Pinterest for inspiration, but to actually take those ideas and put them into action. I am excited to share our progress along the way!

I hope you’ll come along for the ride. I’d love to hear your new year’s resolutions as well.

Here’s to a fabulous 2017!

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Gift Guide No. 7 | Stocking Stuffers

Today is the final day for my holiday gift guides! If you’re anything like me, you’ve finished most of your holiday shopping but haven’t even thought about filling those stockings yet. Not to worry because I have twelve ideas for stocking stuffers that almost anyone would love.

First up is a cute and functional house item that anyone who wears rings will appreciate. I have a couple of these around my home and they are handy to have, particularly in the kitchen, since I often remove my rings to do any cooking or cleaning.

I simply couldn’t complete my holiday gift guides without including my favourite candle ever somewhere in there. The Capri Blue Volcano candle is the best scent in the entire world. It is literally what dreams are made of. Go ahead and buy two because you’ll want to keep one for yourself!

I can always count on Chapters Indigo when shopping for gifts and this time is no different. The cozy reading socks, the Canada mug or the travel manicure set are all useful items that would be a treat to receive on Christmas morning.

I think the hand-stamped pencils from Milk Shop would put a smile on anyone’s face. I encourage you to check out their website for a list of all the sayings they offer, some of which are delightfully cheeky!

The Leaves of Trees hand lotion feels and smells great. A bonus is that it is the perfect size to throw in a purse and use on the go.

Last but not least, what is a stocking without some kind of chocolate? Whether it’s the hot chocolate or the chocolate caramels, they are sure to please whoever digs them out of their stocking on Christmas morning.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these holiday gift guides as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them. Good luck with your last minute holiday prep!

01. Umbra Ring Holder $8

02. Rosebud Perfume Co. Salve in a Tube $7.50

03. Capri Blue Volcano $12

04. Indigo Reading Socks $34.50

05. Indigo Canada Mug $12

06. Milk Pencils $7 (for three pencils)

07. Dr. Jart+ Sheet Mask $9

08. Leaves of Trees Hand Lotion $10

09. Indigo Manicure Set $10 (on sale now!)

10. Starbucks Hot Chocolate $6.99

11. Skeem Apothecary Matches $10

12. Godiva Milk Chocolate Caramels $10 (on sale now!)

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