Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Recap

The year before we finished our massive basement project so I thought we had slowed down in 2012, home renovation wise, but my blog and bank account said otherwise. In 2012, I managed to pull off two major bathroom renovations, changing the foyer tiles *twice*, among other smaller decoration projects. So here they are in a nutshell:

AM Dolce Vita's 2012 Recap

Clockwise from top left:

  • In late April we started our master bathroom renovation. It took almost double the amount of time we had anticipated though thankfully we managed to only go slightly over budget. Being one of the most unpredictable renovations (i.e. until you rip open the walls and subfloors and expose all the plumbing and wiring), a bathroom project has a lot of hidden cost and work behind walls and underneath shiny finishes.
  • Immediately after our master bathroom project, we had the same contractor re-tile our foyer. You can read more about the debacle and why we had to have the floor tiled twice (using different tiles) within a week.
  • A pretty new pillow for our foyer, part of my foyer project going into 2013.
  • I can finally call our living room redesign complete. This is one of the most time-consuming decor projects involving a lot of change of minds along the way.
  • Our 2012 gold-silver Christmas Tree.
  • New kitchen art: framed Alanna Cavanagh's limited edition tea towel. This is probably my favourite in 2012.
  • Our 2012 Christmas Mantel, a complete DIY project by yours truly.
  • New West Elm vases for our master bedroom.
  • And last but not least, our main bathroom redo in October. I actually think I like this bathroom more than our master ensuite for its practicality.

So what were your favourite projects (that you are proud of) in 2012?

Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I Am Back and A New Pillow

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday with your family and loved ones. We just came back from a 10-day trip to this tiny but densely-populated island in the Pacific called Taiwan. I will write more about that later.

White matter is not the only thing that welcomed us when we got home: our mailbox was jam-packed with parcel notices and mails, a whopping total of 35 pieces to be exact! Other than some Christmas cards and regular mails, a lot of them were from my online shopping obsession! :) It's like Christmas all over again for me when I opened them all up.

The first up is this gorgeous pillow in Braemore's Emperor's Garden Fabric from WhitlockandCo. I had it in my mind for the settee in our foyer. This is all part of a project I am working on to add more colors and styles to our otherwise pretty boring foyer space.

I love the vibrant colours and how happy it looks on the settee.

The other side of the pillow: just as pretty. Btw, I prefer the same fabric (or a different fabric but not plain solid one) on both sides of the pillow.

In our foyer.

In addition to those that are already in the mail, I also managed to do a lot of shopping online (from the faraway land) on Boxing Day. I will share more about that later as well. Remember to check back soon for a new year's giveaway --- you wouldn't want to miss this one!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Our 2012 Christmas Mantel

Just quickly pop in to say Hi and share some pictures of the final state of our 2012 Christmas Mantel.

Remember the Gluckstein Home's Antiqued Silver Mercury Glass Candleholders from the Bay? They are still on sale so go get them before they are sold out (the shortest 8" ones are already all gone). This is what they look like now on our mantel. 

  I tried to keep them on our foyer chest but I still think they look better on our mantel.

 This is our 2012 Christmas Mantel.  Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Au revoir

I was deeply saddened by what happened to those innocent children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The pain of loss their family have to cope with is unthinkable. My thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been changed forever by this tragedy.

Our Christmas vacation starts in a couple of days, so this will likely be my last post until just before the new year. I will be spending some quality time with Anthony and mia familia, and that means no work (hopefully) and blogging.

Before taking the short break, I want to share with you some pictures of the gifts this year. I am still buying and wrapping so this is the snapshot to-date.

I can't tell you how much I love this blush-colored wrapping paper, so vintagey and elegant enough to be used as wallpaper.

Ribbon is such an easy way to pretty up gift wrapping.

I also added a few new ornaments to the tree: It took me quite a while to hunt down this glass pinecone ornament from Chapters Indigo. They were all sold out online and only a couple of stores still had a few pieces left. It brought back all the nostalgia.

This is an antiqued gold glass ornament from GLUCKSTEINHOME holiday collection.

With that I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe Year 2013! I will be back to share our holiday stories soon...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cheap n Chic: Mercury Glass Candleholders

It's been a while since I added a Cheap and Chic post so it's time to revive this series and get back into the thrifting game.

Mercury glass, or silvered glass, adds a touch of nostalgia to everyday home decor. It's especially popular during holidays for it creates a luxurious and warm ambiance.

Ballard Designs' Antiqued Mercury Glass Candlesticks - Assorted Set of 5: US$69

Pottery Barn's Antique Mercury Glass Taper Holders: $85 for a set of three.

Gluckstein Home's Antiqued Silver Mercury Glass Candleholders: $35 for a set of three, on sale now at 50% off at the Bay.

I've ordered two sets of them and can't wait to see how they turn out in my house. More on that later.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I don't like any small kitchen appliances because they clutter the countertop, so over the years I've been successful at curbing the urge to buy any fancy espresso or coffee making machines.

And then along comes the Tassimo. There are so many individual cup brewers out there that initially I didn't think much of it, until they signed the exclusive contract with Tim Hortons. So with any Tassimo brewers, now you can buy the Tim Hortons' t discs and brew a perfect cup of store-fresh Tims at home. Except that we are a divided family: I am more of a Starbucks drinker (which is not available on Tassimo) while hubs love Tims, just like I am a Pepsi person and he is a Coke lover.

Anyhow, upon reading more about the Tassimo brewers, and since we both work from our home office when we are not out for meetings, I am convinced that this one-of-a-kind barcode-reading brewer would save Anthony commute time of getting his morning and afternoon caffeine fix. It just so happened that Sears decided to put it on sale at $79.88, almost 50% off. Sears is the only place (based on my research) online that sells the T20 in white at that price. I picked up ours from a Sears store and it comes in grey. I figure grey would work better with our kitchen because it would disappear into the backspash (and I want it to be invisible :)).
Our new Tassimo T20 Brewer: a great inexpensive starter model to try out Tassimo (and get hooked). 
The water tank is in the back so from the front it looks super compact, but it is pretty deep for a coffee maker.

I took a sip out of Anthony's cup and it's awesome (I didn't say that to his face of course). The sale at Sears is on until December 13. If you register your Tassimo before December 24, you will receive a voucher to two free packages of t discs. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

Monday, December 10, 2012

DIY Initial Christmas Stockings

Holiday decorating continues here at AM Dolce Vita. I've been thinking of adding some personal touch to the snowflake stockings I bought from Indigo Chapters. I ruled out iron-on letters or stencil type of approach as I don't want the personalization to be permenant. Instead, I want to be able to do something fun with it potentially every year. So this past weekend I had an Aha! moment and came up with this super-easy-to-carry-out idea.

This is what you will need:

Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Metallic Acrylic Paint (coverage is amazing and it dries in seconds with no noticeable odor), brushes, wood letters for your initials, and ribbons to hang them later on. All available at Michaels. You can choose any colors that work with your overall holiday decor or even go for multiple colors. I stick to the silver because I am going for a silver-gold Christmas color theme this year.

I brushed on the silver-leaf paint and let them dry and cure for a few hours. I reused the staplers at the back of the letters that used to secure the price tags, removed the price tags, and loop the ribbon through the staplers to hang them up.

And ta-da! In a snap these store-bought Christmas stockings have their own identities. I will eventually paint the middle "A" in a different color, but for now it's served as a "filler".

And this is a close-up picture of the initial of my first name Michelle. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Color Me Happy: Gold

Maybe the holiday spirit gets the best of me so recently I became a gold digger. It's really hard to pass all the glam and luxury spell the gold color has cast upon me.


From the centre clock-wise:
1. The lovely Taylor Swift in a gold sequin dress: it's a tricky one to dress because it can easily borderline costume, but Taylor Swift's dress has just enough shimmery and she made it classy.
2. Alexander McQueen's Gold Python Cicada Jewel Knucklebox Clutch: avant-garde yet totally appropriate for a cocktail party, perfect for a classic outfit with a touch of edginess.
3. Hygge & West's Petal Pusher wallpaper: Christine at Bijou and Boheme used this totally fabulous wallpaper for her daughter Scarlett's room.
4. Pedro Friedeberg Gold Hand Chair from so Hollywood regency and Jonathan Adler.
5. Caitlin Wilson's Gold Zabeel Chevron Pillow.
6. Waylande Gregory Leopard Bullet Bowls: maybe it's time for me to bite the bullet and pick up a couple of these. 
7. Jonathan Adler's Gold Birds.
8. Or how about a 24K gold facial treatment? You've gotta try it once in your life girlfriends. It makes your skin beyond baby-soft!
Last but not the least, I just couldn't wrap up a gold-color inspiration post without this picture...that'd be insensitive. :) What did you say, farjah?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Current Obsession: Jacobean Fabrics

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'd know that I am a sucker for pillows. Part of it was we have a large space with tons of furniture and pillow is an easy way to accessorize and adds colors/texture; the other part was that my taste is constantly evolving -- what appealed to me six months ago may not be the apple of my eye now.

I am currently obsessed about Jacobean fabrics, usually used for upholstery with large-scale branch, fruit and floral motifs. Jacobean fabrics are so versatile that they can work into contemporary, Chinoiserie, English country, Hamptons, French Provincial, rustic and shabby chic decor themes. They add a touch of elegance and softness to the space. Jacobean fabrics are often used in conjunction with geometric fabrics in the same color group to maximize visual interest.

Here are a few Jacobean fabrics that I really like. Which one is your favourite?

Kravet Jellybean Fabric: ~$45/yard, aqua/teal/mint/ochre/brown grey.

I ordered two 12x18 pillow covers in this fabric from Etsy for my dining room. More on them later.
 P. Kaufmann Leaf in Cloud: ~30/yard, blue grey/apple green/grey/brown.

Wouldn't you want to have this pillow on your couch?

The ever-popular Schumacher Hothouse Flowers in Mineral: ~$180/yard, light blue grey/beige tan/black/light blue.

Yours truly has it in her master bedroom. Still love to wake up to it.

 P. Kaufmann Clarice in Dove: ~$25/yard, grey/green/teal blue/charcoal.

I love it on my living room's couch. It looks fab with the Windsor Smith Pelagos pillows.

 Schumacher Avebury Floral Vine in Citrine: ~$180/yard, citrine/grey blue/grey brown.

I am wiping drool off my face! I can have these beauties in any room!
 And how about a Jacobean and Chinoiserie fusion fabric like the Braemore Emperor's Garden Fabric: ~$35/yard, red/pink/gold tan/teal blue/green/plum.

This would be perfect for a girl's room or any bachelorette pad.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Christmas Stocking and Coffee Table Book

I won this gorgeous Christmas stocking from Design Maze made by Switch Studio, thank you Tim and Staci. I only wish I knew about Switch Studio before I started decorating my Christmas mantle. I likely would've had Switch Studio custom-made all this year's Christmas stockings for me...their fabric selections are amazing!

Since I already have the white snowflake stockings from Chapters Indigo on my living room mantle, I've decided to hang the Switch Studio in the foyer right next to the Christmas tree. I love a pop of color there.

As a bargain hunter, I did my fair share of Cyber Monday shopping online last week by taking advantage of coupons and promotions/incentives (e.g. 20x airmiles). Did you know Amazon offers brand name fridge water filters at the lowest price (based on my research)? I ordered mine and received a $15-off promo code, so I went ahead and treated myself with this Louvre: 400 Master Pieces book I've been wanting to collect.

If you've been following my blog for a while, you would know I am a bit of an online shopaholic. I love the convenience and comfort from shopping from my home computer, at my own pace and schedule. I also love the fact that I could compare-shop (usually for the best price) before making any purchase decision. And since most shops offer free shipping with a certain order amount, as long as I know what I am buying, there is really no reason for me to hit the jam-packed malls these days. To such a degree that this year all the gift shopping I've done so far is pretty much all web-based.

So do you like online shopping? What do you like and dislike about it?

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