Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Going Rouge

No, this blog is not about spoofing Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" book (btw, do you still remember her? :-)). Rather it's literally about the color RED.

As most of you know I am a rock collector. So far I've accumulated 20 pieces of precious and semi-precious crystal specimens, and the collection is still growing.

As most of you also know, I am a chicken when it comes to intense and saturated colors like red. Recently, I've started to notice certain rooms in the house are pretty monochromatic. They can really use some pops of color.

The other night while I was watching season 2 White Collar on DVD, an episode about a stolen Myanmar pigeon blood ruby prompted me to search for a rock collection in the red color family. This is what a rough (uncut unpolished) pigeon blood ruby looks like. Isn't it a knockout? 
Rough Ruby Source

Another thing I learnt from the show is that pigeon blood ruby is one of the most expensive (if not the most) ruby in the world. To add a small piece to my collection would mean thousands of dollars...not going to happen.

So I had to turn my search to less precious categories.
Rhodochrosite & Pyrite
Rose Quartz

Rose Aura Quartz
They look pretty fab right? I am going to pick up a couple of them, and will post some pictures later.

So, do you have any expensive hobbies? What do you do to curb your urge to spend?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Walk the Line

Grout line that is.

I am not a big fan of wide/thick grout lines -- not only do they cheapen the overall look of a room, they also trap in and accumulate dust and dirt over time. So wherever feasible and possible, I would request to minimize the grout lines. The first step to that of course is to pick tiles with straight edges (as opposed beveled edge which requires more grout to fill the gaps).

A few years ago when our house was under construction, we opted out of tile upgrade in the foyer as it would cost us a ridiculous amount through our builder (like 10K). We chose the least ugly ones but little did we know our builder would lay the tiles this way.
Our Foyer Feb 2012
See those ginormous grout lines in the picture? They really get on my nerve.

So, I see I have two options: either to live with it, after all, we spend the least amount of time in the foyer; or to yank out all the existing tiles, and put in marble or porcelain tiles with almost no grout lines. The latter option would cost us about 5K. And money is the least of our concern...a rip-and-replace job like this is guaranteed to be very messy and dusty.

The ceramic tiles are rugged and functional for a foyer, but they don't seem to fit in the overall ambiance of my house. An open-to-the-above grand foyer like this is a key selling feature of a house.

So, what would you do if this was your foyer? Is it a good investment in your opinion?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day and Night

The other day after reading Shannon at 8foot6's blog on "Two things to help you take a better interiors photo", I played with the Exposure Compensation setting of my camera, and here's what came out. These two pictures came straight from my camera, and have not been touched up by any software.

Exposure Compensation = +0.7, ISO = 3200

Exposure Compensation = +2.0, ISO = 3200

Day and night, right? The higher EC made the room look so sunny. Love it!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Easy Breezy Apple Pie

Today is the "Family Day" in Ontario, so we were finally able to get together with some friends and try out my apple pie recipe. Actually, I shouldn't take credit for this comes handy with Pillsbury's Refrigerated Pie Crust. Seriously, you should give it at try. 

The recipe calls for six Granny Smith but I opted for three Gala and three Washington for less tannin taste.

Pardon my rookie crust crimping skill. The photo was taken months ago when I debuted my first apple pie. I'd like to think I am a lot better now. :-)

How did you spend your Family Day long weekend?


Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Old Picture

Cough + fever + runny/stuffy nose + headache = days off blogging. It hasn't been easy to cope with a terrible cold like this while keeping up with the work intensity. I've been on antibiotics since Monday, and I think I managed to beat bronchitis by 24 hours. Consider myself lucky! Two years ago when I had similar symptoms, I waited another day before going to see my family physician. The result was non-stop coughing and asthmatic attacks for one week. I guess I learnt my lesson!

I dug up a picture of me taken a few years ago on a corporate retreat in Maui. Gazing at the picture made me realize how much I miss the ocean breeze.

So here's something I can look forward to in a few weeks. I will be doing nothing but reading on a sandy beach.

And perhaps blankly stare into the endless sea from our cruise ship balcony.

And how great is that! Way to unclutter my mind. Do you have any spring vacation plan?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Design Plans and Outcomes

Those that have been reading my blog for a while would know how much I love putting together design plans (aka mood boards). I thought I would summarize a few plans I've put together so far, and show you how faithful the outcomes were to them.

The Plan: Master Bedroom

 The Outcome. Read more about this transformation here.

The Plan 1.0: Living Room

The Plan 2.0: Living Room

The more about this transformation here.

The Plan: Basement Bathroom

The more here.

The Plan 1.0: Home Office

The Plan 2.0: Home Office

The Outcome... read more here.

The Plan: Master Bathroom

The Outcome: we shall find out in April/May timeframe.

So, are you a big fan of the mood board exercise? Did your projects turn out mostly according to the plans?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Master Bath Shower Kit

We had to cancel our trip to cottage country today due to the weather, so once again our plan has been put on hold. I am starting to wonder if this is not meant to be...on second thought, I am sure I am just overthinking it. Hopefully the weather will be clear next weekend, and we can finally go to see those cottages.

I've been searching for a shower system in preparation for our upcoming master bathroom renovation. Most of the kits I like would cost me in the range of $2,000 (too much, I know!), and I wasn't even looking for fancy features like "body jets" or "water tiles". After lunch, we decided to give a few local bath stores a try. We stumbled upon a brand called Riobel, the same one Janice @ LB30 used for her master bath. I was pleasantly surprised by how affordable their shower faucet systems are. After 45 minutes, I walked out of the store with an order for this:

Riobel Thermostatic/Pressure Balance Shower Kit

I was totally sold on its look, all brass construction, and the thermostatic mixing valve 
The kit in the showroom
The kit in the showroom
So that's one major item off my list, whew. Are you like me that always research to death to get the best deal/product?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Schumacher Pillow

Remember the super fab Schumacher Hothouse Flowers fabric I will use as our master bathroom roman shades? Well, since I ordered a lot more than needed, I couldn't resist the temptation to have part of it made into a body pillow for our master bedroom. This is my favourite fabric in my house right now. 
 And this is the master bedroom without flash. The flash version is available here.

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