Saturday, March 31, 2012

Giveaway Winner

The lucky winner of this trio set of super cute solid brass bunny figurines is...

Shannon from 8FootSix, congratulations!

I just weighted them on my kitchen scale, and together they are a hefty 700g...solid brass indeed! I hope to get them to you in time for Easter holiday, so please get in touch with me soon.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shoe Closet

Don't forget to enter the vintage brass bunny giveaway here before Saturday.

I admire an ensuite dressing room with racks for displaying pretty shoes. However, I am that type of person that will always keep jackets, coats and shoes out of bedroom -- bottomline, if I wear them out of the house, they don't belong in the bedroom closet. As a result, I struggle to find storage space throughout the house for shoes. I don't consider myself having tons of shoes, but they certainly won't fit into one closet. I don't have another closet big enough to include a shoe rack to display all my shoes either. So I always have to move different pairs around by season and occasion, a painful exercise! And because they are spread across a few different closets, out of sight out of mind, I often forget what I have and constantly struggle to find the right pair of shoes to wear.

As part of the spring cleaning, I took out all those spring/summer shoes I still like (donated those I haven't worn for a long time), took pictures of each pair of them, printed the images out in one page, and taped the page to the side of the closet. That way not only could I store and stack my shoes in boxes (so they don't have to display in plain sight) to save space, but also know which pairs are in a certain closet as soon as I open the door.
Picture index of my spring/summer shoes

See the picture card on the side panel?

I've also done similar for boots and other winter shoes. The index card also serves as a reminder not to buy the same shoes twice...oh yes, that happened to me before!

Have you done any spring cleaning? Do you have any similar storage and organizing tips to share?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Score!!! Adirondack Chairs

First of all, don't forget to enter my super sweet and cute Easter giveaway of three vintage brass bunny figurines here.

Ever since we completed the landscaping last summer, I've been researching on types of additional seating we could put underneath the gazebo. Rattan/wicker conversation set like this has become pretty popular in recent years. While I love the bring-the-indoors-out look, I don't like the fact that they are usually pretty substantial in size and won't fit into my garden shed for winter storage. I have also tried out a few bistro sets, but they are usually too small and hence uncomfortable to lounge.

And then one day an idea stroke me as I was scanning for a cottage to buy...what about those Muskoka Chairs that are everywhere at cottage country? They are so comfortable to sink ourselves into for a long time. But similar to the wicker conversation set, they are not small either. And then of course I found out the Adirondack Chairs, or popularly known as Muskoka Chairs, actually come in folding type!

Today when we were at a Canadian Tire for something else I ran into this -- the famous Eon Classic Adirondack Folding Chairs in Driftwood (Grey), and the best part is, the last two left were on clearance! An Eon Adirondack Folding Chair costs anywhere between $300 to $400, but I didn't pay anywhere near that! Love me a deal!

It took us over an hour to assemble both chairs, but the instructions are pretty straightforward. Here they are now in my basement. I am waiting to put up the canopy again before I bring them outdoors.

Eon's Adirondack Chairs are made of virgin and reprocessed materials (e.g. plastic) that look like real wood. They are solid, durable, and most importantly, zero maintenance! And they carry a 20-year warranty.

Now I just can't wait to sit back and chillax over a glass of wine!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Giveaway: Vintage Brass Bunny Figurines

Since Easter is just around the corner, it's about time to get into the spirit and celebrate with some bunny business.

I purchased this set of three super adorable bunny figurines last year from an antique shop. They are one of a kind, made of solid brass, and likely made in the early to mid 1900's.

Measurements:Largest one: 5" tall, 3.25" long
Medium: 4" tall, 3.25" long
Small: 3" tall, 3.25" long.

A lucky reader of my blog will win this entire set or ALL THREE of these cute bunny figurines. They will make perfect Easter decoration for years to come.

Enter to win is super easy:
  • Follow my blog by clicking "Join this site" on the right sidebar.
  • Leave a comment to let me know you've followed my blog.
  • Leave another comment by sharing where in your house you would showcase these figurines (e.g. bookcase, nursery).
  • You will receive one entry for each comment you leave.
  • Those that add me to their "Blog List" get an extra entry into the draw.
  • And that's it!
I will randomly select a winner and announce on Saturday March 31st. From there I will contact you to arrange for pickup or shipping. This giveaway is open to all readers in Canada and US.

Good luck!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bathroom Floor Tile and Grout Color

We are less than a month away from our master bathroom renovation. As usual, gathering and picking all necessary materials is no easy task. We've decided to use 12x12 polished Bianco Carrara as floor tiles, similar to what we did in our basement bathroom. The only difference is that I will be using either basketweave or herringbone as a framed accent area in front of the freestanding tub.

Now comes the tough decision: which grout colors to use?

I used Mapei's Unsanded Grout in White for my kitchen backplash. Tile is Bianco Carrara Mini Brick Mosaic.

Basement bathroom is rarely used, so I opted for the same Mapei Unsanded Grout in White on the floor.

I love how clean the white grout looks, but the master bathroom is probably one of the busiest area in the house, so a white grout may not be a wise decision in the long haul. I am thinking of grey shades that can be picked up from the tile itself.

Here are the three contenders: left to right, Mapei's Warm Grey, Silver and Pewter (the color strips above the cable outlet).
 Source: Flickr.
This is Bianco Carrara with Warm Grey grout lines.
Source: Flickr
Or how about this?

I like that the warm grey grout adds more definition to the otherwise mostly white tiles, yet it doesn't scream for attention. I like it more from a practicality and low-maintenance perspective.

So would you use a grey grout with Bianco Carrara floor tile? A lighter shade of grey than Warm Grey maybe?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bedroom Art

The DIY abstract art didn't work out for the master bedroom's giant wall. I came across these abstract minimalist ink drawings at Home Sense as I was cutting through the store to get to Banana Republic (btw, BR is having a store-wide 30% sale). They are very Henri Matisse-styled, and I love the simple yet flowing lines.
Abstract minimalist ink drawings in stretched canvas over champagne floater frames

AM Dolce Vita Master Bedroom 03182012
I am pretty happy the new additions continue and complement the bedroom's overall clean and simple look. How do you like it? Have you scored anything interesting for your home lately?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cheap and Chic

Spring arrives early this year, and that means it's time to refresh your wardrobe. According to People's Style Watch and numerous other fashion watchers, bold colors and block patterns have made a comeback yet again, and are way more colorful than the crowd at Lady Gaga's concert!

The super nice weather and the recent cruise trip has sent me on an accessory shopping spree, and I am not done yet. This was the first time, after a long time, for me to set foot into the Bay again. Since the Bay is one of my mom's favourite shopping spots, I never saw myself find anything trendy for my age there. And boy, was I wrong? After a series of efforts to revamp its corporate image, the Bay has surely become a more interesting place for people of all ages to shop. Their pricing is also attractive with ongoing promotions and loyalty programs.

Here are my scores so far -- every piece is under $100 so no risk what-so-ever if they go out of style next year.

1. Red coral bangle by Caché.
2. Crystal beads and chains by Caché.
3. White enamel bangle by Garbo at the Bay.
4. Orange and fuchsia enamel bangle by Garbo at the Bay.
5. Turquoise cocktail ring by Express at the Bay.
6. Mother-of-pearl necklace by Joe Fresh.

Have you done any spring shopping yet?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

DIY Abstract Art

My first attempt at picking up oil painting again was two months ago when I painted a mini impressionist. I've also since been inspired by many abstract paintings in pastel color tone, and tantalized to try one for myself.

So here it is, one of my very few abstract paintings, titled "Rain". I've never actually spent much time studying or learning abstract, and the painting shows. I bought a floater-canvas combo set from DeSerres, and painted the frame in gold leaf.

I took the pictures at night so flash makes it blurry. Colors are also a bit off from the painting itself. I will take some more closeup pictures this weekend during the day just so you can see all the stroke details.

I left it in the master bedroom for the time being to add some colors to an empty wall. Do you like it? Does it belong in a bedroom?  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guess What?

Can you guess what this is for? They are so practical that I am about to pick up a set.

Hint: It's particularly attractive to neat freaks and germaphobes. :-)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Freestyle Cruising Ahead

I took a short hiatus from blogging for the past few days, and we had a fabulous time aboard a Norwegian cruise to the Caribbean. Our journey started in Miami where we spent a day touring the City and enjoyed the fine dining and free lifestyle the City has to offer. We also took the opportunity to investigate the real estate market, and were awed by how affordable a condo vacation property is right by the bay. After that we boarded the cruise ship, and started our 4-day sail. Being the first-time cruiser, I've learnt a few new things and thought I'd share my experience with you.

1. Get a balcony or penthouse suite if possible. Okay I admit it that we are antisocial people. So to have our private balcony to get the same views as from the panoramic deck (where all the people are) is amazing.

Views from our balcony as we were embarking in Miami

2. Cruise crew are extremely courteous and helpful. They are mostly recruited from Southeast Asia (Philippines) or South America, who have superb work ethics and really go out of their way to ensure your short stay was as relaxing and memorable as possible. The $12 per person per day tips were worth every penny.

3. Upon boarding, we immediately made reservations for the three gourmet restaurants to get our first picks of times. These are the ones that cost extra cover charges ranging from $15 to $25 per person, and they are well worth it. Wine, sparkling water and cocktails are extra, and they will put away your unfinished bottle for you to consume in any other restaurants on deck. One of the three restaurants we tried offers French cuisine called Le Bistro, and they make one of the best Crème Brûlées I've ever had. Each meal ended up costing us on average $80, which is only a third of what we would've paid in town for such a meal including wine.

Food from our cruise

4. Watch out for high sodium in food and drinking water. I had suspected that the water has high sodium content which led to slight swelling in my extremities, e.g. I had a tough time squeezing my finger through my wedding rings yet they are usually loose fit. After reading some blogs and comments, a lot of people blame the food served instead. Either way, after the first day, we opted for very low-sodium Pellegrino whenever possible, and avoided sauteed dishes and cold cuts as much as we could.

5. Ship can get pretty rocky when sailing through head winds or rain storms. We had experienced both for a short period of time, and I actually quite liked it. For those that are prone to motion sickness, pack extra non-drowsy Gravols or ask concierge on the boat for some free ones.

6. I'd like to think cruising is an adapted taste. As an avid museum and art gallery goer, I felt I always needed to "do" things while on vacation in a different place. Before I was under the impression that cruising is mostly for seniors and newly-weds, and at the end of it everybody walks away food-stuffed. To my surprise, the trip is not short of activities and things to do, and truly offers something for everyone. Yesterday afternoon Hub and I hit the golf driving net, played Ping Pong, shot some criminals (video arcade), and pushed coin dozers at casino, all within a few hours. That said, you also need to like and enjoy letting your mind roam idle and free for a good period of time. I find it a nice change for me, and it helped unclutter my mind.

7. Let's just say pharmacies in the Bahamas are loosey-goosey -- all you need to do is to ask, and pay for it! My eyes were irritated by the ship's tap water, and my bad habit of rubbing them only made it worse. A few hours aboard I already found myself with what seemed to be pink eye. One of our destinations is Nassau of the Bahamas, and while in a pharmacy looking for OTC symptom-relieving eye drops, we overheard people in the line buying Tylenol #3 without any prescription. Thankfully I have a licensed pharmacist handy (Hubby) so he asked the lady (who doesn't appear to be one) at the counter for Vigamox or Garamycin, both require doctor's prescriptions in Ontario. And guess what? They have it, and had no problem of just taking our credit card and selling it to us! Rest assured that I responded well to the medication, and I got to continue to enjoy the trip.

Anti-infection eye drop sans prescription

As I mentioned earlier, this was my first time cruising, and I chose a short one to get a taste. Did I like the experience? Yes. Would I go for a long one next time? Hell, yeah! I've already had the Mediterranean Cruise in mind. Until next time...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Foyer Floor Update

Thanks for your input on our foyer flooring. The decision is a "go" to get rid of those grout lines. After much consideration and weighing in pros and cons between hardwood floor extension and natural marble tiles, I've decided to go with the latter, sort of.

My search for the new foyer tile started with marbles in the white, grey and cream color families, where my comfort zone is. The first one came to my mind was the ever-popular Bianco Carrara in 24x24. To my great surprise, after visiting a few tile stores, I found out there seemed to be a city-wide shortage of Bianco Carrara tiles in that size; and for a couple of stores that still had little inventory left, they either didn't have enough (we needed almost 300 sq ft), or would sell them at a ridiculous price. I guess they all imported from similar sources.

One of the stores suggested a marble called Bianco Statuario which is like a "veinier" cousin of Bianco Carrara, and the stone is gorgeous!
Bianco Statuario

Doesn't it look fabulous in a master retreat. And that's probably why the tile should stay in a bathroom, IMO.

I moved on to investigate Crema Marfil group of marbles. Top-grade Crema Marfil can look very warm and calm at the same time. However, a clean Crema Marfil tile with very little veins and swirls would pretty much eat up my entire foyer budget. When I was in one of the stores, a different type of tile caught my eye -- a porcelain tile that looked almost identical to natural Crema Marfil but very clean! I came home to do some research, and this is what I found: "Porcelain tile is a dense material, which makes it nearly impervious to wear. Porcelain tile is also less porous and less prone to moisture or stain absorption keeping maintenance to a minimum." Sounds about just what I need for a foyer, right?

So this is what I ended up buying: a very light-colored Crema Marfil porcelain tile in 12x24. In my opinion this choice is a threefer: it has the marble look; it is low maintenance and durable; and it costs half of natural Crema Marfil.

The project starts in mid April, and I can't wait to get rid of those ugly grout lines. So, what do you think of my final tile choice?

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