Sunday, November 25, 2012

New Kitchen Art

Hope you all had a great weekend. It was yet another busy one for us: we went to a birthday party on Saturday, and Sunday when Anthony was busy saving lives, I spent the afternoon at a day spa. And just like that, the weekend was gone. I didn't even get around to the One of a Kind Show, but I am definitely going this coming weekend.

On Saturday I also picked up the re-framed Alanna Cavanagh tea towel (I crashed it the first time around). With the vibrant colors and fun style, the framed tea towel is so versatile that it can really go anywhere in the house. I decided to keep it in the kitchen as first it's a natural fit, and second, my kitchen could really lighten up a bit.

So here's the newly framed Alanna Cavanagh limited edition tea towel. I pretty much copied Tim @ Design Maze's idea.

It now finds a perfect spot in my kitchen. I love how perky and light-hearted it looks which balances out my dark kitchen cabinets.

Speaking of dark kitchen cabinets, realizing almost every designer's kitchen now is based on white cabinetry, I am really tempted to make some change as well. Years ago when we picked the kitchen cabinets, we were talked into a darker stain and how it made solid maple cabinetry look more luxurious. So the bad news is that we've spent tons of dough on these babies so to have them painted seems a bit of a waste. In addition to the cabinetry, I could also think of a lot of improvements I'd like to make in this kitchen, such as a couple of built-in wall ovens (get to bake at different temperatures at the same time), pots and pans drawer, a bigger island, etc. If this was your kitchen, would you have the cabinets painted in white?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's Official

Remember an Asian woman that awkwardly dived into her purse for her work business cards to give you at blogger gathering events? Well, that's-a me. I was truly embarrassed to have shown up so unprepared, so I've since added "getting business cards for my blog" to my to-do list, and almost a year later, I finally got around to it.

So it's official, AM Dolce Vita now has its well-deserved and long overdue business cards.

Back and Front

Initially I was going to try to design the template myself or hire a designer but then I found this Quartrefoil Teal Blue Pattern from Zazzle that shares similar aesthetics to my blog banner. Zazzle has hundreds of different pre-built design templates under "Interior Designer" and "Interior Decorator" categories, so they are great for those that are looking to start with something simple and small. It only took Zazzle just over a week to ship the finished products to me, and I am pretty happy with the paper and print quality.

I have a $10-off one-time-use promo code, so please email me if you are interested in ordering your business cards or any print products from Zazzle.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our 2012 Christmas Tree

Well folks, here at AM Dolce Vita holiday spirit is officially in full swing. We set up our Christmas tree this past weekend. As usual, we've decided to keep the tree in our foyer with it being the highest traffic area (which means we get to see it more often).
Our 2012 Christmas Tree in the foyer, just over 7ft tall. 

Whether you've been decorating Christmas trees for years or you are a new home owner looking to put up your first-ever-official Christmas tree, I would highly recommend you turn to this November issue of Style At Home magazine. It has the most complete and creative ideas and tips on how to decorate a sensational Christmas tree.

Our 2012 Christmas Tree from the foyer mirror

Tree Topper: I started this year's gold-silver themed tree because of it.

 From another angle facing the front door.

So here's what I learnt from the Style At Home November issue but really, there's no rule when it comes to decorating your Christmas tree.

  1. If your tree doesn't come prelit, the rule of thumb is 80-100 lights per foot.
  2. From top to bottom: start by hanging ornaments from the top.
  3. From big to small: hang the bigger ornaments first, evenly distribute them across all sections of the tree, then move on to medium then small-sized ornaments.
  4. Hang ornaments with special meaning to you and your family (e.g. baby's picture, clay palm print, etc.) at the eye level section.
  5. Evenly distribute shiny and matte objects.
  6. Wrap the tree with bead chains, garlands and/or ribbons.
I prefer to decorate my tree in a certain color family. This year I went with a gold-silver theme because of the new tree topper and that it works better for my foyer. You can go as colorful and as sumptuous as you want -- there is no rule.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Color Me Happy: Sage Green

Sage Green is a greyish muted green color, and is not an easy color to work with. However, if used properly, sage green can have very serene and sensational impact either on your outfit or room decor.
From the centre clock-wise:

1. Bari Jay Bridesmaids Dresses in sage green: do you know sage green is a very popular bridal color theme?

2. (Wedding) cake in sage green accent by HBA Photography.

3. Cococozy Logo pillow in sage green: if money was no subject, I'd buy all of Cococozy's gorgeous pillows!

4. Green Amethyst gemstone ring via Overstock.

5. Glass tile in sage green via Subway Tile Outlet.

6. Rough green amethyst stones via Jaf Impex.

7. ROYAL DOULTON 1815 4 Piece Place Setting in sage green: don't you just love the watercolor dipped effect? This is what inspired me to start this inspiration board.

8. Sage Green Pistachio Macaroons via Tartelette blog. I can have pistachio macaroons for breakfast, or afternoon tea, or evening snacks, every day. :)

So have you ever incorporated Sage Green into your outfit or home decor? How do you like the color?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love for Alanna Cavanagh

I fell in love with Alanna Cavanagh's art years ago when her big orange scissors screen print first came out. For those that love Alanna's art as much as I do, you will be very pleased to know that Alanna's New and Limited Edition Christmas Tea Towel is now available at The Bay. This time around I wasn't going to take any chances so I ordered two pieces. The same daschund named Walter is still in it and I just love all the colors Alanna had picked for this tea towel: so happy, festive, light-hearted and vintagey at the same time. It's such a fabulous and affordable way to own a piece of Alanna's art!

Remember the story about how I played with The Bay's check-out system and ended up with two of these fabulous and supposedly-out-of-stock limited edition tea towels?

I really love what Tim @ Design Maze did with the towel so I took his idea so the good news is that it has been framed and I found a perfect spot in the kitchen for it. And now comes the bad news -- do you see the damaged corner in the picture? As I was unwrapping the frame (it was so heavy) I lost the grip so the frame took a free fall smashing right into the floor. Blame my small hands and impatience to wait for my husband to help!

I was heart-broken and had to take it right back to the art shop to get it re-framed. Luckily the glass wasn't broken otherwise it would've put a bigger hole in my pocket. Oh well, I guess I will just have to wait for a few more days to enjoy it. More pictures to follow.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

DIY Ball Ornament Garland

This past weekend I started to add colorful ornaments to our 2012 holiday mantle. After a few attempts, it seemed like turquoise, blue, silver, bronze and green combination works the best for our living room. With a roll of organza ribbon (.25" in width), I linked these ornament balls together by tying a knot every 6-8cm to secure each ball in place. I figured if I didn't like the garland on the mantle I could always use it on the tree.

I love how cheerful and bright these colors are together, just what we need when it's cloudy and chilly outside in winter months.

I think my 2012 holiday mantle is set, and now I can move on to the tree. So do you like this colorful version better, or would you still prefer the pretty monochromatic (white) holiday mantle from a week ago?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fabulous Find: Pink Flamingo

Ever since I saw this pink flamingo figurine from Marlie & Jessica Waks' living room featured in Style At Home magazine, I desperately wanted one. Oh did I ever tell you that pink is one of my favourite colors? I searched online and in store and every possible place where I might land one but no luck.

Recently I learnt something new -- things will show up when I am not looking for them. So all I need to do is to cool off and wait. That's what happened with the vintage Foo Dogs and now the pink flamingo. A week ago I went to a HomeSense store for Christmas ornaments, and saw this Murano Glass Pink Flamingo figurine on a shelf among million other things. I think my heart might have skipped a beat at that moment. There were two, and although the other one wasn't as perfect as this one, I took both of them home. I probably should break this "buy now, decide later" type of shopping pattern.

Isn't it gorgeous? I love this shade of pink! 

This is the other one now sitting in a guest bedroom. I like the more translucent pink glass but don't like the shape of it as much. 

The first one is now sitting on my gold-leaf bombe chest in the upper hall. A glance at it every time I walk by makes me so happy!

Have you recently fulfilled any obsession? Do you agree that things pop up when you least look for them?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Vintage Find: Blue Turquoise Foo Dogs

Foo dogs are lion-like mythical creatures that are iconic in Chinoiserie decor. I've been lusting for a pair of blue turquoise foo dogs for a long time, but true vintage blue-glazed ones are very hard to come by. Also, they are not cheap as a pair of 12" tall often goes for ~$1,000. Don't let those a couple of hundred-dollar replicas fool you...they don't hold or increase in value over time. Most vintage pieces that made to the West were made in 1950s in China, so the craftsmanship at the time was so much more delicate.

As luck would have it, this past weekend when hubby and I went to Market Village for lunch, we stepped into a Chinese antique/chinaware shop that we had never set foot in. And there I saw this pair of foo dogs on a top shelf behind glass doors. They were not the typical sitting type on a pedestal, but they nonetheless took my breath away.

Aren't they in the most beautiful blue turquoise shade? They were seriously made to perfection. After some friendly haggling, I took these precious home. The best part is, I didn't pay anywhere close to $1,000!

I haven't figured out where to put them yet, so for now they are in my dining room. 

I might keep them on the buffet, or move them on to the foyer chest or to the living room coffee table. 

If you are interested in true vintage/antique Chinoiserie collector pieces, you should pay Lee Fung Chinaware a visit. The owners are retiring soon and they are having a store-closing clearance sale now.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

New Coffee Table Books

Tomorrow I will be in meetings until early evening so sadly I will have to miss the Young House Love's book signing event at West Elm. Why does it have to be on a workday, sniff-sniff?

I am a big fan of YHL, the adorable and lovable couple and their daughter Clara, their creative DIY projects, and fun & laid back blog style. I pre-ordered the Young House Love book, and I have to say it's one of my favourite design/decorating books so far, probably because I "know" the writers.

I knew the book was going to the coffee table when I finish reading. I tried a few different arrangements and books and here they are:

1. Love the combination of the teal spine from YHL book and the unexpected orange from "Happier At Home".

2. Back to my comfort zone: I swapped in the Restoration Hardware Fall Catalog which has a blue-grey cover.
3. At that moment I recalled a nice coffee table book candidate -- "The Perfectly Imperfect Home". 
4. I decided to remove the book sleeve and reveal the azure blue cover of the "The Perfectly Imperfect Home", and I think I have a winner. 

So which one is your favourite? Do you try to re-arrange your coffee table books often?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Holiday Mantel

Is it really only November 9th? Anyhow, here in Toronto this weekend the weather should be nice and warm in the teens so we plan to put up our Christmas lights outside without worrying about nose and ears falling off from our heads.

I've also started to get the inside of the house ready for holidays. Even I now it's a bit insane to take out the Christmas tree now, so I took a baby step and started with the mantel first.

AM Dolce Vita's Holiday Mantel 2012: it's a work in progress. I am still adding more ornaments and colors to it.

A more close-up picture.

I was determined to DIY again to avoid getting sparkle dust all over my house.

I used Ikea SMYCKA artificial garland which looks like real fir, Strala snowflake light chain which operates on batteries (perfect for me because I hate seeing wires leading to outlet exposed), JULMYS ornament balls and garland.

Next up would be Christmas tree, coffee table and dining table.

So have you done holiday decor at home so far?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Color Me Happy: Teal

I am on Banana Republic's distribution list and yesterday I received a newsletter about the latest color trend Teal. I couldn't take my eyes off the prettiness and richness of the color. Teal is a bluish-green that comes in many shades and hues. It is like a much warmer and more passionate cousin of Blue. I think I might just find another color for the "pop" effect. :)
From centre clock-wise:

1. Natalie Chan Bridesmaid Collection: Natalie is the wife of one of my cousins, and a super talented Kiwi milliner and fashion designer. Check out her design portfolio and online shop at

2. OPI "Teal Ski We Drop" nail enamel. Picture by Le Journal de Mademoiselle.

3. Banana Republic's Teal stone layered necklace, a perfect stocking stuffer.

4. Natalie Chan's teal silk rosette.

5. Young House Love's painted built-in in Dragonfly. I think I am going to the dark side for my basement Ikea built-in as well.

6. Banana Republic's BR Sparkle chandelier earring in teal. I am drooling.

7. French teal linen wingback chair from Istdibs.

Have you found a new color that you love lately?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Holiday Porch

I know I know, it's only November 5th, but I am one of those holiday enthusiasts that plunge into the festive decor early on. Following the Indigo stockings I've already put out on our mantle, I started to decorate our front porch. The first up is wreath. When it comes to holiday ornaments, the choices are unlimited these days. Retailers would even organize them by color and theme for ease of shopping. I am all in for the shiny ornaments but the one single major turnoff has been the sparkle dust. It'd appear that 99% of the holiday ornaments these days are dipped in it...argh...imagine it gets on my hands, rugs and everything else in the house.

So I picked up these plain-jane long needle pine wreaths from President's Choice on Sunday and got right to work to glam them up.

This is the after, the wreaths now on my front door. I silver-leafed the pine cones, twigs and added a cluster of small silver ornament balls as a focal point.

This is a more close-up picture. I might add more ornaments to it but for now I am kind of liking the simple and clean look.  

This is a super easy and quick craft project anyone can do at home. Have you done any fun DIY craft projects lately?

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