Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Roundup in Pictures

This holiday week has been incredibly fun and relaxing. Not only have we been able to host and attend a few parties and catch up with friends and family, we were also able to keep our annual TV show watchathon tradition. We don't have the time or patience to follow a TV show as it's aired, so what we typically do is to buy DVDs or Blue Rays when a series is over and watch all episodes in one shot. We also don't need to experience the disappointment of committing to a new show only to learn it's cancelled a few episodes in - that happened all the time. A couple months ago we finished "Breaking Bad", and we are now on its "Desperate Housewives"-version called "Weeds". Next week we are going to see the Guggenheim's "The Great Upheaval" collection at the AGO, and maybe pack some downtown shopping into the itinerary as well.

A week ago I did my 2013 recap in numbers, and this week is the picture version of my major décor projects this year.

Most of the 2013 projects were minor touch-up projects so it would appear that I was running out of things to change and improve at home. Or was I? The truth is that I am constantly looking for creative inspirations - I was born this way with endless curiosity and energy so rest assured things will continue to happen here at AM Dolce Vita.

Happy new year to your all! May 2014 bring you peace, joy and success!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 Holiday Dinner Table Setting

First of all, I hope my fellow Torontonians were safe and warm throughout the ice storm. I have been following all the news and pictures closely and some of the scenes were just horrific. It felt like "The Day After Tomorrow" was already here. We were lucky that except for a few hours power outage and everything around our house frozen in 5cm of ice, our life wasn't affected all that much by this disaster. It was so heartwarming to have friends and family constantly check in on us to make sure we were safe. Some with power offered their warm house to us (e.g. my boss), and we in turn did the same for our friends and family - this is the holiday spirit at its best with so much sharing, caring and love.

We also managed to stick to the plan and host the Christmas eve dinner. I went with a simple, clean and elegant gold-silver traditional table setting.

I am not a big fan of extravagant centerpieces, so I clustered a few battery-powered flameless candle blocks to add a touch of warm ambience.

This is our dining room on Christmas eve 2013.

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Roundup in Numbers

Sorry for the lack of blog actions lately. Who knew December would turn out to be such a busy month at work? As holidays are literally just around the corner, I thought it would be fun for me to do a quick rewind of my 2013 in numbers. Let's take the plunge, shall we?

  • Number of cities travelled for leisure: 8 (Barcelona, Napoli, Pisa, Firenze, Rome, Marseille, Palma Majorca, and New York).
  • Number of countries visited for leisure: 4 (Spain, Italy, France and US).
  • Number of new TV series watched: 4 (Breaking Bad, Weeds, Suits, and the Blacklist).
  • Number of new movies watched: at least 30.
  • Number of major house reno projects: 0.
  • Number of major decorating project: 2 (dining room and foyer painted staircase).
  • Number of reno projects planned but yet to be carried out: 2 (basement office game room, 2nd floor guest bedroom).
  • Number of pieces of custom furniture ordered: 2 (dining room hutch buffet, French Louis Pillippe gilt mirror).
  • Number of upcycle projects: 3 (kitchen dining room shield-back chairs, rocker, and pair of Bergère chairs).
  • Number of DIY project: 1 (abstract bw art in the foyer)
  • Number of vintage artworks collected: 3 (Sydney Berne, William Carson and Wilh Neumayer).
  • Number of antique bone chair teacup sets collected: 8.
  • Cost of bone china dinnerware displayed in the dining room hutch >= Cost of the custom dining room hutch buffet.
  • Number of new glass ornaments purchased for 2013 Christmas tree: 45.
  • Number of courses for our Christmas eve dinner: 9.
  • Number of sugar cookies baked and decorated: 0 - and I'd better get started on this right now.

More picture recaps will come in the next week or two. My best wishes to you and your family for a very happy holiday, and a happy new year filled with peace, joy and success!

I will leave you with a few cute ornament additions this year.

Looks like someone is having a bad hair day? :)

Glitter feather ornament from Indigo.

Sparrow glass bird ornament from Gluckstein Home via Hudson's Bay.

Monday, December 9, 2013

2013 Christmas Tree and Bar Nook

I was home sick pretty much all weekend. Aside from a quick tea party with my girlfriends, for once I had no where to go so I finally got around to finishing the Christmas tree. I removed the tinsel garlands and I am glad I did - now I can see a clean silhouette of the tree better.

As usual I uploaded my blog photos to Picasa, and as I was bringing the pictures into the post I noticed this: can you see the twinkling effect below?

So magical! This is the "Auto Awesome" effect courtesy of's not Auto Awesome, it's Totally Awesome!

This year all the ornaments on my tree are made of glass/mercury glass (except for the bead garlands), and I must have loaded that tree with a hundred of them.
Can you spot the little birdie in the picture below? I can't tell you how much I love the white weather glass ornaments from Gluckstein Home. I purchased most of the new ornaments (mushroom, feather, bird, balls) from Hudson's Bay; the finial ornaments from Sears; the giant acorns from HomeSense; and the pinecones from Indigo.

I was also able to fill the Gluckstein's brass Greek Key tray with a little bar action in my dining room. I've decided to let go the idea of having a brass bar cart, and reused the Bombay mirrored chest that's already in my dining room.

The crystal decanters are from HomeSense - now is the best time to look for serving pieces like this.

I will be traveling for work for the rest of the week so I am going to sign off and pour myself a glass of JD Honey with Limonada. Ciao bella!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Most Insincere Gift

My sinusitis acted up again and I was home sick pretty much all weekend. A few of my girlfriends wanted to cheer me up and decided to bring our weekend afternoon tea party to me. One of them is prego and started ranting about this most bizarre gift she got from her baby shower - a LCBO gift card! We laughed and joked the gift was actually thoughtful because she could really use it to help her through those soon-to-come sleepless nights. From there we started to toss around the most insincere gifts we had ever received, and eventually we narrowed down to a personal cheque (check), more specifically, a personal cheque hand delivered in person. Why you may ask? We could understand the need to put a personal cheque in the mail for safety reasons, but for someone that you see on a regular basis? Come on. First of all, couldn't you use the same amount to buy a more personalized gift card? Secondly, if giving out money is your thing, then at least try to put cash in a nice red envelope because the receiving end may be too embarrassed to cash your personal cheque. Worst yet, one of my girlfriends said she never cashed the cheques and the gifter never bothered to ask why?!

Anyhoo, for the whole afternoon we were just a bunch of mean girls having a great time and laughing our butt off.

Speaking of gifts, as usual I started earlier and shopped online as much as possible to avoid the mall crowd. This year my store of choice has to be the Hudson Bay. I was able to find everything I want to gift to everyone there! Here are some examples:
From top left clockwise:
  • CAROLEE Pearl Button Clip Earrings: I think my Mom or any mom would look sensational in a pair of these.
  • Chanel COCO MADEMOISELLE: this is for moi, my favourite Chanel perfume.
  • GLUCKSTEINHOME Sussex Napkin Set: perfect as a hostess gift.
  • MONIQUE LHUILLIER Waterford Arianne Old Fashioned: for serious scotch lovers.
  • Hudson Bay's Trapper Nutcracker: a collector piece.
  • SILVER OWL Clear Ribbon Ornament: so pretty and chic.
  • POLO RALPH LAUREN Nappa Leather Touch Gloves: touch sensitive capability keeps your hands warm while you are working on your mobile devices.
  • DIOR Eau Sauvage Eau De Toilette: hands down the most delicious men's perfume I've ever sniffed on. The woody undertone is so subtle that it doesn't have that powerful and overwhelming musky scent.
Just for the fun of it, what's the most insincere gift you had ever received?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas is in the air!

It's beginning to feel like Christmas, isn't it? I am late to the holiday décor this year, but I finally managed to set up the tree this past weekend. And after hours of adorning it with old and new ornaments, this is what it looks like:

I think I am going to lose those tinsel garlands - they look so overwhelming and distracting. 

I don't usually go for a "theme" when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree - I find it difficult because first of all, I don't buy a complete new set of ornaments every year; and secondly, I find it hard to stick to a certain theme in mind whenever I come across eye-pleasing pieces - I just buy them without thinking whether they are going to work with the rest of the ornaments. Interestingly enough, this year after most of my ornament shopping is done with, I find the new pieces I added are mostly related to a woodland and forest themes: they are mushroom, pinecone and acorn mercury glass ornaments. Today I also loaded up on these cute glass birdie and feather ornaments from GlucksteinHome collection during the Bay's BOGO sale. The sale is still on if you are interested.

I hope I can get around to decorating the mantel this weekend. Final reveal of my 2013 Christmas tree and holiday mantel to follow.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kitchen Dining Chairs Update

I have this not-so-pretty dining room in my kitchen that I have been trying to change up. The first thing on my mind is to replace those upholstered dining rooms that I once liked. They were from InVu Drapery, stylish and super comfortable, but they have too much of a presence. By the way, they are up for sale if anyone is interested. At this time I would prefer dining chairs with a see-through backrest to give the space a more airy look - mostly importantly, I would like to have a straight line of sight from my kitchen island through the French doors into my backyard greenery.

So I have been searching for the right dining chairs. I came across a lot of chairs in vintage style - I love the sturdy construction of the new chairs but they just don't have the same vintage flair I am after. A few weeks ago I came across these gorgeous 1930s antique shield-back chairs from Creighton House Antiques. They are made of mahogany, solid and sturdy as new in mint condition.

Creighton House Antiques is located in a pretty and quaint town called Jordan in the southeast Ontario. Owners are a lovely couple Pauline and Joe who have been in antique business for over 30 years. They have a ton of knowledge to share with their customers and help them with the right purchase decisions.

At the end of the visit I took home four of these babies.

They are now with Paint-it-Like-New! for a few coats of creamy white makeover. 

I am still debating which upholstery fabric to use but I think they have the "real potential" to look like this.
At Home in Arkansas via Decorpad

Or this.
The Every Girl Erin Gates Interiors

Or how about the fun faux ostrich leather vinyl? I am really digging it for some reason these days. Vinyl upholstery seems to be appropriate for a busy kitchen dining room. All the mess we make could likely be gone with an easy wipe away. I am however a bit skeptical about the comfort and the look of vinyl - after all, the last time vinyl was popular was in the dreadful décor era of the 80's.

Another option is to also upholster the shield back. Samantha Pynn made over the same chairs in a similar fashion. I really like how it turns out, but I love the shield back detail too much to cover it up. 

A simple seat upholstery in a high-contrast fabric like this is probably what I will do.   
His and Hers blog
So how do you like the shield back chairs for my kitchen dining room? Are you like me who often prefer upcycling antique furniture to buying new?

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