Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Unionville and House Projects

How do you like this week's heat wave? July turned out to be a hot and dry month so far here in Toronto. I am not complaining about the 12+ hours of glorious sunshine every day. 

This past weekend we took a buddy of mine who visited us from DC to Unionville. I don't remember how many times we've been there before, but I fell in love with it all over again every time. 

Unionville is such a charming and quaint town tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Town of Markham. 

The streets of the historic village are lined with colonial houses like this. Wouldn't it be dreamy to live in a house with perfectly symmetrical facade and black shutters? Sign me up for a fairytale life, please! 

Toogood Pond is another landmark of Unionville.

I am loving this shot with the winding railroad track leading up to the newly restored Stiver Mill. 

On the house project front, I finally pulled the trigger on the exterior potlights. This was yet another project I procrastinated on, out of the fear that it was going to be very messy. I thought the electricians were going to need to cut holes in walls throughout the house to fetch wires. My concern was unfounded. 

After talking to a few companies, I chose Certified Potlight. They have a team of master electricians. During the cost estimate appointment, they patiently walked me through steps of wiring & installation, where the lights and switches go, etc. Because these lights are installed in the soffit, the electricians could wire them from the attic, no mess or wall damage whatsoever. We also went with warm white LED bulbs - they are more expensive upfront but their life expectancy is so much longer and they consume a lot less electricity. Also, we wouldn't need to climb up there every time a bulb burned out. LED bulbs pay for themselves over time. 

My only disappointment was that they couldn't get the lights to the overhang of the gable roof (the pointy part of the roof). It wasn't their fault because the soffit there is not deep enough to house the potlight unit. The house nevertheless looks amazing after the installation, and I could already see how cozy it will look during our cold snowy winter when nights are long. 

Speaking of the outdoor projects, this little fella also had one of its own. This yellow warbler built a nest in our tree! Life is good when we get to wake up to the dawn chorus. 

Now let's take it inside. You know my love for pillows is profound. I lost count of them in my house, but I still couldn't resist picking up new ones. Let's call it an obsession. I've been lusting this Kelly Wearstler's Channels pillow for a long time and finally decided to go for it. Hollie from Stuck on Hue did such a great job of picking out a perfect pattern for me. The other Les Touches pillow in the pillow was also her handiwork. 

I am still not over Target leaving us. The other night when I was researching a taller vase to buy, I came across the Nate Berkus Geo Vases on Target, one cylinder-shaped in gold, the other square in white. Just what I need. I immediately emailed my bestie in the States, and days later they were here. It cost me an arm and a leg to have them shipped here, but what else could I do? A heart wants what it wants.

The Limelight Hydrangeas finally started to bloom. I couldn't wait for them to come out completely but started cutting and bringing them into the house. 

Don't they look gorgeous in this Nate Berkus gold geo vase

With that, I am going to sign off and start my mini vacation with a BFF from Vancouver. Stay cool and hydrated. Peace out. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia

When I was a kid I had a poster in my room for a number of years. The poster had this breathtaking view of a coastline adorned with stone fortresses and houses with terracotta roofs. It made me wonder if a place so stunning really existed, or it was merely a computer-generated imagery from someone's imagination. The poster looked like this.  

Years later I finally landed myself in Dubrovnik, immersed in this otherworldly views of the Dalmatian coast.

Fort Lovrijenac, also known as the Red Keep in King's Landing. 

Climbing the old City Walls of Dubrovnik is a must because that's where you will get the best views of the Old Town. 

Like this aerial view of the bustling Stradun, main street of the Old Town.

This was the view from Minceta Tower. 

Split is the second-largest city in Croatia, and about 3-hour drive from Dubrovnik. It's known for the Diocletian's Palace, erected by the Roman emperor in the 4th century. Unlike the Old Town of Dubrovnik, people continue to live inside the Old Town of Split. So don't be surprised if you see people drying their laundry outside of their residences which so happen to be next to a historical building or monastery. 

We climbed up the Bell Tower of St. Domnius for this stunning view of the entire City. In the distance, you can see the seaward walls separating the Old Town from newer parts of Split. 

If you are acrophobic or suspect you might be, I would suggest you not going up the Bell Tower. I was never afraid of height but I almost had a panic attack up there. As I was climbing up the super steep stairs, I noticed that the staircase was open and there were no balusters on either side! All I got to hold on to was the very flimsy handrail that appeared to shake as I gripped tight on it. The winds got stronger as we were higher up in the tower, and I felt like I was going to be blown into the open air. Horrible feeling but alas I made it, and the views up there made it all worthwhile. 


Golden Gate, Grgur Ninski statue.

The Old Town is not short of restaurants and cafes for al fresco dining. We tried this small restaurant called Posejdon in quieter corner and we loved it. 

I had this octopus salad with balsamic reduction. 

And this fish broth, the best I've ever tasted. 

I will be back to write about our next stop, Turkey. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Basement Gallery Wall, Check!

Summer vacations and activities have been fun and keeping us busy, but I was really itching to be back to blog about decor and styling. I am such a decor adrenaline junkie. As I was running out of major reno projects to work on, I started to procrastinate. This gallery wall over my fauxdenza in the basement hallway looks simple and straightforward enough, but it took me five months to complete! It was challenging finding the right artworks that are cohesive to a mid-century modern theme. 

These two prints from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice pushed me over the finishing line. On the left is the print of Rene Magritte's Empire of Light; and on the right Alberto Giacometti's Woman Walking. 

I played with different layouts on the floor until I found the most visually-balanced option. 

The rest was all math, a lot of measuring and hammering. 

While I was sorting out the artworks for the gallery, I also found an old acrylic painting of mine, a reproduction of Monet's Agapanthus. While the colours and style didn't work for the gallery wall, on a whim I had it framed anyways. 

Luckily I was able to find a spot in our kitchen dining room for it. I like the touch of colours it adds to the space. 

I had shared this picture on my Instagram last week, the black white and gold theme I had on my coffee table in the living room. I had an orchid plant there for the longest time, but it wasn't doing too well because there's not enough sunlight reaching the middle of my living room. Once I relocated the orchid, I was in desperate need of adding variations of heights to my tablescape. Then by chance I saw these vintage brass candlesticks right next to my TV, adorned them with plain white stick candles, and done! I really should try to shop at home more. :) 

I will be back to write about our trip to Dubrovnik in the next post. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Homemade Cherry Preserves

It finally feels like summer outside. I don't know about you but this year I am not having much luck with summer fruits. Cherries are one of my favourites, but this year they are not quite as sweet for enjoyment. A little tartness in cherries however makes them perfect for homemade jam/preserves. 

This is the recipe I used which makes 6 x 250 ml jars of jam. It's based on a BC Cherry Jam recipe on

  • 4.5 cups of pitted, chopped fresh cherries.
  • 170 g powdered fruit pectin.
  • 185 ml unsweetened apple juice.
  • 15 ml lemon juice.
  • 3 cups of white sugar.

The pitting and chopping was the most tedious and time-consuming part. Once you get past that, you will find this jam-making recipe quite easy and fun. 

Place fresh cherries, apple juice, lemon juice and powdered pectin in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil, then add in sugar. 

I started sterilizing the jars and lids in boiling water while cooking the cherry mixture, for 5 minutes. 

Cook the jam at a rolling boil for 2 minutes or longer, stirring constantly. Stop cooking when you see solid chopped cherries gradually disappearing, and the jam achieving a more consistent texture. Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Pack the cherry jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.

Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 15 minutes.

Remove the jars and let cool. Once cool, press the top of each lid with a finger, ensuring that the seal is tight - you may hear a popping sound when the lid squeezes out the air bubble inside the jars. Store them in a cool and dark place and enjoy them throughout the winter. Remember to always store an opened jar in fridge. 

It's so delicious that Anthony and I have been eating it out of the jar! Our party guests were fighting over who got to bring one home. :)

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