Monday, October 31, 2016

Hamilton Musical

We went down to NYC to see the first ever hip-hop historical musical about an American "founding father without a father" Alexander Hamilton. It was created by the one and only ingenious Lin-Manuel Miranda, which received a record-setting 16 Tony nominations (every single category devoted to musical, basically) and won 11. I am a big live theatre fan but was never this obsessed with a musical/play before. A few days before my birthday, my husband Anthony surprised me with a pair of tickets to the show and a trip down to NYC. Note he had to sell one of his kidneys but the show was completely worth it. Just kidding, but I am sure you know the tickets were sold out for the next 12 months and while the resell market is the only way to score tickets they cost an arm and a leg. 

Picture below: Hamilton signage outside of the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. 

This is the stage. The theatre is on the small side, so you could see the performers clearly from pretty much anywhere in the Orchestra and Front Mezzanine. 

The show was every bit of what I expected and more. The original cast such as L-M-M (as Hamilton), Leslie Odom Jr. (as Burr), Daveed Diggs (as Lafayette/Jefferson), and Phillipa Soo (as Eliza) already left the show, but we still had Anthony Ramos (as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton) and Christopher Jackson (as George Washington), and how can I forget the Hercules Mulligan actor Okieriete Onaodowan?! That dude was completely awesome! 

I will be back to write about the rest of my NYC trip. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Das Haus Magazine Feature

Holiday season starts in July in the interior design and decor world. Back in the summer, I was approached by the Das Haus ideenMagazin to publish my hand-painted Christmas ball ornaments from last year. A print copy arrived this past Friday, and I was so thrilled to see them featured among other talented bloggers. 

Cover of the Das Haus ideenMagazin 2016 Holiday Issue

My hand-painted glass ball ornaments, à la Kelly Wearstler's Channels, Pierre Frey Kubus-inspired black and gold blocks, and Tasmanian Moroccan rug patterns. 

I was so glad that the editor picked 3 out of my 4 most favourite ones. 

My 2015 Christmas tree in the pictures below. 

I felt already behind this year because I am yet to figure out a theme for this year's Christmas decor. The fact that retailers started to fill shelves with Christmas accessories right after the Canadian Thanksgiving (October 10th) didn't help either. It's almost annoying that retailers constantly bring forward buying schedules for consumers. Halloween stuff would come out around the same time as the back-to-school sale. Fall harvest/Thanksgiving entertaining themes would co-exist with Christmas holiday objects, all the while Halloween costumes still refuse to give up their presence. We live in a push marketing world, don't we? 

Anyhoo, I hope the vision would come to me soon so I could start to share some holiday ideas. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Living Room New Rug

I knew I wanted an "Oushak" style Turkish rug in a neutral colour, so it didn't take me long before deciding to go with the Unique Loom's Arcadia rug in light grey from Wayfair

The colour is a true grey, not too cold not too taupe, which works perfectly with the rest of the tones in my living room. 

The fringe adds a touch of sophistication. 

It's a low-pile rug but feels so soft and lush. Best part is, it doesn't shed at all! Definitely a plus for an allergy-prone household. 

I also really like the distressed weaving technique - it's more subtle than overdye IMO. 

The last missing piece before I can complete this neverending #oneroomchallenge is the coffee table I ordered from ELTE. Fingers crossed it doesn't get delayed again. 

With this super soft throw by Têxteis Penedo from HomeSense, a Verner Panton Mirror Throw lookalike, my living room finally feels right for the cooler cozy fall months. 

Speaking of fall, how was your Thanksgiving? My aunt and her family came to visit so we had a blast. I was in my happy place baking this Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake using this recipe from Once Upon a Chef. 

The Nordic Ware Bundt Pan is so lightweight and worked so well. My pound cake had a perfect crust - did it not look like a giant doughnut? 

And then the bird. We only had seven people so we decided to go with a large chicken instead. 

This bird first went into a smoker with apple wood for 2 hours, then into the oven on roast for 75 minutes. The outcome was crispy-skin-falling-off-the-bone-finger-licking kind of goodness. 

The next day the bird-stuffed clan hiked up the Bruce Trail in Caledon Hills. Pink, orange and red foliage was peeking through and the view was simply breathtaking. 

And I am so happy to report the Cheltenham Badlands is finally fenced off! OPP was even onsite to direct traffic. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pine-Sol Lavender Review

I am a snob when it comes to the lavender scent. I'd hunt down the most authentic, organic and sweet scent of lavender when picking out household and personal care products. Unfortunately they are hard to come by in the household cleaning product category - those that have strong cleaning power often smell too chemical; and those that smell wonderful usually take too much elbow grease to get the job done. 

Picture below shows you a collection of lavender-scented products I usually use with the Pine-Sol Lavender in the middle. 

So when Angie from Devon Consulting approached me to test out the Pine-Sol's Lavender-scented Multi-Surface Cleaner, I immediately said Yes. A couple of weeks later this package showed up on my doorstep. 

The product promises to cut through the toughest stains, grease and grime while leaving your home with a clean and delightful lavender scent. You can use this cleaner on a variety of surfaces in your house, from the kitchen to the bathroom to the garage. Natural stones like marble and granite however are not listed among them. 

I tested out the Pine-Sol lavender cleaner on three different places/materials in my house: kitchen stainless steel sink, bathroom ceramic sink and kitchen glass ceramic cooktop. The before-and-after pictures below were taken by me without any editing or touchup. 

1) Stainless steel sink: I poured a little bit into my heavily-stained sink, used a soft brush to evenly spread over the stained area, and let it sink for about 5 minutes. The sink looked like this after a quick rinse, not bad at all!  

2) Bathroom ceramic sink: I've always hated the pink stains around the drain. I dabbed a little bit Pine-Sol Lavender with a soft brush and smeared around the stained area. This time I didn't let it sit but rather rinse the sink right away. And voila, it's sparkling and just like new. So it worked really well on water stains and ceramic surface. 

3) Glass ceramic cooktop: getting rid of baked-on burnt stains was a constant struggle. I was under the impression that Cerama Bryte was the safest and the best for this type of surface but boy was I wrong. Today I could finally bid all that scrubbing goodbye with the Pine-Sol Lavender. All I did was to wipe the surface with a paper towel dabbed in a little bit of the product. As you could see in the picture below, all the smudges were gone in a snap. It worked extremely well on the glass ceramic cooktop. 

In summary, Pine-Sol Lavender is a powerful and versatile cleaner. A little bit goes a long way so be sure to follow the instructions. The lavender scent is amazing - it left my house smelling super fresh afterwards, a definite bonus for such a robust cleaning product. The scent is a bit strong but it's sweet and pleasant and not chemical at all. My only suggestion would be to also have it available in a spray bottle. But I suppose I could just dilute it into a spray bottle myself. So all pluses, there's no downside.

The Pine-Sol Lavender Cleaner was given to me to test out. All the opinions above are my own.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Picking a New Rug

I am sure you know by now that in Michelle's design world, one thing always leads to another, or the so-called serial decorating. 

The new silk drapes in the living room now avail me a neutral palette to layer in different colour accents. It's no longer a blue room but it also feels a bit flat (or dare I say boring). I've had the ELTE Boulevard coffee table on order (ETA end of October), but brass is hardly a colour accent. 

I really don't want to repaint the walls, or make any other more permanent changes to the room. So that leaves me the area rug, something that has a large presence in the room and can make a first "colour" impression. I love a monochromatic room but it has to have different tones and textures to stay visually interesting. Here are my options:

Option 1: Layer a black and white cowhide piece over the existing rug, like this:
Picture source
I actually found a perfectly patterned hide.

Option 2: A Moroccan style rug, like this hand-tufted number on Wayfair. I was so in love with it until my husband kindly reminded me that it's not very different from what we have and also "white" in colour. To him, white colour only comes in one shade, and it's white!

Option 3: A more modern take on an Oushak rug, like the following two. Both are available through Wayfair, and very reasonably priced. I am crazy about the fringe. 

Picture below: Arcadia purple rug by Unique Loom on

It also has a blue version.

Or a grey one with bolder patterns. 

Option 4: A real Oushak silk rug. Can you tell I have a thang for Turkish rug lately? The following pictures were taken during our trip to Turkey last year. A real Oushak silk rug can get expensive very quickly, but they are definitely an investment piece. For $10,000, this gorgeous number with a very subtle sheen and pattern could be mine. 

For $120,000, this 8x10 stunner could come home with me.

Which one is your favourite? And which one would you use for my living room?

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