Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blogs I LOVE this week

As I wandered around the web the other morning, as I do most mornings with my cup of coffee, I came across a link for a blog site hosted by cnn called eatocracy. I instantly loved this site, and bookmarked it. I love food passionately, I love to eat it, I love to learn about it, I love to look at pictures about it! The great thing about this site is that there are tons of blog posts or links that feature news stories (like the latest egg recall) or which food network show one an emmy. If you are interested in all the in and out's of food like I happen to be, check out this link...you won't be disappointed!http://eatocracy.cnn.com/

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Affordable Luxury...Fresh Flowers

"Simple Abundance is not about deprivation. Nor is it about spending more than you can afford in order to make yourself feel better."- Sarah Ban Breathnach

Okay, so it's true, I have a taste for luxury. I love the finer things in life, I delight in gourmet food, even if I can only get it a couple times a year. I love diamonds, fine wine, the feel of 800 count bed sheets on my skin. I always have. I get that inner hunger to taste the sweet life, and oh, budget check...I'm dreaming. The truth is, I can't always afford the luxuries my soul is driven towards. Fresh flowers however, I believe to be an "affordable luxury," and one of the ways that I pamper and take care of my spirit. The local farmers market in my neighbourhood, sells 3 bunches of your choice for around $10. Which lasts for almost a week, sometimes longer. I love when a flower of one type is bunched together, it brings colour and a simple elegance to any room. The grocery store bouquets can easily be rearranged for less than $10 and voila, instant beauty! The obvious place for fresh flowers are on your dining room table, but I like to share the love so to speak. Even just a simple rose blossom in a tea cup in the kitchen, or a small vintage glass bottle in the bathroom with a single gerbera daisy. I also enjoy, a bouquet on my entrance table, it's a great way to say "Welcome." Perhaps you are lucky enough to have fresh flowers in your garden outside that you can cut and bring indoors, and then this becomes a very affordable luxury! I have fresh lavender growing outside in my garden I like to cut the lavender and put a bunch in small glass bottle beside my bed, it looks pretty and it's a great way to add some aromatherapy to your bedroom, as lavender promotes relaxation. Use flowers to add colour to your decor, find flowers that help you celebrate the seasons,declare that it's okay to buy yourself flowers instead of waiting for a significant other to bring them to you.
These beautiful roses, given to me by my friend Jenny, in my favourite pitcher.

Beautiful Sunflowers at my entrance way, given to me by my Aunt Les and Uncle Joe

Yellow Daisies in my other favourite turquoise glass vase, brightens up my living room
Can you tell I love daisies?

Fresh Tulips in the spring!

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck." ~Emma Goldman

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Joy Blog...Barn Stars

Photo: My front porch with barn star

I've always loved the country charm of these star decorations, and have a few within my house, I jazzed up a lamp of Jalen's with one, and have one hanging within a photo wall in my living room. It was only recently that it occurred to me that although I think the stars are really cute and charming, I have no idea what they mean or where they originated. I mean, what if I am saying with that star that I support slavery or something...lol. Okay, I knew it couldn't be that bad, but who knows. I did my research and basically the "Barn Star" as it most often called is used simply as decoration just as I have enjoyed doing, however some people hold them as a sign of good luck or good fortune. They date back as far as the 1700's were used by builders to "mark" their territory, but soon became used for aesthetic purposes and were added to the building when it was done. They are often distressed or antiqued, which is deliberate, to signify that this is a traditional decoration. I kind of like the idea that the star will bring us good luck, and I'll stick with that.

Seasonal Splendour...Fall Decorating

Photo: Country Living

Love this cozy little porch spot seasonally decorating, perfect for tea sipping...

The weather has cooled, there is a crispness in the air that smells like "back to school." It smells like, the western fair arriving soon. It smells like visits to apple land. Just a hint of fall is in the air. Autumn is my absolute favourite season, so this morning I spent some time gathering inspiration for my fall decor.

Photo: www.marthastewart.com
I like the idea of using small pumpkins and gourds as vases!photo: www.potterybarn.com
You can get these acorn "fillers" for hurricane and other glass vases or candle holders, or if you are lucky enough maybe fill your vases with real ones!

Photo: pottery barn
These are not your traditional orange pumpkins, I think they are elegant looking, not to mention I LOVE white!

Photo: Williams Sonoma
How wonderful would this wreath look on a red front door or over a fireplace mantel, makes me smile :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love...part 1

I read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert last year and immediately was drawn in to this story of a woman who after a terrible divorce takes off in search of the self that she had lost. I saw the movie last weekend, and it did not disappoint. As a mother of two children, my fantasy of taking off to Rome in search of myself and some really fantastic Italian food gets zapped pretty fast. Although, when life with a 2 and 4 year old gets crazy, I feel like I could run off to Bali, my kids kind of need mom to stick around. Women love this story, even cynical women soften and are able to get lost in Elizabeth's story of surrendering and searching for worldly pleasures, connection to spirit and ultimately love. I believe that it's easy to connect to this story because I think in the end we all want those same things Elizabeth went looking for and found in Eat, Pray, Love. We all want to experience joy and pleasure of our senses, we all want to feel in tune with our inner self/spirit and I believe that if you boil down what each of us want, it links back to love. So, here's the question, how can the average person who can't quit their job or leave their children and husband tackle this journey of self? I will explore this question with "eat" in mind.


I think that other than the obvious, eat represents to me experiencing all types of sensory pleasures. However, in my humble opinion, there are very few other things as joyful as losing myself to a delicious meal. Fresh roasted beets and creamy goat cheese drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. Earthy and creamy mushroom soup sprinkled with fresh parsley. Succulent crab dipped in butter....okay now I'm getting hungry. My friends who know me very well, know that I take my food very seriously, enjoying each moment. I tend not to be a scarf down a sandwich on the go person. I enjoy dining alone, with a book. Experiencing new tastes, restaurants I've always wondered about. Why not try out that little restaurant you always drive by? What about our other senses? Listen to some beautiful music that soothes you, cheers you and brings you joy. Take the time to smell the coffee as it's brewing in the morning, get yourself some lavender scented linen spray for your pillow at night. Sarah Ban Breathnach has a follow up book to Simple Abundance called "Romancing the Ordinary." This book is filled with many ideas to delight in sensory joys for each season. Eating is definitely my favourite way to connect to my senses. It's mid August, get yourself some fresh tomatoes and season with cracked pepper and sea salt, some hearty white bread (like french or italian), and make yourself a "Tomato Crunch." My sister in-law used to own a restaurant that served gourmet soups, salads and sandwiches, I worked there for a time. The menu changed weekly and seasonally, this was one of my favourite menu items in the summer time and is extremely simple to prepare at home.

Tomato Crunch

1 summer fresh tomato
2 slices of hearty white bread ( I love whole wheat bread for most things, but in this case, it must be white bread)
1 handful of plain potato chips ( preferably kettle cooked like "Miss Vickie's")
1 tbsp mayo, butter, salt and pepper to taste.


Slice Tomatoes nice and thick, then season with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Spread bread once done with a bit of butter (optional) but I think it helps the bread to not get soggy from the mayo
spread bread with mayo
Assemble with tomatoes and then a layer of chips

Note: You could toast the bread if you wanted to but the "crunch" is best coming from the chips alone, with the soft bread.


Monday, August 16, 2010

My Vision Book

Hi...I'm Tammy...and I'm a "mag"aholic... I admit that I have subscriptions to 5 different magazines because it will "save me money" and I wont have to buy them at the check-out. However, somehow those glossy magazines that I don't yet have a subscription to always seem to fall in my cart. Magazines are often a really quick "high", often times so filled with useless ads that within 10 mins, it's over. I have piles and piles of magazines. Martha Stewart's (1999-present) beautiful covers line my shelf and I can't seem to part with them. There is such joy that comes, when I open that mailbox to that perfectly wrapped in plastic magazine. The best part is that because I have five different subscriptions they all come at staggered times during the month. It's like presents keep arriving in the mail just for me! I believe that getting stuff in the mail (snail mail) is still far more exciting than receiving an email. I've always found use for my magazines when I've created my vision boards, clipping out things that I am hoping to attract into my life and pasting them to a canvas. This is a great way to send your intentions out to the universe. However, even after using some bits and pieces for my 8 X 10 vision board, I am still left with piles and piles of magazines! Then my friend Sunshine told me about this "scrapbook" that she started, in order to make use of all the magazines. She started clipping out any idea, recipe, design idea, craft or fashion that she liked from the magazine and glued them into the scrapbook in categories. She enjoyed it so much, she gave me a freshly recovered scrapbook for Christmas this year. I believe the vision book or scrapbook if you prefer, has several great purposes. First of all it's a great way to use the magazines, secondly it's a great way to get to know the things that you love and third it's a great resource for ideas (like recipes and crafts) and lastly its a wonderful way to send your intentions out to the universe. That's why I've decided to call it my vision book. I have a whole section on Christmas ideas that I love, kitchen and dining, bedroom ideas, hallways, crafts and gardening. The best part is that there are no rules so I can add new categories and paste anything I want into my vision book. Here's what you need to start your own vision book: 1. Get yourself a spiral bound sketch book 2. Recover it with beautiful bright wrapping paper or scrap booking paper (optional step) 3. Find some quiet time, I find that right before I go to sleep is a good time, I take even just one magazine and go through it for ideas I want to clip out. 4. Cut out images, glue or tape them in your book 5. Enjoy looking back at all the beautiful images you have compiled over time!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Joy Blog...Olioboard

Fresh! Kitchen/Dining Space

So I found this website, that is so much fun to let your creative juices flow or can also be used as a tool for inspiration for designers or people like me who just have a passion for design and decor. I had so much fun gathering items to put together this olioboard as posted above which tells a story of a fresh kitchen/dining room in green, white and blue. It is a fantastic way to get to know the things that you love and put them all together. If you are on a path of getting to know your true self, you'll notice that there are usually some themes in what speaks to you. Is the clean lines of the modern furniture, or like me are you drawn to white furniture, and chandeliers. The site offers the items to put on your olioboard however there is also the option to upload your own photos which I had a hard time figuring out. There were plenty of furniture and accessories to choose from, all from stores like crate and barrel and restoration hardware. The best thing is, like a collage, there is no right or wrong. It's whatever you want to put together, what inspires you?


Happy Creating!

Silence and much needed Solitude

I sit here quietly, just me. Life has been buzzing around me, I realized at this moment that I'm dizzy from trying to keep up. I've been working hard at my kitchen cabinet makeover, put together the best birthday party I could for my grandmother and trying my best to figure out what to with my four year old who has suddenly been possessed by this other naughty boy that I don't know. I sat down to work on my blog, I've got dozens of blogs tucked away in my psyche waiting patiently for me to birth them into the world. I can tell something is off today, because as I sat down to write I felt blocked. Not blocked, in terms of writing...blocked emotionally. I figured I could fire off a blog written from my head but there seems to be a disconnect from my heart today. Maybe it's that I'm tired, maybe I haven't taken time to listen to myself lately. I decided that I would write this blog instead, written from heart and spirit.

It's only fair that I'm honest that some days, this simple abundance journey is hard. The important thing is that you take time to listen to yourself. After many years of practice, I can hear the gentle whisper of my spirit. There was a time when I could only hear it if it was whacked over my head like a ton of bricks. Finally, I have learned that if my mind, body and spirit have enough of being ignored it manifests in the form of anxiety or depression, all because I didn't listen. After time, I have learned to feel my spirit gently tapping me on the shoulder, today she says, rest.

I have chosen to turn my ringer off my home phone, shut my cell phone off, even close the magazines that I so adore. With a quiet afternoon to myself I am going to meditate quietly, nurture my spirit with silence and solitude for just a few hours. I have my candle burning beside me, I may treat myself with a delicious little snack and a soothing cup of tea. I may have a little cry if I need to and when I feel better I will have a refreshing bath and see where the rest of the day takes me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blogs I love this week

As I ventured into the world of photography a few months ago, my friend Melinda recommended this website for some easy photography tips for beginners, The Pioneer Woman has quickly become one of my favourite blogs for photography, cooking and home and garden. It is not surprising that this blog was ranked one of Time magazine's top blogs of 2009. Her photography is inspiring, and she has a very down to earth manner of "talking" to the subscribers and visitors in her posts. I love that her recipes are simple dishes, that anyone can manage. I would describe it simply as mouthwatering comfort food.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

A home of ones own

Photo: My new throw pillows, loved the damask print in the center pillow mixed with the striped pattern

"If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
William Morris

I went to visit my friend Kelly last night who just purchased her first home with her husband Dave. (exciting!) It's an adorable little bungalow and they purchased it knowing that it needed a lot of cosmetic touches to make it their own. A conversation came up about this built in bench at the door way of Kelly's new home, another friend there said if it were me "I'd rip it out." Kelly responded with something along the lines of "well I was planning on adding some baskets underneath and a nice fabric covered seat cover", "I think it adds character." I was like "Hooray! for character." So here they go, on the same journey I have seen many of my friends (myself included) go through over the past couple of years. Buying that older, "fixer upper", and starting from scratch. Now this can be a very stressful process. When we bought our house it was so dated, and old. We moved in ripped out all the carpet, painting every inch of walls, trims, baseboards and ceilings. Over the past couple of years we have renovated our bathroom and kitchen and ripped out a wall separating the kitchen from the living room to make it open concept. When we first moved in, like so many of my friends, we chose a neutral palette. This tends to be an easy route, especially when you are essentially starting from scratch. We chose a couple paint colours, similar to benjamin moores Shaker Beige throughout. Painted the cabinets: contractors white. Trim: contractors white. Couch: Beige sectional. Yes, I was guilty of this boring decorating "dilemma" as I like to call it. It's like many people of my generation have lost the ability to be creative and add all of those little touches that make a home a home. I see alot of brown or black leather couches, beige walls, not too much on the walls, stainless steel appliances. Each of these houses looking staged for an open house, but who lives here?
Photo: This is an example of this type of decorating so typical of people I know. Yes, its nice, but seems so typical.

Slowly over the past year or so, on my simple abun
dance journey I have realized some things about myself and the things that I feel make a house a home. What is character? It's the little touches. It's the cute little built in's that are original to the home. Many of the new houses that people buy today "cookie cutter" houses lack these little details that they have in older homes. However, it doesn't mean character can't be added to newer homes with accessories, paint and all the little details. Of course we all want our houses to be aesthetically pleasing, we like things to match and blend. We do need to listen to what makes our heart skip a beat, and think less about what matches. "Staged" homes are not for living in.
Photo: I loved these towels found on etsy (the shabby chic cottage)
I realized that I am drawn to the comforts and cozy feelings th
at the country/cottage bring to me. I like the character of vintage vases, weathered and distressed furniture, painted furniture, beautiful handmade quilts, patterns mixed with patterns; like stripes and florals combined. I like cute little whimsical decorations like my silver pear, and this new sign I bought for my bathroom door that is shabby chic looking and it says "Toilette." I love fancy perfume bottles, and fresh flowers in every corner. I love yellow, and pink, and turquoise. Chandaliers, wicker baskets, decorative birds, damask and toile.
Photo: These little beadboard birds are found at The Shabby Chic Cottage on etsy.com. I may order them for the shelf in my kitchen.

Take yourself on a creative excursion, and browse thro
ugh a home decor store or second hand store. You don't need to buy. Take a notebook if you want. Take notes about what really calls to you. Listen to yourself, this takes practice. Have a browse on www.etsy.com and have a look at the beautiful handmade items or vintage housewares. I invite all of you to begin to make your home your own. I realize that the beadboard birds may be hideous to some, and I'm not suggesting that a shabby chic style is for everyone but you need to find out what is your style. Please join me in my revolution against living in a "staged home."

Photo: Love Love this Jadeite plate reproduced into a clock. www.etsy.com

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Joy Blog....Jadeite!

Photo credit: Country Living

So I'm still working hard at gathering all the inspiration for my kitchen makeover. The cabinets have been started in a creamy colour called White Down-Benjamin Moore. The other day I came across a couple photos in country style kitchens that used this beautiful vintage milky green dinnerware known as Jadeite or also seen it as just Jadite. It's not the first time I have swooned over Jadeite, I've seen it tucked away in Martha Stewart's kitchen and something about it just calls to me. I've started my research on collecting this much sought after antique most popular during the 50's and 60's. According to what I've read, the Fire-King glassware is durable and can also withstand high temperatures. Fire-King created a line called restaurant ware that is especially durable and this is what Martha Stewart and her daughter collect. Fire King created other colours like blue and creamy pink however "Jade-ite" was their most popular colour.

These cake stands below are absolutely darling, I am dreaming about having them on my kitchen serving cart, with scrumptious little cupcakes.( reality: my husband will polish off the sweet little cupcakes in 30 secs and then I'll get mad because he ruined the whole effect!) lol...okay back to dreaming...