June Flowers and a Tale of Woe

June 29, 2012

It’s nearly the end of June. Already. The end of the month, and yet again I’m doing my monthly flower post of the near to last day of the month. I want to be clear though – this month my tardiness wasn’t entirely my fault. I had a plan to have it completed in the middle of the month but I was thwarted.
Pink peony bouquet in a white face vase
Like a lot of other people in N. America I get a number of those group deal emails every day. I don’t purchase the deals too often, but from time to time there’s one that’s tempting. I’m rather careful about what deals I buy – last year I was one of the people who purchased a deal for a Toronto butcher (Google ‘butcher Toronto coupon’ for more info on that snafu if you’re unaware of it) that ended up being too good to be true. I did get my money back, but it’s made me a little more wary of the ‘deals’ that arrive in my inbox.
Pretty pink Peony
Anyways, in May there was a LivingSocial deal for either some fresh flowers or a flower arranging class, and after a quick Google search for bad reviews I decided to buy the class. I thought it would be nice to learn how to arrange flowers in a way that doesn’t look like I just unwrapped them and plopped them in a vase. After buying the coupon I called the shop and booked my class for June 16th.
side of a pink peony
On the 16thI left for my class and I was rather excited. I’ll admit I may have been drafting my triumphant blog entry about my monthly flowers being done in the middle of the month while I rode the streetcar on the way to the class, but I was truly excited about learning some tricks and techniques. That is, I was excited until I entered the shop and after saying I was there for the class was told that the class had been cancelled because LivingSocial hadn’t forwarded the money yet. Womp womp. So disappointed.
Close-up of a pink peony
I haven’t tried to re-book my class so these flowers are more of the ‘I don’t know what I’m doing so I just stuck ‘em in a vase’ variety. I think they’re lovely no matter what though as they’re Peonies which are one of the prettiest flowers, and a personal favourite.
pink peonies in a white vase
Do you like the vase? I think it's very Jonathan Adler-esque, but I found it on clearance at HomeSense for $9. It's decidedly quirky so I like it.

Canada Day

Chocolate Mousse Filled Strawberries

June 27, 2012

Chocolate mousse filled strawberries
Within the next week or so, North America will be going a wee bit nutty with parties and fireworks as we Canadians celebrate Canada Day on July 1st, followed by our neighbours to the south celebrating their nation's birthday on the 4th.

Given the number of BBQ's and picnics one may get invited to over the next few days I thought I'd try my hand at a little festive treat that's pretty easy to make, sweet, and tasty.

Chocolate Mousse Filled Strawberries

  • Strawberries
  • Chocolate Mousse
  • White Chocolate *
  • Candy melts
  1. Rinse your strawberries, and then core them as you'll be filling them with mousse. Leave the strawberries out to air dry. (The mousse won't stay put if the strawberry is wet)
    cored Strawberry
  2. Make your mousse (I used this recipe. It makes a dark chocolate mousse which I thought would work well as the strawberries and white chocolate are quite sweet).
  3. Using a piping bag (or a plastic baggie with the corner cut off) fill your cored strawberries with mousse. I placed mine in an empty ice cube tray to ensure they stayed upright while the mouse set. Refrigerate until set.
    chocolate mousse filled strawberries in an icecube tray
  4. Once the mousse is set you'll need to melt your white chocolate or candy. I used white chocolate, but I found it a little harder to work with, so I'll use white candy melts next time.
    Carefully dip the top of your strawberry in your white candy. The heat will melt the mousse, so this may take a little trial and error or you can also use a spoon to pour the chocolate/candy on top of the strawberry. Place your strawberries on a wax-paper covered baking sheet and refrigerate until cool.
  5. The last step is decorating your culinary creation. Using candy melts in either red or blue, decorate the white part of your strawberry again with a piping bag or baggie. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
    white chocolate Canada day strawberries
    Happy Canada day - Eh!

    White Chocolate July 4th strawberries

    July 4th Chocolate mousse filed strawberries


Blurb Books Giveaway Winner!

June 21, 2012

I'd like to thank Blurb Books for giving me the opportunity to host my first ever giveaway, and I'm excited to announce the winner of a $35 promo code towards a Blurb book.

Blurb giveaway winner selection
And the winner is Janet @ House Four who said:
Blurb giveaway comment
Congratulations Janet! I'll be sending you an email shortly with the code to claim your prize! I hope you share some pictures of the book you create - I'd love to see it once it's done!

Before & After

Getting a Handle on It

June 12, 2012

* Have you entered my giveaway yet? It ends June 18th!

I haven’t shown my kitchen too much on my blog. The reasons for that are two-fold. It’s quite a small room (7'x7.5') and with most of the wall space covered with cabinets there isn’t much room for pretty things. Don’t get me wrong, there are things I’d LOVE to change about my kitchen, but I’d need much deeper pockets.
My kitchen
A previous owner put in the current cabinets (Ikea Abstrakt) which I rather like. A couple of things I don’t like are the tiles. The floor tiles are dark blue, and for some reason they tiled the back wall from floor to ceiling with white square tiles. That in itself wouldn’t be so bad except for the two bands of decorative tiles in Tuscan Yellow. I’d love to change the floor tile, and remove the wall tile, but with quotes for the work at close to $5,000 it’s not going to happen (at least any time soon).

One of the smaller things in the kitchen that I could change are handles. When the kitchen was installed they used the Tag handles from Ikea.
Ikea Tag Handles
Ikea Tag handles. Image source: Ikea
While the handles are okay, they aren’t especially exciting. For a while I thought it was just the handles themselves I wasn’t fond of, but I soon realised it was the size. The full-height upper cabinets are quite tall, and the 128mm (7”) handles looked a little puny in comparison.
Ikea Abstrakt cabinets with Tag handles
My existing Tag handles - see how small they seem?
The problem was I couldn’t figure out how to install large handles given there were already holes drilled into the cabinet doors to install the small handles.

A few weeks ago when my mom was visiting from out-of-town we made our routine pilgrimage to the big blue mecca of home décor (There isn’t an Ikea close to where my mom lives) and I spotted these Spann handles.
Ikea Spann Handles
Ikea Spann Handles. Image source: Amazon
They solved my problems – they’re much larger than the handles I had, and with the metal bar at the interior of the handle they would very nicely cover the hole that was already drilled for the smaller handles. Another bonus? They were being discontinued so were half off ($6 a pair instead of $13)! My mom and I stood it the kitchen section at Ikea for a while mentally counting the number of handles I’d need, and then headed home with 9 packages.
Ikea Spann and Tag handles on an Ikea Abstrakt Kitchen cabinet
The difference in size between the two handle styles
I have a little problem with buying things for projects and then not actually working on the project for weeks or months (cough, cough - my chairs). These handles only waited around for about 2 weeks until one evening when I was feeling adventuresome and I broke out my drill. I have to say that I was more than a little nervous to put additional holes in my cabinets, but I figured that if things went badly I could always just buy a new door as they're still available at Ikea. Luckily for me everything went relatively smoothly.
Spann handle installation partially complete
The installation partway done
Et voilà! My new handles in place.

Spann kitchen handles on an Abstrakt cabinet

Ikea spann handles installed on Abstrakt cabinets

Ikea Abstrakt cabinets with Spann hardware
The cabinet handle makeover is complete
I think the new handles are a much better scale for the cabinets. What do you think?


Blurb Books: A Giveaway (Yippee!)

June 12, 2012

You may recall that last month I had the opportunity to attend BlogPodium. One of the sponsors was Blurb books - they donated all of the lovely notebooks that the attendees were given to make all our copious notes in.

Blogpodium Blurb notebook
Left picture by Mango Studios. Right pictures are my Blogpodium notebook that was created by Blurb Books.
Books with lovely pictures have always been a favorite of mine, but I like them even more if I know the story behind the pictures. In the back of my mind I've always wanted to put together a picture book of my youthful travels to South East Asia, but have always been quite intimidated by what I thought was an arduous process. It turns out I was wrong - it's really rather simple.
Me at the Taj Mahal, and in Vietnam
If you had pictures like these wouldn't you want to make your very own picture book too? L: Me at the Taj Mahal with some gentlemen who were more interested in getting my picture than looking at the beautiful building (2003), R: Riding in a Vietnamese wooden boat (2004)
Blurb books actually have a few ways you can design your own books - you can either use their online tool called 'Bookify' which allows you to use popular layouts to make your book, or you can download their 'Booksmart' software that allows you to customize the layouts and text.

One of the great things about personal picture books is there is no limit to what you can make. While at Blogpodium I stopped by Blurb's booth, and they had copies of books that some customers had created and they were all wonderful, yet completely different. There were books of Instagram pictures, and books of family vacation photos, and even a book made with a newlywed couple's wedding photos, but the one that caught my eye was one that was a collection of old family photos and recipes. It was made to celebrate their grandmothers birthday, and it was put together by her children and grandchildren.
Blurb Books - Fernandez
Image courtesy of Blurb books - I wish I had taken a picture of the inside - it was gorgeous
Anyways, I received an email from the lovely folks at Blurb books, and they would like to give one of you $35 towards your very own personalized Blurb book! You can use it to create any type of book you like. How neat is that?

Okay, now for the important details - how you can win - you can enter up to three times!
  • Visit the website for ideas, and then leave a comment here telling me what type of book you might like to create.
  • For up to two bonus entries share this contest on Twitter, and then leave a comment letting me know that you did.(Please add @sweetsuite10 and @Blurbbooks to your tweet)
  • This contest will open on June 12th, and will close on June 18th at midnight EST.
  • The winner will be drawn from eligible entries using
  • This contest is open to Canadian readers only.
So, what type of book will you make if you win?

*I was not perked in any way by Blurb for hosting this giveaway.

Before & After

A Lesson in Using What I Have

June 07, 2012

I don’t think anyone would ever mistake me for a ‘girly-girl’. I would much rather sleep-in than bother blow drying and styling my hair in the morning, and while I do wear makeup to work, it’s limited to powder, eyeliner, blush and mascara. I have one perfume that I wear every day, and I generally wear the same limited jewellery – watch, pearl stud earrings, and my right hand ring that I bought myself after landing my first ‘real’ job.

Having said all that, the storage requirements for my limited girl-stuff is quite small. I use the drawer in the shelf I built in my bathroom for my makeup, and I keep my jewellery and perfume in my room atop my dresser (even I know you shouldn’t keep perfume in a hot and humid bathroom).

This system worked fine for years until I got the brilliant idea to upgrade my dresser from my childhood Ikea dresser to the vintage wood dresser I refinished early this year. What was I thinking? I spend so long working on that dresser that when I went to go put my perfume atop my dresser couldn’t do it. What happened if the perfume leaked? As most perfumes contain alcohol it might damage the carefully applied finish that I laboured over for hours. So, the perfume and jewellery ended up sitting on my window sill for months while I tried to figure out what else to do.
Perfume and jewelry on a window sill
After a while I realised that the perfect solution was to find a cute silver tray of some sort that I could put on top of my dresser to protect its surface and then I could put my perfume on that. Over the next few months, whenever I visited a thrift store I paid extra special attention to the section that contained trays, but I had very little luck. On occasion I’d find something that had potential, but nothing that screamed ‘buy me – I’m perfect!’

A few weeks ago I was rummaging around in a cabinet I don’t go into very frequently, and I found this: 
Tarnished Silver Tray, creamer, and sugar dish
Yup, that’s right. I already owned the perfect silver tray. I inherited this little set when my parents sold my childhood home, and moved across the country. It’s not a family heirloom – my mom bought it at a thrift store.

A bit of elbow grease later, and it looked like this:
Polished small silver tray
Pretty, isn't it?
So here it sits, atop my dresser keeping my perfume and jewelry corralled.
Perfume and Jewelry on a silver tray
Now I just need to find uses for the little sugar and creamer that came with the tray – they’ve gone back into the cabinet to be rediscovered at a later date.

Have you recently discovered something in your home that you forgot you had? Have you put it to good use?


Happy Diamond Jubilee Liz!

June 02, 2012

There are a few obvious things that make Canada different than her neighbour to the south:
  • Hockey (we both play it, but we're better at it)
  • Poutine (arguably our National dish, and oh-so yummy)
  • Publicly funded health care
  • The metric system
  • We have The Queen on all our money
59 years ago today, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen of England and the Commonwealth (Of which Canada is part) was crowned.  The Diamond Jubilee year started on February 6th, the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne, and will continue through 2012.

If I was in England right now I'd be gearing up for a 4 day long weekend of celebrations, but since I'm in Toronto, just over 5700 kilometers away, I put together a few Jubilee inspired tea towels that I think are more than a little cute to commemorate this rather momentous anniversary (Queen Victoria is the only other Monarch to reach this milestone).

Why tea towels? Well, there isn't really anything more British than tea, and If you read my post from the One of a Kind show earlier this spring, you may have noticed I have a little thing for tea towels.
Diamond Jubilee tea towels
  1. Corgi Jubilee Tea Towel - Thornback & Peel - £11.95
  2. I'm so Excited I could Wee - House of Holland - £25.00
  3. Portrait Tea Towel - Gemma Milly Illustration - £10.00
  4. Silhouette Tea Towel - Peter & Fiona Gander - £7.50
  5. I Love Liz Jubilee Tea Towel - Culture Label - £15.00
  6. Corgi Diamond Jubilee Tea Towel - Rockett St. George - £10.00
  7. Large Crown Jubilee Tea Towel - Transport of London - £8.50
  8. Singing in the Reign - Hunkydory Home - £15.00
  9. Crown Jubilee Tea Towel - Thornback & Peel - £11.95
  10. Jubilee Tea Towel - Susan Taylor - $16.00US
While I like all of them, if I HAD to pick just one it would be a difficult choice between #2 and #9. Two is irreverent and funny, and number 9 is classically understated, and I can't decide which I like better.

Which one would you choose?

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