I'm a Failure

December 29, 2012

thanks for not laughing - Resolutions via Someecards
How’s that for a blog post title? Yup, it’s pretty depressing, but so am I when I look back on my list resolutions for 2012 and realise that I didn’t get much accomplished on that list over the entirely of the year. Boo me.
Here’s my not-very-crossed-off-list (the original post is here)

Stuff to finish
  1. Repair (or have repaired) the ceiling in the dining room. (I got a quote on getting the work done – but that was it)
  2. Paint the walls in the dining room
  3. Spruce up the kitchen (all I did was add new cabinet hardware – I had so many other plans)
  4. Get some additional storage for the dining room
  5. Come up with a better furniture layout for the living room
  6. Finish my dresser project (Yay! Something I completed! You can see my dresser project here)
  7. Paint the living room a colour other than white.
  8. Get actual window coverings for the bedroom, living room and dining room
  9. Get or make some art for the walls
  10. Actually hang the art on the walls!
  11. Get a rug for the foyer that can fit under the door when it opens.
  12. Get bedside tables that are not two different sizes.
  13. Get a prettier TV console (Did this too! Here it is)
  14. Add some more storage to living room
  15. Purge my bookcase
  16. Paint my bedroom
  17. Get a rug for my bedroom.
  18. Refinish those chairsI bought last spring . . .
  19. Install my dining room light
  20. Remove doors into dining room and living room.
  21. Get more lighting for the living room
I'm also going to share some goals I'd like to reach when it comes to this blog:
  1. Consider a move from to I did this last January
  2. Learn to take better photographs (Sort-of – I got a new camera so my pictures improved by default)
  3. Increase average posts a week from 1 to 2.
  4. Reach 100,000 views (Currently at 22,000) This happened a few weeks ago and I didn’t notice.
Okay, maybe I'll toss in some personal ones too.
  1. Start taking my lunch to work EVERY DAY (okay, 4 out of 5 days)
  2. Get back into running, and do at least one 10K race in 2012 (I did run an 8K – so this is about 80% complete)
  3. Buy myself flowers every so often 'just-because' This I did this in few months, so I'm calling this one done!
So there you have it – proof that I’m a complete failure when it comes to resolutions. Now the big debate – do I make a resolution list for 2013, or do I just give up now?


Merry Christmas

December 25, 2012

My decorated Christmas tree
'One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day. Don’t clear it up too quickly’. – Andy Rooney (1919 – 2011)

I hope your Christmas is filled with messy living rooms and a whole house filled with the voices and laughter of those that you love. May the love and joy you feel today continue through the rest of the year, and into the next.

xo Michelle


Almond Cream Puffs

December 20, 2012

With Christmas just a few days away I thought I’d share a go-to dessert recipe from our family. I have no idea where my mom got the recipe, but I do know that it’s an easy dessert that always has people asking for more. If you’ve been asked to bring dessert to a gathering this holiday season, and you’re looking for something easy that looks like you spent hours in the kitchen this is the recipe for you.
Easy and delicious Almond cream puffs recipe
This recipe makes about 10-12 puffs. While the recipe recommends you start about 3 hours before serving, I’ve made the puffs the night before, and then stored them in a air-tight container overnight. I would recommend you allow the puffs to set in a refrigerator for a about an hour before you transport them anywhere. Serve at room temperature.

I hope you enjoy these almond cream puffs as much as my family does.
Two almond cream puffs on a plate

print recipe

Almond Cream Puffs
With Christmas just a few days away I thought I’d share a go-to dessert recipe from our family. I have no idea where my mom got the recipe, but I do know that it’s an easy dessert that always has people asking for more. If you’ve been asked to bring dessert to a gathering this holiday season, and you’re looking for something easy that looks like you spent hours in the kitchen this is the recipe for you.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 1/4 cups milk milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
In a 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat, heat the water, butter and salt until the butter melts and the mixture boils. Remove from heat. With a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in the flour all at once until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the side of the saucepan.Add the eggs to the flour mixture one at a time, beating after each addition, until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Cool mixture slightly.Preheat your oven to 400F. lightly grease and flour a large baking sheet. Using tablespoons drop batter into about 10-12 even mounds on the prepared baking sheet.Bake the batter for about 40 minutes until golden brown. Turn off the oven, and let the puffs remain in the over for an additional 15 minutes. Remove the puffs from the over, and cool on a wire rack.When the puffs are cool, using a long serrated knife, slice horizontally in half. Prepare the Almond-cream filling and spoon into the bottom of the puffs. Replace the top of the puffs. Refrigerate.Prepare chocolate glaze. Spoon Glaze over top of puffs.Almond Cream filling: Prepare one package of vanilla flavoured instant pudding as the label directs, but use only 1 1/4 cups of milk. Once it’s set, fold in 1 cup of heavy or whipping (35%) cream, whipped, and 1tsp of almond extract.Chocolate Glaze: In a heavy double boiler, over hot, not boiling water, heat 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces with 1 tbsp. butter, 1 1/2 tsp. milk, and 1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup. Stir occasionally until smooth.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10 - 12 puffs


Oh! Christmas Tree

December 17, 2012

Last year I went the unconventional route with my Christmas tree and used some fallen tree branches for my tree. This year I decided to dig around my storage locker and pull out my wee little fake tree that I’ve had since first year university. Over the years I’ve collected a number of ornaments and decorations for my little 3ft tree, but I decided I wanted a pretty simple tree and the ornaments I have from years past and anything but simple.

While I knew that I wanted my tree to be simpler this year, I had no idea what I was going to do until I was wandering the aisles of my local Dollarama. There in the craft aisle were little packets of colourful pompoms for a dollar each, and I knew what I was going to do. I bought every colour they had except the brown, because I’ve never known brown to be a festive colour, and brought them home.
colourful bags of pompoms
I debated what to do with the pompoms – even going so far as to lay them out in ombre graduated colour manner, but in the end I decided to just pile them all in a bowl and go completely random. I used clear plastic beading thread to string the pompoms as I had it on hand, but I regular thread should work just as well. This process is a little long, but I did my stringing while watching some TV.
colourful pompom garland
With the string of pompoms done I turned my attention to what else I should put on my tree. With the colour of the pompoms I decided I should go for something else completely colourless. I debated about making up some salt clay, but when I was in my favourite art supply store I found air-dry clay for $4. I picked up a small snowflake at a local kitchen store for $1.50, and once the dough was rolled out used the cutter to make little snowflakes.
making snowflake ornaments with air-dry clay
I used a toothpick to add little holes at the top of one of the snowflakes arms for string, and then let them air-dry for two days. Once they were dry I used some of the same string I used last year to make my hanging mirrors to add hanging loops.
handmade snowflake ornaments
Once my decorations were ready it was time to decorate. I decided that the corner of my living room was the best place for my tree, but I unfortunately don’t have a table there, and the thought of putting my diminutive tree on the ground made me sad. Being the resourceful girl I am, I pulled one of my bedside tables for it to sit on (We’ll just ignore the fact that for the next little while one bedside lamp is now sitting on the ground beside my bed).
My little tree ready for decorations
Once the tree was up (which was really hard – I had to attach the three legs), I first strung the mirror ornaments I made last year.
tree with mirror ornaments
Next up was my new pompom garland.
pompom garland on a Christmas tree
And finally my new clay snowflakes. I made 15 snowflakes, but there are only 14 on the tree because I had a clumsy moment. Sigh.
homemade snowflake ornaments added
Once I had my tree decorated it was time for a couple of finishing touches. I don’t have a tree skirt so I used a flat white sheet and draped it around the bottom of the tree, and I did pull out two decorations from my collection. I’ve had this Lego Santa for a while, so I felt he deserved to be on display.
vintage Lego Santa below a Christmas tree
I also put out my little nativity scene. I love their faces, and the cow and donkey are adorable.
my cute nativity scene
Here's my tree all decorated.
close up of a snowflake ornament in a tree

close up of a snowflake ornament in a tree

My tree all decorated for Christmas
So there you have it. What do you think? Too simple? Are the pompoms a little childish? Did you decorate a tree this year? Are you like me and you like your tree to look like a tree with a few ornaments, or do you prefer your tree to be completely covered with ornaments?


Pantone Colour of the Year 2013: Emerald 17-5641

December 07, 2012

Pantone - Emerald 17-5641
It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again. Yesterday PANTONE announced their choice for the colour of the year 2013. Their choice is Emerald (17-5641) which they describe as a lively, radiant and lush green – a sophisticated and luxurious colour which is also the colour of growth, renewal and prosperity.

As I did with their choice for 2012 – I thought I’d gather a few ways you could add some of that lively green to your life right now:

colour of the year 2013 - Pantone emerald 17-5641
From top left: PotNapkinClockRugRingRugPillowPlatePillowChairRug
I cannot tell you how excited I am that a shade of Green is the colour of the year. I LOVE green, and not just because I’m Irish ;). I’ve had this picture pinned forever and I love it – the emerald green is a lovely contrast to the cream and black.
Charm home designs - Green and black room
Via Charm Home Design
I’ve got bedside lamps with green dots on them, and I’ve been trying to put together my bedroom for a couple of years, but I’ve found green rather hard to find in fabrics and linens (at least at the stores I frequent). Hopefully this will change as the year goes on, and green will be easier to find as retailers take their cue from Pantone – just like they did in 2012.

What do you think of their choice? Are you loving it like I am, or are you wishing they picked something else?

Life Lately

Recent Happenings

December 06, 2012

I must apologise as I’ve been rather absent of late. Things have been rather busy at work, and in the past couple of weeks I’ve been out an about, and rather keen just to go to sleep when I do get home rather than turn on my computer. I have been working on a few projects recently though, so I hope to have a few things to tell/show you shortly.

Anyways, I mentioned I’ve been out and about so I thought I’d share a few of the events I’ve been lucky enough to attend.

Last week the lovely Sarah Gunn of the Yummy Mummy club hosted an evening with Brother where they introduced a room full of bloggers to their new multi-function printer, the MFC-J4510DW. Best part – there was an Oprah moment when Brother announced that we were all taking one home with us! You should have seen the room – I’m not sure if we were more excited about the free printer, or the ideas flying through our heads about what we could do with it. I hope to put it to good use shortly, but it will most likely be after the holidays before I truly play with it. (PS – if you head over to Sarah’s blog you can enter to win your own printer – Canadians only)
New Brother Printer
The Brother MFC-J4510DW printer we all got to take home!
The following evening I took my very first GO train ride up to Woodbridge to check out the Deco-Rest showroom, and hear presentations from Deco-Rest and Para Paints. Para Paints introduced us to their new Colour Forecast Palette which groups together 56 colour combinations in an easy to visualize way.
Garry from Para Paints
The New Para Paints Colour Forecast Palette
It was D’s and my 3 year anniversary last Thursday so this weekend we went to a lovely B&B in Pennsylvania. We left Toronto on Friday evening just as the city experienced the first snowfall of the winter which meant it took over 6hrs to get to our destination. Once we were there though it was amazing – I think it was the best B&B I’ve ever been to. The breakfasts were divine, and the area was really gorgeous. I hope to share more pictures soon.
Icing sugar dusted french toast with a side of fresh fruit
This was the third course for breakfast on our second morning. SO GOOD!
On Monday I had the opportunity to attend a filming of Cityline, which is a morning lifestyle show here in Canada. There were going the 12 DIY days of Christmas, and it was neat to see how a one-hour show comes together, and also very interesting to see just how little a live studio audience actually sees of what’s going on.
what a live audience sees at a tv show taping - not much!
I took this between shots - the audience doesn't really see anything. It was very interesting though.
So there you have it - a few of the things I've been up to over the last week or so. I hope to have something crafty to show you next week, that may be Christmas related since we're already well in December already (How did that happen?). Also, can you all please tell me that you, like I, haven't started your Christmas shopping yet, or written any Christmas cards? It would be very much appreciated as I'm starting to stress out about how far behind I am.


The One of A Kind Show - Christmas Edition

November 23, 2012

You may recall in the spring I went to the One of A Kind Show here in Toronto. Well, last night I had the chance to go again on the opening night of the Christmas Edition and discovered that as good as the spring show was, the Christmas show is even better – it’s bigger so there are more marvellous things to be seen.

This time round I knew what I was getting into so was more prepared – I wore runners and jeans instead of my work clothes and shoes. If you go dress comfortably – you’ll be there for a while, and there are about 800 artists showing their work so there is a lot of walking to be done. Coat check is only $2, so make use of that as well – there’s no point in carrying your coat around with you. Seeing the show will take several hours, but they do have a free re-admission pass if you want to split your visit up into two shorter visits.

Quite a number of the artists I featured after the spring show were there again (you can see those posts here and here) and as much as I still love their work I tried to feature new ones below (with one exception).
ReStyle studio at OOAK
Some of the marvelous pieces available from Re:Style
Re: Style Studio (Booth Z-19) is run by Andrea Ford. She creates one-of-a-kind furniture pieces with vibrant fabric and colours that are stunning – the picture above doesn’t do the pieces justice.. She also runs reupholstery workshops out of her studio. I’m plotting to attend one in the new year.
Moonrox jewelry at OOAK
Tools necklaces from MoonRox Jewelry
MoonRox Jewellery (Booth Y-20) is a line of great jewellery created by Monique Chan. I loved the little tool necklaces shown above. They are $45 each, and perfect for your favourite DIY-er
James Kennedy Steel Artwork at OOAK
James Kennedy 'Continents' steel art
James Kennedy (Booth Y-44) is an artist from Montreal who works with steel, and he is showcasing his ‘Continents’ series at the show. My photo doesn’t do his pieces any justice – they are simply stunning in person. The variation in the colours in the steel makes you forget it's made from cold metal. His 12”x12” pieces are $325, and the large 48’x42”(not shown) are $3400.
Pook Tuques at OOAK
The guys from Pook Tuques
Pook Tuques (Booth U-10) The guys above run Pook Tuques and their booth is worth a visit simply to have them demonstrate the many ways their Pook Tuque can be worn. It’s hilarious (there's a 'Donald' comb-over). You can take a look at the many way the hat can be worn on their website.
Felt Factory at OOAK
The lovely animal creations from the Felt Factory. Which one would you pick?
Felt Factory (Booth R-19) is run by Sabine Alpers, and will be at the show just until November 26th, so if you like her felted animal heads you’ll have to go this weekend. If you follow me on Instagram you know I spotted one of her Unicorns last weekend in a store in Picton and fell in love. After seeing her animals at the show I’m now torn between the Unicorn and the Bison (which isn't shown), but they’re all amazing. The animals range in price from $60-$90.
Tammy Shane artist at OOAK
'There is Softness' by Tammy Shane
Tammy Shane (Booth Q-24) is an artist who will also only be at the show until November 26th. All her paintings are stunning, but the larger pieces are especially lovely. The piece above, entitled ‘There is a Softness’, is 48”x48” and really caught my attention($2820). Tammy Shane on Facebook
Sarah Hillock artist at OOAK
Hen painting on Mylar by Sarah Hillock
Sarah Hillock (Booth K-12) is an artist whose booth features large quite realistic oil paintings of cows and other animals. Looking at her work you can’t help but smile – they are marvelous and fun, and quirky in a really great way.
Sweet Truth booth at OOAK
The Sweet Truth Candy Company
The Sweet Truth Gourmet Candy Company (Booth G-36) is run by Diane McMillan after she learned to learned to make candy from her grandmother, and her candies are divine. With 7 flavours including Almond Butter Toffee, Sweet Lemon Butter Toffee and Cappuccino Chocolate Toffee and Pecans your taste buds will thank you if you stop by for a taste. The small tins are $8.95 and the large $14.50.

The Christmas One of a Kind show runs through December 2nd at the Direct Energy Center, Exhibition place. Tickets are $14 for adults (or $12 in you purchase them online)

*Disclosure: I was provided a ticket to the show free of charge, however all opinions expressed are my own.


Arranging Flowers with Coriander Girl

November 22, 2012

Last evening I had the opportunity to go to the Anthropology store at the Shops of Don Mills for a little flower arranging demonstration. The event was hosted by Pure Green Mag, and they had Alison Westlake from the flower shop ‘Coriander Girl’ there to give us some quick tips and pointers. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I try to buy myself flowers once a month (although I missed the last few months), but I’m woefully untalented when it comes to making those flowers look pretty in a vase.

We were directed to bring some sort of vintage item to use as our vase for our flowers. Mason jars and teacups were suggested. I brought this:
Thrifted glass bowl with silver handle
My selection for the 'vintage' vessel we were told to bring
I’m not quite sure what it is – it might be an ice bucket? I bought it at a thrift store for $4, so I thought it qualified as vintage. I should have looked harder for a cute teacup because this thing was a bit difficult to arrange flowers in - too wide.
The flowers for our class set out on a table
The flowers we would use for our arrangements
Alison set us all up around some tables, and then did a quick demonstration of how she makes her lovely arrangements. Nerd that I am, I took notes on my phone (I’m sure she thought I was being rude and texting, but I wanted to remember some of the things she said). Here are some of the things I learned:
  • Use room temperature water.
  • Remove all the greenery (leaves, etc) that will be below the waterline.
  • When trimming stems cut at a 45 degree angle – this gives more surface area for the flower to absorb water.
  • If you’re using a small shallow vase you can use clear tape to make a grid over the opening – this will help the flowers and greenery stay in place.
  • Start by adding your greenery, and once most of it’s arranged add you blooms. The greenery supports the flowers, and makes them stand out more. (I’m going to think of it like underwear – a really gorgeous outfit can look only so-so if you’re not wearing the right underwear – right?) You can add more greenery later to fill any spaces that remain after you’ve added the flowers.
  • If you need to force any blooms put them in warm water and then cover with a plastic bag.
  • In terms of scale – the height of an arrangement is very much personal preference, but as a rule of thumb the whole arrangement should be about twice the height of the vase alone.
I was going to take pictures of my bucket as I went, but I got distracted by the fun and forgot. Bad blogger. Anyways about 40 minutes after I started I ended up with this:
My flower arrangement
My flower arrangement at home. Before it got home I took it on the bus - I got some weird looks.
Some of the other participants arrangement were stunning so I’m going to have to practice. Such a hardship – playing with flowers.

Do you have any other tips for arranging flowers?


That time I met Sherry and John

November 13, 2012

If you’re a blogger, or read shelter blogs with any sort of regularity I’m sure you’ve heard John and Sherry Petersik (I admit it – I had to check how their last name was spelled – Doh!) of Young House Love, and I’m sure you’ve heard that they’ve written a wee little book that was recently released. As tends to happen when one releases a book they’ve embarked on a rather exhausting book tour of 21+ cities, and Toronto just happened to be one of them, and the only Canadian stop of their whirlwind tour.

Last evening on a dark and rainy night I made my way across town to the West Elm store for the signing and arrived to find quite a line winding it way around the store, and while it took about 2 hours for me to get to the front of the line it was time well spent as I got to ogle West Elm’s lovely wares. Below are some pictures of the event – they were all taken with my phone so I apologise in advance for some of the blurry shots.
hot chocolate at the young house love book signing
Tasty sustenance while we waited in line
Lovely West Elm place setting with gold cutlery
I'm in love with this gold cutlery
West elm gold honeycomb glasses
What's not to love about these glasses?
West elm mason jar cocktail shaker
Mason Jar cocktail shaker? Yes Please!
West Elm branch floor lamp
I really like this Branch Floor lamp. I would LOVE it if it came in Gold.
Sherry and john Petersik signing books at West Elm toronto
Eeeps! Getting close!
Meeting Sherry and john of Young house Love
Sigh - the record of my brush with blogging superstars, and it's blurry :(
Book signed by sherry and John Petersik
So far I've only managed to quickly flip through the book, but already I'm plotting projects #2, 12, 24 and #36. I'm sure there will be more that I'm inspired to try, and maybe I'll even complete some of them!

Before & After

Aren't I Spiffy?

November 12, 2012

I’ve been a little incommunicado over the last little while and I apologise for that, but I have a good reason – I promise!

I’ve been working on a little makeover which I’ve been plotting for quite some time – I’ve updated the look of my blog.  Yippee! Those of you that get my posts by email or through a reader won’t notice anything different, but those of you that visit my site will notice a completely new look, and I hope you like it!

When I moved from to being self-hosted in January I had my first real experience of trying to design a blog, and in all honesty it was hard. Playing with code is rather difficult and very confusing when you’ve never done it before, and after a while I just gave up trying to make it look perfect and learned to live with what I’d created. It wasn’t all bad, but it was nowhere near the level where I wanted it to be. Now 11 months later I’m a little bit more comfortable with playing with css and php code so I decided to take the plunge (and by a little I mean a very little – at least I now know where to find it).

This time I was a little more prepared when it came to designing the look I wanted –  months ago I created a Pinterest board where I put pieces of blog design inspiration and tutorials to create some of the things I wanted on my blog, and I’ve been adding to it whenever I spotted something I liked, or wanted to remember. There are quite a number of great tutorials available for blog design and I used a few.

Another great resource is the forums on the site. A few of the coding issues I discovered while working on my new look were easily fixed with a quick search of the forums as chances were someone had already answered the question. In one instance an answer wasn’t already there so I posted the question detailing my problem, and within hours I had a coding fix that worked perfectly.

Anyways, shall we reminisce about my old look for a bit? This was the old landing page. It had a slider image at the top which featured some of my past projects. I didn’t really like it but couldn’t figure out how to turn it off (silly css and php), and I never remembered to update the slider images with more recent projects.
Old website design with slider
Old Sweetsuite10 homepage design
Old sweetsuite10 blog post look
Old Sweetsuite10 blog post look
The main blog page looked like this. Nothing really exceptional about it, and the subscribe/follow section was a little amateur looking. I’ve updated the subscribe/follow section for my new look. Here’s the before and after – much better now isn’t it? Now you just need to click on the circles to see my Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest pages, send me an email or follow the blog through RSS.
Blog subscribe panels - before and after
he old and new subscribe/follow panels - the new one is much better isn't it?
I also changed my header image. The old one was a bit busy. I like the new one quite a bit more as it’s simpler.
Blog header looks
The old and new header images - the new one is simpler
Here’s my new main page – which is simply my blog. I’ve done away with a separate ‘landing page’ in the hopes that the new look is simpler to navigate.
My new blog page
I have added one new thing which I’ve been meaning to do for months – I’ve created a project gallery page. Here I've posted images that link to some of my favourite past projects, crafts and recipes. Fingers crossed I’ll remember to keep adding to it!
New project gallery page
So there it is – my new look. There are still a few quirks I need to fix, but for the most part it’s done. I should thank D who put up with a number of panicky phone calls when things weren’t going well, and helped me get things moving in the right direction again. It’s rather handy to have a boyfriend who knows a little about coding and Photoshop.

What do you think of the new look? It’s a step up from the old one isn’t it? As a reader would you change anything?

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