My Name is Michelle, and I'm a Procrastinator

May 31, 2012

Can you believe it's the end of May already? How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday that it was April, and now it's almost June, which means it's almost the middle of the year!  This means that half of 2012 is gone. Finished. Over. Kaput. Done. The middle of the year means that I should have gotten a number of the things on my 2012 to-do list crossed off. Um. Yeah, not so much.
Procrastinator: (noun) Someone who postpones work (especially out of laziness or habitual carelessness).
Sigh. There should probably me a picture of me beside that definition. By my rather generous count I've crossed 5 out of 28 things on that list. That's a measly 18%. I now have 30 days to cross a bunch of stuff off my list. Do you think I can get anywhere in neighbourhood of 30% complete? (Let's be honest - I don't think I have any hope of accomplishing half my list at this point).

Anyways, it's time for my monthly 'I bought myself flowers just because post'. As usual I've waited until the very last day of  the month to do it (see above definition for an explanation).

This month I went with roses. They're always beautiful and classic. I chose them because I wanted to use my small silver vase, and I loved the pale pink hue (I was originally looking for Peonies, but the ones for sale looked rather droopy).
Long stem white roses
Why are stems on roses so long? Does anyone actually not cut the stems?
White roses with a pink edge

White rose with a pink edge

three white roses in a silver mint-julep cup
Hopefully I'll get some projects completed in the next 30 days. At the very least I hope to be able to complete the refinishing of my new console. What about you? Do you have a list that you're having trouble crossing things off of? Am I alone in my procrastination?


The Four Seasons Toronto - An Auction

May 30, 2012

For those of us who live in Toronto and to many who have visited this city, the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville was for many years synonymous with luxury. Opened 35 years ago it has played host to many events and celebrities over the years.

The hotel closed in March of this year as the Four Seasons plans to open its new hotel and private residences just around the corner in the fall. The new owners of the old Four Seasons building at 21 Avenue Rd will be converting the 380 hotel rooms and suites into 490 condo units, but not before they sell off everything in the building. And I mean everything. The furniture, the crystal chandeliers, art, marble bathrooms, dinnerware, industrial kitchen equipment, and even the bed linens, drapes, carpets and a 20 foot onyx marble bar will all be sold by auction. There are more than 15,000 items up for sale.

Four Season's Toronto - art

Four Season's Toronto - piano

Four Season's Toronto crystal chandelier

four Season's Toronto dresser
Four Season's Toronto pay phone bank
Any interest in a pay-phone bank?
Four Season's Toronto gold sconce

Four Season's Toronto kitchen items

Four Season's Toronto TV console
Four Season's Toronto lamp and bedside table
I rather liked these lamps
Four Season's Toronto bathroom stall doors
You too can own a bathroom stall door from the Four Season's
Four Season's Toronto Living room
Even the plant is up for auction
Four Season's Toronto TV console with Greek key motif

Four Season's Toronto Dining room

Four Season's Toronto bedroom

Four Season's Toronto marble bathroom

Four Season's Toronto champagne buckets
Have something to celebrate?? You'll need a champagne bucket
Four Season's Toronto bathroom sconce

Four Season's Toronto bamboo motif TV console

Four Season's Toronto 20ft Onyx bar
Everyone needs a 20-ft. onyx bar right?
The auction will take place on Thursday May 31st, Friday June 1st, and Saturday the 2nd. I went yesterday to take a look at some of the items up for sale.

There is another preview today (May 30th) from 9 until 4pm. I'd love to attend the auction of Friday when they're selling all the furniture, if only to see what some of the items go for. Would you buy any of the items above? Any plans on attending the auction?

For more information about the auction click here.


BlogPodium: The Business of Blogging

May 29, 2012

Blogpodium program guide
On Saturday I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 2nd edition of BlogPodium (you can read about the first here) which was held at the beautiful Arcadian Loft in Downtown Toronto. BlogPodium was started by two Toronto design bloggers (Lindsay of  Little House blog, and Jen of Rambling Renovators) as a way to share information with other Canadian bloggers about how to make their blogs better.

This topic of this edition of BlogPodium was the Business of Blogging, and Nicole Balch, the lovely and talented lady behind the blog 'Making it Lovely' was the keynote speaker. Like the first edition I learned tonnes - so much that my head is still spinning with ideas and inspiration.
Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely
Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely giving her keynote speech
As the topic for BlogPodium was the Business of Blogging both Nicole's talk, and the panel discussion after focused mostly on if it's possible to make a little money from what most of us see as a hobby.

There are generally three types of advertisements on blogs:

  • Small ads (Etsy, and other blogs - 125x125 pixels)
  • Large ads that are generally sold via an ad network (300x250 pixels or leader board ads, all above the fold)
  • Sponsored posts.

When to start advertising:

  • This is up to you. Nicole started at 10,000 views a month.
  • When starting consider giving away your ads for free to encourage others to inquire about advertising with you.
  • As your traffic grows increase your rates.
  • Offer a discount for those who advertise for longer than 1 month (15% for 3 months, 20% for 4)
  • Determining rates: $1.25 CPM for the smaller ads, $3 CPM for the larger ones.

Sponsored posts:

  • Nicole has asked, and the general consensus for bloggers is no more than one sponsored post a week (for those that post daily) Too many sponsored posts, and your readers will leave - they're looking for original content - not an ad.
  • Suggests putting 'Brought to you by' at the top of the post so your readers know it's sponsored - just like ads on TV. Also, if you tweet your post add 'sponsored' so your readers are aware before they click over..
  • Be very careful about who you work with - only accept doing a sponsored post from companies you feel strongly about.
  • If something isn't a good fit, be polite and explain why. The potential sponsor might have something else.

How to attract readers and sponsors:

  • Be yourself, and put yourself out there. Try to write like you would speak to your friends.
  • Comment on other blogs
  • Giveaways are a great way to get readers.
  • Make sure your blog is well-balanced - is it about original content or sponsored posts?
  • Want to work with a specific brand? Ask. You might be surprised and they'll say yes to your proposal - the worst that can happen is they'll say no.
  • Have a detailed profile page - you are the brand
  • Do guest posts on other blogs
  • Sponsors are looking for 4 things in a blog they'll work with: Engagement, Authority, Content and Reach.
food on platters
At the conclusion of the panel discussion we all had the opportunity to mix and mingle. I got to meet some of the bloggers I read on a regular basis (it's nice to put a face to a blog or twitter handle!) There was some marvellous food, and we got to chat with the wonderful brands that helped make BlogPodium a success.

Blogpodium sponsors
BlogPodium will be returning in the fall, so if you're interested in attending make sure to sign up for the newsletter here. Hope to see you there!

All Images by Mango Studios


I Live in a Blank Canvas, and that Needs to Change!

May 21, 2012

When I bought my condo way back March 2010 I didn't really have any direction as to how my home would be decorated as I moved from a space of just 330 sq. feet and had the bare minimum  of furnishings and other pretty things to guide me. When I decided to paint the walls in the bedroom and living room when I moved in I had no starting point so I went with plain ol' white. I wish I could say that the shade at least had some sort of cute name like 'Snowflake', 'Puffy Cloud' or even 'Milk, but it was straight off the shelf 'white'.

Yes, white is boring, but I worried that if I picked a fun hue to paint my walls right after I moved in, that choice would taint or colour (Ha!) any decisions I made later surrounding the space itself. I wanted any choices to happen naturally - as I found pieces I loved. Over the past two plus years I've accumulated a few more pieces of furniture and a number of dare-I admit-it knickknacks, and I have a better understanding of how I'd like my space to look. When I look back on what I believed my future space would look like when I moved in (very modern and cool, with an arc lamp and other chrome accents), to what I want it to be now (more transitional, with some warm wood and small gold accents) I'm surprised at the almost 180 degree change in my decorating direction, and I'm really thankful that I decided to resist the new-homeowner temptation to rush out and buy stuff to fill the space so it wasn't so barren and unloved looking.

I'll be attending BlogPodium next weekend, and the title sponsor is Para Paints. Para is offering 5 bloggers who are attending BlogPodium the chance to become part of their blog crew, and giving them 15 free gallons of paint to play with. With the decor direction for my condo more firmly laid out, and the enticement of the contest I've started to think about adding some colour to my space in the form of paint.

This is my kitchen, which in over a year of blogging I haven't yet shown you. It's quite a small space, with not much opportunity for major change without spending quite a bit of money. BTW - those are the counters that were installed when my condo was in an episode of `Home to Go`on HGTV way back in 2002. They were reused when the current cabinets were installed a couple of owners ago.
My Kitchen
My kitchen
Last week I looked up and realised that the ceiling might be just the place to add a bit of colour. The only trouble is that I inherited someone else`s colour choices when I moved in - the almost navy blue tiled floor, and the mustard yellow accent tiles in the backslash and along the back wall. At first I considered painting the ceiling a light sky blue, and then a pale yellow, but now I'm wondering about a dark blue to mirror the floor. Would that make the room too cave like? Maybe I should just stick with a bright white on the ceiling - so much for being adventurous!
Kitchen colour collage
Kitchen colour ideas. Banker`s suit appears almost black online, but it`s more blue. All Paints Para
My living room is a space I`m quite anxious to add some colour to. The room has some really nice crown moulding and large baseboards that are quite difficult to see when everything's the same shade of white - a bit of colour will help them stand out.
My livingroom
My Livingroom
While I've toyed with the idea of a vibrant accent wall behind the television, I`m currently plotting something a little more subdued and classic - perhaps a soft beige or even purple.
Livingroom paint colour ideas
All paints by Para Paints
If I introduced a bit of light purple to the room via the wall colour it would allow me to add more vibrant colours to the room via accessories. Remember those Louis XV style chairs I got from Kijiji well over a year ago and haven`t done anything with yet? What do you think of this idea?
Kijiji chair makeover ideas
My bedroom is another room is desperate need of colour. I rewired some antique lamps that have some gold and Kelly green dots, and I`ve been trying to imagine a way to add those colours to the room without it becoming overpowering. I think the way to do it is by using a cream colour paint on the walls with a stencil using the same colour in a gloss paint - this will give some interest to the walls without it becoming overwhelming.
My bedroom
My bedroom
I've seen lots of talented bloggers paint their own fabric when they haven`t found what they`re looking for - I`d love some horizontal stripes in green on white fabric.
Bedroom colour ideas
Have I gone a little colour-crazy? Should I jump in feet first and try lots of colour, or should I start with some subdued hues and work my way up to some of the more vibrant colours? The nice thing about paint is it`s a fairly easy thing to change - if I were to try some of the more vibrant colours above and they just didn`t work, it would only take a few hours to change it again. Let me know what you think - would you use any of the colours above, or maybe something completely different? I`d love to hear your thoughts!

Before & After

I'm a Glutton for Punishment

May 16, 2012

My television is currently sitting on an Ikea cabinet that  I inherited when I purchased my condo. I firmly believe that the previous owner left it because it's quite long and therefore difficult to move without dismantling it. While it serves its purpose, it's a little too modern for my taste, and I've been sort-of keeping half an eye out for something to replace it for almost as long as I've lived here.
Ikea Bonde white console
My current Ikea Bonde sideboard
If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that late last year I spent quite a while refinishing an antique wood dresser. While the results were pretty gosh-darn fabulous if I do say so myself (see it here), I swore it would be quite some time before I attempted another project like it. It was an incredibly time-consuming project, not to mention really smelly given I don't have an outdoor space to play with chemical strippers, stains and varnishes.

Early last week I was browsing Craigslist as I do from time to time, and I spotted something that intrigued me enough to go across town after 10 pm to see it.
Craigslist sideboard picture
The seller's Craigslist picture
The seller was moving and didn't have space for the console in her new place. Once I saw it I knew it had to be mine, and arranged to pick it up the following day once I'd figured out transportation (I don't have a car, but I do have a membership which allows me to rent a vehicle for an hour of two when I need it).

That night I had nightmares about going to pick up the piece. The seller lived on the upper floor of a converted house with a long narrow stairway and I honestly had no idea how my mom and I were going to carry the console down. Happily the seller was having movers over the next morning, and she very kindly asked them to haul the console downstairs to the front porch where my mom and I only had to get it into the back of the CR-V I rented for the occasion.

After a bit of huffing and puffing on both ends of the journey, the console finally made it to my place, and is currently sitting in my dining room waiting for me to get started on its transformation.
New Craigslist sideboard
My new Craigslist console
I can't believe I've gotten myself into this again. The whole things needs to be stripped, and there is again some damaged veneer. This time the damaged veneer isn't an easily replaceable edge band but a rather large chunk missing off the base. It's also missing some of its decorative trim along the front.
damaged wood top
The damage to the top of my new console
Damaged veneer
The damaged veneer - it's about the size of a deck of cards
damaged sideboard trim
The damaged trim on the front - I have no idea how I'm going to fix this
As much work as I know it's going to be, I'm a bit excited about the possibilities. I LOVE the original hardware on the console, so I'm hoping I'll be able to buff them up a bit, and I really like the console's shape - for some reason it reminds me of Art Deco.

So, what do you think? Have I gone completely nuts?


New York City and Jonathan Adler

May 09, 2012

On the Easter weekend my boyfriend and I took a little road-trip to a little city just down the road. By just down the road I mean 800km down the road. And by little city I mean the Big Apple - New York City. I'd been once before for my high school grad trip (we're not going to discuss how many years ago that was), and I was rather excited to return.

We saw all the normal touristy things Grand Central station, the Empire State building, Times Square, Macy's, we rode the Staten Island ferry at night to see the Statue of Liberty, walked down 5th ave. (I went into Tiffany's, but D wouldn't even go past the front doors), ate in Little Italy, were driven around Central park, we went to Ground Zero, and visited the Wall St bull.
New York city at a glance
some of the things we saw in New York City
We also went here: 
Jonathan Adler storefront in Soho
The Jonathan Adler store in Soho. Sigh - I love Jonathan Adler's designs. Everything is so fun, colourful and quirky. (Psst- Jonathan you need a store in Canada!)

I asked very nicely and the lovely salespeople let me take some pictures of the many gorgeous things they had in the store - and now I'm sharing them with you!
Jonathan Adler storefront display
Pretty front window display
Jonathan Adler - table display
Rope totes $250, Vases $28+
Jonathan Adler fish shaped salt and pepper shakers
Fish shaped Salt and Pepper $48
Jonathan Adler blue Vignette
Lamps $295, Buffet $2500, Mirror $595
Jonathan Adler C. Jere urchin wall sculpture
C. Jere urchin wall sculpture $1250
Jonathan Adler orange vignette
Chair $1795, End tables $695
Jonathan Adler Sputnik chandelier
Sputnik Chandelier $1425
Jonathan Adler Couch vignette
Sofa $2800, Throw $295, Pillow $165+, Lamps $695
I'll admit to being incredibly tempted by the following chairs. They're antique and were refinished. Apparently there were only 12 in the entire company. If they hadn't been more than a mortgage payment I would have been desperately trying to convince D that one would fit in his car for the journey home.
Jonathan Adler vintage bamboo chairs
Antique brass bamboo chairs - $795 ea.
So what do you think? Any interest in a road trip to NYC to see not just the 'regular' sights, but all the retail destinations as well?

Oh, I also met a celebrity while in NYC - quite a famous one actually:
King Kong in an Eater bonnet
I like King Kong's Easter bonnet
PS - all the prices in this post are in US dollars

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