Christmas at my Kitchen Table

Saturday, December 28, 2013 by
Christmas at the Kitchen Table -
Hello friends, old and new.  How did you spend your Christmas days?  Were you among family and friends or among welcoming strangers?  Were you home or far from home?  Was it a season of noise and plenty or of minimalism and quiet?  I hope that your soul was filled with what you were able to give and receive.

Sharing is lovely...

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 by

willow tree  mary.jpg

Wishing all of my readers a very Merry Christmas this year.  May you find joy in your celebrations, comfort in your sorrow and hope in the birth of the babe for whom this day exists.

And the angel said to them, Fear not: for behold I bring you tidings of great joy which will be for all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.  (Luke 2:10-11)

Sharing is lovely...

‘Twas the Night Before the Last Day of School

Thursday, December 19, 2013 by

…and I realized that Personally Junior had done nothing crafty to add to his teachers’ Christmas gifts.  What??!!  How could that have happened?  Well, the truth is that with only one child left in elementary school a lot of that type of thing becomes a last-minute thought, or even an afterthought.  Sorry PJ, you see how it is.  But really, there are also a lot of perks to not having your mothers’ undivided attention, right?

kids christmas tree tag-6.jpg

Sharing is lovely...

Simple Christmas Gifting: Spa-Style Soap Tin

Sunday, December 15, 2013 by
Gift-giving is a huge part of what makes the Christmas season what it is.  Some of us have long lists of people we’d like to give to, and some of us have only a few we’ll exchange gifts with.  Either way, to me two of the most important elements of a gift are that it has a personal touch and that it’s beautifully presented.
 How To Make a Spa Style Soap Tin Gift |

Sharing is lovely...

Simple Christmas Photography: Bokeh Lights

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 by
Photography is one of the best ways to capture some of the magic of the Christmas season.  And all the lights we have strung up outside and inside provide a beautiful backdrop for preserving some of those moments. 
How to Photograph Bokeh |

Sharing is lovely...

Simple Christmas Florals: Carnations & Candy Canes

It’s so great to have a little floral arrangement to brighten up a corner of your countertop, kitchen table or desk.  There’s just something cheerful about having a bit of greenery and fresh floral scent nearby.  And guess what?  It’s super easy to put them together yourself.  Here’s what you do…

Christmas Carnation & Candy Cane Centerpiece |

Sharing is lovely...

Simple Christmas Decorating: Bell Garland

Monday, December 2, 2013 by
DIY Christmas Bell Garland |
It’s hard to maintain an element of simplicity at Christmas time.  The stores and the internet are bursting to overflowing with everything from sublime to ridiculous, all advertised as must-have and must-do this year.  On the weekend all my bins of Christmas Past came out of storage.  To be honest, I took out a few things and set them up, then closed the bins to be put away.  I played a board game with Personally Junior then we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas.  (The first of many times this Christmas, probably!)  So here for the next little while I’ll be sharing my few attempts at keeping it simple, but still Christmas-y and worthy of the season of celebration.

Sharing is lovely...

I’m an Aquarium Junkie: Ripley's Aquarium

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 by
Ripley's Aquarium |
I love aquariums.  They provide a huge window into another world that most of us will never actually visit.  There’s an aura of mystery to life under the sea.  So many fascinating creatures on display…everything from the utterly ugly to the sublimely beautiful.  There are always some displays that compel you to sit and stare into them transfixed for ages. 

Sharing is lovely...

Advent Candles for a Mantel

Monday, November 25, 2013 by
Are any of you celebrating the Advent season this year?  Besides being an exciting countdown to Christmas, does it mean something more to you?  On the liturgical calendar, Advent takes place on the four Sundays preceding Christmas, with the Advent candles being lit one by one as the weeks go by.  That means that the first Sunday of Advent is coming up this weekend. 

tin bucket advent candles-7.jpg

Sharing is lovely...

How to Take Your Own Family Photo

Saturday, November 23, 2013 by
Besides vacations, isn’t Christmas the next most popular time to want a family photo?  To include in Christmas cards, to frame as gifts for parents and grandparents.  Kind of an end-of-the-year milestone, right?  OK well obviously it’s just me who wants the photo and sends the cards and figures out the gifts for the parents and grandparents.  And cares about milestones.  Not anyone else in the family.  Some years it works out to have a portrait professionally done.  But most years I’ve gotten into the practice of setting ourselves up to take a family photo at home, and with a bit of experience it’s gotten easier each time. 

Hunters Fall 2013-8.jpg

Sharing is lovely...

Easy and Fabulous Photo Card

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 by
Well it’s a dull November day, in a month of the year that has exactly zero occasions, or events to look forward to.  Yes, a good time of year to not dwell on the dismal and think about what you can do to add some spark.  How do you liven up those overcast, uninspiring days?
A few craft supplies will usually do the trick for me.  Which usually means making something to give away to someone else, so double the spark, win win.

Sharing is lovely...

Post-Halloween Lowdown: Quick, Easy & DIY

Friday, November 1, 2013 by

‘Fess up, who is coming down off a candy high?  Or maybe yours is just starting?  Snuck into the treat bags while the kids were at school?  (That’s me!)

So, this year at the Personally house Halloween was thrown together and enjoyed in the course of about twenty four hours.  Might be record time around here.  This is the lowdown on how it all came together with very few purchases and a bit of elbow grease, but with a very festive ending.

First up was pumpkin carving, the night before.  The design is always left up to whoever wants to participate.  This year it was only Personally Junior who came up with a fabulous Batmouth design which he carved out of MY white pumpkin from MY front porch vignette.  Apparently it was cooler than the orange pumpkin we had picked for carving.  Anyone have any use for an uncarved orange pumpkin in November?


Sharing is lovely...

What to Wear Wednesday: Old Navy

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 by

Happy happy Wednesday!  So I haven’t ever talked about clothes or fashion here before, so this is a first.  And I do love to shop, especially for a good deal.  While I’m no expert I do think a little bit about what goes into my wardrobe and love to pass along a good shopping tip.
While you are all cobbling together fantastic costumes for yourselves and your children (OK I’m dong that too) I have waited till the last day to spend my SuperCash at Old Navy.  Now that we are into real fall weather it’s time to establish some go-to outfits that are stylish enough to head out the door in, but cozy enough to hunker down on the couch with my laptop too.  old navy snip october
Here’s what I bought at Old Navy.  Sweatshirt dress, leather belt, sweater tights, and animal-print flats.  The flats are discounted in-store, so for about sixty dollars less twenty dollars in SuperCash I have a great new multi-purpose outfit!  No SuperCash?  They also have 20% off your purchase right now on-line and in-store. 
If you know me then you know this will also get worn with a big scarf and tall boots on occasion.
(Hey, not terrible for the first selfie on this blog!)  Stay stylish and stay cozy!
…personally, Andrea

Sharing is lovely...

How to Make Homemade Chocolate Sauce

Friday, October 25, 2013 by
Homemade Chocolate Sauce

Oh yes, my friends.  You can totally do this.  And not just for special occasions and fancy parties and impressing your in-laws.  No, you could start dreaming it right during supper…and while the rest of your fabulous family is clearing the table and loading the dishwasher (is a little bit of bribery required?) you could be casually just stirring together some homemade chocolate sauce for dessert as if it was a completely normal thing to do.

Sharing is lovely...

Birch and Candle Centrepiece

Monday, October 21, 2013 by
Hey everyone, welcome to a new week.  Are we all getting out to see fall colours, pick apples or choose pumpkins?  Enjoy it all while you can!

Birch Centrepiece | birch, pinecone, moss, candle |

Sharing is lovely...

Fall in High Park

Friday, October 18, 2013 by

An end of the week walk through Toronto’s High Park to bask in a perfect fall day.  With some photos along the way of things that inspire me…


High Park Fall Colours | street signs |
High Park Fall Colours | lifesaving ring |

Does that qualify as a sign?  I dunno, but still inspired.
Paths.  Magical.  Imagine what might be around the next bend.  Possibilities.

High Park Fall Colours | leaf covered path |
High Park Fall Colours | path |

Benches.   An invitation to pause.  And reflect.

High Park Fall Colours | park bench and pond |
High Park Fall Colours | park bench |
High Park Fall Colours | park bench |

Why don’t you take up the invitation?  Pause.  Reflect.  Bask in the perfect fall Friday.

xo andrea

Sharing is lovely...

Bargain-Hunting, Beauty and Browsing

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by
Happy Tuesday everyone.  Hope you are all experiencing the same fabulous fall days we’ve had so many of here in Southern Ontario.  Some of us are closely monitoring the Fall Colour Reports here and will soon be heading out with our cameras to capture the beauty.  In the meantime,  I think we have time for a little shopping, don’t you?  A little post-Thanksgiving bargain-hunting, beauty and browsing.  Hmm that’s catchy.  I’m going back to change the title of this post.  Not telling what it was before!
First up bargain-hunting.  So I was checking out the IKEA website to see what might be on clearance from the summer season.  Everybody does that, right?  So I did find these shelves which I posted on my Facebook page.  They’re going on the shopping list.  And then I came across this awesome bargain.

Admittedly, it doesn’t make for a spectacular photograph.  This is the FLYN LILL curtain panel.  Ten feet by two feet of sheer fabric that doesn’t need the edges hemmed.  Is anyone else thinking table runner?  At Hallowe’en with black and orange and purple…at Christmas obviously…in the spring with yellow and white…  Or how about twisted with a length of burlap for a winter garland around your door, or your mantel, or as a tree skirt…  How much for this extremely versatile item you ask?  THREE DOLLARS.   If you have any event decorating in your future ever you must run and buy five of these while they are still in stock.

Next up a bit of beauty.  Do you ever flip to the page in fashion magazines where they list the makeup and hair products used on the cover model?  To me this is a reliable source of information on what the pros actually use, and who doesn’t want to be like a pro?  And when there is a clear, shimmery, touch of pink nail polish being used…it’s usually this one.

It’s Essie Mademoiselle.  Easy to apply and to wear, helps you look that little extra bit polished for, you know, Friday night at Jack Astor’s with the fam.  It’s what the pros use, so make your life easier and pick up a bottle at your drugstore.  Don’t be seduced by all the other shades of sheer shimmery pink.  Get the Mademoiselle.

Last up, a bit of browsing.  So once you’ve creeped the hair and makeup credits in the fashion magazines at the grocery store checkout, put it back, and this is the magazine you should actually buy.

Style At Home Entertains.  This one’s a keeper.  Beautiful inspirational photography on every page.  Simple tips on shopping your house and using what you already own.  Right up my alley.  Elegant recipes as well as basic ones and tons of tips for seasonal decor and centrepieces.  I also love that they have separate sections for Holiday and Winter.  Because once the holidays are over there is still a lot of winter happening, but the Christmas decorations need to come down people.

Flip through the whole magazine once, making note of items you already have, and items to keep an eye out for.  Both pantry and decor.  Then keep it with your cookbooks and you’ll never be at a loss when you need to entertain. 
Three things to step your life up a notch.  Sorry, no beautiful photography in this one, but it’ll be coming with the fall colours photos soon!
…personally, Andrea

Sharing is lovely...

Pillar Candle Gift 3 Ways

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 by
Pillar Candle Gift 3 Ways |
In Canada this week we are approaching Thanksgiving weekend.  A much-needed reminder to count our blessings, and be living a life filled with gratitude.

If you are so fortunate as to have someone host you for Thanksgiving dinner, why not be prepared with a small gift to show your appreciation?  And no, your contribution of food towards the dinner does not count as a hostess gift.

Sharing is lovely...

How to Set Up a Toaster Station

Friday, October 4, 2013 by
Organized Kitchen | toast station on a vintage tray |
So I’m sure all of you have figured out a fix for this long ago…toast crumbs on the kitchen counter, toaster in the way of making dinner, toaster inaccessible during the morning rush.  That’s been my kitchen…for a long time.  But now, as part of my mini kitchen improvement, I decided to fix it.  And it was actually easy.

toaster tidy up_12
Who knew?  A tray, a jar, move the bread, done.

Organized Kitchen | toast station on a vintage tray, chalkboard art, coffee accessories in a basket |
And now we have this cute little toast-making station that’s away from the rest of the kitchen busy-ness.  It stays in the same place.  All The Time.  It’s easy to  keep clean.  Did I mention it was cute?  Well, I helped it out a little bit with the cuteness because I saw this adorable sign on Pinterest.  I don’t really do signs, but I do chalkboards and I just copied the idea.

Chalkboard art in a distressed frame | Give us this day |
Distressed chalkboard frame |
I’m loving me a little upcycled distressed frame chalkboard.  They really work for me…when I’m feeling creative it’s a blank slate.  When I make a mistake, I can erase it and start over.  When I’m fickle and change my mind, guess what?  Erase it and start over.

But back to the toaster.  So I had rediscovered this vintage silver tray.  (A lot of stuff has seen the light of day since we’ve been renovating the basement, by the way.)  And I love it and have used it in a few places, but now it’s found it’s home.  Set it on the sideboard and moved the toaster there.  Already brilliant. 

Vintage silver tray patina |
Set out the butter in a butter dish and moved the butter knives there too.  There’s a key concept of organizing right?  Putting stuff together that gets used together.

Organized Kitchen | toast station on a vintage tray, chalkboard art |
Then remember that I had bought a set of three nesting seagrass baskets?  The first one was used for the coffee station?  Well here’s the largest of the three holding the bread right underneath the toaster tray.  I made the same kind of fake, I mean faux, chalkboard tag with black cardstock,  white paint marker and twine.  In case anyone couldn’t figure out it was bread in there.

Toaster Tidy-Up | chalkboard tag on a basket for bread storage |
Now the bread, toaster, butter and knives all live together.  The cream cheese and the peanut butter and jam live right next door in the fridge.  I have had requests for the Nutella to live on the tray as well.  Hmmm, well, maybe.  If they would just package it in a prettier jar.

Toaster Tidy-Up | Nutella on toast |
So if your toaster situation is causing you stress, this is something you can do.  Any style tray that’s large enough to hold your toaster plus your extra toasting stuff would be fabulous.  It has made the kitchen ridiculously more efficient, and so much easier to keep tidy.  Well worth your time, I promise you.

Toaster Tidy-Up | toaster, mason jar for knives, butter dish on a vintage tray|
Daisies |
Can you name this movie?

I love daisies, they’re so friendly.  Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?   

Sharing is lovely...

Bridge Over Troubled Waters {Black and White Photography}

Monday, September 30, 2013 by
meadowvale black and white_001
Well it’s a drizzly overcast day here in the ‘burbs today.  But can you remember the fabulous fall weather we’ve been having the last little while?  I hope that some of you were out with your cameras to capture the pretty fall light.  I think it’s the best light of the year for photography…the days are not yet too short, midday is not too harsh, and there is a mellow quality of light from the fading season.

meadowvale black and white_003
I was fortunate enough to have a half day to visit a park that’s new to me as a potential photo shoot site.  It was beautiful.   And the obvious thing to do with a camera in a park in the fall is to capture the fall colours.  Which I did.  But truthfully, the fall colours are not as amazing yet as they will be in a few weeks   So here’s a second challenge I gave myself.  Since part of a photo shoot should be presented in black and white, I also took a series of photos with that in mind.

meadowvale black and white_002
So a few things to consider.  A black and white photograph will capture the elements of the scene which are graphic and textural, which have interesting lines and silhouettes.  Subject matter like buildings and other man-made structures (bridges) fall into this category.  But also natural elements like rock, moving water, and dried wood for example. 

meadowvale black and white_004
And as I mentioned, portrait shoots are also commonly done with some of them in black and white.  Why do you suppose that is?  What does it add to the appreciation of the photo?  Black and whites are also effective when photographing locations with a sense of history or timelessness.  Cobblestone streets, farms, the ocean. 

The question was asked while we were at the park…How many pictures can you take of a bridge?  Well quite a few it seems.  So here’s a secondary bonus lesson.  When you are taking pictures of something that catches your interest, take LOTS.  Take them from a distance, capture the detail up close.  Stand to the left and right, shoot from down low.  You’re sure to end up with some that you love.

meadowvale black and white_007
meadowvale black and white_005
meadowvale black and white_006
And after you have done all that, don’t miss what’s right beside your main subject, and take a picture of that too.

meadowvale black and white_008
I hope I’ve encouraged you to give some black and white photography a try.  I can’t help but be inspired when I can appreciate the world around me in a new way.  You can too…
…personally, Andrea

Sharing is lovely...

Organizing A Student Desk

Thursday, September 26, 2013 by
Once upon a time there was a naive mom who thought that her children’s education would pretty much proceed of it’s own accord and all things academic would work themselves out.  A good school had been chosen, lunches were made, bedtimes were kept, she volunteered in the class.  Marks were fine, and so the mom assumed that all was well.

Organizing a Student Desk | pens, highlighters, calendar |

Sharing is lovely...

Tea-Inspired Party Favour

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 by

Tea-Inspired Party Favour |
If I could come up with a reason to sit and make pretty things to give away all the time, I would.  I’m working on it, believe me!  But when lovely girls come to your home to participate in a photography workshop, for sure they deserve something cute to take home.

Sharing is lovely...

Cookbook Review: Michael Smith Back to Basics

Thursday, September 19, 2013 by
Cookbook Review:  Michael Smith Back to Basics
Who loves Michael Smith?  I sure do.  And I’m proud that he’s Canadian.  The season when his Chef At Home series was on television I made a point of watching it.  And I’m not really a TV Watcher.  His success has grown internationally in a big way since those days.

Sharing is lovely...

Aberfoyle Antique Market

Monday, September 16, 2013 by
Aberfoyle Antique Market |

Happy Monday bloggy friendsl!  How many of you are antique hunters?  Or wanna be antique hunters like me?  Are you usually driving right past all the charming antique shops with family in tow and looking wistfully out the window while they whine Are We There Yet?

Not this time.

Aberfoyle Antique Market |

Pack your suitcase...

This time my lovely friend invited me (just me...yay!) to go antiquing with her on the weekend and I was more than happy to accept.  So come with me on a little trip through the Aberfoyle Antique Mall to see what's fun and inspiring. 

Aberfoyle Antique Market |

Who wouldn’t want to go to Old Pond Circle?  It sounds absolutely perfect. Let's go check it out.  While both of us were on a quest for specific treasures, here is what we wandered through, sorted through and admired in our search…

Aberfoyle Antique Market |

Aberfoyle Antique Market |

Aberfoyle Antique Market |

Aberfoyle Antique Market |

Would anyone like to buy a vowel? 

Of course we were kind of there to stop and smell the roses…and the black-eyed susans too…

Aberfoyle Antique Market |

Aberfoyle Antique Market |

Here is one of the ladders that my friend considered.  What do you think?  Any use for a rustic ladder around your home?  And I loved the patina on those weathered old shutters.

Aberfoyle Antique Market |

I came home with a couple of awesome finds.  Some vintage keys ended up here as part of an IKEA hack. And a distressed tin letter H has yet to be photographed in it's new home...stay tuned. 

Did you see anything you liked? What would have come home with you? 

Sharing is lovely...