So long 2012...

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I'm back after an unplanned week off from blogging! I enjoyed my holiday in Nova Scotia so much that I hardly touched my computer. It was actually pretty refreshing to just ignore the internet and focus on real life!

I have to work this morning so we had planned to drive back Sunday night. A blizzard warning changed our plans and we reluctantly cut vacation short and came on Saturday night instead. Our neighbour had been kind enough to snow blow our driveway after Thursday's storm. The street plow still left us a mountain to shovel out before we could even get in the driveway. We woke up yesterday morning to a crazy snow storm that left us with another 40cm.
Here's our patio table to show the build up of snow:

Once it's shoveled, I love snow. I'm so excited to get out snowshoeing on New Year's Day!

Hopefully your turkey leftovers are long gone! After 2 turkey dinners, a few plates of leftovers, and some turkey soup I had my fill for the year. The fridge was still full and we were running out of ideas to use up the food. My aunt gave me a recipe using leftovers that wouldn't taste like another round of Christmas dinner. Keep this one in mind when Thanksgiving rolls around again.


Turkey Sweet Potato Quesadillas
(adapted from Simply for Life recipe book)

You'll need:
2 cups of shredded turkey
1/4 cup of salsa
1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes (or squash)
1/2 cup of grated cheese of your choice
1/2 onion sliced
4 large tortillas
olive oil

Combine turkey and salsa. To build your quesadilla, spread sweet potato on bottom tortilla. Top with turkey mixture, onion and cheese. Cover with top tortilla and brush both sides with olive oil. Cook in pan at medium heat for 3 minutes per side.


Recipe makes 2 quesadillas. We wanted to make more than 2 so we opted to bake them in the oven at 400F on parchment paper, flipping 1/2 way through.

They were amazing and put a good dent in the turkey we had left. I did up a couple bags of turkey to freeze and have ready to make these again soon.

I hope everyone is enjoying their last day of 2012. I'm participating in these blog hops today:






Snow Day Schedule

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Okay who am I kidding? The schedule is going to about 90% lounging. My only goals for the day are to tidy up the house, organize things to go home for Christmas, and find a good book to read.

This is what I woke up to this morning:


I'm a little spoiled having 2 snow days in 2 weeks...but you don't hear me complaining. I'm so excited to have a fresh new layer of snow. The roads actually look pretty clear. I don't remember having snow days unless there was an absolute blizzard when I was a kid (you know how it was, up hills both ways on the walk to school). What does it look like in your part of the world this morning?

Right now I'm celebrating my day off with some Just Us! Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate and listening to my all time favourite Christmas story, Dave Cooks the Turkey. If you've never heard it, you should definitely check it out. It's read by Stuart McLean of the Vinyl Cafe and is the hilarious story of a husband trying to get things right at Christmas. I listen to it every year and it never gets old.

I just added a Button Swap to the blog. If you're interested in putting your button on my side bar, take a look here.

I'm Dreaming of a White Wednesday!

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Last night when I posted, I was definitely still caught up in a case of the Mondays. Well, there's nothing to make you slow down and appreciate a hectic week like the possibility of a snow day. I've been spoiled because my whole life I've either been a student or a teacher who gets to look forward to these little breaks every winter. Right now I'm doing Autism support in clients' homes but we typically follow the school cancellations. I love the drama of it all-- running to the window to check for snow, laying in bed listening to the radio until the last possible minute. I often jinx myself by staying up too late or not having my lunch ready to go but that's all part of the snow day emotional roller coaster. I'm worse than a kid, I know.

They are calling for 40 cm starting around midnight lasting into the morning tomorrow. I live right in the area where there's a possibility of it turning to rain so only time will tell. We actually just had a snow day last Monday but it was a definite. They were calling for the perfect cocktail of snow, ice pellets and freezing rain. I'm looking forward to some nice fluffy snow instead of the sheet of ice we have right now.

While I was looking at the forecast on Environment Canada, I came across this great chart they've created to tell the chance of a white Christmas in each major Canadian city. The past few years have been so mild that it feels like white Christmases are a thing of the past. Halifax only has a 45% chance-- although I'm doubting it's accuracy this year!

So please humour this 28 year old who is an 8 year old at heart and do a snow dance and wear your pajamas inside out tonight!

Boys Oh Boys - Tea on Tuesday Hop

I'm doing the the Tea on Tuesday Blog Hop today. (And you should too!)

Powering through till Friday

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Christmas vacation is so close I can taste it. I'm usually not one for wishing away the week, but right now Friday seems forever away. I'm looking forward to food, family, and a break from busy days at work.

I'm already pondering how to pack up the car for the trip home to Nova Scotia. We have a 3 hour drive which is nothing new for us. When the weather is better we seem to be on the road home practically every 2nd weekend. 9 days at home means the extra challenge of traveling with 2 cats. Dora is wonderful but Lucy howls for the entire drive. Once they survive the trip, they're right at home.

This is Dora last year, making herself at home under my mom's tree.

I work until 4:30 on Friday so my plan is to pack up the car at lunch time so we can be on the road by 5 o'clock. Can it be done?

It's off to bed for me. I've been playing around all evening making things a little more attractive around here. The blog is still a work in progress but I like how it's coming together. At the top of my wish list is a prettier banner.

Enjoy your week! (And if you're on vacation countdown too-- I hope it flies by!)


Dressing the Bump

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For the past month or two, I was stuck in that awkward phase of pregnancy. I didn't have that nice rounded belly that screamed "I'm pregnant." Instead, I lost all stomach definition and just looked a little chubby. I could still wear most of my old clothes but nothing sat right. Maternity clothes were the same story. I was lost in limbo between the two. Suddenly this week...bam! I'm pregnant! It's time to invest in a few more maternity pieces.

I still find myself gravitating towards empire waist non-maternity dresses like this one though.



Baby gets a bit lost in the pattern of the dress but I still feel like this is a flattering piece that will serve me well over the next few months and beyond. For actual maternity clothing, I'm trying to decide what to buy. I dress casual for work so a couple pairs of jeans and some t-shirts would serve me well. I really don't want to spend a lot of money but I'm already getting frustrated with rotating through few things that still fit. 

What maternity pieces were the staple of your wardrobe? What non-maternity clothes still worked for you?

Happy Friday! 

Simple Snacking

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I am hungry all the time. This is nothing new for me but since I hit the 2nd trimester of pregnancy it's been the theme of my days. I can't seem to get enough to eat. I have a pretty physical job and I need to snack all day to make it through. My go-to snack is yoghurt with granola but I've been trying to find some quick fix foods for work that will fill the void but aren't so loaded with sugar. My new favourite: celery with laughing cow cheese.


So simple. Why weren't you in my life before??? Celery is something that I stopped buying unless it was for a recipe because I always let it go bad before I finished it. The solution: chop and wash it as soon as you buy it and put it in a jar of water in the fridge. This makes it easy to grab to snack on.



If you want to get fancy, Laughing Cow makes a few flavoured cheeses... I've seen Herb and Garlic, Jalapeno, and French Onion as well as a light cheese. I went with the original this week because it was on sale. You could get even fancier and add some raisins or dried cranberries. Yum!


I'm giving another link-up a go today. Check it out:

Blog-working Wednesday!



First Baby Project- Map Bunting

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This idea was definitely not my own. I came across something similar on Pinterest and played with a couple different methods to make it just how I wanted. I'll source it to everything that comes up when you do a search for Map Bunting.



Supplies:
  • an old atlas or map
  • ribbon (about 1 inch wide)
  • thread to match ribbon
  • sewing machine
  • iron
  • tacky glue
  • ruler

I bought an old Atlas at a used book store to use for the triangles. It was surprisingly hard to find one that had the faded look I was going for. I wanted to keep blue as the main colour so I stuck to the pages that had more water than land. I made a template of my triangle and started cutting!

The next step was to press the ribbon in half with an iron. Then, I started gluing the triangles in place between the folded ribbon, measuring 5cm between each one. I use a super thin line of glue, just enough to keep them from moving around.



I decided I would glue 5 triangles, sew them, and repeat. I recently inherited a sew machine from my mother-in-law. Having not done any sewing since high school, the project was brought to a halt as I spent 30 minutes trying to thread the bobbin. Once I was back on track, the sewing was a breeze. Straight stitching through the middle of the ribbon.




Lucy and Dora were as helpful as always. After I finished, I left the banner unattended for about 5 minutes and came back to one triangle with a rip in it. This was incentive to get it on the wall ASAP.


Ta Da! First baby project finished! Definitely not the most practical of projects but it was a quick one.


Next Project: cloth wipes!

Let's Link-up!

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I've been having fun getting things set up on Blogger. There's still so much to learn! I'll eventually get things looking prettier around here. I decided that I want to branch out with blogging this time. On Wordpress, I mostly wrote for friends and family. Now I'm feeling like it would be great to connect with other moms/moms-to-be. I'm in search of some great blogs to follow-- and who am I kidding-- it's a little embarrassing when you just sign up for Google Friend Connect and you're your only follower!

I'm going to try out a few link-ups. I'm not sure what I'm doing but I hope to meet some other bloggers in the process. Today I'm going for the Tea on Tuesday Social Hop. Here goes nothing!
Boys Oh Boys - Tea on Tuesday Hop


Back to Blogging!

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I'm going to give blogging another go this winter! I've moved my old entries here to give Blogger a try.

Now on to a whole new set of adventures...I'm 24 weeks pregnant! I'm excited to start writing about preparing for baby as well as our scramble to get our house ready to sell this coming summer.

The belly is starting to look more and more like a baby bump these days but I don't have a great pic to share yet. So here's the babe about 5 weeks ago.



P.S. It's a girl!

Mint is the New Black

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I'm back from vacation in Ireland and back to blogging! I will share some stories soon. For now, it's back to the house adventures...

Mint is my new favourite colour. I'm currently sporting Essie Mint Candy Apple polish on my toes and I've been eyeing up these out-of-my-budget Paige jeans for quite a while. Even the dishes we eat off of everyday (Sophie Conran for Portmeirion in Sage) aren't that far from being mint.



Lucky for me we live in this beautiful 70s mint coloured house! We've been renovating the house  to sell next year with the hope of at least getting what we put into it. As important as curb appeal is, we probably wouldn't get the money back out of replacing the siding. I've spent the past couple years complaining about this fact but today I've decided to get over it and embrace the mint!

What we can do something about is those faded black shutters. No more mint chocolate chip ice cream. I've been pondering the best choice to update the house a bit. The inside has had an amazing transformation and it would be nice to do the same for the outside. I know you're supposed to match your shutters to the roof but I really am not a fan of the black. My original plan was a dark sage green (I'm not up on my green names but hopefully you can picture it). In the spirit of embracing things, I'm starting to lean towards the pastel look of white shutters. White is fresh and clean and there are no worries of going through all that work to have it not match.

I took a few shutters down off the back and primed them. This step needs to be done anyway and the white primer will give me an idea of how it would look. When they're dry I'm going to lean them up against the house for a couple days and ponder it some more. Any ideas???



To end things off, check out my beautiful poppy that appeared this morning! At 8am it was still totally closed and  at 10am it looked like this!

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

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I'm enroute to Tralee, Ireland for my friend Maria's wedding and a mini reunion with some University of Sunderland pals.

What an adventure to get there! Flying out of Atlantic Canada can be ridiculously expensive. To save some cash, my journey started with my alarm going off at 4am this morning. I drove 5.5 hours to Portland, Maine. From there I hopped on a bus for another 2 hours traveling to Boston Logan Airport. That's where I'm sitting right now! Next stop: Paris, France on the red eye. After a super quick layover, I'll be headed to Dublin. That's not it though! Tralee is 4 hours by train. I'm so excited to visit somewhere new (and not be at work for the week) that the travel doesn't bother me.

I'm already feeling pretty exhausted! I'm hoping that means a good night's sleep on the plane. I'm so happy that I didn't take that more convenient flight through Toronto though-- all flights to Ontario are cancelled tonight due to weather!

Pictures and stories to follow!

A Not-So-Lazy Sunday

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Have you have you seen the Lazy Sunday 2 Digital Short? Not as good as the original but still pretty catchy.

I've been busy with yard work the last couple days. My plans of turning this disaster into a flower bed are going well. The photo is a couple weeks old so imagine it with a few hundred dandelions and everything about a foot taller!



Here's where we're at now. I'm still working away at moving the pile of gravel. It was much bigger than it looked-- we've moved four wheelbarrows full so far. Speaking of wheelbarrow, I'm now the proud owner of this baby.



The whole project got slowed down with the discovery of 6 hidden tree stumps and a giant ant hill. Also my inability to stay on one project at a time didn't help-- but look how lovely my mailbox looks?





I'm so happy with how the yard is coming together. I was so into the house projects today that I skipped out on going to see Charles and Camilla's visit to CFB Gagetown. Royalty a five minute walk from my house! I was so filthy and couldn't be bothered to get cleaned up just to get dirty again.



Not quite fit to meet royalty!



Lucy couldn't get her act together to go either.

Rhubarb Muffins

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A great discovery when we first moved into our house was this tiny rhubarb patch hidden behind our garage. It's overgrown with weeds and a little TLC could help it reach it's full potential. The little bit it produces now is all we really need though. I've been chopping it up and freeze for future treats.

I have a new habit of waking up at 5:45, no matter how hard I try to sleep in. Yesterday morning I whipped off some delicious rhubard muffins. The recipe is a hand-me-down from my mom's friend Shelley that has probably changed along the way. I only made a 1/2 dozen because we do not need to be consuming that many muffins!

Here's the full dozen recipe:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 tbsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp of salt

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup oil

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 tsp almond extract

  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb


Topping

  • 1/4 cup butter melted

  • 1/4 cup white sugar (I used brown but I think white would be better--and is probably what the real recipe calls for!)

  • 1/4 cup almonds


Mix wet and dry ingredients separately and then combine. Spoon into greased muffin pan. Bake at 400 for 20 mins. When cool, dip muffins into butter, sugar, and almonds.



Oops, somebody ate one!

Definitely not health food! Fueled by muffins, I headed out in the yard for the day. My "quick-fix" flower bed ended up presenting a few challenges-- stumps, roots, ant hills, and mountains of gravel that were much bigger than they appeared! I was back at it again today and will share the progress soon.

Wedding Quilts

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We new we wanted to have our wedding at Alan's family's farm. There were so many beautiful backdrops outside. The barn started off as the backup plan if it rained. Everyone worked hard to help clean it out and when we saw the finished product, it didn't make sense to have it be a maybe. Why have two plans that were dependent on last minute weather conditions, when we had this fabulous space waiting to be decorated.

One side of the barn still had some larger things that had to stay. A tractor, some coffins (eek!) and old wagons that were too big and fragile to move. We both come from a long line of quilters so we came up with the idea to divide the barn with family quilts. Mothers, Aunts, Grandmothers, Great Grandmothers, and even Great Great Grandmothers were represented. It added so much colour and our own family touch.



In order, quilts made by: Alan's mother, my grandmother, my mother, and Alan's great great grandmother



Alan's grandmother's quilt peeking out from behind a chair planter.



The quilt my mom made me as a High School graduation gift. It currently lives on our bed.

One especially bright quilt made by Alan's mom titled "Twisted Knickers" became our alter at the front of the barn.

Yard Rescue

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Our yard is a work in progress. Considering we both abandoned our house for 6 months last winter/spring, I'd say we aren't doing too bad. Actually, this is the first year (in the 2 years since we bought the house) that I've lived here before July. Last year it was pretty overwhelming starting when everything was over grown so I'm trying to get at it early this time. I've already raked 17 bags of leaves (in addition to the 20 in the Fall...look how little the yard is!) and made several piles of brush. Our March heat wave made for great weather to work outside. So far this year I've gardened in shorts and tank top, t-shirt and jeans, and winter jacket and toque...in that order!

Here's a sort of before picture of the yard. This is when we bought the house in Spring 2010. I think a true before picture would show after we neglected it for a couple years. After some hard work last summer, it's already looking  100% better. I'll post some progress pictures soon!



Next on my to do list:



This beautiful bed was home to a super cool 70s wishing well. Last summer we hauled it over to the curb in hopes it would find  new home. After a couple days of no luck, Alan was sure he was going to get to do the sacrificial smashing. Luckily, it was spared by a passer by. I hope it has a happy new life!



The white gravel pile has got to go and then this will be turned into a flower bed. The lilies are the only thing allowed to stay. Other than that I will have to raid my mom's garden this weekend for some more plants!

We have lots of weekends on the road this month so I'll have to pick away at a few yard projects in the evenings.

Post Gym Smoothie

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In the Fall I was in the routine of making delicious smoothies in the evening. I somehow got out of that routine for a couple months...but tonight I'm back!

I basically use whatever I have on hand. I really got into making "green" smoothies that had either kale or spinach added in. Once you get over the look and texture, they're amazing. The blog Oh She Glows has a whole site called the Green Monster Movement devoted to green smoothie recipes. Tonight there is no green because I'm in need of groceries. Here's what I threw together:



What's in there:

  • a couple spoonfuls of greek yoghurt

  • a splash of pomegranate juice

  • 1/2 a banana

  • 4 dates

  • frozen blueberries

  • a spoonful of almond butter


I don't have a blender so I use my food processor--which is probably better for chopping up the dates and frozen fruit anyway.

Here's the final product:

Robin Update

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4VCUbL7jsc

The Jackson 5 are providing the soundtrack for this post.

The robin's nest has been moved! I felt like they moved in under false advertising. They built the nest on Monday when I was sick and didn't leave the house once. They had no idea that the door that was a foot away from their nest is typically a high traffic area. I decided that if there were no eggs I would grab the nest and move it in to a tree in the backyard. I made the switch yesterday afternoon. The robins are still hanging around the backyard but I haven't seen them around the nest so I'm thinking they've abandoned it. I'm on the lookout for a new nest!

Tailor Made Dress

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We got engaged 1 week before I left for a 6 month stint teaching in Beijing. There was no time for dress shopping and we planned to have the wedding that summer. I was on a pretty tight budget so I knew China would be the place to get my dream dress. I started at the Wukesong Wedding Dress Market. This would be the cheapest option but check out the type of beauties I found:





Well it is a military wedding. This one could work!

I decided to go the tailor route. I had pictures of some dresses I liked. The one that stood out the most for me was the dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in the movie Funny Face and designer Dolly Couture's take on it.





Look Who's Moved In

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Speaking of putting a bird on it...

The last few days have been particularly rainy and dreary. My backyard seems to have become a hangout for robins. They are my favourite sign of Spring. I was home sick from work yesterday and  every time I went into the kitchen I saw a robin flying directly towards the window above the sink. It started to feel like deja vu and I was thinking it was some sort of flu induced hallucination. I had totally forgot about it until this morning when I came back from getting my car fixed and saw this:



I'm not sure how to deal with this. I love robins and I'm okay to not disturb their nest if I know they are only going to be temporary guests. How long do robin eggs take to hatch??My fear is that I will have to compete with protective mommy robin every time I go out the door. Also could another bird move in when these guys move on? Maybe I should just move it ASAP before any eggs are laid. But where to? Lots of research to do today!

Put a Bird on it!

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHmLljk2t8M

Portlandia might just be the greatest show of all time.



I wish I had taken a before shot of this lamp. I found it in someone's Spring clean up pile a few years ago and couldn't let it hit the trash. Imagine it faded black with no shade. That's how it sat for almost 2 years in our basement, waiting for Bryce Shivers and Linda Eversman to inspire me to "Put a Bird on it!"

The fabric is  hand-me-down African fabric from my mother in law. I had checked out lots of "how to" tutorials for covering a lamp shade but in the end I just did my own thing. I started by making a pattern out of paper that went half way around the lamp. That let me pick out the exact portion of the fabric that I wanted to use. I used a spray on adhesive to keep the fabric in place and then tacky glue to do the edges. I trimmed the excess fabric and then folded it over the edges. I didn't want to use any sort of trim so I glued bias tape along the inside top and bottom.



For the paint I used Weather Sheild Rust Coat in Gloss Yellow. No need to prime! I started the process on a visit home and my mom had to finish it up for me because we ran out of time. It had to be sprayed from so many angles! I grabbed a big marble out of my toy bin for work to glue on top because it looked like it was missing something (literally, I think the top of the lamp was gone).

Did you notice the bird is sideways? I didn't...but I like him that way. It's kind of an awkward giant lamp so I haven't found a permanent home for it yet. Perhaps I should decorate the spare bedroom around it!

Lazy Sunday Lasagna

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It's rainy and cold here today so I just wanted to have a lazy, do nothing Sunday. I've really been trying to get in the habit of freezing some portioned out meals for the week so I decided to make and freeze a lasagna. A few months ago I made a recipe out of my mom's Canadian Living Step by Step cookbook and loved it. It used sausage meat that added a unique flavour. I found this online and I'm pretty sure it's the same lasagna.

Canadian Living Meat Lasagna with Spinach and Sausage

I made a few changes to the recipe.

  • Grated the carrots instead of chopped them.

  • Added grated zucchini in with the veggies.

  • Used oven-ready noodles (because I'm lazy!)

  • Adjusted the baking time by 15-20 mins because their time never seems to be long enough.



Meat filling on the stove. Yum!



Ready to go in the oven.


It turned out great! I cut it into 2 serving portions to make for some easy suppers!



First Post! Gallery Wall Progress

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I should head this up by saying I don't believe in measuring. I've come to terms with the fact that I can't make a straight line so I decided to go for the intentionally sloppy look.



Starting from the left, these are the pics:

  1. Nova Scotia print to remind us of home. I wish I could remember the artist. Bought at Love Me Boutique in Halifax, a very cool shop of things handmade across Canada.

  2. Guinness t-shirt that  I bought in Dublin 7 years ago and wore to death.

  3. My "Year of the Rat" stamps. The top one is Chinese from 1984, given to me by one of my students in Shanghai. The bottom one is Canadian from 2008 and the same as the one I gave the same student.

  4. My attempt at the crayon art seen all over Pinterest. Still thinking about adding a mouse on the ground under the umbrella.

  5. A print I bought in Edinburgh that I've always loved.

  6. The name my students in Shanghai gave me, "Kai Li."

  7. A Norman Rockwell print titled "Day in the Life of a Boy." Alan claims this depicts his typical day.

  8. "The Battle of Trafalgar" The wall was getting a little Holly heavy so I asked Alan to pick out something of his to add in. He's a military history nerd, what can I say?

  9. A piece of wallpaper that's pre-1900. Alan's family is renovating their old farm house and found this hiding under a previous renovation.


Yay for bouquets of tulips! These were my impulse purchase at the cash at Superstore. I thought the candy tempting me was bad. I'm not sure where to go from here with the wall because the big ugly tv is lurking in the corner. I would like to balance it out with a few more frames that aren't black. I'm really happy with how it has turned out so far. A nice change from how that wall looked when we bought the house:



Yes, those are mirrored tiles.