Favourite Links & Sarah Off the Grid Premier

Friday, September 8, 2017

You guys, we did it!  We survived the first week of back to school madness.  Okay, it wasn't madness, but the first week is always slightly painful.  I can't lie, I miss the kids so so much when they are gone.  The first week especially.  I love having them around and the house is so incredibly quiet when they are gone.  Welcoming them home, off of the bus, is a moment I always look forward to.

Did you hear the amazing news?  Sarah Richardson (whose table linens are featured above) is back on HGTV Canada with a new show!  Where are the confetti poppers?!!!  I am c-r-a-z-y excited to tune in!  The trailers have been awesome and I can't wait to see how she designs this family home!  The show premiers this Sunday at 10pm EST (past my bedtime but I'm gonna stay up for it!  Glass of wine in hand of course!).  

In her new show, Sarah Off The Grid, we'll follow Sarah and her family along as they build their family home in the country.  The home will be built off the main power grid,  so I'm quite interested to see how it's all pulled together.  Tommy is back and HGTV Canada Stars, Mike Holmes, Mike Holmes Jr and Colin Hunter also make guest appearances to help Sarah and her husband Alex to help them build their forever home.  Read more about the show right here and the show's homepage on HGTV.ca can be found here!  

In other news, I made my first batch of butter tarts this week and was pleasantly surprised by how well they turned out!  I learned a few lessons, but all in all, super happy with the results!  I used this recipe from Style At Home.

Also, I bought this dress from J. Crew and oh my goodness, it's ah-mazing!  Only kicker, you can nab it for nearly 1/2 the price that I paid!  

Jen and Erin have come together to chat all things blogging in this Podcast.  I look forward to tuning in when I have a quiet moment this weekend.

I'm in the midst of changing up the living/dining room.  It started with some paint swatches going up on the wall (new colour has been chosen) and moving things around.  I purchased the gorgeous candle snuffer in the photo above and love how beautiful it looks on the coffee table.  Looking forward to when this room makeover is done!

Have a lovely weekend, friends!



Guacamole Inspired Avocado Toast

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

One of our sons is a rather picky eater.  It's incredible how sensitive his tastebuds are.  Even when I try to sneak food into a recipe, he calls me out.  We recently discovered that he absolutely loves guacamole (riddle me that, I dunno, but guacamole doesn't seem to be the likely choice for picky eaters...or does it?!).  Anyhow, this means that we've been eating our fair share of guacamole as of late, which is fine by all of us!

That gave me an idea for a recipe.  I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but somedays I could honestly (and well, I totally do, shame, I know) go without.  One thing that I do reach for those mornings that I feel like eating prior to 9am is toast.  Toast and avocado is definitely not something new and though I've tried a few recipes and combos of our own, nothing really stuck.

Today I tried frying some bread in olive oil and essentially used the same ingredients that you would use to make guacamole, plus a few extras, and oh my word, it was delicious!

There's something so delectable about fried bread (think grilled cheese...mmmmm).  It crisps the edges beautifully and the centre stays soft, the hit of olive oil (or butter, whichever you prefer to use) is an added bonus!  The only ingredient that you wouldn't find in guacamole (other than the toast of course) is the cheese.  I went with feta for this recipe, but am tempted to try it with goats cheese too.

Mmmm, so yummy!

Here's the recipe for you to try!

Guacamole Inspired Avocado Toast


  • a slice of your favourite toast (I used Bavarian Multi-Grain bread)
  • olive oil (approx 1/2 - 1tbsp)
  • feta cheese
  • 1/2 of a ripe avocado
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 tsp diced red onion (or more if preferred)
  • splash of fresh lime juice
  • crushed chili pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  1. Drizzle olive oil in pan and heat over medium heat (careful, oil burns easily, so keep an eye on it!)
  2. place bread of choice in skillet, frying each side until a golden brown (you may need to add more oil to fry the second side)
  3. place bread on plate when both sides are done frying
  4. top with crushed feta (or cheese of preference)
  5. top with avocado and spread over entire piece of bread
  6. add halved cherry tomatoes and chopped onions
  7. add lime juice over entire piece of bread (I used approx half of the juice from 1/8 slice of a lime), salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste

This is simply delectable and you could easily make more than one at a time!  Especially since you only use 1/2 of an avocado per piece of toast.  Let me know if you give this recipe a try!  I think it would be absolutely amazing with some arugula or similar greens, no?  I can also see this as a great  meal for lunch, too!


Our (almost finished) Patio Makeover Reveal!

Friday, August 25, 2017

I am crazy excited to finally share our (almost) finished patio makeover with you!  Yes, almost.  You see, this project has taken way longer than expected due to bad weather (so.much.rain) and underestimating just how long it would take to sand down the deck prior to applying the new stain.  So, what's not done you ask?  The railing.  So yes, I'm sharing our deck reveal because other than the new railing not being installed, everything else is done and that deserves a big "woohoo!!!".  Incase you're wondering, we will be installing glass railing along the front of the deck and metal along the sides.

Yeah, I totally underestimated just how long and how much time it would take to sand down the deck, to remove the old stain.  Then there was the rain, so much rain, which delayed everything even more.  But, we were patient and tackled what we could, when we could.  We are SO incredibly happy with the new look of our upper patio, it's so much better than before, like, we can't even believe the difference.

Let's back it up a bit.  The decision was made to re-stain the deck because the old colour was peeling and well, it wasn't the look we were hoping for.  I chose a bad colour, we didn't apply it well, and it just never looked good.  Then there was the outdoor dining table, which we had purchased when we were in our old house, which had a much bigger deck than the one we have now.  So it took up way too much space here, but the other thing is that we very rarely used it.  Hubs suggested we do away with a table all together, which made complete sense, but it also gave me a bit of anxiety.  I mean, what if we wanted to eat out there?  Then what would we do?!  But in the end, we are more of the "sit outside and chill" vs the "sit outside and dine" kind of people.  We donated the table and chairs and it was totally the right decision for us.  I think I may eventually purchase a small bistro table, or perhaps a firepit/table combo for the lower deck, but there's no rush, that's for sure.

Okay, now for the before.  As I mentioned, the old stain was peeling and we simply had to do something about it.  We chose to sand the deck down vs using a wash.  We used a belt sander (be sure to wear ear and eye protection when using sanders) wherever we could (we had two going most of the time, to speed things up!) and then a hand sander for the smaller spots (again, two going when we could!).  It definitely took time, but we loved the fact that we were able to restore the wood close to it's original condition.

(we were anxious to remove the old railing! some of it is already down in these photos lol)


After we decided to replace the outdoor dining set with a conversation set, we measured out the space so that we would know exactly how much room we had to work with.  The last thing we wanted was to end up with another set that was just too big for the space!  We immediately fell in love with the Somerset Collection from Canadian Tire (sold separately but includes a loveseat, armchair and ottoman).  Gosh, I just love it!  The sloped arms, the neutral fabrics, the weave and the comfort.  This set has it all!  As I said, we are max relaxers, this set and new space is truly an extension of our living space.  I love how when you're looking outside from inside the house, how it looks like a continuation of our indoor living space.  It all works together perfectly and I never appreciated how important that is!

We also added a pergola to the upper deck.  My husband really wanted a design with clean lines, so we went with that.  He drew up the plans and he and his Dad installed it in a day and a half (they're amazing like that! lol).  Of course, we had to string lights from it ;)  We love it!  What amazed us was how much bigger the deck looked once the pergola was finished.

The next step was to stain the deck.  One thing we knew for sure is that we weren't going to make the same mistake twice, because we most definitely did not want to have to sand down the deck like we did this time.  We wanted the deck to essentially look the way it does right after it rains.  So for that, we went with Premier Paint Natural Semi-Transparent Stain, from Canadian Tire.  After applying the stain to only a few boards, we knew that we made the right decision to achieve the look we were going for.  Though it's "natural", it does have a bit of warmer tone.  If you want something a little less warm, but that would give you a similar look, I'd recommend taking a look at Cape Cod Grey.

Now for the reveal of our new upper deck! Here's the before:

And this is how it looks now:

Pssst, Canadian Tire carries these beautiful planters and terra cotta pots!  Yes, please!

What we learned through this is that it's so important to take the time to really prep the deck properly prior to applying stain.  It's a lot of work, for sure, but it's so worth it.  It's also important to choose pieces that work with your lifestyle.  Since we aren't big outdoor diners, having a conversation set was the way to go.  We've sat out here every night since we set it up and have had friends over multiple times!  We're using the upper deck way more than ever!


Canadian Tire was kind enough to work with me on this post.  All opinions are my own.

Bringing Out the Kid In Me and A Nintendo Giveaway! **Giveaway now CLOSED***

Friday, August 18, 2017

This post has been written in collaboration with Nintendo Canada, all opinions are my own

This giveaway is now CLOSED.  The winner was announced here.

I've been a huge Nintendo fan for as long as I can remember.  I have such great memories of sitting in the basement playing Super Mario Bros. over and over again.  Don't even get me started on Super Mario Bros. 2 and the addition of Princess!

Though I appreciate the games that are now readily available on mobile devices, nothing seems to really compare to a good Nintendo game, which is why I jumped at the chance to try out the new New Nintendo 2DS XL.  Our boys have DS' and love them!  Hubs and I may very well be guilty of stealing the kids devices every now and then to play a game or two.

What I absolutely love about the recently released the New Nintendo 2DS XL is hands down the larger screen size and the clarity.  I also like the fact that weight of the device and ergonomics haven't been compromised, it's still lightweight and small enough to carry around.  Nintendo realizes that technology moves fast as do our needs for faster processing and clearer pictures, they've answered those needs with the New Nintendo 2DS XL.

We also had the opportunity to test drive two new games.  Holy smokes the kids were excited!  Though I like to try to pretend that I'm totally current on all the new happenings, I have to be honest, the kids seem to be one step ahead of my as of late.  When they saw that Hey! Pikmin and Miitopia were included in the parcel, they flipped!!!  Do you remember that feeling when you were a kiddo?  So incredibly awesome.  Looking to upgrade your 3DS and wondering if the games are compatible?  You can play all Nintendo 3DS, New Nintendo 3DS and most Nintendo DS games on the New Nintendo 2DS XL, which is awesome!

Of course, I do intend on sharing this new toy with my boys, but they still can't believe that they aren't able to convince me to hand it over to them entirely (though let’s face it, they’ll probably be the ones who get me past levels that I’m having difficulty with!).  I love the fact that this device is truly family friendly, it’s fun for everyone in our home to play, no matter what age!  I can’t tell you enough, just how valuable that is!  Because of that, it will certainly be our go-to during long road trips, and I can see it being used while we’re relaxing on the patio or when one of us just needs a break from the daily grind.

Now, I'm super excited to be giving away one (1) New Nintendo 2DS XL, one (1) Hey! Pikmin game and one (1) Miitopia game to one lucky reader!  Hop on over to this photo on Instagram for contest details and to enter! (note: you can only enter the giveaway via Instagram, leaving a comment here will not be a contest entry).  Giveaway is open to residents of Canada and closes on August 23/2017 at 11:59pm EST.  Good luck!


This post is written in collaboration with Nintento Canada, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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