28 July 2011

Quick Update...

We are about to head into possibly our busiest weekend of the year in the gallery so I thought I would do a quick blog with some updates on blogs past;

Okay so the Laundry room has been cleaned out, thanks to my husband...bless his heart he is the best...so now when I can wrangle my dad we can set about starting that project...woohoo!

My beautiful cousin is home from the hospital and feeling better. Still a long way to go for her recovery but at least she is home with her boys and it looks as if she is truly on the mend this time...fingers crossed for her and her family <3

I was not wrong in my disappointment at the multi million dollar cottage design....further 'after' photos confirmed this. Sadly the mark was missed on this one and as a designer it is slightly irksome that another design firm could go so clearly wrong. In my opinion it degrades the role of the designer which can be a very important one. C'est la vie.

I found a new area rug for the living room...my lovely friend Christine from Your Home Interiors in Bracebridge has a beautiful line called 'Better than Sisal'. It is on order and I am excited as the rug we currently have underfoot is in a terrible state. It is not the striped rug of my dreams, but with the little ones, I decided to go for something stain resistant, and stain hiding...for now.

I also added some beautiful antique ceramic pulls to my kitchen cupboards in a teal colour...loving them, and I picked them up for a good deal at Simply Cottage, one of may favorite places to wander here in my fair town.

Speaking of my town...check back soon when I take you on a tour of some of my fav places.

That's it for now...
Have beautiful weekend all!

Via Pinterest

26 July 2011

One foot in front of the other...

So yesterday I posted about feeling unraveled...and I posted some of my inspirational images...and I am pleased to say it worked, I felt better as the day wore on. Things were crazy busy in the gallery and we ended on a high note. Today I woke up with a new determination.

Today I decided that instead of whining about everything...my wall in particular, I best start the climb over, so I set my alarm and woke early slipped out of the house while everyone was still asleep and stole a hour to myself. I ran to Wilson Falls did some yoga as I looked out over the rushing water of the Muskoka River at the base of the Falls and then ran back...well part of the way, I walked the rest.

via pinterest

So true that the hardest step is the one out the door. I think particularly as a wife and mother you feel that you should be always available to your loved ones...truth is by not making yourself available to you, you are not really available to anyone else.

I started my journey a little more than 6 months ago and so far have lost 40lbs. I am working towards losing another 30 at least. This next phase seems as though it will be as hard if not harder than the first and I had to wrap my brain around that. I had become complacent and I can't do that. If I want it I have to work for it, and I have never been afraid to work for anything, nor to fight for anything...this time it's me I'm fighting for.

So today I took that step out the front door and it felt great. I will take many more and I will keep anyone who is interested posted on the progress, but for now I start the big climb over the wall that has been holding me back for several weeks now...time to just get over it!

Happy Tuesday...it is looking to be a beautiful day in Muskoka.

25 July 2011


So it is summer in Muskoka and life is good, and yet I am feeling a bit unraveled, a bit out of sorts...not sure why really, just am. It has been hot and humid, I have been struggling to break through a wall I have encountered in my weight loss, it is our busy time at the gallery and I am missing my children, and well now it is raining...so today I thought I would try to give myself a boost by sharing some of the things I find inspirational.

Beacon Hill,  Boston

San Francisco

Neal's Yard, London
all images via pinterest

There you have it. I've left them without labels so that you can decide what inspires you about them. Hope you find as much beauty in them as I do. Happy Monday all!

22 July 2011

Dog Days of Summer

So we have been having a heat wave here, and though I live in the land of lakes, rocks and trees, not shade nor water has done much to provide protracted relief from the soaring temps. We should not complain but the humidity of our summers can be as unbearable as the windchill of our winters, worse even if you ask me. The way I see it, when you are cold you can always put something more on; more clothing, more blankets, an extra duvet, but when you are hot, there is only so much you can take off before you are down to the nitty gritty and who wants to see that? So yes I would rather be cold than hot, and in turn that means I am going to complain about the heat.

The thing is this heat has rendered me uninterested in doing much of anything. It is draining and uncomfortable to be standing still and the sweat still drips down your back...but alas it looks as if there is an end in sight so for that I can be thankful.

Perhaps when the temperatures return to some degree of normal, I will feel like setting to work on the laundry room, finally finish the shoe rack for the front hall, and maybe just maybe get back to that thing known as exercise that I so desperately need to do in order to continue on my weight loss journey.

But for now I sit here in the quiet on the eve of the weekend with three fans blowing on me from every possible direction searching for more inspiration for the parts of my home that still need some love and attention.

like my bathrooms

and the area rug in the living room

refinishing the living room floor

and of course the laundry room

then there is the task of adding all the pretty things
all images via Pinterest

I will be happy when it cools off just a little. Until then stay cool and have a happy weekend my friends!

20 July 2011

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Back in late June my cousin had a beautiful baby boy. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to spend the day looking after him effectively giving me my baby fix for the time being. Sadly my cousin has faced some life threatening health issues since giving birth to her second son and has been in and out of the hospital (more in than out). My heart has been breaking for this family in this time of crisis, and when we got the call that she was back in the hospital I was devastated for them.

During her previous 13 day stay I was desperate to do something to help the family and on several occasions imparted this to my aunt (via my mom) who said not to worry and stay home, come when she is home and settled. She did come home and it appeared that she was on the uphill climb towards health but she suffered a major setback the other night and had to be taken into Emergency. Learning of this yesterday morning I felt compelled to do something. Now I am not a doctor and I can't make her well...though in my opinion the doctors are not doing a very good job of that themselves, but I can ohhh and ahhh over a new baby and hold him and feed him and love him and give him my undivided attention while his gramma, my aunt (who has been his primary care giver since he was a week old) took some much needed time sans baby to be at the hospital with her daughter. So this is exactly what we did, my mom and I.

Yesterday morning we called my aunt and told her we were on our way...she said not to come but we told her that was not an option. Mom and I drove the two hours to my cousin's home, scooped that baby up and sent my aunt on her way. It was a small thing, and I wish so much it could have been more, but it gave my aunt the afternoon to focus solely on her daughter and her well being, not having to worry about the baby's next feeding or changing the next dirty diaper.

a beautiful baby boy

My cousin's health is still in a questionable state which pains me greatly. I can only hope that her doctors have it figured out this time and that she can soon be well enough to bond with her new baby and reconnect with her 2-1/2 year old son. Anyone who is a parent out there can empathize with the heartache it is causing all concerned that she cannot be with, nor care for her family at this time. Her family has been amazing; Her husband is a rock amid these rushing waters; Her mother is putting on a brave face and caring for her newborn amid all of the uncertainty; Her Husband's mother is caring for the toddler and trying to keep his routine as normal as possible.

What my mom and I did was a tiny tiny thing but we hope that it helped if only for one afternoon ease a little bit of the burden. When we can we will do it again, though we hope that it will not be necessary (as in we hope she will be better very soon)

We hope and pray for health to return to this family and that in time they can heal the emotional scars that will have come along with such trauma.

15 July 2011

A Tisket a Tasket Filling the Picnic Basket

It has been a beautiful week here in Muskoka, full of sun and hot temperatures. Here in my house we do not have central air conditioning, and some days that is dreadful. Our two window air conditioners have been going fairly non stop and I am dreading our next hydro bill, but the trade off is I can sleep at night and it keeps the migraines somewhat at bay.

The best thing about living in Muskoka is there is water everywhere and often just around the bend. Here in my neck of the woods we have a lovely little beach called Kirby's Beach. This is where Jake and I had our first Muskoka date and it has held a special place for us ever since. In the early days we would plate our dinner and drive over to the beach to eat. When the girls came along it became a bit more of an operation, but we relish our picnic dinners at the beach. This week we prepared a wonderful meal;

mixed greens, baby spinach, strawberries, blueberries, pecans, cucumber...yum!

homemade dressing

grilled chicken and pineapple
Put it all in the picnic basket, packed the car, and away went...Kirby's Beach here we come!

Now we need lots of stuff; toys, suits, floaty things, towels.

the girls always willing! (this is in the garage...it is not night)
ahhh...Lake Muskoka

park before dinner

x's and o's anyone?

our gourmet picnic...yum yum!

daddy and his baby girl

that would be me...a rare okayish pic

Lilah's ready to get wet (Izzy was a bit camera shy today)

brrr...breeze off the lake made it cold getting out of the water

do we have to go home?
And so it is that we are able to cool off on any night we choose, and we choose many...love it!

Btw if you are in Muskoka this weekend stop by the 49th Annual Muskoka Arts and Crafts Summer Show in Annie Williams Park Bracebridge. When you're done and need to cool off stop into the air conditioned gallery; Silver Bridge Gallery  4 Manitoba St. Bracebridge by the falls!

Happy Weekend All!

11 July 2011

About motherhood...

So as many of you are aware, I am getting much of my inspiration from other bloggers out there, and for each one I say that they are one of my favorites...well turns out they are all my favorites, and all for different reasons. The blog that inspired this post is A Cup of Jo, and her post this morning was about the trials and tribulations of motherhood and the balancing act that mothers need to play in order to be wife mother, business person etc...

What I really liked about Joanna's post was that she was honest about how hard she found it after having her son, and she is reaching out to a community of mothers to ask them to share their own stories. Most importantly, there was no judgment; nothing from the standpoint of 'look what I have accomplished ask me how I did it'.  Women tend to be harder on each other than we should be, and instead of working together we tend to float ourselves on an island and cast judgment on those who float by, sometimes that judgment is on the other person, but often it is on ourselves. Joanna touched on it in her post saying she used to see other mothers walking with their children looking perfectly coiffed and put together, and she wondered how they did it, as she felt she was floundering. Truth is (as she learned) most of us are floundering to some extent to make it all work.
Most women wear many hats; daughter, friend, wife, mother, business person. I am all of these things, but I also have to remember I am me. For me this blog is a little bit about just that, about eking out a little time each day to give myself something. To have the chance to put my thoughts out there, and to hopefully provoke thought in someone else as it has been provoked in me.

I have been a mother since I was 16 years old. I have three daughters 21, 3,and 2. Motherhood at 16 is very different from motherhood at 35. When my 3 year old (Isobel-Izzy) was born I was a basket case...I was petrified something was going to happen to her; I knew too much...I quickly realized that ignorance was bliss. I knew nothing at 16, and though I took to motherhood instantly, I didn't know as much about the world as I do now so it was easier to be at ease.

At 16 there were no expectations of me either, if I managed to do the dishes by the end of a day with the new baby everyone thought I was a trooper. I loved being a mom right from the start. Caitlin (my 21 year old) was an easy child...the easiest it seems so far. It was just the two of us from the time she was 2...Caitlin had it hard though as she was my learner child...and I learned lots. But I was not only learning how to be a mother at that time, I was growing up myself. I was learning how to be an adult, a friend, a student, and an employee.

Fast forward 18 years and I am the new mother to Isobel, now trying to find my way as a new mother and new wife. I left my career as an Interior Designer so I could be home with her and returned to a long ago career as an ECE providing childcare in my home. That was interesting; as I was figuring out motherhood for myself often feeling like a first timer all over again, I was counselling others on child rearing, and life with children in general. What I learned, which is what Joanna learned is that we are all just trying to figure it out.

What I found was that I could still make time to do most things with one child, but boy did that change when my youngest came along. When Lilah was born I had two weeks off before my daycare families returned. Then I was at home with my newborn my 18 month old and 4 other children under the age of 2. My husband helped where he could as did my mother and older daughter, but it was overwhelming at times. I questioned for a long time how I was ever going to make it work, how was I going to give this sweet new baby all that she deserved while still maintaining a level of care for my daycare families that they expected and deserved. I quickly learned that routine was my best friend. I simply went back into the daycare routine we had prior to Lilah's birth and hoped that she could follow along...and follow along she did.

My three girls <3

Now the mother of a 2 year old, a 3 year old starting school this fall and a 21 year old in her last year of college, I no longer do the daycare, but own a business with my husband. Now juggling family and the demands of business ownership is a new phase of our lives. Right now we trade days and often feel like a divorced couple as we rarely get to spend much time together as a family. But what I am learning is that as always routine is going to be my best friend. As we whether this transition we will find our new routine and it will be tweaked and changed as and where needed. What I have learned is not to fret too much because all things seem to work out in the end, and no matter how badly we think we are scarring our children we are not. If they are loved, and know it, safe and know it, they have all that they need. They will surely survive your experimentations with the day to dayness of motherhood. Make them feel special and important and they will appreciate later in life all that you have done for them to give them the best life you could.

Here's to all the moms out there making it work everyday...and a special thanks to my mom who helps me immeasurably, and has taught me so much about being a good mom. <3

9 July 2011

Cottage Decor....in my humble opinion

Muskoka is a magical place where it can take 40 minutes or more by land to get somewhere you can be in 5-10 minutes by boat. It is a marvelous landscape of rocks, trees and lakes. The views are pristine and breathtaking. It is equally beautiful in all seasons perhaps with the exception of the brown season when the snow is in the process of melting.

Huckleberry Rock Lookout Milford Bay, Muskoka, Ontario
If you are lucky enough to have a cottage here, you have some of the most valuable real estate in the province. And if you are a designer working on a project up here you'd best understand what it means to cottage; the ebb and the flow of a day on the dock, the relaxed way you go about a day when you are here and you had best understand that above all else a cottage should feel effortless and comfortable.

I am a huge fan of juxtaposing modern with rustic, or infusing contemporary design into a historic home, but the cottage is not a place to take this to extremes. In my experience when someone leaves their city home they want to leave it behind. They do not want to go from their city home in the city, to a city home in Muskoka. They are wanting to go to another world, they are driving through heavy traffic on a Friday night for more than 2 hours to escape.

And so it is that after viewing the first 'after' picture of a cottage design project I am following on Facebook, I was inspired to write this post. The cottage is a fairly common 4.5 million dollar island property on one of our big three lakes. It is large, beautifully set, and is gracious in it's views. It was in dire need of an update; it's kitchen and bath cabinetry was of the 80's variety in cream melamine with the oak wood rails...ugh. Based on what I have seen of it's 'before' pictures (and this is all I am going on as I have not seen it in person) it has by all accounts generous spaces, vaulted ceilings and plenty of windows. So it was with a certain sense of disappointment that I viewed the first 'after' picture which showcased a sofa similar to the one below...this sofa does not say cottage comfort to me. The rest of the room was equally devoid of any sense of comfort (glass coffee tables...in a cottage?).
Now don't get me wrong the room was nice, the sofa wonderful, but not in a Muskoka cottage...in my humble opinion.

This is my idea of a Muskoka decor courtesy of Lisa Roy, one of my fav bloggers. This was her Muskoka living room when she called Muskoka home. The white slipcovers are wonderful, relaxed and comfortable.
 Many might think that white is counterintuitive, but it is actually perfect for the cottage, but only as a slipcover. This way it can be removed, washed and bleached if need be (check your washing instructions first though...some cottons turn yellow when bleached). When you are at the cottage you and your kids are in and out of the water and while much of the time you are outside, it often happens that wet little bottoms are parking themselves on the furniture...and these wet bottoms are not always clean, rather more often sandy from the beach or dirty from running through the yard/woods...you get my point.

The cottage to me should feel like it has been there forever (in a good way) the decor should feel evolved over time, special finds picked up here and there, the driftwood leaning in the corner, the patina of life on each space as it has been shared with family and friends.

Lake Joseph Cottage by Peaks and Rafter

Lake Muskoka Cottage by Peaks and Rafters
 These images above are from one of Muskoka's best designers; Margot Bell owner of Peaks and Rafters in Port Carling. Margot has had her hand in many of the multi million dollar cottages on Millionaires Row in Beaumaris. Her work has been featured in House and Home, Style At Home and Canadian Home and Country. I worked for Margot before I had my children and it was under her that I learned what makes a successful Muskoka cottage.

Maybe there is some truth to the notion that if you want Muskoka design hire a Muskoka designer. Or maybe you just need to have an understanding of what it means to live and/or cottage up here to be able to truly develop a comfortable space. Whatever the case, I will keep following along in hopes that I have jumped the gun here and that the 'after' picture I saw was not truly an 'after' and maybe I'll be blown away by what these city designers do to transform this space when all is said and done.

8 July 2011


I'm a clean eater now, so I don't eat out very often, but there was a time when my husband and I considered ourselves foodies. Really we still are, but now we prepare the food ourselves (and by ourselves I mean him- he prepares the food), but I just read one of my fav blogs Life Begins at Thirty (which it does btw) about her girls night out to a new restaurant in Toronto,and it got me thinking back to the days when we would rhyme off our list of fav places and pick one to visit depending on what we fancied (and could afford).

We were lucky, Jake used to work as a reporter and then editor for one of our local specialty news publications. As such he used to be assigned (and then as editor did the assigning) dining reviews. Well who wants to go to a nice restaurant all by themselves, so I would oblige and go along...twist my arm. And so it is that Jake and I have dined at some of the finest restaurants in Muskoka. Some are good for the food, some are good for the atmosphere, some are better for their location and some for their decor, but I cannot remember any where the food was not good.

One of our favourites was Moon River Lookout in Bala not far from (possibly next to) The Kee. Here we were treated to a tasting where the chef prepared tasting portions of many of his menu items for us to try. These were some of the best bites of food I have ever had.  On top of great food, it is a wonderful spot that overlooks the Moon River and if you are there at the right time has wonderful sunsets.

Another of our more unique experiences was dining at Bartlett Lodge. The food again was wonderful, and the atmosphere and decor rustic, but the whole evening began by driving into Algonquin Park, finding our way to their dock, and calling for a boat to pick us up to take us to the lodge. At dinner we were seated  behind a father and his young daughter who were leaving the lodge to go camping. The daughter spent the evening grilling her father about the likelihood that they might cross paths with a bear. You could tell she was excited and anxious all rolled into one going on this adventure. It was sweet to hear the dad try his best to allay her fears...though I'm not sure she was ever convinced. The meal ended with the chef bringing some homemade chocolate truffles to the table, they were divine. And then there was the moonlit boat ride back.

Not all of our dining adventures have been for reviews; we had a wonderful celebratory meal at One Fifty Five in our fair town of Bracebridge, and our favourite spot is quite literally a hole in the wall at the top of Chancery Lane in town called The Griffin GastroPub. Excellent beer (my husband is a beer snob) and wonderful seasonal and local food offerings...the Lentil Burger is amazing! And if you are visiting our lovely neck of the woods you have to have a Marty's Butter Tart and visit Signature's Eatery for one of  Mary's amazing sandwiches prepared on one of her homemade pretzel buns. Then come visit me at the gallery we are across from Marty and down from Mary ;) Oh and if you like sushi you must visit Wabora...OMG!


That was a nice run down memory lane...now I'm hungry...are butter tarts clean? Happy Weekend!

7 July 2011

The Ugly Truth

You know when you have a space that you don't particularly like, you tend not to care about how it looks...well I have one of those spaces...my laundry room. It is not that I don't care, it is just simply that it is so ugly what does it matter if it gets just a little uglier. It has become the dumping ground for anything we can't fit elsewhere but think for some reason we can't throw out (and by we, I mostly mean me).

Our laundry room is actually one of the nicest spaces in our house and if I had an infinite budget I would demo the whole main floor so that I could work the kitchen into this corner of the house. It has North and East facing windows and so it is just bathed in light. But alas it cannot be my kitchen at this time and so a laundry room reno is in the cards for this summer.

This is an awkward space that needs to accommodate storage as well as laundry, and with the bathroom tucked into one corner, it is a public space used by our guests when we have time to have them. I want the space to be ubber organized and functional so I plan on moving the washer and dryer into the space that currently houses the laundry sink (under all the crap )
so embarrassed but this is the reality I hide behind the curtain...
the curtain
Then in the opposite corner along the wall where the washer and dryer currently sit I want floor to ceiling open shelving for laundry baskets, cleaning products, and kitchen appliances I don't have room for in the kitchen (which you walk through to get to the laundry). Open shelving with baskets (oh I love me a basket or two) will be easily accessible (i.e. easy enough for people to return items to...sooo much easier than opening a drawer or door)
Everything will get a nice coat of paint. I'm thinking white, but I have a can of turquoise I chickened out on in the living room that might be nice as an accent. While we are at it, the bathroom will get a face lift as well.

Here we will continue with the beadboard wainscoting (used in the kitchen) to cover the ugly tile, new mirror, new pedestal sink (which I've had for more than a year), and new (non-fluorescent tube) lighting.
It is a big job, but thankfully my dad is the handyman in these parts and he is about to semi retire, so lucky me that he lives in my basement,and that my mom wants him to stay busy...I can certainly accommodate. We have secretly been compiling a daddy do list for months....sorry dad no rest for the weary ;)

Anyhooo, maybe someday soon I'll share some of my inspiration images, but for now I'll leave you feeling sorry for me and my ugly truth, and I'll hope you don't judge me for my mess behind the curtain.

3 July 2011

Plenty of inspiration...too little time

Wow...who knew finding time to write a few words down on a regular basis would become so difficult.
Life can just get plain busy and mine has been just that. It is funny to look back over the last several days to think about exactly what has kept me so busy because in retrospect it doesn't actually seem like much, but it was the important things...like my children, my husband, my family, and my business. It was merely the day to day of a full life that has kept me away from the computer which in a sense is a good thing. I would hate to think that I put those important things aside just to indulge myself.

The interesting thing is those things have been profoundly inspiring. I closed a chapter in my life at the end of last week that I am so happy to close. I was done, may patience had worn thin and it is a good thing for all involved to move on. I can look back with fond memories and appreciate that it was good at the time, but the time was up. This movement is inspiring as it leaves the door open for so many possibilities the first of which is throwing myself into our business, relieving my husband of some of the day to day and re-connecting with my children on a different level.

Our business has inspired me this week as well. We opened a solo show for one of our most esteemed artists; Travis Shilling, this weekend and it has been so very nice to get to know him better and to have the opportunity to meet his mother Millie. She has the most amazing aura about her and I felt an immediate sense of peace sweep over me as I touched her hand. Some people just have that affect and rarely do they even know it. So unassuming was she, that she had been at the fore front of such an important family of artists. Her husband was the late Arthur Shilling who challenged the artistic conventions of native culture and forged ahead painting as he saw his people and his world. His sons Bewabon and Travis inherited his talent and I dare say his passion for art and have endeared themselves as distinctly talented even beyond the cast of their fathers shadow.

My experience with the Shillings has deepened my appreciation for art, and the process by which an artist creates. It has moved me in a way I did not anticipate. If you happen to be in Muskoka over the next two weeks stop by the gallery to see Travis' new work; Silver Bridge Gallery, 4 Manitoba Street Bracebridge, Ontario.
Travis Shilling signing his new work as it hangs on our gallery wall.

And then there is my husband Jake...he brings such simplicity where I tend to complicate life and I love him for that. We came home from a busy day at the gallery yesterday to realize we had nothing planned for dinner and really not much to choose from in the fridge, so as I am stressing over it, he simply says lets have a picnic and go to the beach...and half an hour later we were eating alongside the water and then joyfully playing with the girls in Lake Muskoka. When we packed everything up and started our return home, I felt like a different person; relaxed, revived, and happy. Just spending those couple of hours doing such simple things as playing in the water and watching my husband with the girls at the park brought the realization that life was pretty perfect.

I also had the chance to re-connect with an old friend which left me feeling nostalgic and happy to remember another time in my life and thankful at the same time that life has moved me in the direction it has.  I enjoyed our breakfast together and hope it was the first of many.

So there you have it. inspiration in the mundane goings on, but if you look for it, are open to it, it will find you.