Monday, September 30, 2013

Life Update!

I know, you guys are sitting on the edge of your seats to see all the work I did on the bathroom this weekend.

Here is a sneak peek:

Ya...I did nothing since last week. Haha! Got ya! But I DID order some sexy prints for the walls (should ship next week!) and I bought my medicine cabinet! It is still unassembled and in the box, but as an FYI- I got this sexy beast:

Very similar to my old one, but the horizontal style will work better with that small slip of space over my toilet. I tried to find shelves for the wall, but the wall is just shy of standard-shelf-at-ikea size so I need to do some research. As of today, the towels are all piled in the hall so I need to find some option soon!

But yes, life update!!

1. Luggage is still MIA
I am never ever ever shipping with DHL again. They wouldn't send me my bag because there was a mickey of rum in it. I asked them to throw it out, but they refused. They told me to drive to Hamilton (!!!) and get it cleared by customs there. FYI- they have terrible hours. I pointed out my lack of car and then they mentioned I could get it cleared by customs in Toronto. FYI2- I called customs to find out how to do this and they told me DHL would have charged me if I had gone to their offices since they act as a broker. DHL never mentioned a charge! I would have been LIVID if I took a day off work, borrowed a car, driven an hour to Hamilton and had them charge me to clear my own bag.

Anywho, I got my paperwork from customs (for freeeee) and emailed it to DHL on Tuesday. As of Friday it still hadn't shipped. I have left many angry emails, complaints, and phone calls but no one there seems to know why. I am just waiting for the call where they tell me they need something else or they lost it. UGH

2. DCP Update
All the hair I had grown seems to have fallen out, but now I have some weird fuzz on the back of my head. The back of my head has seemed fuzzy for a year now, but it has never grown longer so I am kind of ignoring it. I have my follow up with the doctor in about 6 weeks and I am pretty sure I am going to stop treatment and just go on living my bald life. It is funny how used you get to being bald. In a couple of years I will have been bald longer than I had hair. CRAZY! Maybe I will celebrate that milestone with a new wig?? I should start saving.

3. My Weekend!
I love weekends :). This one was the first in a long time where I didn't really have plans. I was supposed to go to the spa on Saturday, but my friend had to cancel so we are rebooking for a few weeks out. Then my friend Steph texted me and asked if I wanted to spend the weekend with her and go to a bachelorette party for her future SIL on Saturday! Sure! I went down Friday after work and we went out for a yummy dinner. However, after dinner she started to feel pretty sick and was running a low grade fever and coughing a lot (at this point, I regretting letting her bite into my wrap). She texted the girls and let them know she probably wouldn't make the party the next night. So instead of running around Saturday getting stuff done and then going out, we ended up spending all day under blankets, watching TV. It was a really nice low-key day.

Sunday I slept in and then went to Ikea! It was packed and full of rude people and wasn't that much fun. I got everything I needed (and nothing I didn't need, which is unheard of in Ikea), and headed home. However, I ended up getting a headache and the trip home was basically TTC torture. I took a nap but felt pretty blah all Sunday. Hence the lack of medicine cabinet assemblage.

Tonight I am going to see LES MIS!! Super excited. I loooove the theatre and I have pretty much gone to every musical that comes to Toronto. I know a lot of people complain about the cost of tickets, but I don't go to sports games or concerts or even movies that often, so theatre is the one area I allow myself to splurge on! I sometimes wish I could act, but considering I 100% cannot sing or dance, I am fairly certain I would be cast as the tree. But you better believe I would be the best tree you ever saw.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Princess Margaret Lottery Dream House- Designed by Brian Gluckstein!

Last week I am going through my emails when I see this evite reminder for an event for bloggers at one of the Princess Margaret Lottery dream homes...and you get to meet designer Brian Gluckstein, who designed the whole house! Whaaaat! Not sure how I missed the original invite (I think I had Jamaica-brain), but I was up for going on short notice! I dragged my friend Sarah with me for good measure :)

We decided to take the GO Train to Oakville and then take a bus to the house. Did you know the buses in Oakville suck? haha it only comes every FORTY minutes. Luckily it lined up well with our train. Unluckily, I forgot to tap off with my Presto card when I left the station for the bus, which led to me running like a crazy fool back to tap it before the bus left. Too funny, but I made it!

Please be nice to me in this post. I got home and found out ALL my photos were blurry. I am really not enjoying this new camera I bought. Blegh. To see nice photos- go here.

At first we toured the home, and then went out back to get our badges (they closed the house to regular tourers), where they also had snacks and drinks. But we didn't stay out long because the mosquitoes were interested in touring us.

At some point in all that, Brian Gluckstein showed up! We luckily snagged 5 minutes of his time to chat about the project. We learned that a lot of the materials and furniture (including a $6000 coffee table I think I heard?) had been donated, which helps the hospital make more money from the lottery. Brian had a hand in everything from the floor plan to finishes to furniture! Also- this house went from breaking ground to finished in only 5 months. I told him it took me over a year to paint my bathroom and we laughed. He was very easy to talk to!

Bleeeeeh blurry photo!
Another neat thing- we were planning on leaving early and for some reason we were separate from the group while we collected ourselves to go. Then some people came up and asked if they could film us talking about our favourite rooms! How neat! We decided to go upstairs, where it was quieter, and Sarah talked about the master bathroom and I talked about the "girl's room". They said they hoped to send us the video early next week- I am sure I look like a fool in it but it is still pretty neat. I got to wear a mic and everything!

I thought I would share some tips that I picked up from touring a professionally designed home

1. Low Profile Vent and Outlets
The wall vents were built with the same materials as the walls, so they appeared as slits vs metal plated ones. Even the ones in the floor! The kitchen had a floor vent made of granite. The outlets were all horizontal on thick baseboards vs on the wall- it make the walls look less cluttered

2. Add Some Interest
Is a glass floor over your wine cellar necessary? No...but it sure is fun! 

3. Hide the Appliances
I wish I had taken a photo from the other side of this kitchen, but the dishwasher, garbage "drawer" and fridge were all hidden to look like cabinets! Also, is that a tap over the stove?? 

4. Create an Interchangeable Gallery Wall
With a wall like this, you can change up the art to suit your taste at the drop of a hat! Plus the low profile, wall mounted TV fit right in. 

5. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
The house was covered in different lighting, including a lot of overhead, small, potlight type lights! The house was very warm and welcoming with it.  

6. Don't Neglect the Back
This is a photo of the back of the house! You can really tell a high end home from a cookie cutter one from the attention paid to the back of the house. It also had copper eavestroughs, which I haven't seen before. I wasn't 100% a fan (personal taste), and I wondered if they would turn green over time.  

7. Break Away from White Trim
This room has large white crown molding, but the baseboards and trim were all painted to match the walls. I felt it made the room look bigger and softer. 

8. Mirrors and Glass
All the mirrors and glass in the master bath made it feel HUGE. I also loved the bookcase over the bath (the shower is completely glassed in so steam isn't an issue) 

I need to talk about this tub for a second. It is from Kohler and I need it. NEED. It has lights and jets that move to music you can stream on it! I am not sure how I have survived this long without this tub. I was relaxed just being in it's presence. 

9. Make Rooms What You Need/Want, Not What Is Expected
I had no need for the 4 living rooms in this house, which is why I am glad they didn't make this room a 5th. I loved the idea of a gym indoors and the giant glass wall was awesome. However, this room could also be a play room, or a craft room, or room for displaying your collectable beanie babies. Whatever you need!

10. Put TVs Everywhere.
It upsets me know that I can't watch TV while doing the laundry. It also upsets me that this laundry room is bigger than my condo.  

 11. Loft Where You Can
A basement can't always have high ceilings, but by moving pipes and ducts to the sides, you can loft areas to make the whole ceiling feel higher!

12. Strategically Place Mirrors
I liked how this mirror was opposite a giant piece of artwork of a long hallway. Two pieces of art for the price of one! 

13. Use Flooring and Arches to Define Spaces
The show home used tiles and hardwood to differentiate spaces, along with the tile inlay to break up the rooms with tile in them. They also arched most of the divisions to help further define it, yet the house still felt very open!

14. Do What You Like!!
This was not my favourite room. The room below is off the entrance and with TWO sitting rooms off the entrance (the other one is the first photo), I felt it was overkill. I mean, the room itself was beautiful, just not useful to me. And then upstairs above it was a room that could have been a bedroom, but it was converted to an opening and you couldn't place anything in the upper room because the walkway was narrow. However, I admire Brian for putting this in because it made the house different. A 6th bedroom would have been passed right over, but I bet everyone remembered this room! 

So that was my tour of the Princess Margaret Lottery Show Home! I don't even think I showed you many rooms (like the mudroom, office, some bedrooms, a billion bathrooms etc). It was 7000 sq ft! I really appreciated being able to come out and hang out with the other bloggers and meet Brian Gluckstein- it was such an interesting evening! I wish we could have stayed longer, but it was a long way back to the city on the train :(. Thank you to whoever found me and sent me the invite!!

Please visit the Princess Margaret Lottery Website to see their other prizes available!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lake Simcoe in the Bathroom!

Thank you for all your compliments on the bathroom yesterday. The whole time I was planning this I was terrified of picking the wrong colour. See, I have a history of picking terrible colours (for reference, please see my dad's neon green bathroom). I think I just have a bad eye for them or something. When I painted the whole condo grey, I knew I was picking a nice grey because my friend had just done her bedroom in it. But for this bathroom I was on my own!

Thankfully, I simply love it. I get mad photographing it because I cannot capture it's glory with my limited skills. I am happy to say I shot better pictures of it on manual vs auto, so I must be getting better in that department too!

But let's start at the beginning. After I got home from BlogPodium, I only sat down for a little bit before getting to work. I was sick of putting this project off so I wanted to get the whole room prepped and ready for painting on Sunday! First thing I did was empty out the medicine cabinet. Yes, I emptied it months ago in preparation for this moment...and then refilled it. Oy Vey.

Once emptied I got to work taking it down. I was happy to see it was only held up by two screws, so I thought this would be quick and easy. Famous last words.

So ya, screws came out, but the medicine cabinet stayed up! I realized it must have been hung before the paint was properly dry in the bathroom. It was on there GOOD. Thankfully, with a little prying and pounding I was able to budge it. Buuuut it budged the wall right back. Oops.

(FYI- it is so weird seeing the old colour in here)

I sighed at the damage, but it wasn't that bad so I went to grab my spackle to fix it. Aaaaand my spackle had dried up. Oy Vey. But then!!! Magic!!! I opened my BlogPodium swag bag and found....DAP Spackle!!! How lucky was THAT? So I patched er up! I had a few other holes around the room and I spackled and sanded until everything looked good enough to me!

Side note, if you are sanding spackle, it will will get everywhere. Even in your jewellery tray on the countertop.

Oy Vey.

I then went to bed and slept in a bit Sunday morning (hey, Saturday was a busy day! I needed sleep!). Once I was up, I got right to work because I needed to be done by 4pm to join friends for some bowling. First things first, I set up my entertainment station.

I was going to stream Netflix, but it turns out my bathtub had bad wifi (who knew?!), so I ended up watching the Emperor's New Groove, which is one of my favourite movies. It is hilarious! After that ended I just put my itunes on shuffle :)

Then I taped up everything and got ready to go!

After one coat, I started to question my judgement in this colour. Man oh man it was scary! I had bought CIL paint, which is a mid-level paint in terms of quality (it was on sale too!), so I knew I would need a few coats. For the record, I bought their paint and primer in one, in satin in the colour Lake Simcoe. I bought a whole gallon since I knew it would be more than two coats- I used about half and did four coats before I was 100% happy. I could tell right away this paint was better than the paint I used in the condo- that paint still had white spots after two coats- this one covered very well but still was a bit uneven, necessitating the extra coats.

But, I kept at it and soon I was all done! I had a few paint bleeds, and I hit the ceiling about 1000 times, but I think overall I did a decent job! Besides, "spot the paint on the ceiling" is a good activity for guests, right?

However, Monday night I did go in with a little white craft paint to sneakily cover up some spots and I fixed up the area around the sink where the paint peeled right off with the tape thanks to the non-paintable caulk around the sink. SIGH. And then I recaulked to make it look better and it looks like a 5 year old did it. SIGH. But, once I loaded all my stuff on the countertop it was 76% less noticeable, so I will probably live with it for awhile before I feel like pulling out all the caulking, touching up the paint, and recaulking.

Next up- art, new medicine cabinet, and new shelves!



I just put in that last photo so you can see how low the ceiling is! This bathroom is teeeeeny

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bathroom Sneak Peek and Artwork Ideas!

Guess what I did on Sunday?

I feel like these pictures do not do the colour justice. It is just gooooorgeous in person. But I need to fix some spots so I just took some quick photos to share!! Once I finish 'er up I will take some nicer shots.

Note- there is such a thing as paintable caulk. The caulk around my sink is NOT paintable. When I took off the painter's tape ALL the paint peeled right up. So ya...working on that before I show off real "finished" photos- but I had to share!

In the meantime, I wanted to share some thoughts on art! I want to get some real art in here, vs the old Winners are I had. Except I can't afford real art, so I am thinking a nice Etsy print or two is in order (one beside the sink for sure, maybe one in front of the toilet).

A blogger featured a store called The Wheatfield last week. Can't for the life of me remember who it was- but thank you! I love her prints and found three that I could see in my space:

The flower print is just lovely, the great lakes is fun because my paint colour is named after a lake, and the sugar skull is just kind of awesome. I brought back a ceramic sugar skull from Mexico City last fall and I still love it! Sugar skulls are going to be the new owl, right?

Another fun option is this city skyline from artPause

Or how about this llama blowing bubbles for some whimsical awesomeness from WaterinmyPaint (check out that link for some amazing funny prints!)

Hmm, I think I could look at prints on Etsy all day. Do you have any artists that you would like to share?

Monday, September 23, 2013

BlogPodium Recap 2013!

I know you have probably already read 100+ BlogPodium review posts since Saturday (if not, you need to follow more Canadian bloggers- we are kind of a big deal), but I want to share my experiences with it!

First of all, I looked super cute in my final outfit- a yellow frilly top, dark skinny jeans, and cognac boots. Oh yes. I even curled my hair! And then it rained and I have no umbrella so I was slightly less cute by the time I made it to the conference. Oh well :)

When I got there I was super nervous- there were way more people than I expected and I realized I wasn't going to be able to easily recognize any of my blogger peeps in person! Thankfully I tweeted out this problem and Danica from Country Chic Renonovator and her sister Andrea found me! At lunch I found out I was sitting right near Michelle from Sweet Suite 10 too! I also met a few other good blogging buddies throughout the day (and met some new ones!) so that was great. I was rarely alone!

The place was awesomely decorated, but I made a point of getting no photos because I am an idiot. However, I was sitting in the front and the best eye candy of them all was the amazing Sarah Richardson, who did the keynote address. Umm...amazing. I have loved her design style for years and she is such a success in the interior design world! She is also an amazing public speaker and I found her talk to be very engaging, with lots of tips and a bit of humour!

She gave a lot of tips for creating a good brand (whether you have a big design firm, or a tiny blog, it is important to be consistent in your brand!)

Her Tips:
- Make something that lasts
- Be nice to other people/ build relationships
- Create a signature style
- Have a point of view and unique perspective
- Design memorable spaces
- Make a statement
- Create warm and inviting rooms, infuse them with history, soul, spirit, texture, and whimsy
- Be adaptable
- Be inspired
- Embrace your budget
- Enjoy the thrill of the hunt
- Play with pattern
- Be accessible
- Edit, edit, edit!

I loved hearing about how she started and where she draws from when creating rooms. I think she is a big inspiration to a lot of young women out there!

After her talk, I joined a group to learn about power tools! We got instructions on how to make this:

 And then Tom from the Home Depot taught us how to use all the power tools involved in making a fold down table and we all got a chance to try them! I totally want a table saw now. And a miter saw. And a nail gun. My list for Santa is going to be long ;)

After this, I joined up with Kay from Not Quite a Mom and Kim from The Quirky Duck and we wandered around the exhibitors' area. We tried the keys we were given at the Home Depot "house" and Kim won a weedwhacker! I was kind of jealous, even though I have no lawn...winning prizes is fun!

After that I went to a session about bloggers and agencies and learned a bit about how to approach agencies and what agencies are looking for in bloggers. I went to a similar session after lunch too, so I thought I would combine my notes here for you guys to read!

Tips when approaching agencies about blogger partnerships
- Your brand needs to be authentic
- Guest blogging is added value
- Know your audience
- Use external links in your blog posts
- Follow keywords in Google Trends
- Use relevant keywords in your blog titles
- Create an eye-catching email
- Take things offline, send something unique
- Believe in the brands you work with
- Don't treat it like a transaction, work WITH the agency
- Go in with confidence, it is a negotiation
- Know your blog- is it professional and sophisticated?
- Track your daily audience engagement
- Create a media kit with insights from your audience, not just metrics
- Important Metrics: unique visitors, publishing schedule, upcoming special features on your blog, length of visits, repeat readers
- Focus on outcomes, not outputs (not just # of blog posts, but the outcome of those posts in terms of audience engagement)
- Ask the agency what THEY are looking to accomplish
- What benchmarks are they looking for?
- Meet your promises
- Be genuine in your excitement
- Get everything in writing!

This seems like a lot, but trust me when I say this is just the Cole's Notes of what I learned in those two sesssions!!

Lunch was amazing too- the food was awesome and they had a panel on traditional media vs modern media. It was pretty interesting and both sides were represented well.

My last session was on Monetizing Your Blog with Karen from The Art of Doing Stuff. She talked about how advertising on your site works, what methods are more profitable, and how to grow your blog readership (which leads to more money from ads!). She was SO funny and I think everyone loved her session- she was very frank and gave us the straight facts on how this works and what she charges.

Her Tips to Grow Readership:
- Try to get featured
- Comment on other blogs (try to be first)
- Reply to comments on your blog
- Devote time just to commenting and engaging with other bloggers

She said Google Adsense is the best way to start out, but diversifying with vertical ad networks is a good idea too. She also sells ad space on her site, and keeps that price pretty low. I think everyone appreciated her frankness about doing this to make money. I am not sure I am there yet with my blog, but I liked that she wasn't ashamed to say she wants to make money from blogging.

After the last session we all piled back into the main hall for big prize giveaways (I won none..guess I used up all my luck this year with my free trip?). Then it was cocktail hour! I met so many nice people at cocktail hour- too many to list here! So please, hi to each of you!! After a couple drinks, sushi, and an ice cream sandwich, I picked up my bag o' swag and headed out! I got sooooo much free stuff that it kind of makes up for not winning any big prizes. I have so many plans swirling in my head for what to do with some of it!!

My overall review was that I really enjoyed the conference. I am shy, so I wish I had engaged a bit more with the bloggers I met (it wasn't quite the party I had expected in my head), but I actually learned a lot from the sessions and I felt very inspired when I left! I know that next year will be a lot better because I will already know some people and know more of what to expect!

Did you got BlogPodium? Please comment whether we met or not so we can get to know each other more!
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