Pinned & Tried – Food

Today’s Pinned & Tried is the food edition.  It’s no secret that I like Pinterest and I pin many many pins.  But how many do I really try?  As you may have guessed, I don’t try as many as I would like to.

This week though, I tried this:

nutella banana bread

The recipe was a little different than my Mom’s banana bread recipe as I have never had to mix baking soda with water before adding to the mixture.  That said, I followed the recipe exactly.  Well, sort of.  I substituted chocolate peanut butter for Nutella.  We’ve been buying chocolate peanut butter over the past year as it has slightly more protein than Nutella.  The kids love it on toast and on sliced bananas. You may think I am splitting hairs on this, but that’s how I am selling myself on any chocolate spread these days.

My gas range oven cooks quickly and 45 minutes later, voila:

chocolate banana bread

Once it cooled, I made myself a latte and enjoyed a large slice.

coffee and banana bread

It was delicious and was the perfect afternoon snack.  Try it here at The 36th Avenue.  I bet you’ll like, too.

This was one successful Pinned & Tried – Food Edition!

linking up with: Curly Crafty Mom

Pinned & Tried

It’s been a little while since I posted a Pinned & Tried – Fashion edition, so here goes.  My latest obsession has been the kimono and over the past few months, I’ve been watching from afar.  At first I didn’t know it was called a kimono because I immediately thought of the traditional Japanese kimono like this:

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But the current definition of kimono is what I have been seeing and pinning on Pinterest.  It usually looks light weight, flowy and floral.  Sort of like this:

sandyalamodekimonostyle

kimono the bay

Then one day when reading Get Your Pretty On, I saw this:

pretty fix: july kimono

And that kimono front and centre caught my eye.  So after a little research, I realized I could order from Amazon.ca and I did.  It arrived in less than 3 weeks for the bargain price of less than $15 Cdn!  I have to admit, I was pretty surprised at the quality.  The colours are exactly as shown (phew!) and so far the stitching and sewing seem to pretty good.  I’m not expecting this kimono to last for years but if I can get 2 seasons out of it, I’ll be happy.

So now that I have my kimono, the dilemma becomes not when to get one, but how to wear one. Thankfully, I have been pinning some images and decided to try wearing it like this:

kimono

If I had not pinned this pin-spiration outfit, I would not have tried it.  But I have to say, that as much as I love the idea of shorts with the kimono, I don’t love it on me. Maybe it’s because the shorts and the kimono are the same length?  I’m also not a fan of my sandals, so that isn’t helping me.

Next, I swapped the shorts for jeans and the sandals for flip flops:
kimono

and lastly, I put on ankle length jeans and a pair of ballet flats:

kimono

The last look is my favourite, but if I was able to get a pair of sandals that I really liked, then I would definitely try wearing the kimono like my pin-spiration photo.

All in all, I am so happy with my find, my purchase and my new kimono.  I call this one a successful Pinned & Tried!

linking up with: The Pleated PoppyThe Mummy ChroniclesCurly Crafty MomHappiness at MidlifeFashion Should Be FunThe Pin JunkieJo-Lynne ShaneJaymie AshcraftMore Pieces of Me

Happy Nordstrom Anniversary to Me!

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale has come and gone.   It’s only the beginning of August in what has been an unusually hot summer and there goes Nordstrom, getting us all excited about Fall clothes. I know I’m not alone in the fact that I LOVE boots and sweaters.

To that end, I bought this Vince sweater/coat.

Then, please take note of the marsala and grey sweater (also note me using the Pantone color name). This is Vince, too.

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Finally, though I came home with three pairs of boots (got a little excited before shaking some sense into myself), these are the ones that I look forward to wearing the most.

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It’s a little cooler today but not cool enough. Until it is, it’s back to flip flops. Enjoy the last few weeks of your summer!

linking up with:  The Pleated PoppyReasons to DressCurly Crafty MomHappiness at MidlifeJo-Lynne ShaneFashion Should Be FunMore Pieces of MeSincerely JennaMarie

Essentials every vacation property needs

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Do you have a vacation home?  Do you rent it out?  Or maybe you like to have your holiday in a rented cabin or cottage.  We used to own a vacation cottage on a nearby island and since selling it, we frequently rent a cottage/cabin/townhouse when we travel.  Although hotels are great for the pool, room service and air conditioning, the space that you usually get with a cabin usually can’t be beat!

From our experience renting out our own place and from staying at someone else’s, we found some key areas that should always be well taken care of.

Great bathroom towels – it may be cost efficient to take your old towels to the cottage but not everyone wants to exfoliate when they towel off.  Winners, Homesense, and Ikea all have a great selection of towels at reasonable prices.

Soft sheets – the same thing I said for towels goes for sheets.  Rough and tough sheets don’t make for sweet dreams.

Beds – please don’t put the old futon from the basement and the crappy mattress that has been around since you can’t remember when into your cottage or cabin.  Guests will continue to come back if they have had a great sleep and lumpy squeaky mattresses are not what dreams are made of.

Curtains – think about which direction your windows face.  If a bedroom faces the East, then consider putting blinds and curtains in this room so that the rising sun doesn’t wake up your guests at 5am.

Toiletries – just like a hotel, it is nice if there are little bottles of shampoo and soap for your guests to use.  Consider a bowl in the bathroom filled with samples or just large sized shampoo and liquid soap in the shower.  Sometimes, it is the little things that guests will remember.

Coffee/Tea – for coffee drinkers, like my husband and I, we appreciate a good coffee machine and some coffee/sugar/cream in case we don’t have time to pick up supplies before we arrive.  It doesn’t have to be the best or a big supply, but a starter pack is always a good idea.

Fans and Flashlights/Nightlight – these are not must haves, but they sure are nice to have.  The cabin we just stayed in could have used a fan in the bedroom to cool it down as it was the hottest room in the place.  A flashlight/nightlight is always helpful to find your way around in the night should you need a quick trip to the bathroom or to help the kids.

First Aid – a small basket with bandaids, wraps, tweezers and polysporin is so helpful as many families don’t travel with first aid supplies.

Clear instructions and helpful notes – let your guests know the rules of your cottage and/or the complex where they will be staying.  Do they need to clean before leaving?  Where is the electrical panel?  Where does the garbage and recycling go?  Dog friendly?   The more info, the better the experience for both them and you.

Cleaning – if you would like your guests to clean, then please make it easy for them to do so.  Easy to find brooms, cloths and a vacuum will help them to clean any spills and messes and leave the property in good condition.

Tourist info – we love when owners leave maps and brochures of the area suggesting things to do.  If there are some hiking trails, a great park or a restaurant they must eat at, let your guests know – they will appreciate it.

I watched  Sarah’s rental cottage recently and was amazed by the location and how she transformed the outdated property. Your cottage should be a reflection of you and your family, so just make it a place that you like to visit and where guests would like to stay.

Whether you are an cottage owner or renter  this summer, I hope this list helps you have a great holiday experience.   Let me know in the comments if there are any things that make your stay in a vacation property  even better.

linking up with: Curly Crafty MomDesign Dining and DiapersThe Jenny Evolution

Flowers, flowers everywhere!

I know Spring started off with a real burst of florals, but as usual I was a little late to jump on the trend.  To date, I still haven’t bought anything floral, but I did find some lovely things and thought I would share.

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This pretty floral top would be great with jeans or black pants and sandals.
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Long sleeved, but light weight top. I probably wouldn’t wear it myself, but the blue and mauve flowers caught my attention.
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These slips on were less than $40. I didn’t buy them, but thought they were fun and would have been easy to wear.
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For the little girl in your life, these floral sandals would be perfect. I should have bought them, but I didn’t…and they were gone when I went back.
Cute floral Vans for girls
Cute floral Vans for girls
Floral rug for the front door
Floral rug for the front door

I’m still seeing floral out there and it is all on sale now as the Fall clothes start to roll in.  Maybe I’ll buy something, maybe I won’t.  Will you?

linking up with: Reasons to DressBonBon Rose GirlsMore Pieces of MeLipgloss and CrayonsCurly Crafty MomHappiness at MidLife

Oh Canada….family fashion

I know that Canada Day was so last week, but thought I would show you what I wore.  Please keep in mind that Canadians are pretty casual and low key compared to Americans when it comes to our country’s birthday.  It’s not that we don’t celebrate it, but we just don’t celebrate it like the Americans and sometimes I think we could take a page or two from their holiday celebration book ;)

We went out for dinner on July 1st and I overheard an American family remark that we were wearing Canadian shirts.  Besides another couple a few tables away, we were the only other ones dressed for the holiday.

Canada Day
Canada Day – casual Tee from Joe Fresh, black shorts and slip ons
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Maxi skirt, tee from Joe Fresh and flip flops
Canada Day
Tee from Joe Fresh and cute skirt from her cousins *don’t look at her dirty feet*
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Lastly, the men in my life wore Canada shirts from Old Navy and Joe Fresh

What did you wear to celebrate your holiday?  Hope it was a great day!!

linking up with: Jo-Lynne ShaneFashion Should Be FunHappiness at Mid-LifeBonBon Rose Girls

Organize your linens in 5 easy steps

organize your linen I’ve written about de-cluttering a fair amount on this blog.  I always have a donate bag on the go in the house and every couple weeks, I drop it off at our local thrift store filled with clothes, household items, books, etc. Last week, we had an unexpected repair in the basement which meant I had to unload our junk guest room into the main play/family space.  This week, I started sorting out all those items and I was determined that the guest room would remain a guest room without looking like a junk room.  Make sense?

Prior to hauling all the stuff out of this room, I had put things under the bed, in the cabinet and just piled up on the floor.  If you are thinking we must not get a lot of guests, you are correct! When I finished sorting, the biggest pile of stuff that I had to deal with was linens!  Blankets, sheets, towels and more blankets, sheets and towels.  I went upstairs to my linen closet and pulled out even more items! I counted:

  • 12 blankets
  • 6 old sheets
  • 1 set of sheets for the sofa bed
  • 1 set of sheets for the guest bed
  • 2 sets of extra pillow cases
  • 6 towels for the dog
  • 1 set of pillow protectors
  • 2 picnic blankets
  • flannel Christmas sheets
  • baby blankets
  • an extra mattress pad, duvet and pillow
  • 20 tea towels

*I excluded the sheets we use daily on our beds in this initial exercise* Then I analyzed my lot.  A fair amount of these linens had seen better days, so I quickly put them out of their misery and into the garbage.   They were not even worth to become cleaning rags if you know what I mean. Next, I carefully looked at each item and decided if it was a keep or donate.  This was tough.  I became fairly ruthless and kept only what we needed.  Off of this pile, I donated:

  • flannel Christmas sheets (too warm for my kids)
  • 4 blankets
  • 1 baby blanket
  • 2 knitted afghans
  • 4 tea towels

The dog did pretty well.  She got 2 blankets, 2 sheets and 4 towels.   I think this is fair considering how often she gets wet and dirty and it means I won’t have to do laundry every other day for her. Based on this quick success, I headed into the kids’ bedrooms to suss out the linen and bedroom closets.

I keep the bedding for each child in their room.  Easy to find and change the beds this way.  I only found 1 extra set of twin sheets that was a little too young in pattern for my now 9 year old son.  They were quickly put in the donate pile. My daughter only has 2 sets of sheets, so there was nothing taken from her room – except I found….more baby blankets!  We no longer have any babies in our house and my daughter doesn’t play with dolls, so the 8 blankets I found in her room were pretty unnecessary.  I kept 1 for sentimental reasons, 2 for her to play with stuffies and the other 5 were being donated.

Then I tackled the towels.   In our powder room, there were 6 hand towels and only 3 were in colours I actually liked, so 3 were donated.  The kids’ bathroom has 2 sets of towels in different colours and patterns to match their bathroom, so I kept them all.  The master bathroom has 3 sets of towels in white and they were all in pretty good shape, so I kept them all. After all was said and done, our family now has the following linens:

  • sheets for the sofa bed
  • sheets for the guest bed
  • 2 sets of sheets for my son’s room
  • 2 sets of sheets for my daughter’s room
  • 2 sets of sheets for the master bedroom
  • 2 picnic blankets – which I promptly put in my car
  • 4 blankets – for the couches and on the guest bed downstairs
  • pillow protectors  – I actually put them on the pillows
  • 10 tea towels
  • 3 hand towels for the powder room
  • 2 sets of towels for the kids’ bath
  • 3 sets of towels for the master bath

My 5 easy steps to declutter your household linens are:

  1. Go room by room and deal with each room on its own.  Bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, mudroom, etc.
  2. In each room, pull out all the linens associated with that room and put into one big pile.
  3. Sort into keep, donate and garbage.   Be ruthless and only keep what you need.
  4. If you are keeping them, use them!  Right away, put on the pillow protectors, put the blankets where they are needed and hang those lovely hand towels.  Donating is easy, too – pet shelters and thrift stores are always in need of clean usable sheets and towels.
  5. When you put the linens back, make sure they are neat, tidy and easy to access.  If you have space in your bathroom, keep your towels there instead of a closet down the hall.  I also store the kids’ sheets in each of their bedrooms.

Check out this link from Martha Stewart if you need ideas on how to organize your linens and what might work for your style. I found these images on Pinterest to also give you some ideas:

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Hope this helps you reduce some of those extra linens you have stored around your house. If you have been following Marie Kondo, you will know that this room by room method is not what she would recommend.  I haven’t read the book yet, but it is on my list as I am always interested in new ideas on organizing.

If you have read her book, let me know what you think and if you have any other ideas, please share!

linking up with: Dwelling in HappinessThrifty Decor ChickThe Pin JunkieThe Jenny Evolution