Birthday Party Recap

My childhood birthday party memories are filled with images of kids, cake, balloons, presents and pinatas (my Dad would make me pinata year after year for my parties). Simple pleasures. So I put aside the idea that Oscar's birthday had to be a production, and focused on making it purely fun. And to make it purely fun, I focused on making it easy. :)

My 5th birthday party with my friends from the street.

We hosted a birthday party on the Saturday for immediate family, which is why I was baking up a storm. A simply BBQ, and family brought salads and munchies. I ordered 24 helium balloons from my neighbourhood stationery store, and they delivered them the morning of the party and they were scattered throughout the house. I used my no-sew bunting flags for the event - they can be reused every year, something I intentionally wanted, to create some tradition to birthdays. Over the years the bunting flags will get worn, but I hope that little things like these will contribute to fond memories as he gets older.

Our Living Room was filled with helium balloons for Oscar

The next day, Sunday was Oscar's real birthday. Aubrey had to work, so Oscar and I spent the day taking a little walk to Starbucks to see his favourite barristas who all wished him a Happy Birthday, and playing with some of his new toys. At night we went to my Parents to celebrate his real birthday with a celebratory dinner, and this cake by my Mom....

My Mom made this cake for Oscar
Oscar's Birthday cake is a perfect example of how my Mom made birthdays so special for us growing up (and still does).  She found this recipe online at Betty Crocker and made it for Oscar. How cute is that!? When Oscar gets older, we're adding a pinata to the mix as it was one of my favourite traditions at my birthday. Not sure if others have traditions they have carried down for their children?

So there you have it. The birthday festivities weren't themed or overly planned. We just had family, sweets, balloons, presents, and a lot of hugs and snuggles. The perfect recipe for a perfect birthday weekend.

Birthday Party, The Cake

Oscar's Birthday weekend was great fun. There are so many different elements to the weekend that I thought I'd break them into a few posts as each element is unique and special. This is my last "Baking" post for a long, long time. ;)

Some birthday cakes are fancy, and beautiful. Themed and stylized. But I think there is something perfect about a simple, classic birthday cake. My Mom makes the most delicious cakes from scratch, and one day, I will try to recreate her famous cakes, but for Oscar's birthday his cake was courtesy of a Duncan Hines box. :) I took a chocolate cake, and a vanilla cake and did layers. The icing, being SUPER easy is home made. Simply Icing sugar, Butter, Vanilla flavour and some water.

The icing isn't perfectly put on, but that's what happens when your baby gets scared of the KitchenAid Stand Mixer and wants the cling to you as you ice the cake. It was a bit of a struggle but we did it in the end, together. The cake is 3 layers and topped off with sprinkles. I was going to put some circus toppers on it, but I just fell in love with the simplicity and stopped after the sprinkles. This may be common knowledge but if you want to know the trick to doing layers,  there is one simple step.
You need to slice that "hump" off the top of the cake off all of the inside layers. You want to make it as flat as possible, because if you start layering with the humps, your cake is going to wobble and potentially slide off one another when you ice.
Just do that with all of the "inside" pieces but leave the hump on the top one. :)

And there you have it. Our sweet classic cake, for our sweet little boy.


Birthday Party, Sweets

Oscar's Birthday weekend was great fun. There are so many different elements to the weekend that I thought I'd break them into a few posts as each element is unique and special.

Leading up to the weekend, our house was filled with the sweet scent of lilacs from our garden, or maybe it was all of the icing sugar floating through the air as I made desserts. Although the birthday boy got little sugary treats himself, no birthday party is complete without cake. And although I made a cake (I'll do another post on that...) with the success in my kitchen of my 5 Minute Cake Pop, I decided to venture into new territory...

Honestly, I'm addicted now to these things. This time, instead of sticking lollipop sticks into the timbits, I dunked the donut holes into the icing and placed them on wax paper. Next, I put a smartie, and then sprinkled some sprinkles onto the top. Pop them into the fridge and maybe an hour later take them out. The wax paper makes them VERY easy to peel off. (See original recipe and post here)

You can see in the VERY bottom photo there was a lot of icing that had pooled around the bottom of the ball. But the pooled icing is missing from the top. To remove the pooled icing, I took scissors and gently cutting away the excess. (I worried that by using my hand, the pressure may rip the ball)

3 tiered Cake stand, William Sonoma , Photos by Lindsay Stephenson


Happy Birthday

 My sweet little boy turns one today. I'm going back to snuggle with the napping birthday boy but I had to document this special occasion on our blog, for it is a very, very happy day in our house. :) Pssst - To see a year of Oscar posts, click here. :)


Some weekend links...

It has been a busy week over here. I leave you for the weekend with the following fun links to visit.  My newest post for Style at Home Magazine on Reformed-Art is up. Work wise, I've been busy on launching Personalized Stamps in my shop + have a promo on them right now. Personally, we're gearing up for Oscar's first birthday that is this Sunday, that I'm getting a little teary over that. I can't believe it has almost been a full blown year since Oscar joined our family. We're celebrating with a family party on Saturday, keeping it pretty low key but Oscar will have his buddy Hudson over for a playdate on Sunday. See ya' next week! xo Lindsay (Mom to the almost one year old baby/man)


Framing Project: Oscar's Bow Tie

I'm on a roll now that we have a Mat Cutter in our house. I'm finally adding things to the frames. Some frames, like this one, have been sitting unused for years. Here is a piece I did for the basement.

I framed Oscar's first bow tie! I now smile whenever I pass by this frame. For this frame I didn't want to glue the bow tie to the matting, as there is also a lot of material, and I also didn't want to ruin the bow tie. Here is what I did.

1. I took the old matting that came with the frame, and traced it's dimensions onto a NEW piece of mat.
2. I cut a piece of white mat to the same size as the old matting dimensions
3. I drew on the back of the matting 2 lines where I wanted to create "slits". These slits were going to be where I fed through the bow tie.
4. I used my slicer tool (the same one that I used to cut the mat to size) and sliced 2 small lines in the middle of the mat where I had decided and marked out prior
5. I fed through the bow tie and tied it on the opposite side, replaced the matting and was done.

And there you had it, a fun little piece of art. (I'll show you how to use the mat cutter in more depth in an upcoming post) xo Lindsay


New Tool: The Mat Cutter

As I've mentioned before I love Ikea frames. However, I hate to knock Ikea because I think they rock, but I find their matting yellow. It may be because my walls are uber white, so I notice it more, but the matting isn't as "bright" as I would like. Another element is, that I've also wanted to start experimenting with store bought frames by adding new window mat sizes to them to create visual interest. The look of custom framing, at a fraction of the cost. :)

So the solution to the yellow matting, and to create new window sizes is to get new mats cut to fit in store bought frames. But, going to get mats cut at a art store is surprisingly expensive, and not to mention time consuming. Fast forward to now....You're going to start seeing me do a lot of "frame" hacks, because we have the Logan 450-1 Artist Elite that I got c/o Logan Graphics. 
The mat cutter unopened, waiting for me to get the courage to open

I'm getting the hang of it I have been experimenting with cuts, getting used to this new tool. So far I'm getting used to cutting matting to size (super easy) like for my Flamingo print where I just cut a new mat board to size and rested the print on top of the matting. I'm kind of in love with this mat cutter as it has opened a whole new world of creativity.

It is big, but I slide it under my studio couch, so it is out of the way. And because of baby Oscar, we put all of the blades away somewhere out of his reach/find. So this is the lovely tool that is allowing me to do some fun things with my graveyard of unused frames in the basement.

A big tool like this isn't for everyone, but if you're like me and crafty, and kind of want to find ways to creatively use frames in your own home, this mat cutter is kind of a huge deal! Anyhow, I wanted to show you this tool to understand all of the fun framing projects coming up.


Antique hunting outside of the city

I popped into the Argyle Blacksmith Shop/ Antique Store this weekend, a tradition on most trips up to my cottage. (Click here to visit last years post) The visit normally goes like this: We park the car, Aubrey runs into the General Store to buy us coffees and 1 butter tart to share, and I run into the Antique Store to see if I spot anything small that I can fit in our little car. Here were some things that caught my eye.

This inflatable stool  [2] caught my eye immediately as it was just shown on Design Sponge, when they picked one up at Brimfield. I still find it kind of wonky, but hilarious. ($30 each) [3] This rocking chair is uber cute, and would be perfect painted, and some re upholstery. [4] I've always loved vintage cash registers and one day will likely pick one up for Oscar to play with [5] If this were a few years down the line and we were looking for a new bed for a spare room I would 100% have bought this bed and painted it pink, green or some awesome colour [6] This old payphone would be awesome in a kitchen for some kitsch.

Argyle Antiques, Open Fridays, Weekends and Holidays but also by appointment

Corner of Glenarm & Hwy 46


Gorgeous storage

I have a thing for baskets. I have to hold back the urge to buy more whenever I'm at HomeSense. I spotted these online at Serena and Lily. How fun would these be a playroom? Fun and colourful, and a great way to quickly tidy a room. I'm wondering if a DIY project could be done...has anyone painted woven material before? I smell a project brewing....:) Available here.

Artist Profile; Gavin Slate

As you know, I highly respect those who choose art as a profession. I've profiled painters, and illustrators, and now I'd like to introduce another style of artist, musicians. Having dabbled in visual arts, I am comfortable explaining why I adore a piece of visual art, but diving into music is a bit intimidating. Simply put, I love music. From classical to pop it has all been played in our house, a love that was inherited from my Dad.

On that note, I'd like introduce you to Gavin Slate. I came across his music as I'm dear friends with his sister.  And, when his EP release party was approaching she posted this video and I was hooked. There is a sweet melody, a calmness to his voice that is soothing. I hope you enjoy the song. Gavins music is available on iTunes.
GAVIN SLATE - Life As A Salesman Music Video from Stedfast Media on Vimeo.

Website, http://www.twitter.com/gavinslate, Buy Online


an Ikea frame hack, inspired by Sarah Richardson

When I visited the 2011 Interior Design Show I fell in love for the pink flamingo print in a bright yellow frame in Sarah and Theo Richardson's booth. It combined two colours, Honeysuckle which is the colour of the year, but also with Yellow, the colour of the Summer. :) The print, purchased at Chair Table Lamp wasn't available for purchase but the inspiration was ignited and I set out to find a way to have the print.

I found the print online at AllPosters.com and sprayed the IKEA Ribba (40 x 50cm) frame yellow with Valspar Gloss Yellow Paint from Lowes.

Because I'm particular, I replaced the matting that the IKEA frame came with, with a new white mat that I cut on my mat cutter, choosing to rest the print ontop of the mat, instead of behind it. I love, love it.

Goes to show you how you can hack a simple IKEA frame with a can of spray paint.

TIP: Choosing the Print High vs. Low The 30 x 41 size print is from AllPosters.com at $39.95. There are a number of John Audubon Flamingo Prints to choose from, ranging from $12.99 and up, but I'm really in love with the print I have, the print colours are stunning, and the paper quality is a gorgeous watercolour paper. The one I chose was item #6269792  Edit: Since buying the print, the price went up from $39.95 to $49.95 (not sure why) but they often have sales.


Closet Organization Tip

I'm a bit of an organizational lover. I find that my house is functions better, and is cleaner when I have a spot for everything in the house. That is the basic rule for keeping an organized house, I can't take credit for that relevation. :)

Here is a little trick I started when Oscar was born. It's kind of embarassing but at the same time, kind of a neat trick. He had so many clothes,  for different ages that I didn't want to just put them all together.  I bought some sorting tabs from a retail display manufacturer and labeled different sections.  I originally printed labels, but ended up using a sharpie on the tabs as it was a lot easier. Not only does it keep my closet organized but it helps others put the clean laundry away, knowing where things go. :)


5 Minute Cake Pop

I'm a huge fan of baking. I actually took a cake decorating course with my Mom a few years ago. So you can understand why for Easter, Aubrey and I Mom separately both bought me Bakerellas Cake Pop Book  The book is a nice tutorial for different styled pop cakes but if you want the basic instructions you can see a great tutorial on Apartment Therapy. Cut a long story short, the end result of the cake project was that I found making the pops too time consuming (took me one full day to make) and too sweet (it's cake and a whole lot of icing).

For all of the effort to make it, I was a sad that I wasn't more in love with them. And I really, really wanted to love them.

My original cake pops looked good, but took a full day to make, a lot of mess and were too sweet
Fast forward. Erin was telling me that her sister also tried cake pops and remarked that she though that maybe Timbits (Donut holes for my US friends .... or do you know what Timbits are?) would be an alternative. Ummm. Genius!

Hello "Time Saver"
  I decided to try the theory out. I had extra icing and cake pop sticks at home, so had nothing to loose. I brought home 5 chocolate, and 5 regular old fashioned timbits and tested one on a stick. It was the perfect size. Next up, I covered it in icing just as I did for my regular cake pops.

Covered in sprinkles and voila!

My "New and Improved" Cake Pops that took at most, 10 minutes to make factoring in melting chocolate etc.
  They actually turned out better than my other ones because they are perfectly round. And, time wise, they took me maybe 5 minutes compared 6+ hours with the "real" ones.

Yum. Less sweet, and likely less calories compared to my icing filled ones. A bit "healthier"?

In terms of taste timbit version is noticeably less sweet compare to my version. (I prefered the chocolate timbit version) And lastly, time wise (a full day vs. 5-10 minutes) well, I think you know which style of "Pop" I'm going to be making from now on.

Update: For another take on the Cake Pop that I did click here...


Easy Fixes for Outdated Frames

I am embarrassed to admit it, but I have had a couple of framed pictures on our bedside tables for almost 20 years.  In the same frames.  Yes, silver and gold frames were all the rage in the 1990's! 

Recently I came to the conclusion that some serious updating was needed. 

Here's what I did to update this one:

Those decorative knots in the corners were tough, but I just kept wrapping and wrapping until I could no longer see the shiny silver and gold.  The corners look a little bulky, but I kind of like the one of a kind-ness of it.

I hot glued some wire to the back to hang it. 

Because I wrapped the jute around (and around and around--OMG, how many times do I have to wrap this darn thing???), the glass wouldn't fit in it.  I needed to find another use for it.    Here's what I came up with.

I ended up using about 3/4 of the roll of jute on this 5x7 frame.
I superglued the starfish right to the wall. 

(As for the picture by our bed, I put it in a new wooden frame)

I found a wooden frame at a thrift store for $1.  I painted it blue and added burlap and batting.  I then glued a starfish onto the burlap.  I got this idea from Cottage Living-from the Beach to the Burb's Blogpost 

Here's what they look like on the wall.  The lower one doesn't show up very well in this picture, but looks fine in real life.

And here's another beachy corner of our master bedroom.  For the rest of the master, you can go HERE.

I made the starfish pillow using a graphic I found online.  I used an Ikea pillow cover and insert.  I copied it onto TAP Transfer paper, cut it close to the edges and ironed it on like I did with some other pillows HERE.

I hardly spent any money on any of these things and am happy with the way they turned out.

Thanks so much for coming by!


I am linking to the following parties:


London Fog Tea

It's rainy in Toronto today. I love, love rainy days. Things seem to slow down and be a little more relaxed, the grass and plants look bright green, the smell in the house is so sweet, and hearing the rain makes making nap time with Oscar so relaxing.  
Photo by Christine at justbellablog.com
Christine over at Just Bella has this awesome post, about one of my favourite drinks, a London Fog tea. Fitting as the weather reminds me of London, and tea is especially enjoyed on a day like today.  I first tried a London Fog at Starbucks after my sister discovered it. You must go to Christine's site to write down the instructions, as I will say, it's a wonderful warm drink to soothe the soul when you need some comfort. Click here for the instructions on how to make it.

Photo Credit: Christine at JustBellaBlog.com


CityLine: TV Segment on Exterior Painting

I was watching Cityline and the decor gods were obviously listening, because the  segment with Sharon Grech was about painting exteriors of houses. Kind of awesome timing. So for those of you like I am, interested to know more about how to go about updating your curb appeal with some paint, you should check out the clip from May 10th. (Visit it here) The segment is called "Colour your outdoors" and starts around 20:19.


Hamptons Style on a shoe string budget

Ever since I saw the Hampton Home of Amanda Nisbet in Style at Home Magazines Colour Issue, I haven't been able to get the fabric in the entryway out of my mind. It wouldn't work for our roman blinds, the pattern seems too large. (Skip over the to the trade only, and budget, which were also reasons for the fabric working) But I loved, loved the look.

I was flipping through the same issue again today and came across a fabric grouping on page 38. Do you spot that blue and white fabric? The one right above the pink fabric? Doesn't it kind of look like the fabric in Amanda's entryway?

That fabric is Amy Butler. And that means...affordable. I will throw it out there that I wasn't the biggest fan of Amy Butler fabrics before. Just not my style. But when I saw the Temple Doors in Flo Blue I developed a fabric crush.  I found it ridiculously inexpensive compared to my designer counterparts so I've bought it online through a fabric seller on ETSY for just over $11 a yard. I wouldn't normally buy fabric sight unseen, but since I only needed a few yards.
You know what, it may not work. But there is no harm in trying.

Ps., This also is a lesson to me to re-flip through old magazines as you'll never know what will pop out when you are doing a new project.


When safety trumps decor

Before Oscar was born, I was adamant that our house would not scream "baby" after his arrival. As someone who likes clean, organized spaces, as well as decor that leans towards linens and whites I set out to make sure that our house would find some balance. On one hand, a home that I loved and I felt was organized, yet at the same time, a home where Oscar can run through it as he should, play with his toys, and...well, to be a child.

So here is what happened. Oscar and I have come to a compromise. I've welcomed toys, they make me smile. I adore them - They are Oscars. But, the compromise is, we limit what we have out.   I also still pick linen coloured fabrics, but I know that they won't always look like that.

But nothing screams "we have a kid" in decor baby gates. Truthfully, I was avoiding adding baby gates to our house because they were so (or I thought) ugly. But here's what happens when you have a baby. Oscar became mobile overnight and by the next night he was very, very mobile. He crawls off to chase the cat, he wants to crawl towards the stairs. And here's the thing when you become a parent - Safety trumps decor.

But the moment they were installed our lives actually became better, and less stressful as we weren't worried about Oscar just making that quick dash for the stairs. And, truthfully, I don't mind the look. They are obviously baby gates but I'd rather have them than Oscar hurt himself.

We chose Kidco gates that are installed into the wall. The stairs to the basement we raised purposefully off the ground enough for Mak the Cat to get underneath as her kitty litter is in the basement,  or to escape from Oscar chasing her, but low enough so Oscar cant follow her down. Did you know that you have to get certain gates that are made especially for the top of stairs? They are a breeze to open and shut with one hand. Which makes them a sooo nice to have in our house.

As you can see on the upstairs landing, Oscar can now travel between his room, and ours, without me worrying about him making a sudden turn to the stairs. We couldn't make this one high enough for the cat to get through because of the Bannister height but it stays open when we aren't upstairs so she can roam freely.

They have started to blend into the decor for me.

One decision we made was that we did not install them at the bottom of the staircases. Only at the top. I drew the line there, I really didn't want gates everywhere you turned. We also have some other child safety items in another post.

Baby Gates by Kidco available at Dear-Born Baby