New York International Gift Fair

The main reason for the trip to NYC this past week was to attend the New York International Gift Fair. Although I've attended gift shows in the past, this was my first "big" show and I wanted to see if I could find some new items to broaden the selection in my shop.  Here are a few booths that I drooled over - As you'll notice they are more decor related (what can I say, I'm a decor nut) but I did find some little gift items to bring into the store later in February. With me came my Mom, and Elise - a longtime friend who now lives in NYC but a few years back interned for me.

[PICTURES ABOVE] [1] Spoon Chandelier via Cake. (Picture taken by Elise) [2] Uncle Goose Toys are ridiculously gorgeous. I'm sure I've seen their stuff around before but after seeing the products in person I'm obsessed [3] BlaBla dolls will always be a favourite of mine - I loved how they were all displayed on the wall [4] The entire line (bedding and clothing) by Roberta Roller Rabbit  made my heart skip a beat. [5] Dash and Albert Poufs. Need I say more? [6] This print Fairhope Graphics caught my eye. Beautiful for a nursery.

[7] Jonathan Adler always brings to the table awesome colourful designs - I wanted to walk away with that turtle stool! [8] I first noticed Barr-Co. in Chapters here in Toronto and have since been a fan of their packaging and branding [9] Uncle Goose Alphabet Blocks appeal to the typography nut in me. I'd love to pick this up for our house for a coffee table decor - it's just awesome. [10.] I always wanted the Jonathan Adler giraffe lamp for Oscar's room but it was always too expensive for me to justify, but I loved how they paired the lamp with the bright table.

Anyhow, those are some of the booths that I loved at the show. I'll post more of the exploring I did in the city next week. xo Linds


Home from New York

I'm back from New York - it was amazing. We visited with friends, shopped the gift show, did some sight seeing, saw a Broadway play. We packed a lot into a short period of time. The weather was perfect - even the occasional rainfall seemed beautiful. I just flew in this afternoon, and I am playing catch up with some work and obviously cuddling Oscar a lot so I'll post about the gift show, sight seeing and just some touristy stuff maybe tomorrow. Or maybe just next week. Anyways, I'm glad to be home - but I think I've caught the travel bug now. ;) xo Linds

Ps. The above photo was shot while in a cab on the first day. 


6 Reasons Why Winter is the Perfect Time for Home Remodeling Projects

Kitchen Remodel Done by KHI
Winters in New England can be brutal. It seems we spend a lot of time indoors at this time of year which makes winter a good time to focus on your home and undertake updates or repairs that you’ve been putting off. Others will escape the cold and snow by heading south. Some homeowners we’ve worked with have found the time when they’re away to be an ideal time to undertake a remodeling project. Having the work done while you’re away means your home life won’t be disrupted.

If you’re thinking about a home remodeling project, here are several reasons why winter may be the best time to do your project:

  1. Flexibility in Scheduling. It is usually easier for some contractors to schedule work in winter months because there is a lot less exterior work being done. This will free up a contractor’s schedule for interior projects such as painting, replacing flooring, repairing drywall, updating lighting and replacing cabinetry.
  1. More Availability. During the winter you may find that your contactor may have more time to work with you in planning and designing your project. This would be a good time for refining the details before the work begins. This process may take slightly longer as work picks up for your contractor in the spring with outdoor projects.

  2. Avoid Spring Price Increases. Now is the time to take advantage of lower prices. For example, if you’re remodeling your kitchen, you may find close-out prices on appliances and be able to purchase materials before manufacturers increase prices. During the winter, manufacturers may feature special offers to reduce inventory. 

  3. Outside Projects. If the weather cooperates, you may be able to work with your contractor on outside projects to get ready for spring. Some contactors will even build decks, porches and additions for their customers in the winter.

  4. Vacation Time. If you are planning a vacation, it may be the perfect time to have your project done to avoid disruption of your daily activities.
Contact Kruse Home Improvement at 860.584.8784 if you'd like to obtain a price estimate for your next remodeling project. 



A Fun Way to Beat the Winter Blues--Shopping

We have had amazing weather this winter.  And by amazing, I do NOT mean hot, dry gardening weather.  I mean two feet of snow, freezing rain, ice, cold, cold, cold weather!

Well, the best way to solve the winter blues (in my book!) is to go shopping.  Recently, I found the cutest shop and it's not far from me.

Just a Bed of Roses has so many fun things!  The first time I went there, I was paying my property taxes across the street and saw lots of galvanized goodness out front.  I went in and found a shop FULL of great stuff and the nicest people working!

I've gone back several times on my days off and have found something fun every time! 

Brenda, the shop owner, carries these FABULOUS magazines!  They are huge, have lovely photography and stories of very creative people!  I was looking for a gift for a friend for Christmas and knew she'd love this magazine.

When I was in the other day, I found this burlap pillow.  I love it on the chair my husband remade several years ago.

I cannot wait for spring so I can put some flowers in this rusty green and yellow bucket!  I love the handle too!

They were selling these lemon cypress plants before Christmas.  I had it on my dining room table for the holidays and now have it in the family room.  I soak it in a bowl of water once a week and it's good to go.

I've bought the old zinc lids for canning jars as well as these wooden spools of thread.

Everytime I stop in and see Brenda or Joni, I find something fun and have a great visit! 
What fun finds have you found lately?
Thanks so much for stopping by.
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bits + pieces

Just some bits and pieces from things from this week... Ps., I`m off to New York City on Sunday for the Gift Fair so next week will be quiet on my blog.
xo Linds


kids / rocks + paint

I'm all over the place. NFL videos, bathroom renos, photo shoots of Valentine's Day stamps. I guess that is reflective of the fun times over here this week. Anyways, this is such a ridiculously simple craft for kids I resist posting it but I think sometimes the simplest of projects are overlooked. This turned out to be a huge hit with Oscar and resulted in a few days of fun. Collect rocks at beach. Awesome adventure. Bring home the rocks and paint them. Get messy - super fun. While painting talk about mixing colours. Educational. When the rocks dry, you shellac them and the little one now has cool treasures. A lot of "I made that!!" is said by the toddler. End result - awesome, cheap craft. Yup. I just posted about painting rocks.

Ps., Oscar gave Aubrey a rock that he painted and that I shellac'd for his desk at work as a paper weight. They make the cutest gifts.

Ps., Truthfully I thought it was over his head to talk about mixing colours, but a few days later I overheard Oscar was telling family how when you mix red and blue you get purple. I don't give him enough credit sometimes - little ones soak it all in.



Just something random for your blog reader today. Although I'm not very interested in watching sports, this video had me in tears laughing. The best one is the coach of the 49ers* "I want it noooow! I want cake now!!".  I'd watch sports if it was this funny.

Ps., Aubrey mentioned that the Superbowl is coming up, so perhaps this is well timed.
*I only know he's the coach of that team because I asked Aubrey.

valentine's day

Just a little photo shoot going on over here of some Valentine's Day stamps that are in the shop. Growing up my Mom made each holiday so special  - we'd wake up to a breakfast table decorated for the day. This stamp was inspired by her, and the little things she used to do for us. Now with Oscar I'm beyond excited to continue that tradition. Honestly, I get all giddy for Valentine's Day.

Ps., You can customize what is beneath that heart - it needn't say Mom Mail. I'm using it for Oscar this year. :) 


bathroom inspirational pictures

I haven't gone to great lengths to source items for the washroom renovation yet. Truthfully I find that process terribly stressful. The washroom is super small, so we are in a conundrum when it comes to finding pieces that will work. When I get back from New York I'll put some effort into sourcing local items, but in the meantime I have been pinning inspirational pictures to get an idea for what may work and look good in our uber small washroom. Here are some inspirational pictures that I've compiled for our washroom reno over on my Bathroom board over on Pinterest. I'm digging the last picture a lot - I love it. Anyhow, just some bathroom porn.

[Top Photo] Photos all linked to sources on Pinterest [2nd bottom Photo] Source [Last photo] Source

KHI Quarterly V4 Q1 - Winter 2013

Six Key Questions to Sniff Out Bad Contractors By Lee Nelson - Yahoo! Homes

Getting antsy to remodel your home? You might think your kitchen or bathroom needs a remodel right this minute, but remember: Haste makes waste. Rather than rushing to hire the first, or even cheapest, contractor you come across, asking the right questions upfront will help you filter out the bad apples and find a reputable contractor to meet your needs. "I want my clients to feel 100 percent comfortable with me," says Shawn Kruse, president of the Remodeling Contractors Association of Connecticut and owner of Kruse Home Improvement, LLC. "And honestly, the more investigation they do about me and questions they ask me, the better it is for me. It helps me get the job." As Kruse points out, a thorough investigation can benefit both parties in the end. "Potential clients learn about your credentials, background and experience. They start to get to know you and see if your personalities can get along," Kruse acknowledges.

You may know exactly what you want out of your remodel, from the fixtures to the flooring, but you should know what you want from your contractor, too. Don't settle for the first or cheapest bid. Your contractor will control the project from start to finish, so it's important the two of you are a good match. If you want to find a contractor who suits your needs, try asking these six questions during the interview:

Question #1: What's Your Business History (and More)? Here are a few other things Kruse thinks you should ask contractors: How long have you been in business? Are you licensed by the state? What percentage of your clientele is repeat or referral business? Are you a member of a national trade association? Do you have a list of references from past projects similar to mine? Have you or your employees been certified in remodeling or had any special training or education?

Question #2: Do You Provide a Detailed Written Contract? Some things that should be on a contract - in great detail - include: names,   addresses, and phone numbers of all parties involved in the project, including vendors, detailed list of the work to be completed, list of each product along with its price and model number, who is responsible for pulling permits, where deliveries will go and where the dumpster will be placed, what time the workers begin and end their day, project's start and completion dates plus payment schedule and all work carried out by subcontractors.


Question #3: How Much Do I Need to Put Down? The Better Business Bureau's suggests paying one third at the beginning of the project, one third when work is 50 percent complete, and one third after it is final and you are satisfied with the outcome.

Question #4: Can I Get Itemized Price Estimates? An itemized price list should detail the cost of labor, demolition, materials, electrical, plumbing, permits, etc. If midway through the project you decide to put in a less expensive countertop than the one originally discussed, you need to know the exact cost of the first countertop to know how much of a credit you should receive.

Question #5: Who Will Be at the Site? In their "Home Sweet Home Improvement" guide, the Federal Trade Commission urges homeowners to ask if subcontractors will be used on the project. If so, homeowners should ask to meet them to make sure they have insurance coverage and proper licenses. When meeting the subcontractor, ask if the lead contractor pays them on time. Why is this little detail important?   According to the Federal Trade Commission, "A 'mechanic's lien' could be placed on your home if your contractor fails to pay subcontractors or suppliers," who, in turn, could take you to court to retrieve their unpaid bills.


Question #6: Do You Think We Can Get Along? Just like any good relationship, the one between you and your contractor should have    harmony, communication, and collaboration. Some personalities and styles just don't mesh, so don't pick someone just because their bid is the lowest, says Kruse.

Protecting yourself from these nightmares means knowing exactly who your contractors are before you hire them. After all, it  doesn't hurt to ask - but it sure could hurt if you don't. To read the complete interview visit our blog at

Kruse Home Improvement Lends a Helping Hand

KHI volunteers
At Kruse Home Improvement, LLC, we feel one of the best ways to show gratitude is by giving back to the community and with the recent Holidays, this seemed like the perfect time of year to contribute. We thought that a great way to give back was to do what we do best so on Saturday, November 3rd our whole crew and a few of their significant others, showed up at the Marshall Street Habitat for Humanity build in Hartford to donate a day’s worth of labor.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Habitat welcomes all people - regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or any other difference - to build and repair simple, decent, affordable houses with those who lack adequate shelter.
Our volunteers hard at work
It was a brisk morning so luckily we were working indoors as the build was at the point where sheetrock was ready to go up. This was our first experience working with the Habitat for Humanity crew and I must say I was pleasantly surprised to see the level of detail and quality that goes into these buildings. Another interesting part of the process was that the very people who will eventually own these homes were onsite helping to build them with the volunteers! All Habitat homeowners are required to put in at least 150 hours worth of work to qualify for a home in the future.

At lunch, we had the opportunity to tour one of the completed homes and the end result is amazing! There is not much in the way of frills and custom features but the craftsmanship is very solid and the homes are extremely energy efficient. The end result is a three bedroom townhouse that anyone would be happy to own.

Great teamwork by Kruse and Cox
The Habitat for Humanity staff took great care of us while we were at the site; there were donuts and coffee for us all day long and we ended up     having a great time getting to know the other volunteers as well. If you are interested volunteering your time or skills, I would suggest looking into   working with Habitat for Humanity, it was a wonderful experience. We all felt very much appreciated by the staff and other volunteers while at the job and look forward to donating our time again in the spring!

For more information on Habitat for Humanity visit


washroom planning - bumping out a wall

I adore our house but our washroom is pretty small. A downside of semi-detached homes in our area. It isn't that bothersome but with a renovation coming up we're trying to think through every possible solution to gain more space. Truthfully there isn't much we can do. 

When we first moved into the house we considered moving the entire washroom wall more into the hallway. You'd gain more bathroom, but loose a significant amount of hallways space. Recently my Mom suggested to just enlarge the unused space behind the bathroom door (as shown where Aubrey is standing). In the washroom this is where the vanity is, and if we could bump this area out into the hallway, we'd we able to sink the vanity into this wall and gain really valuable floor space in the bathroom.  Confused? It's hard to visualize. Thankfully for us, my Mom's house has two washrooms that have had this done when they renovated, so we have some visuals on how this would look in our washroom. Take for instance Mom's basement washroom....
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turning off the auto focus

Aubrey, Oscar and I headed to the beach yesterday to skip and collect cool shaped rocks. I brought my DSLR with me to snap some photos of Oscar. Partly through snapping I ended up switching off the auto focus. It's something I've experimented with over the years. By turning it off, and manually adjusting the focus, you can keep things slightly blurry. (or really blurry depending on how much you adjust it) I did it at Christmas time in this post and really liked the effect. And the Summer of 2011 I experimented with turning off the auto focus while walking through the forest as you can see in the first shot. Looking at the photo of Aubrey and Oscar above reminds me a wee bit of a print in Thom Fillicia's Lake House. (I especially love this one) It's amazing how switching off the auto focus and blurring things just a wee bit, can make a photo more beautiful.  Just a little something creative that is super easy to do.


picking fabrics

Likely the biggest part (and expense) of revamping our TV room is to address our window coverings.  I loved your suggestions on how to get some privacy in that room. But for a variety of reasons - from not being a look/style I liked (I'm quite particular) to more logistical reasons like we couldn't install a ceiling mounted hardware because the ceiling is sloped - none of the ideas evolved into a solution. It's really a hard room. Because no one over here could come to a decision, I reached out to Janine from Tonic Living and asked her opinion. She gave me some great guidance - although she said we could do drapery much like in our living room it wasn't going to be without issue so my gut said to go with roman blinds.
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new art prints

Over the last few weeks I've been working on some new art for the shop and just last week I released two new prints - "You are my Favourite" and, my Night Sky print shown above in my office. I'm in LOVE with them. Work wise, some new art from my art publisher will be rolling out into retail stores in the next few months and I continue to see my "Big Deal" print and some Alphabet Prints in shops like HomeSense which is neat. I still get people e-mailing me photos when they spot my artwork in a store - I can't describe how fun it is to see those. (Thank you!)

As you can see my little office is looking a wee bit full. Or maybe it doesn't look full to you, but it feels like it to me. I LOVE working from home but as my little co. grows - my office is feeling a little tight. I dare not leave the comforts of home. Being an e-commerce shop I don't need a storefront, but having extra space has been making me day dream. Maybe the alternative is that I need something like this...? :) Yeah right.

Anyhow, really just wanted to post the two new art prints that I adore. xo

Ps., You know what's driving me crazy? The laminate flooring is "foggy" under my office chair because I roll around a lot in this area.  I have to google whether or not I can do anything to fix this. Drives me nuts. 

Pottery Barn Inspired Buffet

Each Christmas, my husband likes to make me a piece of furniture.  This year we wanted some sort of table behind the couch.  We thought about a simple, two shelf table that would display some scales, apothecary jars, etc., but then decided that a buffet with much needed storage for extra dishes would be perfect.  We were in Pottery Barn and saw this piece and were inspired.

We loved the look of it, but it was too tall for our needs.  Well, with a husband who can make just about anything, that really wasn't a problem.  He made a piece that works perfectly for us.

He made this out of pine, as we love the look of it.  It took him about three weeks start to finish.  In those three weeks, we had Christmas, he has a full time job that does not involve woodworking, and we had two snowstorms that dumped over two feet of snow on us!  (meaning, snowblowing before woodworking on several days).  He is so dedicated to making everything perfect and getting things done!

He used Minwax Provincial Stain to get the dark color.

We ordered the feet from Osborne Wood Products and the handles/pulls from Pottery Barn.  


We wanted something different for the doors.  We looked at several types of wavy glass and beaded glass, but wanted the things inside the cabinet to be somewhat hidden.  So we came up with this:  We ordered eight pieces of glass and put these mesh inserts (from Hobby Lobby on sale for 41 cents each!) between the glass.  We are thrilled with the way the doors came out (even though it's proven almost impossible to get a good picture of them!) 

The drawers are made of maple and will hold my Mom's silver.  We've been using it quite a bit lately and absolutely love it!  It'll be nice to have all of the pieces so close.

When we brought it in the house yesterday, without the doors on, here was Bailey to make sure everything was ok. 

We put the red scale on that my husband refurbished a couple of months ago, along with the Chelsea lamp and burlap shade from Pottery Barn.  And, the most important item on there is the little chocolate lab in memory of Max.  :)

I am so happy with this piece and can't wait to fill it up.
Thanks for your visit!

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DIY Show Off

Furniture Feature Fridays