Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What to do with that Extra Room formally known as the Formal Dining Room

You know that room. It's most often found at the front of the house,  just beside the foyer. Sometimes it has doors on it, other times not. It's usually separate from the kitchen and the rest of the house. It's more likely than not to be unused 99% of the time.

In some homes, it's called a "formal dining room", in others, a sitting room or a parlour. Some homes, like the one I grew up in, happen to have both. One thing is for sure, this room is as flexible as it is inflexible. It's extra space, which is great, but it's hard to decorate around and keep it a functional, useable space for everyday living.

Why the ode to the formal dining room?

Well, we finally have one! The layout of our new house is very different than our existing, but the size is similar except for the addition of the extra room by the entry. I feel like I need to do something great in this space because I've actually got the space to work with!

I am really torn about what to do. I have those 6 Louis chairs I am planning on FINALLY refinishing after my first botched attempt, I do have an extra dining table, but I also have a darling love seat from my mom and some side chairs I could use. And, let's not forget my desk, which is one of my favourite pieces. 

I am contemplating an office/ dining room combo, or perhaps a sitting room/office combo.  I love all the uses of the space in these pictures- if only I had more than one room like this to decorate!

What are your thoughts on the formal dining room?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


After buying our townhouse three and a bit years ago, and subsequently customizing it along the way, I never thought I would be talking about a rental ever again. But here we are, moving to an unknown city in two weeks, where we will find ourselves renters once again.

Our initial plan was to buy a house. I was looking forward to finding that perfect diamond in the rough, and giving it a massive makeover (I won't know anyone there, so might as well use all that spare time we'll have to spruce up a house!).

After careful thought and consideration, it just makes so much more sense to rent first. Considering the first time we will ever step foot in this city and province will be the day we move there, it would be so hard to know which area we want to live in, where my job will be located, and where our future friends will congregate. By renting first, we can get a lay of the land and narrow down what it is exactly we'd like in a home and a community.

But first, I will have to adjust back to the restrictions of tenancy. Thankfully, we found a beautiful  brand new home to rent (which, believe me, is a task in itself - rentals (nice rentals) are EXTREMELY hard to come by in the Peg). Because it's shiny and new, and rather turn key, I won't be doing too much to it (I'd rather save my resources and time for a home we'll be staying in), but I do want to decorate and figure out ways to make it more "ours".

I am already compiling ideas that will bring some life into our rental house without having to bring out a paint brush. I a loving this idea from the Ikea catalogue, but with a different fabric.

I am also loving the Solutions for Renters series on Centsational Girl. So many great ideas I have to consider!

Are any of your renters, or have any good ideas to help inject some temporary personality into our home?

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms, Grandmas, and Moms to be! Take a moment of today for yourself and appreciate all the work that you do!


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Big News!

Before I finish blogging our Tulum, Mexico trip, I wanted to stop in for a quickie announcement. Something I never thought I would ever say..... we are moving to Winnipeg!

Life throws you curve balls, and this certainly is one. We have been looking at moving out of our place and looking for a house, and now, well, we certainly are!

If you aren't familiar with Winnipeg, it's a city smack dab in the centre of the continent (has even been dubbed as such) in the province of Manitoba. It sits on top of the American border straddling North Dakota and Minnesota.

I've never been there, but from what I've heard, the winters are long and incredible cold, the summers short and incredibly hot, and they have jumbo sized mosquitos.

On the bright side, I've heard that Manitobans are the friendliest of people, there are loads of lakes to enjoy in the summer, and it's truly going to be an adventure for the hubby, two wieners and me.

Hubby got a promotion at work which involved relocating, and I was all aboard. It will be sad to leave family and friends and the neighbourhood we love so very much, but this is an opportunity of a lifetime for him, and there was no turning it down.

What will I be doing, you ask? I'm really not sure. One thing is certain; I will blog about all of our adventures along the way. It's going to be a very busy next two months!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Home Sweet Home | Tulum Recap

Hola amigos!

After a very long hiatus prepping for my sister in law's destination wedding, and then of course, vacationing for her wedding for 10 days, I am finally home and back on the blogfront!

We had a fabulous time in Tulum, Mexico and spent a good chunk of it in the Boca Paila area where my sister in law's dream wedding took place, and where they and their very large group of friends from England stayed. I have been to Mexico about 10 times, and have been to other tropical places probably twice as many times, but I have to say that Tulum is one of the most stunning place I have ever visited.

It's hard to describe Tulum in the context of a resort town. This article sums it up quite nicely,"In Tulum, luxury and earthiness coexist". If I were to try and relate the vibe to something that people would be more familiar with, it would be the rustic-chic atmosphere of a wedding designed around vintage, unique pieces (think weathered wood, mason jars, old typewriters, vintage suitcases). It feels very much like that, but not overdone or cliche (in the way that Pinterest has made those types of weddings).

As you turn onto Boca Paila Road and start making your journey to the heart of Tulum's "hotel zone", you are transported to another word. Dense, low tropical vegetation hugs the narrow, unmarked beach road on either side. Every 100 feet or so there's an eco-chic hotel built into the beach jungle (description to come below), a scattering of small but trendy bikini shops and open air markets, and an amazing assortment of restaurants and bars. One would imagine it's reminiscent of old Hawaii, but probably even more quaint.

On the left hand side are the majority of the "hotels" since that is the beach side. The word "hotel" is a stretch, because there really are no hotels. There is an open air reception desk (usually under a grass hut) and then there are cabanas. Cabanas everywhere. Every "hotel" is different, but one thing you will have to expect is that you cannot flush your toilet paper. It's an eco town and their sewage system is delicate. Fresh water is brought in by water trucks and pumped to the individual resorts. The water pressure is low. Don't even think about taking a bath. Depending on where you stay, you most likely will not have AC. With the nice beach breeze and fans in the cabanas, most people tend to be okay with that. Don't use your hairdryer or you could blow the power to the entire resort (which happened to our group - twice!). As the cabanas (mostly) are huts with grass roofs, you will likely need to sleep with a mosquito net. You will still get bitten by bugs, but it won't be as bad. You might not even have your own bathroom, but a shared communal one reminiscent of summer camp.

The concept of these huts was very hard to digest for me, but when you are there, you get it. The huts are scattered throughout  the "hotel grounds" which means white sand and lush green tropical plants and palm trees. It almost doesn't feel real. Every hotel seems to have a resident yogi for beach yoga in the morning. Some hotels are actually yoga resorts and focus very much on spirituality, with their very own shamans. I don't believe we saw a single guest under the age of forty in Tulum. It's a hipsters heaven where likeminded twenty/thirty somethings can experience something entirely different than reality. I think more mature generations are probably scared of the lack of everyday amenities they come to expect on holidays (as was I).

The luxury part comes to play when you realize all of this was no accident. The white washed drift wood bar, the vintage blue mason jars hanging from the palm trees, the outdoor shower off of your room. Everything is carefully thought out and planned to transport guests to the most luxurious, non-luxury vacation they've ever had. Don't be fooled by the Mexican staff at reception; the majority of these utopian getaways are owned by ex-pats, and they know what they're doing. Some of the more affordable cabanas (the ones without private washrooms) are priced so that everyone can enjoy a little taste of Tulum. I believe you can rent a hut for under $100 a night. At some of the "fancier" places, be prepared to spend $500 a night for a basic room (with AC).

Unlike the other 98% of Mexican resort towns, however, there is no such thing as all-inclusive. There is no fast-food or grocery store or Starbucks nearby. It's all part of the lifestyle here (or shall I say "vacationstyle"?). Food comes in the way of a trendy restaurant with $12 margaritas and $10 chips and salsa. Seeing as you have no other options for food, it does add up quickly, but the guests don't seem to mind. The price of the food adds to the "luxury" component that makes up for the bug bites.

Above all, the beach along this stretch is incomparable. I've been to many of the world's best beaches, but I have to say this one tops them all. It is pristine, with soft white sand that stretches forever and crystal clear turquoise water. The beach is the reason these eco-boutique hotels exist. It is, in almost every sense of the phrase, out of this world.

In case you are curious, we didn't stay there. We did spend a good chunk of 4 days of our trip along the Tulum strip with the wedding and other doings, but we were only day guests in this little piece of Paradise.

Have you been to Tulum, or somewhere like it? What are your impressions?