Wednesday, September 21, 2011

For the Country Loving City Girls

I finally got a taste of country living.  This summer I managed to sneak away from the smog and get some fresh air.  I'm a city girl through and through but everyone needs a break!

With time on my hands, it was no better spent than strawberry picking...


With some helpful hands all the berries were washed, hulled, crushed and ready to go.

I followed the Bernardin recipe with some minor adjustments of my own.  More lemon, less sugar.  The strawberries this season were so good and naturally sweet, they didn't need any help!

My Strawbry Jam
5 cups crushed strawberries
1 freshly squeezed lemon
Lemon zest
1 Pouch of Pectin
5 cups granulated sugar

No two batches are the same but I was pleasantly surprised by my canning skills!
It was hot and I made a huge mess but it was worth it.  Next season I'll work on the consistency.    

Gifts for everyone!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

reworking the triangle

Kitchens aren't just for cooking anymore.  They are the heart of the home, the hub for congregation and one of the highest returns on investment from a resale perspective.

My motto when renovating: Do it once and do it right so it will last the test of time.

Not only must the working triangle (sink, oven and fridge) function for the chef but there must be room for the sous, guest or observer and the overall aesthetic should be in keeping with the rest of the house.

In this case, it was important to reinstate some of the traditional features of a historic farmhouse and remove what should have never been installed in the first place. Starting with a a fresh coat of paint.

The dangerously placed induction stove with no venting option was removed and relocated from the island and replaced with a custom Elmira Cookstove with modern technology, true convection and carbon filter venting.

The standard stainless steel sink was relocated and replaced with an Herbeau "Luberon" Fireclay Apron Front Sink, typical of a farmhouse.  The sink was unconventionally installed, flush mount with the counter for a continuous lip and cleaner line. It was adorned with a Perrin&Rowe "Provence" Nickel Bridge Faucet.  We also added a retractable garbage bin that is neatly tucked away under the sink.

Three sections of 1.75" thick, solid, Sugar Maple Butcher Block counters were custom made and fixed into floating position.  The blue grey laminate was removed and will hopefully be reused.  The island was extended for seating capabilities and braced with detailed supporting brackets.

The backsplash wallpaper was removed and a simple, white, clay tile was installed and lit up by undermount, energy efficient, cabinet lighting.

All cabinets were modified to fit the new fixtures.  The microwave was removed and new doors were added to hide the sliding toaster tray and bread box.

It was a very rewarding design project and I am thrilled with the outcome.  With the finest level of craftsmanship, top quality fixtures and some simple alterations, we were able to gain better functionality within the space, bring back some of the missing period charm and add that feeling of fresh, clean country days.

Thank you to my team of fellow Hawk Eyes.

Dave at Aspen Grove for bringing my vision to life with his calm and meticulous eye for detail and attention.
Kevin at Kev's Custom Painting for adding the finishing touches.
Tony at Taps&Tubs for meeting our supply and demand

Friday, October 15, 2010

sky's the limit

Sadly, my "Field of Dreams" didn't quite make it...

but in the country, sky's the limit.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

field of dreams

What was once a beautiful pumpkin patch is now a daunting load of strong, healthy weeds!  With some love and gusto, I have high hopes of turning this into a sweet smelling lavender field, one section at a time...
After some heavy research and helpful tips from Prince Edward County Lavendar,  I decided to go with 'Hidcote Blue'.  This particular English strain of 'Lavadula Angustifolia' is cold hardy, zone 5 and thrives in full sun with good drainage. 
It has fragrant grey-green foliage and bears stalks of purple flowers perfect for sachets, herb gardens  and borders.  It also has fantastic culinary uses as well as medicinal.
Typically, lavender should be planted no later than July so I'm pushing it with my mid-August sow but banking on an extended hot summer!  Keep your fingers crossed.
The ultimate goal.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Today I received a copy of Edifice Old Home Magazine in the mail.  I don't recall signing up and I certainly don't have a subscription but I sure lucked out!

At a time when most editorial publications are down sizing or switching to an online format, it is great to see a Canadian specialty magazine sticking to print. The Brantford based editorial is the only magazine in Canada that is dedicated to old house enthusiasts, like me!

As we know, there are considerable challenges and trade offs when choosing to live in an older home.  If you're likely to favour original aging charm over a dry basement or historic integrity over non-energy efficient windows, then we're on the same page. Knob & tube doesn't scare me!

Below is one of my favourite Canadian historical homes found to date.  Built in the late 1800's by Peter Heuser, it is a superb example of architecture and design with attention to detail, charm and character, interest and intrigue, quality craftsmanship and on going fine restoration.

The idea of living in a new build makes me feel claustrophobic and shallow.  However, the responsibility and cost that goes into keeping a historic home in good shape can be overwhelming, not to mention the challenge of finding quality craftsman to do the work!

Edifice has introduced me to a world of local resources and specialty trades people, some of which I knew but many are a welcome source of hope and relief!

This issue features:
A Grand Victorian in Niagara-On-the-lake, including it's architectural details,
A brief history on The Eastlake movement (1836-1906),
Antique & Architectural Salvage Resources,
How to Choose a Traditional Floor,
Old Home Closet Solutions,
Hands-On Workshops,
Column Repair

In addition to print they have an informative website with a great layout and one specific feature that I adore!  I have high hopes for MLS to one day include a "build circa" on the search criteria but until then,  Edifice Old Home Magazine lists Historic Homes for Sale in Canada.  Amazing!

Thank you Edifice.

Subscribe today and let's keep the old world living strong.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Realistic Reno - TV Room

I must admit, I'm enjoying my Tuesday nights with HGTV.  However miffed, I am inspired as I watch Sarah Richardson renovate a Victorian farm house.  
Despite her incredible vision and unprecedented signature style, I personally feel asthough the budget is unrealistic for the "average" second property owner.  I understand that it is a production but we are rarely made aware of the full sponsorship and comps that come with an on-air reno, not to mention the true time constraints and compromises.  
Coincidently, the show is airing as I am currently transforming a Historic stone farm house for a client.  This project is hands ons, low budget, with a hopeful high impact!  I am very aware of the "must-haves" and "can-do-withouts".  I feel that the opportunity to have it all and spare no expense is a dream for most.  That is why we adore Sarah Richardson and her talented projects.  On air, she is living our home reno dream. In reality, we're all trying to keep up and learn as we go! 

This is the first reveal with more to come.  With finishing touches still in the works, here are the before and after pictures of the TV room that will double as guest accommodations. 


Trim; Acadia White, Benjamin Moore; Walls - Melon Liqueur, Sico
3 Seater Queen Sleeper & Cushions $1780, Rowe
Organic cotton curtains $180, Rowe
Vintage Wicker Chair & Table $60, 
Pine Coffee Table $60, Craigslist
Antique Pine Blanket Box $50, yard sale
Flokati Rug $130; Sheepskin $70, IKEA
Lamps, sprayed white & fitted linen shades $50, Aristocrats
Total Cost $2250 

I am thrilled with the results.  The room has a very comfortable and calming feel, day and night.  The cool colours are warmed by the natural wood tones and the white accents keep the room fresh and welcoming.  Art work is key to the finished product but I haven't found the right pieces yet.  I am hunting for botanical prints, maybe ferns to compliment the drape fabric.

To be continued...
Comments, thoughts and feedback are welcome.

Friday, April 9, 2010

treasure hunting

What an exciting time of year.  The weather warms, the flowers bloom and we itch for a chilled glass of wine on a patio but best of all, we clean in order to shop.  I eagerly await the markets as the locals clear out their attics, this is my favourite time of year!  Let the treasure hunting begin...

Aberfoyle Market opens April 25th 2010, 8am - 4pm 
Just 1 mile north of the 401, towards Guelph

Keep your Hawk Eyes open. Happy Hunting.