11.24.2014

Shop Canada: 5 Online Sources for Home Decor

Whenever I browse blogs looking for where cute furniture or accents come from, I tend to fall in love with shops and stores from which I never end up making a purchase. The classics--- Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie, or Crate & Barrel--are lost to me. And why? Because shopping online stores based in the US is a pain for Canadias.

As a semi-rural Ontarian with the nearest IKEA a full eight hour drive away, online shopping is quintessential to gussying up my home. And any Canadian who has experienced customs and duty fees on what seemed like a great international shipping rate knows to hang on tight to good sources on our side of the border. Sure, stores boast that they "now ship to Canada!".... but most of the time, the duty and customs fees are brutal. At the very least, enough to keep you from shopping out of Canada ever, ever again.




I'm lucky to live under an hour from the US border, where I can have items shipped and pick them up myself. But as a pro-local/Canadian shopper, I would so much rather not have to do that. I'd rather shop in Canada, thank you. And because there's not a whole lot of home decor shopping choices where I live, online sources are quintessential to having cute things.

Today I'm sharing my top 5 Canadian (online) sources for home decor. And in case you're hard to convince, I've made an inspiration collage using each of the source's goods. Each of these sources is a goldmine of stylish home decor with reliably duty-free shipping. You can check out my Polyvore for links to the collaged products if you like what you see!



1.  Simons.ca


Based out of Montreal, this website covers most of the basics at surprisingly good prices. And their selection goes beyond home decor if you're a fan of multitasking when placing orders. This is a good go-to place for smaller items and linens rather than furniture.


Simons Guest Room




2. PlaidFox.com
Beautiful higher end furniture. I love to look through their stock and dream of blowing paycheque after paycheque on the gorgeous pieces. If you are looking for furniture worth committing to, this site is worth bookmarking.



Plaidfox.com Living Room






3. BeyondtheRack.com
In terms of flash sale sites, I'm the worst kind of BTR fangirl. Their prices on area rugs have a tendency to make me want to buy area rugs on a whim. These are purchases you need to have patience for, mind you, as they ship their stock anywhere from same week to a month or so after purchase.

BeyondtheRack Rec/Family Room




4. UrbanBarn.com
Gotta love a website with a trusty maple leaf in its header. Especially when that site offers furniture and decor items that mesh with almost any decor style.
UrbanBarn Bedroom



5. Etsy.com
Obviously I am a huge advocate for buying off of Etsy for most things, with no exception when it comes to home decor. Custom throws and pillows, prints and original art, and unique vintage finds are all at your fingertips with Etsy--even closer if you have the app for your smart phone. I have found quite a few Canadian gems in the Etsy world and have never looked back. And even better? If you use >> this link << you will save $5 on your first purchase.



Etsy (Ca) Dining Room





What are your favourite online sources for furniture or home decor?? Share in the comments!


11.21.2014

Friday I'm in Love: iHOT #tbay

After last week's DIY Tea-Ball Charm post, it seemed only right to feature my favourite tea shop for some Friday lovin'.



I come from a fabulous family of tea drinkers, and find that my go-to local place to gift buy is the International House of Tea. They sell custom blends, teapots and muggery, and even some awesome t-shirts. More times than I like to admit, I have called them to gather a few awesome gift items so I can swoop in and look like an awesome well-planned gift giver at the absolute last minute. They even made  a custom wedding blend for my Dad and Step-Mom's wedding, and made individual teabag favours for us. This place is awesome.

And what's even better than having a local tea place with tea swag that you can rock last minute gifts from? Well, a local tea place with tea swag that you can order well-planned gifts from online. In advance. Like an organized human being. (Which I am not…at least not all the time)


Here are a few beauties you can find in their online shop:







Check 'em out for yourself online:


Happy Friday!



11.19.2014

Confessions of a First-Time Cookie Exchange-er

Wanna know a secret? I am terrible at baking. Cooking I've got down--I can improvise that if I need to. Baking, however... not so much. 

As a rule, I love the challenge of making things healthier than they are supposed to be. I love substituting less healthy ingredients with super foods, or subbing sugar for natural sweeteners, or baking things that are traditionally fried. I love saltless recipes, much to the chagrin of my fella. I love vegan twists on tradition, I love sneaking vegetables into things, and I love the idea of cutting out the fat/oil/butter needed to make cookies.






If you bake, you know that reducing a cookie's fat content simultaneously reduces its likeness to an actual cookie. My go-to cookie is not even based off a recipe, but is more or less me throwing a bunch of oats and trail mix type ingredients into a bowl, slathering it all with some coconut oil and peanut butter, and hoping for the best when it all goes in the oven. Don't get me wrong--these cookie-ish concoctions are delicious. But they are more like granola clumps than cookies, per sé. 

This fall, a friend of mine asked me to co-host her Christmas Cookie Exchange. She's been doing the exchange for years, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I announced in September that I was going to make peppermint Macarons. Yeah...that was destined to fail. In October, I announced that I had decided to make snowflake sugar cookies instead. By the beginning of November, I changed my mind again and decided I needed a much simpler approach. I am a novice cookie maker, after all.




Eventually, I decided on a Chai Spice Snickerdoodle recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen. It seemed simple enough, and I am a sucker for all things Chai. I even used the ingredients exactly as they were laid out, without attempting to sub anything or improvise. And guess what?? My cookies tasted like cookies.

Two things: this is by far the most amazing raw cookie dough I have ever pigged out on, and holy moly does the house ever smell magical while these bad boys bake.


A photo posted by C.Lem (@creativeclementine) on



Notes if you use this recipe to make a million cookies like I did:
A quadruple batch of cookie dough make about 13 dozen cookies. A double batch of sugar topping was more than enough for a quadruple batch of dough--- don't make 4 batches of sugar if you're making 4 batches of cookies. About one batch of sugar for every three batches of cookies will do. Leftover chai spiced sugar is never a bad thing, though.

Full disclosure: I flaked and added a few minutes to the bake time for these puppies. They were not the soft, delicate snickerdoodles they were meant to be. But this is entirely my fault, and not the recipe. It's just that part of me that insists on changing things. And there may have been an external influence in the form of my fella over my shoulder telling me the cookies didn't look done, and me believing him because he's older and wiser and more experienced in baking cookies than I am. So, crunchy snickerdoodles are what we ended up with. Still tasty, though.

Here are some updates via my Instagram:


A photo posted by C.Lem (@creativeclementine) on

A photo posted by C.Lem (@creativeclementine) on




Since I was co-hosting the party, it was up to me to make sure things were pretty and whatever else cookie exchanges are supposed to be. Using the search power of Pinterest, my friend pointed me in the direction of some awesome printables and prize ideas.

I picked up some adorable eco take-out containers from our local wholesale store, and we dressed up some paper lunchbags with doilies for my friend. In the end, I think we had a pretty cute set up. Here are the links to the pretty tags and printables we used for the party/our packaging:






Are you a terrible baker?? Do you participate in a Christmas Cookie Exchange?? Tell me all about it in the comments. :)


11.17.2014

Tackling November: Goal Setting linkup

This month, I'm joining other bloggers on a goal-setting link up. The theme? Get organized.




November is a perfect time of year to get organized. For me, November is sandwiched in between two of the busiest and best months of the year. If I'm going to beat holiday stress, it is going to come down to how I spend my November.

What do I really want to organize this month?? Everything you can think of. I'd love to have an organized and beautiful home office to blog in (currently on a folding table, people. Or the couch. Definitely not ergonomic). I'd love to have completed all of the tasks on my 2014 goals list. I would love to be caught up on laundry, organize my cupboards, and sort through all of my junk drawers. I would love to have everything non-holiday related done and organized due to the write-off that is called December. I would like to have a life outside of holiday cheer. I would like my house not to drop off my radar during gifting prep. It's just not realistic.

I have streamlined a few legitimately attainable goals in order to infuse my life with a much needed sense of accomplishment. And organization. Oh boy, do I ever need to feel organized.

My November Organizational goals:
  1. Holiday gifting: Have a full December action plan for projects/present making. Order everything if I am ordering anything. Get mailing addresses for out of town family.
  2. Holiday cheer: Prep little packages of "YAY IT'S DECEMBER!" goodness for the munchkins--at least the ones big enough to understand. I'm thinking.... Thunderpeep letter to santa kit, some sort of Advent Calendar, and a box of cookies from my (first ever!) cookie exchange. Yea... Simple but sweet.
  3. Home office: It's time to toss, sort and shred. My piles of crap have gotten out.of.con.trol. I might not be able to upgrade the folding table just yet, but I can definitely get rid of my "to shred" box and get some floor space back.
  4. Clutter control: I have a terrible tendency to make "outboxes" and never move them. I have about five boxes of clothes, home decor, kitchen gadgets etc. ready to go to goodwill, but have been too lazybusy to actually bring them to the donations bin. This is a good month to get those space suckers out of the house.
  5. 2014 Goals Completion: I would feel much more organized if I were able to cross the room reveals off of my 2014 goals list this month---the Craft Room and Guest Room. They have been basically finished for long enough that they are messy and lived in looking. Which ain't great for blog photo purposes. I think this month I will aim to cross off at least ONE from the "to-be-blogged" list and, therefore, consider it complete for my year's goal list. I would even be happy with just the pictures part, if I'm being honest. So really---this goal is as simple as "clean your house". Easier said than done?

I'll be posting my update at the beginning of December, and linking up on Not Entirely Perfect, Life According to Steph, and Keeping up with Ashley and Cody blogs. I'm hoping that the 13 days left in the month is enough to whip me into organizational shape. Wish me luck!


11.14.2014

Friday I'm in Love: Sea & Lake Paper Co.

Every once in awhile, you stumble upon a design company that seems to just get you. I only discovered Sea & Lake Paper Co. within the past year, but I am absolutely addicted. I don't eat. I don't pay bills. I buy Sea & Lake cards. It's a much better investment priority.




All jokes aside, the ladies at Sea & Lake have an amazing selection of greeting cards for every occasion. And more often than not, you'll find that they stole the words from the tip of your tongue and translated them into gorgeous hand-lettered awesomeness.

Here's a taste:

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For more beautiful and clever cards (and mugs! and prints! and journals!), follow them:
Etsy Shop: seaandlake.etsy.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/helloseaandlake
Facebook: www.facebook.com/helloseaandlake
Instagram: www.instagram.com/seaandlake



Happy Friday!!

11.10.2014

Gift Idea: DIY Tea-Ball Charms

Story time.

Last December, a friend hosted a small gathering to celebrate my birthday. It was supposed to be a pizza and movies night, but in the end we were so deep in conversation that we didn't even turn on the television. My friend busted out the most beautiful fine china any of us had ever seen, brewed loose-leaf Earl Grey tea in a delicate teapot, and we sat around chatting.

I remember sitting in the comfiest chair in the room--I was the birthday girl, after all!--where I could see everyone and hear everything. Cozy chair, blanket over my lap, tea cup in hand, and Billie Holiday playing from speakers in the corner. It was a perfect moment.




This past summer, the friend who made this perfect moment possible passed away. I'd be lying if I said it has been easy to cope with. There have been a lot of naps. And for a long time, not a lot of tea.

I drank plenty of tea between the perfect December day and the day in July when she passed. It didn't phase me. After she was gone, it seemed everything related to that perfect birthday moment would need to go with it. And later, when we were preparing the memorial, I learned that I wasn't alone in remembering that day so fondly. It was a night that resonated with all of us, and in my healing process I wanted to hold onto that.

This fall, my friend would have celebrated her 40th birthday. Some of us had already secretly been planning a party to celebrate when she passed. I dreaded the day passing without that big celebration of her life, and I knew my friends would feel a lot of pain on her birthday as well. So I decided to do what I could to capture that perfect December day for all of us.

I wanted to honour my friend while also helping us heal. To do that, I knew I would need more than just beautiful China. I would have to, somehow, embrace a feeling that she was the one making us our tea.

I decided to customize tea infusion balls with a custom charm representative of our friend, and include it as part of a tea-focused gift box. I picked up some Earl Grey tea samples and accessories from a local tea shop, and packaged everything up pretty. The result was a sweet gift, a reminder of happy times, and a surprisingly cathartic experience.




Here's how I made the Tea-Ball Charm.

Materials:
One regular sized tea infusing ball with chain
One stainless steel jewellery pendant (approx 1.5")
Two jewellery "jump rings" (one of mine also had a loop)
Small Pliers

I started by removing the little hook that's supposed to sit on the side of the cup and moving it down three links. This left the end link for holding the charm (which conveniently weighs down the hook thing, which never works anyway). I used the pliers to detach and reattach this piece. Depending on how large your pendant is, you might be able to skip this step.




I then hooked the jumpring into the pendant. Depending on the pendant you choose, this may be an unnecessary step. I then used the pliers to open the second jump ring and attach the pendant to the last link of chain on the tea infuser. 

I used the pliers to make sure everything was tight and wouldn't come apart or fall off during use.
Because the pendant is stainless steel, there's no need to worry about this holding up when being washed. Stainless steel pendants may be hard to come by, but I found a few sources on Etsy. This unique bicycle pendant was from Anny May Craft Supplies and not expensive at all.




I made this tea-ball charm with a very specific purpose in mind, but it's a very easy and customizable DIY project. Pair it with a tea mug and loose leaf tea for a perfect, cozy gift for the tea lover in your life.

Happy cuppa!





Sources:
Stainless Steel Bicycle Pendant - Anny May Craft Supplies on Etsy
Jewellery hardware - Michaels Craft Stores