Happy Friday! Hope you had a great week! This view of Jack and Chris watching soccer together was one my favorite cozy views from last Sunday. We called it “our version of Sunday afternoon football.” 🙂
Kennedy’s first few university acceptance letters have started to come in! Such an exciting time for all of us. We had so much fun touring around different campuses this fall and then she was hard at work submitting all her applications during the late fall and Christmas vacation. All the programs she’s applied to are art and design related, so they all had various portfolio requirements that needed to be submitted in different ways as well. It was no small task, but it’s so nice to see that her hard work and good grades in school are being recognized. Of course, she’s going to wait until she hears back from everyone before she makes her final decision about where to go, but we know for sure that she’ll end up somewhere great and we’re so happy for her and excited to get to support her in this next big adventure.
Project 333 update: Remember back in the spring where I participated in Project 333 where the goal was to simplify my closet to only 33 items and dress using only those for 3 months? I’ve been meaning to update you for… almost a year now; Whoops. It crossed my mind again recently because while spring turned out to be a really challenging time for testing out that method, winter has been super, super easy. I just wanted to send out a little note of encouragement to anyone thinking of simplifying their lives by simplifying their closet, to try it right now to really get a feel for the full benefits. Basically what I’ve been wearing daily is either a pair of jeans (I have about three in use currently, but most often these), one of several, slightly different black cashmere sweaters, and one of three different winter coats, depending on the situation. I’m not sure if I have exactly 33 items in my rotation right now, but that’s not really the point. I know that I can throw on basically the same thing and be ready for almost any situation that I would regularly find myself in without worrying about it and that’s just been such a wonderfully simple way of going about daily life.
We had the best time on our mini Toronto getaway to IDS a couple of weeks ago. It was just the perfect change of scenery. We drove down and spent the afternoon at IDS, looking at all the eye candy and different design-related installations, then had dinner afterward at Rosalinda, which is an all-plant-based Mexican cuisine restaurant. We stayed at the King Blue Hotel and it was the perfect downtown location, especially for January in Toronto. It was about a block away from an access point for the path, which is a system of paths connecting a lot of the downtown buildings by underground pathway, and I think we had almost as much fun navigating our way around underground like we used to do all those years ago, as we did at the actual destinations we were trying to find. We finished off our trip with a nice brunch and then headed home in time to jump back into the swing of things. I can’t help but feel so grateful for our time living in Toronto every time we visit there. We love our rural everyday life, but it’s so nice to just hop into the city and feel instantly so at home there. It just gives us access to so many fun things whenever the mood strikes and it doesn’t have to feel daunting or like a “big deal” to go spend a day wandering around and enjoying all the city has to offer. Oh, and for all my fellow Canadian HGTV fans from the ’90s and early 2000s: I saw Steven Sabados! I didn’t want to bug him, so I just pretended that I was holding up my drink for Chris to take a picture, so I could get a photo with him. Ha. What a geek I am. 🙂
I painted the back door off our bedroom black and it was a whole thing. Not that it was particularly difficult, but since free time is limited these days, even getting the smallest little home improvement task done seems to take some real planning and co-ordinating. I have to really be determined to set the few hours aside one day. This door in particular is not in great shape and for that reason I’ve been putting off giving it a fresh coat of paint for years because it’s really a good candidate for replacement, but that takes even more time that we don’t have. I finally decided to just embrace its well-worn look for now, paint it, and get a new doorknob for it (which is on the way), so at least it can be kind of charming while it’s being a total mess. Anyway, it’s black now and I like it!
I’m still on top of my game when it comes to ordering prints of all our family photos and I’m feeling so impressed with myself. I’ve been trying to be consistent about sending in any favorite photos that we take while we’re out doing whatever it is that we do to the printer’s. It’s something that I was terrible at for years, but I realized how important it is for me to have actual, printed versions of our photos in albums and I committed myself to figuring out a system. What’s been working for me is that I save our favorite photos into a new folder for each season of the year and then at the end of the season, I just send them in to the photo printing service. I usually try to have them printed in both color and black and white, so I can display some in frames around the house however I want to when the mood strikes. Mostly, it’s just fun to organize them into albums, and having the albums out for this process seems to lead to everyone looking through all our old pictures and it’s just fun for everyone and a great chance to remind the kids of different fun things we’ve done over the years. I put together a little source list of some of my favorite classic photo albums and frames in this post here, if you’re looking to start a printed photo tradition of your own.
NEWS AND FINDS
-Valentine’s Day is coming up soon! We don’t really celebrate too much around here other than me making up fun little treat bags for the kids, but I do find myself thinking of baking something a little extra special at this time of year. For me, Valentine’s Day means chocolate. Here are a few dessert recipes that I’ve shared in the past that would make a perfect Valentine’s Day treat if you’re looking to make something:
- Plant-Based Tiramisu Recipe
- Crustless Chocolate Pie
- Healthy Homemade Nutella Recipe
- Homemade Chocolate Cake Mix
- Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
-I recently re-discovered one of my favorite books on our shelf and I just had to share for all my fellow grammar lovers. I think it came out back in the early 2000s and I remember trying to read it on the subway on my way to work, but having to put it down because I was laughing to myself so much and it was awkward. 🙂 Anyway, I looked it up and Eats, Shoots, and Leaves is still in print and available to buy. Would make a great gift for any writers, readers, or English teachers in your life. 🙂
-Slip on house shoes instead of slippers are the biggest little everyday life upgrade. I love my slippers, and sometimes when it’s really cold I’ll wear Uggs as slippers around the house, but sometimes if I’m home for most of the day, those options can start to feel really sloppy and lazy. I don’t love feeling sloppy and lazy, so that can start to affect my mood after awhile. I recently bought some pointed-toe mules to use as my “house shoes” in such circumstances and they’ve just been the best way to keep my feet covered while I go about my daily business around the house during the winter, they’re easy to slip on, but they also make me feel just a little more polished, put-together, and ready to take on the day. Plus, it’s always just such a nice feeling to feel like you’re somewhat presentable when people come to your door. House shoes: who knew they’d make such a difference?
-This is the silliest thing, but I had the worst stringy hair while we were in Toronto and it set me off on a little mission. I decided just not to worry about it at the time, but with the cold wind whipping it around and scarves and hats, it was just a mess the whole time. When I got back home, I started out by giving myself a little trim, then I decided to re-investigate some of these dry texture sprays that I decided didn’t work for me a little while ago. The discovery: They really do make a huge difference, but only if paired with a few sprays of dry shampoo for extra grit for me. That’s what I was doing wrong before, I think. I tried a few and here were my ratings: Oribe: Most expensive, but definitely the longest lasting. I used it once and I could still see/feel the effects of it the next day after sleeping on it. Living Proof: Most dramatic immediate results in terms of fullness, fairly long lasting as well, but not quite as long as the Oribe. Created very fluffy and clean feeling hair. Amika: Quite different from the other two in that it creates a bit of a less fluffy result. I found it to create a bit more textury/beachy-ness, which I thought looked better, but I did feel like this was one I would probably want to reapply most often.
-Pinterest comment of the week: “This has been the easiest and best flavor of banana bread I’ve ever made. I will continue to make this recipe” – Posted by Carolyn on a pin about my Three Ingredient Banana Bread Recipe, which really is the perfect thing to make right about now. You can follow along with me over on Pinterest here.
-This week’s reader favorites: My living room lamps, this Nordicware loaf pan that I’ve been dreaming of, these plain glass spray bottles from Amazon, Indestructible LL Bean Waterhog doormats, Our living room Ruggable.
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.