Five for Friday: Impressive Makeovers

July 25, 2014

Hello again! I’m back, just in time for the weekend…perfect timing ;) We had an awesome time away at our friends’ island cabin last weekend but it’s been back to real life/work/kids this week. Coming back from holidays is always a bit of a downer, right? It’s been raining too, which hasn’t helped, but there’s sunshine in the forecast and I’m hoping to sit lakeside/riverside/poolside somewhere (anywhere!) with the kiddos over the next few days. I’d also like to finally unpack the last of our moving boxes because our empty walls are starting to feel a little scary. Not sure what my deal is this time ’round (seriously, it’s been over 2 months since we moved in!) but it’s high time I break out of my decorating slump and get this show on the road! These impressive makeovers did help me feel some motivation this week:

1. Jordan’s dining room makeover makes a solid argument for painting out wood, beautiful though it may be:

Dining Room Makeover | Oh Happy Day | Photo: Paul Ferney
 Dining Room Makeover | Oh Happy Day | Photo by Paul Ferney
 

2. I love everything about this black + white bathroom renovation, especially the floors:

29th Ave Bathroom Makeover | Capree Kimball29th Ave Bathroom Makeover | Capree Kimball via Poppytalk
 

3. This desert patio space is simply made for entertaining:

 
Patio Makeover | A House in the Hills
Patio Makeover | A House in the Hills
 

5. My Instagram feed was full of this incredible space, Lombardi House, last night. It’s a new event venue in Hollywood (naturally)…so amazing!

 
Lombardi HouseLombardi House
 

5. Dana’s mudroom turned dining/laundry/everything room is the perfect combination of form meets function for busy family living:

 
Mudroom Makeover | House Tweaking
Mudroom Makeover | House Tweaking
 

Any projects or home renos in your future? Or are you putting them off like I am? Summer’s a tough one…sometimes it’s just easier to pour another cocktail than it is to hang a picture, just sayin’! Cheers to the weekend :)

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Five for Friday: Great DIY’s, Renos + Cozy Spaces

July 18, 2014

Man, this week went fast…anyone else feel the same? After being out of commission for the past several weeks, I’ve been so happy to be feeling better that I packed a tonne into the last few days, maybe even a bit too much judging by how late the kiddos have been sleeping in! Our weather has just been so awesome that it felt like a shame to miss out on being outdoors for even a moment!  My girls were in gymnastics camp each afternoon too (fun for them but a lot of extra running around for me) and I’m looking forward to unplugging and enjoying some downtime this weekend. We’re heading off to our friends’ cabin on Lasqueti Island and cannot wait! It’s rustic and off the grid but there’s nothing like being by the ocean to recharge, agreed? Before we head for the ferry, here are some links I’ve loved this week:

1. I’ve always been a sucker for anything indigo (my collection of mismatched blue and white china is a little out of hand) and these DIY placemats by Lovely Indeed would look right at home on my dining table:

DIY Indigo Shibori Dyed Placemats | Lovely IndeedDIY Indigo Shibori Dyed Placemats | Lovely Indeed
 

2. Daniel Kanter recently tackled this amazing bathroom reno for actress Ana Gasteyer and the Pineapple Print wallpaper (Anna Bond/Rifle Paper Co. for Hygge & West) totally stole the show:

Bathroom reno by Manhattan Nest | Rifle Paper Co. Pineapple WallpaperBathroom reno by Manhattan Nest | Rifle Paper Co. Pineapple Wallpaper
 

3. How awesome is this DIY Modern Cooler makeover by Almost Makes Perfect? I feel like I should make one of these for every beach-loving friend I know:

DIY Modern Cooler | Almost Makes Perfect
DIY Modern Cooler | Almost Makes Perfect
 

4. We’ve had the same pine sleigh bed since we got married 13 years ago and I am so over it. I don’t want to pay a tonne on a new bed frame and haven’t found any new and exciting DIY headboard ideas but this bed frame project by Apartment Therapy looks simple, quick and super cheap to do…just my style! :

DIY Upholstered Bed Frame | Apartment Therapy
 
DIY Upholstered Bed Frame | Apartment Therapy
 

5. I spotted this adorable home tour over on A Beautiful Mess and after the busy week I’ve had, can totally picture curling up under this amazing quilt:

Cozy bedroom | Home of Elizabeth Morrow for A Beautiful MessHome of Elizabeth Morrow | A Beautiful Mess
 

We’re heading out first thing tomorrow for a few days of swimming in the sea and campfire cookouts so I’ll be back to chat sometime middle of next week. Cheers!

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Fresh Faced: My Skin Care Regime

July 16, 2014

Hey there, hope you’re all beating the heat! We went off the grid this weekend (literally and figuratively!) and spent a fun-and-sun-filled few days jaunting between local lakes and rivers with friends and their families…it was awesome! Felt so great to be out in nature, kids running wild and we are beyond blessed to have so many great families in our lives. Hooray for Summer!

Now, I’m by no means a beauty blogger but I have lived with crazy skin for the majority of my life and thought I’d switch things up here a little by sharing some products that have changed my skin for the better. It’s always great to hear real-life product reviews, don’t you think? I have always had combination skin (you know that ideal mix of oily shine, flaky dry patches and just the right amount of breakouts to keep things interesting) and despite my assumptions that I would grow out of it before I hit my 30′s, sadly that just didn’t happen. The fine lines did, however (I just turned 35 last month ) and there’s nothing lamer than tackling wrinkles while combatting adult acne! But through word-of-mouth from friends, product reviews and even my doctor’s advice I have managed to finally achieve pretty decent skin with the help of some great products, although I did have to expand my search outside of the drugstore aisles. It will never be perfect (and I’m ok with that) but on the off-chance that several of you may have had similar skin struggles, it just wouldn’t be fair not to share so here goes! (Side note: If you were born with naturally glowing, clear, age-defying skin, this post is not for you but I won’t hold it against you ;)

Birch + Bird: My skincare regime | Drink Water! | Photo by Rikki Snyder | http://rikkisnyder.com/blog/13463932/waterPhoto by Rikki Snyder

Drink up: Obviously, water is our best friend when it comes to health + weight loss and I have been drinking a lot of it over the past couple of months. I drink a big glass first thing in the morning, usually mixed with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (definitely an acquired taste!) or half a lemon squeezed in. This has really helped me keep my weight on track and my skin has been much clearer from the dreaded acne too.  Not sure about the apple cider vinegar? Just do a Google search to read the endless health benefits! I also try to drink one green smoothie per day, exercise regularly and have cut back on processed foods and sugar as much as possible with my busy lifestyle.

Birch + Bird: My skincare regime | Cleansing Products

So fresh + so clean: I swear by Norwex face cleansing cloths (you have to purchase them through a consultant but I’ve had the same 3 for almost 5 years and honestly haven’t used eye makeup remover since!) and invested in a Clarisonic Mia a year and a half ago…love it! It gently exfoliates (I use the deep pore replacement brush heads) and has really helped with those gross flaky patches. I usually wash my face with cleanser and a Norwex cloth first before going over it with the Clarisonic for the timed amount of time after (I feel like this helps my replacement brushes stay clean from makeup and last longer).

Birch + Bird: My skincare regime | MD Formulations

My first “grown up” skin products: My good friend Julia has been my beauty mentor forever and recently recommended an anti-aging skincare line, MD Formulations, that really worked for her. Although we have very different skin, I took a gamble and purchased my own kit anyway and was really happy with how my skin looked after using it for a few weeks…even Brad and several close friends commented on it! There are a number of steps for day and night (which initially felt much more complex than my usual $12 grocery store moisturizer but is no big deal now) but I really like how they target specific skin (especially the eye area) and I couldn’t believe how supple my skin felt…pretty sure it had been dehydrated for years, actually! The daytime antioxidant creme and serum are very lightweight, as is the sunscreen, and I felt like my skin looked more luminous without looking greasy…big thumbs up! On the downside, I did break out for the first week or so (boo…although we were in the midst of moving so stress could very well have played a factor in that) and the nighttime anti-aging serum smells really weird.

 

Birch + Bird: My skincare regime | Optimera Product ReviewOptimera

My second “grown up” facial creams, Optimera: Shortly after I ordered my first real skincare kit, I was invited to meet one-on-one with Marie Bertrand, Skin Scientist and founder of the Skin Science clinic in Calgary, to learn about the newly launched Optimera line of skincare products. We were hosting an event at the store that day so I couldn’t meet with Marie but agreed to try some samples of the product anyway (hey, why not?!) and I was very surprised to receive two full size bottles in the mail a week later. I waited to try them out (as I’d just started the other line) but it was definitely worth the wait! You can read much more about this plant-based line here but (in a nutshell) these creams are the only products on the market to include the exclusive SAL-14 extract which is a combination of various botanicals produced from cutting-edge plant cell duplication technology. It’s formulated to significantly reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, uneven skin texture, enlarged pores and aging/loose skin. In addition to the signs of aging, Optimera also claims to improve radiance, elasticity, and the smooth appearance of skin…sounds too good to be true, right? I admit I was skeptical (I mean, even my previous drugstore brands claimed to work miracles!) but I honestly loved both of these products. The day cream is light and leaves my skin feeling smooth and moisturized all day, without being greasy, and I really like the thicker feel of the night cream…it actually feels slightly tight when it dries, almost like a mask. My skin tone felt much more even after using these for only a week and I didn’t break out at all, something very rare for me when using new products! They smell great and the Optimera products were developed without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic colors, propylene glycol, mineral oils, or synthetic fragrances. They are also gluten free and cruelty free, noncomedogenic and ideal for all skin types. I will definitely keep using these creams and although they’re pricey, would totally recommend them!

Adult Acne, boo: Now, I don’t have a pretty picture but I do keep a prescription of Clindoxyl on hand for hormonal acne flare-ups (always be prepared) and it’s a game-changer if you’re prone to breakouts. Thankfully I don’t have to use it regularly anymore but it works like a charm for the face, chest and back. Talk to your doctor about this one!

Birch + Bird: My skincare regime | Makeup Faves

Best Face Forward: I’m not one to go out of the house without makeup but I also like to keep things looking as natural as possible. When battling oily skin, I’ve totally been guilty of caking the powder on too thick (which always backfires) but it’s a habit I’m definitely trying to break. It’s summer so I forgo foundation and use a medium coverage concealer for any dark circles or blemishes, followed by a mineral based correcting powder (I’m currently using this one). My must-have product is Tarte’s Oil Absorbing Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder…honestly, any of you oily/combination skinned girls can thank me later! Just a light dusting soaks up any extra shine, minimized pores and usually lasts me all day. I’ll touch it up if I’m going out but seriously, I used to have to wash my face and redo my makeup if I had evening plans so this was a game changer! A quick sweep of bronzer and maybe a bit of blush (Nars Orgasm is my favourite, duh) and I’m good to go. What about my eyes, you might ask? I actually get eyelash extensions (gasp!) and looove them! They’re totally low maintenance (I go for a fill every 3-4 weeks, depending, and my friend Keely does an amaaaazing job!) and although I might add a sweep of eyeliner or shadow if I’m feeling fancy, I otherwise only use it teeny bit of mascara on my lower lashes. There, the secret’s out ;)

 

Phew, that took a lot longer than I imagined it would but I hope my skincare journey helps at least a few of you on yours! Enjoy your day and don’t forget the sunscreen :)

Disclaimer: I was not compensated by any product or company for this post. Although I did receive samples of Optimera free of charge, my review is unbiased and is 100% based on my own experience with these products. All other products mentioned were purchased by myself and reviews are based on my personal experiences. Please talk to a doctor regarding any prescriptions or skincare conditions…I am no expert by any means! 

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West Elm: New for Fall 2014

July 9, 2014

The Summer heat finally kicked in and I’m loving it! I’m still taking things pretty easy after my surgery a few weeks ago but I’m feeling much more like myself and I cannot wait to get back to my usual activities, work and family fun. This “relaxing” business has been far more difficult than I thought it would be and I’m eager to get on with things, including finally decorating our new house. West Elm sent me a press kit for some of their new arrivals and I’m really loving the retro-meets-global vibe they’ve got going on for Fall, with price points for every budget too! Here are some pieces that I would be more than happy to bring home:

West Elm: Mid Century Glass PendantWest Elm | Mid Century Glass Pendant
 
West Elm: Ladder BookshelfWest Elm | Ladder Bookshelf
 
West Elm: Ainslie SofaWest Elm | Ainslie Sofa
 
West Elm: Mini Smeg FridgeWest Elm | Mini Smeg Fridge (arriving Fall 2014)
 
West Elm | Hand Blocked Stepped Diamond Pillow CoverWest Elm | Hand Blocked Stepped Diamond Pillow Cover
 
West Elm |Arriving Fall 2014West Elm | Arriving Fall 2014
 

I’m crushing hard on all of these new finds (especially that pendant light…I kind of need it!) and how cute is that mini Smeg fridge?! Pretty sure I’d let Brad have 3 beer fridges if they all looked like that ;) Hope you’re keeping cool, enjoy your Wednesday!

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Colour Crush: Aqua, Teal, Green + Everything in Between

July 7, 2014

It’s no secret that green is my favourite colour but when it comes to saying which shade or tint of the hue is the peak of perfection, I’d be hard pressed to decide! While I love a good emerald or leafy green, the colours of the sea may be the ones that call to me most but there are so many variations (not to mention colour combinations) that I could never settle on just one. The best part about green is that it honestly goes with just about any decorating scheme. Don’t believe me? Nature is always the ultimate colour guide and green never looks out of place…

Kinfolk Dinner | A Daily Something Kinfolk Dinner | A Daily Something
 
Photo by Tia Borgsmidt | Styling by Mette Helena RasmussenPhoto by Tia Borgsmidt | Styling by Mette Helena Rasmussen | via Nordic Design
 
Photo by Amanda Prior | Styling by Jessica Hanson | Inside Out Magazine via Poppytalk
Photo by Amanda Prior | Styling by Jessica Hanson | Inside Out Magazine via Poppytalk 

How awesome is that Choose Your Own Adventure print? I hunted it down and it’s available here, along with some other awesome artwork and home decor…great site! Anyone remember reading those books? I loved them and think this quote (which just happens to be one of Brad’s favourites…he’s got a lot of one-liners ;) is a good reminder that we’re all capable of changing the course of our lives, one decision at a time.  Here’s another amazing print from Blacklist:

Don't Give up the Ship print by BlacklistDon’t Give up the Ship print by Blacklist
 
Honeydew Basil Spritzer | A House in the HillsHoneydew Basil Spritzer | A House in the Hills

 Mm, that cocktail looks refreshing doesn’t it? Mondays should always require an early happy hour start time, just saying ;) Cheers to a good week ahead!

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