January is for…

Annnnnd we’re back! And by we I mean you and me. You reading, me writing, you commenting, me replying — I like this little cha cha we’re doing here. Much more fun than just talking to myself. Which I do do and can be fun but there is a limit. (Eventually.) It’s taking everything in me not to binge watch Marie Kondo’s new show (have you seen it?) but I know just from watching the first episode that I’d end up spending the next couple of weeks sorting, folding and donating anything that isn’t nailed down (I suspect we have many, many things around here that don’t exactly spark joy) and now isn’t the best time. Not to go whole hog anyway. (Maybe half hog, if that’s a thing.) Instead, here’s what January is for.  January is for…

Five things

Sorry, did you say something? I’ve had my head in a book the past couple of weeks and I feel like half of me is elsewhere. Which is so wonderful, isn’t it? When was the last time you got lost in a great book?

etta and otto

I started Emma Hooper’s Etta and Otto and Russell and James one night last week and stayed up ’til 1 in the morning to finish it. And wanted to start it all over again, it was that good. I’ll tell you more about it this week.

pillows

What do you think about the Nate Berkus pillow in front? I obsessed about it for a couple of weeks before bringing it home to try it out. Hubs thinks it’s too 80s, but I’m kind of liking how it contrasts with the black and white pillow and picks up on the peach in the brick. I’m just wondering if I’ll tire of it. What do you think? Keep, or return to Target while I still can? (I’ve got two of them.)

candy hearts for blog

So happy to see the Valentine candy at the Bulk Barn. Hearts are cute year-round!

lily thimblecakes

Happiness is finding a leftover cupcake in the fridge, this one from ThimbleCakes.

jan hm doggie

And January’s Happy Mail is here! I’m sending some of this month’s collection to Aneta, Carolyn, Janey, Brian, Linda and Renee. Would you like some happy mail too? Email your name and address to me at trysmallthings@yahoo.ca and I’ll pop a note in the mail to the first 10 people to respond, wherever you are in the world.

Have a great week, everybody!

Win all the notebooks!

Hey hey, it’s Friday! How ’bout a little getaway to close out the week? Today you can enter to win a collection of my favourite notebooks, perfect for recording your dreams and goals and daily to-dos. Whatever your heart desires — there’s page after page of possibility, and you can fill them all!

journal

Keep one on your nightstand, throw another in your backpack, stick one (a tiny one) in your pocket. More is More!

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Oh Target. I’m so sad you couldn’t make it here in Canada. Your TOMS for Target collection was the best!

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For years I thought pretty notebooks like these were too good to use and scribbled my to-do’s on scrap pieces of paper. Then I bit the bullet and wrote in one and it was so… liberating! I feel much more organized having all of my thoughts and lists in one place. And who says that place can’t be pretty too?

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Ready to win them all? Click here to enter, then make sure you come back and tell me something about yourself. (I love learning about my readers!) You must leave a comment in order to be eligible. The giveaway is open to Canada and the US and closes Sunday, February 8.

Good luck everybody!

Update February 8: A winner has been chosen — congratulations Lucy Pu

Five things

I don’t know how you can say you overindulged over the holidays because I’m pretty sure I ate all the treats. Sometimes because they were there, sometimes because they were just too good, and sometimes because I was stressed out (I’m a terrible stress-eater!). But there are plenty of other things that aren’t brownies that are really good too, and much healthier all-round. This week I loaded up on fruits and veggies to try some of the recipes in Julie Daniluk’s three-day hot detox and three-day reboot cleanse.

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I’m not following either to the letter (see last night’s tacos) but I’m loving the recipes I’ve tried. The berry boost smoothie is a surprisingly delicious and energizing blend of mood-boosting spinach, fruit, coconut beverage, hemp hearts and a few other things, and the broccoli blender soup is also tasty and satisfying.

broccoli soup

Have you ever tried a detox or a cleanse? How did it go?

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A shout-out to 1Milk2Sugars PR for their speedy delivery of the Clarisonic prize package I won from My Fash Avenue just before the holidays. It arrived this week in this beautiful box full of items (including a Clarisonic Aria — woot!) to make my skin clean, clear and younger-looking. Have you joined the #sonicrevolution?

ikea grey

Yesterday we went to IKEA for the first time in a couple of months and look what’s arrived since our last go-round! The IKEA Paper Shop! It took everything in me not to load a cart with all the pretty decorations, stationary, wrapping paper and washi tape.

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And speaking of stationary, look for a giveaway this week for your chance to win this More Is More notebook from The Red Bow and some my other faves from Chapters and Target.

Have a good week everybody!

Five things

You know those rare moments you desperately want to capture on camera only you can’t take a decent photo to save your life? That. I’m just home from the most fantastic, unusually glamorous week in Toronto and I have maybe two or three pictures I’m happy with, dammit. Pictures are all! I would have loved to show you great shots of the makeover station, smoothie bar and festive tablescapes at Wednesday’s special event for Target REDCard holders at the Toronto Stockyards, but they’re just, I don’t know, meh. This is the best I’ve got. Fortunately it was also the highlight. I mean, Sarah Richardson! Woot!

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The accomplished decorator, designer and television host signed copies of her new book, Sarah Style.

I also attended the fashion and beauty blogger conference, Spark Sessions, saw a taping of CityLine and a live show of The Social and snapped up some great goodies from the new TOMS for Target line. (One for one for all!)

The week before, my favourite flower shop, Bloomfields, was just starting to introduce a few holiday items into the mix. Among the gorgeous hand-tied bouquets and cactus in the cutest little pots were the most charming Christmas ornaments, the little foxes in the drawer. Don’t you love?

Bloomfields collage

The kids asked for seconds of this Easy Skillet Chicken Parmesan, so we’ll add it to the rotation.

campbells easy chicken skillet 2

Influenster sent us a copy of the new Monopoly Jr. to review (more on that in another post).

monopoly junior for blog

And my latest DIY was published on So Fawned Lifestyle (formerly So Fawned). Will you try my DIY mason jar cake plate?

cake plate final

Or maybe just the doughnuts. That’s fine too.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Five things (and a winner!)

Raise your hand if you’re all ready for Halloween. I see a lotta hands out there! Usually we’re scrambling around at the last minute, but this year we’re nearly set. The decorations are up, the costumes are made, the treats are bought (and sampled) and we even have our pumpkins, ‘tho we won’t carve them ’til tomorrow afternoon. Here’s a peek at some of our prep, plus a few other pics from the past week. Oh! And I’ll announce the winner of my Fall faves contest. (Hugs if you read the post before scrolling down to see who won.)

Halloween monster decoration

If you trick-or-treat at our house you’ll see Frank, the monster hubby made out of cardboard and tissue paper a few years ago. We put him in the front window every year. Scary stuff!

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I’m not dressing up this year (the kids are a vampire and a robot), but I did make these festive pumpkin hair clips to wear. The easy how-to is up on So Fawned, along with my tips for a safe and happy Halloween.

tub time

We even have a little Halloween decor in the bathroom! My guy took a bath after school one day this week with this adorable rubber duckie from Loblaws.

sugar cookies

Okay, these are autumnal rather than Halloween, but they’re in our pumpkin-shaped cookie jar on the kitchen island.

urban barn books final absolutely

And last week I submitted another entry for Urban Barn’s dining hack contest, this time suggesting books as pedestals to elevate serving trays and create visual interest to your table. The grand prize winner will be drawn next Wednesday. Cross your fingers for me, everybody!

And speaking of winners, a huge thanks to all of you who entered my Fall faves contest. I loved reading about your Fall faves and seeing all of your retweets (some of them daily!). I’ll pop the prize in the mail to the winner next week. Was it you? Click here to find out.

Happy Halloween, everybody. Wishing you more treats than tricks and a safe, fun night.

Collections

I don’t collect anything per se, but I can’t resist a cute roll of washi tape (aka Japanese paper tape). Today I’m sharing my wee inventory. Just a baker’s dozen. Hardly gonna land me in an episode of Hoarders.

 

washi doggie 2

I keep them in a clear plastic box where I can see them, and then one out in this doggie (Target!) for everyday use.

 

red washi tape

IKEA put out some washi tape at Christmastime. Half of these red ones are from there, while the others are from a Valentine collection at Loblaws.

black and white washi tape

Now these, these are high-end. I splurged on them at Michael’s a few years ago when their selection was limited to one small rack. Now they have dozens, from a wide variety of brands.

blue tape and scissors

Are you a collector? What’s your prized collection?

Five things

The Farmer’s market had a bounty of delicious goodness this week, with seasonal greens making way for more colourful fruits and veggies.

radishes

Here’s my daughter feigning interest in the radishes. Such a gorgeous pink!

first strawberrie

And the early strawberries were in! We treated ourselves to one of the few remaining pints. I want to take the kids strawberry picking in a few weeks when the berries are more plentiful and bring home enough to make a few batches of jam.

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The whole family pitched in this weekend to help me with a DIY for the fabulous blog So Fawned. You’ll see my post about it on the site in the next couple of weeks, but until then it’s hush hush. (This is very exciting!)

go your own way

I saw this print at Target and it really spoke to me so I brought it home for the gallery-wall-to-be. Just $20, framed and all!

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And to end things on a sweet note, two of my favourite digital magazines just released their summer issues. I can’t wait to curl up with my tablet and see what seasonal inspiration EMMA Magazine and Sweet Paul will bring. I’ve made many recipes from EMMA Magazine, including the one for this rather sophisticated orange olive oil and rosewater cupcake, and nearly all of them have been as delicious as they look. Will you be inspired too?

How I stay (relatively) sane

Oprah says your house should rise up to greet you. Most of the time my house smacks me in the face. The floors are littered with toys that crunch underfoot in the night, the dining room table strewn with school notices, artwork and bills, the walls and doors sullied with fingerprints and and “washable” crayons that didn’t quite wash off. It’s not that we don’t clean — sometimes we’ll scrub ’til the house sparkles — but that we live. And more often than not, living is messy.

It’s taken me a long time to accept and I don’t even fully, but I have found some ways to keep my sanity. Namely, by tidying the areas where I spend most of my time. For me that’s the kitchen (the sunniest spot in the house) and a corner of the living room by the front window where I curl up to blog and read and try to come up with clever things to tweet on Twitter.

chair looking down

I’ve got just enough room on the table (a Target find, surprise surprise) for a giant cup of tea and a stack of books and magazines to inspire. (I’ve just finished All My Puny Sorrows to review for Brazenwoman.)

books

Our poor old chairs have taken a beating over the past couple of years. Eventually I’d like to replace them, maybe with something like these. And replace the throw with one that matches the couch. But it’s plenty cozy for now. And most importantly, it’s mine.

Do you have a corner or a room to call all your own? How do you use it? What makes it special?