Friday, 30 August 2013

Personally Yours Wedding Gift

Giving gifts is one of my love languages. I would love nothing more than to constantly shower those around me with surprise gifts. If I had buckets of money like Scrooge McDuck, but my same giving sense, I would be a force to be reckoned with. 

Here's a gift pal. Why you might ask? Let's go with...Because it is Friday. Or because you are a sweet friend. Or I saw this and it made me think of you. You mentioned you liked this while we were out last week so I went back and picked it up... Gifts all around! But alas I am not rich. Therefore, sadly my gifts are few and far between. So when a special time of celebration roles around I make every effort not to procrastinate and compile that perfectly personal token within my budget. 

Recently we had just the occasion to put our thinking caps on and come up with something extra special for two wonderful friends. I mentioned on Monday that we had spent the weekend helping Jenn and Greg celebrate their upcoming nuptials with their friends and family. They have quickly taken up a special place in our lives and we wanted nothing more than to show them just how grateful we are for their friendship especially during this exciting time in their lives. Because I was in the drivers seat, the gift wound up being directed more specifically to Jenn and our mutual love fore wine but hopefully it will be something they enjoy as a couple down the road. 

The best part of all...wait for it... is that the concept is one that could easily be manipulated for various occasions on any budget! Music to a gift givers ears. You can customize it to your personal taste, style, and relationship. Take a look.

Ta-Da! A basket of wine with glasses. 

Okay, so saying it like that doesn't sound so original. Or exciting for that matter. But this is no ordinary wine basket. Let's take a closer look.

First of all, Jenn and I are wine people. We share a mutual love for all wines and are always serving up a glass of our latest purchases with one another. So it was my obvious choice. But this gift could be done with any beverage of choice relevant to the receiver.

The basket - or would you call this a bin since it has handles? - is the first part of the gift.

It is functional for packaging and can be repurposed somewhere in her house afterward. The pattern is just to her taste! And with the front labelling pocket, it is the first opportunity to add your personal flair. *I was running late with the assembly so mine fell a little flat.

We went with four bottles because that is what fell within our budget for the shower. {We may continue on theme for the wedding but time will tell.} I opted to go with two red and two white. One of each being slightly more costly than our usual choices to make it that much more special.

The glasses were an essential part of the gift because Jenn doesn't have a full set to my knowledge. If your recipient already has a full supply you could add a different style, a wine accessory, or more wine!

Then we added some personal touches to take the gift to the next level.

Each wine has a purpose. To be shared as a couple during a monumental moment, likely during the first year, of their marriage. You could go with anything, serious or funny, that suits your relationship with the recipient.

We went with:

  1. First Vacation
  2. First Epic Fight
  3. First Dinner Party {Her turn!!}
  4. Establishing Your First Family Tradition

The tags were homemade. I went with basic colours a style but they could be as elevated as your taste and skill allows.

The knots were another personal touch - this time by Common-Law. Being the fisherman that he is, he knows a variety of knots and this one got two thumbs up from me. Not only is it too cute but it is also really sturdy {if knots are sturdy?} and will stand the test of time until each bottle is opened.

The finishing touch was a handmade fabric flower attached with twine to hold the handles together. Nothing too over the top - that's not their style - but enough to whisper we love you this much. At least that is how I see details.

There you have it. Our gift that says Personally Yours with Love.

I am delighted with the way it turned out. Not exactly how I imagined - the presentation was a bit of a struggle - but sweet none the less. But of course my favourite part is the versatility. Anyone can take the fundamental concept, add their own style and twist that makes it perfectly theirs for the giving. Maybe that person is you!

*If this approach doesn't have enough for the man for your liking we hear you. My Mom is like that. When she is on time with a gift, which is rare, she likes to take both genders into account. Rob suggests adding a few tall-boys or a bottle for the man with labels tailored to him.

Perhaps one or two of the following:

  1. First Guys Night
  2. First Solo Drink {Baby on Board}
  3. Reward - First Diaper Change
  4. First Round of Golf 
  5. First Summer Project
Happy Gifting!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Projects Page Up and At' Em

Calling all friends! 

I have a major announcement! Seriously. This is a biggy!

'It is official. I, Allison Gaudett, am borderline techy!' 

Spread the word. Tell your friends. Tell the world!

{Goodness I am humble}

Finally, after weeks of humming and hawing over this darn {excuse my language} 'Projects Page' I have managed to make it work! How? Honestly, I can't be sure. I didn't, to my knowledge, do anything different than what I had been doing all along but somehow it is now working. Booya Gramma!

From here on out you will find this clever page located on the tool bar to the right of our Master To-Do List - which is well worth a peruse itself. It will serve as a tool to help you easily manoeuvre through the projects that we have gotten up to. Just click on the photo that interests you and beep boo beep {that is the sound of your computer working in case you were wondering} you will find yourself at that post. 

Eventually, once we get a few more projects under our belts, the page will be divided into categories and such but for now it is a hodgepodge of everything from DIY's  to organization.

It looks like-a-so:

A masterpiece!

Take a pop over - or is it up? - and see if  you've missed anything. If you see something you like I welcome you to leave a message. Or go ahead and Pin It! Might as well. Hey, you could even share with friends! {Thanks!}

{Here's a link to make it even easier for ya. Just this once.}

Enjoy! And hope to chat again soon.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Let's Get Inspired

What is inspiring you this week?


Sarah Richardson is one of my all-time favourite designers. Thanks to BlogPodium I could have the opportunity to meet her! Eeek! So I have been combing through her site ogling each unique space and admiring her ability to add texture, function, and beauty in every nook and cranny. 
Even this entry has my heart thumping!

This stunning photo gallery by My Science Academy of 30 abandoned places. Breathtaking.

Love the idea of Tomato Mozzarella Bites as an amuse bouche.


This traditional sun porch certainly has me dreaming!

I usually subscribe to Better Homes and Garden but forgot to re-up this year. Thankfully, upon a friends recommendation, I picked up Septembers issue and am swooning over every page. 

Doing this as a DIY for sure!

Searching out a dress to wear for the upcoming Jamaica wedding. For some reason this one, from BCBG, caught my eye. And it's on sale! Thoughts?


Wednesday words of wisdom.

Hope you are having a great week! Happy hump day.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

DIY Sandbox Beneath a Raised Deck

Finally after a few weeks of zero project progress we have completed a task! And is it ever a doozy. Already it has become our newest family hang out spot.

If you stopped by last Friday you already know what I am talking about. If you missed it, swing back and get caught up. The before and after is a significant improvement if I do say so myself.

The space under the back deck, which was once an embarrassment and eye sore for our back yard neighbours, has come a long way since last week. The entire family is delighted with the results: My plan came to life as imagined. Roberts handiwork shines. Finley has a safe yet still dirty spot to play. And Moe no longer gets his rope tangled in the mountain of rocks.

Overall it was a simple solution. With a little planning, a few hours of manual labour, and a handy helper Finn now has a large sand/stone box to play in for years to come.

As you can see there are still a few cosmetic jobs remaining. Fertilizer and grass seed will be planted later this week so that the space will have a cleaner finish by next year. Fingers crossed. And the box itself needs to be stained the same colour as the deck but the wood will have to weather for a year so that will be a next summer project.

Originally this area was covered with large pointy gravel rock that was less than ideal for a child's play area. It is actually the same gravel that makes up our driveway and for most untrained feet it is a bad place to be caught without shoes. Unless you are blessed to inherit unattractive but tough callused feet such as I.   

Once the box was built, Robert and Pops solved that issue with a truck load of pea gravel that is a much better choice for tiny hands, feet, and bums. I believe it is actually what most school yards are filled with. We opted to do the pea gravel rather than actual fine sand because we didn't want the added expense of refilling each year. Sand would inevitably wash away even though we lined it with the garden fabric to help prevent weeds and contain the soil.

But all hope is not lost for those of you adamant about having a fine sand option. I hear yeah. Mr. Crab is a great solution. It will be much more feasible to refill him a few times each summer season and the sand can be kept dry with his cover. 

As far as what works for us, once the sand is low in Mr. Crab I will be washing him out and refiling him as a water option. Gravel of any kind and water are Finley's favourite toys in life. If the fine sand option is missed down the road I will have Robert build in a lined corner unit with a cover to house it.

There are countless ways you could go about building the box itself. Believe me, we went through all of them. *I came up with this idea originally. Once sharing it with Rob he was on board but had to come up with at least a dozen alternative approaches that were his. You know, so he could be right. But in the end this original idea is what worked the best {Bazinga}. 

The boxes around the cement frames make me feel more at ease with little ones playing. They also just look nice, you know? Then the offshoots are anchored on the box and a few pegs dug into the ground. Then the top board is added to finish it off. 

This style offers seating along the entire edge of the box. Comfortable enough for adults and kids alike. And of course, it is a great spot for piling rocks!

Finn has made himself right at home in his new play zone. That is coming from one happy Momma!

Even John Deere seems content with his new digs!

This was our damage:
  • Pressure Treated Lumber {$170}
  • Outdoor Screws {$10 with extra}
  • Truck Load of Pea Gravel {$40}

This may sound costly. Believe me, at first consideration it did to me too. But after evaluating how much a small store-bought sandbox costs, years of sand bags, the expense of lawn upkeep from hot spots the plastic box creates, and the benefits of a longterm investment done upfront while Finn is just old enough to start playing we felt the pros outweighed the cons. 

Is this DIY something you would consider a good investment? Can you see little ones enjoying themselves here at play? Any thoughts on how to go about it differently? I'd love to hear from you!

Chat soon.
I linked up at A Bowl Full of Lemons & The Gunny Sack

Monday, 26 August 2013

Love Is In The Air

Can't you feel it? 

Okay, okay. Maybe it is just fall sneaking in. But I am opting to think of it as love. Love, sweet love. 
Everyone, and I actually mean everyone, around me seems to be falling in love, getting married, getting  engaged, or having a small army of babies. It is everywhere. Facebook is screaming love right in my face every time I log in. Which is a good thing. Don't get me wrong. I love love. Especially when said love includes me in the celebration festivities!

Have I mentioned that I am going to Jamaica soonish? If not, hear it loud because I am proud {and overwhelmingly excited, enthusiastic, hysterical - you get the idea}! Our dear friends Jenn and Greg, whom I have mentioned on numerous occasions around these parts, are tying the knot in the heat of Jamaica {fingers crossed for no rain} come the end of October. And yours truly is lucky enough to be joining in to help them celebrate their love. I can think of no better way for them to promise each other forever than a relaxing tropical vacation with great friends {aka me}, adult beverages, bathing suits, and  zero cooking insight. Sold.

*Just an FYI, as of right now Robert is planning on being my hot date for this week of events but if work interferes my Mother Dearest has graciously offered to step in and tag along. 

I'm not sharing my good fortune to bring you sadness as the hot summer weather nears its end. I would never! How rude. There is a proper reason for my boasting. Over this past weekend the fam and I, Moe included, were invited by the bride and groom to join in with their families to jubilate their nuptials with a wedding shower. This entailed a getaway to their beach front trailer, a potluck, outdoor band, bonfire, and day of beachy activities {swimming, sunning, and Finn getting filthy in the sand}. Essentially the worlds way of foreshadowing what our Jamaica adventure has in store.

We snapped a few shots so you could vicariously tag along and better imagine the mood of the weekend.

The Bride and Groom to be!
As soon as they arrived at their party they were adorned with stunning accessories.

Finn found one of his own to be more like Uncle Greg.

Doesn't a baby look good on them?
Even a tired one!

An early morning family adventure on the sand bars.
Finn and Moe were both in their glory!

Our version of love.

This kid!
Relaxation + Dirt = His Glory

Had to share. Just because he is darling.
Jenn and Greg are missing from the beach shots because they managed to sleep in - lucky ducks. Finley was up with the sun {not to mention the dozen times in the night} so we ventured out on our own to explore the morning haze and chill.

I love the beach. Not in the way that I would eat, breath, sleep sand and beach creatures with my home just steps away from the shore line. This is Nova Scotia, Canada after all and come winter I would be stuck inside for fear of being blown away by a gust of ocean wind. But the summer months whistle a different tune. There is nothing to compare with the feeling of love {on theme} that surrounded and filled me as I walked hand in hand with my love while our boys laughed/barked and played in the surf. The warm rays beaming down, a light breeze swirling the crisp smells of salt and nearby farm lands, with nothing but blue skies, red sand, and endless water in sight. That is love.

On that note, let's all get inspired to search out the small moments of love in our lives {this mornings being my coffee percolator} and be thankful. A full life is a compilation of those special moments with those that we love. Don't let a single one pass you by. Life is much too short. 

A huge congratulations to all those celebrating milestones of love! *Lacey and Adam - you deserve every happiness! Jamie and Norm - a lifetime of special moments are ahead! xo 

And to those reflecting on a full life well lived - do remember all the good and press on with an understanding that nothing in life is promised for forever. Everything is a temporary gift and each moment spent is worth a lifetime of memories. *He is smiling on you Brenna. Forever proud. xo

Enjoy a great week all! Hope to see you back again soon.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Brown Sugar Cake with Raspberry Coulis

This week, I was put to the task for a recipe, as I am every week. Typically they just reveal themselves to me like the Sword of Gryffindor appears to those who need it most? Well, this week was an exception and I had nothing on tap. Off to Pinterest I clicked and to my pleasant surprise, after only a few short minutes… okay add a few more minutes… I discovered this gem. Berry Brown Sugar Cake. Sounds delicious, right? Well, it is. But don’t take my word for it, give it a try yourself!

This is what you will need:
For the Cake:

  • 2 eggs 
  • ½ Cup Canola Oil 
  • ¾ Cup Granulated Sugar 
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour 
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Powder 
  • 2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract 
  • 2 Tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar 
For the Topping:

  • 12 oz. Berries (I used Raspberries… yum!!) 
  • ¼ Cup Water 
  • ¼ Cup Honey 
This is what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ, grease and flour springform pan and set aside. 
  2. In mixer bowl, mix together canola oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in eggs and vanilla. 
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. 
  4. Fold flour mix into egg mixture by hand and pour into pan. 
  5. Sprinkle cake with brown sugar. 
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. (I took mine out at 35 minutes and really, it could have done with less time, so be sure to check your cake before 45 minutes! Ovens vary!) 
  7. While cake is baking, sprinkle remaining brown sugar on berries and bring to a boil with honey and water. (We have WAY too many frozen berries in the freezer, so this is what we used. Turned out great!) Turn temperature down and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or to desired thickness. 
  8. Pour over cooled, sliced cake and enjoy. I sure did!! (Might even be good with a touch of whipped cream?) 
I hope you all have the opportunity to throw a little sugar in your lives this week!!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Go Big or Stay Home

So that is just about on target with the mentality around these parts today. The exception being that we are home so that goes without saying.

Yesterdays big to-do list leaped us right into a project {finally} with big results. I was so excited to share it with all of you that I couldn't wait until it was complete!

Do you recall what the exterior of our home looks like? If not, I gave a little tour here a while back do take a look. It needs a lot of love, especially the back yard. Due to our limited budget we didn't manage to tackle many of the big ticket items on our list this summer but before the fall weather keeps us tucked away inside we thought we would accomplish one more. Finn is delighted that we did!

This is what we started with. Ahhh...It has actually gotten worse since last time! Give me a chance to explain: I got inspired to pull up all the stones one night while Rob was away because they weren't what I had envisioned and since then it has become a clutter magnet. But this project will help prevent that from ever happening again.

Finn got that sand crab for his birthday from his Uncle Josh and Gram. He is head over heels in love as much as a one year old can be. Getting dirty is the name of that boys game. But when all the kiddos get together it is quite a busy spot. Not really designed for the Gaudett/MacDonald clan. Not to mention it kills my grass which I am trying desperately to revive from its sad state.

Enter my solution.

A JUMBO sand/gravel box the entire neighbourhood could enjoy!

It is all pro according to my checklist:
  1. The ugly cement forms and base of the deck pillars are hidden and kid friendly.
  2. Under the deck will no longer be the home of random mess {Kids toys being the exception}
  3. It helps make our back area look a tad more finished.
  4. No more fighting over the small crab for a scoop of sand.

Common-law started by building boxes around the cement forms. Once secured, he ran the long boards complete with topper to make up the sandbox frame. 

Once the box is finished the large stones will need to be removed and the gravel {which is sharp and not kid friendly for playing} levelled. Then we will add a truck load of pea gravel {the rounded stones being the key to my sons heart}to fill the box. *We won't do actual sand because it will cost a small fortune to refill each year as it will inevitably wash away.

I can't wait to get it set up and tidied for you to see! *Not to mention to see the joy on our little Beans face when he is covered in dirt from head to toe. Check back soon!

*While Pap was working and Mam snapping photos the boys where too sweet. Finn played and talked in his current sandbox while Moe supervised from above.

Chat soon.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Master To-Do List

Here it is - for those of you who enjoy a quality list as much as I - the good, the bad, and the ugly that is our home. 

Those of you who check in with us on a regular basis may have noted the lack of productivity around here as of late. I'm not exactly sure what has come over us - but likely a combination of the summer heat, regular engagements, company, and misdirection on the project front. The last one there is all me. 

You see, I had hit a road block of sorts. Unable to see the progress we have been making and not sure what to tackle next. So we stood still for a while - which is quite honestly one of my least favourite things to do. A solution was needed pronto. So alas, I returned to my original concept of Planning to Plan but made a super sized version - each space in our home photographed as is with a corresponding list of to-dos. Beyond that, I created a colour coordinated legend for easy tracking and updating, as well as links to those tasks that we have already completed.

And let me tell you, it feels good! Real good! As if planning future productivity is as good as starting the projects themselves. *Not to get too far ahead of myself. It is reassuring to see that some progress has in fact been made in amidst the daily labours of love and living life. And though, admittedly it is embarrassing to put my house out there for the world to see in such a rough state {I mean, have you seen those blogs out there with the glamour show room houses?} it creates a sense of motivation to work toward a look that I myself would covet in a magazine or online.

So do take the time to peruse the photos and lists below to see what we have ahead of ourselves. Or - let's be honest - just scroll through the photographs and see that good, bad, and ugly mentioned above. Either way, I do encourage you to sit down after the fact and write up your own master list of to-do's. It is a fantastic way to measure your progress, set forth a reasonable budget for upcoming projects {selecting a balance of small and larger endeavours}, keep everyone on the same page, and accountable to productivity from time to time. No need to get stuck standing still!


  • Blue - To Do
  • Red - To Buy
  • Green - Seasonal
  • Purple - Long Term
  • Black - Completed 
  • Grey - Link to Project

Living Room
  • Area Rug {10x12}
  • Curtains {Make/Buy}
  • Paint Holes from TV Mount
  • Entertainment Unit {Built In/Vintage}
  • 2 Chairs
  • Coffee Table/DIY Ottoman 
  • Lightbulbs for Ceiling {Dimming}
  • Desk Area {Built In/Vintage}
  • Built In Bench Beneath Window
  • Cushion and Pillows for Bench
  • Shelving Solution {?}
  • Toy Storage {?}

  • Second Hand China Cabinet/Dresser
  • Runner for Infront of Sliding Door {5 ft 68 in}
  • Curtains {Make/Buy}
  • Paint Map Frames Grey
  • Seasonal Art for Frames {Current}
  • Paint Black Shelf in Organization Area
  • Frame Organization Area {Rearrange/Change}
  • Build Over ETS Unit
  • Vintage Item to Makeover as Bench

  • Backsplash
  • Shelving Above Fridge
  • Countertops
  • Organize Large Island Drawers
  • Organize Miscellaneous Drawer
  • Silverware Organizer
  • Fix Cracked Tile
  • Mat for Beneath Sink
  • Rearrange Countertop Decor
  • Coffee Station

  • Shelving/Storage
  • Built In Cabinet
  • Small Piece for Beside Toilet {Storage}
  • Counter Decor
  • Mat
  • Paint Touch Ups
  • Baskets for Upper Shelf
  • Organize Items in Baskets
  • Make Label Tags
  • Add Hooks to Long Wall (3)
  • Art/Charts for Hangers
  • Frame 'Purple' Poem {Hang}
  • Gather Containers/Bins/Bottles & Organize
  • Shelf for Large Laundry Baskets {From Garage? Paint?}
  • Retractable Hanging System for Diaper Drying {Hang}
  • Door Label {Hang}
  • Mat
  • Cute Step Stool
  • Beach Towel Storage
  • Window
  • Clothesline Hook Up

Upper Staircase
  • Paint Frames White
  • Wipe Down Walls and Steps
  • Touch Up Paint
  • New Light Fixture
  • Print Photos
  • Hang Frames
  • Bins for Steps
  • Label Bins

Lower Staircase
  • Paint Railing
  • Change Hardware {Spray Paint/Buy}
  • Art 
  • Paint Inside of Door to Garage
  • Paint Touch Ups

  • Caulk Around Door to House
  • Redo Floors
  • Fix Door Opener
  • Organization Solutions {Use Vertical Space}
  • Moveable Work Bench
  • Clean {Windows, Doors, Floors, Shelves}

Utility Room
  • Deep Freeze

  • Roman Blinds
  • Storage Solutions for Toys, Movies, Etc. {Built In Shelving}
  • Decor for Ledge
  • Art
  • Side Tables/Fabric Boxes
  • Pillows

Lower Level Bath
  • Flooring
  • Shower
  • Toilet
  • Vanity/Sink
  • Mirror
  • Storage

Lower Bedroom
  • Remove Tape from Knobs and Walls
  • Roman Blind
  • Headboard
  • Side Tables
  • Lamps
  • Built In/Vintage Office Space or Seating Area
  • Second Hand Chair
  • Bedding

Lower Bedroom Closet
  • Built In/Pre Bought Shelving Unit
  • Frame Around Cubby
  • Divider/Door

Upper Landing
  • Art
  • Mat
  • Shelving Unit

Upper Bath
  • Shower Curtain
  • Repaint
  • Framed Art Work
  • Hooks Behind Door
  • Small Piece for Beside Toilet {Storage}
  • Hang Frog in Shower
  • Mat
  • Towel Storage

Spare Bedroom

*Planning ahead if we were to have another babe: Girl - Her Room. Boy - Turn this room to a shared boys room and Finns current room to a home office/craft space. If boy, the basement bedroom would not need to act as office space and could have a cozy seating area.

Until then, it will remain as is I believe. Unless inspiration strikes.

Master Closet, Bedroom and Bath
  • Shelves in Main Closet
  • Sort and Organize Clothes and Purge Old
  • DIY Accessories Display
  • Build and Fabric Headboard and Base
  • Queen/King Mattress 
  • Area Rug
  • Paint Black Furniture
  • Paint Side Tables
  • Art
  • Lamps
  • Chair
  • Wash Walls in Bath
  • Art
  • Mirror
  • Storage Unit
  • Hanging System for Towels
  • Bench {?}

  • Stain Front Step
  • Remove Railing Out Front
  • Build Flower Boxes
  • Fence
  • Lower Back Deck/Stone Pad
  • In Ground Fire Pit and Stones
  • Cement Driveway and Path
  • Plants Lining Driveway
  • Pressure Spray House
  • Take Wreath Hook Down
  • Paint House Foundation
  • Paint Front Door/Screen
  • Screen Door
  • Pressure Spray Compost Bin
  • Box in Beneath Back Deck
  • Exterior Table, Chairs, and Umbrella
  • Chairs for Fire Area
  • BBQ
  • Build in BBQ and Cooler
  • Patio Furniture
  • Expand Front Garden and Mulch
  • Clothesline
  • Dig Down Back Garden 
  • Stain Retaining Walls
  • Fill Back Garden with Plants
  • Paint Mail Box
  • DIY Herb Garden
  • Raised Garden Along Back Fence

And that is all she wrote! My house in a nutshell. *I feel like I have shared all my dirty laundry with you today. Feel free to jump on the band wagon and send some photos or links of your before spaces my way. I'd love to see them and hear from you - house glamazons and beginners alike!  

And for my records, did you find this approach motivating to create your own list? Or perhaps just overwhelmed? Everyone is different in their approaches, so I welcome you to share your system and how it works for you.

Can't wait to hear from you soon.
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