Friday, July 01, 2016

How to Party Proof Your Patio

Happy Canada day to all our Canadian friends and family!
I hope your day is filled with relaxation and celebrations with all your favorite people and a side of your favorite foods.

We love to celebrate every holiday with our little family but we also love to include others into our celebratory parties. Of course this means trying to perfect party planning when opening our home to our nearest and dearest.

Over time, our parties have expanded to include three of our own busy children and our guest's families and over time I have longed to calm the chaos and to really be a part of our parties.

After all, I want to enjoy the events we are commemorating but most of all I want to enjoy the people that fill our home for special occasions.

I've recently joined with Leon's Furniture as a contributor in their digital publication Hello Sunshine, it is an inspiring look book full of tips and tricks to help you truly enjoy your home.

 I have shared all of my tried and true tips on how to get your patio party ready over at Hello Sunshine, a guide for your bright and happy home.

Check out pages 14 and 15 for the inside scoop!

Happy long weekend lovelies. I hope your parties are as sweet and refreshing as cold popsicles on a hot summers day. :)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Canadian Bloggers Summer Home Tour {Plus our dining room reveal!}

I'm so excited to join an inspiring group of ladies today for the Canadian Summer Home Tour!

In Canada summer is lonnnnnggg awaited and around here so are our finished spaces!

Around This Little Estate we are constantly renovating our fixer upper. Last fall we took everything apart and we have been slowly putting things back together. Anyone who has ever tackled a renovation, big or small, knows that renos take love, care and TIME.

After a lot of waiting and months of eating picnics on the floors around here, I can't wait to show you our recently finished dining room!

We are a family that loves to eat. We love to talk about eating, we like to cook home cooked food and we like to linger around the dinner table after eating. So, when we moved from the suburbs to the outskirts of town we knew we needed to renovate a space that was conducive to our eating habits.

We knew we needed a dining room.

In an open concept room however, a dining "room" isn't exactly what you get. But we desperately wanted to create a dining space for our family. We did so by smashing down walls and more walls and more walls. ;)

The result is an open space in the middle of our home that perfectly fits our refinished dining room table and recovered chairs.

I had only hoped that we would one day have a space that could hold our seven foot table and by opening up the space we finally do!

In our new dining area we have ample space to maneuver around our dining table. Something that was so important to me. I wanted the room to flowwwwwww.

Our kids make sure there's enough space by playing tag around it whenever they can -- preferably at dinner time when they are suppose to be seated.


 Our dining area is open to our living room and our (unfinished) kitchen. The kids dig that they can eat cereal from the table while watching morning cartoons and I love that our dining room table now doubles as an office, craft station and eating area.

We literally JUST finished this space. In fact, we still have some little odds and ends to finish, BUT, we will take any excuse to set a pretty table.

Around here, Monday dinners are good enough to celebrate!

When you have had your dining table covered with tools and dry wall dust for 9 months, you leap at the chance to celebrate the little things with a pretty meal together.

After being in the thick of DIY and renovations since 2007 (with our previous home) we realize a table free of clutter is an exciting opportunity to decorate and make things pretty.

However, we have learned that our budget ends up going to electrical things and dry wall things and there is limited leftover funds to decorate with.

But that doesn't stop us.

We know that a simple grocery store bouquet displayed in a unique manner can add interest and drama to a table scape.


We also know that bringing natural elements in, like rocks collected from a beach vacation, is a pretty simple way to add a lot of interest to a table - without spending a penny!

To make a bigger impact with our bouquet we simply broke it up and placed singular blooms in vintage vases at staggered heights. Something so simple you can even get the kids involved in your summer table decorating.

To make sure our dining space is cozy and inviting we paired two wing back chairs on either end of the table. For those moments when we want to linger longer over dinner. :)


We knew our space also needed a sideboard for housing helpful napkins to aid in children's spills and to hold extra things.

This piece was one that I was happy to welcome into this space. It was one of the first pieces I transformed with paint and new pulls. You can see when it lived in our old family room as an entertainment unit by visiting HERE.

Our new dining area is one that we are just getting to enjoy sans dry wall dust. ;) I cant wait to really break it in with an official dinner party!

Beyond that space we have our newly finished living room.
We are loving that we can watch Sunday's game from the table now!

Or that we can all spread around the space and still feel together.

But best of all these pretty couches are staying finger print free because little ones are sometimes learning to stay seated when eating.


Tufted sofa source can be seen HERE.

You can see the whole living room reveal HERE.

We are loving having closed and open storage in an open concept space.

Where else are you going to hide all the kids toys!?

Incorporating furniture that also has storage was a must for us.

What's hiding under there? Who knows!!

All I know is that in an open concept space, where family and stylish d├ęcor live as one, hidden storage is a life saver!

Now we are off to finish our kitchen so we can finally host our friends and family again!

Though, this girl, with the puppy dog eyes, insists that summers are best enjoyed outside with the grill full of mouth watering goodness.

This awesome summer weather and that look in her eyes is kinda convincing us too!

Summers are fleeting and we are planning on enjoying every square inch of this home, inside and out, finished or not!

I hope you enjoyed looking around today. We loved giving you a glimpse into what we were up to all winter long. ;)

Picture credit: Red Suitcase Photography

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

{Whats For Dinner} Coconut Thai Vegan Curry

We have been enjoying plant based meals more and more around here. Ever since we introduced a gaggle of chickens to our home and into our hearts our children are becoming increasingly aware of WHAT they are eating.

For now, they have requested meat free meals and I am obliging.

But where are they going to get their protein, you may be thinking?

Well, that is a concern here too. That is why we have been introducing even more legumes into our meals. This delicious coconut Thai curry is a delicious stir fry and it completely vegan. No animal products in sight but yet lots of protein for my babies growing bodies. (One cup of chick peas has 14.5 grams of protein!)

If you're interested in introducing meatless meals or are just wondering how to consume more veggies into your diet, this is a great option. The coconut thai sauce is key to making little ones love it!

Simply stir up your veggies over medium heat in coconut oil and mix your sauce while they are cooking away. Steam some basmati rice and serve with optional garnishes. Easy peasy!

Here is what you need:


Stir fry:

3 chopped and peeled carrots
I cup of chopped spinach
1 cup of broccoli
I cup of snow peas
1 sliced red pepper
1 sliced yellow pepper
1 drained and rinsed jar of chickpeas
1/2 sliced red onion


4 TBS of coconut milk (list or creamy depending on what you desire)
1 TBS of curry paste
1 TBS of low-sodium tamari sauce (or to taste)
Gluten free soya sauce to taste

Garnish (Optional):

Sesame seeds
Chili flakes
Hot sauce

This is a recipe we come back to all of the time. If we don't have all the veggies on hand we improvise! Dinner can be on the table in 20 minutes, leaving you more time to do the things you love!

If you are new to vegan cooking, the key to the best vegan stir frys is to make sure you're filling them with plant based protein -- and that you make enough for seconds!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Inspiration {HELLO SUNSHINE: A Guide For Your Bright and Happy Home}

I look forward to this day every year.
It’s the first day of summer and every year I embrace this beautiful momentous occasion because it marks the day when myself and my fellow Canadians feel safe enough to pack away our parkas and toques.
It is the day when we shake out our beach blankets, pull out the umbrella straws and relax in the sunshine with a cold drink in our grasps.
Hello Summer!
This year today was also happily anticipated around here for a different sunshiny reason!

Recently our little DIY family embraced the opportunity to work along side the dreamy creative team at Leon’s Furniture. The result is the prettiest summer read of all times.
If you follow us on Snapchat or Instagram you’ll now know why we were so pumped to complete our living room and to start and finish a front porch space. You’ll catch a glimpse of these finished spaces in this pretty page turner!

You know by now I am always going to let you in on the behind the scenes things so here are a few snaps from our photo shoot day with the lovely photographer Maya her assistant and the hard working duo that is Melissa and Autumn.

A little blooper action can be seen HERE

It was so exciting to have my hubby’s hard work featured in such a cool way! All the details for building your very own deck with a pergola will be shared here shortly. But for now, you’ll want to get your hands on your favorite summer inspired read for a little look.
The other lovelies that have been involved in this guide for a bright and happy home are literally some of my favorite Canadian bloggers. Let me introduce you!
Lucy from Ms Craftbery Bush is both parts talented and humble and shares her art, home, heart and ideas with her readers.  She is constantly inspiring me with her stunning photography skills, the way she loves nature and how she is easily capable of recreating its beauty on to paper with her lovely creations. You can find her HERE.
Julie is the stunning design loving fashionista behind Elliven Studios where she shares her traditional and stunning take on creating a home that accommodates a busy family but also a space that you want to sip tea in. Julie loves a good afternoon treat and always inspires me to relish in the quiet moments. You can visit her blog HERE.
Thalita from The Learner Observer is a new twin mama who balances babies and DIY like a seasoned professional. She is also freaking hilarious and I love her candid approach to mothering that she shares on Snapchat. She is as real and authentic in person as she is on social media which is simply inspiring to me. You can become her fast friend by getting to know her more by checking out her blog HERE.
Kassandra from Little Dekonings is a Mama of two little, sweet, busy boys who somehow manages to bust out a complete kitchen makeover with them running under foot. Her energy and enthusiasm with little ones reminds me of myself a decade ago -- but she is obviously cooler and has better hair than me. She inspires me to keep my cool in furniture stores when our babies are running around like maniacs chasing after each other. You can read about her family's and home’s adventures on her blog HERE.
Joanna shares her parenting tried and true tactics and her life at home in Montreal with her readers on Lazy Moms Blog. Every time she shares something on her Instagram account I want to shout “ME TOO!!!” I know you will do the same! She inspires me with her delicious recipes and makes me want to hop on a train already and visit her beautiful home. You can read all about her challenges and triumphs over on her blog HERE.
I know you are going to appreciate these ladies as much as I do. To see some of their summer spaces and to read about their home tips and tricks you can be one of the first to check out Hello Sunshine by seeing all the lovely HERE.
After surviving winter, we all deserve to go find the perfect spot on this summery day, by pouring ourselves an icy drink, plopping that umbrella straw right in there and checking out all the inspiring that is within Hello Sunshine.
Who's ready to get their relaxation on? I know I am.

{A guide for your bright and happy home}

Monday, June 13, 2016

{The Moving Chapters: Chapter 16: Living Room Reveal}

Our living room is the heart of our home. Or at least that's what we wanted it to be like in our new home. Our previous house was large and housed two living rooms and even had the potential for one more if I chose not to use the space for my home based business. I always felt like we were spread out around in the old house and although that was great at times, I longed to be closer together.

We loved the idea of turning our new home into an open concept family friendly space. One where we could gather and really live as a family.

The space started as a dream and a plan.

Which required a lot of dust and DIY. To refresh your memory, or to catch you up if you are new here, this is where we started.

Our untouched mid century home needed some updating to match our young familie's needs. We started by taking out the wall separating the spaces.

Then we took down the ceiling walls and floors.

Then we removed the old insulation and old electrical

Then we replaced all the wiring and electrical.

Then we replaced the insulation and flooring.

 Then the windows and doors.

Then we replaced the ceilings and installed beams.

Lastly we designed and built a custom entertainment unit... (Tutorial to come!!!)

And then, after a lot of cleaning, painting, trim work and the arrival of some pretty furniture from the happiest yellow truck with the words "Leon's Furniture" marked on it, we ended up with a finished space.
In this space I craved simplicity and comfort. I wanted our family to be able to really live in this room. I pictured it being a space we could hang out in for casual gatherings that included weekend cartoon marathons and still a place where we could host family after future milestones like graduation parties. Dream big kids!! I wanted an area that had great flow and decided in order to make the best of this space we needed to flank our entertainment area with two couches and some accent chairs.  We like to host parties after all and need as much seating as one room can hold!  You can find the sofa HERE and the chairs HERE.

We went back and forth on whether to install a fireplace under our television instead of an entertainment unit, but in the end I wanted a mantle that I could decorate. (Can I get an Amen ladies?) So we came up with the clever idea of adding a two sided fireplace between this space and our dining room. It is a future DIY project that will visually separate this space from the other and one that may just have TWO mantles to decorate. My Christmas loving heart luuurrrves that. I'll share more on that idea in the future.


My handy hubby was so patient with me while we drew up plans for this unit and then threw them out the very next day. We finally decided to build book shelves on either side of our television unit and to complete them with adjustable wood shelves. We added the same cupboards we are using in our kitchen design to create tons of storage beneath our television. Do we have lots of unsightly kids toys stuffed behind there? Why yes! Do we have our television receiver and stacks of kids DVDs behind those doors? Yes!!! Concealed storage is a busy Mamas BFF. To complete this unit we covered the top with rough pine and stained it to match our DIY beams that you can find a tutorial for HERE.

We wrapped the inside of our entertainment unit with shiplap that you can find a tutorial for HERE.

Once the unit was done we added trim to our walls and crown moulding and got right to decorating. To read a tutorial on how we added this same panelling to our old house you can find the details HERE.

Here are all the picture details of our finished living space for your viewing pleasure. :)

The light and bright elements like the white walls and our DIY custom entertainment unit are soothing to me as are the reflective elements like the vintage glass bottles, the lamps and the candle holders. The ceiling beams, natural fiber window coverings and the hearty wood furniture introduce the texture and sustainability our busy household requires.


In the end I'm so pleased with how this space ended up coming together.

I'm certain our sweet old boxer Lola is too, I swear she is just awkward in front of the camera! ;)

Our space is now both parts comfortable and inviting for our busy family. Our faux jute rug is indestructible, as are the wood surfaces in our space like our side tables and coffee table. Check our coffee table out HERE and to see more like it check that out HERE.

I mean, we have already spilt juice all over our coffee table and had a child scribble with marker all over it too! (Yes, your sweethearts aren't the only ones who do things like that!) Our newly finished living room is an even happier space than what I had envisioned the space would turn into, especially during those times when it was covered with dust and dirt for 9 long months.

Now that this space is complete ,I'm enjoying watching it get lived in by our 3 kids, a dog, a cat and 5 chickens ! (More on the status of our growing family later.)

If you've been hanging around from the beginning, then you really should just come over already for a hot cup of coffee and sink into these sofas with me.

So what do you say? Where are all my dreamers and doers at? Would you guys take on a fixer upper too? Did you see what we saw in this house? What stage of the renovation would you have lost your mind during? Oh, you think the stage where we housed eight chickens in here and still had one open wall that allowed the Canadian winter air to come in? Yep! Me TOO!!!

See? I knew we were best friends. Now, come over and have the cup of joe already. I'll fluff the pillows just for you. ;)

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