The Last Days of Summer

With the first day of fall being a week away, I can’t help but recall all the great memories I made during the past few months. My summer included many days by the water and exploring new places in Toronto and outside of Canada. From pastel hues to black and white, these colours remind me of my summer adventures. I’ve rounded up some of my favourite pairs below. - Amy. 



1. via Cereal  2. via Very Large Buildings . Art by Claire Grill

3. via & Other Stories (photo has been removed) 4. via Flickr , photo by Jim Keaton

5. via DesignSponge, photo by Rebecka Oftedal 6. via The Happiness of Style by Agneta Living 

7. via Once Wed, photo by Erich McVey 8. Easy, Not Perfect Linen 

Hepburn Mk II Radio

Radio. I'm sure it's death has been predicted a 1000 times. But to be honest, I find myself tuning into more than I do television. In fact, I turn the radio on at least once a day. Our television, on the other hand, hasn't been turned on since March when we binged-watch the fourth season of House of Cards. 

Unfortunately, the radio we had in our kitchen was losing its ability to hold a station. We'd fight through the static to find one, walk away and seconds later we'd hear the thumping base of some neighbouring radio station moving in on its turf. It became a losing battle so the radio just didn't get turned on.

Then I got my hands on a British radio by a brand called VQ. They design and engineer all of their radios in the English countryside (which is pretty rare for an audio company). Above all else, I was searching for a radio that would look on our countertops. You can't take the designer out of me! I chose the Hepburn Mk II which has some retro-styling but is also very subtle and elegant. It also has really great sound and has two speakers unlike a lot of other smaller radios on the market.

It is also has bluetooth capabilities (with a USB port for charging your phone) for when we want to have a spontaneous dance party in  the kitchen which is more or less everyday with a four-year-old. Come Tuesday morning, when the kids head off to school and we go back to work it will be a little easier with the radio on in the background.

The Hepburn Mk II is available at Amazon, Best Buy, Centre HiFi, Indigo, Hudson's Bay, Son-X-Plus, Wal-Mart and leading independent stockists.

Ed. note: This blog post was sponsored by brand partner VQAs always, all thoughts and opinions are always my own. Thank you for supporting my partners!

Mini summer road trips in Ontario

One of the things I look forward to each summer is mini-weekend road trips. The goal is usually a day at the beach with lots of refreshing lake swimming. It’s a welcome escape from the heat and the city. Sometimes we head north to Prince Edward County but often we find ourselves on the shores of Lake Huron with its Caribbean blue waters and soft sand.

Last week I had the opportunity to take a road trip with my family (minus our seven year-old son who was busy elsewhere) courtesy of Ford Canada. They asked us if we’d like to test drive a Ford Flex. To be honest, the timing couldn’t have been better. Our car, an old Subaru Forester, has been in for repairs and we’ve been starting to cast our eyes elsewhere for our next car.

Of course, there is no comparison between our 10 year-old car and a brand new fully-loaded one. Having air conditioning alone was a bonus not to mention that the Flex actually has air conditioned leather seats – the luxury. The biggest surprise for me though was how well the Flex drove and maneuvered. It’s a big, roomy car and yet it feels like a super darty, little hatchback. I had no problem getting around the busy streets of Toronto or parking it in tight spots especially because of the active park assist which uses ultrasonic sensors to identify a suitable parallel parking spot, calculate the trajectory and automatically steer the car into the space. On the highway, it’s a dream. It accelerates quickly and the ride is quiet and smooth.

Giving it up the next day wasn’t easy but I’m super grateful for the experience and above all that we got to spend a day at the beach with our daughter. The fact the Flex is made just down the road in Oakville, Canada is also pretty cool. For now, it’s back to our old clunker. I just hope it makes it through the summer as we’ve got at least three more road trips planned before it’s back to school.

Garage update

We've made a lot of progress on the garage. In fact, it is more or less finished but as I'm learning there are still many small touches to be made. The most significant being the landscaping around the garage. It's hard to take a pretty photo when there is nothing but dirt surrounding it. Nevertheless I have given it a try to show you the progress.

The alley side of the garage is almost completely finished minus the roof (more on that later). As I mentioned in my last post, we decided on a Garaga garage door mainly because if its aesthetics. I wanted something clean and simple that complemented the design of our garage. Now that it is installed I'm over the moon. The motor (we decided on a wall-mounted sidewinder or the Liftmaster 8500 to free up ceiling space) is super quiet and closes with an authoritative clunk. It's like comparing a Porsche motor to a Fiat - you can hear the difference. It also has an exterior access panel which my kids love as they can come and go as they please.

No, we did not decide on a two-toned roof. After much deliberation, we chose a cedar shingle roof over a standing-seam metal roof which had been our intention from the beginning. I was afraid the building would end up looking too modern and not have the textured, rustic appeal of the out buildings I favoured in Scandinavia. 

I initially dismissed the cedar shake roofs because I was dead-set on an all-black look for the garage. Since painting shingles is out of the question (you don't want that kind of maintenance) I had to really dig to see what else was out there. I finally stumbled across a building that was described as having "tarred shingles". What I discovered was a product called pine tar that is a natural preservative made my boiling down the roots of pine and other trees. It is often used on boats, bridges and wooden buildings in Scandinavia but is not very well known here.

Each shingle had to be hand-dipped in the pine tar, left to dry and then attached to the roof. Once again, I'm so thankful to our happy-to-try-anything contractor who with his team figured out a way to work with this product so that I could have a roof I was happy with. The trouble is, we used up all the pine tar in Canada before we could finish the roof. We're presently waiting for the next delivery so we can finish up the alley side.

The front is waiting on landscaping which is our next big project. The interior of the sauna also needs to be completed. The window above is the room where the sauna will be housed. Throughout, we kept a little bit of the unpainted cedar exposed to provide some relief from the black. 

In the meantime, we still haven't parked in the garage because it is proving too good a spot to workout!