2022 : Our To-Do List

For as long as I can remember, Paolo and I have always had something to do in our homes; no space was ever truly done. Now that we’ve been living in our new home for 3 months, the list of projects we hope to tackle grows daily. Realistically though, projects take time and cost money, so it won’t happen over night. In the meantime, to calm my mind and to manage expectations, I’ve created a list of the projects we can reasonably hope to tackle in 2022. Here it is:

  1. Theo’s Room

When we sold our last home, Theo was still in a crib and about to move in to his big boy bed. Before I knew that we were moving, I told him we would transform his nursery into a big boy room when he changed beds. He didn’t forget that and kept asking me why he didn’t have a cool room when he moved into his big boy bed at the rental house where we were living during the build. So, now that we are home, Theo’s room is the first on our project list.

First up for his room is going to be to add moulding to the walls. I fell in love with this design by Millhaven Homes years ago and plan on replicating it in Theo’s room. Currently, Paolo wants it to be on just one wall but I’m pushing for a whole room design (mainly because I am not a fan of accent walls in bedrooms). So we still have some plans to iron out but I’m thinking we will start with the wall behind his bed and see how the space feels after that.

2. Foyer Built-In

Currently, our foyer is a blank slate. We have a glass console table that we brought over from our last home; it’s not what I envision for this space but it’ll do for now. We have a coat closet that is in need of some built-ins but it functions well for the time being. What we are missing is a place to sit to take off/ put on shoes.

We purposefully designed a space between the front door and the coat closet where we knew we would eventually build a bench. Since we extended our tile rug into that space, we won’t be building anything on the ground (because I don’t want to ruin the pattern) but we’ll do something simple like this one built by Angela Rose and then glam it up with either wall trim or a custom seat cushion.

3. Closet Glow Ups

One item that didn’t make it on to our wish list (as I knew it would be outside of our budget) was custom millwork in the closets. I never raised the question of shelving and layout options with our builder because I assumed we’d live with the customary shelf/rod standard until we decided to invest in custom closets. To my surprise, when the finishing carpenter was working on our closets (each of the boys and ours) he did a really good job at designing the space and even added extra shelving. Now that we’ve used our closets, the layout actually really works for us. While it may not be our dream design, (and we may very well decide to invest in a custom layout down the road), the current closets work great; they’re just in need of a little extra touches.

Currently, the shelves in each of the closets are spaced far apart. This year’s closet glow ups would just consist of us adding a few extra shelves in between the ones already there and also adding a small IKEA PAX wardrobe to each of the closets for some drawer space.

4. Landscape

Originally, we naively thought we could hold off on investing in landscape until our 5-year mark, which is when we’re hoping to get a pool. However, when we moved in in October, it became apparent that we weren’t going to be able to live with a field of mud in the front and back of our house for all those years.

Our plan now is to break down the landscape into phases. In 2022, the plan is to clean up the trees surrounding our lot, level out our land and bring in the necessary soil to make everything even.

5. Phase One of the Unfinished Parts of the Basement

We made sure to finish part our basement during the build stage to ensure we had extra space aside from our main level. However, our future gym, pool room and play room still need to be framed, install electrical, drywall, lighting, flooring, etc. Since all of the spaces are usable, just not currently pretty, we’ve decided that this is another area of our home that we can work on in stages.

Our intention for 2022 is to frame the walls and install strapping in each of the three spaces. We’re going to hire an electrician to run the wiring for outlets and lighting. And, if time and budget permit, we will get drywall installed and mudded.

That’s what we’ll be working on in 2022. The list may seem short to some but, since this is our home, I want to be sure to leave time to enjoy our space without tools and paint brushes in the way. In between these larger projects, I’m sure I’ll find smaller DIY tasks to tackle that may not have a big interior design impact but that will be sure to bring me joy.

What’s on your list this year? Long or short, the first step is to write it down! Lists give you a reference point to look back on and keep you moving forward!

HOME TOUR SERIES: Laundry Room

After two months of being in our new home, the first space to feel “done” is our laundry room! And while I’m grateful for every room in our house, I am especially thankful for an efficient and beautiful (to me anyway!) space where I can scrub, wash and fold my family’s laundry to my heart’s content! [Raise your hand if you actually love doing laundry!!! Nobody? Just me? Cool…]

When we first started designing our home, I wanted a separate mud- and laundry room but ultimately we ended up combining the two to save on square footage. Now that we’ve used the space for a while, having the two together turned out to be the best set up for our family. Theo’s able to take off his dirty clothes as soon as he walks in or our dog comes in from his walk and we’re able to wipe him down and throw the towel in the hamper before even entering the main living area.

One of the rules I had when building this home is that each space we tackled during the build process had to be fully done. If the budget didn’t allow for us to get everything in a specific space, then we just held off completely. I learned from our last home that if I did some upgrades to a space (for example, if I added only lower cabinets to the laundry room and not uppers) then I would likely just end up living with it that way for far longer than I would if the space was empty and in need of finishing. So while we have a joint mud/laundry room, the only part of the room that is finished is the laundry area. The mudroom will be tackled in the (hopefully) near future.

Our entire house (with the exception of one feature wall) is painted in Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. Our laundry room cabinetry and shelves are custom made by Sebo Woodwork. I wanted a colour that resonated with a typical laundry room and that was a little outside of my white, black and wood tone comfort zone – so we went with Benjamin Moore Mount Saint Anne as the colour for the cabinets. It’s a subtle blue that can lean towards grey or green depending on the lighting and it feels timeless for a laundry room. The shelves are a custom colour used by our millwork company – they call it “clamshell”.

In terms of cabinetry, there were a few items on my wish list that we were sure to include. The first being a space to hang clothes – we installed the clothes rod near the sink area for those items that have to be hand washed and hung. The second must-have was a rack for those items that we have to lay flat – we opted for three pull out drawers with metal racks in each that I can just close with clothes in them so that they’re not on display while drying. The third must-have was upper cabinetry that went to the ceiling – we did a combination of uppers and open shelving to allow the space to feel bigger and brighter.

We went with a classic 3cm white quartz countertop mainly because of it’s clean and low maintenance characteristics. We included a quartz drip ledge under our farmhouse sink and I love how it stands out against the blue of the cabinetry.

We extended the backsplash from the counter to the ceiling to highlight the height of the room (10 feet) and give the space a fresher and more finished look. The backsplash is Pasha Marlow Cloud from Euro Tile & Stone.

The floor tile was actually our least expensive flooring (coming in at under $1.50/sq ft) but it turned out to be my favourite tile in the whole house! I knew I wanted a diamond-patterned checkered floor for this space but I had a hard time finding something that would meet my vision at an affordable price point. And then, on a whim, I was scouring through pages and pages of tile options on the Home Depot Canada website and came across two 12×12 tiles that I thought could work well together (gray/white). They weren’t even displayed on the same page but I knew they would complement each other. I was skeptical at first given how inexpensive they were but my tile installer explained that so long as tile is installed properly, we wouldn’t notice a difference in the flooring and he was right, we don’t.

Finally, when all of the “hardscape” was done, it came time to add the finishing touches. The first thing I knew I wanted were the pull-out hampers from The Home Edit x Steele collection. We designed our hamper opening to accommodate two 3-bushels pull-outs and had one labelled “Laundry” and the other labelled “Towels”. For hardware, we went with polished chrome latches on the double-door cabinets, knobs on the single-door cabinets and bar pulls on the drawers. The lantern pendant above the sink is quite large in person and is the perfect “antique” white (almost cream) finish.

The decor is mostly items I shopped from my home. We added some hooks near the sink to house our brushes and hand towel and added a frame above that I got years ago from a thrift store. In the corner we have two of my favourite McGee&Co. items – their raw steel stand that is quite stately and versatile and their in-house white planter.

What is not pictured in this first Home Tour Series is the “mud” side of the room which currently includes, among other things, a bar fridge, an old bench and hooks for jackets. Once our kitchen fridge is delivered (apparently we’ll be lucky if we get it within the next 6 to 12 months…), then we’ll be able to move the bar fridge to the basement and start working on adding a broom closet, a gift wrap station and a bench with storage. Until then, I’ll just enjoy this prettier view of the space.

Additional Sources

Sink

Faucet

Hooks

Brush

Art Print (discontinued)

Jars

Washer / Dryer

Custom Home – Month 17 & 18 – WE ARE HOME!!!

Phew! It has a been a whirlwind of activity around here! When I last left off, our builder had told us that they likely would not make their latest deadline which sent us into a panic since our landlord had already said that he could not extend our lease beyond September 30…

For a long few days we seriously contemplated moving all of our belongings (and our children and dog!) into the unfinished portion of our house while construction continued upstairs. Then, our builder advised that they were going to work miracles to get everything done in time for the end of September. And then, as though the stars aligned, our landlord agreed to let us stay an extra two weeks into October, provided we moved all of our belongings from the basement of our rental out of the house by the end of September so that he can have workers start finishing the basement. Crisis averted!

“Work miracles” is definitely one way to put it! There were trades working on top of trades nearly everyday, including the weekends, in September to get the house completed. Ultimately, September 30 proved to be too ambitious because we needed a buffer of a few days between when the Certificate of Occupancy was issued and when our bank would finalize our mortgage. So we ended up closing on our house on October 7, just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving!

Like any new build, things were not 100% completed upon closing. We had temporary garage doors for a few weeks, some of our exterior doors are still backordered (we have temporary ones for now), we were missing a faucet in the powder room that has since been installed, we had a leak in our kitchen sink that has since been fixed, our pocket doors still don’t close, we are missing cabinet doors, etc. But it is fine because we are home!

Now that the “construction phase” is behind us, we have a whole new set of “pandemic challenges” to deal with, including the fact that none of our appliances were delivered and there is currently no date set for when they will be in stock. For now, we have a loaner fridge and stove, we are hand washing all of our dishes, and relying on friends and family to do laundry every week (there are no laundromats near us)… But it is fine because we are home!

And since being home, we’ve already been able to enjoy our first family celebration! If you were here for my very first construction update post, then you know that we found out that I was pregnant almost immediately after we sold our house and closed on our land. That was the start of our home project and we’ve since come full circle as Luca just celebrated his 1st birthday in his very own home!

While my monthly Construction Updates have come to an end, there is still lots to share! Once we get fully settled in (it’s taking much longer than I anticipated), we will start tackling our long list of DIYs and I’ll be sure to take you along for each one, big and small!

L2C Challenge – Mandy’s Gourmet Salads – BOOK REVIEW!

If you have ever been to Mandy’s Café in Montreal, then this book needs no introduction because you already know the recipes will be great.

If you’ve never been then you’re missing out! But, fear not, this book is actually a close second to the real thing!

Mandy’s was established by 2 sisters in Montreal back in 2004. Today, it has 8 locations around the Greater Montreal area and they now have 400 employees! Keeping true to their style, this book is aesthetically beautiful – the cover is the perfect shade of pink and the images make any vegetable look appetizing.

The book is set up much the same way as their café menus – chapters are divided into Smoothies, Salads, Dressings, Grain Bowls and Sweets.

While the recipes in this book are all great (except for anything involving hearts of palm (no thank you!)), what has stuck with me is the desire to forever have a salad bar in my fridge! Each week, instead of prepping only what the recipe called for, I would just chop up all of the vegetables and make extra meat so that I could have several salads throughout the week. I found that I was more likely to eat the vegetables if they were already prepped and quick to assemble. I think if this book teaches us anything, it is that we all need a Mandy’s Salad Bar in our fridge!

My only regret this month is that I didn’t get a chance to taste the “Sweets” Chapter but the good thing about having a cookbook obsession is that I own the book and get to go back to it any time I want! I definitely plan to keep this one at arms’ reach.

Next Month’s L2C Challenge Cookbook:

If you’ve been following along on our house building journey, you likely know we are hoping to move into our forever home at the end of this month. And, assuming you haven’t been living under a rock, you likely also know that there are currently huge production and supply delays on appliances. So, I will be taking a break from my own Learn to Cook Challenge until we are settled in our new home and we have appliances to store food in and cook on!

Until then, I hope my little personal challenge inspires you to do the same!

Custom Home – Month 16: Standing Still AGAIN…

The month of August started so strong. Floors were tiled, then hardwood was installed, then the millwork went in and then the countertops!

All of that sounds amazing but what we don’t talk about is the amount of time the house still sat untouched this month. Tile was done in three days; hardwood was another three days; millwork was one day and counters were in within a few hours. After that, nothing.

We expected trades to be working simultaneously on the inside and outside of the house since we have repeatedly communicated to our builder that our landlord is not extending the lease and we need to move out by the end of September. Still, a balcony needs to be built, covered deck needs to be finished, we haven’t chosen our stucco color, we are missing interior and exterior doors, septic has to be delivered and installed, showers need to be tiled, electrical and plumbing need to be connected, and countless other stuff that could have been done in the days that our house sat empty.

Needless to say that with all of the excitement at the things that we do see come together, we are beyond stressed. We’re trying to remain optimistic but the reality of the situation is starting to kick in and we are losing some much needed sleep over it.

I hope to give you a much more positive update next month!!! Until then, here’s a glimpse of our exterior elevation in its current unfinished state – I am beyond in love with our front door pillars!

L2C Challenge – Mandy’s Gourmet Salads – Keto Salad

This week – KETO SALAD (p. 127) [also Roasted Chicken Breast (p. 149) and Keto Caesar Dressing (p. 156)]

After having Theo, the Keto diet is the only thing that worked to get the extra weight off. In 2020, between being pregnant, being at home during the pandemic and then being at home with Luca, needless to say that I have not been eating healthy for a very long time and that I will have to work extra hard to lose the baby weight this time around; so, I am trying to get back on the Keto train. Lucky for me, Mandy’s cookbook includes a recipe for a Keto Salad!

Ingredients –

  • Mesclun greens
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Button mushrooms
  • Sliced canned hearts of palm
  • Skinless boneless chicken breast
  • Bacon
  • Lemon juice
  • Dijon mustard

  • Olive oil
  • Montreal steak spice
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Scallion
  • Basil leaves
  • Tarragon leave
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Eggs
  • Garlic

Difficulty Level –

Like all of the salads and dressings that I have made, this recipe is another easy one although I still found a way to make a mistake… In order to make the dressing Keto friendly, the recipe calls for the mayonnaise to be replaced by raw eggs but, for some reason, the dressing was very liquid – not the same consistency as the caesar dressing that I am used to.

Alterations to Recipe –

Still don’t like mushrooms, so I omitted those!

I used turkey bacon instead of regular bacon because that is what I had on hand.

Verdict –

I’ve never had hearts of palm before, so I was happy to try something new! Now that I’ve tried it, it’s not for me!

Maybe it’s because the salad dressing was too watery or maybe it’s because I didn’t like the hearts of palm but this has definitely been my least liked salad thus far.

Verdict for me – not to be repeated!

Custom Home – 6 Moving Tips For When You Have 30 Days To Go!

While we don’t have an official move-in date yet, we are roughly 30 days away!!! It feels like forever from now but, when at look at all that I have left to do until then, 30 days is not a lot! Here are a few things on my current to-do list…

1. TAKE DOWN WALL DECOR

If you haven’t already, take down all of the wall art and remove any nails or screws from the wall. Wall shelves can probably also come down now if they’re only serving a decorative purpose.

In addition to the wall art, you may want to also take down your wall-mounted televisions, provided you have the TV base on hand to use until move-out day. This way, you can start filling in the holes from the TV mounts, leaving you with one less thing to do at the end.

2. DISMANTLE FURNITURE

This might be premature if you’re actually still using the furniture but if you have a spare guest room that won’t be used for the next month, then consider taking apart the furniture now so that you have one less room to pack at the end.

3. SELL AND DONATE WHAT YOU DON’T WANT

We have been on a Kijiji selling spree lately! Now that the cabinetry has been installed in our new home and we can see the spaces come together, some of our current furniture isn’t going to work, so we’re selling it off to avoid having to move it next month.

In addition to that, there are certain items that we just don’t want anymore. We’re selling those too and donating anything that is not worth selling.

4. REVIEW YOUR MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTIONS

If you haven’t already done this, change the delivery address on your monthly subscriptions.

I’m actually putting a hold on our Amazon household deliveries for a month so that we don’t risk having items delivered at either address when we’re not there.

5. SET UP UTILITIES FOR THE NEW HOME

We’ve already put in the request to stop the utilities for our current rental to end on the last day of our lease. Now, I need to set up the utilities for our new home.

If you’re moving into a new build, like us, the utilities may not yet be connected (it is not uncommon for the builder to do that at the very end), but you can fill out the connection forms online and then, once the builder makes the necessary connections, your accounts will be set up.

6. CREATE AND COMPLETE YOUR PUNCH LIST

Our moving punch-list is an ever-evolving checklist of little things that need to be done to help make the move a little less hectic. The goal is to keep the list handy and add/remove items as you go… Here are a few of the items that are currently on my list:

  • ConfIrm moving details with moving company and set aside money for movers;
  • Back up all of the computers/phones (just in case we have internet connection issues when we move);
  • Use up all of the food in the house;
  • Remove keyless lock from door (it belongs to us) and re-install house lock;
  • etc.

There you have it – we’ve officially made it to the 30-day stretch! If you’re not quite at 30 days yet, be sure to check out my 90-day and 60-day posts for what we did to prepare for our move back then.

Friday Home Finds – Saje Natural Wellness

I have been wearing the same perfume for over 20 years now. At work, my colleagues know when I have been on the elevator simply by the lingering smell of my Chanel Coco Mademoiselle trademark. I find comfort in fresh and recognizable scents.

I want my home to be an extension of me in the scent department – does that mean I will be spraying my perfume all over the house? Don’t be silly, Coco is not meant for the couch!

The “extension” that I look to create is the familiarity that a scent can emulate. The same way my babies know the smell of their mama, I want them to immediately recognize the smell of their home. In order to do that, I have been using Saje products for nearly a decade now. I have tried many diffusers, candles, plug-in scents but Saje is the only one that I have found that does not smell artificial. Over this past year, I have expanded my love for Saje products to some other household items; below is but a short synopsis of my favourite Saje finds!

1. Diffuser Blends – Scents are such a personal thing that I honestly believe you need to visit a Saje location in order to really get to know their different blends. After trying (and loving!) many, my two absolute favourites for our home are Refresh and Mountain High – both are crisp, clean, uplifting and blended with spearmint which always makes me feel as though I am at a Spa.

2. Diffusers – This is another component that is all about personal preference. I have several diffusers throughout the home – personally, I choose mine to match the decor of the space. The only downfall with Saje diffusers (up until now!) is that they are all plug-in diffusers, so you need to strategically place them near an outlet BUT (!!!) Saje has recently made its first Cordless diffuser – which I am obviously going to get! – and now the possibilities are endless!

3. Room Sprays – Similar to other (non-Saje) diffuser blends, room sprays often smell artificial, but not these ones! The Linen and Fabric Spray is one that I always have on hand to help spruce up any space in our home.

4. Wool Dryer Balls – If you read my DIY Scent Booster post (here!), then you already know that I add Saje Pure Essential Oils to my laundry wash. And for added fragrance and freshness, I also add the same drops to our Saje dryer balls.

5. Natural Bristle Dry Brush – This is one my latest Saje discoveries! All you have to do is stand in your shower (naked (of course!) and dry) and brush your skin starting at your feet and working your way up; then, shower as usual. This works as a natural exfoliator that also helps “wake up” your skin and leaves it feeling really smooth.

6. Aroma Roam – While I’ve already touched upon Saje’s diffusers in #2, this one deserves its own shoutout! If you spend a lot of time in your car or have pets/kids in there, you need this diffuser in your life! It fits in standard cup holders and plugs in to the car’s USB outlet (if you have one) or it also comes with a car adapter. Add water and your favourite blend and you’ll suddenly be fully zen while stuck in traffic!

If you have been clicking on some of my links above, then you’ve probably already discovered a whole world of amazing Saje products (I told you this was just a brief synopsis!). Give them a try and then come back to let me know how much you love them – I’m sure you will!

Please note that Casa Cres is not affiliated with this company; in most cases, the shops featured in my Friday Home Finds are not even aware of their feature prior to posting. The above are purchases that I have personally made for my home.

L2C Challenge – Mandy’s Gourmet Salads – The Fave

This week: THE FAVE (p. 53) [also Homemade Pita Chips (p. 150) and Honey Mustard Dressing (p. 170)]

I wasn’t too sure that this recipe would fill me since it’s lacking the protein that my other two recipes had but I wanted to try a salad with a dressing that I haven’t (and probably would never have) made before.

Ingredients –

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli florets
  • Corn kernels
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pitas
  • EVOO

  • Shredded carrots
  • Parmesan flakes
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Honey
  • Dijon mustard
  • Sunflower oil

Difficulty Level –

Another easy recipe for the win. Ingredients were simple and mainly things I tend to have on hand anyway.

Things I Googled While Making this Recipe –

Nothing! There isn’t much to research with these clean ingredients.

Alterations to Recipe –

My grocery store didn’t have any broccoli florets in stock so I just omitted them from the dish. While I didn’t miss the broccoli in this salad, I actually really like raw florets so I would add them the next time I make this recipe.

Verdict –

I wasn’t sold on the first few bites – the dressing was sweeter than I like – but half way through I was hooked. A very fresh and savoury recipe. Next time around, I may add some meat source just for added substance.

Two bowls because the Mister saw mine and wanted some but I wasn’t about to share!

Friday Home Finds – Game Nights

This week’s Friday Home Finds is a little different. Instead of showcasing decor items that I’ve purchased for our home, I’m sharing my game night wish list!

My one hope for our forever home is that it becomes the place to be for our children and their friends. I want my boys – even the one I’m married to – to love being home. To make that happen, we are working to build not just a comfortable place but also a fun place. Friday night movies and game nights is seriously going to be a thing at Casa Cres!

I haven’t yet gotten of the below items but I’m keeping a list and these may even end up on Christmas list in case anyone is looking for gift ideas for this mama!

1. Lawn Game Scoreboard – This is marketed as a lawn game scoreboard but you can use it for any game with two teams. I know Theo would be excited just to be able to control the scoreboard on game nights.

2. Marble Tic-Tac-Toe Game Set – I grew up playing tic-tac-toe with friends and family (I’m kinda really good at it!), so this is a must for any game time. I’ve seen this one in person and it is substantial in weight; it’s beautiful enough to be a permanent fixture on our coffee table.

3. Bocce Ball Lawn Game Set – Bocce Ball can be such a relaxing game (provided you’re not the competitive type). This one is by one of my favourite designers – Joanna Gaines. In true Magnolia style, it will be fun to play and beautiful to have tucked away.

4. 2-in-1 Bean Bag Toss – I love a good toss game; I rarely actually get the bag in but I still enjoy it. This one would be great to play on our covered porch and will match perfectly with our deck furniture.

5. Puzzle Accessory Board – Puzzles are my thing! Currently, I do my puzzles on my phone since I don’t have space to set up a puzzle board but I’ve already earmarked a corner in my future home office for puzzle making and a board like this will allow me to do my puzzles at my own pace, without worrying about losing any pieces.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list; it is but a small wish list of the many games I’m hoping to get for family game nights. Throw in a few floor pillows, some cold evenings by the fireplace and hot chocolate (with marshmallows on the side for Theo of course) and I’ve just described my dream night with the family!