Thursday, 29 September 2011

Thrift Thursday.

Over the past couple of weeks, I really haven't had much time to treasure hunt - but luckily, everything that's been kind of up in the air is slowly starting to settle into place again. Well, not really, but that's another story, for another time. 

Anyways, as luck would have it, I finally had a chance to hit up a couple of shops the other day and I struck the mother load! This spring the shops were ripe for the picking, but over the past couple of months, I've come up short on my quest for coolness. However, with fall comes a fresh mix of pieces. Pieces calling out to me to take them home...

First up, I've been on the hunt for a mix of Christmas cookie cutters since last Christmas. I'd previously been gifted a few pieces, perfect for making my gingerbread aliens and gingerbread celebrities (stay tuned), but I wanted to expand the mix to include the usual trees, sleighs and reindeer. As luck would have it I stumbled across a set of 12 and grabbed them from the merchandiser as she was putting them on display. $1.99 for the set = sold!
Next up, I've got a fun mix to share with you! I found this nifty horse ornament for under a dollar under a pile at Goodwill. Unfortunately, the cashier didn't wrap this poor guy up well enough and one of his ears ended up chipped. I'm thinking that with a bit of putty to repair / rebuild his ear and multiple coats of matte white spray paint he'll look spiffy on one of my bookshelves. Toss in a couple of pieces of milk glass found for .99 each, and two awesome prints for $1.99 each and I'm a happy camper.
And what is the book you ask? Get this - I found Martha Stewart's Housekeeping Handbook, brand new, still wrapped in the plastic for $4.99 at Value Village. I've been eyeing up this $50.00 retail book for ages's deals like that that have this guy busting a sweet move down the aisles of the store.
I've got some awesome plans for these pieces over the next couple of weeks. I've got a mate that's a professional framer and I'm thinking that I might see if he can come up with a cool matting / frame combo for the prints. I'm considering hanging them in my dining room....perhaps creating a bit of a theme when put together with my snazzy school map.
As for the milk glass vases, I'm all over the idea of using them extensively when decorating this holiday season. I've got a couple of ideas up my sleeve....the wheels are turning....I just need to see if the ideas stack up before sharing them with you guys (and looking goofy in the process)!

A successful haul? I'd say so! Now to put these pieces to work!


It's the Great Pumpkin Dan Mitchell!

As much as I love summer, I think that I love fall even more. I'm a big fan of the colours, the smells, the tastes, the cooler weather and most of all, the pumpkins!

I've never been big on Halloween or carving pumpkins (I'm more a Christmas guy myself), but there's something fun about seeing the piles of pumpkins at the grocery stores and farmer's markets. To me, a big orange pumpkin basically says 'fall.' Well, that and the pies, grain dust from farmers trying to wrap up their harvests and the start of the new TV season...but it's mainly about the pumpkins.
Growing up my Mom used to grow loads of pumpkins, to the point where for a couple of years we'd be giving everyone we knew pumpkins. After a few years absence, my Mom once again had a pumpkin patch in her garden this year and it didn't disappoint. When I was working in Saskatchewan a few weeks ago I was close enough to home that I managed to spend a bit of time with my folks; it was then that my Mom suggested that I bring a couple of pumpkins back to the city with me.
I'd given my Mom a hand bringing the pumpkins from the garden and was well aware of how big they were. Without really giving it a second thought, I picked the two biggest 'big pumpkin' standards, they're not gigantic, but they were big enough that I had to throw seatbelts on them when driving back to the city.
They're hanging out in my pantry at the moment, but I've been trying to come up with a couple of cool ideas for how I'm going to display my pumpkins. Obviously, that included a trip online to see what I could stumble across. Here are some of my favourite ideas!
Perhaps I could throw some lights in them...
it's not really Halloween, but this looks awesome! Only the team at Martha Stewart would come up with something like this. That and this idea would give me an excuse to play with my drill...
Or, I could just skip the decorating and head straight to the fun part -
baking with pumpkin. Pumpkin cupcakes with pumpkin and cinnamon flavoured frosting? Yes please.
I'm actually really digging the carved pumpkins above. They're not a big fan of 'spooky' and 'scary' but I think that I could have some fun carving some goofy and fun faces in to my pumpkins. That and the pumpkins with the stars carved in look kinda fun.
Or, if I'm feeling really crafty, perhaps I could turn my pumpkins into dioramas, there's something so unexpected about this picture that you can't help but love it! Perhaps time to dig out my old plastic farm animals from when I was a kid? Cows and chickens? Maybe not...

That or I was thinking that maybe I could head on over to the village of Roland for the annual Pumpkin Fair that's coming up! I'll spare you the scary pictures that were taken of me dressed up as pumpkin (orange garbage bag and head piece with stem)...but surely someplace with world's largest pumpkin would have some inspiration. Hmm...I guess if anything I might be able to get my paws on a couple slices of pie! Or maybe they'll have pumpkin launching...

Stay tuned to see what I come up with! I've also got a couple of fun pumpkin recipes that I want to check out in the next couple of days and obviously I plan on sharing them with you!

How do you decorate for this time of year? Any crazy pumpkin launching stories to share!?!


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Stop the world!

Hard things are put in our way,
not to stop us, but to call out our courage
and strength.


September is proving to be the month of curve balls.

And to tell you the truth, I've having trouble keeping up with them.

Actually, to be quite honest, I'm exhausted. All I want to do is go home and curl up in a ball under a blanket. The past couple of weeks have been non-stop, go-go-go at work and I feel like I'm ready to jump off the train or raise my flag or do whatever it is that people do when they want to say "stop."

Throw in a week long adventure in Saskatchewan that was sprung on me at the last minute and I'm really ready for a couple of days of Dan time. No spreadsheets or possible career shakeups. No contracts. No driving across the province and back. No work people. Just time for me to enjoy the things that make me happy - my friends and loved ones, my random projects, adventures around the city, mornings spent in bed, spending rainy afternoons making pizza and watching reruns of whatever and just....relaxing.

The thing is, it's only Tuesday...

I've got three and a half more days to go before some straight-up Dan time (sans work projects). Until then, I'm on a mission to find small adventures and projects to bring me down to Earth outside of work hours - getting together with friends, not worrying about the unfinished projects scattered around home, coming up with some fun blog ideas (I missed you guys while I was away for work!) and most importantly - leaving work at work. This whole going home and not being able to turn the switch off thing sucks...

I think that I've got enough stuff to keep me focused and motivated until the weekend(after a good nap that is...). If you're looking for me, I'll be at work napping under my desk until home time (a guy can dream can't he?).

How do you keep focused on what's really important when the world feels like it's going a million miles an hour?


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Word up.

A dream is just a dream.
A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.

-Harvey MacKay

I've got an interesting couple of weeks coming up. I think...

While I really can't get into the specifics of what I'm talking about (everything is pretty informal at this point...), the next couple of weeks might see me flip my world upside-down professionally. At some point I'll explain a bit more, but in the mean time, take a couple of seconds to send your friend (I like to think that we're friends) Dan some good vibes.


Oh Canada.

Oh Canada.
Home to beavers. 
To some of the best hockey that you'll ever see. 
Ice Hockey - Day 7
To Tim Hortons.
To Mounties.
To amazing beer.
And to HBC blankets.
HBC blankets you say?

Originally developed by the Hudson's Bay Company during the 1800s and used as an item that was traded to Native Canadians in exchange for beaver and other fur pelts, the blanket has moved on to hold an almost iconic status within Canada. Basically, what poutine is to French-Canadian food, the HBC blanket is to Canadian design & heritage.
The Hudson Bay Company continues to promote and sell these blankets and other items with the iconic prints on them within their stores. They've developed a cache following and have been featured in the likes of Elle Decor and Vogue Living. While many individuals are familiar with the familiar multi-coloured striped blankets, the blankets are also available in an array of other colours.

I'd love to include an HBC blanket in my own home but they don't come cheap. New they range in price from $275-500 CDN. And forget vintage, while pieces randomly do turn up at flea markets and estate sales many vintage pieces have gone for over $600 up to $1300 for pieces produced specifically for the coronation of King George VI in 1937.

I'm hoping that at some point I'll stumble across a vintage one that I can refashion into cushions or a rework into a throw...then again, who knows - perhaps if I start saving my quarters I'll be able to buy one....around 2015 or so.

But until such a date, I've found these pictures to keep me inspired!
What 'iconic' pieces are you after for your own home?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

"I absolutely loathe hydrangeas."

By now, chances are that you've seen about, read about, or heard about Madonna's loathing of hydrangeas. If you've been hiding under a rock, don't read celebrity rags, watch Access Hollywood or really care about the girl from Michigan who somehow developed a bad case of English Accentitis....then check out below -

And while I usually don't care about Madonna (with the exception of wondering how being married to Guy Richie a few years back suddenly had her speaking like a character in a BBC miniseries), I found myself wondering how one could develop a hatred of hydrangeas.

How could someone hate these beautiful flowers?
Maybe there's a story behind the whole loathing incident. Maybe she was sniffing a hydrangea in one of her English gardens and was stung by a bee? Perhaps an ex-lover used to send her bouquets of them (Dennis Rodman?) and it brings back too many painful memories (catching him dressing up in her Material Girl pink dress?). Maybe she only loves English roses, lovingly hand-picked by her gardeners (gag). Or maybe she has no taste and prefers plastic tulips... or perhaps it's just that she's never experienced hydrangeas such as the ones below -
Pretty nice, huh? I mean, really, how could you hate on these bad boys? They're like thee classic go-to flower. They look good regardless of what you do with them. Plus there's a gazillion colours, so surely one would think that she could find something that she liked.

Whatever her reasoning, I don't get it...

I'll keep digging around to see if I can find out the back story to her hatred (not really). In the meantime, direct all your future Madonna hydrangea bouquets my way...


Monday, 5 September 2011

Thrift Thursday (Long weekend edition).

I'm almost certain that the organizers of the Amazing Race Challenge that Mister & I participated in this past weekend knew that I love me a sweet, sweet bargain. When we opened our challenge booklet for our second day, I was ecstatic to learn that we had a challenge at a thrift store in Somerset, MB

Having never been to (let alone heard of) Somerset, I wasn't sure what to expect  but was excited none the less. When we found the store, I was pleasantly surprised to find an awesome mix of vintage and kitsch! So as my team worked as fast as they could to complete our official game challenge, I took on the challenge of working as fast as I could to pick-out which pieces I wanted to bring home with me! 

With only five minutes to spare I found some sweet pieces!

Check 'em out!
In less than five minutes I'd uncovered and purchased a year's worth of Martha, some amazing milk glass (that has suddenly become way too overpriced in the city) and the cutest tiered cake platter. Not bad huh?
I still can't get over the fact that I uncovered this sweet set of vases for $1.50! I've seen similar pieces go for over $25.00 each on Etsy and in some of the different vintage shops around the city. They'll look awesome on my dining room table filled with whatever greenery of cheap grocery store flowers I can find.
How often do I use tiered glass cake plates? Not that often. That said, this one was only a dollar, plus I'm digging it's funky gold tones. Perhaps the purchasing of it is just a sign that I need to be making more cakes....hmm.
I'd picked up some yellow Mums last week and threw them in one of the vases this evening. Simple but so much fun! I've got some fun ideas for how I'm going to use these vases during the holiday season (yes....holidays as is in Christmas...).
So how much damage did I do in five minutes? $4.50. That's it! With deals like that, how could I not bring these pieces home? 

Thank you small-town Manitoba!

Workin' on my fitness.

After a long and action packed summer that included weekend road trips out of the city, tackling a bunch of projects around the house, bottles of wine over bonfires and lounging on my favourite dock, it's time to get back into my regular routine - including getting back to the gym.

I'm not a gym guy at the best of times. I've got a membership at a local gym, but most of the time I have to drag my ass there. The first couple of minutes are horrible but once I get the tunes going and the blood starts pumping it's I feel pretty good. 

So as I haul myself back and force myself to work off some of the wine that I guzzled down this summer I figured that I'd share with you a couple of the new gym tunes that I threw on my iPod.

Here it goes - 

1. Jessie J Ft. David Guetta - Repeat
Jessie J is amazing to begin with - throw in David Guetta's production and DJ skills and you've got a work of art! This is one of those tracks that I'll be throwing on repeat (a couple of times over).

2. Jessica Sutta - Show Me
Remember the Pussy Cat Dolls? Remember the redhead that really didn't sing, but danced around behind Nicole Scherzinger? Not really? Me neither. Apparently she's trying to start a solo career. It's not the deepest song you'll ever hear, but it has a fun beat and sounds good when you're trying to get through the last five minutes on the elliptical.

3. Yelle - A Cause Des Garcons
This track has been around for years but it's still a fave of mine! I'm a huge Yelle fan....even if my French knowledge is tres terrible. By far my favourite track by them. I couldn't find the official video to post but I did find this rather quarky fan vid. Watch and enjoy.

4. Nadine Coyle - Sweetest High
I salute Nadine Coyle for still trying to forge ahead with a solo career after dismal sales of her first album (which I loved!). She may have been 'the voice' of Girls Aloud, but she needs to fire her entire team and start from scratch. Catchy gym song that's had no publicity, no promotion and chances are, will go nowhere on the charts. That said, I'm all over it.

5. The Saturdays - Ladykiller
Most guys would be embarrassed to throw this track on their gym playlist. Not this guy. The more sugary the song, the better the chance that I'm going to love it. Out this September a B-side, this track reminds me of ol'skool Rachel Stevens. Perfect for the gym (or cruising around in my cougar car).

And last, but not least - 

6. Natalia Kills - Hot Mess
I'm all over this Natalia Kills chick. She's one of those artists that really has a clear vision of what she wants to do. Of the story that she wants to tell with her music and presentation... She hasn't really taken off this side of the pond....partially because of those all the Gaga comparison (I see none), but her album is awesome! While there are loads of tracks worthy of running to, this is one of my faves! You must check it out!

Who's on your gym list?! I'm always on the hunt for some new tunes!

Back to the gym...

Sweet Sarah.

Have I ever told you how much I love Sarah Richardson?


Well then, it's high time for me to share my love of Ms. Richardson and her work!
Having started out as a props stylist and set decorator, Sarah has taken the Canadian design scene by storm. The owner of a successful design firm, host of an evergrowing number of specialty programs and designer of an amazing collection of interior and exterior furniture, Ms. Richardson has become one of the faces of great Canadian design.
I love how Richardson is one of those designers that doesn't follow trends. She's not afraid to think outside the box and go with what she thinks looks good vs. what everyone else is doing. Along with her trusted design cohort Tommy Smythe, Sarah Richardson has created some of the most amazing rooms. Mixing modern and classic with found objects, custom pieces of her own design and thrift store finds, her rooms are sophisticated yet comfy, refined yet relaxed. Elegant but not inaccessible. 
This might sound funny, but there's just something about her spaces that I can identify with. Once you've had a chance to check out a few of the rooms and homes that she and her team have created you'll feel the same way. Regardless of your style, chances are there are elements that speak to you and make you want make this space your own! Not to mention the fact that I'd love to spend an afternoon wandering around with her....hitting up shops and seeing how she works - how her projects come together! Right?!

Here are a few more of my fave Sarah rooms -

Which designer or decorator do you look to for inspiration?! 


The Amazing Race!

Happy Labour Day friends! I hope that like me, you're taking today to kickback and catch-up on some much needed r'n'r. It's been an insanely busy weekend so today is all about watching reruns of Three's Company, flipping through magazines, brainstorming and just...chillaxing.

Beginning Friday afternoon and ending last night, Mister and I, along with a couple of friends partook in the Pembina Valley Amazing Race. Two days, about 900KM, thirteen towns and a gazillion challenges later I'm all for crashing today. Like the show we had missions to complete in set times, check-ins, bonus points and the whole nine yards. Zip-lining, scavenger hunts, museums, jingle name it, we did it.

While our team didn't win any prizes, I did have fun (although I have no plans to eat two more cups of red Jello as fast as I can anytime soon)! Although we were rushed, we did find a couple of minutes to take some shots along the way! 
Holding up the world's largest pumpkin in Roland, MB.
Our favourite stop was the town of Plum Coulee and we can't wait to get back there to do some more exploring! We loved Annajo's Bistro which had the best chicken & bacon paninis ever (seriously; you must go!) pics too hungry! 
The Plum Coulee Museum (Former Pool Elevator)
I loved the town's museum! Located in the former Pool grain elevator, the museum had so much to offer. I love learning about local history and this place didn't disappoint. There was so much eye candy! Vintage housewares and books, old maps and photos, cool old farm tools and team practically had to drag me out of there - I could have spent days looking around!

As my team worked to finish our mission I ran around and took as many pictures as I could; here are a couple of my favourite shots!

Pretty neat huh? And before I forget, I need to tell you about the village grocery store. I've been in a number of small-town grocery stores in my time. You know the type - they serve as grocery store / liquor mart / insurance agent and post office. But not this one! In addition to your standard grocery basics, Prairie Foods also stocks a huge mix of Mexican groceries, local produce, organic and gluten free products, local meats and eggs, Mennonite cookbooks, plus loads of area grains and flours. 

That, and to top it off....I spotted what looks like a HUGE thrift store - which I warned Mister we'd be checking out at some point. They might not be as big as the ones in the city, but they have the BEST selections!

How'd you spend your long weekend!

See yah soon Plum Coulee!


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