Two 5km's...One Weekend #fcrr #doinit

Well friends...my 2014 race season has come to a close with the Santa Shuffle in London, Ontario this past weekend.


Dressed as snowmen, we ran in support of the Salvation Army. I was pretty darn happy with my pace, and it was a great training run for WDW10km! The atmosphere was super festive; most everyone was dressed up, there was holiday music playing as we ran the track and hot cocoa waiting for us at the end!


Then of Sunday, I joined up with the Forest City Road Races folks for our first training run!



You may have seen on Facebook and Instagram, I was recently named one of the ambassadors for the 2015 Forest City Road Races! I'm so excited to have found a community where I feel at home. Everyone was super welcoming, and it was actually my first time running without music and for the purpose of enjoying the company of other runners.

It was awesome. We chatted about our reasons for running, why we started and what our goals are. I talked about my weight loss journey, and how I've been working really hard over the past year to lace up and get out there.

We finished our 5km training run at Farm Boy, who greeted us with hot coffee, bananas and energy bars!



And then I started thinking about my goals for 2015. Aside from WDW10km, what do I want to accomplish?

Two words.

Half Marathon.

Stay tuned!
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Revamp your Deck with new cushions #homedecor #staging #outdoor

This year, we want to spend much more time outside enjoying our backyard. My husband suggested that our patio furniture was looking a little tired...what do you think?


I went in search of new cushions online, and wasn't finding exactly what we were looking for. We wanted something bold and fun, a great pattern, but something that would last us a while. That's when we found JD Designs & Interior Decor in London, Ontario!

Working with Dawn Marie was fantastic. She sent me photos of the possible fabrics while she was out scouting, was helpful with the delivery process (delivering 14 cushions to be recovered at 8 months pregnant is no easy feat!) and created beautiful new cushions for our patio furniture!

 
My husband sprayed our existing furniture with Tremclad rust spray paint in a flat black, and we added a brand new 6'x9' rectangular umbrella to ensure that everyone sitting at the table gets covered from the sun.

Dawn Marie even created a beautiful pillow out of the excess fabric!


I have a feeling that pillow will make its way up to the nursery soon as it goes with the color palette, and would be really pretty in my antique rocking chair!

Dawn Marie created these cushions and the pillow from scratch, and from fabrics that won't fade. So worth the investment, especially when you are getting exactly what you want for your patio!

The next steps for the deck? Ideally, I'd like to stain it or put a clear coat on the wood, but for now, I think some planters with tall grasses will be the perfect touch!

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Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Budding Artists, #art #ldnont #creativity


Committed to the promoting creativity, Budding Artists is located in London, Ontario and offers a variety of school and group based art fundraisers, studio instruction and creating custom keepsakes.

For Valentine's Day, Budding Artists wants you to Share the Love. Simply send in your child's Heart Art for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate!


As a extra special for Valentine's Day, Budding Artists is also offering 10% off travel mugs, coffee mugs and water bottles! A great gift for the kiddos to give mom or dad as a special keepsake!

I love the idea of turning your childrens artwork into keepsakes. It's such a sweet idea, and teaching them an appreciation for their art is something that I think is really important. Preserve those memories and their artwork with Budding Artists.


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Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: FMoon Origami Jewelry #jewelry #ldnont #handmade



I'm sure you've all seen origami before, but have you seen teeny tiny little origami owls, cranes and flowers made into beautiful jewelry?

 
I can honestly say that I have never seen jewelry quite like it, and think that it is really special. Created by a designer in London, Ontario, Fmoon Origami Jewelry is all handmade and individually designed. No two pieces will ever be the same, so you truly are getting a one of a kind piece of art.






FMoon is coming up with new designs all the time, including the beautifully handsculpted origami flowers above, just in time for Valentine's Day. Other designs feature butterflies, owls, and the iconic crane.

To see more from FMoon Origami Jewelry, check them out below!


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Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Jamberry Nails #nails #fashion #beauty

http://amandasimpson.jamberrynails.net/

Nail art and nail wraps are all the rage, and what a great way to accessorize your wardrobe in the dreary Winter months than with Jamberry Nails?

From every day chic designs, to ones that are perfectly sweet for Valentine's Day, you will find what you are looking for on Jamberry Nails. And as always, buy three get one free!






My favorites right now are Black Fleur-de-Lis Lace and City Lights. Both are absolutely stunning. Black Fleur-De-Lis Lace features a beautiful baroque design, full of intricate details, while City Lights is more subdued, with the added punch of metallic.

Greta for fingers and toes, Jamberry Nails are for everyone...even little girls! There's a brand new line of exclusive Jamberry Juniors for little nail artists!


Independent Consultant Amanda Simpson is also giving hostesses an added perk right now!


Hosting has never been easier than with Jamberry Nails! Contact Amanda today!

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Valentine's Gift Guide Feature: Custom Iced #bakery #ldnont


Have you ever had a sugar cookie that was just too good to be true? Well, I have and it came from Custom Iced, owned and operated by Claire Jackson, in Ilderton, Ontario. It was sugary and sweet, with the right about of buttery goodness...{mouth watering yet??}

This small batch bakery is whipping up delicious goodies...everything from custom designed cupcakes with handmade fondant toppers to beautiful cakes for first birthday cake smash photography sessions!


Claire's attention to detail and excellent customer service is getting her rave reviews! Check out these hand sculpted Minion fondant toppers!



She also specilazes in snowstopping pieces, like this giant cupcake that has been iced with flowers of all different colors. This is my personal favorite!



How fun would that be for a tea party, baby or bridal shower?! I love it!

To check out more of Claire's work, you can find Custom Iced on Facebook and on her website.



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Gift Guide Featurette: Little Luxuries handmade accessories and photography props


Today's featurette is for all of your mama's of cute little girls, tweens, teens and women who like to add a little extra something to their outfit. Little Luxuries is a handmade accessory and photography prop shop created by London, Ontario designer Angela Donaldson.

With a focus on vintage, bohemian and chic design, Angela creates each item from scratch in her home studio...while chasing around her busy 2 year old daughter! A few things that you'll find at Little Luxuries are handmade brooches and pins, rustic chic hair clips, maternity sashes, handmade ruffle rompers and the sweetest burlap and fabric crowns.


Angela has been busy this fall creating a whole new line of inspired accessories for women and girls. Coming soon to Little Luxuries are bohemian feather headbands, newborn crowns for boys, and tulle puff flowers for brooches, pins and hair accessories!


At Little Luxuries, you can be sure that you are getting handmade items that are created with heart and inspiration. Angela pays particular attention to detail to ensure all edges are perfectly finished, the prettiest embellishments attached, and elements coordinated to create the most gorgeous accessories.

Here's a sneak peek at what is coming in 2014 for Little Luxuries!




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Gift Guide Featurette: Bellacoco Designs

If you have a little girl on your gift giving list for Christmas 2013, you will want to check out the incredibly cute and trendy accessories handmade by London, Ontario designer Bellacoco Designs.


Bellacoco, which means "beautiful pumpkin" was born out of one mom's want to create pretty little things for her twin girls. Designer Mary-Ann Fougere then started making tutus, tutu dresses and accessories and a whole company was formed.


Mary-Ann saw alot of pastel and baby-like accessories on the market when Bellacoco Designs came to be. She wanted to create some really funky, fun and functional accessories, and I think she hit the nail on the head!



Each accessory is handmade, meaning that care, precision and attention to detail are taken by Mary-Ann to ensure that your item is perfect. With endless theme and color possibilities, the sky is the limit with Bellacoco Designs!


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Much Love Monday - our anniversary celebrations

This past Friday, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. What started out as an ordinary day, ended with sweet surprises, a spotless house and a beautiful new outlook on our life, relationship and home.

After running errands with our son, I set off to Artistic Spa for a sugar scrub and massage. My best girl Heather had given me gift cards for my birthday last year and I hadn't used them. Given everything that has gone on over the past few weeks, I figured that I deserved a little trip to the spa.

What I didn't know is that my sneaky husband had booked a manicure and pedicure for me! I was super confused when the ladies at the spa told me I had more treatments, and was borderline argumentative, insisting that they had me confused with someone else and that I really did not have any more treatments.

I came home to a sparkling house. I was already in shock from the mani/pedi and then a clean house? Heaven!

Hubs was super thoughtful (and apparently reads the blog, so the wooden box I created a few weeks ago was no surprise. Whoops!) and picked out wine from a few places that we went to on our honeymoon, and selected a gorgeous wooden bracelet from a local shop.
The leggings and suede booties? My anniversary gift to myself!

We set off for dinner at my favourite restaurant in London, Ontario, The Tasting Room, and then to Marble Slab for my kind of night cap!

It really was the perfect way to celebrate! Cheers to many more years of anniversary dates!

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Fashionista Friday: Kristine Cook Designs, custom dress

I have been sitting and waiting to reveal my dress from my brother-in-laws wedding that Kristine Cook Designs specifically designed for me.

Oh. My. God!


 First and foremost, the dress fit me like a glove. This is the most wonderful thing about working with a fashion designer; the take your measurements, have multiple fittings with you and ensure that the garment fits your body perfectly before you take it home.


When I asked Kristine about how to style the look, she said to go dark and smokey with the eye and big and bold with the accessories. I found the perfect chunky black bib necklace at Joe Fresh (for a whopping $7!) and had the makeup artist up the drama on my eyes, while keeping my lip neutral.


And my date? He was pretty impressed! I felt so beautiful and confident in my custom dress by Kristine Cook Designs and would absolutely recommend her in a heartbeat.


Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Kristine Cook Designs for this post. I just absolutely love working with her and wanted to share her beautiful designs!

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New Year New Home - Pirate Themed Toddler Bedroom


Ever since we moved into our new house last year, I wanted to give our little guy a space of his own. If I'm in my studio during the day, I like having him close by but want him to feel comfortable and inspired in his own space. That meant taking it from young-toddler room to preschooler room, and completely changing his bedroom decor.


I reached out to Laura of 2Clvr 4 U Designs and said that I wanted to play off of the airplane hanging from his ceiling {for sentimental reasons as it was my Dad's} and we met about a week later. She showed me pictures of a pirate ship that she had created, out of paper, and immediately I was hooked. My little dude loves pirates, and I love the vintagey look that Laura came up with, all inspired by Peter Pan.

I really loved the entire process of working with Laura. Each piece of paper art that she designed was created from scratch; there were no patterns, and really...I just let her go with whatever felt right.

What she created was beyond my wildest imagination. A pirate ship made out of paper, strung from the ceiling and floating on a vintage paper balloon.


She asked if there were any other decor elements for his new room that I would like to see. I told her that I currently had some framed lyrics flanking his windows, and some baseball photography over top of his dresser and she went to town with her paper art.


Now flanking the windows are these amazing worn looking paper maps with treasure chests on them, one of which is personalized with Owen's name.










His dresser is quite possibly my most favourite part of his room now. Paper boats, a skull and cross bones, and the most boyish yet beautiful paper bunting. I absolutely love it and Owen does too!


The next job for his room are creating a comfy corner with handpainted pillows, a stained wooden treasure chest to hold books, and some rope name art for over top of his bed {an idea that my husband and I came up with together, which we both really love.}

If you are in need of some custom paper art, be it for your home decor {how pretty would a wall installation of paper flowers be?!}, party or wedding, I would highly recommend working with 2Clvr 4 U Designs. Laura makes the entire process easy and seamless, and really gets your vision...then takes it to the next level!


Disclaimer: 2Clvr 4 U Designs is a sponsor of the New Year New Home blog series. While all of the opinions and views expressed are my own, I was compensated for this post and provided the decor to review for the purposes of this post.

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Arygle Art in the Park

This past Saturday, I was able to take park in a really awesome event in one of our most beautiful parks in London, Ontario.

It was my first time using my Banners On The Cheap vinyl banner, and I think that it looked so incredibly beautiful. Patrons were constantly commenting on it, and it really helped my booth to have a lovely branded and professional feel.

At my booth, I had a wall of paintings on repurposed old shutter doors. Unfortunately, the paintings kept falling off with every gust of wind and by 2pm, I has thrown in the towel. By 4pm, I'd figured out how to make them stay, only didn't have the materials to pull it off. Oh well! At least I have figured out how to make the shutter doors work {people loved them, and said it made them feel like they were in my studio!}

I also had my lovely MDF bifold display, that I built myself. I loved it and it tied everything together really well! Now, it's up in my studio as a way to get my paintings hung and constantly on display. Awesome!

I also had a tiered stand of accessories, and bracelets hanging from my vase-trees.

All in all, it felt the way I had envoisioned. It was like I was inviting people into my studio, and sharing with them why I paint the way that I do...

The compliments were incredible! I was told by very established artists that I am very talented and was born to paint. Others made comments about the fluidity of the movement in my work, something that I try really hard to achieve. Another artist was on her way back to her booth, and did a double take...circling back and gasping at every painting she saw, eventually telling me that she was very impressed by my skill.

The best compliment that I go all day was by a fellow artist, who {thinking I was younger than I am} asked if I knew who Jackson Pollock was. Yes, most definitely I do, and when he went on to say that my work is very reminiscent of the abstract impressionist masters...I just about died.


From the lovely shutter doors, to my incredible banner from Banners on the Cheap, to the bifold screen...the experience could not have been better! I am overwhemlingly proud of the response rom the public, and it has reaffirmed that I am indeed on the right path!

Argyle Art in the Park

This weekend, I am fortunate enough to be participating in the first annual Argyle BIA Art in the Park at Kiwanis Park in London, Ontario. While I've never done an outdoor art event before, I am really excited to show off my paintings, new painted wearable art, and get to engage with the public.


What can you expect in my space?

Folding screens with original paintings, ranging from mini to large
Tiered stands of painted pendants, wearable statement rings and sculpted hair pieces
Stands and trays with beautiful painted bracelets and brooches

The Art in the Park event runs from 11:00am-6:00pm, with a fun Movie in the Park event to follow! See a special screening of The Lorax while you camp out under the stars!

Hope to see you there, supporting great London artists!



BlogHer Sponsors: Thank You!

From the bottom of my heart, I want to send out a huge thank you to all of the amazing sponsors who helped me board a plane today, put gorgeous media cards together for me, provided inspiration and photography, designed incredible outfits, jewelry and tutu's....

Without you all, BlogHer'12 would be but a dream for me. You helped make this possible!







Anticipation is high!!

Gees, the title of this post might be the biggest undersatement of the year!

In just two days, after a little car ride from London to Toronto and saying farewell to my boys, I will be boarding a plane and headed to NYC to BlogHer.

In just two day, I will be able to put my freshest face forward for the sponsors who have supported my journey to the largest blogging conference in North America.

In just two days, I will converge with over 3000 like minded individuals to engage, connect and learn.

Gosh!!

I have probably packed enough dresses, wedge heels, ballet flats, skinny jeans, and accessories to clothe myself for a few weeks...but I figure one outfit for day, and one outfit for night...with different shoe options. Flats, obviously for walking through out the city and Central Park.

Ack!!

TWO DAYS!!

How are you handling the anticipation?

Ask Me! Time Management....??

About a month ago, @mrs07c {one of my fab BlogHer roommates} wrote on my facebook wall and asked how I do all that I do...and only in 24 hours.

How many hats do I wear?

Event planner {kiddo's birthday, Mom's wedding,bff's baby shower}
Artist
Mom
Wife
Woman
Co-Chair for Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope {London, ON}
Blogger
Freelance writer
Baker

I'm sure that there are more...but they're escaping me right now!

How do I do it all? Well...here are some tips!

Blogging
  • have an ongoing blog planner open in Word
  • plan all of the blogposts that pop into your head on their appropriate days
  • try and get as many blogposts done as you can in one hour; sit down a the computer after the kiddos go to bed and write as much as you can
  • schedule your blogposts one month in advance and you'll always be on top of things!

Party Planning
  • start as early as possible...it is absolutely not crazy to plan a party a year in advance {even if others make fun of you for it!}
  • if you have an online shop, put up a vacation notice the week of your party so you can focus on the task at hand
  • hire someone to do the cake
  • set out the party platters and food cards the night before

General
  • regular scheduled dates with your significant other
  • regular scheduled date nights with yourself; I firmly believe that when you take time away for yourself you are able to be better to those around you
  • don't feel bad if you don't get everything done...seriously! What doesn't happen today, can happen tomorrow or the day after. Chances are if you didn't prioritize it today,it means that it likely wasn't that important in the grand scheme of things.

Special Post: The Value of Art

You may have noticed some changes in the shop lately...new pieces, and new prices.

Custom miniature triptych

I've been doing lots of research, and mostly listening to my heart.

I am an artist.

Every item that I put into my shop is one that I have created with my own two hands. It is one that only my brain can process...the brushstrokes are ones that only my hands can do.

Pearl and black dahlia rings, handsculpted
 My designs are my own; they are not copied or modeled off of anyone else work. If a photograph is used for reference, it is one that I took (like for the skyscape journal below)

Monogrammed and handpainted skyscape journal
I've begun to realize the value of art...the value of myself as an artist, and the four amazing years that I spent in the sculpture and painting studios during my time at Wilfrid Laurier University.

12x12 abstract painting

Art is such an amazingly personal thing, and for me...it's something that I pour every ounce of myself into. The process is one of beautiful evolution for me, and I am so blessed to be able to have the opportunity to share that with you.

I am an artist, and I truly truly hope that you love what I do as much as I love doing it.

Sponsor Love: Love Me Knott



Sometimes that perfect summer dress needs a pop…a pop of purple 

Amanda from Love Me Knott has created the perfect purple dragon vein agate piece that will surely get you noticed at your next big event.



Chic and feminine, the purple is a lovely shade…almost muted with a grey undertone, and perfectly paired with white stones and intricate silver work.

The eye-catching pendant features a gorgeous veining, named the Dragon Vein, and picks up on the various undertones in the piece. Oranges….grey…a slight olive tone. It really is the perfect piece for any wardrobe. 

Dress it down with a white t-shirt and jeans, or make a statement with a black cocktail dress and big sparkly heels!

My First Piece of Art...

I put it out there to the twitterverse a few weeks ago that I would be happy to answer any and all questions from you about me, or my art.

@apnuttmama wrote "What was the first piece of art you ever created."

Oh gosh...that would probably go back to grade 3 to a drawing of a dolphin underwater in the days that I wanted to be a marine biologist.

Since I don't have a photo of that masterpiece, I thought that I would post the first piece that I created that has a whole lot of meaning behind it - my Dad's favourite.

The Gates - 2004
It was the first piece {in a series of four} that I painted on wood, using drywall plaster first to build up the surface to make it three dimensional. I absolutely loved the technique, and when my Dad saw it for the first time, he said that he saw fireworks.

It made me really proud, and it's continued to be a piece that I hang on my wall with pride...only now we don't seem to have a wall for it anymore. I'd love for it to find a new home...but it's pretty big {about 24"x30"} so I'm not sure what the future holds for this red blazing beauty.

Mama Moments...on a Friday?

Going to get a little sentimental today.

Tomorrow, my son turns 2.

Two

T-W-O

Deux

No matter which way you put it, it's emotional for mama.

I remember it all so clearly...the water breaking, the epidural, the 10hours of LOST that we watched...the aftermath.

I remember your Daddy walking in with you in his arms, and the biggest smile on his face {anyone crying yet, because I sure am as I write this!}. I remember snuggling you for the very very first time, and how in that one moment, I knew that I would be mush everytime you came to me for a snuggle from that day forward.

Tomorrow, you're two, little Bear.

My sweet sweet Bear...

Oh, how time flies.

I want to never forget how you say peas, tank-too, and welcome. I want to never forget how you say wuv-you and blow kisses to everyone, even from your carseat to people in the next car when we're stuck in traffic.


I will never ever ever forget the kisses you give first thing in the morning, or how you still like to have  All My Loving sung to you when you`re upset.

Happy birthday, Bear.