How to Propagate Baby Succulents

As you may already know, I love succulents.  When I first learned that you could grow a new plant from just one leaf, I had to try it for myself!  Here's what I did:

I harvested some leaves by plucking them gently from the plant, careful not to damage the base.  Then I laid them out to dry for three days.  Succulents are really prone to rot, so I wanted them to callous over before I watered them.

After the ends calloused over, I laid them in a dish on top of some cactus potting soil.  I placed the dish in full sunlight and (very) gently watered every few days, making sure that the soil completely dried before watering again.

From there, it was a waiting game.  With the exception of one eager plant, which sprouted very quickly, I didn't see much progress for the first 3 or 4 weeks!

By the end of the seventh week, many of the baby succulents had both new leaves and their own roots.  Of course, I lost some but overall, more than half were successful.

They were finally ready to transplant in their own little pots!  Eventually, the leaves they grew from will dry out and fall off.  I'm definitely going to try this again.


A Week in the Rockies

A couple of weeks ago, Corey and I sat down and he reminded me that it's been 14 months since our last vacation and he can't think of a single day where I haven't done at least some work.  Yikes!

Luckily, we had already planned a family trip to Alberta.  Corey and I had never seen Banff, and we thought that some fresh mountain air and lots of hiking would be the perfect remedy to Toronto's brutal summer heat.  

We set off for a week of travel from Calgary to Banff to Jasper to the Icefields and back to Calgary again.  With a toddler, we knew we'd need to plan our travel time carefully and we thought any drive more than four hours in a day would likely be pressing our luck.

Rudy turned out to be a trooper and she seemed to thoroughly enjoy our trip.  Here are some photos, if you'd like to see.

We loved seeing the stunning turquoise waters of the glacier-fed lakes.  We had a few "must see" sights such as Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and Spirit Island (pictured above) but we left some flexibility in our schedules.  One helpful waiter encouraged us to visit Peyto Lake (below) which was spectacular and was shaped like a wolf's head.

The crowds at the popular lakes get crazy by mid-morning, but Rudy kept us on Toronto time (we were waking up at 5 a.m.!) so we were usually some of the first people to arrive at the lake in the morning.  It gave us some quiet time to privately enjoy the sights.

We encountered several bears on our trip and this grizzly was enjoying some berries in a parking lot one morning.  He walked right past us and we were lucky enough to observe him for a few minutes from the safety of our car.

Bears weren't the only wildlife we were lucky enough to see.  We also saw mountain goats and several elk.  It's their rut season so we were able to see the bulls antler wrestling more than once!

A major highlight for us was a visit to the Icefields.  We booked a tour that takes you up a mountain and allows you to walk on the Athabaska Glacier.  Again, we went early and were on the (nearly empty) first tour of the day.  Aside from about ten other people, we had the glacier all to ourselves.  We had bought spikes to slide over our shoes before the trip and we dressed really warmly.  It was exhilarating to walk on the glacier and fill our waterbottles with clear glacier water.  Rudy fell asleep on the ride back down the mountain.

We ended our trip in Calgary and we took advantage of our reciprocal membership at the Science Centre.

I think the highlights of the holiday for me were just being able to focus on Corey and Rudy for a full uninterrupted week.  We loved exposing Rudy to our love of wildlife and the outdoors and Rudy loved collecting rocks.

Corey and I keep saying that this was probably our favourite trip ever and we're already brainstorming ideas for next August!


Planning Family Photos

I was watching Rudy play the other day and, for the first time, I kept thinking that she's starting to look more like a child than a baby.  Sometimes, it's a little hard for me to remember her at this time last year.  I'm glad when social media reminds me that she was crawling and getting ready to take her first steps while holding furniture.  Now she's an energetic toddler who runs and climbs and twirls and tries to somersault.  As I watched her play, I felt myself tearing up because I have loved every stage with her, but there are so many adorable and hilarious toddler mannerisms that I'm sure I'll have forgotten in a couple of years.

We are heading off to Western Canada shortly for a family vacation and I thought it would be the perfect place to have some professional family photos taken.  What better time in our lives to memorialize than when we're happy and relaxed on holiday?  Right now, Rudy is at this magical age where the world is a place to explore and she's still our baby but she's on the verge of being able to do so much!

Being a planner, I wanted to manage everything long before our trip and I agonized over choosing a photographer, locations and wardrobe.  I wanted our clothes to look great on us but not distract from the scenery and I wanted to be coordinated but not too matchy!

So how do you look coordinated and polished but not like your family uniform is jeans and black t-shirts?  You choose a basic colour palette with coordinating colours and start there.  They say that if colours are found together in nature, they'll work.  They don't all need to be from the same colour family, although I find that many shades of the same colour also look nice.

I used this site for my colour palette inspiration.  Some of my favourites are below.  I can't say I'm surprised by the number of photos containing succulents.  ;)

Our first outfits are mainly J. Crew with the exception of my dress (Gap) and Corey's Jeans (American Eagle).  Shopping at the same store when they have a new seasonal line out is a great way to find coordinating colours and fabrics.

We also wanted some casual clothes for the photo shoot.  We chose clothes that would be more reflective of how we dressed on a regular basis. We chose a palette of blue, teal and mint to compliment the lake and mountain backdrop of the photoshoot.  The photo below is terrible (it was taken hastily at night while we were packing) but I'm actually really excited about these outfits.

For more inspiration and tips, here are two great articles on the topic by other bloggers:


Chair Makeover

I love a good "Before and After" post and when my mom decided it was time to do something about her (comfortable but dated) wing-back chairs, I rushed over to snap a photo.

It was nice, but a little bland and I hoped she'd choose something contemporary like a modern floral pattern to punch it up!  I always love seeing large, bright floral prints in magazines.

I'd been eyeing this upholstery pattern on fabric.com for a long time.  I had hoped to use it to cover a chair but I never found the right chair.  I got really excited when my mother emailed me a link to the exact pattern I liked.

It's rare that we agree on this sort of thing and it sort of felt like kismet.  

Now her modern looking chairs are lovely seats for people (or cats) in her sun room.

It really makes me want to find a bright fabric for the bland (but comfy) couch in the family room.


Macramé Planter Workshop with The Sweet Escape

I have a crafty friend who joins me in taking workshops a couple of times a year.  It's always fun (sometimes boozy) and we love catching up while working on a craft.  I drag her all sorts of places and she's a very good sport so when the talented Melissa DiRenzo from The Sweet Escape offered a macramé workshop, we signed up immediately.

I had last attended one of Melissa's workshops while I was about eight months pregnant with Rudy but I had fond memories of it.  This one may have been even more fun and I've always wanted to learn how to make delightfully granny (and totally boho chic) hanging planters that are in style right now.

First of all, I have to share a couple of shots of Melissa's studio space because nearly every nook and cranny is creative, colourful and Pinterest-worthy!

Pretty, right?  Now let's get to the craft, which was pretty easy and only took a couple of hours from start to finish.  Another bonus was that, since Home Depot supplied everything we needed, I now know where to get more supplies!

We began with drapery hoops, some copper tubing, six equal (approximately 14 foot) lengths of cotton rope, scissors to cut and (optional) fabric dye to dye the ends.

We threaded the rope through the drapery hoop, creating twelve lengths of rope.  We then proceeded to divide them into three groups of four and we made the spiral top part using one basic knot.  It actually felt like making friendship bracelets at camp and the time flew by.  We were all encouraged to use our own ideas in terms of placement of the copper tubes etc.

As you can see from the four examples, there's really no wrong way to do it!

To make the diamond ropey part that holds the planter, you can just use the same knot twice (I actually used a square knot which is the original knot once and then, instead of tying the same knot again, you do it in reverse, which makes the knot flat instead of spiral.) to join the three different sections.

It's actually very intuitive once you start.  We finished by knotting them and some of us chose to dye the loose ends at the bottom.  Here's my finished product.

Cute, right?


New Office (Desk Before & After)

Late this spring, my office moved to a new building and I was honoured and touched when my manager offered me a beautiful office with a window view.  I have always worked mainly from home but I decided that having a beautiful and private space will be a nice change.

I made myself at home quickly by bringing in some books, stationary and my favourite teas.  Still, my desk felt a little cold and sterile so I decided to bring in some colour.

I chose a theme of peach and soft pinks, blue and turquoise with gold accents.  Corey teased me when I even found office supplies that were on theme.

I made sure to have some art, some interesting shapes, objects of different heights and textures but it was still feeling a little too contrived.

I needed plants!  Plants always make a space feel homey.  I have a south facing window so I'm hoping that even with the shade, I'll be able to keep some succulents alive.  I love this grouping!

This mini vase is my favourite!

The finished product is a space I'll look forward to spending time in.  What do you think?


Two Summer Drinks

The long weekend is finally here and it's perfect weather to enjoy a cocktail outside.

Last summer, Corey would make me an Elderflower Collins every weekend.  It's refreshing and citrusy and was a lovely compliment to a hot summer evening.  Get the basic recipe here but we always substitute grapefruit juice for lemon juice with yummy results.

This summer, I've been enjoying the slightly tart Whiskey Collins.  I remember back before I was old enough to legally drink, a friend of mine snuck a water bottle filled with her father's whiskey into a party.  I turned up my nose and told her it was an old man's drink.  Obviously, my tastes have since changed and I now really enjoy whiskey but it's often overwhelming in the heat.  Enter the Whiskey Collins.  I like mine a little tart so I don't use much simple syrup and I also like it fizzy so fresh soda water is a staple.  I like the simplicity and the fact that I can order it in a bar or restaurant without explaining how it's made.  Here's the recipe.

Enjoy the long weekend!  Cheers!

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