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Friday, December 30, 2016

Yummy White Wine Sangria


Who's playing host/ess this NYE? I think planning a New Years party can sometimes feel a little hectic since you go from celebrating Christmas to ringing in the new year a week later, so finding simple ideas you can pull together without much time and effort helps (did you see this post from earlier this week on how to plan the perfect quick & simple NYE party?). That doesn't mean it has to look thrown together, but no- one needs to know you pulled off your new years bash in record time. And that's where a bevvy like this comes in: dress up your favourite wine and whip up a batch of sangria for your guests to sip before you break out the bubbly. It's tasty, takes less than 5 minutes to make, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Just think of it as grown- up punch- yum.

Ingredients
- 1 bottle of white wine of your choice (I used this Riesling from Evolve Cellars)
- 1 cup grapefruit juice
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 can of lemon- lime pop or sparkling water
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 lime, sliced
- 1 cup fresh cranberries (or use another berry if you prefer) 
-optional: 1- 2 tbsp white sugar to taste

Directions

1. In a pitcher mix the wine, pop, and juices together. If you want it a little sweeter, stir in sugar until dissolved & you've reached the sweetness you prefer.

2. Add in the slices of fresh orange and lime, followed by the cranberries on top. Allow to sit for an hour or two (or longer if you have time) for a full- flavoured sangria. Serve chilled or with ice.

3. Enjoy!




Want to see more great party ideas for NYE?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Glitter Champagne Flutes DIY


If you saw Monday's NYE party post, you would have seen these pretty gold glitter champagne flutes. This is a quick and easy way to dress up your glassware and is the perfect finishing touch for that signature cocktail you always serve. If you're hosting a NYE party this year, this is a simple DIY that can be done the day/ night  before, with the supplies easy to find. And if you don't want to add glitter to your favourite glasses, just pick up some inexpensive ones from the grocery (or dollar) store. Now all you have to do is decide what to serve in them. ;) Cheers to the new year!

Supplies:
- glasses
- dishwasher- proof Mod Podge
- glitter
- rubbing alcohol & cotton swab
- sponge brush 


Directions:

1. Start by cleaning the glasses in hot soapy water. Once dry, flip them over and wipe the bottom with rubbing alcohol.



2. Use a sponge brush to coat the bottom of the glass with dishwasher- proof Mod Podge. Try to get it as even as possible.


3. Tap your glitter over the surface until evenly coated. Tap to remove any excess.


4. Optional: If you want a little bit of extra coverage, press the base of the glass into a pile of glitter. Tap to remove any extra loose glitter.


5. Remove excess glitter from the rim of the base by spinning the glass in one hand and using your  other index finger to clean the edge all the way around. 


6. Allow the Mod Podge to dry based on the instructions on the bottle.


7. When dry, follow up with a second coat of Mod Podge to seal the glitter & allow to dry.


8. When dry, whip up your favourite batch of cocktails or pop open a bottle of bubbly and enjoy! To clean, you can simply put the glasses in the dishwasher, or wash by hand with warm soapy water. Don't leave submerged in water as this may damage the seal. 






Want to see more great party ideas for NYE?

NYE Photo credit: Ava to Zoe & Paper + Parties

Monday, December 26, 2016

Hello 2017: NYE Party Ideas



HOW are we at the end of another year??? 2016 seemed to fly by and now that Christmas is behind us, it's time to start thinking about NYE & welcoming in the new year. I'm not sure if you'll agree, but I feel like we get so caught up with Christmas (and rightfully so, it's a special time of year), we don't think about new years until after the turkey has been packed up in Tupperware and we recover from our eggnog hangovers. In the space of a week you have to pull something together, and whether you like to go all- out or keep it simple, there isn't much time to get things organized. 

I got together with some party partners in crime to share ideas to help you pull off the perfect NYE celebration, complete with some simple food & cocktail ideas that will have your guests excited to ring in the new year without leaving you stressed out with the prep. Just pick up some fun decor like balloons, a banner, maybe some photo props and you've got it made. Full details below along with links to the food & cocktail recipes we included.

While planning this, my friend Janette from Ave to Zoe mentioned she had a great appie idea: ravioli pops topped with cherry tomatoes. Done! I think with parties like this finger food is a great idea, and there are plenty of quick/ simple recipes plus pre- made options if you don't want to spend the whole day in the kitchen before the party. I also picked up some spring rolls from the grocery store for another easy savoury option, plating them with cocktail skewars for easy party noshing. You just have to pop in the oven for a few minutes and they're party- ready (if only our outfits were that easy to organize! ;) ).

























For drinks we whipped up a tasty white wine sangria and poured pretty pink bubbly from Evolve Cellars into DIY gold glitter flutes (sangria recipe & how- to to come later this week!). As a fun finishing touch we popped in gold star swizzle sticks and topped the bubbly with some cotton candy from Cloud Nine (tip: if you do this, try to place the cotton candy on the rim of the glasses instead of touching the champagne, as it'll dissolve really quick once it touches liquid). As another pretty detail we tied some little black tassels to the wine glasses- if you get different colours this would be a great idea so guests know which glass is theirs.

For sweet treats- because you can't ring in the new year without treating yourself!- we had jars of cotton candy in a variety of flavours and mini doughnuts from Cloud Nine, whiskey flavoured gourmet marshmallows from Marsh&Mallow, and champagne cupcakes baked & decorated by Janette (link for that recipe coming soon!). We topped them with pretty gold '2017' & 'cheers' toppers from Paper + Parties and arranged them on a tray for a pretty display. 

And what party would be complete without decorations? Michelle from Paper + Parties had all the details covered, from the 'It's About To Go Down' banner, new years party balloons, and finishing touches like the swizzle sticks and cupcake toppers. She also makes a variety of photo props, which are perfect to have fun with as you count down to midnight. I had these left over from my ugly sweater Christmas party and they're perfect for pretty much any occasion when you want to goof around. 

Ringing in the new year is supposed to be fun, and I hope these ideas help you plan the perfect NYE party without the stress/ panic that often goes with the territory. Everything we included is quick and simple to track down, whether for NYE or any other special occasion/ party throughout the year. I hope everyone enjoys the last few days of 2016 and that 2017 is an AMAZING year for you!


See the recipe for the ravioli bites & champagne cupcakes over on Ava to Zoe:
Ravioli Pops- click here
Champagne Cupcakes- click here

Paper + Parties
Facebook: Paper and Parties Co
Instagram: @paperandparties

Cloud Nine
Facebook: Cloud Nine Cotton Candy Co.
Instagram: @cloudninecottoncandy
Twitter: @CloudNineCC

Marsh&Mallow
Facebook: Marsh&Mallow
Instagram: @marshandmallow

Evolve Cellars
Facebook: Evolve Cellars
Instagram: @evolvecellars

Photo credit: Ava to ZoePaper + Parties

Thursday, December 22, 2016

My New (Old) Home Sweet Home {with Piya from THH}


In the world of Pinterest and Instagram, who doesn't catch themselves getting major envy at some of the beautiful, perfect, magazine- worthy homes they see? It makes for nice eye candy while you scroll through, but it can also leave you feeling a little bummed about your own home:  'My house totally doesn't look like that'. We don't all have big budgets to tackle that reno or a limitless credit limit to splurge on all the things to make our homes picture- perfect. And let's face it, some days it's worth a celebration that the house doesn't look like a bomb zone with kids running around as you attempt various chores/ cleaning, etc ('let them make one mess while I clean another' sound about right? ;) ). And having an older home that comes with a few quirks can definitely make the process more interesting and challenging. My friend Piya who owns The Handpicked Home and I both have vintage 70's homes that came with a lot of personality. Over the past year we've worked together on a few projects, but comparing notes on updating an older home has been something we've laughed and joked over as we discover bumps in the roads of our various projects. 

I've loved being a part of and watching Piya and Pav transform the home they bought a year ago and we wanted to share about the process along with some tips for anyone who's got an older home, or one that just needs a little TLC. It can be exciting to renovate/ redecorate, but it can also sometimes feel overwhelming when you're trying to figure out what to do. So over the next couple of months we'll be sharing different tips and ideas from Piya's experiences that you can hopefully use in your own home that are simple, don't break the budget, and help make your house your home in all it's imperfect glory (and let's face it, probably have a laugh over as well, because what home project ever goes as planned?). Piya and I chatted about a variety of things to do with moving and home renos and she's sharing about her experience so far below along with some before and after photos to show the progress they've made. It's really amazing to see the difference some paint and creativity can make to a space and Piya's home is a great example of what you can accomplish, regardless of how quirky your home might be

What was your previous home like compared to your current one? How did you want to make this home the same/ different in terms of style and personal touches?
Our condo in Morgan Crossing was a show suite; it had never been lived in. It was a two-level, two-bedroom, two-bath home with a beautiful, large kitchen that included a gas range and quartz counters. Our house needed a lot of TLC when we purchased it, but Pav knew that I could work my magic to design a space we could both love. The condo was easy to make sparkle because it was already shiny and new! This house was going to be a little more challenging, but I love a challenge. We went from always entertaining in the open-concept kitchen and family room in the condo, to focusing on the seating area in our living room of the new (old) house as an alternative. It’s not worse, it’s just different. 

I knew I had the opportunity to have even more fun with our house, like adding wall decals, which I had always wanted to do in our condo but never got a chance to. So even though we no longer had our sparkly dream kitchen, we had something else; something with a lot more character and charm and history that we could make our own. A few months after we had moved in and made some changes, the daughter of the previous owners came by to pick up some mail and when she walked in the door, she was blown away by how great it looked. What a difference a fresh coat (or three!) of paint can make!  
















What was the timeline from finding the house, moving in, and completing the facelifts?
My husband was on the hunt for a house, right when the market was picking up but still before the real craze of bidding wars and no time for inspections. We were in a condo in South Surrey, beautiful and new; a gorgeous space. Pav (my husband) knew, though, that this was the time to try and purchase a house with a decent size lot when we still could. As White Rock and South Surrey were at the top of our wish list, we started looking there first, but worked our way back to my old ‘hood in Cloverdale where we found her. Older, and in need of some serious love, we made our offer and it was accepted. 

Because it was at the beginning of December 2015, we waited to get through the busy Christmas season at the shop, so we rented it out and stayed in our condo until January, when we put it up for sale and accepted an offer fairly quickly. We had until March to move out, which gave us a lot of time to pack and say our farewells (even though it’s always left until the last minute anyway) and we moved into our new (old) house in April. We began painting right away: every single wall and our brick fireplace, and replacing all the light fixtures. The bathrooms upstairs were not holding up, so we decided to renovate those sooner than expected in June, and that took about a month to complete. 

Decorating is always an ongoing adventure, especially with a space that’s almost double the size that our condo was. But I wasn’t really finished enough to be truly happy with it until probably September. Things always take longer than expected; shop life keeps us really busy, so trying to squeeze in time for the house can be a struggle – emotionally, too, since I do take pride in making our space less house and more home. There were plenty of frustrations along the way, but it’s looking so cozy and sweet now that it was all worth it in the end! 











What drew you to this house?
Most certainly the lot size. Ultimately, our plan will be to tear down the house and rebuild our dream home (yes, we will be those people on the block!), which might also be the only way we are able to afford the space we really want. I am more about quality over quantity, so the rebuild will be about the fixtures and special features over the high square footage. Who needs extra, bare rooms to keep clean? Not us! 

What also drew us to this house is the unique layout. It’s a ‘70s three-level-split home but not like any others out there we've seen. It boasts a large foyer and dreamy living room, with a dining space along with a bar area we created. An original, three-sided brick gas fireplace keeps us cozy, and the master bedroom even has a walk-in closet! Not the largest walk-in around, but I’ll take what I can get!

What were your priorities/ on your 'must change this' list when it came time to renovate? 
The bathrooms were high on the list; painting was probably first since it seemed easiest at the time (ha ha ha – Pav will have a laugh over thinking it would be easy) as well as changing the lights. The house also needed updated blinds – we went way too long without real window coverings, but did put curtains up in the meantime for at least a little bit of privacy. Meanwhile, I was finding some additional furniture for the space and planning our feature dining room wall. 

We also decided what we wouldn’t be focusing on, which was the kitchen. We figured since we were planning on tearing down eventually anyway, and it already came with stainless steel appliances, there was no use in increasing the value of a room that wouldn’t exist in five years. Five years – that’s the plan: live in the current space for as long as we can and hopefully not longer than five years. We tend to work quicker than we think, so we will see how things eventually turn out!








What do you love/ hate about renovating an older home?
The hate is for the delays; the things that go wrong; the new things that need attention when you’re still working on the “old” things. The love is the satisfaction from seeing your work complete; the joy of accomplishing projects on your own home; the chaos of working on it with your husband – and enjoying the space together each night after a long day at work.  

How is this home different from your previous place?
It’s old! It’s also twice the size. There have been a lot of additions made to the house over the last forty years and not all of them were done well. There have definitely been some challenges, but we also saw a lot of potential. It’s unique and homey, and the yard is a huge plus!

How did you make changes on a budget?
We took on a lot all at once, so we knew we had to stick to a strict budget for updating the house. Pav took on the painting (as much as he doesn’t love it) with his parents helping out, to save some money on labor. We did have a team helping us manage the bathrooms, but we were able to use the same group that is currently working on the new build of Pav’s parents’ house and piggyback off of a larger project, so that helped us save some costs as well. Some of our feature light fixtures were a splurge (like the chandelier above the dining table), but because we bought several for different rooms, we were actually able to negotiate a better price which helped us save at least $200 – that was a bonus. 

The hardest part is working one month at a time and not being able to buy everything all at once – isn’t that always the case? Pav had to remind me that we needed to wait some purchases out, like bringing sweet new pieces home from the shop (always a struggle) or our dream sofa. Good things come to those who wait – and, for now, we are enjoying the space and the fact that we can take a break from maintenance work. 










How do you make your house 'yours’? 
Putting a room together doesn’t come easy for everyone; there are some things to remember about the placement of chairs in a living room or how rugs can make a space warm and cohesive. But, for the most part, do what you love. Does that art make you feel good? Throw it on the wall. Not sure if the cushion matches but you love it so much? Grab it for your couch! Magazines are meant to serve as inspiration, not rule books. You don’t have to worry about making your place “magazine-perfect” so long as it’s perfect to you, and your quirkiness and love will show through to whomever steps through your home. 

Can you put a dream rug over existing carpet (which, by the way, you can!)? Do it, if it feels right to you! You’ll make it perfect with your own charm and personalization. I say, don’t be afraid to make some design moves. And, honestly, a fresh coat of paint can make anything, anything, look great. Got a China cabinet or headboard that’s dated but you can’t part with? There’s nothing a little coat of FAT paint (a local chalk style paint company) can’t fix! You’ll be hooked and want to paint everything you own! 







What are the quirks and fun thing about decorating an older home vs a new, all- white house? Do you love it, hate it? Or both?
We got lucky with our place; it came with all these rooms that we could do whatever we wanted with. We can turn the downstairs into the man-cave (or Pav-cave!); we can have a bar area for extra seating when we entertain for dinner; we get to have an extra-large foyer that we can make pretty for guests as they first enter our home. It’s not new, it’s not white and pristine – it’s old and a little rickety (in a good way! There can be a good way, right?) and charming as hell! 

It was full of wood paneling that we painted white (for our own makeshift wainscoting) but also included cedar ceilings which add something unique. There is a tonne of space (our condo furniture basically fits into one room- our family room) that we get to work with, and also a lovely yard and deck that we can eventually redesign as well. I do miss our condo sometimes, I just loved it so much. But now we get to have an adorable new space to call home, and even though it came with some struggles, we know we made the right decision (especially Pav– I don’t think I could get him to pay another strata fee again!).

What's next on the list?
Adding to the décor! We also still (still!) have some unpacking to do, so we will complete this hopefully early in the New Year. We are borrowing my Mum & Dad’s couches right now in our living room; we already have our dream sofa picked out so hopefully we can pick that up in January as well. I plan to move the current furniture downstairs, and grab the new sofa along with new coffee/side tables to update the living room to complete it. Working in the environment I do, it’s definitely hard to not bring one of everything home with me every day!

The value of our home is in the lot. With the eventual plan to tear down and rebuild, we focused our attention on cosmetic changes like new carpet for upstairs, paint, light fixtures, blinds, heat vent covers, and, soon, little things like new door handles upstairs for all the rooms and matching light and plug covers. The bathrooms were the biggest job, and while we tried to keep the renovation budgeted, we knew we could spend a little more on things we could keep for the rebuild, like good toilets and shower fixtures, and spent a little less on the tiles, which we can't later salvage. The soaker tub was new but we found it on Craig’s List (hooray!) and both vanities were from IKEA – we saved on these and I love them! I would not hesitate to keep them for some spare bathrooms in our future new home. If we do decide to update our kitchen next year, we will likely limit it to painting the backsplash and counter tops, just to make them more liveable (and likeable!). I found some pretty great tutorials on Pinterest that would make for a fun project! 

What tips do you have for anyone looking to redecorate/ renovate/ do a facelift?
Get a lot of quotes! Talk to as many people as you can about your project list, especially people you already know– there are always great recommendations to be made through word-of-mouth. If it weren’t for the team that was already working on Pav’s parents’ new place, we would’ve worked with the same contractor that built our shop. That was a dream-team! 

Also, try out some new DIY ideas (like painting your backsplash in the kitchen!), especially if you're in a situation like us where you will eventually tear down anyway. They will probably turn out great, and you can spread the word and help friends and family with their DIY inspiration! 

Finally, take your time. I had to come to terms with the fact that not everything could be updated at once, and that’s okay – you will learn to love the space and your guests will likely not even notice all the details that you know are still missing. Enjoy the adventure, whether you are doing it with a partner or experiencing it on your own. In the end, it’ll be the satisfaction of your own hard work and dedication that’ll make you smile everyday.  

Piya and I have more home- inspo coming to you in the new year! Stay tuned for more in our home sweet home series soon!



The Handpicked Home
1406 Johnson Road, White Rock, BC

Twitter: @handpicked_home

Photo credit ('after' photos): Akane Kondo Photography

Instagram: @akanekondophoto