For my (Canadian) Scottish granny

I created this little shelf-scape as a wintery tribute to my beloved maternal grandmother, Katherine. She was fiercely proud of her Scottish MacLeod roots, and inspired in me a love of all things Celtic.


She had a little collection of ceramic houses that I used to play with as a child, so I styled this around three little white ceramic houses I bought at Crate & Barrel for (get this!) $1.93! Why were they so cheap, you ask? Well, they were already on a post-Christmas sale, plus we had a 10% registry completion card which I whipped out for the cause.

I used two books in my shelf-scape: ‘Celtic Myths and Legends’ by James MacKillop and ‘Songs of Gaelic Scotland’ by Anne Lorne Gillies (get it here). Anne’s book is a wealth of beautifully curated Gaelic songs, and a great resource if you’re interested in Scottish music.

I also included a quaich purchased for our wedding. A quaich is a Scottish drinking cup that is intended to be passed between gathered friends or family. More about quaichs here.

The lantern was an inexpensive purchase from Loblaws a few years back. I love the modern lines of it.

I should tell you that all this is on top of my grandmother’s secretary desk!



So there you have a little peek  at my heritage. Where is your family from? Are you close to your family’s roots? Leave me a comment!

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One nightstand…

DIY nightstand makeover |

Four years ago, my best friend/then-roommate and I rescued a little nightstand from the garbage room of our apartment building. I wish I’d taken some true before shots so that you could fully appreciate the pre-makeover ick-factor of this nightstand. Think duct-tape skid marks, strange pink goo, star-shaped stickers, and more scratches and dents than I care to count. It was bad. But it was free, and you can’t argue with that logic.

So it came to live in our apartment and spent the next four years harbouring some of my rarely-used serving pieces (i.e. Egg-shaped deviled egg platter which has since gone to greener Salvation Army pastures) and hidden under a rather threadbare tablecloth. In fact, when my husband and I were packing to move in November, I nearly threw it out. But Erick convinced me that it could be useful, even if we only ever used it in the storage room, so it came with us from downtown to our new house on Ile Perrot.

An uncharacteristically short time later, I decided that the moment had come to give it new life. I was inspired by pins like  this  and this so I went out to Canadian Tire and bought the  materials. This included a lot more stuff than it would if you were already an established homeowner with a basement full of DIY supplies. As a bonus, we were at Can Tire to buy paint for our bedroom makeover (more about that later), so I used some of the white glossy trim paint for the nightstand. It worked out really well, and I’m sure we’ll have some left over even after the bedroom trim is all prettied up.

The first step was to remove the door with a screwdriver. I also took off the metal tray-like top (which just sits over the rough wood top) and set it aside to be spray painted. I patched the holes left by the door hardware with some spackle (I know, I know, I should have used wood-filler, but I didn’t want to make a second trip to the hardware store).


Once the door was off, I sanded the nightstand down pretty thoroughly, so that I’d get a smooth paint finish. For this step I used our electric sander and boy, was that thing a God-send. Thank you, dad, for buying duplicates of all your tools and giving the leftovers to us!

Once I’d sanded her down I primed the whole thing with a coat of Premier primer/sealer.  After letting that dry, I painted three coats of glossy white paint on the outside and drawer, and two coats of “Blue Collar” on the inside. I was surprised it took three coats of white, but I think I was too stingy with the primer.




Then began the looonnnggg saga of spray-painting the top. A fiasco from start to finish. I’d already sanded it down the day that I sanded the stand, so it was ready to go (or so I thought). First, I tried hanging it up to spray it (covering the doors with a drop cloth of course). Well, the experienced DIY-ers (or anyone with even 10 minutes more of experience than me) is shaking their head at this point. Naturally, it dripped. So out came the sandpaper and off came the first coat of paint.


Now, you’d really think that I’d have figured out that I needed to prime it first, but the newbie in me was saying “primer is for sissies – you don’t need that stuff”.

After the second coat of white glossy spray paint, one part of the top was a grainy. I probably should have washed it down with water AND soap, as directed on the can. Again, the newbie in me was whispering “soap is for sissies – you don’t need that stuff”.

Long story short, the sandpaper supply is now severely depleted and the top is sprayed. It’s not the most even or perfect job you’ll encounter but it’s done and I just cannot put one more iota of time into that top.

Anyway, to get back to the real star of this show: the nightstand herself! I lined the inside of the drawer with some pretty paper I bought at Omer deSerres and I fitted it with a brand spanking-new oval knob, which I think just screams “look at how shiny and pretty I am!”


nightstand final

Look at her, sitting there all dressed up.

Lessons learned: you don’t need half a gallon of accent paint for a small project like this… So what will I do with the rest? Also, you should always prime and prepare things properly. Or at least until you’ve screwed up enough times to know what will or (in my case) won’t work. Lastly, when you live in Canada, spray painting should really be done in the warmer, more air-circulatory months.

Budget Breakdown: 
Nightstand FREE (saved from the garbage)
Paint (Blue Collar by CIL) $25.00 (should have bought a trial pot)
Paint (White semi-gloss) N/A (purchased for our bedroom update)
Drawer Pull (Home Depot) $5.00
Drawer Lining Paper (Omer de Serres) $5.15
White spray paint (Rust-o-Leum) $8.00 
Total $43.15 
What do you think of my first DIY furniture upgrade? Please leave a comment to let me know!

A ‘Downton Abbey’-inspired arrangement

Downton Abbey-inspired DIY floral arrangement


I created this Downton Abbery-inspired flower arrangement for our Valentine’s Day dinner. It was my first time creating an asymetrical cascade arrangement, and I’m pretty sure that the Dowager Countess would approve! If you don’t know who that is, then you need to get on the Downton train, stat.

I purchased the flowers at Provigo (aka Loblaws) for about $15.00. I love me some inexpensive blooms! Here’s a run-down of what I used:

4 lavender-ish/pink chrysanthemums

1 “market bunch” (about 5 stems) of white spray roses (probably the ‘Majolica’ varietal)*

4 stems of deep pink stock

(I actually purchased some pink limonium too, but didn’t realize the store that the centre of the bunch was rotting (ew!), so I had to throw them away. Boooo! Good think the arrangement turned out well without it.)

*Because one stem of spray roses has multiple blooms on it, don’t be deceived by the seemingly low stem count.

I bought the greenery at a local florist because Provigo doesn’t sell greenery by the stem. The greenery cost almost as much as the flowers (thank you, florist prices). I used:

3 stems Italian ruscus (my all-time favourite greenery for its cascading, delicate stems)

5 stems salal leaf (a beautiful  green leaf that fills out an arrangement nicely)

To create an arrangement like this, you can follow these steps:

  1. Choose your vase and cut your oasis flower foam to be slightly smaller, but at least 2-3 inches taller than the vessel. Leave space around the foam if you want to hide it with something like rocks or glass beads.
  2. Hydrate your oasis and put it in a ziplock bag in the vessel (don’t zip the bag!). Pour in your rocks/beads around the outside of the bag, to hide the oasis. Obviously, if you use an opaque vase, you don’t need to hide it!photo-7
  3. Insert 4 stems of salal leaf at North-South-East-West of your foam. Insert them upward at about a 45 degree angle.
  4. Insert another four stems of greenery (slightly shorter than the N-S-E-W stems) in between the first 4.
  5. Insert 2-3 shorter stems of greenery in the top-middle of your arrangement.
  6. Begin placing your line flowers (the stock, in my case) into your arrangement. Try to create a triangle shape with these.
  7. Add some focal flowers (the mums in this arrangement).
  8. Add smaller filler flowers in between line, focal, and greenery.
  9. Add a few more stems of greenery if you wish.
  10. Sit back and marvel at your creation!photo-9