Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best of Keep It Beautiful Designs in 2015

It's that time of year again. Can you believe it? I really like this time of year. It's a time that we all reflect on the year and think about what we want for the year to come. 2015 was filled with wonderful memories and experiences. Our middle guy started school, I became a regular visitor on Daytime Ottawa television and we decided to take the plunge and renovate the basement. Our family is happy and we're doing our thing. I did, however, continue to struggle with the loss of my friend Robyn, especially last winter, but reaching out for help was the best thing I ever did. I feel strong, myself and a happy girl.

Thank you to all of you, my readers for continuing to support this blog. Every year, because of you, it has grown to levels I had no idea was possible. Thank you for tuning into my little spot of the internet world. I hope you have felt inspired to take on projects in your home, feel good about trying new things and that when you create beautiful spaces, you feel beautiful.

December has been a zoo but relaxing at the same time. How does that work? I tend to start the holidays, really relaxed, thinking I have so much time. Then, all of sudden it's the middle of December and I'm on GO-mode! We've had a wonderful holiday of total relaxation at home and the cottage. We have ate, drank and surrounded ourselves with family and friends. Isn't that what it's all about? The kids were totally adorable on Christmas eve and morning. Our boys were in the Christmas pageant at church, playing a wiseman and angel. They melted my heart when they walked down that aisle, wearing burlap sacks on their heads and filled with Christmas wonder. Christmas morning was a classic nut house. The kids woke up before light and ran down the stairs like Santa was still in the house. I want to bottle that belief and wonder.

Overall, I've been on chill mode the last few days. So much, that I realized I haven't even show you my own holiday decor (not so good for a home design blogger ;)

So, my friends, here are a few images of our home this Christmas season.

One of my fav things about end of year, is looking back at what you loved about this year. Here is what your favourite posts were this year...

Based on my stats, the posts that got the most traction were definitely on the basement renovation. Although the renovation took longer than expected, we are thrilled with the results. It has completely changed the way we live in the house. Best money spent. It was the city that slowed us down and our contractor continued to work extremely hard through the city's demands.
Our bit of our journey was here, here, here and here. Stay tuned for the final, final reveal in 2016 :)

The best DIY was the Industrial Toilet Paper Holder

My friends, you appear to love to decorate your mantle as much as I love to decorate mine because these ones you read and read.

Decorating for Winter

Spring mantle and Summer

Food wise, Aunt Nancy's chocolate chip cookies was a hit.

Apparently you all love your gin and tonic. I don't blame you!

Travel wise, Chateau Montebello and the Wakefield Mill were highlights.

I was thrilled to be featured as a designer, in the UK.

Kids' parties, including a digger party
A few more that seemed to be your favs. Xmas baking, giving a room an up-do and Halloween decor

My friends, I wish you all the best in 2016. I hope your heart is full of warmth. Thank you for your support and looking forward to 2016 with you. From my heart to yours, I hope you enjoy a kiss on New Year's Eve and too much champagne so you dance on the table.

Keep it beautiful.


Monday, December 21, 2015

The Best Countertop Wine Refrigerator!

Hey guys! Hope you had a great weekend. Did you get all your shopping and to-do lists checked? We finished off most of our shopping, just a few small things to pick up but we haven't started to wrap. That will be the next couple of evening to-dos. We did, however, have a wee party on Saturday night. Super casual...turned into 2 am dance party. Love those nights! Sometimes last minute get togethers, turn into the best nights. Let the Christmas fun begin!

Wine. Let’s be honest, you can talk your way into drinking it anytime of the day during the holidays. Holidays = never too much wine. Okay fine, technically you can, but let’s stay behind the “intervention required” line. Having wine in the house during the holidays is key to lots of necessities but one of them is having it handy for entertaining.  Enter in the best small appliance ever. Ever. It’s actually called The Best Countertop Wine RefrigeratorYou got it. 

(I'm sorry for the glare in the photo, it's really hard to photograph with the glass reflection).
It's from Hammacher Schlemmer and we’re in love.  It holds up to 8 bottles and you can adjust the shelves so it allows you to modify if you’ve got bigger bottles. 

It doesn't make that loud refrigerator noise, has a built-in light at the touch of a button and it holds the temperature. 
My mum is a particular lover of white wine but there never is enough room in the fridge to keep a few bottles, so this is amazing. No excuse anymore for no white in the house. Technically, you’re also supposed to chill your red so you can choose the perfect temp for your bottles. Because the trays come out to wash, you can also switch up the bottles for beer.
My kids are hoping to have their own juice box shelf?! Oh my. If you have lots of family and friends coming in for the holidays then you need one of these. Survival my friends. It fits snug as a bug on your counter, or tucked under a bar.  Mr. Fix-It has already scoped out a spot for it in the new “sitting room" that was the "old playroom” (not that we’ve even started down that decorating road yet).  That’s a sometime in 2016 project. In the meantime, this beauty wine fridge will be serving up fresh cold vino all through the holidays and you should have one too! Hammacher Schlemmer has lots of great ideas for the holidays. If you are looking to hold more bottles, this one caught my eye. They also have cool toy ideas that I haven't seen in other stores. Like this one, this one and this one.

Oh, and if you're looking for a yummy drink for the holidays, try this delicious number.

A few of these, and you'll be having your own 2am dance party:)

1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
orange rind
1/2 cup water

Simmer the above ingredients for about 15 minutes. Stir frequently until it looks like cranberry jam.

In a cocktail shaker, add:
2 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp lime juice
2 oz tequila
2 tbsp of your cranberry jam

Rim the glass with a fresh lime and dust it with sugar.

Shake it up and pour it into you fav glass. Cheers!
Good luck over the next couple of days my friends. I'm hoping I can get in a couple more posts and I'm really trying to squeeze in one final giveaway for the year. Fingers crossed!

Keep it Beautiful.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fabulous Friday & Great Gift Idea from Parks Canada!

TGIF! Ready for the weekend? Lots of holiday stuff to do? Tonight we’re hitting the neighbourhood with some other families to sing Christmas carols. So lovely eh? I have great memories of neighbourhood caroling parties as a kid and think it’s a beautiful tradition to do with family and friends. Who doesn’t love opening the door to Christmas carollers? Only Scrooge. Saturday I'm hoping to knock a few things off my list and decorate the favourite part of Christmas decorating.

Here are a few things that have caught my eye this week…

AKA Design's country Christmas home tour. Beauty. 

Need elf ideas? I’ve got a few on my Pinterest board. 

An oldie but a goodie DIY. Monogram wreath 

Have a lover of the outdoors? I’ve got a great gift idea! Parks Canada Shop has an amazing casual line. I’m wearing one of their hoodies and toques. 

The quality is amazing (so soft) and it’s made in Canada. Let’s promote buying local! Here is a coupon code for 15% off - code: Keepitbeautiful. Awesome!! The t-shirts are also really well made. My boys had them on as soon as the package arrived and my middle guy has snagged this toque and says its perfect for the cottage ;) Super cute. I'm wearing a medium women's hoodie and it fits like a glove. Such a great gift to give or treat yourself. 
Wish Someone You Love a Merry Canada

Have a fab weekend everyone. Good luck on tackling your lists and make sure you save time to relax. That’s what we’re really supposed to be doing at this time of year. I have another giveaway next week, so stay tuned! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Baking & Netflix Giveaway!

All decorated? Shopped? Baked? Wrapped? Cleaned? Entertained? Cooked? WHOA!  Holy cow, I totally get why some people do their Christmas shopping in the summer! It sounds crazy when you hear of folks shopping for Christmas in July but every year at this time, I wish I had started earlier! We have, decorated…well mostly. The last thing to do is the Christmas tree and that’s the weekend plan. Saturday, we’ll get the tree, put it up and let the branches fall and Sunday it’s decorating time. One of the best parts of Christmas decorating.

Wrapped? Nope. Entertained? A little, more to come. Cooked? Sorta. Cleaned? Uh…

Baked? Yes! I’m not a huge traditional Christmas cookie baker. So during the holidays, I still make my usual chocolate chip cookies, banana bread and of course my Garra's Christmas Nuts ‘n Bolts (they truly are the best!). I’ve told you before that baking with my kids is one of my favourite things to do with them. It’s a real mommy moment for me. So, the past two weeks we’ve been timing the baking of our treat with a Christmas show on Netflix. They’ve got them all and it’s awesome.  I needed to make a few dozen cookies for my office cookie exchange so I found a few recipes online for s'mores cookies. They were pretty yum, so a couple of nights ago, I made them again with our middle guy and made a few modifications. They're really easy and taste exactly like a s'more. You can't deny them.

We cued up our fav Netflix Christmas shows, got working in the kitchen and while they baked, we watched. Here has been some of our favs!

The best part is that we aren’t waiting around for the shows to come on tv, they’re ready when we are. 
I'm a huge lover of The Mindy Project. That's what I'm watching when everyone is asleep. 

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s do a giveaway!! I’ve got 2 six month Netflix subscriptions to giveaway. Woot! Let me know in the comments what family holiday show or movie you plan to watch this month. 

Good luck my friends! I'll draw one winner on Friday and one next Wednesday!

Sorry about the small font everywhere folks, not sure what is up with my computer today!

*As you know, I'm part of the Netflix Stream Team. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I'm addicted to Netflix and I want you to share in the addiction. Its a good one *

Keep it Beautiful.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Stove Top Christmas Smell

Hey guys,

TGIF! Less than a month till Christmas. Yikes. Have you decorated? Shopped? Wrapped? We've got most of the house decorated but waiting on the tree (by the way, decorating the house is the only thing I can check off my list...nothing else. Please don't think I'm ahead of the holiday game, the game has just started for this girl). The tree is on the "next weekend list".Who doesn't love the smell of a Christmas tree? It's one of my fav scents. While I wait for the fresh Christmas tree smell to grace our living room, I thought I would create a little stove top Christmas smell. Guys, this is easy,easy, easy. The only thing I had to go out and get were cranberries...the rest was already in the fridge and cupboard. Promise...this all goes in a pot and in 5 minutes, your house will smell like the warmth and love of the holidays!

 The best part is that you can mix up the amount of ingredients. For example, I added WAY too many cloves. I thought I would need a lot to get that warm holiday smell. Yeah, use them sparingly. The first batch I made, the cloves took over the smell and gave me a wicked headache. Not exactly what I was going for. are a few proportions to start with (I found this amount of cloves was way better) and then you can play around with them depending on what scents you might like to be more pronounced.

1 cup of fresh cranberries
2 slices of oranges
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp of cloves
a few springs of greenery (I snipped off some pine from the urn outside)

All in a pot at once, turn up the heat and simmer that delicious Christmas cocktail on the stove and let the Christmas smell run through your house. Easy peasy. You could also make up little packages of these in cellophane and bring as a hostess gift. 
Fresh. Fabulous.Sophisticated. Who needs difficult on a Friday?!

Have a wonderful weekend my friends! Make those lists and check them twice.

Keep it Beautiful.
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