Penguins in Africa?!

Friday Dec 30 – Victoria and Alfred Waterfront was the destination for the morning, and with the sun shining off we went. The weather has been so spectacular. Sunshine all day with a typical Cape Town breeze which keeps you nice and cool. The V&A is right in the harbor basin and is a delightful collection of buildings with a myriad of shopping, restaurants and entertainment of every variety. We strolled through the craft market stalls, and took in the sights and sounds of street performers. Mr. T. even spotted his first Rhino :)

The Wheel of Excellence was next up, have no idea why they call it that but anyhoo..

It gave an amazing view of the waterfront, Table mountain and the World Cup Soccer Stadium. The cruise ship in port was The World. An independent ship that offers cabins for “purchase” and fortunate souls live aboard and travel the world. What a terrible way to spend one’s life?!?!

I need to introduce a little travelling companion that is tagging along. Cedric the Travelling Gnome is tucked in the camera bag and every so often likes to pop out and have a photo op.

So here is Cedric with Table Mountain. And here he is with the Wheel of Excellence. He thought the ride was excellent!

By the afternoon it was getting VERY warm, so we hopped in the car and travelled to Simonstown. About an hour south along Table Bay, where we found the most amazing beach. Boulder Beach is littered with massive boulders and in amongst the boulders a colony of about 3000 African Penguins have made themselves at home. For the admission price of a latte we enjoyed a swim in the most stunning setting with penguins!! They are the most adorable creatures. Waddling around on beach in amongst everyone. It’s all too cute. There was a lot of snoozing going on in the African sun.  
Obviously the day of belly surfing the waves had taken it out of them!

As we were leaving this goose came honking down the beach making the biggest racket as she paraded her flock of little ones past everyone! 

 

 

 

 

Inspecting the toes :)

 

 

 

 

On the way home we took a different route and ended up seeing this amazing Vista of Table bay.

Oh I love Cape Town….

Happy New Year Friends!!

 

 

Touch down in Cape Town ~ Let the adventure begin!


We have arrived in Cape Town! Two days into our trip we have sorted ourselves with an internet connection and settled into the swing of things, including pulling out into traffic on the left hand side of the street. Mr. T. has a near heart attack every time!

Well, let’s just say 20 hours of flight time is madness. Throw in a 5 hour lay-over in London and you have no idea whether you are coming or going. When you get off the on the other side your body is not sure what meal it’s supposed to be eating, all you know is the clock says it’s a meal time…so you eat!

I  must say the flight with British Airways was great, and I’m not sure if I was delirious from flying for so long but I do remember saying that the food was pretty good!

We landed at 6:30 am Thursday morning and without missing a beat my Aunt Caroline whisked us off to the farm “cause we have to deal with a horse drama”, oh boy – welcome to Africa! 

My cousins’ horses got into a fight and got caught in the barbed wire fence – drama in the biggest way. So there Mr. T. and I are, looking like we’ve been dragged through a bush backwards after 30 hrs of travelling, about 5 hrs of sleep between the two of us, assisting with a horse emergency surgery.This was the “surgery room”.The little guy standing next to me was holding all the surgical tools on the tray, acting as the table. This is Africa! 

Oh did I forget to mention Mr. T. doesn’t “do” horses…thinks they have it in for him! He was standing way back with the camera!

After all the horses had all their appendages back in place, Caroline took us off on a trip around the wine region.

Wine tasting and sightseeing with our own tour guide for the day was the best way to get our bearings. We went to the world renowned town of Stellenbosch.

This historic town is home to some of the oldest wineries in the country and the scenery is nothing short of stunning. The Cape Dutch architecture is very distinctive with grand facade’s and thatch roofs.

I just love how all the white buildings look so striking against the blue sky.

Friday morning we headed out to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Watch for the next installment featuring swimming with penguins and the Victoria and Alfred waterfront.

Cheers!

Lift off ~ An adventure awaits

Mr.T and I are Africa bound! That’s right, we are headed to South Africa for a month!

So just to give you the heads up there will be more “lifestyle” than “design” for the next month in the posts as I bring you highlights from our travels.

This truly is a dream come true for me. Ever since moving to Canada 15 years ago with my family I dreamed of the day I would one day take my future husband back to the country where I was raised.Well the day has come and in a few hours Mr. T. and I will be starting the looong journey to Cape Town. The stunning city that I proudly say I was born in (at the Wynberg Military Hospital no less, thanks to my dad being an air force pilot – a story for another day) and a place that so mimics the lifestyle of the place I now call home ~ Vancouver. The ocean, the mountains, the vibrant culture. I can’t wait.This trip will take us all around the country. Experiencing all that South Africa has to offer. And you dear friends are along for the ride! I’m hoping to share lots of pics and stories to have you share in the adventure.

They say that when you live in a place you don’t often do the things that are right at your door step. In all my years living in South Africa I never went on a true “safari” and I am excited to share this “first” with Mr. T.

So be sure to stop in often and journey with us to the amazing country that is South Africa!

Leaving one’s life for a month takes a bit of planning and logistics, hopefully I’ve remembered everything that needs taking care of! The plants will probably thrive under my mother-in-laws care and attention – I’ve neglected them these last couple months. It’s great knowing the house is taken care of with them here.

Right now I have to double check my packing list and be sure I have the sunscreen…oh did I forget to mention it’s summer there?! That’s right we are dodging winter in Vancouver…the snow can fly anytime now ~ we are outta here!

Toetsiens (Till we see you again!)

 

 

 

Christmas Banquet ~ A Gala evening at the Westin Bayshore

Phew…what a busy month, but it has been amazing to be part of so many different projects. From decorating a church sanctuary, to building a parade float and to round it all out a Christmas Banquet this last weekend at the Westin Bayshore.

Every year our church puts on a spectacular gala banquet at the Westin Bayshore, it’s a wonderful night to get dressed up and reflect on the last year.

The trick with decorating for this banquet is that the centre pieces need to be: a) quick and easy to put together due to limited set up time, and b) cost effective for 70 plus tables. I wanted to go with something simple that spoke to a traditional Christmas. So using the traditional elements: pine sprigs, cranberries & pine cones; along with some non-traditional elements: mirrors and wine glasses we came up with this:

So easy to put together and VERY cost effective! The trick was having everything prepped ahead of time.

The pine cones were gathered from a generous pine tree outside my Mother in Law’s office, and given a spritz of gold paint – I love how gold spray paint makes anything look fancy!

Then I took the trusty glue gun and squirted generous amounts at the base of three cones to make the toppers.

Cut about 250 pieces of artificial pine sprigs while watching some TV one night.

On set up day it was a snap to put together.

Lay the mirror down. Pop three cranberries,a sprig of pine and a mini pine cone in each glass.

Turn them over and put the trio of gold pine cones on top.

Light the candles.

Done!

 

 

Out in the lobby I hung this gold frame as a “photo op” spot for groups of friends to get a picture together. This is Mr. T. and I testing it out.

 

It was a fabulous evening.

We were very blessed to have Juno award winner Greg Sczebel join us to play some of his music for us, as well as lead us in some great Christmas carols.

Check him out on iTunes. This guy is going places, I’m talking sharing the charts with the likes of Micheal Buble and Justin Bieber!

 

 

 

So with this event behind me I can take a breather for a few days until after Christmas.       I have one more decor installation to do and then it’s the start of a very exciting adventure!  I will tell you more in the next couple days ~ stay tuned!!

Merry Christmas my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home ~ The Kitchen

Ahhh…the kitchen. Often referred to as the heart of the house. The room everyone gravitates to when good friends are gathered. I love cooking and entertaining and our kitchen is well used. However, the kitchen was the last room to receive any love and attention in the way of painting and updating.

**Confession: this post is actually the reason I decided to share this little Home Sweet Home “series” of posts on turning a once bachelor pad into a home for a married couple**

The light yellow didn’t do much for us and it definitely did not go with the rest of our warm tones in the living room and dining room.

Well, we have lived with it in this state for a while and have been trying to decide how much we want to renovate before we move on to a bigger place. Back in October I had the privilege of being invited to a Design Bloggers party at the Loden Hotel sponsored by IKEA.

In our very swanky gift bags we got a gift certificate for a free can of Para paint! Wow! Do you know how much this stuff goes for ?! $60.00! But let me tell you it’s incredible paint, went on like a dream!                               Well, free is definitely in the budget so let’s paint I said!

Armed with our gift certificate Mr.T. and I trundled off to Atmosphere Design Centre in Chilliwack. Wow, what a great store. They had everything you could ever want to inspire some creative home design. Before we knew it we were redesigning the whole kitchen, not just painting it! You have to understand that getting Mr. T. excited about this kind of thing is rare, so that says alot for the folks at Atmosphere! What great customer service!

The previous owners thought this wonderful wallpaper banner would inspire culinary delights….hmmm…it made me want to splatter spaghetti sauce up there to cover it up!

I want to share a wonderful wall paper tip with you. Instead of buying a whole bottle of wallpaper remover or other such chemical, simply mix some fabric softener in a spray bottle with some warm water. Spray on the paper, leave it for a few minutes and pull the top layer off. To get the glue off nicely, spray again and use an ice-scraper. Yep, that’s right, the car ice-scraper. It’s at the perfect angle and doesn’t damage the walls!

This shows you the stark contrast in colours! Yes we are going for bold people! No more country-fied borders and pale yellow!!

So here it is! Our new red kitchen! We were a little concerned at first about the red making it look too dark, but the white cupboards really help to brighten it and keep it contemporary. Our kitchen is a semi-open concept. This large cut out wall opens up to the dining room and living area. Which is why the colours really needed to work together.

 I love how the warm taupe in the dining room goes so well with the red.

 

My canisters that I love so much finally look like they belong!

A gift from my 21st birthday I have longed for a kitchen that they would look good in! Their bold colours hold their own against the red now.

 

 

 

 

Now that we have painted, it’s glaringly obvious that the kitchen needs a little more love. We have grand plans for the flooring as well as the track lighting….soon we will tackle those little items. We got some great inspiration from the folks at the Atmosphere Design Centre.

I know it’s a trek for most, but it’s sure worth the drive!

Well friends, I hope this inspires you to trust your gut when choosing bold colours, it did take some convincing Mr. T. to get him on board with the red, but he loves it. I’m so glad we went with it!

Stay tuned for a little post on what we did with the bathrooms. They were pink…they needed some love…need I say more!

Happy painting friends!

 

 

 

 

Home sweet home ~ The living room

Recently I have done a lot of posts on everything BUT home decor or interior design, so how about a few? It’ll be a short series of posts on turning a once bachelor pad into our home sweet home!

When Mr. T. and I got married a little over a year ago, we thought the most logical and practical decision was for us to co-habitate in his apartment after we got married. He owned it, and I was renting. Makes sense.

**Insert lamenting, pleading, kicking and screaming from this city girl who was being dragged to the outlying suburbs of one of the coolest cities on the west coast!**             Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but I will say it has been an adjustment to living more than an hour away from all that I had grown accustomed to: downtown shopping, coffee dates with friends on Robson, a mall that offers a great selection of shoe stores. Oh and the beach…this girl loves the beach!

Regardless, I was willing to trade my love of city life for the love of my life and to the suburbs I did follow him.

A few years ago when Mr. T. bought the apartment he recruited the help of his interior design savvy sister, who by the way is now a fancy-shmancie Interior Designer for this International Design company – boy did I marry into the right family! Yeah, she gets to design 100,000 square foot HOMES, and no it’s not a typo – there are meant to be that many zeros!

So when I arrived on the scene, the living room was painted in a warm and inviting taupe.

Rich brown leather sofas and dark wooden accessories were accented with these lovely pillows for a splash of colour.

It was the perfect bachelor pad. Well then the bachelor got married. To me. I come with a lot of ideas. And Stuff – although I’m working on that part!

Well it didn’t take long for me to start leaving my mark on the place. One of our first dates took us to English Bay in Vancouver where I took these photos:

Mr. T.’s dad owns a print shop where we got them blown up and they really add to the rustic, warm feel of our living room. The best part is they are special to us. I really believe that the things in your house should remind you of fond memories, a special person or be other wise meaningful to you and yours.

Other than a small corner of the mantle, there is very little room for me to create a mantle-scape… is that a word? Oh well, it is now. The reason you ask? The massive, oversized, gargantuan flat screen TV that Mr. T. bought in his bachelor days. I have lamented about this problem before.

So save for these two paintings that are close to my heart

and a few other small accessories like these cute giraffes who have their own grazing corner

the Living room has gone mostly unchanged since Mrs. T. came to reside here. The other rooms of the house – not so much!

Stay tuned for a room by room account of how we have turned this once bachelor pad into home sweet home.

Happy Decorating Friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Clause Parade ~ Bringing back the Nativity Scene!

Who doesn’t love a parade? What is it about crazy decked out floats, people in costumes and music that make us want to go stand on a cold street corner and cheer on the festivities? I have no idea but I love it! And as it turns out so do about 300,000 other Vancouverites!

Sunday marked the 8th annual Rogers Santa Clause Parade, and for the second year running Coastal Church had a float entered.

I was honoured to head up the team to build and decorate the float.

I must say that we had the best decorating team that pulled off an amazing float in a record 5 hours!!

The theme this year is Love Came Down. We decided to get back to the meaning of Christmas with a Nativity Scene, complete with life size camel. We decided his name was Humphrey. He definitely got a lot of attention!

The wise men were celebrities with many people asking for a picture! Isn’t this such a contrasting scene?! A camel and wise men with high rises in the background! I love it!

According to the Vancouver Sun, Joseph even got a shout out from the crowd!

We had rockin’ Christmas carols to pump up the crowd and as the float passed Coastal Church the crowd went wild! With applause and cheering we really felt the church family behind us as we traveled down Georgia St.

This was such a fun project to be part of, I especially love the fact that we had the opportunity to share the true message of the season with Vancouver!

What a great family activity to get into the Christmas spirit. What Christmas traditions do you love to do with your family?

Merry Christmas Friends!

 

 

 

Bold and Bright for a Big Birthday

A few weeks ago I ran into a past student of mine and while catching up she asked for some info on One More Slice Cake Designs. A couple days later she was emailing me looking for a crazy 50th birthday cake for her mom, Karen.

She wanted neon orange, accented with purple. “As bright as you can get it” is what she said to me! Also, her mom LOVES polka dots and stripes. So I grabbed a few inspirational pictures and sent them over. Now this colour combo just so happens to be one of the hottest colour combo’s in the wedding world right now so there were some really great ideas out there like these:

Well, she came back to me and said her mom likes things wild and crazy, so don’t worry about have things so uniform and even. She gave me creative freedom and I went to town decorating.

This is what we came up with!

Isn’t it just so fun? I love the combo of Polka dots and stripes!

It was a french vanilla cake with vanilla butter cream icing. I coloured the butter cream orange for the bottom tier and purple for the top tier for an added surprise when they cut the cake!

I hope you had a fabulous day Karen, here’s to another 50!

A heads up for next week: I have a huge Christmas project to share with you next week! Stay tuned!

Astrid

Decorating for Christmas ~ A modern twist to Traditional

Last week I promised to share the results of the Christmas decorating I was doing at Coastal Church. Decorating for Christmas always gets me excited for the festive season. I love it all: the lights, the trees, the snowy walks, hot apple cider, singing carols. So fun.

As I mentioned, this year we are pulling on the richness of the traditional Red, Gold and Green colours of Christmas, but wanted to have a modern up to date approach to the design.

Red, Gold and Green can be so over done and become tiresome so I really wanted a fresh approach that would be unexpected. These bold stars were just the trick.

The simple line of poinsettias with garland and lights deliver a wow. I love how easily they say “It’s Christmas time!”.

A grouping of glass vases and candles on each end creates a homey warm glow that adds to the atmosphere.

The garlands were over stuffed with Sinamay – the red and gold netting in the garland. A decorators ulitimate friend!! If you have never used this stuff – you should! Don’t be afraid to try it, it’s easy to use and gives amazing results without that much fussing. FYI – If you haven’t noticed by now, I don’t like designs that require a lot of fussing to make them look good! I’m all about high impact with quick and simple ideas!

Here’s a quick run down of how easy Sinamay is to use:

  • Starting on one end of your garland (or fake tree) take the and of the roll of Sinamay and bunch it together.
  • Grab an unsuspecting branch and wrap it around the end of the Sinamay.
  • Gather the Sinamay about 10 inches from the last branch, and grab another branch tucking the Sinamay under the branch.
  • Now fluff out the “bow” in between you have just created.
  • Continue winding the netting all through your tree and garland, fluffing out the netting to create a full extravagant garland.

The ornaments for the garlands were all old ornaments that had been slated for the rubbish pile as all the little tops had come off.

Well, that didn’t preclude them from having a part to play in the design. I whipped out the glue gun, cut a few pieces (ok more than a few) of floral wire and glue gunned some wire around their tops – good as new! Plus I didn’t have to buy any more decorations! Re-using at it’s best!

Overall the sanctuary has a simple fresh take on Red, Gold and Green this Christmas.

I would love to hear about your decorating ideas this Christmas. Are you using every piece of garland to deck the halls? Or are you taking a more modern less is more approach to the holiday decorating this year? As for our own house decorations…they have yet to be tackled due to the busyness of all that is going on!

Enjoy this season friends, and in amongst all the busyness of decorating and gifting let’s remember Jesus is the reason for this awesome time of year!

Happy decorating!

Astrid

Red Velvet Cupcakes ~ Wedding Day is Here!

Last week I shared the trial run of the Red Velvet Cupcakes taste test with you, which went off with great success.

Well, Thursday and Friday turned into wedding baking central around here as I prepped for the wedding cake order that called for said Red Velvet. It was all hands on deck as the cupcake toppers were prepped before hand.

The fondant toppers received a light dusting of pearl luster dust, a small red flower and a simple scroll of red icing.

Saturday morning arrived and the batches of batter kept coming as we baked the 130+ cupcakes. I can now make the recipe in my sleep!

 

The brides colours were red and gold. Simple and elegant. She wanted a small topper cake for them to cut and cupcakes for the guests to enjoy. The 6 inch topper cake was given generous amounts of decadent cream cheese icing and then covered with a blanket of rolled buttercream flavoured fondant. Then a dusting of pearl luster dust and topped with hand made gum paste flowers. Gold and red ribbon to finished the look.

The result was well received by the bride and groom, and the guests loved it!

Here’s to many years of wedded bliss C+G!

Astrid