Adding touches to the living room

The living room

We moved in to our new condo in December and slowly it’s coming along. For the first few months a new place is always just the basics, liveable, and not the prettiest.  Now that we’re more settled in I’ve been trying to finish off our living room by adding pieces and decorating.

The white candles and candle plate are from Ikea. The bicycle plant holder and pot are from my dad’s house!! I have no idea where he got them. I put a succulent inside. I looove succulents because I can forget to water them and they won’t die on me.

I love Ikea but I don’t love filling my place with Ikea stuff. I try and get basic items from Ikea, like lamps, side tables or a bookshelf… but when it comes to adding ‘touches’ around the apartment, I prefer they come from random places. That way it doesn’t look too Ikea catalogue-y.

D-Man and I picked up this bar at an antique shop when we were driving back to Vancouver from BC’s interior. We also got the tray on the bottom from the antique shop. The washboard in the back was his grandmother’s. She ACTUALLY used this washboard to clean her clothes, back in the day. Can you imagine?! Ugh, I’m getting tired just thinking of hand-washing my clothes.

The two decanters on the right and the bar tools on the bottom are all Ralph Lauren, from the Bay. The decanter on the left is from HomeSense.


I just got this VITTSJÖ bookshelf from Ikea. I was going to spray paint it gold but I actually really like it white. At least for now. I’m not sure if I’m done decorating it. I really like to switch things up until I’m completely satisfied, but for now this is what it looks like.

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It’s a little short so I put some tall candles on the top to make it look taller. Those candles and candle holders are also from Ikea.

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These plants are from my awesome sister in law. The owl is from a good friend and the little glass elephant is from a lovely friend who got it for me while travelling in Europe.

The wine bottle is what we drank on our first night in our new place and we got the elephant in Thailand. I’m toying with the idea of spray painting him white. We’ll see. DSC_0626

My dad gave me this crate. I don’t know where he got it and I don’t know the story behind it!! It holds my ukelele and a blanket. Below that is a rug that D-Man and I got while travelling in Morocco. It’s my favourite piece in our apartment and is also the thing that every dog who visits either shits or pees on. Seriously. It’s ridiculous.

The Moroccan rug is also one of JoJo's favourite places to sleep.
The Moroccan rug is also one of JoJo’s favourite places to sleep.

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This is an ammo box. D-Man put my engagement ring inside along with a few love letters and hid it in the bushes while we were camping. That’s how he proposed!DSC_0629 - Version 2

I dedicated this shelf to look a little manlier. Along with the ammo box are a stack of D-Man’s woodworking magazines and a picture of him with his dad and two grandfathers.DSC_0631The couch is originally from Urban Barn but I found it on Craigslist! The pillows are all from West Elm.

DSC_0637D-Man made this coffee table out of old wood used to make boats. A family friend’s dad used to make boats, they gave us the wood. It’s such a cool, unique piece… plus it’s really handy for storage. On top… more succulents!! The plant pot is from Art Knapps.

DSC_0585 - Version 2This picture is taken later in the afternoon when my living room gets sun. JoJo loves basking in the sun. I have just a folded up blanket for her in the living room (her bed is in the bedroom). I like having a blanket there instead of a bed so it’s quick and easy to clean when needed.

This POÄNG chair is my least favourite part of the living room. But I still haven’t found a chair I love to replace it. I refuse to spend money on a chair that’s just okay. I’m looking for an antique wingback chair to reupholster. Have yet to find an affordable one I like.


Barcelona: Eight things to do while you’re there

What to do in Barcelona

Here are EIGHT things to do while in Barcelona:

Outside the Sagrada Familia
Outside the Sagrada Familia, still under construction!
1) Visit the Sagrada Familia

When you go to the Sagrada Familia, which you should definitely do, book your tickets ahead of time, online. After ordering tickets online, we picked them up at a Servi Caixa, it’s a chain of ATM machines. The closest one to the Sagrada Familia was right by the McDonalds. Easy peasy and no lines.

Stained glass inside the Sagrada Familia
Stained glass inside the Sagrada Familia

We booked a tower tour as well and it was well worth it.

One of the views from the tower
One of the views from the tower

Fabulous views from the tower.

Everything at the Sagrada Familia is so intricate.
Everything at the Sagrada Familia is so intricate.
The staircase winding down the tower at the Sagrada Familia.
The staircase winding down the tower at the Sagrada Familia.
2) A cooking class

Do a cooking class! One of my favourite things to do when I travel, is a cooking class. Oh and while you’re there, ask your instructor for restaurant suggestions.

Cooking class at 'Cook and Taste'
Cooking class at ‘Cook and Taste’

We did a cooking class with ‘Cook and Taste’ and really enjoyed it.

This is the look I often get from D-Man (heehee!)
This is the look I often get from D-Man (heehee!)
Cooking a yummy seafood paella
Cooking a yummy seafood paella

You get a meal out of it… and the wine’s included! The class also included a walking tour through the city’s biggest market – Boqueria.

Rows of dried peppers at the market.
Rows of dried peppers at the market.
3) Shop and eat your way through Boqueria Market

We went on our own as well as with the guide from Cook and Taste. It was fabulous to have someone explain how everything’s done there. Walking through on your own is fun (watch your wallet in here for sure) but it’s even better with a guide.

Lots of different seafood is available, fresh at the market.
Lots of different seafood is available, fresh at the market.
Jamon, or cured ham is sooooo yummy. The really good stuff is extremely expensive.
Jamon, or cured ham is sooooo yummy. The really good stuff is extremely expensive.
Learning about salted cod while at the market.
Learning about salted cod while at the market.
4) Explore Montjuïc

We went to Montjuïc hill, there’s lots to do and there’s great views of the city.

Barcelona's National Museum of Art Catalunya at the top of Montjuic.
Barcelona’s National Museum of Art Catalunya at the top of Montjuic.
5) Wander

From what I’ve heard, Barcelona has great museums. As much as I’d like to pretend I’m cultured enough to enjoy museums, I usually don’t. We didn’t go to any in Barcelona. What we did do… wandered. And wandered some more. Seriously, my legs hurt so much after our week in Barcelona… just from walking and wandering.

6) Go for a picnic.
Getting ready for a picnic!
Got pickled garlic, olives, cheese, chorizo, baguettes and croquettes for our picnic.

We went to the market, got food for a picnic then found a park and hung out. Sounds boring but it was great to sit and people watch.

7) Shop ’til you drop

Hopefully you like shopping… because the shopping is good!! The boutiques are pretty expensive but fun. Honestly, I just loved the typical stores – Zara, Blanco, Mango, etc.

I bought as many clothes as I could considering we did carry on!!
I bought as many clothes as I could considering we did carry on!!
8) Eat the donuts and drink the coffee

Like sweet things? Eat the donuts. Like coffee? Drink as much as is sanely possible. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Just do it, you’ll thank me. Actually, just eat all the food.

Oh man, I ate so many donuts.
Oh man, I ate so many donuts.
I'm still dreaming of the coffee.
I’m still dreaming of the coffee.

8 Tips to Bringing Home a Rescue Dog

Adding to your pooch family through rescue, my tips.

We rescued JoJo in early January 2015 and life has changed for the better since. I’ve had two rescue dogs before her; one, a sweet German Shepherd cross girl and another, a hilarious Rottweiler cross boy. Rescuing isn’t always easy, so here are a few of the things that have helped me through our rescue experience!

JoJo just loves the beach.
JoJo just loves the beach.
1) Exercise

We exercised the heck out of JoJo the first two weeks we had her. That way she just didn’t have the energy to be nervous, anxious or unsure of her new home. Just be careful because some rescues (like JoJo) don’t have much muscle or stamina. So don’t go crazy, just find a good balance of what will exhaust them without hurting them.

So sleepy after so much exercise.
So sleepy after so much exercise.
2) Be Confident

This was especially important for a dog like JoJo, who lacked confidence. She’s a very passive dog who obviously had to take care of herself out on the street when she was a stray – totally not her style. She took lots of cues from us over the first month. For example, we’d be out on a trail (off-leash) and somebody else would be hiking towards us. On the streets JoJo would have barked because this person could have been a threat to her. But rescued JoJo looked up to us to see how she should react. This is where it’s HUGELY important to be confident. If you hesitate she’ll think something’s wrong or that you don’t have control so she has to take over. So I continued hiking without missing a beat, greet the person coming towards us and JoJo goes “oh, okay, we don’t have to worry about people walking towards us” and she contently followed. Phew, that was one issue down.

Bath time.
Bath time.
3) Don’t be Weak

This is similar to number 2. JoJo improved leaps and bounds for the first few months then, for about two weeks, she got way worse. A few days in to those two weeks I started dreading heading out with her. I finally realized that I was feeling really down and vulnerable those two weeks. Not because of anything specific going on in life, just because sometimes that happens! As soon as I got out of that funk and resumed my normal, strong personality, JoJo snapped back into a great dog. So now I’ve realized my limitations. If I’m really tired or feeling weak, I’ll either take her for a run (where she has no time to react to anything) or get my husband to take her.


4) Patience

JoJo is a VERY smart dog but sometimes, a stranger wouldn’t believe it. When we’re out and about in public and I ask her to sit… it can take her a full two minutes to do it. Not because she’s dumb, no, she knows exactly what I want. But because of her existing anxieties, she doesn’t trust me or the situation enough to do it right away. When she was a stray, she couldn’t just sit down on the sidewalk like that… she had to watch out for herself. So she’s still getting used to the idea of letting me take over. So I just give her the time. I may look like an idiot standing on the sidewalk staring at my dog after I asked her to sit two minutes ago… but eventually… she gives in and sits. And then the more I do it, the quicker it starts happening. It’s been like that for tons of things. But it’s so important with a rescue dog, especially one with low confidence, to just give them a chance and be patient.


5) Figure out what kind of training works

Find the training style that works for you and your pack. If you’re less experienced with dogs or want to work on something, take a class. But then don’t be afraid to try a different one if something doesn’t work. In Vancouver right now, positive reinforcement/treat based training is very popular, so we gave that a try. It absolutely did not work for JoJo. She got worse. JoJo does best with pack-leader type training (similar to Cesar Millan’s style). I was very surprised to find that Vancouverites are pretty judgemental towards that style right now. People think it hurts a dog’s will and pains them emotionally but it’s the opposite with JoJo! She is so much more relaxed and happy when I take charge. So do whatever works for you! There’s no one right way to train a dog, just trust your instincts and follow through.

7) Don’t Bring Along the Baggage

JoJo was picked up as a stray in California, taken to a  high-kill shelter where she had only four days to get adopted until she would be put down. While in the shelter she didn’t let anyone near her except one person and growled at everyone else. She was plucked out of the shelter by Big and Small Rescue TWO hours before she was scheduled to be put down. Oh my goodness that all sounds, and is, horrible. But I can’t bring the baggage from her old life into her new one. If I feel sorry for her, I’m not being confident, I’m just being weak. I’m one of those people who completely stews over the past, so it’s been a good lesson for me. JoJo didn’t wake up this morning thinking, yeesh I still can’t believe no one used to love me and they were going to kill me because of that. Nope, she woke up thinking I gotta poop, I’m kinda hungry and I sure hope I get to run on the beach today (haha, I really have no idea what she was thinking). But if you saw her, you know it’s only happy thoughts. We live in the moment and because of that, she’s sure a happy dog.


8) Build Trust

The last and probably most important thing in our rescue journey, has been building trust. We try and be as consistent as possible with our discipline, affection, exercise and everything else. That consistency helps JoJo just relax and trust us. If she doesn’t trust us, then we can’t trust her. So it goes both ways.

A literal dog pile. JoJo hanging out with her cousins!
A literal dog pile. JoJo hanging out with her cousins!

Had a successful rescue experience? Tell me about it below!!

Gal goes glam

Gal goes glam: JoJo’s first portrait session

I went for a walk along Vancouver’s seawall yesterday with the man, the dog and two of our good friends, Lindsey and Andy. We took a break from walking and talking and took a few pictures, since Lindsey is a photographer.

This was also JoJo’s chance to showcase her new collar and leash (!). We got it when we were in Portland, from Cycle Dog. It’s made from recycled bike tires, it’s reflective AND has a bottle opener on it… ha!! Good for us AND the pooch.

So, here’s JoJo’s first portrait session! What a gal!

And we had to get a family pic…

My heart explodes with love for these two.
My heart explodes with love for these two.