Monday, June 24, 2013

Wedding Sneak Peek!

This weekend was CRAZY!! To say it was a whirlwind would be an understatement! It was a three day affair. With the wedding on the Friday, a BIG party on Saturday and a smaller brunch reception on Sunday!

The bride (my sister) and her groom we amazing, the weather was perfect and honestly . . . Kris (my sister) never looked better. The living definition of beautiful bride.
Here's a couple of photographs snapped by her very talented photographer Justine Russo. Here's a link to her blog for more photos!
We had an amazing weekend but looking forward to settling down and getting in to the rhythm of things!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Just a quick update

Hi!!!!
I am so sorry I forgot to update you on Monday. We are taking the week off! But it's for a good reason . . . my little sister is getting married on Friday!!!!!

We have family staying with us from out of town. We have tons of food to make and decorations to make . . . and my mom still needs to find a dress or she's going in jeans.

If you like you can keep up with this weeks wedding planning by following me on Instagram (@minimanor), or twitter!
Of course, I will have a full post and update next week!!! :)

And it wouldn't be a complete post without a photo . . . here's Max resting up before his big debut as ring bearer!!!! (I'm not kidding). ;)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bird House Love

I love birdhouses! I have always loved bird houses. I especially love bird houses on Posts.
On day, future Ashli and Lee will have lots of bird houses on posts . . . but we'll probably need more than 200 square feet of backyard for that, so for now I will have one fabulous Sophie Conran bird house. 
I love that the inside pulls out for easy cleaning!! 
I also think it's pretty cool that it matches our bird feeder as well.

We screwed it to our fence post, beside and a bit behind our new cedar trees.
I love it . . . one day we'll have multiple birdhouses . . . but for now one house, on one post makes me happy!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cleaning Supply Caddy

I shared one half of under our kitchen sink here. I still LOVE the lazy susan for under our corner sink (in my experience corner sinks are more difficult to organize, what can I say . . . I am a girl who loves right angles). The lazy susan is great for things that stay in the kitchen . . . things like club soda, kitchen sponges, dishwasher detergent, dish soap etc . . . But things that I need to clean other areas of the house, things like . . . Window cleaner, all purpose cleaner, cloths, scrubber, counter wipes, paper towel, microfiber cloths etc . . . are better left in a caddy that way I still have easy access to them in the kitchen but I can grab the whole caddy and take it to the upstairs bathrooms, or basement bathroom!
I think any caddy is great it doesn't have to be an expensive one, but this one from Rev a Shelf is amazing! It pulls out on rails, and then clips out so you can take it around the house with you.
When you are done you can pop it back on the rails and it tucks away neatly under the counter!

 Every Cleaning Caddy should have: 

  • All purpose cleaner, whether it's a homemade cleaner or a store bought cleaner. Or a homemade cleaner in a store bought container. 
  • Window Cleaner
  • Carpet Stain Cleaner
  • Bar Mops (I like using small bar mops for quick clean ups, you just pop it into the wash when you are done and it saves on paper towels).
  • Paper towels . . . I know I just said bar mops to save on paper towels. But I keep paper towels handy for the really gross messes. I am sorry but I'm not cleaning dog sick with a towel . . . that's paper towel territory! 
  • Sponges 
  • A toothbrush or other stiff bristled small brush for fine detail cleaning around faucets and in crevices.
  • An abrasive cleaner like Bon Ami for toilets and other exceptionally grimy places.
I really love our new cleaning caddy! It's better than making two or three trips up and down the stairs with arm loads cleaning supplies. I bought ours from Lowes but you can find them on Amazon for a slightly better price!

Happy Cleaning!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Our garage garden station

One of the questions I get frequently is about our garage. Generally the garage is considered Lee's domain . . . but I do have my own little corner. It's our garden corner. I keep everything to do with gardening there (except the lawn mower).
Space for my little garden station is tight because we have a two car garage and park two cars in our garage . . . but we figured out a way to fit enough room for some shelves and one very smart table top.
We couldn't fit a table in the garage for potting, but this drop leaf table top from Ikea is perfect!!! It's their Norbo Table and it's just under $40.
When we aren't using it . . . it folds up and sits just over 3" off the wall.
To organize the shelves (also from Ikea), I found these blue plastic containers from Dollar Tree. I store our blood meal, and our bone meal (both we used up when we planted our cedars and hostas last week). As well as our hanging basket, slow release fertilizer. 
We store all the bird seed in this tin container with a little scoop. I found it back in August of 2010 (here's the link to the post I wrote about it).
I also keep our sunflower seeds (for larger birds) and some extra fertilizer on the middle shelf as well.
I installed a couple of hooks under the bottom shelf and hung up a little garden bag (I found it at the Salvation Army Thrift Store). I keep all of our small garden tools in the bag, it nice because I just grab the bag when I need to weed the garden, or prune a tree, I have everything right there. 
I also keep a little spool of twine so I can do a quick tie up of a vine, it actually comes in handy more often then I thought it would.
Beside the shelves we store our rakes, and shovels. We found this organizer from Amazon . . . it's awesome! Super easy to use and keeps them up and off the garage floor.
I've shared this part before but I thought I would share it again . . . we store our potting soil in a big garbage can from Ikea, and in the smaller can we store Corn Gluten (a natural lawn fertilizer) in the summer, and Salt (for de-icing our steps) for the winter.
So there's our little garden station. It is really handy to have somewhere for all the bits and pieces that go along with gardening. If you are like us and have to store your garden gear in your garage and still want to park two cars in there I hope this post was helpful.
(and to be perfectly honest if I was really potting that fern on the table there would be a MUCH bigger mess on the table ;)

Friday, June 7, 2013

If I ever see another cupcake again . . .

it will be too soon!!!!

Our adoption agency was having a Birthmother's Picnic. It's a really sweet idea, adoptive parents and children celebrate their birthmothers. It's not just for families with open adoptions, you can go just to honor your birthmother where ever she may be. Even families with children adopted from far away countries come to pay tribute.

How could we say resist making cupcakes for such an amazing cause?
We ended up making just over 250 cupcakes for the day. Half chocolate and half vanilla, all with a vanilla buttercream icing!

It was a really nice day . . . they cupcakes were a hit and we both collapsed on the couch after, exhausted and thoroughly sickened by smell of cupcakes.

Here's a couple pictures I snapped while in the midst of our cupcake storm.
Before: 
After: 
 Each cupcake had it's own fondant topper. The cupcakes with yellow icing had small white flowers and the cupcakes with white icing had small yellow flowers on top! 
 Thank goodness I married a man, who can saddled up with some oven mits and help me bake! I'm not sure I could have pulled this one off by myself.

Have a great weekend!!!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What a difference a year makes

I know that if you plant things in the ground they will grow . . . but I'll be damned if every year I'm not amazed at how much everything grows. Maybe it's because we had a townhouse before so we couldn't really plant anything, maybe it's because I have a loose grip on how mother nature works? Maybe I'm not the only one?? . . . . maybe I am.

I love flipping back and seeing how the yard looked back in 2011, and how it looks now. Here's the results:
The hydrangea bushes haven't bloomed yet but I couldn't resist sharing. I think this time next year we'll have a perfectly filled in hedge of hydrangeas, being held in by an almost formed hedge of boxwood.
I think the thing I am most excited about this year is the ferns hanging off the porch. I don't know . . . maybe I secretly want to be Southern (it's not secret I am a southern belle wanna be), but I love ferns off a porch. We bought these ones from Home Depot. We also picked up 4 feet of chain. The existing pot hangers weren't long enough . . . we considered buying new pots with longer hangers but once the ferns grew you wouldn't even see the pots so it would be a waste of money, when you can get 4 feet of chain for less than $4!
Lastly, what would a post about the front yard be without a quick paragraph about the grass. I've written about Natural Lawn care before here and here. It seems like in new build homes and developments the soil quality is terrible (our soil is 90% gravel ;) we've had to amend it with lots of mushroom manure and top soil over the last 3 years. For that reason the grass needs a little extra TLC. Our neighbors don't do anything extra to their lawn . . . they do mow it regularly but that's it. We have only used natural fertilizer like corn gluten, we make sure not to cut the grass too short and over seed our lawn once a year and the difference is dramatic. I didn't edit the photo below at all, I wanted to show the real difference. 

(btw, our neighbors don't read the blog . . . and they rent the property out so they wouldn't be offended about my comparison) The line between our grass and their grass is definitely pronounced, without the use of any chemical fertilizers. It took about a year for the natural methods to really show but it was worth the wait.

Thanks for checking in today . . . have a great Thursday!!! 


If you have a second our two . . . our little library/office is on Simcoe Street today, as part of Jen's guest blogger series:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Back Yard with a little privacy

As you can see from this photo we don't have much privacy let alone a very good view from our backyard. We mostly see our neighbors detached garages . . . but such is life in the suburbs
We planted our Japanese Maple Trees last year and they gave us some privacy but they were just phase 1 of the plan. Phase two was scheduled for this year and we finished it over the weekend!

Phase two involved planting an additional 9 cedar trees (in addition to the 6 we already had back there . . . I'm crazy for cedars I guess).  The 9 cedars will block the view of the garages while adding some greenery.
Our little shade garden of hostas exploded this year which was perfect timing because we were forced to pull them up to make room for the cedars. We were able to split each hosta and make enough groupings for under each maple tree, the perfect shady spot for a hosta garden.

Lastly we added a hydrangea bush (a 'limelight' hydrangea), and our three little trellis sculptures!
Now that phase two is complete we are able to move on to Phase 3 which is . . . adding some new gates and pergolas above the gates, with some Dutchman's Pipe growing up.

But right now we need to get the grass back into shape, it is in very rough condition after a week of cedars lying on it, and 3 days of work boots tromping around! Some Natural Fertilizer and TLC should do the trick.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Girl Crush

Last week was a crazy week I think I might be behind in just about anything a person can be behind in . . . but this weekend we were able to not only catch up but make some serious backyard progress. :) I will have photos to share tomorrow! I am so excited to share. Our backyard project was one of those projects that you plan out . . . and you think it will look great, but it turns out to be so much better than you thought. I love those projects.

Now on to the girl crush part of my post. If you caught last weeks post you would have seen our new Sophie Conran measuring cups and spoons and I told you about our new dishes . . . but it seems like my new girl crush with Sophie Conran doesn't stop at dishes I picked up this adorable little bird feeder and brought it home . . . it wasn't until I read the tag (at home) that I realized my new BFF ;) Sophie designed it. Too funny.
I found my bird feeder at Chapters . . . $34.50 with 50% off so I paid just over $17.
I love that the little teal tray pulls out for easy cleaning,
and I LOVE how the white pops against the green from the cedars and maple trees.
It's definitely something that can be DIY'd. We chose not to, I am working on a post about our DIY philosophy . . . but in a nut shell it basically comes down to time vs. savings/payoff. (I will definitely go into more detail in my post . . . it seems to be a question we get asked a lot).

So there, I've opened up about my new girl crush. I am also working on a post about Simplicity , and I'll share my new dishes and some of my thoughts and feelings on simplicity. I don't know if it's because we're hoping to add a baby to our life soon . . . or if I'm getting older, but the urge to simplify is stronger than ever.

Make sure to pop back tomorrow, I'll have some of our first outdoor photos of the season as well as all of the big changes in the backyard!

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