COLOUR STORY: white

Yes, you’re on the right blog. It’s no secret that I’m a huge colour lover. I usually find myself having to hold back on going too crazy with colour but today I felt like taking a breather. Don’t worry, there’s PLENTY of colour in my near future (kitchen update coming soon!) but today I’m inspired by the beautiful lack of colour with these white images. I couldn’t help but think of my blogger pal White Cabana while putting this colour story together.

Color Story: White / The Sweet Escape

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

DIY: fresh flower birthday hats

DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape

I have one more kinda summery DIY for you. Although, you can really make these all year – they would brighten up any indoor birthday party. Remember those magical three days I stayed at a treehouse with my bestie Emily last month? Well it happened to be her birthday while we were there AND I happened to have a bunch of flowers left over from a photo shoot. So when life hands you fresh flowers and a birthday you make fresh flower birthday hats.

So it started with this big bucket of flowers I had left over from a photo shoot. It kills me when I have fresh flowers at home and leave town. So yes, the flowers came on the roadtrip to the treehouse. All of them except those big peachy ones seemed to survive the trip.

DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape

All you need for this is some coloured poster board, a stapler or tape, and green floral wire. Measure your big head and make a semi-circle template for the hats. You can learn from my mistake and either make sure the hats are big enough to really get your head in there or use some elastic thread or ribbon to make a band for the hat so they stay on.

DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape

I know it hurts but you gotta chop up all the flowers. Cut off all the buds with about 1-2″ left for attaching to the wire.

DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape

Once you have your hats made, measure & cut a piece of floral wire that wraps around the base of the hate with a bit of wiggle room and extra for twisting the ends. Then you just start to play and layer your flowers with small pieces of wire. Start with the filler flowers & greenery then work up to adding the blooms.

DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape

You’ll end up with some gorgeous flower crowns. You can most definitely stop here and make flower crowns instead of birthday hats but since I already made a flower crown earlier this summer I thought I would try something different. (Note: if you’re going to stick with a flower crown, adjust the length of wire accordingly) Aren’t they pretty! That’s the great thing about flowers, they always make you look good because they kinda look great no matter how you mess up what you do.

DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape

Then it’s time to transform them into party hats. No tricks here, not even glue. Just slide your flower crown over the top of the hat until it rests on the bottom.


DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet EscapeDIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape

DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape

DIY: Fresh Flower Birthday Hat / The Sweet Escape

Emily, the birthday girl.

Then it’s party time! And by party I mean, sit around with no makeup or bra in stretchy clothing and cook up an amazing BBQ dinner…wearing a pretty party hat. 

BLOGLIFE: in your handbag at BlogPodium

Here we are on the last stretch. 5 more sleeps until BlogPodium. If you’re a totally blog conference newbie you’re probably trying to decide between 10 outfits you’ve had picked out for at least a week. I won’t tell you what to wear, you’re a big girl – just remember to look great AND be comfortable. I’ve already prepped you with some first-time conference tips and now it’s down to the details, what to bring. You probably have a pile growing beside your 20 outfit options of stuff to bring for the day. It is just one day so you can leave the kitchen sink at home but I do recommend bringing a decent size hand/shoulder bag over a pretty little clutch. Here’s my list of BlogPodium handbag essentials.
What to bring to a blog conference in your handbag / The Sweet Escape

Large shoulder or tote bag to carry all your stuff, Indigo, $170
1 / Scarf for cool conference rooms, Forever21, $8.26
2 / medium pouch for all the cards you’ll collect, Indigo, $6
3 / small pouch (or biz card holder) for your cards to give out, Indigo, $12
4 / fun smartphone case, Society6, $35
5 / portable phone battery pack, Bando, $30
6 / water bottle to stay hydrated, Target, $15.30
7 / mints because you’ll be doing a bunch of chattin’
8 / stay all day lip gloss for all the photos you’ll be snappin’, Murale by Shoppers Drug Mart, $32
9 / pens to take notes (bring more than one), Indigo, $20
10 / notebook for the information overload, Minted, $16

There’s usually snacks around but you could also throw in a little ‘somethin somethin’ in there if you get antsy at a certain time of the day.

You’re set! Ready to mingle & learn all about blogging. See you there!

{GOOD EATS: then and now recipes / 01}

I thought I would put a spin on my Same but Different series and create one that’s well….same but different. Welcome to my new Good Eats Then & Now recipe series. As you know I spend a lot of time trolling thrift shops and I love coming across old cook books. Obviously people have been cooking for ages and it’s always been a hobby but with the introduction of speciality food television, competitions, designer restaurants, celebrity chefs, the term ‘foodie’ and truffle oil slathered on pretty much everything the world of food and cooking has come a lonnnnng way. Dare I say that food (and food photography) has gotten way sexier, which brings to mind another term – ‘food porn’, aka food photos that are better than…you know.

Here’s some recipes I pulled from a few old cookbooks (The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, Favourite Food by Valerie Childs) side by side to their modern day, more sexy version. Does the food taste better? Who’s to say but it’s true that we eat with our eyes first so I’m going to go ahead and say, yup.

Jam donut recipe then and now

Then and Now Recipes: Jam donut / The Sweet Escape

Seafood paella recipe then and now
Then and Now Recipes: Paella / The Sweet Escape

French Nicoise salad then and now

Then and Now Recipes: Nicoise salad / The Sweet Escape

Kebab recipe then and now

Then and Now Recipes: kabab / The Sweet Escape

Roulade recipe then and nowThen and Now Recipes: Cake Roll / The Sweet Escape

SPACES: endless summer with oversized beach art

Oversized Beach Art / The Sweet Escape

So I don’t know about you guys but as of last week I started panicking about it being the end of summer. I know that back to school marks the end for many people but if you don’t have kids or not in school you’re trying to soak up these last weeks for whatever they’re worth. I’ve been trying to jam in “summer” things to do all week – forcing myself to go for bike rides, frantically calling my uncle inviting myself to go sailing, a solo trip to Toronto Island, setting a timer to remind myself to go on the patio to watch the sunset. I’m stressing myself out. It’s crazy. You know what’s a less stressful way to make summer last all year? Get a gigantic piece of beach art for your home. The oversized art trend is going strong and why not make it a big beach scene to bring some of that summer lovin’ indoors. Here’s a bunch of great examples of XL beach art looking all beachy in spaces. And the best part? No sunscreen needed.

Read More →

SAY I DO: wedding design to make you emerald green with envy

Wedding Invite Design / The Sweet EscapeOk, so this is a bit late but it’s worth it because now I have some beautiful professional photos to share with you. Wayyyy back in May one of my BFF’s got hitched in beautiful Mexico and I happened to be one of the bridesmaids. It was my first destination wedding and I think I was spoiled because not only was the resort stunning but I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to celebrate with for a week. I also happened to design everything for the wedding which pretty much makes me the best bridesmaid ever. That’s a testimonial from the bride by the way. Sorry Val, Josie, Liza, Niki.

First, can we all just take a moment to appreciate (and be jealous) of the view from our room. I didn’t want to rub it in the bride & groom’s face while I was there but our room was nicer than theirs. I think that’s a bit of good karma for the two (pretty much only) single ladies flying solo at a destination wedding. If you’re curious, we stayed at the Playacar Palace resort.

Mexico resort destination wedding / The Sweet Escape

Ok, now on to the design stuff. The bride wanted emerald green as her colour of choice and loved the watercolour look. I’ll be honest, I don’t always see eye to eye with a bride when it comes to design but in this case I was all over it. Part of the reason we’re such good friends is that we both have incredibly, truly, fantastic and amazing taste. Because it was a destination, there was a separate info package sent out and the invites were more of an email formality so I got to keep the design (above) nice and simple.

bride groom footwear

Because it was a destination wedding, the couple wanted to do an extra special thank you swag piece. Each couple received one of these bags filled with goodies when they arrived. They made great beach bags and also a way for us to mark our tribe while at a resort with 5 other weddings happening. It was a simple one-colour typographic screen printing job.

My favourite piece that was included in the bag was this mini survival kit with sunglasses and Advil. The couple are big JayZ fans and thought this quote was not only perfect for the occasion but a nice little tribute to how they met (at his concert).

Emerald Green Watercolour theme wedding design: Sunglasses & Advil survival kit  / The Sweet Escape

The shades were a huge hit with the guests. Huge. We were by far the coolest wedding guests on the resort and luckily no one was harmed in any fights over colours. As far as the design, I continued with the green watercolour swoosh to make it tie in with everything.

Wedding swag: Sunglasses & Advil, last night was mad real / The Sweet Escape

shades

We went a similar design route with 2-sided bag toppers for the sweet bags that were at the reception. There wasn’t a budget for gold foil, and who are we kidding, maybe like 3 people there would’ve even noticed it so I went with faux gold glitter to add a bit of shimmer.

Emerald Green Watercolour theme wedding design: Hot Stuff Candy Bags / The Sweet EscapeEmerald Green Watercolour theme wedding design: Hot Stuff Candy Bags / The Sweet Escape

The reception was literally right on the beach which is nice. Sometimes you see destination weddings with the reception indoors which doesn’t make any sense. Although I do have a tip – try to stick with a long dress or it will be girl in short dress vs the wind. Not pretty. Well not for this pasty white curvy gal.

Some more design details – more green watercolour for the menu and place settings which looked great with the clean white linens. Also some cute custom matches and sparklers for the guest to use later in the evening.

Since it wasn’t my wedding to share I’m not going to go post a bunch of pictures of the event but here’s me and the stunning bride, my good friend Marie-Lou. The couple brought the super talented Lee Weston Photography along from Toronto to document the event and you should definitely check out her work and keep her in mind for your next wedding or milestone that you want to document.

Love was in the air for sure. I knew it was a good decision to throw these in my luggage at the last minute.

heart wedding shades

What a lovely bunch. Congratulations and best wishes to Marie-Lou and Shawn!

ETSY LOVE: a whirlwind Etsy road trip

Time flies when you’re riding the yellow line. Remember when I was telling you all about the upcoming Etsy Road trip? Well they made, they drove and now they’re back! 10 days, 4 cities and boundless creativity. Did you get a chance to check out any of their stops?  Here’s a highlight of the fun that happened on the road:

I just think this is such a great idea. Makes me wanna find my own trailer and turn into a craft-mobile and hit the road. Obviously I’m not the only one who loved this crafty adventure, check out some of the Etsy community snapshots from the road.

Here’s a few picks you would’ve found in my shopping bag if I was travelling around with this creative crew.

Etsy Canadian Road Trip Roundup / The Sweet Escape

SHOP ETSY: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

MAKE SOMETHING: 5 DIY’s to try this weekend

What are your plans for the long weekend? This long weekend is always so bittersweet because we all love the extra day to enjoy the summer but it’s kinda marks the end of the season. Well if you’re planning on laying low this weekend or looking for something crafty to keep you busy, here’s 5 ideas to get you inspired.  Happy weekend!

MAKE SOMETHING: 5 DIY's to try / The Sweet Escape

HOW TO: clay ring dishes / lamp shade / mouse pad / candle holders (in german) / flower corsage 

BLOGLIFE: 5 tips for your first blog conference

blogpodium

I consider myself a bit of a blog conference veteran at this point. What’s a bit nuts is that it happened in just one year. The upcoming BlogPodium conference in September will be my 5th (!) since last July. I hardly believed it myself until I actually counted. I went to Alt Summit in San Fran last July (my first ever), BlogPodium in Sept., Alt SLC in January, Alt Summer in June, then full circle to BlogPodium this year. It will be interesting to see how it will be different from last year. I’m definitley a more seasoned blogger and I’ve built some great relationships with other Canadian bloggers I met at BlogPodium last year so I’ll know a bunch more people. After last years conference I started up the Toronto Lifestyle Bloggers group which lead to a few Blog Brunches and I started getting invites to a bunch of media events that are kinda like mini-blogger reunions. It’s so nice to have some actual face time with fellow local bloggers.

If this is your first blog conference, you probably have a million things running through your head and you’re either so excited you could pee in your stylish but playful skirt or so nervous you could vomit in your fun striped Kate Spade hand bag. Just breathe.  Here’s 5 things to keep in mind for your first conference based on my personal experience:

notebook

1.  Leave the laptop and DSLR at home. Coming soon will be a blog conference packing list and 2 things that won’t be on it are a DSLR camera or laptop. It’s a jam packed day, you’ll want to soak everything up & mingle and you won’t have time to take pretty pictures. Or if you do, you’ll be missing out on the good stuff. There will be tonnes of pro photos to share after the conference and likely a photobooth so your camera phone will do just fine. It’s a long day and you’ll likely be filling your bag with various free swag and don’t need to start the day off with a super heavy bag. As far as the laptop – in my experience the old fashioned note taking is the way to go. You paid to see these experienced speakers, try to be present and listen and jot down some the most important points. Some of them may even have their presentations available after the conference online. (the exception is if you’re taking the photography workshop or stopping by Camp Tech’s Nerd Station…then nerd away)

blog-conference-outfit

2. Dress comfortably.  So you’ve probably heard that these blog conferences can be a bit of a fashion show. I guess it’s true to a certain degree. I mean you are in a room full of creative people who like to express themselves so it makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, I like to put thought into what I wear as well and love seeing what great outfits people put together. My advice is to look great AND be comfortable. You’re making a lot of first impressions and networking so you definitely want to put your best foot forward but this is not the day to try those new heels you bought or rock some totally new look. If you’re not comfortable in what you’re wearing, literally or figuratively, it will show and you won’t do yourself any favours. Plus, as mentioned, it’s a long day so you don’t want your footwear to ruin it for you. Whether it’s jeans, tshirt and a knockout statement necklace or a totally unique look, just make sure it’s YOU and you feel comfortable wearing it.

 

Blog Podium Annawithlove Photography-9653-L

photo by Anna With Love Photography for BlogPodium

3. Don’t be shy. I know this is easier said than done for some people but trust me, you will go home with regrets if you don’t push yourself to come out of your shell at a blog conference. I do realize it can be intimidating. I’m an extrovert and don’t consider myself that shy and I’ve had those nervous moments – especially when I’ve attended ALL of those conferences mentioned above on my own. But I’ve learned two things, 1 – it’s not nearly as hard as you think and 2 – you will most definitely regret it later if you don’t try. You are surrounded by people who love to share and express themselves and a bunch of them are thinking the same thing as you. Grab that single seat at a table or chat up the person waiting in line next to you. I pretty much guarantee that they will be friendly. Bloggers are an incredibly friendly bunch of people. If all else fails, comment on their cute shoes or handbag to break the ice.

sweet escape biz card

delta sponsor booth

4. Come ready to network. This is a good followup to #3. You paid money to come to this conference and you want to walk away with not only new blogger friends but potentially new professional opportunities and you can’t be shy. You’ll be meeting some seasoned bloggers who are looking to collaborate as well as brand reps, expert speakers, and PR & Media agency reps. All these people can help you make your blog more successful (if that’s your goal). Have your business cards and elevator pitch ready.

PHOTOBOOTH 2

5. Have fun! I know this one is a bit cliche but it’s true. Relax, meet some new people and have fun with it. The conference is just as much of a social event as it is a learning event. My friendships & relationships that started at Blog Podium last year have only grown. This may be a bit tougher at your first conference but I promise that the fun part will come if you’re open to it.

And I guess it’s no surprise that after all those conferences in one year that I managed to get myself on the other side of the table, literally. I’m so happy to be hosting a roundtable discussion at BlogPodium this year. If it’s your first year or you’re thinking of starting a blog, please stop by and catch my chat – Your First Year of Blogging:How to Get Noticed.

 

DIY: MAKE YOUR OWN POND IN A POT

DIY: Make your own patio pond in a pot / The Sweet Escape

Talk about a major #latergram. I know, I know, summer is slowly leaving us but this project is great for those lucky to live in warm climates or it’s also great way to bring some of the outdoors in once the season changes.  And before we get all Debbie Downer approaching Labour Day, you never know, Mother Nature could surprise us and give us an extended summer to make up for the Spring we never had.

I woke up one morning and decided that my patio, as lovely as it is, was missing something. It needed the sound of water. So just like that I had a project for the day. I was going to make a little pond in a pot with a fountain. As per most of my great ideas, I usually can’t pull it together in a day and slowly start to lose interest. But I was determined to make this pond in a pot.

DIY: Make your own patio pond in a pot / The Sweet Escape

I made a few predictable stops looking for small pond pumps but that proved to be unsuccessful and frustrating for an instant gratification person like me. So I ended up ordering this really affordable one from Walmart online and patiently waited for it to arrive. While I was waiting, I started gathering the other materials. Along with the pump you’ll need a pot with no drain hole, then some water greenery, rocks and any other form of nature you like. I happened to go to my cottage after snapping this photo above so you’ll see in the final photos below that I edited some of my selections.

Here’s a tip if your pot is really big – take another planter (or a brick or stone, or any flat surface) and place it at the bottom to take up a bunch of space. I spray painted it black so it would disappear in the water. Or you could also just buy a more shallow and flat pot. Up to you.

DIY: Make your own patio pond in a pot / The Sweet Escape

I would start with placing the pump then just build around it with all your collected treasures.

DIY: Make your own patio pond in a pot / The Sweet Escape

I already had this guy on my patio and thought that this was the perfect new home for him!

DIY: Make your own patio pond in a pot / The Sweet Escape

Then fill it up with water, covering the pump, plug’er in and enjoy.

DIY: Make your own patio pond in a pot / The Sweet Escape

I’m so happy with the final result. It adds the perfect amount of sound when I’m out there enjoying the patio on my own and not distracting at all when people are there. You do have to keep an eye on the water level with the heat as the pump need to be under water and running at all times.  DIY: Make your own patio pond in a pot / The Sweet Escape