{DESIGN: alphabet series customized art}

Aren’t we all a sucker for something with our initials on it? Be honest. They also make for the best gifts because it’s like you really, truly thought of them when you bought it. I fell in love with a font recently and decided that I wanted to really show it off, along with my love of colour, so I created this alphabet print series. I love the retro inspired, bold, and multi layer effect of the letters and it was super fun to play with colour combos.

I was so excited about this series that I decided to reopen my dusty Etsy vintage clothing shop and give it a whole new life as a print shop. All these prints plus some other print goodies of mine you may be a fan of if you’re a regular follower are available at my new Etsy Shop.

Here’s the whole collection -

Alphabet Print Series / The Sweet Escape

…and here’s a few close up.

Letter M Initial Print / The Sweet Escape Letter N Initial Print / The Sweet Escape Letter R Initial Print / The Sweet Escape

Aren’t they fun? They are great for any age and would be a fun pop of colour in so many different spaces.

Even though I now have my Etsy print shop, I still love Society6 because they give the option to have your designs available on so many different pieces. It’s so much fun to see your work on such a wide range of merchandise and this alphabet series is perfect for it. If you’re looking for prints and want to support me (thank you!), stick with the Etsy shop but if you’re looking for one of these fun personalized items, please stop by my Society6 shop. These are some of my favourites.

Customized monogramed merchandise / The Sweet Escape on Society6

What do you think?! I hope I just made you happy by filling your screen with so much colour. Now I don’t normally do this but I have a special offer for my readers. If you’re interested in a particular letter but want a different colour combo I will create a custom piece for you. Just email me at melissa(at)thesweetescape(dot)ca, tell me you’re a reader and we can make it happen.

{SPACES: all about the rug + Wayfair promo}

Do people still install carpet these days? Me, I will pick a rug over a carpet any day. Cheaper (most of the time), no installation needed, easy to change, easy to move  and mostly no dust bunnies and mystery stains that can’t be seen. Not that looking under a rug is always pleasant but at least you know what you’re dealing with.

So when Wayfair asked me if I would like to show off their rug selection and offer my readers a 15% discount (!) it was a no brainer. I thought it would fun to play make believe interior designer and design room around one of their great rugs. Although this post is sponsored and I’m receiving a gift card from Wayfair (to probably buy one of these fab pieces!), all the creative genius and opinions are definitely my own. I kinda surprised myself with the rug I choose. I decided to pick something that may seem more traditional at first glance and show you how you can make it part of a modern look. I’m calling this style modern-deco-boho-glam-chic. That’s a style right? 

Rug as the Centrepiece / Get the look / The Sweet Escape

SHOP THE LOOK:  Rug / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

The rug may be a bit of a surprise but definitely not the accessories to pull the look together. I love a pop of color, the blue couch contrasts the colors in the rug perfectly. In this room, the rug is the piece of art so it’s important to keep the rest of the room relatively simple and pattern free. I choose to compliment the colors in the rug with a classic black and gold palette and furniture with simple, clean lines. Contrast in color, shape, texture and style always makes for an interesting room, don’t you agree?

If you’re inspired and feeling like changing things up in the rug dept, this is the perfect time. Use the discount RUGLUV35 to receive 15% off ALL Wayfair rugs from July 31 – August 4. 

{ETSY LOVE: road trip worthy}

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Our favourite handmade online shop is bringing the goods to you with the Etsy Road TripFrom August 1-9, Etsy will be setting out on their first ever road trip, making stops in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto. The Etsy-mobile, as I’m calling it, will be packed with handmade goods from local artisans PLUS live music and food. It’s going to be 10 days, 4 cities and boundless creativity. Check out the website to see what artists & live music will be in each city. Come along for the ride by tagging your stop on the road or your own favourite travel memories with #etsyroadtrip.

etsy road trip

Are you inspired to plan your own road trip or already have one in the works? Here’s some road trip essentials you can find on Etsy to add to your packing list.

Etsy Road Trip / The Sweet Escape

SHOP ETSY: 1 shades / 2 Backpack / 3 Camera bag / 4 Camera strap / 5 iPad & iPhone case / 6 Travel Mug / 7  head scarf /8 iPod sleeve

You can find these and other goodies on our Road trip Worthy Etsy List.

Like this post? Find more Etsy Love here.

{GOOD EATS: grilled vegetable & spicy shrimp quinoa salad}


It’s the season for salads and grilling and I have just the perfect dish. This is actually a recipe I made up all on my very own. You can start calling me chef. I actually make it all year using my countertop grill but it’s definitely better in the summer with seasonal vegetables and the sizzle of a real BBQ grill.  Don’t be intimated by the ingredient list at all, it’s just a guideline. Cooking is all about experimenting and using your favourite ingredients.  Keep reading to find out how you can whip up this healthy grilled pepper, asparagus and spicy shrimp quinoa dish for your next meal.

Read More →

{TUNES: Hillside Music Festival}

Hillside Music Festival 2014 / The Sweet EscapeHappy Monday folks! There’s nothing like a grey Monday to get caught up on blogs and let me introduce you to some amazing new music to get you through the day. I spent the weekend at The Hillside Music Festival in my hometown of Guelph, Ontario. Wow! I’m both amazed and embarrassed that it was my first time attending since I grew up in Guelph. But better late than never and I’m soooo happy that I finally got to experience it and I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last. I’m a HUGE music fan and I’ve been to more music events and festivals than I could possible count and I can say confidently that this was the best music festival I’ve ever been to, hands down. Keep reading to hear more about my experience and some of my favourite new artists.

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{COLOUR STORY: pink + orange}

Oh man, it’s been awhile since I’ve done a colour story. I couldn’t help myself because there’s just something so summery about pink and orange together. Such a bold and fresh combo that can look both cheerful or stylish depending on the hues. Doesn’t it just make you happy looking at it?

Color Story: pink + orange / The Sweet Escape

Color Story: pink + orange / The Sweet Escape

main image / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11  / 12

Looking for a little feel good bold style in your life? How about one of these fab pieces in our new favourite colour combo.

Color Story: pink + orange / The Sweet Escape

SHOP: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

{GOOD EATS: individual apple crisps}

Individual Serve Apple Crisps / The Sweet Escape

If you saw our wine & dine event post earlier this week, you may have got a peek at these sweet treats that were part of the menu. Apples paired well with the wine I was serving so I decided to make apple crisp and to make it extra special I thought it would be fun and little more fancy to serve them in individual jars so each person had their very own to savour.

Individual Serve Apple Crisps / The Sweet Escape

I used this recipe and just adapted it for individual servings instead. But to be honest when it comes to apple crisp I just use a recipe as a guide and adjust until I’m happy with the texture and flavours. I happen to love cinnamon and lots of topping.  Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 2 1/2 pounds (about 5 or 6) medium appples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces, plus more for coating the dish

First heat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle. 

Individual Serve Apple Crisps / The Sweet Escape

• Combine the apples, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt in a large bowl and toss to coat. Place the apple mixture in the prepared baking dish and set aside.

• Using the same bowl as for mixing the apples, mix together the brown sugar, oats, flour, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt until evenly combined. With your fingertips, blend in the butter pieces until small clumps form and the butter is well incorporated, about 2 minutes.

•  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples and bake until the streusel is crispy and the apples are tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool on a rack at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

Individual Serve Apple Crisps / The Sweet Escape These adorable vintage tea cup saucers aren’t just there to look pretty, they serve a important purpose. Because the jars came out of the oven steaming hot, you need the plates to serve so that no one burns their hands while devouring their delicious dessert.
Individual Serve Apple Crisps / The Sweet Escape

Individual Serve Apple Crisps / The Sweet Escape
If you like this recipe, check out more in our Good Eats section. 

{PHOTOGRAPHY: fake it ’til you make it kitchen background}

DIY: fake kitchen photo background / The Sweet Escape

I’m gonna let you in on a secret. I don’t really have a marble countertop or white subway tile backsplash in my kitchen. Shocking, I know. Today I have a little photo blog tip for you. It’s not rocket science but sometimes it’s nice to see the behind the scenes and really see how easy it can be to fake it. Sometimes faking it is bad (dirty mind comment here) but sometimes you worked really hard on something and you just want to show it off and not have your 1970′s green tile pattern distract from it. You too can have a this beautiful kitchen for a the low price of $27 + applicable taxes.

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{ENTERTAINING: summer rooftop wine & dine}

Summer wine & dine on the patio / The Sweet Escape

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to host a fab rooftop summer event. There may have been a little bit of a delay getting the patio up and running this year but the lights are hung and the flowers are blooming so we’re in business. The first order of business was hosting a wine & dine get together with some great ladies. I wear so many creative hats these days and I really can’t choose what I love most. I get so much joy pulling together an event. I especially enjoy the smaller events because you can put even more effort into the details. Flowers, food, decor, yes, yes and yes. Add some Chardonnay and you’ve got yourself a party, which is exactly what we did.

Kendall Jackson Wine event 10

photos by Lynda Felton

I decided to keep things relatively simple in the decor dept. The patio kinda speaks for itself so I just went with some flower stems in bright summer colours and a grouping of vintage bottles over a cheerful yellow lace tablecloth (thrift store score). It made for a lovely centrepiece.
Summer Wine & Dine on the rooftop patio / The Sweet Escape

The flowers were pretty but people came for the wine & dine part…and to see me of course. This event was generously sponsored by Kendall-Jackson wines and the perfect backdrop to try their popular Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. If you can’t go to California, bring California to you that’s what I say. The wine is made from 100% Jackson Estates Grown grapes grown in their vineyards along the coastal regions of Monterey County, Santa Barbara County, and Mendocino County.

Summer Wine & Dine on the rooftop patio / The Sweet Escape

I really wanted this to be a true pairing so I put a lot of effort into making appetizers that would highlight the wine. The Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay is an especially food-friendly wine and pairs well with avocado, peaches, mango, mild cheeses, apples, shrimp, and potatoes amongst other things but those are the ones I decided to focus on. It was a bit of an experiment because a) that’s a bunch of different flavours and b) I’ve never made any of these recipes before. If I was in science class I think I would’ve gotten an A on this experiment.

Summer Wine & Dine on the rooftop patio / The Sweet Escape

What your eyes are feasting on (clockwise from top left) is avocado hummus, ricotta & grill peach crostini, mini apple crisps, and spicy shrimp & mango with basil. Below was the star of the show, a potato rosemary garlic pizza which also used chardonnay in the recipe, which you can find over on the Kendall-Jackson website. Stay tuned for some of the other recipes coming soon. The Chardonnay had creamy tropical notes and paired perfectly with the food.

Summer Wine & Dine on the rooftop patio / The Sweet Escape

Summer Wine & Dine on the rooftop patio / The Sweet Escape

photo by Lynda Felton

Summer Wine & Dine on the rooftop patio / The Sweet EscapeThe wine, food and good company made for a perfect evening of catching up, swapping stories and what summers are all about. It was a patio full of happy guests with full bellies and (re)filled wine glasses.

Summer Wine & Dine on the rooftop patio / The Sweet Escape

photo by Lynda Felton

Summer Wine & Dine on the rooftop patio / The Sweet EscapeIt’s not California but the view wasn’t bad either.  I love how in the summer we are so much more open to being social and easy going about forgetting our schedules, especially on school nights. 
Summer Wine & Dine on the rooftop patio / The Sweet Escape

I highly recommend trying the Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay for your next summer shindig. Check out the vintages section of your local LCBO or wine store for a bottle. Try some new recipes to match or just some fresh bread and cheese for the perfect summer snack.

summer rooftop wine & dine / The Sweet Escape

The wine, good conversation and some warm dessert took us into the evening. In fact we came up with the saying “Chardonnays and Chardonnights”. Aren’t we just hilarious?!

summer patio wine & dine / The Sweet Escape

This post was generously sponsored by Kendall-Jackson Wines but all the opinions, creative concepts and content is my own. 

{GOOD EATS: strawberry freezer jam & printable labels}

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe / The Sweet Escape

I haven’t been strawberry picking in ages! I was at my local market and saw the (pricy) Ontario picked strawberries and thought it would be a good reason for me to get away from the computer and enjoy the beautiful summer weather. So here’s the thing about strawberry picking – it’s really only worth it if you have your own bucket/basket and if you want a lot of them. I’ll be honest, I ended up spending more than those pricy ones from the market but it was about the experience and enjoying the summer. Don’t give me that look. So what do you do when you have a bunch of strawberries? You make jam! It’s a great way to take advantage of your local strawberries at their best and freeze for later. Freezer jam is also super easy, bonus!

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe / The Sweet Escape

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe / The Sweet Escape

No secret recipe here people, I used the recipe from the CERTO pectin box for this. I figure they make pectin, they MUST know what they’re doing when it comes to jam. What’s great about freezer jam is that you don’t have to do all that labour intensive sterilizing and sealing the jars. The downside is that they don’t keep as long (3 weeks in the fridge, 3-6 months in the freezer). But this jam is so delicious it won’t be around for long anyway.

•  2 cups prepared fruit (buy about 1 qt. fully ripe strawberries)
•  4 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
•  1 pouch CERTO Fruit Pectin
•  2 Tbsp.  fresh lemon juice

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe / The Sweet Escape

Rinse clean plastic containers and lids with boiling water. Dry thoroughly.

Stem and crush strawberries thoroughly, one layer at a time. Measure exactly 2 cups prepared fruit into large bowl. Stir in sugar. Let stand 10 min., stirring occasionally.

mix pectin and lemon juice in small bowl. Add to strawberry mixture; stir 3 min. or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy. (A few sugar crystals may remain.)

fill all containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator.

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe / The Sweet Escape

And because I love you so much I designed these adorable lid labels if you wanted to give your jam as a gift. Just print on paper and use as an insert between the two lids. I also couldn’t resist and spray painted the lids blue. Hello?! Why don’t they have jars with different colour lids to buy?

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe / The Sweet Escape

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe / The Sweet Escape

Download your strawberry jam labels here.

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe / The Sweet Escape

Now all you need is some fresh bread to toast, or croissants would be even better and slather with your homemade jam, enjoy!

If you liked this recipe, you can find more in our Good Eats section.