A Pastel Home

If you follow me on Instagram at all, you’ve probably noticed I have a pretty massive obsession. No, I’m not talking about horses – I’m talking about my garden!

I’ve always had a penchant for growing and caring for things – even when I lived in tiny apartments in Toronto, my little balcony was always covered in as many planters as I could fit, brimming with potted tomato plants and kale. It wasn’t until I moved into our current home nearly two years ago now that my passion truly took hold. The first year here we moved in halfway through the planting season, so we bought some seedlings for the back yard and didn’t see much of a yield, mostly due to a lack of sunlight that I hadn’t accounted for.

This year, I started planning my gardens back in January, and instead of just sticking to the veggie patch in the yard, I decided to take on the front of the house as well to maximize growing space. When we moved in this house, the front garden bed was absolutely packed with massive weeds, specifically towers of horsetail (the WORST weed to get rid of!), so we got started by ripping almost everything pre-existing out, save for the rosebushes and rhododendrons that we inherited. I also decided to install a couple of Sproutbox gardens in the front yard to take advantage of all the sun that our back yard struggle to attain, and that added a lot of prime garden space where we previously just had boring old grass.

The biggest shift this year though, was my decision to try growing as much as possible from seed. I’ve always been the kind of person who goes to the garden centre and stocks up on seedlings in the spring, because growing from seed has failed so miserably in my few small attempts in the past, but growing from seed is so much more affordable, and when West Coast Seeds invited me to be one of their ambassadors for the year, I couldn’t say no!

I knew very little about growing seeds and WOW, just this first year has taught me more than I ever could have dreamed. I genuinely think I look at the world in a new way, constantly studying how flowers grow and reproduce, when they bloom and where they thrive. Growing flowers from seed is an entire language of it’s own, and I’m just learning to speak it, but since so many of you asked about my gardening on Instagram over the summer, I wanted to take some time to share a bit of what I know so far, and especially my mistakes to help others avoid them!

Some of my biggest lessons:

Label seedlings //

My biggest mistake was the assumption that I’d know what everything was when the seeds started to sprout and grow. As a result I confused lots of seedlings and their planting schedules, and ultimately lost out on a lot of plants. Next year I’m going to be much more organized.

Don’t over-plant //

I tried to grow too many varieties of way too many things, which left me with not enough time and a lot of suffering plants, especially in the veggie patch. Next year I hope to streamline based on what worked best for me this past season, and make lots of cuts!

Timing is everything //

It’s amazing how far you can stretch a garden space if you know when everything grows and dies off. I planted everything as if it would all mature at the same time, and as a result I had patches of bare dirt in different spots all summer long. Staggered planting based on depth and timing is a great way to maximize your garden!

Some of my best easy successes and favourites:

Amazing Grey Poppies

Mission bell poppies

ProCut White Lite Sunflowers

The Roses Aster Mix

Purity Cosmos

Early Multiflora Sweet Peas

Polar Bear Zinnea

Anything from a tuber or bulb! My biggest advice for brand new gardeners looking to grow their own flowers is to start here. Bulbs are extremely easy to plant, low maintenance, and so satisfying to enjoy in the springtime. Dahlias and tulips are my top picks, and you can dig them up and split to multiply your plants annually too.

My biggest fails //

I had absolutely no luck with lavender, even with these simple-to-use Tasc seed plugs (which worked super well for my pumpkin plants!)

Eggplants, peppers and cauliflower were also a struggle, and a lot of my zucchini plants were damaged beyond repair by all of our summer rain, though these cue ball specialty ones somehow still did amazing!

I bought a handful of rose bushes in bare-root form and they all did very poorly because I over-watered them (lesson learned)

Overall my flowers from seed did really well, except seeds I planted too late experimentally (most still grew, they just didn’t gather enough energy to bloom before the weather turned cold)

On my list for next year //

Rose Bon Bon Cosmos

Pizzicato Poppy

Indian Spring Hollyhock

Let me know what you love to grow in the comments below!

A Pastel Home

I’m usually quite quick when it comes to developing a vision for a space, and most of the rooms in this new apartment were a piece of cake – except for the living room. Since moving in last year, the living and dining area of our apartment have been constantly in-flux. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really designed such a large, open space, or because we wanted to make the furniture we already had work vs. buying all new everything, but no matter how many times I shuffled items around, it just didn’t feel “finished” or “right”.

Fast forward to a whole year of living here, and Jonnie suggested maybe we just needed to buy a bigger couch. His words were a big ah-hah moment for me – as much as I loved our faux leather couch, it just wasn’t well suited to this space. We needed something bigger. We needed an Article sectional.

Article is our go-to for just about everything furniture related. A Canadian company based right here in Vancouver, they design beautifully crafted items at attainable prices. When it comes to sofas and sectionals, there was no company we could find who did it so well, and so within our budget. We were torn between so many different styles, but in the end we went simple, low, and classic, with The Abisko Sectional.

Making that one big switch made a world of difference to our living room – it finally felt intentional, like everything flowed the way it was meant to. A few extra bits and pieces helped tie it all together, like this pedestal side table and massive new terrazzo planter for our fig tree (an overdue upgrade!) Mostly though, we made use of the items I’ve had for years in different apartments, like the pink area rug and the rocking chair that originally lived in Summer’s Nursery.

I couldn’t be happier with this open, airy, modern beach bungalow-inspired space, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Like what you see? Click through here for $50 off your Article order of $200 or more!

Sources and shopping links listed below…

Shopping Links //

Article Abisko White Right Sectional 

Article Lanna Pink Round Sheepskin Pillow

Article Vardo Oyster White Side Table

Article Tuva White Terrazzo Large Planter

Article Coffee Table

Article Dining Chairs

IKEA floating shelves

IKEA dining table (sold out, similar here)

Crate and Barrel Kids Pink Floor Lamp

Pink Moroccan Pouf

Large Wool Moroccan Pouf (one of a kind, similar here)

Area Rug from Lulu and Georgia x Claire Zinnecker collection (sold out, similar here)

Paint colours from Benjamin Moore – main colour is AURA Interior Paint in Light Quartz 2011-70 Matte, tile accent colour is ADVANCE Interior Paint in Mixed Fruit 2011-50 Semi Gloss with a coat of Fresh Start Primer 046 beforehand

Surfer art by Sabina Fenn from iCanvas

Bubble Vase from Homecoming Candles

Jar Candles by Homecoming Candles

Brass wall mounted candle holders by Fredericks and Mae via. Coco Et Olive here in Vancouver

Additional planters from Ingido and Hudson and Oak

Fireplace set, vases, bookends and other details not noted are found items or vintage treasures

Click through here for $50 off your Article order of $200 or more!

Some of the items featured in this post were gifted, but my opinions remain entirely my own.

I'll Follow You Anywhere

This is likely the most impromptu travel guide on my site to date, and it comes down to the many wonders of Seattle taking me completely by surprise! Originally we had planned one night in Washington’s largest city to see Justin Bieber, and we didn’t intend on doing much else. When Justin cancelled his show the day before we were set to leave on our trip, we decided to go ahead anyway, and I immediately took to googling and Instagram hashtag searching, determined to find at least a few local gems.

I ended up with more than a few gems – Seattle is a full on treasure chest full of inventive plant-based products, charming wine bars, and delicious dining. In just 48 hours, we found so many incredible spots that I could have easily spent a full week just wandering around.

We’ll definitely be back to Seattle soon!

Scroll down for my favourite places

Stay //

Ace Hotel Seattle

Pali Hotel Seattle

The Edgewater Seattle (we stayed here and it was $$$ but worth the splurge for a special occasion!)

Shop //

Butter Home

Flora and Henri

Eats //

The London Plane

Homer (make sure you try the soft serve, and/or check out their sister restaurant Milk Drunk for ice cream down the street!)

Beecher’s Cheese

Sips //

La Dive

Marseille Wine Bar

Petite Soif Wine Bar

Rachel’s Ginger Beer

Treats //

Frankie & Jo’s

General Porpoise Doughnuts

Dance //

Pony

Queer/Bar

Unicorn

Spots we didn’t get to try but want to try next time:

Big Max Burger Co.

LA Josie’s

Eden Hill Restaurant

Sabine Seattle

Eve

Taylor Shellfish

Foreign National

Stateside

Bistro Shirlee

Little Neon Taco

Cafe Flora

Shug’s Soda Fountain

Le Pichet

Atulea

Opal Studio Nails

I'll Follow You Anywhere

When I envisioned Summer’s early years, I always pictured lots of travel. She’d grow up on sandy beaches and knee-deep in snow, forever chasing a new adventure while eating whatever food was available without complaint. I had high expectations for a highly adaptable kid, and I was going to get as many flights in as I could before she turned 2 and trips became double the price.

And then 2020 threw us all a massive, coronavirus-shaped curveball, and my globetrotting toddler fantasies evaporated.

It’s been 3 years since Summer was born, and aside from a few flights from Toronto to Vancouver and back as a newborn to see family, we haven’t ever taken a proper vacation together (like so many families these past few years!) When we booked this Garrison family Disneyland trip in the early Autumn (a tradition from our own childhood that I have been so eager to pass on to Summer) we were convinced COVID was only going to get better. As cases grew we became less and less confident in our decision. I already had one “Summer’s first Disney trip” cancelled in March 2020, and by the time the holidays rolled around this past year, I had resigned myself to another cancellation.

And then, after spending Christmas Day together, one by one my entire family tested positive. With the worst having already happened, and our chances of contracting or spreading the virus again so low, we decided to move forward with the trip after all. And gosh, what a trip it was!

Taking Summer to the Happiest Place on Earth (for me that means a both California itself, and Disneyland within it) was nothing short of a dream come true. All of the magic that I’d been so lucky to experience in my childhood came to life all over again seeing it through her eyes. All of that said, there were quite a few things that were different due to travelling with toddler in COVID times, and I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks we picked up along the way:

Travel Tips

Personally I find travelling with a kid Summer’s age fairly fun, and a lot less stressful than the unpredictable baby on a plane phase. Summer was so excited to fly, and she did incredibly well on our flights. Some simple things that helped were:

  • Choosing a flight time where she was well rested. Summer does NOT nap on the go anymore, so we try to plan travel around nap time vs. inclusive of nap time. Our flight down was first thing in the morning and couldn’t have been easier – we just ran around the airport before boarding to burn some energy, and then she sat and watched a movie almost the entire time without moving. The flight back we flew late afternoon when she usually naps, expecting she’d pass out from exhaustion after 4 days of swimming, sunshine and Disneyland. Unfortunately she did not sleep, and ended up begging to get off the plane and into her bed by the end of it. Lesson learned!
  • Packing new and exciting snacks is a great way to keep your kid occupied on the plane once they get sick of watching movies / screens. Raisins, fun granola bars, cheese strings and fruit roll ups are a couple of our travel favourites, plus a lollipop for emergency meltdown moments (they keep Summer busy for the longest time!)
  • Packing a few “gifts” is a toddler travel tip passed down from a dear friend of mine, and it really works. Basically the trick is, wrap up (or just pack up) a few exciting new toys, like little books or trinkets from the dollar store. It doesn’t have to be a big investment – mostly it’s about giving them something NEW. When Summer is getting testy / bored on a flight, this has been a surefire way to calm her down and gain more calm time.
  • I can’t offer a super helpful take on travelling during COVID times – because we had tested positive so close to our trip, and had passed the 14 day recover time, we were not required to test on either side of the border. The rules on this are constantly changing, so I recommend checking both the Canada website and the website for the country you are travelling to, bu at the time we flew, we needed a positive test result and doctor’s note confirming we had recovered.

Disney Tips

For those who don’t know, I’m a Disneyland fanatic. As in, I have the castle tattooed on my body and I have been to the parks 25 times so far (I’m turning 32, if that puts it into perspective). Taking my own child to experience the magic has always been on my bucket list, so making this trip happen was a BIG deal.

  • Plan for breaks! This was a major learning curve for me, because I like to do Disney all day with no resting whatsoever (fyi my feet STILL hurt from this trip weeks later). Summer still naps, so late afternoon she crashed pretty hard and refused to sleep in the stroller. It was really helpful to travel with the grandparents because they were more than happy to take Summer back to our hotel room for a break while my sister and I rode as many adult rides as we could fit in. If you’re traveling solo and taking turns isn’t an option, I’d recommend taking an extra day in Disneyland (there are a lot more rides for toddlers in Disneyland park vs. California Adventure Park) so you don’t feel too rushed trying to get to everything when your kid is exhausted. 
  • Make sure you pack masks for your kiddos, as they do need them for some of the indoor rides if they’re ages 2 and up (this may change, but for now it’s quite seriously enforced at the park)
  • Do your shopping outside the park to avoid wasting time once you’re through the gates. Almost every store on the Disneyland property stocks the same items, save for a few specialty shops, so I recommend hitting up Downtown Disney in the evenings after the park is closed (World of Disney has the most choice anyway!) I found it particularly hard to find clothing in sizes for toddlers this time around, especially matching stuff with adult sizing, but the Disneyland hotel gift shop was actually a hidden gem full of kids sizes and styles I didn’t see anywhere else. 
  • We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel this time around because it was such a special trip for us all (and it’s nice to be “in the magic” at all times with kiddos) but honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it right now. A lot of the perks that come with the price were on hold, such as early park entry for hotel guests, and a lot of the services were really lacking (we had cold water for showers most mornings!) In the future, we’ll likely save money staying at a nearby offsite hotel, but we did really love the Disneyland hotel pool, so no regrets!
  • Overall, if you are a big Disneyland fan like me, I’d suggest lowering your expectations for a visit right now. Unfortunately it felt like so much of the experience has been impacted by budget cuts and staffing issues. We had quite a few extremely negative encounters with “cast members”, many of the shows weren’t running, and a lot of the special little details from past visits were missing. Despite the changes, remember to be kind! Everyone is doing their best with the current situation, and kindness goes a long way, especially at The Happiest Place on Earth!
A Pastel Home

As previously mentioned, decorating kid’s room is by far my favourite type of styling (like, can this be my full time job down the line please?)

In this line of work, and as a mom in general, it’s easy to get sucked into buying all new everything all the time, especially after a move, but I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself to make each of Summer’s spaces so far feel different, without breaking the bank on a whole new set of furniture.

There wasn’t much I could do as far as customization in Summer’s old room because we were in a brand new condo, so when I relocated to our current older home, I was eager to add some really special touches here. I didn’t go with a theme, instead I wanted to make the decor about all of Summer’s favourite things: cats, berries, birds, rainbows, and pink! It all started with Chasing Paper’s Smitten Kitten Wallpaper – possibly the cutest wallpaper pattern I’ve ever come across, and it comes in either traditional wallpaper, or peel and stick if you’re renting and need something less permanent!

The strawberry curtains (currently out of stock) were also an awesome find that helped shape the space early on. I haven’t ever really worried about window treatments in my past homes, but this time around I’m really loving the way a beautiful curtain rod with a patterned or coloured curtain can change the feel of a space. Plus it’s easy to take them down and bring them with you next time you move.

I kept Summer’s old rug, rocking chair, the bench from my childhood room that I repainted last summer, and our beloved gold crib from Babyletto, but with the toddler bar conversion kit, which instantly turned this heirloom piece of furniture into a safe and beautiful big girl bed. I added new bedding from Crate and Kids, a canopy from Sorens House, and a swan soaring overhead in place of a mobile, a combination that makes Summer’s sleeping experience feel whimsical and new without fully replacing her crib with a bed. I

I also wanted to keep the book wall that I have re-created in each of Summer’s rooms with IKEA picture ledges, but this time it felt important to include a smaller, accessible bookshelf in the space so she can pick out and read her favourite books. I went with the Babyletto Tally Book Case from West Coast Kids, a gorgeous piece that both works in the space and looks amazing too.

And of course it wouldn’t be an RAOP rental redesign without switching out a light fixture! Originally I tried re-using the IKEA light from Summer’s old room, but it felt much too small this time around, so I invested in a gorgeous flush mount I’ve been eyeing from Mitzi and I plan to re-use the IKEA one in the hallway (if I can ever sort out what breaker that light is on…)

With so many delightful little touches, this room is the happiest place in the house, and I can’t wait to watch it change and grow as Summer grows too!

Keep scrolling for more photos, and source / shopping links

Shopping Links //

Cat Wallpaper by Chasing Paper

Crib by Babyletto with Toddler Bed add on (available for order in Canada through West Coast Kids)

Canopy from Sorens House

Bedding from Crate and Kids

Rocker by Nursery Works

Quilt from Crate and Kids (on sale!)

Swan Ceiling Decor from Freddie and Birdie Co.

Rug from Lorena Canalis

Tally Bookcase by Babyletto

Leather pouf from Mashi Moosh (similar on sale here)

Lydia Flushmount light fixture from Mitzi

Swing shelf from Winter and Vine (no longer available, similar here)

Gold curtain rod from Crate and Kids

Art by Selena Wong

Strawberry curtains from H&M

Mini piano from West Coast kids

Coffee maker from Sorens House

Custom name puzzle from Busy Puzzle

Toy Bench from my childhood (similar here)

Most books from Collage Collage