Monday, December 31, 2012

Re-Claim, Re-Envision and Re-Purpose

The countdown is on to 2013 and what better time to look back on 2012 and reflect on days past, but to also refocus to 2013 and days yet to have begun.
To say that this past year was a roller coaster ride would be an understatement.....I'd say it was more like every single ride at any big amusement park all in one! The ups and downs have been unbelievable, both in good and bad ways.
New babies have been born and we also lost wonderful people much too soon. The circle of life was very apparent this year....
New homes were built, new chapters of life began and the memories of homes once had will be with us forever!
Time spent with friends and family was cherished and thoroughly enjoyed! 2013 will hold much more of this...I guarantee it!
A weekend at the lake this summer....

Travel, work, more travel, more work....this year there will be much more travel (fun travel) and much less work...I promise to work to live, not live to work!
A trip to Thunder Bay this to see first hand what our guys do day-in, day-out.
Lake Superior

Our world has also thrown some curveballs this year..some were hit out of the park in the most fun and exciting way, others, we completely struck out on! The Olympics were a perfect example of the world coming together, playing together and showcasing the best of the best! The human tragedies  and the absolutely crazy weather showed us the worst this world has to offer, but even through the worst, the best came out in people! ...I only hope that we can all take a step back, learn from what has occurred, try to treat eachother with more care and truly appreciate what we have!
My plan for 2013 goes back to my small business 'mantra'...
I will re-claim my life, refocus on me and taking care of myself, first and foremost. I will put on my "Oxygen Mask" and eat better, get back to the gym, take more time for activities I enjoy, get outside more......time to re-claim who I am!
Have more fun in 2013...and not only on weekends ;) !!

I will re-envision where I am heading in life. I am blessed to live a life that is holistically, a very happy and fulfilling way of being. That being said, there are areas I want to 're-jig', 'tweak' and revisit my vision. My small business, Rustic Retrievals, is one of them. I have a passion for home decor, styling and helping others create the home they have always's time to take it up a notch and really focus on this! I will also become a regulated health professional this year as a College of Kinesiologists has been established in the province of Ontario. This will open even more doors for my other passions....the human body, helping others and rehabilitation. Stay tuned!
I will re-purpose what I already have and keep reminding myself how very lucky I am to have what I have. This will be a year of 'less spending and more saving'. When I do spend, I will continue to focus on  supporting local shops and small businesses.
 I'm not only talking about material things....I will also continue to and constantly re-examine and re-visit relationships, my career, my goals and continually re-purpose, re-claim and re-envision all of these too!
2012 was quite a year....I look forward to what 2013 holds for me, my family and my friends!
Happy New Year from Charlie and I!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow Bunny!

I love Winter!

The cold, crisp air...the fluffy snow... how beautiful the world looks under a blanket of snowflakes....It really is my favourite time of year!

Getting all bundled up, being the first person to break a trail in the new fallen snow, tobogganing, skating, skiing, snowshoeing...with so much to do outdoors, it makes coming back indoors to a warm fire and hot chocolate even that more special!

As I'm outside in the winter, I tend to also take quite a few photos.....You never have a the same day twice in the winter with storms coming and going and I really enjoy capturing as many of these moments as I can!

Our morning walk after the first real snowfall of Winter 2012....

The photos below are of winters gone by during visits to my parent's home.... Frosty mornings, 'powder puffs', walks through the forest....Such a wonderful time of year to be outdoors!




I have a very special place in my heart for the West....I love skiing and when you're skiing in a setting like this, you never want to leave the slopes! I also love time, I'm taking my skates along too!!
These are photos from my trip to Lake Louise and Banff a few years ago....

View from the chairlift at Lake Louise...

At the Fairmont Banff Springs

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

Fairmont Banff Springs....I am DEFINITELY packing my skates the next trip out!

Fairmont Banff Springs

View from the mountain down to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise....

View from the Fairmont Banff Springs

Another view from the Fairmont Banff Springs...

As you can see...there are so many wonderful and magical reasons to get outdoors this winter and enjoy nature in all it's beauty!!


**All photos are property of Rustic Retrievals**


Friday, December 28, 2012

Party Time!!


We made it through Christmas... the laughter, the happy tears, the hecticness and with possibly with a few more inches around the mid-section...but, we made it!

New Years is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate the past year and welcome in the New Year then with a dinner party?!

You don't even need to do a full dinner evening of appetizers and cocktails is just as fun and is a bit more casual.

Personally, I would be more inclined to have people over for appetizers and cocktails (mainly due to the size of my house/dining area) and in preparation of this, I always turn to my Williams Sonoma Cookbooks. Not only do I flip through my cookbooks for inspiration, but, the Williams Sonoma website also has a plethora of recipes from a variety of their cookbooks that you can access and enjoy! This is one of my favourites:

Mushroom and Mascarpone Tartlets

If mascarpone is unavailable, you can approximate its flavor and consistency by whisking 1/3 cup softened cream cheese with 1/3 cup sour cream until smooth.


1 disk savory tart dough (see related recipe at left)

Flour for rolling out dough

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 large leeks, including pale green parts, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced

3/4 lb. cremini, shiitake, or oyster mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, squeezed dry and finely chopped (optional)

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2/3 cup mascarpone cheese (see note above)


Bake the tart bases

Preheat an oven to 375°F.
Divide the dough disk in half, keeping one half in the refrigerator until needed. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each half into a rough round 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible. Transfer to 1 or 2 baking sheets. Gather the scraps, roll out 1/8 inch thick and cut out additional rounds. You should have about 32 rounds. Pierce the rounds in several places with a fork. Bake until the tart bases are slightly golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Cook the mushrooms

Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and reconstituted porcini, season generously with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and become dry and softened, about 5 minutes.

Assemble the tarts

Spread 1 heaping tsp. of the mascarpone onto each tart base. Mound 2 tsp. of the mushroom mixture on the cheese. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately. Makes about 32 tartlets.

When it comes to cocktails, most of my friends "BYOB" as they have a very wide variety of tastes, however, I like to make sure I always have the 'staples' on hand (vodka, gin, rye, rum and red &white wine), mix, non-alcoholic options such as Efferve and lots & lots of bubbly!


Pull out your best stemware, flatware, serving dishes and then start to decorate!

From the kitchen (we all know parties congregate in the kitchen) to the dining room.....I know how much I enjoy putting together the centrepieces, the flatware, the linens...the possibilities are endless!

You can take the holiday decor you already have out and make small changes to transform it into New Years decor. Replace the snowmen with snowflakes, the holiday stockings for sparkley stiletto ornaments or mini snowshoes (depending on whether you're going for glitz/glam or a more rustic feel) and leave out the antlers, the greenery, the deer, the sparkley branches etc etc....

Perfect for the 'kitchen party'..a moveable island, white platters/plates and natural decor.

Farmhouse Chic Decor....LOVE the goblets!

Rustic Simplicity!

Green glass! Use the collections you already have!

More formal.....

The buffet is a perfect to set up the bar area....

Holiday colours in a rustic setting....

Rustic Modern....

White, creams and natural elements...Simple = Beautiful
Non-trad colours look incredibly festive!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and "Cheers" to 2013!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

All You Need....

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and continue to have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends!
I am very lucky in my line of work to have been able to take time off around the holiday season this year and spend that time with those I care about most. However, many of my friends work in fields such as healthcare, emergency services and retail and they do not always have this luxury.
Our hospitals never shut down, accidents continue to happen, people still get sick... so those of us in the healthcare/emergency services field understand that there will be holidays that will be spent at work, away from family. That being said, for any of my friends that work in these fields, they don't work every holiday, they rotate on and off and do have a chance to spend some holidays with their family....
Then....there's retail. I just texted with a friend of mine who is a Store Manager at one of the busiest malls in Canada, just to see how she is doing....she sent me back a 2 word answer...."Friggin Crazy".
She loves what she does, but, as her friend, I would love to see her have the opportunity to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day with her family/children. As a Manager, she is there until close on Christmas Eve, is there first thing on Boxing Day and generally stays until the bitter end...EVERY, SINGLE YEAR!
Like I said, she loves what she does and she is darn great at what she does, but, if I could have one wish granted, I would love to see Boxing Day moved to December 27...or even December 28! I would love to see her be able to stay in her pajamas on Boxing Day, curl up on the couch with her 2 beautiful kids and just relax!
My friend and her daughter at the lake this summer...
We spend an entire day opening gifts that we haven't even had a chance to truly appreciate and enjoy, yet, some of us feel the need to line up as early as 1am on Boxing Day (or even before), to go buy more 'stuff'...yes, 'stuff'. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with that, but, let's be thankful to those people who have given up their holiday time to be there to sell you 'stuff'.
We are a consumer driven society and yes, I understand completely that we need to continue to be consumers to ensure our economy stays on track...however....we also need to find a balance between needs versus wants! 
A person may need medical care on December 26 but no one needs to go out and buy an iPad on December 26.
As you can likely tell, I've never understood the hype behind Boxing Day...I'd much rather spend the day with people I care about versus fighting through crowds of strangers for 'deals' on material things.
I challenge you to spend time with your family today rather then your debit/credit card. Be thankful for what you already have versus what you feel you still want.
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Hidden Gem

Let me introduce you to an amazing and very talented woman who I am sooo very lucky to call one of my best friends!
Kristy (Ireland) Zagorodny and I met in Grade 9 homeroom and the rest....well, the rest is history! Since I met Kristy, I have been absolutely amazed at her creative nature and her eye for attention to detail! In addition to being one of the most artistic people I know, she also has the biggest heart and welcoming/warm personality of anyone you will ever meet!
Kristy's Wedding - Kristy and I
Kristy lives outside a cute little town called Mildmay, the Lamplighter Town, in Southern Ontario. There is a beautiful old stone hotel in Mildmay which has been converted to a charming pub and coffee perk/shop called Harleys . The main floor of the hotel is the pub and perk, however, there are 2 floors above that when you climb the beautiful wooden stair cases, you feel like you have stepped back to 1827 when the hotel was built.
Kristy was commissioned to decorate the 2nd floor of the hotel for the local home holiday tour and the transformation was spectacular!....As I wandered from room to room, I felt as though I was transported into a story book from Christmases past....

As you came up the staircase, you were greeted by this beautiful tree done in golds, champagne and creams....
 The cozy and festive sitting area in front of the fireplace....
Sparkle and shine.... 

Greens, baubles, a wooden barrel and vintage windows.... 
 The fireplace...
Simple yet so very effective....greens, antlers and a bit of 'bling'..

The banisters, the chandelier, the antiques, the 14 foot ceilings.....stunning!
A little nook to sit, enjoy the holiday atmosphere and have a toddy...

The spectacular dining room....reds, black, silver....rustic chic! 
A window vignette in the dining room....

Seeing as this was a hotel, the rooms each had a sink to allow guests to 'freshen up'...Antique mirror and accessories...

 More modern colours used with a vintage feel....I LOVE this table from The Neustadt Mill Antiques

A perfect example of Kristy's advent calendar from a gorgeous antique frame and Christmas baubles....

We called this the 'peacock corner. with the blues, turquoises and greens....the Sleigh was the perfect traditional touch (and can be found at Neustadt Mill Antiques)

 The local sponsorship and support was amazing....Small town Ontario really knows how to come together!
Not only does Kristy have a very talented 'eye', but so does her father, Bill Ireland...these two winterscapes are photos of his of the local landscape....

"Winter Wonderland"


This is a handdrawn sketch of the Hotel....a beautiful, historic building that continues to bring the community together!

Kristy has an obvious passion for decor and styling....and as you can see, she truly is a hidden gem in the home/floral decor world!
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