Easter Parts One & Two

For those who may not know, Easter is the biggest religious celebration for Greek Orthodox Christians (it’s bigger than Christmas). Growing up, we have always celebrated Orthodox Easter, with certain festivities and family gatherings spilling over onto Western Easter, depending on how close the two fall if it’s not on a year that they coincide completely. Confusing, I know! You can read about the differences and why they are sometimes celebrated on different days here.

This year, we celebrated both. Western, or Catholic Easter, presented an opportunity to get together with family for an outdoor egg hunt at my aunt and uncle’s farm. This was a place where my sisters and I spent a lot of time in our younger years and it was so fun to go back now with Theodora. It’s not hard to see that she had a lot of fun filling her basket with the help of her older cousins, pointing out where the eggs and other Easter goodies were hiding!

She was clearly done at this point. With the egg hunt, and all of the pictures!

Orthodox Easter, which was just this past weekend, consisted of a lot of church-going and looking forward to the meat-filled feast that would break our 40-day fast. This typically includes a big lamb roast, but because not everyone was in town for the weekend, we opted for hosting an equally satisfying, but simple, brunch on Sunday morning. I vowed to take more pictures throughout the weekend, but failed miserably, getting caught up in the busy-ness of everything. I did, however, manage to take a couple on my phone – of Thea’s outfits that we dressed her in for church. Priorities, right?! Here, friends, our Orthodox Easter in Thea’s #ootd, or Outfits of the Day.

One of my dreams is to one day celebrate Easter in Greece – to really experience the richness, beauty and mystery of the holiday. Until that time, we will continue with carrying out the traditions we knew and loved during our childhood, with a whole lot of fun along the way!

I hope you’re having a great week!

xo
Kassey

Also…

Although an old article, Rita Wilson’s take on Orthodox Easter is a really personal and beautiful read, if you haven’t come across it already.

Fun fact ~ It’s a sweet coincidence that I post on this topic today. Easter was my grandma’s absolute favourite holiday, and today is her birthday! Happy Birthday yiayia. You are still very much alive in my heart and memories ❤

Working Girl

You may remember me telling you about my new job as a full-time, stay-at-home mom, which is still something I’m loving immensely. In that same post, I also talked about a promise I kind of made to myself about finding ways to keep those other, non-baby parts of my brain nice and fresh. And so here I am, one month into a perfect gig that I can do from home, project managing for a public relations and marketing company. I am LOVING it!

It’s just what I was hoping for – new and challenging so as to push me, yet familiar enough that I can draw from my previous experience. All of this from the comfort of home with Theodora on my lap sometimes, and other times while she’s napping or asleep for the night. This also explains why I have been a little more absent from this space lately. It is not for any other reason than getting myself acquainted with this job. I have enjoyed blogging and everything that comes along with it too much, so I’m excited to inject some of what I learn along the way into the future of The Lovely Ordinary!

People have asked me if I miss my job, and I do miss certain parts. I miss working downtown, and I miss the people, but probably the strangest of all the things I miss is this: dressing up for work. Weird? I know! I have always loved dressing up, whether it was for work, or an event, or heck, even day to day. I’m not a hang-around-in-my-pjs-all-day kind of girl (although sometimes those days are necessary and enjoyable every now and again), so it’s very much a fun part of mine and Theodora’s day to get out of our pyjamas and don some cute duds for the day. I recently read something that I thought was so sweet, and really resonated with my dress-up desires. It was more of a fun tactic to keep the sparks flying in your relationship (it’s not what you think!!), but it reminded me of yet another occasion I consider fun and worthy of dressing up – going out for a night on the town with your husband/boyfriend/significant other.

Speaking of which, signs of love are going to pop up everywhere over the next couple of weeks as we near Valentine’s Day. If you’re stuck for things to do, check out this list of 20 things to do in Edmonton on Valentine’s Day. Some really fun ideas here, like my personal favourite – the Sweetheart Snowshoe through the River Valley.

Oh, and Happy Groundhog Day! What are you all thinking; will spring come soon, or will we endure winter for a little while longer? Hmmm….

Have a great week, regardless of the season Mother Nature grants us!

xo,
Kassey

Still Renovating. Oh, and a Giveaway!

I’m about to launch into a topic that has potential to completely dominate this little space of mine on the internet. But I won’t let that happen! I’ll keep it short and sweet for you guys, but also share our renovation story, as well as let you in on a chance to win something cool!

GIVEAWAY
I’ll start with the fun stuff first! The Edmonton Renovation Show kicks off this weekend and up for grabs is one pair of VIP tickets to Bryan Baeumler’s show on Friday, January 23 at 7:00 pm! For anyone that has undertaken a renovation project, large or small, you will appreciate when I say that getting ideas, tips, and inspiration from pros like Bryan can really help guide your process. He has led homeowners in tackling overwhelming projects on his hit shows House of Bryan, Disaster DIY, and Leave It To Bryan. Enter for your chance to learn, first hand, his tips on a renovation priority list and how to get the most out of your home. Simply enter a Rafflecopter giveaway
with your information, follow a few short steps, and I will draw the winner on January 21 at 10:00 am. It’s a short window of time, so be sure to get in there! *Contest is open to those who will be in Edmonton on January 23, 2015*

Back to our renovation saga…I mean, story! I speak genuinely when I say that it has been an extremely rewarding experience undertaking such a project. When Alex and I decided to buy his childhood home over six years ago, it was with intentions of updating it so that we could turn around and resell in a fairly short amount of time. However, taking on 95% of this renovation ourselves, we quickly learned that a) we had to do this gradually in order to stay within budget and b) this stuff takes time. A wedding, some travelling and a baby later brings us to today, where we still have a few odds and ends to tie up, as well as a main bathroom to completely overhaul. But you know what, we’re ok with it because with each coat of paint, and each piece of hardwood that was laid down, we have grown that much more attached to this home. There were tears along the way (just mine), and a whole lot of sweat, so this isn’t to say that it was a walk-in-the-park kind of task. It’s a huge undertaking, and without Alex’s patience and dedication to learn, as well as some help and elbow grease of a few friends and family, we wouldn’t have completed what we have today.

The coolest part about all of this is that Theodora now gets to grow up under the same roof that her dad did! It’s actually an exciting opportunity for all three of us to start making some new memories under Version 2.0 of this roof. And on that note, here is our humble home in before’s and after’s:

The Living Room

The Dining Room

The Kitchen

The Family Room

We tackled each space with the goal of making it usable. While we may not do all of our family lounging and relaxing in the larger living room, for example, it definitely is a space we use often, even if it’s just for Theodora to run circles (and for some reason, that area rug is a total hit with kids!) After all has been said and (almost) done, we are not in as much of a rush to sell the house as we thought we would be. We’ve updated it to our taste and really enjoy it and our neighbourhood. So we’ll stay a while.

If you have a chance this weekend, and you’re looking for some renovation inspiration, head over to the show to chat with the experts!

Hours
Friday, January 23, noon-9pm
Saturday, January 24, 10am-9pm
Sunday, January 25, 10am-5pm

Northlands, Edmonton EXPO Centre
http://www.edmontonrenovationshow.com/

Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Thanks, 2014. Hello, 2015!

I hope you all have had a restful, food-filled holiday with all of the family time your hearts can handle, and more! That is what the holidays are all about after all, right?

It has been not just a great holiday season for us, but a great year all around. We took in all of our firsts with Theodora, and got to enjoy an energetic Christmas morning full of laughs as we watched her destroy every piece of tissue paper she came across. Who needs toys?!

As we were nearing the holidays, I was really hoping to take a true break and unplug. It’s hard to do, since day to day life is full of digital distractions, but I was determined to completely scale back on laptop, tablet and cell phone time. And what a success; we did it! We had several festive events on our radar, which we managed to take in, but most of all, we just wanted to hang out with our families. Visiting with family and friends was of top priority, especially those that made it in from out of town, so we feel refreshed after having caught up with those that are dear to us, but live far away.

It should be all 365 days of the year, but at Christmas time we are reminded to acknowledge and count our blessings. Having just payed my respects at an old friend’s funeral yesterday, that reminder was especially clear to me. I do my best to recognize all of life’s blessings all throughout the year, even (especially) the tiny ones, but I will make sure that for 2015, I kick that up a notch.

For example, I’m going to institute a wear-matching-slippers ritual, like we did on Christmas morning:

Or take a regular stroll through the local zoo at night:

Have a snow day on a more regular basis:

Relish in all of the joy that this little one brings us:

Also worth mentioning – she not only got her two front (top) teeth for Christmas, but also mastered walking! This proud mom is filling in these milestones in the baby book!

As our 2014 chapter comes to a close, we excitedly await 2015 and all of the fun it has in store for us. We’ve got wedding festivities on the horizon, and the regular daily adventures that we call life, so that in itself is a blessing. Hug those you love extra tight, and I wish you all every joy and happiness in 2015. Oh, and ring in the New Year safely 🙂

xo,
Kassey

RIP JC ❤

#yeg Spotlight: Holiday Shopping

The festive spirit has been evident in our home for a few weeks now, but my excitement really amps up the moment Halloween is over. Christmas is, without question, my favourite time of the year, and I have enjoyed holiday shopping this year with my favourite little shopping companion by my side. I really like to support local businesses as much as I can, so I turned to a few of my favourite local makers (and discovered some new ones along the way) when thinking about what we wanted to gift this year. Below, my go-tos and why I like them so much:

1. Justine Ma: Design & Hand Lettering
Can you remember a time when a handwritten note didn’t give you an extra special feeling? I can’t, especially when it’s this level of beautiful and perfect. Justine’s custom hand lettering is appropriate for pretty much all occasions and reasons for gifting, and will make a most heart felt and memorable gift. Her merchandise can be found in various local shops throughout the city, and she is a regular in the craft show scene, the details of which you can keep up with through her Instagram feed. It’s a gorgeous feed, and it’s sprinkled with appearances of her equally gorgeous family. You’re welcome 🙂

2. Sylvia Soo Leather, Art & Design
I haven’t really stopped gushing about Sylvia since I discovered her, and I have equal parts lust for her leather goods as I do her sweet personality. I first learned about her through an interview my friend, Gillian, did on her blog, The Noteworthy (you can read all about Sylvia here), and then I had the chance to meet her at the Make It Show last month. Clean, minimalist and impeccable craftsmanship are but a few of the ways I would describe Sylvia’s work. And while you’re perusing her site, I would encourage you to read about how she got started in leather making. It will move and inspire you in ways you probably won’t expect.

3. Jacek Chocolate Couture
There’s chocolate, and then there’s Jacek Chocolate. More than just a delectable, bite-sized treat, they’re nice to look at, too; I’ve actually heard of these being referred to as edible art! We upped our chocolate giving this year by grabbing a few beautifully boxed goodies, and in turn, we’re supporting a really cool local business. While I haven’t met the master chocolatier behind all of this, I’ve heard Jacqueline’s passion for the art is contagious. And by the evolution of her business, from home-based to storefront in the heart of downtown Edmonton, I’d say this passion injection is a good thing.

4. Duchess Bake Shop
I think all of Canada knows of Duchess Bake Shop by now, as they have truly established themselves as a prominent, top tier, bakery. It also represents all things beautiful and French, from the savoury Croque Monsieur to the pristine decor, it’s as if you’re hanging out in Paris for the day. Their cookbook, released earlier this fall, shares not only recipes, but tips, tricks and beautiful photos to help us recreate our favourites right at home.

5. Plum Home + Design
Beautiful things abound under the roof of Plum. For the antique lover, or the kitchen warrior, the crafting queen, or the office organizing nut, there is something for everyone. Each item in this store is perfectly curated to create the most charming shopping experience (online shopping is available, too!), making it really difficult not to walk out with something for yourself. Or that adorable baby in your life – Baby Plum is an expanding portion of this local business, and it’s a whole lot of soft, cute, and beautiful.

6. Evoolution
The wide variety of infused oils and vinegars available here make gift-giving a very smooth ride. I have been on the receiving end of an Evoolution gift, and I’m always so excited to put the new oil and vinegar pairing to work. For those Jamie Oliver types in your life, a gift set or individually chosen pairing just begs for experimentation. A sure win!

I would love for you to share some of your local favourites with me! I’m always looking to add to my list of local go-tos.

Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Images via:
http://www.plumhomeanddesign.com, my own, http://www.jacekchocolate.com, http://www.duchessbakeshop.com, http://www.evoolution.ca

Our Weekend in Pictures: Showering a Baby and Celebrating Love

This past weekend was one that I had been looking forward to for quite a while, as I hosted my very first baby shower. We celebrated Baby Amelia, the daughter of very dear friends of ours. You know the kinds of friends where you look forward to the day when their kids get married, so that you can say “I’ve watched you grow up!”? That’s these friends. And needless to say, Thea has a new partner in crime.

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Shower games can be a hoot, but we decided on only one so that guests also had the opportunity to visit and catch up with one another. A few finger foods, cute babies, and great company amounted to the perfect way to spend a rather cold afternoon!

Later that evening, we took a jaunt over to a wedding reception for friends of ours that recently got married. The beautiful couple eloped in San Francisco, and as if these two weren’t stunning enough, the breathtaking California forest where they exchanged vows provided a backdrop like no other. I’ll say no more and just invite you to click here to enjoy some of their photos.

Their celebration took place at the cool downtown eatery, Parlor Italian Kitchen & Bar, and it was everything a fete of love should be. Some romance. Lots of pretty. Great tunes. Just an all around, good, good time. It was such an honor to be part of this joyous night!

Happy Monday, and happy week!

xo,
Kassey

Shower details
Custom hand-lettered frame ~ Justine Ma: Design & Hand Lettering
Cupcakes ~ Those Cakes She Bakes
Baby Shower Bingo cards ~ free printable available here

Stuff I Saw & Loved

1. We live in a winter city, which brings with it all sorts of beauty and fun. But this huge snowball fight in an unknown location is going to make it even more awesome. (metronews.ca)

2. Even princesses have stylists. (vogue.com.au)

3. Five words: Kate Spade New York x GapKids! Sorry, credit card. And Alex. (gapcanada.ca)

4. My mom did (and still does) this for me, and I want to do the same for Theodora, always. Here’s some advice I hope to remember when we enter that part of life when little feelings can get hurt. (joannagoddard.blogspot.ca)

5. A good reminder: the ten commandments of skincare. (theluxelife.com)

6. If you’re hoping to start Christmas shopping, and you want to support local artisans, do check out Make It! The Handmade Revolution. It runs from November 20-23 at the Enjoy Centre in St. Albert. Discounted early bird tickets are still available! (makeitproductions.com)

Have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Our First Halloween

Confession: I have never really liked Halloween. This may come as a shock to those that don’t know me, but will be no surprise to those that do. The excitement of a costume, made or bought, has not been my thing since about grade seven, and even then, I think my get-up was a recycled idea from a couple of years prior (a gypsy).

Fast forward fifteen years, and suddenly I am convinced I need just one more decoration, and one more Halloween-themed snack idea. Gasp! Having a little one really changes these sorts of things! We dressed little Thea as Minnie Mouse this year, because it was just too darned cute, and Minnie happens to be one of her favourite stuffed animals.

I was also excited to host our monthly mom’s meet up that day, so I thought it would be really fun to have a little Halloween party. We had a great morning hanging out, snacking and admiring all of the adorable costumes. A great way to kick off a festive weekend!

It goes without saying – these babies could melt your heart every day, not just Halloween! And these moms I’ve met, and can happily call my friends, warm my heart. They’re the best!

Conclusion: I am now a Halloween liker. Not quite a lover (yet).

I would love to know – what have been some of your most successful Halloween costumes, either for yourself or your little ones? I’m going to start collecting ideas for next year 🙂

Happy Monday to you, and a very happy week!

xo,
Kassey

#yeg Spotlight: YEG Love Letters

I like to believe there is more good in the world than there is bad. Last week’s shootings in Ottawa, which claimed the life of an innocent and devoted soldier, tested that faith for Canadians.

As I was scrolling through my Instagram feed that day, though, I was reminded of a really heart warming project here in Edmonton – Love Letters to Strangers. The name basically says it all; letters are placed in random and unassuming places throughout the city, containing uplifting messages, and words of love and encouragement. The fairy godmother behind this, Ashley Green, distributes them with no hidden agenda. Just a genuine desire to turn someone’s day around for the better.

Untitled #36

While I have yet to come across one of these letters for myself, I can imagine how good I would feel if I did. And it's these smile-worthy actions that create powerful ripple effects, serving as a reminder that a few words from the heart can really go a long way. Until I find a letter, I will continue to find joy from each Instagram photo I see, snapped just so, so the location remains vague and unknown.

You can learn more about Love Letters to Strangers by visiting the website (there’s even a way to donate to the cause!), or see what Ashley is up to more regularly through Instagram. A larger scale projects exists, as well, if you’d like to reach out to strangers internationally: The World Needs More Love Letters.

Enjoy, and have a great week!

xo,
Kassey

Proud Little Moment

Way back in the spring, I started writing for a local lifestyle blog, City and Dale. This was a blog I had followed and enjoyed for the last few years, so I was excited and honored when I was chosen as one of their new contributors. Never would I have thought that little, old, amateur blogger me would be selected from their call for contributors (it was my sister who gave me the extra push to submit, so THANK YOU, SOPHIA!!) but it has been an absolute joy being part of this team and getting to know some of the ladies behind it.

Earlier this week, I snagged a spot on the About page, so it just became more real and official! You can check out my bio and the rest of the writers here.

message

If you’re ever on the fence about trying something new or dabbling in some territory that excites and inspires you, but is unfamiliar at the same time, I say just go for it. You have nothing to lose by giving it an honest shot. Chances are, you’re going to learn and have fun along the way!

Happy almost weekend!

xo,
Kassey