March Break Wanderlusting with Air Transat

With the recent weather conditions and having my littles home for March break, I am feeling nostalgic for my Air Transat experience at the Azul Fives Resort. Having had the best time with my family there, I thought I would highlight my top three dream destinations so that those of us who aren’t escaping the last of winter can live vicariously and for those who are planning a little get away, can look no further! Being that I am a mama of 4, I chose from the Kids Promotion Collection of resorts where the littles in your family eat and stay for free. I am not sure how such an amazing opportunity could exist, all I DO know is that if something like this had been available sooner, I would be heading out of town every time the temperature dipped below 10 degrees.

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All so beautiful and all, soooooo calling my name!!!
xx

My Transat Experience

My family has never been on a real legit vacation…ever. We (and by we, I mean my parents:) have a cottage in PEI, which I’ve been going to since birth and adore more than any single place in the universe, but, it’s not really a vacation when we go there…I thought it was…but then I had the opportunity to travel to Mexico, with Air Transat, and well…now I know what a vacation is.

#experiencetransat, air transat, christine dovey, mexico, karisma experience The week of our lives began with a preview of Air Transat’s Southern Destination options, of which there are many! After careful review, we selected Riviera Maya, Mexico and the Azul Fives Resort…we wanted a place that would accommodate our large and I guess, slightly un-conventional family, with four kids ranging in age from 22-3. As we would soon find out, the Azul Fives could not have been a more perfect choice.

And once all was planned and arranged, the departure day for the trip of our lifetime arrived and we were off.

Because we set up the kids with Air Transat’s Kids Club, and took advantage ofAir Transat’s Option Plus, we were off to such a great start. The kids of LOVED getting their ticket badges in the mail before the flight as well as all the treats they got while on board..us grown ups LOVED the priority check-in, great seats, and complimentary pillow, blanket, champagne and snacks…especially the champagne;)

airtransat
As someone who doesn’t necessarily love flying (thanks to the crazy hormonal thing that happens once you have children and henceforth become afraid of way too many things lol,) I was delighted to discover how smooth a ride a nice large aircraft delivers…I’m used to the prop plane/1-2 hour jaunts that jiggle you around like a kid high on life in a bouncy castle, so consider this cat a long ride/big plane convert;) I also loved how surprisingly short a trip it is to get from snow and ice to the most perfect, non-humid wonderful heat I’ve ever experienced.

Once we arrived, a shuttle bus was waiting for us so we loaded up and after a quick drive to our resort, found ourselves standing in front of doors to what can only be described as heaven on earth…Azul Fives Resort, by Karisma

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I can’t really, adequately sum up how incredible this place is/was…as someone who has never before experienced an all-inclusive resort, to start off that whole thing with a gourmet inclusive experience has quite simply, ruined me for life. As part of their Famili Collection, Air Transat has curated a portfolio of five-star resorts that ‘blend fine cuisine, deluxe spas and exclusive privileges, that are havens of relaxation and pure bliss.’ Truly, I couldn’t have said it better myself…that’s what they are.

Exclusive to Transat, the Azul Fives was perfect for us. We had a ground level condo that had two totally separate apartments within. In the main area, we had a full size kitchen, a dining area with full bar (like really a full bar…as in one you’d go to to buy a drink…only everything on it was complimentary and there for the taking…whenever you wanted…in your room,) a living area and master bedroom with full ensuite. And of course the most important part, giant sliding doors that led out to our own little backyard with patio, grass and a view of one of the many pools that intertwine so beautifully between the hotel complexes. In the other apartment, there was a bedroom with two queens and a bathroom…the kids had their space and we had ours…perfect.

As part of the Luxury All-Inclusive Collection, we were also treated to our own personal butler (we actually had two and I loved them both to all the ends of all the earths,) who made dinner reservations, escorted us (in a golf cart no less…kids LOVED that) to wherever we wanted to go on the resort, arranged beach services, made sure the fridge/bar were filled, helped with adventure package organization, checked-in multiple times/day to make sure we had everything we needed, and generally just made sure we wanted for nothing while we were there. And at every single step, made sure to say, ‘it’s my pleasure.’ whenever we made any kind of request…and the most amazing thing was, you could always tell that he (they) actually meant it.

While there, it felt like every person we met was genuinely enjoying in the happiness we were experiencing…it was my favourite part of the trip. We all felt so welcomed, which was so incredibly good for the soul. Walking in flip flops with less cares in the world than I can remember feeling in a long time..saying ‘Ola’ to everyone you passed and getting a happy smile in return each and every time…drink in hand…kids skipping happily in front of you…warm sun on your face…it was bliss…pure and simple…bliss.

What the resort and trip as a whole seemed to do, was make anything that could possible get in the way of real time with your people, disappear. Everything is done with the soul, far-reaching goal of giving you a chance to re-change, relax and enjoy…enjoy long minutes and long hours that fade into the next without you noticing…enjoy the total lack of needing to be somewhere other than where you are…enjoy watching your kids not being on their ipads but instead frolicking in a pool until their skin wrinkles and then staying in for an hour after that…enjoy not having to cook or clean or schedule a play-date or make sure homework is done or the kids are in bed on time…enjoy not having to think about hats, mits and snowsuits…enjoy adventure…enjoy relaxation…enjoy each other.

And though the very best part was having a solid/undistracted week with our full 6, part of what was so amazing was also being able to spend time individually and in different kids/grown up combos…hubby and I even got to squeeze in three date nights…in one week lol…we basically blew a year quota in 7 days…this was all thanks to:

  1. Our 22 year old…having a child who is a grown up, has so many perks…she’s way more fun than us, has more energy, and is super quick/has eyes like a hawk…there’s no one I’d trust my little kids more with so being able to split into groups, with her watching some, while we watched the others, was mucho beuno.
  2. What really made grown-up and kid alone time possible, was the super fantabulous on-resort Kids Club…

air transat mexico christine dovey azul fives karisma experience gourmet inclusive
…this place was EVERYTHING!!!! With a full schedule of hourly activities, all day/every day, we could pick and choose and take the kids any time they wanted, without having to reserve ahead etc. So if one wanted to pop in and try their hand at making a pinata or joining a dance party, off we’d go. If all of them wanted to join the movie night from 6:30-8:30, off they went, and out to dinner with grown ups only we went. It was perfect. And the people who worked there and were simply the best…enthusiastic, helpful, and clearly so happy to be caring for our kids. We were genuienly sad to say goodbye to the staff when we left because it honestly felt like our kids had for real bonded with each and every one of them.

Kids Club = ALL OF THE VERY BEST VACATION THINGS

So yes…flight, great…resort…great…and then there was Mexico as a whole, and whoa, did we ever fall hard…the culture…the geography…the architecture…and most importantly, the people…love all around.

As part of our trip, Air Transat helped us organize a few excursions…they have an office at the resort that can guide you through planning day trips to so many incredible locations in the area. After looking at all the options, we decided on a full day adventure with Alltournative (who were PS, so good,) to two of the most memorable places we have ever been…Cinote Maya and the temples at Ek Balam…

air transat mexico christine dovey azul fives karisma experience gourmet inclusive

There really aren’t words to describe this day. After a 2 hour drive though Mayan villages and Mexican countryside, we arrived first at the temples and spent time just wandering around, completely mesmerized by our surroundings. I admittedly had a small mommy panic attach watching the kids walk down the I don’t know…500 stone stairs that reached…I don’t know, 100 feet in height…without any sort of hand rail…was um…terrifying. I may or may not have hidden in the woods and had my 10 year old (who didn’t scale the building,) relay progress messages of how the others were doing making it down the steps. Other than that, it was totally and utterly incredible.

After the temples, we made our way through more villages to Cinote Maya…here we got to experience a real Mayan ceremony and then the bestest part…we got to swim in the Cinote…two of our kids repelled the 75′ into the natural cave pool, while the rest of us took the steps…what we all did was swim in the dark, incredible water and experience total and utter magic…it was weirdly spiritual…just totally overwhelming in its specialness.

And once all the adventure was done, we sat down and enjoyed a lunch cooked by local villagers that was soooooooooooo delicious…then back on the bus and home just in time to relax a little more and pass out from all of our adventure fun.

A few days later, we ventured off to El Dorado Maroma for a morning of water fun. We took a beautiful catarman out to sea and then then my oldest and I jumped off the side, for a little snorkeling fun. We had hoped the little ones could join as well but it was a windy day and the waves were just a bit too much for their small bodies lol…we all loved the boat ride though and the views from the sea of camels walking the beach (who knew that Mexico had camels!) and beautiful white sand beach (the sand at this beach was legit like flour…I’ve never seen or felt anything like it).

Our two adventure days were both ones we’ll never forget…ever. Together, we got to experience places, scenes and moments unlike ones we’ve ever before…memorable in all the ways.

Memorable in all the ways really sums up our trip as a whole…it was everything we had dreamed of in all of our years of ‘one day we’ll take a really amazing family vacation’ dreaming. It sounds cheezy to say but I truly think it changed us for the better…we saw a world and a place very different from where we live, in a great many ways…but what we also really saw, is how we’re all so much more similar than we are different and how important it is for us parents, to invest in showing our children that the little bubble we live in isn’t the world. We want them to see more…learn more…do more…more than we’ve been doing. This trip showed us the joy in that. It might mean that we spend less of stuff…spend less on hour house…spend less on the day to day.  Maybe it means that we tuck a little away every month so that we can do a trip like this once a year…not sure…it means something though…something worth changing things for. And for that, we as a family, will be forever grateful to Mexico, Air Transat and the Azul Fives resort.

xx

Camera Ready Interiors

I’m so happy to be joining with 23 other talented designers to feature the work of the photographers who make our work and portfolios shine. Dreamt up and organized by the fabulous Jana Bek, this co-blogging feature called #camerareadyinteriors, will help shine a much deserved light on the artist’s who make us look good.

Photographing interiors is a very specialized craft…I’ve watched many a shoot take place and let me tell you, it is HARD work. Capturing a space in its very best light takes so much skill…walls have to line up…light has to be just right…glass on art has to be made non-reflective…accessories have to be positioned and re-positioned so many times…mirrors have to be dealt with…perspectives have to be adjusted…I could go on and on but sufficed to say, those who can make a room look it’s best on film are truly amazing to watch.

And then there are the lifestyle photographers…those who have to also deal with people in the shots…interiors + capturing a person(s) at their best = a real task…especially when you throw say kids or people who hate (i.e. me) having their photo taken.

Over the course of 10 years, 3 babies, 2 houses and a ton of spaces, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with 4 photographers who I feel so very lucky to have been partnered with…all have such a unique eye and have captured my work and life in a way that makes everything feel just that much sweeter.

First up, the photographer who has  photographed pretty much every local interior I’ve ever done. Ashley Capp is the best of the best when it comes to interiors and has honed her craft in a way that makes her work truly stand out from the crowd. She has an attention to detail that means every shot is studied and practised until it captures the absolute best nuances of a space…she is an absolute perfectionist and I adore that about her. Her portfolio features a stunning array of food and interior shots and I feel so very lucky to have had her shine a light on my work. Ashley’s eye for what makes each space or design truly beautiful, is un-rivalled…she always makes a room’s true spirit shine through, in a way that feels elegant and refined…she truly has a gift for taking a space and making it look infinitely prettier than it would have without her. And on top of her very obvious talent, Ashley is one of the sweetest people you could ever hope to meet and our days spent on location together are among my very favourite…

camera ready ashley capp photographer interiors christine dovey

Next up, the photographer I’ve probably known the longest out of the bunch….Jodi Renee. We met 10 years ago during a shoot for a local kids’ store. My Scarlett, then a baby, was asked to take part in the ads and Jodi was the photographer in charge of capturing the kiddos. The pictures she took of my little one completely blew me away…though I already of course thought my baby was the most perfect one in the universe (as all mamas do:) she somehow managed to make me see my Scarlett differently…almost like she was able to capture the twinkle in her eye…her sweet old soul starting right back at me in every picture. I was immediately smitten to say the least and have since, had the great privilege of having Jodi capture other spaces and moments in my life…and with every one, she showcases how perfectly sweet her eye is for life and time. Jodi has an amazing way of making time freeze and stand still in every shot…in a way that feels free-spirited and infinitely wise. I am and will always be, a huge huge fan…

camera ready jodi renee photographer interiors christine dovey

The next photographer on my list is the incredibly talented Kayla Rocca. As Toronto Life’s official photographer for TIFF, Kayla has an obvious gift for capturing people in their very best light. But it’s not just that she’s able to document life and places in a pretty way…Kayla’s lens captures design, people and lifestyles in a way that feels magical…and when I say magical, I truly mean outer-worldy/stars in the sky/next level/unicorns dancing/rainbow skies magical.  She has a gift for seeing her subject’s best quality or feature and exploiting it to its absolute best potential. Kayla took photos of me for my portfolio last year and I so clearly remember how I felt when I first looked at them. Usually I’d be picking apart every line or wrinkle but with these, it was like all of that didn’t matter. Instead, I was actually able to see the version of me that probably other people do…the one that isn’t self-conscious about her age, or the way her smile turns up, or how her hair is looking on a particular day. Kayla is that photographer…the one that makes the little things we don’t like disappear…the one that makes the imperfections speak to what’s truly beautiful about what she’s capturing. She and her work are magic…

camera ready kayla rocca photographer interiors christine dovey

And last but certainly not least, I need to shine light on a photographer I’ve only just recently had the pleasure of getting to know…the amazing Kieran Darcy. A few months ago I got an email from this gem of a talent, asking if I’d be interested in having my family shot in our new home and I of course, practically lept at the offer. After she came and spent the morning with us, I was so excited to see each capture, knowing that the photos she sent would be something I would treasure forever and let me tell you, my expectations were quite simply blown out of the water. Kieran has an incredible way of seeing life in its perfect imperfection…she captures moments as they happen, not staged versions of them. She sees the absolute beauty in funny faces…and kids who won’t stand up straight..and half-eaten apples on the floor…and un-made beds…and wrinkles…and dirty knees. Kieran manages to find the beauty in life’s everyday and capture it, in a way that feels as if she’s actually freezing your memories. Her work feels nostalgic and meaningful and romantic…full of heart and soul and all that’s really important. The photos she took of my family in our new home are truly a gift and speak to the journey we took to get here and the true loveliness that exists in the little moments in between the big ones…the ones that actually matter the most.

camera ready kieran darcy photographer interiors christine dovey

Again, I feel so truly lucky to have worked with each of these woman and to have some of the most special rooms, moments and milestones captured by them. Words can’t really adequately reflect my gratitude to each of them but I hope, along with the other designers taking part in this series, that I’ve been able to shine some light on their incredible talents. Make sure you check out each of their portfolios and instagram accounts to see more of their magic.

And…be sure to link over and read all about the photographers featured by these 23 fabulous designers…

A Storied Style

Abby Manchesky Interiors

AE Design

Amanda Louise Interiors

Anna Matthews Interiors

Ash Street Interiors

Austin Bean Design Studio

Claire Brody Designs

Comfy Cozy Couture

Décor Happy

Design Manifest

House of Jade Interiors

Jana Bek Design

Lexi Westergard Design

Lisa Mende Design

Maddie Hughes Designs

Megan Pflug Designs

Michelle Adams of the Maryn Blog

MrsParanjape of Redo Home + Design

Design Indulgence by Sherry Hart

Sita Montgomery Interiors

Stephanie Kraus Designs

Studio McGee

…you can follow along on Instagram as well, under the hashtag #camerareadyinteriors!!!

xx

 

 

Monday Moods-The End of Summer

Despite having been out of school for quite a while now, there is still something fresh and exciting about this time of year that has me motivated to get back on track and moving forward with lots of different projects. Though I am sad to see the summer go, I am excited for what’s coming next. This week’s Monday Mood is all about my favourite things-old movies, beautiful spaces and pops of pink on pink!

mm

  1.  http://www.garancedore.com/fr/2012/11/17/weekend-inspiration-47/
  2. http://theeverygirl.com/le-petite-studios-minneapolis-office-tour
  3. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062534/
  4. http://www.clubmonaco.com/product/index.jsp?productId=101297966
  5. http://www.natecotterman.com/phase-series
  6. http://www.packagingoftheworld.com/2016/08/lola-by-maier.html
  7. https://www.behance.net/gallery/16598297/THE-STUDIO

Happy Monday lovelies xx

Project Flip – So What if it Looks Like and Exploded Meth Lab at the Moment…I have NEWS!!!!!

This is a pretty exciting blog post.  Major progress has been made at Project Flip…

project flip logo

…and my fam jam has decided to make some big old fashioned changes…the later is why I’ve been a bit of a shitastic blogger as of late…just been super busy with work and said life adjustments…anyhoo…here’s the news…

We’ve decided to KEEP the flip house, SELL our exisiting house and BUY a little country escape 2 hours away in Prince Edward County!!!!!! Holy geeze…I’m so excited about all of it.  I’ll share the deets of the country abode once we’ve firmed that up…don’t want to jinx it as it were.

For now though, let’s discuss how exciting the whole keeping of the flip house is. Basically what it means for the design portion is that I’ll have free reign to do what I want in terms of finishes, selections etc.  Though I’ve picked all the major things like floors, stairs, cupboards etc., I had been holding back a bit on wallpaper, hardware, paint, built-ins and the like, thinking that I’d have to really work to appeal to the masses for re-sale. Well siyonara on that. I’m going bold, bold, bold my friends.

I’ll definitely be using this Drop it Modern colourway I came up with for a main living space…

drop it modern christine dovey wallpaper

And will be painting out the office in a solid medium grey…with tons of builts ins and moulding…

grey kitchen cupboards

And the front door will be this colour…

yellow door flip house

Also, because the place only has 3 bedrooms, we’re adjusting the building plans to include finishing the attic space. Woot.

But before all of that, we need to deal with the giant ugliness in the room aka the asbestos.

My builder RMS has made boatas of progress on that front and our house is now completely bubbled up and ready for abatement. Interior demo is also well under way.

You might want to cover your eyes for this one but here’s what our soon to be city house of residence looks like at the moment…

Straw insulation…

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A nice orange glow from the outdoor abatement tarping…

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Not one but two layers of asbestos tile in the kitchen…

 

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An open exposed attic that we’re now definitely hoping to take advantage of…

 

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And well, the bathroom of everyone’s dreams lol…

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Oh and a master to end all masters…

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As for the outside, here’a a glimpse at scaff city…

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Such good times.

As for the sale of our house, we’re hoping to list in the next few weeks so….if you live in the GTA, Pine Avenue

christine dovey pine avenue

…is going to be up for grabs tout suite!

xx

A Party, A Hand, A Castle and A Magazine

Hi friends.

I’ve had a rather eventful few days so I though I’d give you the short version of highs and lows.

Thursday- My red-head organized a birthday party of her fish Twinkle…

fish party christine dovey

…and I couldn’t resist going slightly to town with the whole fish theme business…never mind the fact that my kid was researching cake designs online and planning snacks that went with the whole fish thing etc.  Ridiculously cute.

So…I had some fishy inspired balloons and a pretty adorable little cup-cake cake….

fish party cake and craft christine dovey

fish party christine dovey

I also decided early on to bring in the big guns re: activities.  I  had my amazing friend Darcy from the most fabulous little shop in my town called Tea With Gladys, come and do some crafting with the kidlets and it was the bestest…

fish party darcy allen crafting christine dovey

I mean they made freaking fishy pencil cases…so adorbs…

fish party pencil cases christine dovey

And after the cake, little Twinkly was un-expectedly showered with the most thoughtful/perfect gifts from Scarlett’s friends…

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The whole thing did my heart good.

And then later that night, a little interview I did for Erika Brechtel (who in case you don’t know this, is the genius behind my website and branding) went live, and that was pretty happy like…

brand styled christine dovey ericka brechtel

So that was a beuno day.  And then Friday happened.

Friday- Well to start, it was Friday the 13th so I should have known.  Turns out Feb. 13th is also my husband’s birthday so I spent the afternoon flying around town with the kids picking up last minute party supplies and prezzies…and cooking.

A little backstory…the Mr and I have a pretty well-oiled machine when it comes to domesticity and division of duties etc.  He has jobs he likes and I have ones I like…on his list is dinner. I do actually love cooking but not all the time. I’m sort of one of those people who likes to go all out or not at all so the daily drudge of it just doesn’t appeal to me. Anyhoo…I always like to go all out on special occasions and do a coursed super yummy/fancy pants restaurant like meal.  And this b-day was no different.

So…I found my menu and bought all the stuff and spent the next part of 3 hours cooking appetizers, mains, courses etc.

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All was going perfectly well until I went to drain the potatoes for the main course. I really can’t remember what I happened because I think I’ve blocked a bit of the trauma out but basically, I poured an entire pot of boiling water on my right hand, down my leg and onto my foot. I knew right away that the burn was bad and not like one I’ve ever had before but I guess I didn’t really totally grasp the grossness of it at the time because I got an ice pack on it, finished plating the food and sat down for our little meal.  As the time went on I guess I started to panic a bit as the pain got worse and worse.  So…being super duper not smart, I swallowed a glass of wine and tried to go to bed. By about 1am I was crying in pain…like in a slightly ‘hysterical ugly cry/ I have to call my mom’ so that’s when we decided a visit to the emergency room was in order.  Because it was the middle of the night and the hubs had to stay back with the kids, I had to drive myself there with my left hand…in a blizzard.

And 7 hours later….the basic takeaway was that I had burnt my hand bandly…

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…like skin-graph/plastic surgery kind of bad. It’s going to be bandaged for at least a month so yeah…a total pain in the ass. It hurt’s like a mo fo and work is hard because I can only type with one hand etc. I can’t get the fudger wet so well, bathing isn’t the easiest…getting dressed isn’t the easiest…nothing is the easiest. I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself over the whole thing really but all I can keep thinking over and over again is how fucking grateful/happy/thankful to whatever gods there are that for the first time in recorded history, my little bean Jasper wasn’t standing at my side while I cooked.  It’s honestly like a ticker-tape running over and over again in my brain.  If you’re a mom, you know what I mean…just can’t get the horrific scenario out of my head.

Anyhoo…onwards and upwards as they say.

Saturday- Valentine’s Day…after my all-nighter in the hospital, nothing much happened on Saturday. I stayed in bed all day…

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…and because he’s pretty great, hubs spoiled me with care, flowers and a pretty little ensemble that I’ll get to wear once I want to get prettied up again;)

flowers valentines day christine dovey

Sunday- Malcolm had a photo shoot downtown so I wrestled myself together and headed out with the rest of the fam-jam for that…afterwards, I had a client meeting which turned into an impromptu playdate for the kids while the grown-ups talked furniture and the like.

Monday- Family Day holiday here in Ontario so though I reallllllllly wanted to not do a damn thing re: hand that is forming new blisters and a pretty rapid rate and turning black from deadness (insert wow is me fact,) we all piled in the car and headed into the city. The big kid is home for reading week so the 6 of us did the restaurant thing first…and PS, that business always cheers me up…I freaking love eating out.  We had a great lunch at Terroni, which is as pretty as it is yummy…

terroni

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And then spent the rest of the afternoon at Casa Loma

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They put on this Pan-Am games thing for the day so the kids got to try out boxing, watch gymnastics demos, do wheel-chair basketball etc.  There were also crafts and games.

My favourite part besides watching them be all excited like, was soaking up the amazing beauty of the place…turns out castles are chalk-full of design inpso…

casa loma christine dovey chandelier

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casa loma christine dovey floors

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casa loma christine dovey

casa loma

Heaven.

And that was pretty much that.

As of yesterday, I’m trying my best to be back at work. I actually got tons of client stuff done yesterday and have begun meeting prospective interns in person so I’m really hoping, things like this blog start to happen at a better pace.

To end on a super high note, I ran into an old friend in the grocery store last week who told me she spotted my laundry room in the pages of one of my all time most FAVOURITE international magazines and sure enough…the space that Ashely Capp originally photographed for two of my other most favourites, Style Me Pretty Living and Style at Home Magazine…

christine dovey style at home basement 3

…is now up in the pages UK’s Living Etc

christine dovey living etc

And I couldn’t be more thrilled.

All and all, it’s been a week of highs and lows to be sure but that’s life of course and with the bad comes soooooooo much good.

I’m a lucky girl, charred hand and all;)

xx