Backyard Makeover – All Done!


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Okay, I showed you the before & during and now it’s time for the big reveal. We are so happy with our backyard and have already hosted many friends and family get-togethers here.

Here are the pictures and details…


The original deck was such an awkward size, so shortening it was definitely the right idea.  Not only did it free up more space for our dining area, but it provided the perfect place for my hubby and I to enjoy a morning coffee or a glass of wine, while barbecuing dinner. The BBQ is right across from the chairs – you just can’t see it in the picture. The classic combo of navy, yellow & white just screams summer to me. So, light, airy and fresh.


Here is our dining area. I love the look of a big table. It is so inviting.


We have already spent many hours sitting at this table chatting with friends and family.


I just couldn’t find a reasonably priced sideboard or bar. My solution, was to use an indoor furniture piece from Ikea and paint it using Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Premium Exterior Stain, which provides great protection from the elements.


The fire pit creates a great conversation, reading and sunning area. We use this area so much more that I would have expected. The Adirondack chairs are crazy comfortable. Not only are they made in Canada they are also made from recycled heavy plastic. Plus, they fold up for easy storage. The two small side tables are also indoor Ikea tables that I painted with the same Benjamin Moore exterior stain product used on the sideboard/bar.


The shed is fantastic! With a little creativity, you can give your big box store shed a custom look. I love it and I think it bookends the backyard perfectly. It also helps to create some privacy.


Many thanks to my buddy Carson Arthur for his vision, planning and coordination of all the resources and expertise that came together to give such a great oasis in the city.


Source List:

I know that thee will be questions about where I bought stuff so here is the list for those who want to know. If I missed anything don’t hesitate to ask, I am always happy to share!

Bouclair – ALL of the pillows

Home Depot – Grey Adirondack chairs

Ikea – Sideboard table, fire pit side tables, navy blue umbrella, dining table, white blankets, dishes and glasses

HomeSense – Lanternes, table runner, napkins, dog bed

Target – Navy blue chairs & chevron poufs

Loblaws – White umbrellas

Rinox – all of the stone including the stone on the shed

Benjamin Moore – ARBORCOAT Premium Exterior Stain


Tersigni Landscaping

Quality Gardens

Carson Arthur

Glamping – It’s the Only Way For Me!


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There is no better way to welcome summer and enjoy the great Canadian outdoors than by visiting one of our many national and/or provincial parks. And, just because you may choose to sleep in the great outdoors doesn’t mean you have to forego the creature comforts of home. Glamping is a growing trend that brings luxury to the bonfire. By adding a few touches of modern day luxury and carefully chosen must-haves, you can elevate camping to glamping; camping with a touch of the glamorous

So, let’s start with the basics. A high quality, waterproof tent is a must. In this case, size matters and bigger IS better. You need lots of room for your glamping essentials.

Next, you can’t feel glamorous if you aren’t well rested. So, bring your favourite pillow from home and a thick insulated air mattress to keep you comfy.

Depending on the weather, you can invest in a down sleeping bag. Or, for a luxurious treat, some cozy flannel sheets and blankets.

With WIFI now available at many Canadian parks, the next glamping essential is your tablet. How fabulous to be able to watch Season 2 of “Orange is the New Black” or another must see series on Netflix under the stars?

Don’t forget to bring a solar powered charger to keep your LED lights, phone, tablet and camera charged. They have REALLY come a long way and really pack some power.

Finally, feel free to bring an over-the-top indulgence like a hand powered blender to enjoy frozen drinks, a fire powered espresso maker or a shake-and-make ice cream maker. Who says you can’t entertain while camping? No doubt your family and/or friends will love the delicious and unexpected treat.

Happy glamping!


Netflix - Glamping0165


Here is the recent Cityline segment showing my glamping tips!



Backyard Makeover – During


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Moving on with our backyard make over, there was lots of work yet to do! We were so fortunate to have the skills of some great experts to help transform our back yard into our own piece of paradise.

Carson recruited the help of Rinox and Tersigni Landscaping and collectively they came up with a plan on how to best remedy our situation.


The first step was to make the deck smaller. The dimensions of our original deck size created such an awkward space that is was not suitable for entertaining friends and family.  Enter Quality Gardens. They came in and shortened the deck to create a BBQ and small sitting area. I love that they reused the wood from the deck to make this great planter box. And yes, that’s Murphy checking out the workmanship. He gave it 2 paws up.

Progress photo

Once the deck was resized, it was time for the arrival of the Rinox stone. Very exciting!


The Tersigni Landscaping crew got to work laying down the Rinox stone. They were a great group of hard working guys.


Now we’re getting somewhere!


Such a dramatic difference. Some may be wondering, “No grass?” Given that the backyard space is small, we opted for no grass. Instead, the plan was to accent the stone with plants and other greenery. So, we still get the green with the benefit of low maintenance.


Here are the hard working guys from Tersigni Landscaping. They we so nice and polite. Thanks, guys. Great work.

If your looking to do any landscaping around your home, check them out. They get top marks from me!

Landscapers Photo

Next, is the delivery of our shed. Yep, that’s how it arrived from the box store we purchased it from.


Here is the shed all put together. But, we aren’t done with it, yet….


Cue the crew from Quality Gardens!


In an effort to create a more custom look, on a budget, the crew from Quality Gardens added Rinox stone facing to the outside of the shed.

But, we still have to tweak it a bit. Just wait until you see it all finished. It turned out ah-mazing!


That’s all for now! I won’t make you wait long for the big reveal!

~ Shoana

Backyard Makeover – The Before


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About a year ago we bought a house. Moving from a downtown condo was going to be a big lifestyle change for my husband and I, but we were excited.

When we decided to make the leap to home ownership, one of the things we were most excited to enjoy was a backyard. As luck would have it we found a house with a backyard that was decent in size, provided some privacy and was a clean slate ready to have our personal touch put on it.

This is the listing photo of our yard the day we bought it. Not bad, right?

Listing Shot

photo credit: mls

Woo hoo! Moving day. Very exciting. We were all set to get the moving boxes in and toast our new home in the backyard. But, our thoughts of basking in the backyard were dashed when we saw what greeted us… Where the heck did that big bush come from?! And what do we do with it?

Tree down

Well, it turns out it wasn’t a bush. A huge limb, from a neighbouring tree, had fallen into our yard during a storm that rolled though a few days earlier. Sigh, now what?

Enter fellow Cityline expert Carson Arthur. Carson is an very talented landscaper. Not only did he provide guidance on how to clear up this mess, he also got cooking on designing a new outdoor living space for us.

Me with my buddy Carson the day he come over to check out the situation

My buddy Carson and I the day he come over to check out the situation

I got to give a shout out to our neighbour who owned the tree. She was fantastic. So understanding and had quickly made arrangements to have the limb removed. Thank you.

So, once the tree limb was removed this is what we were left with… double sigh. There goes our privacy!

After tree removal

So, it turns out racoons LOVE to buffet on grubs and other creepy crawlies that live under newly laid sod. Thanks for that tidbit Carson. What a mess.

racoons after

But no tears were shed. With Carson’s vision and great team of professionals to put it all in place our backyard was transformed into a great urban oasis.

But before I show you the big reveal, I’m off to enjoy a cocktail in my little piece of paradise. Stay tuned.

 ~ Shoana





Summer Beauty Tips


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I teamed up with Glow Magazine and Shoppers Drug Mart to give my summer beauty tips for the warm weather season… now that it’s FINALLY here! Here are some of my favourites to help you keep looking great in the heat of the summer.

~ Shoana


Dog Days of Summer


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Do your summer plans involve your furry family members like me? Dogs in particular need a lot of attention during the summer months to keep them happy, healthy and safe. Here are my must have summer pooch picks I recently highlighted on Cityline. Yes, that is my fur baby Murphy as the star! :-)

~ Shoana


One Week in Las Vegas…


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It was a very long, long, cold, cold winter. To our credit, my husband and I tried to enjoy this winter by doing some skiing and skating, but in the end nothing could beat the winter blues like a warm destination trip.

It seems that everyone in the northern hemisphere must have been on the same page because when we starting looking for a place to have some fun in the sun there was very little available. Many places were sold out or didn’t appeal to our taste. Now, to be fair, there are many fine hotels/resorts, but when we travel we really want it to be an experience. For that one week, we want to feel like a million bucks and be pampered like we have a million bucks.

As we kept searching for the “right place”, my hubby suggested Las Vegas. Hmmm, interesting but I wasn’t quite sure if it checked all our boxes: warm weather, amazing food, great wine, peace and quiet, outdoor activities and luxury.

Vegas?… check, check check! Once we thought about it, Sin City can actually offer all of these things; even the peace and quiet. Really!

So, we booked it and it was fantastic. Here are the details


We were able to get a direct flight. It was a quick and easy approximate 4 hour flight. However, I did have my luggage pilfered and had all of my jewelry stolen. Sigh. Note to self… buy new luggage that has TFSA approved locks on it.


We stayed at one of the best kept secrets in Las Vegas; The Four Seasons. Talk about an oasis in the desert. Fabulous! I could go on and on, but here are some key points:
It is a non-gaming hotel. That’s OK with us.
The guest rooms occupy the top 5 floors of Mandalay Bay. However, Four Seasons has their own entrance and check in and express elevators to their rooms.
The rooms have been recently renovated and the décor and furnishings are very classy, elegant and luxurious. And, unlike many other hotel promotional pictures, the rooms at the Four Season look like the picture.
The pool at the Four Seasons is comparatively small to the typical Las Vegas resort pools. But, this only enhances the high level of service and feeling of exclusivity that is synonymous with Four Seasons. There is a real sense that you are staying at a chic boutique hotel. But, if you want to take a walk on the wild side, so to speak, as a guest of Four Seasons you have signing privileges at Mandalay Bay.



Secluded, quiet, relaxing, peaceful. How do I say “ahhhhhhh”, let me count the ways. This is the pool at the Four Seasons Las Vegas. Beyond the many adjectives there are to describe the pool setting the service was second to none. Absolutely fabulous.

The attendants greet you upon your arrival to the pool deck and set up the chair(s) of your choosing with towels and a pitcher of ice water. The service staff were personable, friendly and quick to take your order.

Want to be spritzed with Evian water? How about complimentary frozen melon, frozen Snickers or peppermint patties? Want to order lunch or breakfast by the pool? No problem (BTW -the best cashew chicken salad ever had that I have still not been able to replicate!).

Let’s not forget the cocktails are cool and made with the finest ingredients.


Breakfast by the pool


Need I say more?


Many years ago, my husband had his first and only massage and did not like it at all. But, on this trip he was finally game to try it again. We did a couples massage and it was perfect! When the massage was completed he slowly and groggily turned his head to me and said, “Why haven’t I been getting massages all of these years?” He is now walks among the converted all thanks to the amazing spa team at Four Seasons Las Vegas! Our only regret is that we didn’t make more time to enjoy other spa treatments. Damn you Four Seasons pool! ;-)


One of the great treats of Las Vegas is that you can experience the vision of chef’s from all over the world in one city. We did a great dinner each night. The culinary highlights were: Jean George, Nobu, and Bobby’s Burger Palace. Yep, a burger joint made the list. After a fancy dinner that still left us a bit hungry we stopped to get our burger on. It was one of the best burgers we have ever had! So good in fact, that we went back on our last night! Who said an amazing meal had to be fancy! BTW, for you foodies out there the Bobby in Bobby’s Burger Palace is celebrity chef Bobby Flay.


I can’t tell you how many tries this picture took… it was after dinner so maybe it was the wine??

What we did

Most days were spent relaxing by the pool and dinners in the evening. But, we did do a few other things to keep us entertained.

We went to a KA a Cirque de Soleil production. Cirque de Soleil has become such a presence that it would be shameful not see one or more of their productions. A few years ago we saw “O” at Bellagio and it is still the best show I’ve ever seen.

If you want to have your mind blown, go see David Copperfield at MGM. He is a legend and is definitely a must see when visiting Las Vegas. The theatre he performs in is small and intimate. The show is interactive, up close, fun and beyond entertaining. One illusion was actually performed right in front of us. We still can’t figure out how he did it!
For the finale, I was fortunate enough to be one of the participants on stage. Without a joke, he made me (and 11 other audience members) disappear!!!! Oh, and reappear at the back of the theatre. It was easily one of the coolest things that I have ever been involved in. What a great experience!


If a man is going to make you disappear, let’s hope he gives you an autograph once he makes you reappear! Mr. Copperfield certainly did.

One day we drove to Red Rock Canyon for a hike. Approximately 30 minutes outside of Las Vegas is an amazing desert landscape of red, rolling rock formations, deep valleys, fantastic vegetation, animals and scenery.
To make things easy, we were able to rent a car directly at the Four Seasons Las Vegas concierge desk. They provided us with a Mercedes sedan. That was fun and only about $20 more than what was being offered by outside car rental agencies for a much less vehicle. Plus, we had the convenience of having the car delivered to us and dropping it off to the hotel’s valet.


Is this what you pictured Las Vegas to look like? I sure didn’t!

I could go on about other aspects of our trip. Did we gamble? A bit. Did we win? Not really. Shop? Yes, of course. I could go on. But bottom line, Las Vegas really can and does offer it all. In the end, it was everything we were looking for.

Viva Las Vegas!

~ Shoana



Super Easy Way to Hang a Picture


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It can be tricky to hang any wall decor that has 2 fixed D-rings; especially by yourself. I have an easy tip to ensure the screw mounts are the exact distance you need them to be. And, you can do it by yourself… first try!

Happy decorating!


dring w arrows

See the 2 rings? Ignore the coloured tape I just used that to make my bulletin board match my office decor :-)


photo 2-1

Grab a roll of painter’s tape.

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Put a strip of it across the item you want to hang. Make sure that it covers the 2 rings.

duo photo

With a marker, make clear dot to indicate the location of the screw holes.

photo 2-2

Take that same strip of painter’s tape and apply it to the wall where you want to hang the item. Use a level to help you ensure an even line.

photo 3-2

Now you can see , without measuring, where you have to drill, so the screws line up perfectly with the D-rings.

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Now drill a hole through the mark for your wall anchor. P.S. I absolutely LOVE this cordless drill by Black & Decker. I highly recommend it if you are looking for one.

photo 1

Clean hole, in the perfect spot.

photo 3

Remove the tape, tap in a wall anchor & screw in the screw… obviously leaving enough room for the item to hang on it.


In no time, my bulletin board is up and level.

Summertime Tips All in One Place


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Shoppers Drug Mart has just launched a cool new website for summer called Only at Shoppers.

I think it is great because they cover a variety of topics offering tips from multiple sources. They asked me to contribute by providing some of my tips. Of course, I was happy to!!

Take a peek at what I shared about Road Trip Essentials, tips for Travel by Air or by Sea & how to have an At Home Spa Day. I really love how they selected affordable products to coincide with my tips. It makes it so easy!

So, when you have a minute, take a browse around the new site and pick up some great information!

~ Shoana

Only at Shoppers Image


Laundry Time!


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Doing laundry is a necessary evil. But, if you follow the tips I shared on a recent Cityline segment, you’ll be washed up and on your way in no time.

Happy laundering!




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