If you have champagne dreams of tackling a kitchen reno, but you’re working with a beer budget, don’t be discouraged!!  In my opinion, great style and taste has little to do with how much money you spend, but rather how creative you can be with the budget you have.

It’s true that an updated kitchen can add tremendous value to your home, but if you’re planning an economical redo, it’s important to determine where you really want to invest (ie. appliances) and then think about smart ways that you can save.

I recently completed a “before” and “after” kitchen makeover for Chatelaine magazine with a very modest budget and a heap of elbow grease.  It just goes to show that you can create a luxe look for less…

chatelaine kitchen makeover   After” photo credit: Erik Putz

Here are 5 ways that I saved on this makeover project that you can easily do in your own home…

1.   Work with the elements that are staying…not against them

At the beginning of any décor project, it’s important to make a list of which elements are staying and what is going.  In the above kitchen, we decided to keep the existing natural stone countertops to save a chunk of change.  They were in great condition, and their creamy beige colour instantly became a key ingredient in our overall palette.  I always say that the more you ignore a colour in a space, the more it will stick out like a sore thumb.  By taking the existing counter colour into consideration, I was able to determine colours for new paint and finishes to compliment the overall look.

chatelaine colour plan

*All paint colours via Benjamin Moore

2.    Give your existing cabinets a facelift

If your cabinets are in good condition and you like the profile, consider transforming them with a simple coat of paint!  Cabinets take up a huge amount of visual space in a kitchen, so by updating the colour or finish, you can affordably change the entire look and feel of a space.  If you’re planning to tackle a cabinet facelift on your own, it’s important to use the proper products and thoroughly complete each step of sanding, cleaning, priming, and painting.

3.    Choose a budget friendly backsplash

In the Chatelaine kitchen makeover, we removed the old backsplash ourselves which helped to save on labour costs, but we also saved by selecting an affordable, yet classic white subway tile for only 34 cents each from Lowes.  It’s important to know when to DIY and when to call in the pros, and when it came to the installation of the new tiles, we opted for a professional to ensure they were perfectly spaced and in line.  We also selected a light gray grout to define the tiles and for no added cost, it created a customized look.

4.    Update your hardware with a fresh coat of paint

I always think of hardware as the “jewelry” in the kitchen, but if new handles or knobs aren’t in the budget, then give them an instant budget makeover with a new metallic coat of paint.  One of my favourite DIY tricks is to actually buy budget lighting and knobs in a less expensive brass finish and then transform them myself to pewter, bronze or brushed nickel with spray paint.  It’s an easy way to get a high end look for little investment, and no one will ever know the difference.

 5.    Customize with colour

A simple paint application that I love to do in kitchens is to wrap the wall colour onto the ceiling.  Because the cabinets typically take up a large portion of visual space, there usually isn’t a lot of wall space for colour, so by bringing the wall colour onto the ceiling you create a seamless transition for the eye and a unique, customized look for very few extra dollars.

What’s your favourite budget makeover trick or tip?  Leave a comment below, or better yet, tag me to an Instagram pic of your own project:  @LeighAnnAllaire

For a closer look at this makeover, check out a collection of behind-the-scenes videos available on Chatelaine.com

So, the moral of this story is, by flexing a little DIY muscle and creatively considering your budget, it’s not impossible to turn your kitchen makeover dreams into a reality…

IMG_1887

Photo credit: Leigh-Ann Allaire Perrault

Product Sources

Backsplash, flooring, pendant lighting, curtains, appliances: Lowes, www.lowes.ca

All paint finishies: Benjamin Moore, www.benjaminmoore.com

Fabric valance and pillows: Tonic Living, www.tonicliving.com

All accessories and artwork: Bouclair. www.bouclair.com

 

Now, it’s time to share the WINNER of the Black & Decker steam mop giveaway!!!

Drum roll…

Happy DIY-ing!

XO

L-A

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Did you know???

…you have a GIGANTOR stock of natural cleaning products hiding in your pantry and you probably don’t even know it!!!

Go on, take a peek!

Can’t spot them???

Well, I did a little Google-y-goo research recently, followed by a bit of kitchen science lab experimentation to see if I could find some less expensive cleaning product alternatives that were more natural to use around my kidlets and fur babies.

Now, don’t get me wrong…cleaning is not high on my fun list, but with a house full of boys (pets included), there’s A LOT of scrubbing that goes down on a regular basis, and sometimes it feels like we go through cleaning supplies as quickly as milk.

So, I compiled a list of common cooking staples that secretly lead a double life as affordable and effective cleaners for a variety of different surfaces around the house.  Here are my fave tried and true DIY cleaning solutions…

How to clean GREASE

  • Add a few drops of lemon juice to your kitchen soap dispenser to help cut grease more effectively.
  • Lemon is also a great deodorizer as well as degreaser and works well for cleaning the inside of the microwaves.  Mix 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a microwave safe dish and run on high until the mixture is boiling, then allow to sit and steam inside for 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove the dish and use a clean dry cloth to wipe down the inside… the grease will wipe away, and it will smell lemony fresh! .
  • Vinegar is also a great grease fighter!  Mix 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water in a spray bottle and use to clean stainless steel appliances.  The acidic vinegar will help to cut through the grease of fingerprint marks, and always use a microfiber cloth rubbing in the direction of the stainless grain to avoid streaks.

How to polish SILVERWARE

  • Apply a layer of ketchup (yes, ketchup!) to the surface of the silverware with a cloth or papertowel and allow to sit for 15 minutes.  Rinse with warm water and gently buff with a clean, dry cloth, and VOILA! Sparkly and shiny again!
  • This is a trick my Mom taught me when I was little… place a piece of tin foil in the bottom of a plastic container (shiny side up), add 1 cup of Arm & Hammer washing soda and then fill with hot water.  Stir the mixture and place the silverware in contact with the shiny tin foil and allow to soak for 15 minutes.  Rinse in clean warm water, and buff.

My least favourite thing to clean… TOILETS

  • If you ever have a half finished can of cola kicking around after a party, pour it into your toilet bowl.  Allow it to sit for about an hour and then scrub with a toilet brush and flush.  Cola is great for descaling that nasty ring around the bowl build-up.
  • Baking soda is also great to remove toilet bowl grime.  Sprinkle baking soda around the inside of the bowl, and then use a wet scrub brush on the problem areas, then flush!  Ta da…your royal thrown will be sparkling again!

How to safely clean up BROKEN GLASS

  • If you’ve ever dropped a light bulb (smash), then you know there are a zillion pieces to clean up.  Of course, vacuuming or sweeping will help, but there are those teeny tiny little fragments of glass that often just get pushed around by broom bristles.  So, here’s a crazy cool tip…after cleaning up the larger broken glass pieces, use a piece of fresh sliced bread and press down on the surface.  It acts as a sponge and grabs onto those microscopic pieces so you can dispose of them safely. (Note: white bread works best)
  • White bread also works well to lightly dust and clean delicate oil paintings. Did you know that in 1625, a restoration of the Sistine Chapel was carried out by cleaning the ceiling with pieces of bread!  So maybe carbs aren’t that bad after all!!

How to clean WOOD SURFACES

  • I started cooking with coconut oil about a year ago, and it amazes me how many other uses there are for it!  You can deep condition your hair, moisturize your skin AND moisturize wood floors and furniture!  Simply use a tablespoon of coconut oil with a clean buffing cloth and rub the oil onto dry surfaces to help restore its lustre.
  • I’m also a huge black tea fan, and recently discovered that if I save my tea bags and add them into my bucket of clean water to mop floors, the steeped tea will richen the natural wood colour and help prevent fading.
  • Last but not least, WATER!  Genius, right!  Of course we all know that water can help you clean just about anything, but water is the key ingredient to add to a floor steamer which can kill more than 99% of bacteria.  Now, if you’re cleaning wood floors, you want to make sure your steamer has temperature controls… using HOT steam on natural wood can cause expansion and do some serious damage.

GIVEAWAY ALERT…..GIVEAWAY ALERT…GIVEAWAY ALERT

Now, speaking of steamers…

I’m rather partial to this bad boy!

       steam mop 1

The Black +Decker SmartSelect steam mop has 3 temperature settings (including one specifically for wood floors), an easy to remove and fill water canister, fab microfiber pads that are super easy to remove and toss in the washing machine AND it has a little hidden secret…

steam mop 2

There’s an ingenious little step down pedal at the back that quickly releases the large steam head and reveals a smaller steam head to get around small, tight areas like icky toilets.

I recently gave it a test drive on Cityline along with sharing some of the cleaning tips above…

Now, we gave the Black + Decker steam mop away to some lucky Cityline audience members that day, but today might be YOUR lucky day!  I’m giving away one to a Hue La La reader, and here’s how to enter…

Tweet the following:

I want to get a head start on spring cleaning by winning this @Black_DeckerUS SmartSelect steam mop: http://www.huelala.com/design-musings/you-cleaned-what-with-that/ ‎ #HueLaLa

You have a second chance to win by leaving a comment below about your favourite natural cleaning product, or sharing your best cleaning tip or trick!

Giveaway eligibility ends at 11:59pm EST on January 31, 2014, and is only open to residents of Canada (for now…sorry to my US peeps).

GOOD LUCK!!

All this chatter about cleaning has me feeling so fresh…and so clean…clean!

XO

L-A

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Zig zag, herringbone, chevron, flame stitch…

No matter what you choose to call it, this playful pattern certainly isn’t “new”, but it has jumped back onto the design scene in a BIG and bold way over the past few year.  I’ve been spotting it in abundance on everything from pillows to purses…fashion to flooring…curtains, and even wedding cakes!

chevron cake ideas

There are two things that I have recently come to discover about this zippity little pattern…people are either TOTALLY into it, or they’re COMPLETELY over it!

I must admit, I likely wouldn’t wear zig zags, but I do love it used as an instant punch of graphic colour and pattern in the home.

For those of you who are undecided and thinking that you “might” love a little chevron in your life, I always say…when in doubt, try a toss cushion!

yellow chevron pillow

It’s always a super easy and affordable way to test drive any trend in your home without long term commitment.

But my other favorite saying is “Go BIG, or go HOME”….and lately I’m lovin’ all of these painted chevron patterns on a super-sized scale!

Zig-zaggery on the walls…

gray and white chevron wall

benjamin moore black and white stripe idea

benjamin moore pink striped wall

benjamin moore gray wall

And here’s the thing…. if you’re drooling over the thought of a chevron wall, but think it’s waaaaaaay to difficult to paint yourself, then I have a primo solution for you…..

chevron-stencil

Oh yeah!  My genius friends at Cutting Edge Stencils have created a GORG and easy-peasy to use stencil in both wall and craft size!

How about a little chevron love on the stairs…

black and white striped stairs

Look up!

I’m super duper diggin’ a dash of chevron on the ceiling…

benjamin moore striped ceiling

benjamin moore blue ceiling

 

Make your door part of your décor with a dose of…..you guessed it…CHEVRON

benjamin moore gray striped door

 

Instantly update a naked kitchen backsplash with a painted herringbone pattern…

chevron stencil

Playful Patterned Furniture…

I love this headboard and side table created with the chevron craft stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils!

chevron stencil

benjamin moore striped chevron dresser

benjamin moore striped painted furniture

 

My heart always skips a beat for gorgeous painted floors…

And how about a colourful chevron rug under foot…

Could it be that chevron has joined the ranks of patterned “classics” with the likes of hounds tooth, plaid, and even stripes?  I have a sneaking suspicion that chevron will be sticking around for a while longer, but what I really want to know is…

Are you into it, or over it?

Now, you may be over it, but perhaps you’d be into bustin’ a zig zag move with me to this little ditty… (it’s amazing what a YouTube search will turn up ;)   But, hey…this might have the potential to be the next Macarena, *cough*!!

 

XO

L-A

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Have you ever stepped on a scale and noticed you’ve maybe gained a pound or two?  *Cough*

Yeah, yeah…I know, rhetorical question, right?!?

Well, since I left the comfort and predictability of the corporate world a year ago (and eleven days, but who’s counting), I totally put my biz ahead of my bod, and far too many times I have stepped on that same damn scale and watched the number creep up and up.

I even had a full conversation with myself a few months ago while staring down at those digits and I said out loud “what number do I need to hit before I make some changes?” …and sadly, I didn’t have an answer!

And then I hit it!  Oh, I hit it haaaaaaaaaaaard!

weight scale

I’m embarrassed to admit my actual weight as of January 1, 2014…but what I can tell you is that I’ve gained exactly 25 lbs this past year…30 lbs in total over the past two years!!

THIRTY-ELLE-BEES!

Whoa!!!  And I should also mention that I’m only 5′ tall, so I don’t have a lot of “surface area” to hide the weight as well as others who were born vertically gifted!

Sadly, I have gotten REALLY good though at dressing to hide my weight gain!!

I’ve confided in a few peeps about my struggles and when I share just how many pounds I’ve packed on, the consistent response has been ”but you look great”…which is polite and kind, but they ain’t lookin’ at my naked jiggly parts when they’re saying it.

Now, for all of you anti-scale people out there, I get it!  My health shouldn’t be about a number…it should be about how I feel.  But bottom line, I’ve been feeling like shite, and hitting that number was like getting an unbiased second opinion!

If you perused my New Years kind-of-resolution post earlier in the week, you know that I plan to put a lot of focus on how I “feel” in 2014… mentally, emotionally, and of course, physically!  I want to feel confident…and ready for anything…like I have electric awesome-sauce flowing through my veins 24/7!

And on that note, I should really resolve to stop using “awesome-sauce” this year!  *over it*

I’ve come to the realization that the first and biggest step to achieving my goal is to make my health a top priority!

So, how am I going to do it?  How am I going to get the awesome-sauce a-flowin’?  *Damnit, I can’t stop saying it*

awesome sauce

Well, I’ve been hitting the gym again, drinking more aqua, avoiding crapola foods, and I am so fortunate to have the support and constant motivation of one incredible friend in particular…

This girl…

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Tracy Moore is the pinnacle of impeccable health and all around fabulousness!

We have tons of fun sharing the camera together on Cityline, but what you don’t know is that she has been an amazing role model and motivational mentor for me behind the scenes!  She really is my brass standard for fitness and proves that it is possible to be a healthy, working mom.

Seriously though…we were both on the Sporting Life 10K Ambassador Team last year, and before one of the 5K training sessions leading up to the run, she casually mentioned that she had already smoked a 5K that morning!  She is the real deal, folks!!

And yes, in case you were wondering…I did survive the 10K run (but I’m pretty sure Tracy lapped me…twice)!

sl10k me

So in my quest for a healthier lifestyle, I started looking to see if there was a way to hit my body’s reset button.  I really wanted to start the new year with a clean slate!

I had heard about juice cleanses before, but had never tried one.  I knew that Tracy had done them in the past with great success, so I reached out to a local company…

raw guru

Full disclosure here…

I never set-out to score a free cleanse, but I was thrilled when Eliane (aka. The Guru) generously offered to let me try one for 3-days, no strings attached!  In fact, she offered it to Tracy as well knowing that success is much greater with the buddy system.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you’ve probably seen me post about the cleanse over the past few days, but please know that these posts were not sponsored, nor is this post I’m writing now!  Eliane had no expectations when making her offer, and I certainly would never write about something unless I totally supported it!  And I choose to support the Raw Juice Guru cleanse :)

The amazing thing about the program is that they customize the juices with your personal goals in mind.  I filled out an extensive questionnaire and then Eliane created unique juice concoctions just for me.  Oh, and did I mention that each daily quantity of freshly handmade organic juice was delivered to my doorstep every morning of the cleanse?!  Yeppers, by 7am there was a fully stocked cooler waiting with my name on it!!

juice cooler

**8 juices in total per day including 2 small bottles at the front of the cooler.

Tracy and I both started on Jan. 8th and finished yesterday, and having her encouragement via tweets and text was definitely a huge determinate in my success.  And speaking of success, if you’re a juice cleanse newbie, here was my experience in a nutshell…

Day 1…

  • I was nervous whether or not I could actually do it, but super excited to start!
  • When I read the first juice contents, I was scared to take the first sip… Spinach, pea sprouts, cucumber, celery, lemon, parsley…but it was DELISH!  No word of a lie…it was seriously delish!!
  • Of the 8 juices a day I had to consume (24 in total), there were only 2 that kind of made me wince a tad.  Annnnd it was because I failed to mention that I’m not a fan of grapefruit ;)
  • I felt amazing on the first day with zero cravings, zero hunger pains, and ZERO yearning for caffeine (shocking…I know!)  In fact, I didn’t feel hungry once during the entire 3 days!!
  • Total weight loss after day one… 3.5lbs

Day 2…

  • I developed a killer headache in the evening, but popped an Advil and all was fab again.  I had read Eliane’s FAQ page prior to the cleanse and knew that this was normal…it was my body reacting to all of the toxins being released.
  • By the end of the day, I was zonked and it took extra effort to consume the final juice before crawling into bed…definitely the most challenging day
  • Total weight loss after day two… 5.2lbs

Day 3…

  • I woke up feeling AH-MAZING!
  • I even went to a media event during lunchtime that was a proverbial sea of food, and I didn’t crave or touch a single thing!!
  • *I found each day that I needed to brush my teeth more regularly (3-4 times).  Why?  Well, they got that weird fuzzy feeling…Eeew…and I realized it was because I hadn’t been chewing anything for days.
  •  Total weight loss after day three… 7.4lbs

Say what???

SEVEN POINT FOUR POUNDS!!! 

Holy jalapeno peppers…I feel completely rejuvenated, my skin looks better than ever, and I don’t feel like I want or need any of those nasty, gnarly foods I used to gorge myself on.  In fact, I did a post cleanse grocery shop yesterday and stocked up on produce to make fresh soups over the weekend.  I definitely feel like I have flipped the switch and I am so grateful to have given my body the gift of a healthy reboot!!

I hope to keep my diet as clean as possible moving forward, and I’ve already agreed to run the Sporting Life 10K again this year, so watch out Tracy, I’ll be hot on your heels ;)

And on that note…it’s time to go jump on the hamster wheel and WORK IT!

XO

L-A

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If you happened to catch my last post (which also happened to be my first of 2014), then you know that I swung into the new year like this…

wrecking ball#

Yep, practically-almost-kind of EXACTLY like that!  Well, minus the Doc Martins… I was wearing my cute pink steel toes!

On January 2nd, we kick started our looooooong awaited #BasementRenoBonanza!!!!

*Release confetti canons*

Hubs and I have been in our 1980′s home for nearly 9 years now, but I’ll never forget when we were house hunting and first stepped through the front door together…our eyes locked and we had one of those telepathic conversations without saying a word…

Hubs: “WOW” *insert grin*

Me: “WOW good or WOW bad?”… “Cuz I kinda love it, but I don’t want to be the one to say it first” *smirk*

Hubs: “WOW…I love it” *insert double eyebrow raise* “I think it’s our forever house…well, unless of course we win the lottery”

Me: “It does need a LOT of work, but we have TONS free time!  We can totally tackle all of the renovations ourselves…you know, when we’re not out having a quiet romantic dinner, catching a late night R-rated movie, and spending Saturday mornings in bed until noon” *insert naïve smile* 

Oh…you’ve gotta love the blind ambition of a young, newlywed couple.

Annnnnnnd then two kidlets came along!

Annnnnnnd then the ambitious renovation plans slowed to a snails pace!!

We have successfully chipped away at some of our initial reno wish list… new roof, bathrooms, laundry room, exterior façade, windows, flooring…yadda, yadda, yadda!

But there has been one project, ONE massive overhaul that I have been dreaming about since we moved in… and that day, my friends, is here!

You should know a few more quick tidbits before I dive in too deep here and show you the GAWD AWFUL basement before photos…

We bought our home from a lovely couple who happened to fashion themselves as handy dandy renovators.  The hubby worked shifts and often had stretches of 3 or more days off to hammer away… need I say more!  Although they had ”finished” the basement, there were a few head scratching design (and safety) abominations…

Are you ready for this???  (And I should note that our before photos were already partially demoed). Before family room

Fun things to note about the family room…

The corner gas fireplace was (likely) self-installed and genius-ly vented out of an exterior window well… Oh, and sealed with concrete!  Yep, the previous homeowners had opted not to place the fireplace in the obvious niche (near the garbage bin) and instead eliminated any form of natural light by attaching a shite flexible tube to the window.  What a crap-tastrophe!!!

Our plan:  Bye-bye nasty corner fireplace…Hello sleek, modern gas fireplace built into niche!

Inspiration a la Houzz:

And then there’s the bathroom…

Before bathroom

Let’s first discuss the awesome electrical panel BETWEEN the bathtub and toilet.  OY!!

And I should also note that the previous homeowner was very proud to share with us that he purchased the tub “second hand” when he was renovating the bathroom.  Needless to say, I REFUSED to use it, and it has been a giant storage bin for us since we moved in.

Our Plan: tub is getting tossed in a dumpster, we’re enclosing the electrical panel into a separate storage room, and including a new stand-up shower and vanity.

Inspiration a la Pinterest

bd471fdd884c61f33bcb21a9665d52fd[1]

 

Now for the playroom and “games room” (where no fun and games were happening)…

Before games room playroom

We did a minor redo of few years back of what used to be a woodworking shop in the basement, and turned it into a bright blue play room for our boys.  It was 100% a bandaid solution and never really “done”, if you know what I mean.

The games room was a hawt mess and giant waste-o-space since day one, and through the demo process, we’ve discovered that the huge drop bulkhead where the billiards light was hanging from was completely unnecessary.

Our Plan: We’re going to be able to smooth out the ceiling to full height capacity (yay) and divide the space into two rooms; a new playroom and a double office for both hubby and I to share.  Oh, and au revoir to the pool table and bar!

Office inspiration a la Pinterest

a2e5944bc05e499db5199cd6ad44aed9[1]

 

Finally, I wanted to include some before pics of the basement entrance… Before stairs hallway As you entered into the basement before, you were met with an uber exciting hallway of doors (…can you sense the sarcasm).  Five doors to be exact, and all different heights and widths…fun!

Our Plan: open up the main wall connecting the previous playroom and family room, and create a kick-ace entertaining mecca.  After the renos are complete, the first thing you will see at the bottom of the stairs will be a fab 5 seater bar with fridge, sink and dishwasher.  Can you say “HOUSE PAR-TAY”?!

Inspiration a la Houzz

Here’s a plan view of the changes to give you a better idea of where we’re headed…

Basement Before revised bathroom

Just looking at the after drawing makes me do an awkward happy dance!!  I cannot wait to unlock the true potential of the space to better suit our daily lifestyle!!!

As you can imagine, I’ll be writing a bunch in the coming months about our reno project here, so stop by again soon to see the progress, or follow along on Instagram by searching #basementrenobonanza

Now, I’m off to look at flooring samples, and quite possibly lick a hammer…

XO

L-A

 

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Yawn….stretch…

Well, hello there gorgeous!

I’m back from a wee bit of holiday hibernation, and I have to say…spending two glorious weeks in yoga pants, tube socks, and my hubby’s sweatshirt was beyond magnificent.  I mean, BEYOND!!

After officially taking the entrepreneurial leap on New Years Eve 2013, I don’t recall slowing down to stop and smell the roses for more than a nano-second since.  But over the holidays, my nose was doing some serious rosey snif sniffin’ with my family…and it smelled oh so sweet!

2013 was a supremely PHENOMENAL year, and a taste of the proof is in this yummy pudding…

flipagram

But now I’m refreshed and ready to give ‘er in 2014!

And on that note…

HAPPY 2014 TO YOU!

Another year, another new beginning, another 365 days to make awesome shiz happen!

32440059786147604_EpmBGCHI_c[1]

I’m going to keep today’s post short-ish and sweet, so buckle up, because I’m about to hop on the news years resolution bandwagon!

For the past few years I’ve created more of a theme or “book title” for the year ahead instead of a list of resolutions…

2012: Positive Change, Positive People

2013: Take A Leap (…and L.E.A.P. happens to be my initials *snort*)

This year, I’ve decided against a “book title”.

Instead, I chose a theme song for 2014…

You know, like that catchy tune that plays during the opening of a cheesey, over-produced Hollywood rom-com.  That song that makes you want to get up off  your keister and shake something.  That song that you totally perform a routine of hairbrush karaoke to in your bathroom when no one’s watching!

Yeah, you know that song!

Well, my 2014 theme song makes me want to dance like a complete moron, sing like I’m auditioning for The Voice (Mmmm…Adam Levine), and quite simply makes me feel awesome!  And for me, 2014 is going to be all about “FEEL”!

In 2014, I want to feel electric

What are you waiting for???  Get up and jiggle some jelly with me.

Oh, and speaking of jelly…if I was to “resolve” anything this year, it would be to erase some of that!  I am going to make my health a greater priority and yes, I’m going to be blogging a tad in the coming weeks about my quest to renovate my booty!  It’s time!!!

I’ve also been cooking up some DIY deliciousness a la my #BasementRenoBonanza and I’ll be back in a couple of days with the GAWD AWFUL “before” photos, a glimpse at the “in-progress” demolition, and the plan for the glorious “after”.

Here’s a teeny tiny peek…

1521768_633709763359855_756334872_n[1]

I have a sneaking suspicion that this year is going to kick some seriously awesome-tastic ace!

Wishing you oodles of love and laughter in the year ahead, and I hope you swing by this slice of the cyber-sphere again sometime soon!

XO

L-A

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Come on, you had to see that blog post title coming at some point this holiday season!!  Bah!!!

  hue la la la la

So, here’s the deal…

My hubs and I made a joint decision many years ago that we wouldn’t exchange Christmas gifts, and instead we give the annual joyous gift of a home improvement project or room renovation.  Now, that may sound exciting to some, but there were years when our “home improvement gift” wasn’t so sexy….re. new furnace.  This year however, our gift to one another is currently being “wrapped”, so to speak…we’re renovating the exterior façade of our home which includes new, bigger windows (woo to the hoo), new fibreglass siding, new doors, etc…and I happen to think it’s already looking pretty darn sexy!!!

house

I’ll be sharing oodles more about this project in the new year and of course, “before and after” pics, as well as details on a new project that we’re embarking on in February… Our long awaited BASEMENT RENO EXTRAVAGANZA (…okay, it’s a working title!)

Although I don’t exchange gifts with the hubster, that doesn’t mean I don’t still like cute, quirky, sparkly things!  In fact, I love reading all of the blog posts this time of year about unique, must-have gift ideas (and ahem…I *may* have written about my top 10 gift picks for Dads, Dudes, & DIY-ers in my last post).  Today, instead of giving you ideas of what to buy your friends and fam, I thought I’d share a few goodies that I would (or perhaps did) buy for myself!

I recently popped by the Toronto “One of a Kind” show and ur, *may* have bought myself a few “gifty gifts”.  I left saying “Merry Christmas to me”, and when I got home, I thanked my hubs for having such great taste and said “you shouldn’t have”! *wink wink*

Now, please do not confuse this post for the following…

A) a means of plugging brand affiliates

B) a pathetic attempt to try and woo potential sponsors to get free shiz

These are all items that I have recently spotted, fell in lurve with, and/ or purchased, so I thought some of y’all just might love them too!  Oh, and they are all LOCAL, and I especially heart that!!!

Here’s a list of my Hue La La approved must-haves this holiday season…

1.   “Robert Wu” Original Artwork

If you haven’t noticed, I have a ma-hoosive crush on pink and coral, and I also have an major affection for artwork that features trees.  So when I laid my eyes on Torontonian artist Robert Wu’s original marble painting titled “Cherry Blossom”, I just knew it had to be mine.  This 18″x24″ beauty is going to be the starting point for the design of my new basement studio space…isn’t she a stunner!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now, I kind of regret not snatching up his collection of ”Agate” hand marbled originals (4 in total), but I’m still stumped as to where I would display them…

agate

2.  “Opelle” Leather Vanda Handbag

I am a total sucker for a simple, stylish, black leather bag, and this little dude has been stalking me for weeks now!  We first met at the Strut Tour Etsy booth…

opelle

Can I get some ham with this cheese!

…And then again at the One of a Kind show.  I’ve already placed my order with hubs, because lucky for me, my birthday is right around the corner!!

opelle website

3.  “Not Made In China” Ceramics

As much as I love simple and stylish, I have a strong fondness for anything with a touch of quirk.  The name of this Montreal company alone grabbed my attention… “Not Made In China“, and ironically, artist Hugo Didier’s specialty is bespoke ceramic ware that he proudly stamps with the name of his brand.  I cannot tell you how much I ADORED these whimsical lipstick mugs…

kiss mug

I went back to look at them 4 times before finally deciding to treat myself to one…but what hubs doesn’t know is that my new mug *might* have 5 twin sisters on their way to our house.  It’s a bit of a splurge, but I know I would regret not having a set!!

Not Made In China is one of those companies that I put on my “when I win the lottery” list…because I want it ALL!!!

not made in china

4.  “RoxyPop” Apple Cozy

While we’re on the subject of quirky awesomeness, how can you not fall madly in love with these uber cute apple cozies from RoxyPop?!  I’ll be tucking this little guy into my own Christmas stocking, and of course, I’ll act surprised when I open it…ha!  And since I have that whole New Years weight loss dark cloud starting to loom over me already, I figured an adorable traveling partner like this will keep me eating healthy on the fly.

apple cozy

5.  The Simplicity Principle” Bookkeeping Organizer

Last, but certainly not least… I couldn’t do a round-up of my favourite things without including this fab little coral lifesaver!

simplicity princ

On January 1st, I will be celebrating my 1 year anniversary since taking a leap of faith to leave the corporate world and start my own company.  To say that it was the right decision is a gigantor understatement, but there have been a few entrepreneurial bumps along the way…ie. SMALL BUSINESS ACCOUNTING HELL!

I was introduced to The Simplicity Principle accounting organizer mid-year, and man-o-man, it has totally saved my bacon!  I will be giving the gift of financial organization to myself again this year with the 2014 addition, and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who is in business for themselves and perhaps a tad mathematically challenged like me!!

Is there anything on my must-have list that catches your fancy???

Now, although I’ve chatted a lot today about receiving, I want to give you the gift of awesomeness with the latest YouTube sensation.  The message behind this Depeche Mode song is rather ironic this time of year, and how can you NOT melt for these two pint-sized musicians (and a cute as pie Pops)…

Cheers, and a happy holiday high five all around!!!

XO

L-A

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36 hours, 1000 km, 4 television stations, 10 live segments, and 1 plastic wine glass (with a splash of Pinot Grigio courtesy of Air Canada during my flight home)…

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Hello Ottawa!

I’ve been a busy little traveling bee for the past 2 days on the first leg of my Black & Decker holiday media tour which took me to the astonishingly beautiful city of Ottawa and back.  The focus of this season’s tour is to share my top tool picks for Dads, dudes, and DIY-ers, and I’ve been unexpectedly surprised by the number of product inquiries via social media after several of the segments.  The number one question seems to be “where can I buy that?“….so I figured I would do a quick round-up of my top picks complete with links to help you shop online.

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Kickin’ it old school with this uber cool DeWalt mini weather resistant radio!

As you may or may not know, I am the Canadian female spokesperson for Black & Decker, so full disclosure here…this is a sponsored post!

Now, if you’re currently searching for the perfect holiday gift for someone that loves to roll-up their sleeves and flex a little DIY muscle, then look no further!  This top 10 list of my tool-tastic must-haves has got you covered with handy dandy gift ideas to fill their stockings and tuck under the tree.

tools frames

1.       DeWalt Tough System

What good is a stellar collection of tools if you don’t have a great place to keep them organized!  The DeWalt tough system is the ultimate vertical tool storage solution for anyone with a growing tool collection, and perhaps those of us who don’t have a lot of room in the garage for a permanent storage cabinet.  It offers multiple detachable boxes to help separate your hand tools, power tools, bits and accessories, and the added bonus is that each box slides onto a portable cart that conveniently doubles as a hand trolley on its own!

TOUGHSYSTEM[1]

2.       Black & Decker Matrix

If you have a true DIY enthusiast on your shopping list this year, the Matrix 20v rechargeable multi-tool system is sure to get their motor revving!  What appears to be a typical power drill at first glance quickly transforms into an entire workshop with the simple press of a button and changing of the attachment heads.  The innovative assortment of attachments includes a jig saw, circular saw, impact driver, sanding head, oscillating tool, and the newly introduced air inflator. For anyone who might be a tad intimidated by hefty contractor sized tools, this system lets you have complete control and comfort with the lightweight, easy grip handle.  And the added benefit of this compact collection is that it takes up very little space to store and costs a fraction of what it would to purchase each full sized power tool individually.

matrix[1]

3.       DeWalt Mini Radio

Whether you’re working indoors or out, the addition of rockin’ tunes makes any DIY project roll along faster!  The new Dewalt mini radio offers lightweight portability and runs off of standard AC power or cordless when you drop any DeWalt 12v, 18v or 20v rechargeable battery in the back.  A discreet hidden door on the side lets you pop in your smart phone and connect via USB to play your own customized playlist, and if that wasn’t awesome enough, the entire unit is weather resistant, so you can have yourself a DIY dance party… rain or shine!

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4.       DeWalt Heated Jacket

While you’re shakin’ your groove thang outdoors with the mini radio, you might as well keep cozy on those blistering cold days with the new DeWalt heated jacket.  Yep, you read that right…it’s an amazingly toasty heated jacket that runs off of a 12v or 20v rechargeable DeWalt battery (included) which tucks neatly in a back compartment.  The jacket offers 3 heat temperature settings and 4 heated zones, AND (yes, there’s an awesome-tastic AND)… the battery pack has 2 USD ports so you can charge your cell phone while the coat keeps you warm.  WHAT? Mind blowing…I know!!  This is the perfect present for Dad’s and dude’s hanging out at the hockey rink, shoveling snow, or working in chilly conditions over the winter.

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5.       Stanley 25’ Magnetic Tip Tape Measure

If you thought there couldn’t possibly be anything exciting about a tape measure, then you’ve never seen this little gem before!  The Stanley 25’ magnetic tip tape measure has…well, you guessed it, a magnetic tip.  Now if you’re wondering why that’s so exciting you’ve probably never been at the top of a ladder and dropped the screw you were just about to drill in the wall.  This tape measure can act as your “Go Go Gadget arm” to extend to the floor and pick it up for you.  It’s also great for measuring between metal studs, and the 11’ standout means you can measure farther distances without the extended tape bending.  This just might be the perfect stocking stuffer addition!

tape

6.       Stanley AntiVibe Hammer with magnetic nail start

Sure, most of us already have a hammer in the good ‘ole tool box, but the holidays are the perfect time to give the gift of a handy hammer upgrade.  This Stanley AntiVibe hammer packs a powerful punch and has a hefty strike face to help increase nail driving performance and accuracy.  My favourite added feature is the magnetic nail set for one hand nailing, so you never have to sacrifice your thumbs again.

hammer

 

7.       DeWalt Gyroscopic Screwdriver

Every so often a new product comes along that makes you go “WHOA”…and that was my exact reaction when I recently had the opportunity to test drive the new DeWalt Gyroscopic screwdriver.  This baby is the ultimate upgrade to a stationary screwdriver because the motion activated technology does all the work for you by screwing in whichever direction you twist your wrist.  It also has a quick release for single hand bit changes, a pivoting handle which makes vertical applications easy and convenient, and a ring of LED lights around the driver head to light up dark, tight spaces.

gyro

8.       DeWalt XR Brushless 20v Drill

If you’re not sure what to buy the reno pro or contractor on your list, the new XR brushless 20v drill by DeWalt is sure to make them do a cartwheel or two!  This cordless handheld powerhouse boasts a brushless motor that reduces the amount of friction and heat while in use, and more importantly, increases the runtime by approximately 57% over the comparable brushed units.  At only 3.6 lbs, it’s super lightweight, runs on a 20v rechargeable battery, and has a 2-speed transmission for increased speed and torque control.  *Insert manly grunt here*

drill

9.       Black & Decker Orbital Sander

Every tool kit needs a quality electric sander in the lineup, and for those DIYers who already have a standard palm unit, an orbit is a great addition to have on hand.  The Black & Decker orbital 5 inch sander is perfect for stripping and refinishing furniture pieces, and although it works quickly and efficiently to remove existing paint, varnish or stain, the smooth circular motion prevents gouging on more delicate wood surfaces.

orbit

10.   Black & Decker  Cordless Mini Canister Vac

Whether you’ve been kicking up saw dust in your workshop, or you’re getting tired of picking kiddy cracker crumbs off of the car seats (like me), this mighty little cordless vac should be at the top of YOUR holiday wish list!  The lightweight, rechargeable unit makes clean-up a breeze without the hassle and limitations of a cord, and the 4-foot flexible hose and attachment accessories allows you to reach into even the smallest of spaces.

vac

So, which of these items will you be adding to your wish list???

Next week I’m off to the glorious city of Montreal for a quick tool time visit with my pals at Breakfast Television.  My mouth is already watering with the thought of poutine, pastries, and smoked meat!  Annnnnnnnd, I’ll be packing my stretchy pants!

Ooooh baby, I’m so “gitchi gitchi ya ya da da” excited, and speaking of which…

Have yourself a very merry DIY holiday season!

XO

L-A

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Gah!  I’m baaaaaaaaack!!

Did ya miss me?  I sure as heck missed all of you!!

I had a wee hiccup on the blog for the past few weeks with a pesky bug-a-roo, but all is eh-okay now and Hue La La is back in business, baby!!

So, where to begin???…

Well, since I’m kind of getting back into the blogging swing of things, we’ll call today more of an “update”!  I’ve got a handful of exciting nuggets that I’m itching to share…most of which involve my two little dudes!!

Wait for it…

***BRAGGING MOM ALERT***BRAGGING MOM ALERT***BRAGGING MOM ALERT**

But rest assured, I’ll be back OFTEN in the coming days and weeks with oodles of design inspiration, DIY projects, and my drool worthy wish list for Santa, so stay tuned.  Hue La La has been working overtime behind the scenes to create some colourful content to share soon!!

First up on today’s update menu…

I’m thrilled to share that I have two new national Canon commercials currently airing {often} on W Network!

Pinch me!!!

I’ve gotta say, never in a billion years did I think I’d be doing anything this cool, and I have Canon to thank for entrusting me with their brand messaging.

Oh, and I’m extra gushy about these spots because my little lads make a quick cameo appearance in both!

Wait for it…

boys pic 2

If you haven’t yet caught the commercials, here’s the coles notes version…

Canon’s new Rebel SL1 camera ROCKS…plain and simple!

The wicked news is that you have a chance to win one by checking out the link below and clicking on the image.  And if that wasn’t fab-tastic enough…your little kidlet can be the star of their new Rebel SL1 commercial… What, what??  Fun, fun!!

sl1 promo

I’ve got a tad more braggy news below…but while we’re on the subject of contests and prizes, I have a quick order of business to attend to…

IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Congrats to Leah Straatsma for winning the Canon PIXMA all-in-one printer that was up for grabs in my last post!  Leah’s colour of choice was white, so darlin’, expect to receive that little gem very soon.  And psssssst….Leah, since I’m super nosy, I would love to see a pic of the printer once it gets cozy in its new home ;-)

pixma winner

Now, back to the brag-braggery!!

Wait for it…

A few months back I hinted about a super fantastico secret project that I was working on, and the cat is now out of the bag and on newsstands…

tp

I was ecstatic when Today’s Parent magazine contacted me back in the summer to work on their December issue!  It was an action packed project that went a little something like this…

  • Styling the cover shoot (kind of a dream come true!)
  • Creating and writing the Christmas Countdown craft of the month
  • Producing, crafting, styling, and writing the 5 page DIY and design feature: 5 Fab Trees

I’ll be sharing more on all of these projects in the next few weeks, but hands down, my FAVE part of this collaboration was that my boys were asked to be involved with a little “behind the scenes” webisode action.

Here’s how it went down…

Originally I was going to film some craft projects on-set and have my boys be my “assistants”, but we quickly discovered that my oldest lad, Nolan totally rocked on his own.  I was pushed off-set and he ran the show with the help of his trusty sidekick and mischievous little bro, Everett.  They’re kind of like the Penn and Teller of the kiddie playground…Nolan is the chipper chatter box and Everett is the silent rascal!

So without further adieu…

Wait for it…

Potato Stamped Ornaments

Dance Party Glitter Ball Ornaments

BWUAH…………

I am SO DARN PROUD of my boys and obviously a teeny bit bias, but I think these vids are OFF the cute-ness scale!

Here’s the thing though, I may have created a monster… Nolan went to school the day after filming and told everyone he has his own TV show!  Ahahaha!!!  He’s now constantly “pitching” me crafty segment ideas for “The Nolan Show”, and yes, there are more videos in the works.  So, I’m pretty sure that now makes me a stage mom *le sigh*.  But who am I kidding…I kind of love it ;)

Before I jingle bell myself out of here for today, I just want to send a special thank you to Roberto Caruso (photographer and videographer extraordinaire), Alicia Kowaleski and Karine Ewart at Today’s Parent and YOU for reading today’s post.

And in keeping with the holiday merriment, I figured we should wrap this post up with a handsome little bow a la Joseph Gordan-Levitt (and some chick named Lady Gaga).  I’ll admit, this duet is kind of a train wreck in some ways, but I just couldn’t stop watching…enjoy!!

XO

L-A

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So, I dropped a little tease-a-roo last month about some epically awesome ssssshtuff that was going down in the land of Hue La La…

And I’m super stoked to finally be able to share the first yummy slice of the pie!

Before I toss the confetti, this post comes with a disclaimer…

Although I’m still pretty new to this blogging thang, I am acutely aware that there are peeps out there who think that some bloggers are a-lot-a-bit too narcissistic and might as well be writing for “allaboutme.com”…(thanks to Vicky Sanderson for that wicked zinger a la The Facebook today ;) ) ….so, if this is you, discontinue reading now…do not pass GO…do not collect $200!

I’m about to do some toot-tooting of my own horn…

tuba

Back in August I received a random phone call from a PR company who was reaching out on behalf of their “client”.  This mystical client was interested in working with little ‘ole me to launch their new colourfully chic tech product, and of course my interest was seriously peeked!!!

But I had no idea what awesome-tastic-ness was about to unfold…

Intro the client… Canon-logo-2012[1] SHA-BANG!

Oh yeah…the maker of my beloved EOS Rebel T3 that I got from Santa last Christmas (aka…bought for myself).

I know that this will appear like some serious tuckus smooching, but I was already a huge fan of the brand before I got “the call”.  So to find out that THEY wanted to work with ME was an uber YIPPEEEEEEE moment!!!

“Okay, okay Leigh-Ann….get to the point”

Canon Canada was in the midst of putting together a national commercial for their new line of fashionably functional all-in-one PIXMA printers that just happen to come in a fab collection of colours (…and, er…well, colour is kind of my thing, right?!)

So, in September, I was so honored to be asked to lend my mug to their campaign!!

Lights, Canon camera, action…

on set 2

 On-set…say cheese!

on set

 *Photo credits: Natalie Wilson Gunn (aka. the best design assistant ever!)

*Wardrobe courtesy of my FAB stylist, Joelle and jewels by the uber talented Jenn Fenton

And without further adieu (toot toot)…

Commercial

If you happen to be surfin’ the boob tube in the coming weeks, then you just might catch the 1-minute version of the commercial on HGTV, Slice, Food Network and Show Case, to name a few!

I love how Canon believes that technology should integrate seamlessly into your décor, and there really is a colourful printer to suit every personality and space.  I happen to adore this red little gem…

red pixma

So my question is….what Canon PIXMA hue are you???

Why do I ask?!  Well, I want to give one away to YOU!  Well, hopefully you!!

I’ll be randomly drawing for one Canon PIXMA all-in-one printer, and you have 3 fab ways to enter…

1.  Leave a comment below telling me a wee bit about your style and which colour of PIXMA would be perfect for you

2.  Tweet the following…

Live colourfully and win a @Canon_Canada #PIXMA all-in-one printer via @LeighAnnAllaire by visiting www.huelala.com #HueLaLa 

(***Be sure to add a hashtag at the end of the tweet with your printer colour of choice ie. #Red)

3. Show Hue La La a little Facebook love, and “LIKE” our page, then leave a comment telling me which PIXMA printer colour you’re craving

Giveaway eligibility ends at 11:59pm EST on October 31, 2013, and is only open to residents of Canada (for now…sorry to my US peeps).

elephant

Oh, and the fun just doesn’t stop there on my wicked Canon Canada ride…  I’ll be sliding back in front of the camera again this week, so keep your eyeballs peeled on the tele for more of my mug in November!

And on that note…I’m done jibber jabbering about myself….for now!  Bahahaha!!

Toot, toot!

But before I bust out of here for today, I’m-a-gonna bust a move in my kitchen to this…. HEY YA!

Have a good one, and don’t forget to live colourfully!!

XO

L-A

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