Monthly Archives: April 2012

My Dream Kitchen

I don’t know about you but I feel that the heart of any home is the kitchen. This is a place where guests gravitate to during a party and where imagining, creating and tasting life’s simplest pleasures takes place.  Me in a nutshell:  I love to cook, eat and decorate so when the opportunity arrived that I could create my own dream kitchen from scratch… well I had to reach for the tissues I was so happy.

I’ve become an expert in relocating our family and have cooked in 6 kitchens since 2007.  Toronto’s kitchen was my favourite, from our first home purchase.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons – white tiled floors.. with two tiny children… such an amateur.  The rest of my ventures were all rental homes so I could only “make it my own” with minor touches.


Now that my husband and I are proud home owners again he gave me full reins on which materials I wanted to use, location of appliances, colour palette and of course design. Set with a budget in my  hand I immediately got to work.

What Europeans can do perfectly is work in small spaces.  The cost of living in Vienna is pretty high.  Depending on which district you choose to live you could be paying as high as €14,000 per square meter for an apartment.

Prices are higher closer to the city center, most evident in the high-end district of Innere Stradt (1st District). Apartments here can sell for 10,000 to 14,000 euros per square meter ($1,350 to $1,890 per square foot). In districts surrounding district 1, apartment prices are about 3,500 euro per square meter ($470/square foot).

So that being said living in a 45 square meter apartment could sound very small for the average North American.  Not in Europe.  Now, can you just imagine the size of that kitchen?  Teeny tiny!  Packing a life time of cook books, spatulas and dinner plates into a European kitchen might leave you thinking you can’t be organized.  Thanks to super systems like these your kitchen will be neatly stocked and ready.

Let’s talk about appliances.  First – Ventilation.  I’m not a fan of those monster ventilation systems above the stove.  Useful but an eyesore to look at.  Since our stove top will be on the kitchen island I have found the perfect substitute to avoid the eye level distraction.  A ventilation system that’s set up right on your stove top.  No this isn’t the one that “raises” up at a push of a button.  We knew that those systems are expensive, especially when you need to fix it.  The photo below from Bora demonstrates it perfectly.  My first thought upon looking at this system was “how long will it take before my son throws a piece of leggo in there?”  They quickly assured me that it is easy to dismantle and can even be washed in the dishwasher (score!).  Induction heat (= no burnt little hands) + easy to clean?  “I’ll take it!”

 You might recall that I have mentioned in an earlier blog that refrigerators here tend to be on the small side?  At the moment I visit a grocery store as often as I visit the school to pick up my kids.  So for our dream kitchen my husband and I have opted to buy a “full fridge” and a small freezer will be housed under the microwave/oven wall.

Speaking of ovens <squeal> we found the latest trend in cooking.  I never knew this existed until I was presented with an oven that’s also a steamer! I bet you’re asking yourself  “How does it work? ” <insert curious face> It uses a combination of steam (25%-100%) + hot air to give you a healthier & tastier dish.  The steam enhances the flavours in your food by keeping moisture from being lost during the cooking process. No fat needed to keep things moist.  One word.  AWESOME!  Chefs all across Austria swear by this.

Now that I have covered all the appliances lets talk about colour.   I wanted something durable, easy to keep clean (NO white) and of course gorgeous looking.

Next125 “Quality, Function and Design” is the company that we chose to assemble our dream kitchen.  It was a pleasure to work with the Design Consultants who created our kitchen to be functional, practical and of course beautiful!  Since our kitchen is open to the main living area we chose neutral earthy tones.  I fell in love with the Antique Brown Granite from the get go so our inspiration for this kitchen stemmed from this countertop.

 The above are computer images to give us (my husband actually – he can’t visualize anything) an idea of what it will look like.

A lot covered but still I still have plenty of work to do.  Flooring, faucets and more…. this project continues 🙂

credits: 1 4 5 6 


Does this car match my outfit?

Let’s be honest folks: men and women from around the world view cars totally differently.  Men want specs.  17 inch alloy rims, 240 horse power or a V8 engine (hey isn’t V8 a drink?).  Woman focus on what’s important like what colour to get, location of the cup holder and if the mirror on the visor lights up. OK, so I was in the market to buy a new car.  Hurray for me. With my new job as a “traveling salesman” I needed wheels… fast and since I’m the type of gal who doesn’t really care about the details I left the research to my husband.

My simple wish list:

  1. Small & cute – space is limited here in Europe and parallel parking is the norm.
  2. Needs to be in a fun colour.  No black, silver or white.
  3. Need to plug in my iPod/iPhone.  Always gotta have my music 🙂
  4. A/C Plau-ease!

Husband’s recommendations:

Renault Twingo

Citroen C1

Fiat 500

Smart Car


Recently, we went to a car show to have a close up look.  As expected it was like Christmas morning for my husband – surrounded by beautiful shiny cars… with tarty (sorry but gotta say it) 20 year old ladies dressed in mini skirts standing like Barbies next to them.  Anyway while my husband spoke about specs with the salesmen I traded make up tips with the girls <kidding>. 

We narrowed it down to two choices:

So I bet you are dying to find out which car I chose right?

Ahh hem…. drum roll please…..

2003 Renault Scenic

Complete with state of the art stereo!

Ewwrrrt… yes you just heard the record player scratch.

You see little ‘ol me didn’t take into consideration that any brand new vehicle driven into “certain” countries will most likely be stolen within your first gas stop.  For Austrian tax purposes a company car that is older than 7 years is much cheaper to own as well (tax wise… maintenance is another story I’m sure).  Since I will be driving into Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Czech Republic I must arrive in semi-style.  Not in any new flashy Fuchsia Fiat 500… oh no.  I must blend in – rust is a good thing and a car that has parts that are no longer in demand is a bonus.

Since this is a company car I must take what I am given and I shall.  I will proudly drive my new car and hold on tight to my road side assistance information.  My cute Euro car will arrive in time.  One day.

In the meantime please don’t tell my mom back in Canada about the car stealing part.  Thanks 🙂

Credits:  1  2  3  4  5

From Desktop to Dressing

Some of you may have noticed my newfound hobby of creating outfits on Polyvore.  This all started when I was on the hunt for the perfect outfit for an upcoming family wedding in Phoenix, Arizona.  Polyvore is a fashion inspired community site that helps you put together outfits, sort of like having your own digital fashion scrapbook which contains unlimited choice of dresses, shoes, bags, jewellery and a whole lot more.  And with one simple click of the mouse you can easily purchase an item or the whole outfit from various on-line retailers.  This is how I found a lot of my items for this wedding, including a fantastic jeweller, Kendra Scott Jewlery where you can design your own jewellery!

Luckily I have relatives in Phoenix who accepted and held the shipments until I arrived.  You see another addiction I “may” have (according to my husband) is online shopping.  And there is no better place in the world to do that than the good ‘ol US of A!  “Free shipping”…”Free Returns…”  “No risk”…. all phrases that are music to my ears.

Before my departure from Austria and armed with my husband’s American credit card (from our Washington D.C days) I ordered my custom-made jewellery, purse, my daughters dress, her shoes, & her pearls all for fantastic prices.  Upon arrival I was greeted not with hugs and kisses but a mountain of boxes!  I was also informed that Mr. UPS guy had become close friends with the family thanks to me.  Thrilled with my new purchases I couldn’t wait to try everything on.  The verdict?  No returns required and I was one very satisfied customer thanks to the help of Polyvore.

Warning… Polyvore may cause sudden withdrawal from daily life such as eating, sleeping and brushing your teeth.  Supportive family members who can recognize symptoms which include stiff neck, wide eye glare & cramped hands and who can peel you away from the computer is strongly advised.   My sister has become the latest victim of this addiction and despite our greatest efforts she remains creating and publishing… we miss her very much.  

Easy Saturday

Easy Saturday

White linen tunic
€130 –

Nina Ricci lace bra
$108 –

D&G short shorts
$195 –

Biba shelf bra
£18 –

ASOS strappy flat sandals
$27 –

Canvas tote bag
$1,595 –

Ileana Makri gold necklace
£695 –

Breil white watch
£165 –

Kate spade bangle
$32 –

J Crew j crew jewelry
$19 –

Leather belt
$149 –

Ray-Ban ray ban sunglasses
£122 –

Forever 21 fedora hat
$13 –

Forever 21 lip gloss
$1.80 –

Philosophy body moisturizer
$24 –

Mitchell and Peach body moisturizer
£18 –

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