Friday, August 29, 2014

Sometimes cliches are true...

I realized something today about tomorrow (which is actually today by the time I'm posting this, confused yet?)

Four years ago, people kept telling me that time heals. I didn’t believe them. I had just lost my Mom and all I felt was pain. I felt sick with grief. That kind of sadness that is so deep it makes your body ache all over, your stomach in knots, your heart is crying. Actually, no, more like someone stabbed you in the stomach and heart. Do you know that pain? If you don’t, feel grateful.  If you have experienced that or are right now... great big hugs to you my friend.

What I realized today is that those people were right. Time does heal. It’s slow and not always steady. It has its highs and lows and just when you think you are doing okay something triggers that feeling again. It’s a process. It’s trying to achieve a new sense of normalcy. You march on. Time doesn’t heal all pain but it does dull it a little and at some point you realize you are doing okay.

Four things happened today.

I was out with my daughter doing some back-to-school shopping. She picked up a Halloween decoration (yes, already) and smiled. We both said that Grandma would love it. We both thought of her at the same time and we smiled. We remembered how she loved to decorate for the holidays. It didn’t matter what holiday it was. She just loved to make things cozy and welcoming. It’s a small thing.

A friend of mine pointed out several things about my family that would be great jumping off points to write an article for her blog. I realized that many of those I owe to my mom in some part. One of those things, a good one, had resulted from losing my mom. It was good reminder of what I should be thankful for. Good things can come from painful events.

Today, I re-visited posts I had written after my mom died and then on the one year anniversary of her death.  I didn’t feel all of those things anymore. My heart still aches for her, it always will. It’s like losing a piece of yourself.  Losing your Mom is losing the person who knew you before you were you. The person who knows you and loves you regardless of everything else. But although I remember those feelings and events like it was yesterday, healing had happened. I guess it continues to take place.

Someone wise (you know who you are) reminded me tonight that we never lose the people we love completely. They are in our hearts and minds. They never cease to exist until all who remember them are gone. When that happens, we are all together, wherever that may be.

So although tomorrow (actually today), the anniversary of my mom’s death, brings sadness, there is also hope. There is laughter and smiling. There is watching my mom live on in my children. In not only their hearts and minds, but, who they are becoming. We make such an impact.

So if you have lost someone you love here is something I hope will console you. It’s my hug to you. It's a quote someone gave me when I lost my Mom.

“Now that I am gone, remember me with smiles and laughter.
And if you need to cry, cry with your brother or sister who walks in grief beside you.
And when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give to them what you need to give to me.
There are so many who need so much. I want to leave you something—something much better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I’ve known or helped in some special way. Let me live in your heart as well as in your mind.
You can love me most by letting your love reach out to your loved ones, by embracing them and living in their love.
Love does not die, people do.
So, when all that’s left of me is love,
give me away as best you can.” Author Unknown

In memory of my dear, sweet Mom, Lynn Norton. xoxo

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I'm so happy to share this family home with you today!

Kelly and Colin live in a beautiful home in an older part of Oakville, Ontario with their three kids and dog Marlowe. 

Yay Smyth family!

The Smyth family in their re-freshed kitchen. 
The chalkboard wall helps keep this busy family organized 
as well as showcasing the kids art! 

Kelly approached me last winter to help them out with a kitchen and family room refresh in their new house. They are planning on an extensive renovation of their kitchen down the road, but wanted to give the space an update that better fits their style.

The Smyths' are talented home renovator's and creative DIY'ers with great style. They love scouring antique markets for vintage treasures but appreciate clean modern lines.

The goal of this project was to freshen up their space. They wanted to utilize as much furniture as possible in these two rooms recognizing that their usage could change when the time is right and they take the plunge to renovate.

I hope you enjoy touring Kelly and Colin's home.

   K I T C H E N   B E F O R E ...

K I T C H E N   A F T E R !

kitchen renovation kendall charcoal

The kitchen had the most dramatic changes, so I shared some before shots with you.

What we did:

1. The cabinets on the chalkboard wall were removed to open up the space and utilize the entire wall for the kids art and organization items.

2. All the kitchen cabinetry was painted out. I think it turned out great! It's amazing what a can of paint will do for a dated space. The lower cabinets, pantry wall and desk were painted Benjamin Moore's Kendall Charcoal. The uppers were painted Cloud White.

3. New light fixtures (source: Living Lighting)

4. Hardware remained the same! Usually changing hardware is a surefire way to freshen a kitchen. In this case, the aged brass is on trend and looks amazing with the colour of the cabinets. Besides, hardware can add up quickly. When you are trying to save money little items like this can save your budget.

5. The countertops didn't change since this is a re-fresh, however, the desk countertop was painted out in the same paint as the cabinets. Now it looks like one solid piece of furniture!

6. New counter stools provide a nice spot for the kids to eat breakfast or do homework while meals are prepared.

7. The desk area got organized. Boxes and baskets assigned to each child help sort paper and special keepsakes. Sorting through cookbooks so that the ones you use most often are displayed helps to reduce clutter. Finally styling the desktop with containers to organize pencils, scissors etc keeps it functional and pretty! I love the (working) vintage rotary phone.

8. Kelly and Colin wanted a coffee/tea station. So we took the doors off the upper cabinets and stacked their collection of handmade mugs and some dishes that are easy to access. 

Not too many changes happened in the dining room...
A new light fixture and dining room chairs (both from Crate and Barrel) freshened up the space. Now they have a comfortable and stylish spot to entertain. 

Some styling on the console in the foyer provided an organized and welcoming spot to drop keys and items coming in the front door.

The beginnings of a family gallery wall are taking shape in the foyer. I love how the mix of black and white frames turned out. 

The family room was freshened up with new curtains and hardware. 
Somehow I am missing a photo of that side of the room. I'll have to share it later. Two new floor lamps (again not shown, darn!)

The sofas stayed the same. They are actually older and well loved Montauks slipcovered. Although oversized for the room, once we re-positioned them it helped open up the space.

The mantel was styled with a collection of vintage globes found at thrift shops and antique markets. A new sisal rug, a pouffe from Target provides extra seating around the antique box they use as a coffee table and storage for games. We also added in some new throw pillows from West Elm and a few accessories from Homesense.

The kids rooms...

A vintage locker was stripped by hand (by Colin) to use as an armoire. 

Old skateboards are given a new life as shelving and old but beloved t-shirts are framed as art.

An old brass chandelier is given a new lease on life with a simple and inexpensive can of spray paint. 

I think this bedroom is one of my favorites. The combination of the orange feature wall and steel furniture give it a nice vintage industrial feel. The fabulous cabinet is a Homesense find.

This desk and shelving unit from Crate and Barrel is an ideal spot for homework and to display books and Lego creations! The locker is from the set in the other bedroom. It fits perfectly in this space.

Kelly and Colin did all the labour in this renovation. Their energy to tackle this project amazed me. They are one talented couple! I keep telling Kelly they should have a blog of their own!

It was a pleasure to work with them on their home and I can't wait to see what future home projects they embark on.

You can find beautiful images of their home in the summer issue of Canadian Family magazine which we shot this past spring. I had the opportunity to work with my brother and talented photographer Jim Norton on this shoot. 

Sadly, the magazine has ceased publication of it's print magazine. This was their final issue. So, a warm shout out to the amazing editorial and design team at Canadian Family Magazine. So happy I had the chance to work with you on this and previous issues.

All photos and styling done by me, Debra Norton :)

Monday, July 28, 2014


One of the things I'm crazy about is creating flavoured syrups. They are SO easy to make, you have to try it! You can use them to create your own sodas which kids (big and small) will love. They also get a lot of use here at our cocktail bar ;)

So start with making a simple syrup.  This is great to use in your iced coffee or tea, mixed with citrus juices and some soda or as a sweetener in a cocktail.

The recipe is so simple it's not really a recipe.

Just measure out equal parts sugar and water. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 2 minutes. Let cool. Your done.

Once you've mastered the simple syrup you can wander into the world of flavoured syrups. Summer is the perfect time to do this, with the abundance of fresh fruit and herbs.

A popular syrup in our house is the lemon-lime syrup. The kids add it to carbonated water from our Soda Stream. (recipe at end of post)

Grapefruit-orange syrup is delicious too!

Saving old jam jars for syrups like this makes for cute packaging too. I also like to use these Bonne Maman jam jars as glasses.

Tip: Save soda bottles from store-bought sodas to re-use. Just make sure you wash them, but of course you know that...

Lemon Lime Syrup:

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water

Orange-Grapefruit Syrup:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1 cup water
2 cups of sugar

Bring the juices, water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Stir only until the sugar dissolves. Allow the syrup to boil for 2 minutes and then remove from heat. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Use the back of a wooden spoon to press out the liquid. Cool completely. 

This will make approximately 2 cups of syrup.

Enjoy! There are so many flavours you can try. Up next in my house is Cherry Syrup!


**P.S. I set up my Soda Bar on my new DIY Bar Cart (which I love!) that I shared with you earlier today here.

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