Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Miami Beach Condo Sold For $2,000+ Per Square Foot


The Setai Courtyard at 20th and Collins Ave on Miami Beach

Who would have guessed that in a depressed real estate market like the one in Miami, a 3 bedroom condominium in Miami Beach could fetch over $2,000 per square foot? That is what happened just 2 days ago, when a condo on the 34th floor of the Setai sold for a very hefty $5,100,000. Located at 20th and Collins Ave. on South Beach, a now world renowned resort location, the Setai is one of the most exclusive buildings in all of South Florida.

Built in 2004, the Setai is a 40 story resort hotel and residential tower. The 34th floor condo (unit 3401) is actually 2 apartments that were put together to make a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom condo. With approximately 2,500 square feet of living space, the unit has 2 master bedrooms and 2 balconies offering a 360-degree panoramic view of the ocean and the Miami skyline.

Bought Cheap...cheap bite.

I like to think I am fairly easy to please. From playing scrabble with my good friend on a Friday night to going on a "dump date" with my husband...I'm pretty sure I am not high maintenance!
I have always loved playing board games, but have never run across anyone who shares my passsion. So, I am very glad to say I have recently found a scrabble partner and we steal a chance to play when our daughters have a play date. A cup of coffee and some healthy Scrabble competition...it's all good.
I had a great "date" the other day with my husband. We started with a "dump run" to get rid of the left-overs from tidying up our garage and back yard. On the way in to the "dumping grounds", I spotted a really old baby carriage that I immediately wanted to pile onto the truck. This was the only glitch in our day. My husband has the firm belief that a dump run is meant to unload junk...not bring some home. I, on the other hand, wildly scan the heaps for hidden treasures...and he is never amused by it. We quarrelled back and forth as he unloaded the junk off the back of the truck. We both dug our heels in; and as he was uttering the words, "If you stop to look at that carriage, you'll be pushing it home...", I spied another baby buggy...this one meant for dolls. It was perfect: no smelly fabric like the other one, and made of metal that could be painted a pretty colour for a project I have in mind. As I didn't take too kindly to his threats of abandonment, I think he knew he had better backpedal and butter me up a bit. Soooo, he reluctantly piled the little buggy onto the truck.photo: Baby Goes Vintage
Well, you'd think he just bought me the earth. I was so happy to have that little treasure on board and my mind was spinning with the image of it all prettied up and serving its purpose. Even my yard-saling hating hubby couldn't deny how happy he'd made me, and he simply remarked that he'd make a mental note not to bring me to the dump again...!

After a quick lunch break at McDonalds...his choice...where we sat on the pleather chairs near the gas fireplace (when did McDonalds decor get so trendy?) and ate our chicken wraps, we headed off to our his/her doctor's appointments. My husband, who can't seem to sit still for more than thirty mintes, was content to simply hang out with me...it was a perfect date in my books.

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So, to prove how easy it is to make my husband happy (and to get him to start on my most recent project), I made his all-time favourite meal: my famous meatloaf! This meal is certain to make him putty in my hands! If you, too, have something you want your hubby to do for you, then make this meatloaf - served up hot with mashed potatoes, turnip, carrots, peas, and gravy. He'll be forever at your mercy...at least as long as it takes to digest it anyway! Just as I predicted, after dinner he headed outside to get started on our project...


Here goes...now use this information wisely:


Linda's "putty in your hands" meatloaf:

2lbs ground beef

2 beaten eggs

1 pkg of Club House meatloaf seasoning

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

some generous dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup milk

one small, chopped onion

Mix all together, dump into a loaf pan,

cook for one hour at 350 degrees... and, hearing my mum's voice, "Don't forget to drain the drippings (fat) off!" Then, sit back and reap the rewards!!

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Hmmm...this little one has to do decidedly less to make her daddy putty in her hands...!!!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miami Home Sales Prices Decline 21.7 Percent

According to the Case-Shiller home price index released today by Standard & Poor's, home prices nationwide (for 20 key metro areas) are down a previously unheard of 12.7% in the 12 months ending February. That is a record for falling home prices. Miami and Las Vegas suffered the biggest losses, with Miami home prices declining 21.7% year over year.

According to David M. Blitzer of Standard and Poor’s, there is no bottom in sight. "Prices of single family homes continue to drop across the nation", he said. The report further states that 17 of the 20 metro areas posted the largest declines recorded by the index, since it began tracking prices in 2000.

Although the report is frightening to say the least, and although the Miami real estate market has almost slowed to a halt, there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, as evidenced by some of the sales that have been recently made in Miami. For example, in Miami Beach, 17 waterfront luxury homes sold at prices ranging from $2,350,000 to $10,000,000 in the first 3.5 months of this year.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hiding some bloomers!

Continuing on with my desire to do cheap and easy projects, I decided to address a privacy issue I had. Because we live on a fairly small lot, we are within spitting distance from the neighbouring homes. This was the view from my bedroom piano window:



I was pretty sure it was too high up to offer a bird's eye view into our window, but still I wondered. So, after purchasing some Wallpaper For Windows, I decided to apply it all by myself...!

As I was cleaning the window beforehand, I got a good giggle at this new addition to some nearby landscaping:

Oyyy...they still make those?? Oh well, with my new window wallpaper, neither they nor I will be getting that view!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Let there be light (and lots of fabric etc!)


I have been asked by many of you if I would share some photos of the studio we work from. Well, it isn't usually very tidy and we're often knee-deep in vintage stock and textiles, but I had a tidy up the other day (don't peek at the sleepdeck!!) and managed to make a couple of presentable corners. The above photograph is scarily devoid of any colour - but the ceiling is the only part of the Clock House which is this empty!! The light fitting above was a lucky find at our local 'antiques emporium' - changing a bulb is fun!

Here's fabric corner - the trunk was supposed to be ample enough to store our working fabrics - hence we are now on the lookout for a tall cupboard!!

Here's where we grab five minutes with a cuppa (if the cat hasn't beaten us to it first!!)

I couldn't resist showing you this 1940s rug - I was so tempted to keep it as it looks absolutely lovely in front of the doors - but I have been very strong and added it to the shop before I could change my mind!

When I have tidied the other areas of the Clock House, I will share some more photos with you!

Friday, April 25, 2008

In through the Out door...

photo: House to Home
A while ago I wrote about grand front entries, and I must confess, I can't really say I have ever had one. Some of you live in grand homes that naturally possess foyers that make your guests know right away that they have entered into an elegant home - one that prides itself on being character-rich and exuding an air of quality and grandeur. While that is admirable, my homes have all been more along the lines of attainable, relaxed and casual.

I have never managed to wander over to the other side; basically because I am a very informal person. I could care less whether you serve me wine in a glass meant for red or white wine; taking out my good silverware seems like too much trouble (seeing as it requires hand washing); and I prefer a big old mug to a delicate tea cup. I like to wrap my hands around my mug of tea, as opposed to carefully balancing a china cup between my clumsy fingers. When I sit on my sofa, I want to fling my legs up on it, and the thought of formal rooms meant to be admired from afar makes me cringe inwardly. Needless to say, when you enter my home, you inevitably find proof that we live in our home...cats run in and out, children's shoes have been casually kicked aside, and mail inevitably lands on my piano - along with the odd gum wrapper, chapstick, and whatever the more messy occupants of my home toss on it. While I tidy often, I am no match for four comfortably messy people.

photo: House to Home

In my heart of hearts, I love crossing the threshold of someone's home and immediately feeling that people come and go there. Perhaps I see skipping ropes tossed across the arm of a rustic wooden bench, or a pocketful of "special" rocks placed in the purposefully placed bowl meant for keys only. I love the look of vintage hooks with a little boy's jean jacket hanging from it, a pretty pair of rubber boots lined up neatly waiting for a rainy day, a unique vessel to store umbrellas...from Strawberry Shortcake to a great Burberry-inspired plaid. The stuff of life...


Although I grumble when my kids and husband come in my front door instead of my mudroom, I understand the draw. Whether it is the convenience of popping one's head in to ask what's for dinner, or holler in a request for car keys, the cordless phone, or a drink of water on a hot day... sometimes the occasion just calls for it! I call it coming in through the out door. You're really not supposed to do it, but sometimes it is sooo much more convenient. I am learning to relax and realize that I shouldn't be the only one to be able to bend the rules (I always use the front door). Despite my desperate campaign to bar most everyone from using this entry, I have found myself adding a wooden screen door to my list of wants for the summer. Somehow, the sound of a child racing out the door to catch the bus, or join his/her friends... coupled with the inevitable squeak and slam of the wooden screen door...conjures up images of country for me. The sound is familiar, and if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can almost smell apple pie baking, hear the sound of little girls singing skipping rhymes, and bicycles skidding to a stop on gravel.
photo: Landstil.com

If you live in a home where everyone comes in the out door, take a deep breath, close your eyes and go to my "happy place". Because someday that door will be quiet, and the skipping ropes and rubber boots will all go away...and perfection will seem like a sorry alternative to the happy sounds of a family at play.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Miami Architectural Gem Sold At Bargain Basement Price


1215 N Venetian Way, Miami, Florida Sold at $588 Per Square Foot

A gorgeous Miami home just sold on San Marco Island at an amazing price, if you were the buyer that is. Located at 1215 North Venetian Way in Miami, this 7 bedroom, 6.5 bathroom home boasts a very spacious 7,653 square feet of living space, and is situated on a 13,382 square feet lot, with 105 linear feet of unobstructed bay front.

The home sold this week for $4,500,000, which is approximately $588 per square foot of living area. For those of you who are not familiar with prices of
waterfront homes in Miami and Miami Beach, that is an amazing price in an area where homes are often selling from $700 to $1,000 or more per square foot. It demonstrates how much prices are falling in the Miami area. The home, which was built in 2003, was listed for $5,700,000 and had been on the market since 2005.

Second Chances...

Today we send up thanks for being allowed to continue on with the journey of raising this child...and we quietly reflect on this day, three years ago, and celebrate second chances that we are so grateful for. We make a fuss of our youngest son on this day ever since his accident. This year, he said that it was no big deal to him. The innocence of youth...We simply explained that it is special to us because April 24th could have meant something very grim to us had things gone differently that day. Instead, it means that we get to go forward with our lives as a family of five...with healthy children. I simply pray that this fortune continues and that my children live long, happy lives. Isn't that the prayer of every parent?

Monday, April 21, 2008

A one-room schoolhouse...under the stairs!!

I either have a future fashion stylist, business woman, or teacher on my hands. My little girl seems to flip flop between the three career choices...so being a being a good mama, I try to "support" her in each of the roles. She loves clothes, jewellry, and most of all shoes, so to humour her in that regard, I dutifully buy her pretty clothes, take her to ladies shoe stores to try on "grown-up" shoes, and most of all smile at her attempts to be more stylish than me, which isn't difficult given the lack of trendy style choices in my wardrobe.

She has also recently taken a shine to the white marker board in our office and will often entertain herself while her daddy is working, by drawing pictures and doing sums on the board. The other day, my husband announced that we should bring this board upstairs in order for her to have easier access to it. I casually agreed and thought no more of it until later that day.
I was spring cleaning our finished basement which includes the family room, boys' bedrooms, and bathroom. It also includes, however, a little "room under the stairs" which we had, up until then. simply filled with an overflow of toys and blankets. As I mucked it out, a lightbulb went off and I realized that it would be the perfect spot for a school room/office to foster her teaching/business skills! We had outfitted the space with a wall light and fully finished it with carpet and paint, so it was literally a blank canvas awaiting inspiration.

In my previous homes, we have always finished the space underneath the main stairs as a playhouse for the kids. We simply dry-walled the nook, after framing a child-sized doorway and window (no glass) for it. We always added a covered light, carpeted the area, and furnished it with either their toy work bench or kitchen and a mini chair or two. It also provided the perfect spot for hide-and-seek, puppet shows, or simply a cozy place to snuggle up and "read" a book. In this house, we kept it simpler; and decided to either create built-in shelving or store things like our vacuum or fold-up cot for little overnight friends. Up until Friday, however, it was simply a dumping ground for the miscellany of our lives!
Keeping with my decorating for free theme, I poked around in our basement storage area and found some things to use to create the little school room: I hung up her beloved whiteboard, added a little table to hold her collection of stamps, stamp pads, envelopes, calculator and other teacher/office needs. I hauled in the school desk that was cluttering up her brother's room, and threw a yellow sheet over the box that holds my wedding dress - creating the perfect ledge for an abacus, basket of funky coloured pencils, and the like. I tacked up some of her artwork, and hung a curtain on a shower rod to allow her "privacy" and to hide the space when needed. I surprised her with the little room after school and with delight, she hurriedly invited a little friend over to be her pupil. Simple... easy... and it used up some "junk" that had been cluttering up our basement - junk that we weren't quite ready to get rid of just yet.

What about you? Do you have a little nook you can repurpose to inspire creativity in your little ones?


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disclaimer: I actually don't give a hoot what my sweet daughter does when she grows up, providing she lives a happy life, is in a role that fulfills her, and...as long as she lives near me!!


Friday, April 18, 2008

Real Estate 101 - What Is A Short Sale?

A short sale in real estate refers to a concept whereby a lender (mortgagee) agrees to discount the amount of money owed on the loan made to a borrower (mortgagor), due to hardship on the part of the borrower. It basically allows the homeowner (mortgagor) who owes money to the lender (mortgagee), to sell the home or condo for less than the amount owed to the lender.

The benefit to the mortgagee is that the lender gets to cut losses, which would be much greater if the lender is forced to foreclose on the property. The advantage to the homeowner (mortgagor) is that he/she gets to sell the property for less than he/she owes, avoids foreclosure, and the balance of the debt is forgiven. The advantage to the buyer is that he/she gets to buy the property on the cheap, so to speak. It seems like a win, win, win situation for everyone.

Ah, but we have often heard that all that glitters is not gold, so what is the problem? The problem is that the entire ordeal can be very frustrating, and often enough, an effort in futility. Why? The easiest part is making the deal between the buyer and the seller. The seller is eager to sell, thereby avoiding foreclosure, and the buyer is eager to buy the the home or condo at a great price.

They may come to an agreement as to price and terms, and execute a legally binding contract, but then the problems begin, because the deal must be presented to the lender, and the lender must agree to the price before a sale is made. The mortgagee's required agreement to the sale is listed on the contract as a contingency. Without the fulfillment of the contingency, there is no sale.


Long delays by the lender in responding to the contract for sale can be very frustrating for buyers and sellers. Buyers often walk away in frustration or even anger. Then there is the question of price. Banks and other lenders like to make money, but they can’t stomach losing it, so they often wont just agree to the price on the contract. Again a frustrated buyer may walk away, and the process has to begin anew. That is the long and short of a short sale.

Good things...


I probably love too many colours to do an all white (in its various shades) decor scheme in my own home. I do, however, appreciate white done right...and thanks to my Australian friend, Jennifer of Whiteport, those who decorate on the lighter side have a wonderful new source from which to add to their own collections. From the beautiful bedding, towels, dishware, rattan, to the lovely candles and storage solutions, Whiteport is a serene place to peruse and shop. Check them out!!


According to their website: Whiteport was founded by Jennifer McCabe in 2007. A Sydney girl who lived in London for six years, Jennifer returned home to find an overwhelming absence of quality Australian homewares stores offering online shopping. "While Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to online shopping, there were few options here that offered beautiful homewares, delivered to your door, hassle free,” says Jennifer. “We’re all busy working and raising families, so why not make buying gifts and homewares easier?”
So she started Whiteport, an online store offering an extensive range of home decor, gifts and accessories, themed around a stylish white palette. Why white? Because Jennifer feels the Australian landscape lends itself perfectly to white’s simplicity and purity. “Our products look equally good in a city loft apartment or a sprawling beach house,” she says. "White products are simple, timeless and complement any colour scheme.”


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On another note...Julie at Equus Villa is having an amazing give-away. It requires a certain talent (drawing, or perhaps graphic design?), and if you are in possession of these skills, you could win $100. Pop on over and check out what is required to win!

Miami Nostalgia Circa 1950's

One of Miami's finest areas is Coral Gables, a city of 41,000 residents who live just south of Miami, and enjoy close proximity to one of America's busiest and most culturally diverse hubs. Coral Gables is home to the University of Miami, and is dedicated to maintaining architectural excellence, as is evidenced in some of the finest homes and condominiums in all of Florida. Gables Estates and Cocoplum are two very exclusive neighborhoods in Coral Gables, and are well known for their marvelous multi-million dollar estates. Enjoy the video below, a nostalgic view of Coral Gables from days long gone by.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Decorating for free...!!

I think most of us, who share a love of making a house a home, love a good deal. In fact, the better the bargain, the happier I am. I have always loved achieving a great look for less, and it doesn't come any cheaper than using that which we already have! So, in that mindset, I decided to go poking through boxes in my basement and garage, and sifting though the stacks of linen in my linen closet. I discovered happily that I have a veritable treasure trove, albeit modest, already in my possession...just waiting to be pulled out of storage!

I have shown you my apron collection before, and lamented that I really don't have a proper spot to display them. Although I picked up a great wooden rake that is just calling out for me to hang them there, I don't have a great spot for the rake (which probably means I shouldn't have bought it, but it was such a good deal!!). So, my poor aprons have been languishing in my linen closet, and I longingly take them out and hold them up to admire from time to time...


Well, today I decided I would add some spring colour to my home, as the weather is so nice, and I am putting off raking the rest of my grass. I decided to wrap the aprons around the frame of my dining chairs for a cheap and easy slipcover of sorts! They look so pretty, but do clash a bit with the rest of the room...so I may only leave them there for a while. I will, however, start looking for gauzy white aprons that would look so much more fitting. ***by the way, if anyone knows where I can purchase some, please let me know...keeping in mind, I live in rural Nova Scotia, Canada!***



I also made a checker board and a few tic-tac-toe sets to share. I used a leftover floor tile for the checkerboard, made the grid using permanent marker and a crown stamp, and used some pretty blue rocks and miniature sand dollars I bought last week (in a bag of 100) for $10 as the pieces. I want the games for outside, as my kids love to play while they sit around the outdoor table. The XO'S game is played on another left-over tile, that I cut into four equal boards. The tiles were backed in mesh, so I simply used scissors to do the cutting.

Sometimes you can find things to decorate in the funniest of places. This glass jar of old marbles was hidden behind the cafe curtain in my bathroom. I think I stuck it there a while back, while cleaning, and I just rediscovered it while I was spring cleaning. The marbles became mine when they were left behind in the little old house we renovated a few years back.

Now for some incredible artwork!! This painting was done by my daughter. She painted it last year, and I found it inside the piano bench. When I showed it to her, she exclaimed, "My little robin bird!" Needless to say, I wrote that on the back of the painting and framed it using a cheap, but effective, plastic frame from Walmart. I perched it on the piano, and it makes me smile at the sweetness of it.
The top of this little armoire was very bare after I took away the Easter decorations. The other day, while walking with a friend, I picked these pussy willows and stuck them in a vase. Pussy willows always bring me back to my childhood, when I'd pick them alongside the road and rub the bud between my fingers, pretending it was a lucky rabbit's foot (which I'd never touch anyway!). Again, free and easy ...and readily available in ditches near you!
As promised, here are the tiles I bought from Joy. These frames I already had hanging in my bathroom. While they could be prettier, sticking to my motto, they were free and readily available for immediate use. I simply put a pretty scrapbook paper behind the glass, and mounted the tiles directly to the front of the glass using double-sided tape. That way, I can change the frames when I see some I like, and also remove the tiles when I find my "forever home" and then permanently attach them amongst some pretty tile in my kitchen or bathroom.
Now, aren't you inspired to go "shopping" in your own home??