My Home Office Update Preview With The Mine

If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I've been really excited to pull together my home office makeover. I've been working on it bit by bit since last summer and I'm so happy that it's finally coming together. Today I'm sharing the two different looks I created to choose between. Can you guess which one I went with?

Mood board A for office decor updateMood board B for office decor update
I ended up choosing Look A for several reasons. There was an indulgent part of me that absolutely wanted to go with the blush and gold tones of Look B but I also wanted to the space to blend seamlessly with the rest of the main floor (which is predominantly black and white with lots of texture layered in). Also my boyfriend Luke often works in this space with me and I wanted there to be enough of a masculine vibe to make him feel supported as well so that we both work happy. The last puzzle piece to this room arrived today and I'll be styling the space and shooting soon. Looking forward to sharing the reveal! Happy Monday sweet friends! xo e


How To Attain Financial Freedom With ATB

Financial freedom, what exactly is it and how do you get there? It isn't something that's just reserved for people with millions of dollars. This is one common misconception I've heard amongst friends before. I'm certainly not a financial expert, but as a single mom I've had to learn a thing or two about planning, budgeting and finding my way to financial freedom. I often talk about interiors, fashion, beauty and health... but financial health is a satisfying goal to aspire to as well. 
At some point - or another in life - most of us will experience needing or wanting something that we can't necessarily afford at that time. Perhaps it's a trip or a handbag, or even a living expense or a sudden car repair. Saving isn't always easy, and while they teach us complex trigonometry in school, they skip the financial advice that would provide us with valuable life skills.
I felt like a fish out of water understanding some things at first, so over the years I've read books in an effort to inform myself and to hopefully make wise and savvy financial moves. It also helps that I grew up with a mom who was hard working and a well-respected real estate agent. 
When you hear about rates, mortgages and general planning at the dinner table as a child you're bound to absorb some knowledge. But despite gleaning bits of information from my mom and books, it helped considerably to rely on the wisdom of financial experts to bridge the remainder of what I didn't know and help me arrive at my goals. 
Financial freedom means you have a plan.  For some, it also means being debt free. When you stick to a plan you begin to have choices and at the same time feel a sense of having options and security. This is what I learned from the experts at ATB. Since implementing their help I've felt driven and compelled to stick with my plan. In the event of an unexpected expense I've had a financial advisor who remembers my name and my family situation to bounce my thoughts off of, and I have received excellent advice
My next goal is to take my little guy to Disney and tour around California, but I also have some things that need to be addressed around the house. In the meantime, I'll stick to the plans I have in place until I can make those things happen. 
What would you do with your financial freedom? 

To get a leg up on your financial future, ATB is currently running its “What Are You Saving For?” contest. To enter, Albertans are asked to submit the story of what they are saving for in a creative way. The contest runs until February 28th. There will be random winners drawn daily receiving $500 prizes. At the end of the contest, ATB will select a winner based on their submission to win $10,000! Make sure to make your entries fun and engaging! More details here! 
In case you don’t happen to win $10,000, or you do and you’re unsure of how to best utilize your winnings, here are some financial tips to remember
  • It's never ever too late to get started on financial goals
  • Get out of high interest debt by refinancing at a lower rate
  • Work with a trusted financial advisor who will help you achieve your goals #ATBListens
  • Create an emergency fund to cover your expenses 
  • Make list of goals and dreams and create a financial plan to accommodate them
  • It's ok to revise your goals as your dreams and wishes change
  • Take advantage of TFSA and daily savings accounts

Good Luck! xo Erica

This post was sponsored by ATB. All styling, advice and opinions are my own.


Tips For A Perfect Valentine's Night In

Valentine's Day is one of the occasions that I really enjoy. Simply put, I love a day that celebrates love. This year I decided to take a slightly different approach to the occasion. I've been trying to incorporate ways to slow down in day to day life, practising Hygge and trying to be more in the now. With that in mind I decided that Valentine's Day shouldn't just be for couples to enjoy, but for everyone to enjoy.

This specific day has traditionally revolved around the conventional sense of love, being the love between individuals, which I think in a way has become quite an exclusionary celebration. Thus bringing me to the soulful notion of self-love and how this too should be celebrated. And even though this takes practise and should be at the forefront of our lives, let's be honest sometimes that can be quite difficult. So my suggestion is to take the day to remind yourself that you're beautiful and dive into all the great qualities you possess. All while enjoying a glass of wine and some chocolates of course ;)

For today's post I'm trying to come up with ways to celebrate Valentine's Day, that are fun, not necessarily conventional. won't break the bank and maybe.. just maybe.. encourage a little self love.
Here are some suggestions based on things I plan on doing. The great thing about blogging this stuff is that I often get to do the run through for photos and have a second experience on the actual day.
Set up... I sourced a bunch of things in my own home. The rest of the items I was able to get in one morning from Southcentre Mall, Crave Cupcakes, Amborella Floral Studio and Village Ice Cream.

The Single Girl Soirée: 
It's a weeknight and everyone has plans, but that's no reason to not celebrate. Take the night and celebrate you and just how amazing you are. Appreciate just how far you've come and focus on thoughts of encouragement about where you're going. A night in could include your favourite dinner, movie or a good book. Don't forget to romance yourself with some fresh flowers or a treat (the Village Frozen Strawberry Coconut Milk below was unreal). The scent of roses has been proven to be uplifting. Giving yourself an at home spa treatment with a rose scented mask is like a win win, good for your complexion and your soul. After that treat yourself to a Saje bath swish. There's a sweet little love note in the centre that will emerge when it's fully dissolved.
Cupcakes and Cashmere Home | Strawberry Coconut Milk - Village Ice Cream | Bowl + Copper Flatware + Marble Pastry Board - Crate & Barrel 

Galentines Get Together:
Have your favourite girls over for a night of all things delicious and pink. Planning an indoor picnic for my get together was pretty easy. It can be as in depth or as simple as you like. I found extra pillows and some blankets at home. I also had a few extra rosé bottles left over from a recent brunch. The rest of the stuff I picked up.

Romantic Night In: 
All winter we opt for soft clothes that are cozy, but for Valentine's Day why not opt for something pretty, silky and pink. I indulged a bit and treated myself to some new lotion and body mist. It's light and soft and so pretty. I couldn't resist. They're the cutest little cakes that say "I love you" from Crave, and I've discovered a little Moët is the perfect compliment. The rest is up to you. *wink
Victoria's Secret Satin Cami + Pant, Body Mist + Lotion

Family Love Picnic:
I planned a living room picnic for Lolly (my little guy) too. He's still delighted by the idea of Valentine's Day and I thought it would be fun to gather and have treats all while watching a movie together. First we started with a blanket and cushions for the floor. I went with the more washable variety this time. We snacked on Kernels Popcorn, Crave Cupcakes, Purdy's Chocolates and I got Lolly some of his favourite San Pellegrino Sparkling Fruit drink. There's no reason the day can't be a celebration of family love too. 

Whatever celebration works best for you I hope this might be of inspiration. I hope you enjoy and take a little time to indulge. Happy Valentine's Day! xo e 


Weekend Edition : Raspberry Lemon Loaf

I'm always looking for something new to make for my family on weekends. It's also important to me to make something that can be taken to school for snacks for LL. A raspberry lemon loaf was the perfect thing. I recently came across this recipe I had in my little baking folder and thought I'd update it to suit the way I like to eat today. It just so happens that these pretty deep pinky red raspberries dotting this loaf might be a nice thing to keep in mind for Valentine's Day too. 
dish of fresh raspberries
This recipe used to call for butter... and a LOT of it. I substituted olive oil and greek yogurt. I'm by no means a nutrition expert, but I was happy to swap the butter out. 
I also cut the eggs back from 5 to 3.
pretty copper measuring cups next to eggs and batter
A little tip: when baking any sort of loaf I almost always reserve fruit to decorate the top. It just adds a thoughtful and decorative touch. 
pre-cooked raspberry lemon loaf in a pretty white and gold loaf pan
The end result was so moist and delicious. In fact it wasn't easy to photograph because some of the pieces fell apart on the plate. Needless to say I might have to make a couple more closer to the 14th. 
Raspberry lemon loaf on pretty gold and white plate with copper utensil

Erica Cook Raspberry Lemon Loaf Recipe

Happy Baking friends! xo e

*this post was not sponsored and does not contain any affiliate links


Family Room Update Reveal with Lowe's Canada

It's funny how often interior designers procrastinate with projects in their own homes. I've been meaning to get to a family room update for some time now.
Once the colder winter months set in and we're inside more, it's harder to look around at the unfinished spaces in our homes. It's also statistically the time that people tackle decor projects in order to enjoy being indoors.
This in mind, I decided there's no time like the present to dedicate some TLC to my family room, especially considering it gets so much use and traffic. It's where we spend the bulk of our family time. 

I started with a new light fixture as the jumping point. I've been loving the feel of copper and bronze touches in my home lately, and I found a great LED Chandelier ceiling fan at Lowe's Canada with that inspiration in mind. From there I went with accents that all had a similar feel, to weave in and out of the space and create a sense of continuity. I have several commitments coming up that will eat up much of my free time. So, given I didn't have a huge amount of time to pull this together, I loved that they had everything in store I could possibly need. One stop shopping. Who knew!? It was important to me to keep the room relaxed, functional, and welcoming for family while still respecting the need for it to be pretty. I wanted it to feel warm and inviting for the winter months, but also have elements that would work well with the rest of the spaces in my home now and throughout the year.
I went with this amazing copper fixture that has a glamorous and worldly, yet bohemian feel. The best part is that hidden in the centre is actually a ceiling fan! Perfect for this room that can get quite hot in the summer, and being so close to the kitchen can also smell smoky when the toaster decides to burn things.
The back corner in this room is always a natural focal point. A couple of vases and some simple art accents punctuate the space and tie in those metallic touches.  
I chose this amazing ottoman because I love the modern clean lines of the metal frame and how they complement the more traditional tufting and linen. The metal frame also creates a slightly more casual feel than turned legs might in this setting.  I added a throw to the end of the ottoman where my little guy often puts his feet and I added a tray at the other end. The tray provides a solid surface for coasters and drinks protecting the ottoman fabric from spills and being easy to wipe down.
This corner got a quick update with lovely bronze planters and a couple new plants I picked up at my local Lowe's the day of the install. Greenery is always a good idea in the long winter months... plants bring in a sense of life, naturally purify the air and add a pop of colour. These new planters are the perfect touch here too, they add more hints of those warm metallics tying the room together in a way that's pleasing to the eye. I also added another one of these grey and gold vases that look just as pretty without fresh flowers as they do with. They tie in the grey tones of the cushions I already had which create a sense of balance.
Soft sided baskets provide the perfect stash spot for extra throw blankets and a magazine or two. 
This corner is where people lean to put on shoes. I needed something small to balance the rest of the space. This umbra frame floats off of the wall and a picture of travels in muted tones compliments the other art. 
You can see how the space feels tied together and the pieces that I introduced easily work with items I already had. The best part, it only took a day to put this new look together, and that's including the light installation. It's just an indication that updates with a big outcome needn't be overwhelming, especially when you shop in the same spot. 
I can't wait to enjoy some popcorn and a movie here with my family. 
What touches or updates could your home use to ward off the winter blahs? As always, thank you for reading. xo e

This post was sponsored by Lowe's Canada. All styling, advice and opinions are my own.


Around Here: Whole Home Update

I'm just back from a getaway in the mountains. I was feeling a little blah and the fresh air and zero service were just what I needed. It's great to be forced to unplug- especially for an extended period of time.
Once I was home I threw myself into the thick of things with home projects. We were able to get the family room done over the weekend. So keep your eyes out for that reveal. And then we're throwing ourselves full steam ahead on the master bedroom (see last post) AND office.
In the past my own design schemes have often been rushed or maybe lacked vision because I poured all of my creativity into my design client's projects. This time I'm trying to take my time and be a little more thoughtful so I end up with a result I love.
I was still contemplating changing out all of the flooring or painting it all white, but I realized an oversized area rug will be good enough for the time being and will mean that I can focus that part of the budget on other projects- which we've planned PLENTY of, basically a whole home overhaul. In the past it's meant new cushion covers and paint, but this time I'm talking walls being moved and a new bathroom, etc. More on that later though. In the meantime I'm trying to decide on a master bedroom area rug. Here's what I'm thinking.
We're also trying to decide if we want to add trim work to the wall to give it some visual interest. I had some trim installed in the living room last year (I've included a picture of it going in below) and I was thinking I might like the same sort of thing for the bedroom as well. 
I'm also over my bedside table lamps. I still love the bedside tables though... thank goodness. So I'm on the hunt for lamps or sconces. These two both caught my eye. The sconces would be a more costly investment but I love that they'd clean off the bedside surface and therefore look much less cluttered. 

That's where I'm at for now. I'm also torn between metal finishes because the room has a lot of brushed nickel in it as well. Which would you choose? xo e


Mount Engadine : A Beautiful Lodge in the Mountains

I feel so lucky that when I want to get out of the city and visit the mountains, they're such a short drive away. The destinations within two hours of my front door are world renowned for being the most beautiful and breath-taking. We recently spent a few days at Mount Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis country and really enjoyed our stay. 
The drive there was beautiful and took us about an hour and a half. In true Canadian fashion we happened to see mountain goats on the way. The lodge was easy to find (some aren't) and we were delighted at first glance with how rustic and cozy it all appeared blanketed in a thick layer of snow.
Mount Engadine Lodge Cabins covered in fluffy snow
Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by Simon and offered a coffee or tea while we sat by a huge hearth to hear about the perks of our stay.
Mercedes Benz truck with the trunk open carrying Tumi luggage and wine
We checked into our room and immediately set out to explore. The grounds were amazing and we hiked through the forest until lunch time.
Erica Cook hiking at Mount Engadine Lodge
Luke Boyer hiking near Mount Engadine Lodge
The lodge is known for it's Sunday brunch and tea time and excellent charcuterie. Their on sight chef, Mandy, creates the most amazing array of foods and was accommodating to my vegetarian ways. The restaurant happened to be fully booked but the team offered to bring a delicious array of goods to our room.
King Size bed in the Owl room of Mount Engadine Lodge
Not pictured, the strudel for dessert... because we ate it before we could get a pic..  ooops
Charcuterie board on bed with Sandhill Wine Bottle
We were tired from our early morning departure and hike and decided to cozy up by the fire after lunch, and do some reading with hot chocolates in hand. This is when the true meaning of getaway comes into play. On any other Sunday afternoon I'm rushing to do laundry and food prep for the coming week. I really appreciated the break and downtime.

Dinner was outstanding. It's served with a communal approach in mind, which was a little socially daunting at first. However, it ended up being one of my favourite parts of the trip. We met the most lovely people who had arrived at the lodge from all corners of the world and heard little bits and pieces about their lives. It added that extra sense of traveling abroad and meeting new people.

The next morning we rose bright and early to have breakfast and start our day.
Erica Cook sitting outside Mount Engadine Lodge holding hot chocolate in her PJ's
Our meals were great, eggs benny for me, specially prepared without bacon and a stack of almond banana pancakes for Luke.
From there we both tried snow shoeing for the first time and got quite a bit of exercise from it (which was welcomed after the amount of food we ate at breakfast..). We thought we saw a moose but couldn't be sure. Okay if we're going to be honest with ourselves it was probably just a big rock.. but moose sightings are very common there! There's a large winding creek in a gully behind the Lodge that offers beautiful scenery and chances to see wildlife in Winter and in Summer months. What an adventure.

The best part about returning... more charcuterie and wine waiting in our room.
I love an outdoor fire. Mount Engadine happens to have one of those too.
Mark's Boots by a fireplace at Mount Engadine
Erica Cook sitting outside by a fire at Mount Engadine Lodge
Outside fireplace with old sled beside it at Mount Engadine Lodge
We brought our own s'mores kit and enjoyed the surrounding forest by open fire. Enclosed in our own little igloo, built by another one of the great guys on site, Graham. Perfect for adults to sit around and be warm while any children or adults ;) can go and toboggan at the hill very close to it and the lodge.
Close up of old sled carrying Smore's and blankets and wood
Erica Cook and Luke Boyer holding hot chocolates by a fire at Mount Engadine Lodge
One last thing I also appreciated about the lodge is that they source local items to be used in the lodge. For instance all soaps and toiletries are from our friends at Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Their in house tea is from the Banff Tea Co,  and coffee is Mountain Blends Coffee Roasters. Even the array of beers and wine are from local distilleries and wineries. The list goes on with local farms and other things sourced from the area. That just feels good. 

We noted that a couple groups of friends had rented out the cabins to themselves. We chatted with them as well before they left for a day of skiing. I genuinely feel that Mount Engadine Lodge would be equally fun for the whole family or for a romantic getaway for two. In fact, I'm already thinking about Valentine's Day. 

This post was sponsored by Mount Engadine Lodge. All styling, advice and opinions are my own.
Clothing and footwear generously provided by Mark's
Eyewear provided by Ray-Ban
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