Herb Garden Tips from a "PRO"

Every year around this time I attempt to grow a herb garden.

My planter boxes were a gift from Matt to me (then back to Matt!) three years ago for my birthday. Every May since we have filled them up with herbal delights!

The first year was a learning year, I grew about 7 different herb varieties from sage to lemon thyme, because who doesn't love a little lemon thyme?! The only problem was we barely used half of what we grew. I realized last year was that less is more. I was growing all types of herbs but really only using three of them.

This year I'm simplifying: basil, mint, and rosemary. 

I love making homemade pesto in the summer. My favourite recipe is this one. Luckily basil grows like a weed! You can pick it and two days later it will be back to full grown again.

Mint is great for a mid afternoon pick me up tea. Just boil hot water and add fresh mint! 

Rosemary is my favourite way to season chicken. I also just like the smell of it.

One big tip I've learned is to plant the herbs low in their pots, that way they are protected from wind (I think my mint is a little high!). Water them weekly and you will be good to go! 

Happy herbing!

More from Beauty and the Bod

Cabin in the City

My work husband Garnet and his real life husband Brett built the most beautiful coach house mini cabin in the city and have agreed to share it with us!

When Garnet first told me he lived in 270 square feet I didn't believe him. Our first condo was 515 square feet and to me that was absolutely the smallest space two humans could functionally possibly live! I guess it helps a lot that they are the same size and share a closet! Seriously though clearly this is true love to live in these tight quarters!

When I first was invited over their space completely blew me away. They have made use of every single square millimetre, it is absolutely stunning and inspiring. They built everything from the garden, installing a kitchen, bathroom staircase and making their own pergola!! Their home absolutely has Matt and I re-examining our current and potential future space and realizing that often times less - beautifully done right - can be WAY more special. 

:: A secret garden entrance ::

:: Cabin comes complete with vintage motorcycle ::

:: All in the details - love the horseshoe charm ::

:: Arial view - LOVE the wood burning fire place ::

:: Kitchen fit for kings - they installed this amazing staircase (found on kijii!!) to the bedroom loft ::

:: Behind the sliding barn doors is their closet and a stacked washer dryer set ::

:: Brilliant use of space - the bedroom loft ::

:: Miss Schnickers and Dandy - the Queens of the residence ::

:: Simply perfect ::

This cabin in the city really is a true reflection of it's wonderful owners. Very warm and inviting with elegant touches everywhere you look. If you think this house is sexy check out their bodies!! Garnet teaches one of my favourite classes in the entire world - Body Art. It is a heart pumping, sweat pouring mix of yoga, Pilates, plyometrics and Brazilian dance. All wrapped up into one awesome hour. His music is amazing, the hour always flies by.

Right now Garnet teaches at Totum Tuesdays at 7 pm and Fridays at 6:15 pm. He's also started a brand new class in Leslieville at Chi Junky Mondays at 7. Follow Garnet on instagram here to stay up with his latest class offerings! See you in his class soon!

Check out more posts from Beauty and the Bod

DIY Beach Boquet

It was SO nice being up at the cottage for Thanksgiving weekend!

diy beach.jpg

One of my favourite things to do up there is go for beach walks. I've noticed that the dunes often naturally dry out around this time of year and I wondered if they would make great floral displays. 

I went for a walk with my sister Lindsay and her dog Penny and started pulling up the dunes - it WORKED! And in a matter of minutes I'd picked my own dried wild flower bouquet!

I went back to the cottage and my mom thought it was such a great idea she came back out with me to make her own. Seriously, I know I sound like an 85 year old but I think these will make great gifts! AND on our way home we stopped at a grocery store and they were selling similar displays for $19.99!! New business idea!!

Next year I'm making a wreath!

The best part - you don't need to water theses!!

Tidy Up Ten

It's no secret that I'm not the best cleaner-upper in the world.

:: Dream Tree Home – {via} ::

I'm 1000x better than I used to be in university but I must admit it still doesn't come all that naturally to me. I'd WAY rather cook, do groceries, laundry – really anything but clean!

I come from a family of complete neat freaks. Growing up our house was serial killer clean. My parents were huge on clean clean clean. Me, not so much. I have the tendency to let things get messy and then do massive three hour cleans then let that process repeat itself over and over and over again. 

When I first met Matt in university he would come over my house (shared with my awesome friend Jules) and he would clean up after us. Love at first sweep! After awhile that got embarrassing so I started to tidy up a lot more!  

After living together for four years I'm a lot better at general tidiness – my house rarely looks like a bomb just went off! But I'll admit I'm still not perfect … or at least I wasn't perfect but now I think I have finally found THE solution to my messy/clean/messy/clean habit:

The Ten Minute Tidy.

Here's what we do. Matt and I both, independently commit to at least 10 minutes of pure clean time a day. I set the microwave timer for 10 minutes and RACE to get as much done as physically possible. I'm usually sweating once the beeper goes off. Then that's IT. Once the timer goes you have to stop – even if you're on a roll you have a maximum of 30 more seconds until the beeper starts to get angry and then you absolutely MUST stop. 

So far we have already noticed a huge difference. It is amazing what you can actually get done in 10 minutes – especially when it's a race!! This really appeals to my competitive nature. 

If you're like me and struggle with tidy up time give this a go. Yes we still need to do a bigger clean up every once in awhile but it makes home life SO much better when it's a space you want to be in!

DIY Barstool Makeover

I love DIY projects … that I get my friends to do with me!

:: Chairs Before ::

When we first moved into our condo we were gifted these classic 80s barstools. They were comfortable and best of all they were free so we took them happily! When we moved into our new place we took the stools with us. During the move we expected to buy new chairs so we used them as painting ladders. Needless to say they got covered in "simply white" paint and we were on the hunt for new stools! I quickly discovered that barstools aren't cheap and to be honest they just don't make comfortable chairs anymore like they did in the 80s! We decided to stick with the chairs and eventually re-paint them and re-cover them. 

:: Chairs After ::

Fast forward to yesterday when my sister's boyfriend Eddie, or "Handy Man Ed" as we nicknamed him came over and spent five hours and three trips to the hardware store with me. Lets just say that without Eddie these chairs would not still be in our living room right now – I would have likely tossed them over the balcony! 

I'm more of a big picture person where Eddie excels with details. He patiently folded little notches into the fabric while I covered the entire balcony in plastic and spray painted the stools. Eddie suggested a high gloss finish in addition to the black spray paint – at first I thought this was just not entirely needed but they really do bump up the finish in a big way. They shine like new again! Recovering chairs was way more work then I thought it would be - tough labour! Eddie took out about 200 staples from one chair with a screw driver and plyer combo and from that pattern we traced the other three seats. The tricky part was for sure with the notches, square stools would be way easier! We were so proud of the results. I absolutely love the new stools and a HUGE thank you to Eddie.

Note on fabric selection: For the barstools I chose an outdoor fabric that is really durable and washable. I did love some of the white linen fabrics but let's be honest … we are not a white linen couple!

What you will need:

  • Eddie
  • Fabric – at least two yards for four stools, that way if you make a mistake you will have lots to play with
  • Staple gun – don't forget to actually buy the staples … not that I would do that either…
  • Rustoleum spray paint – two bottles of black and one high gloss finish
  • Something to remove other staples

New Condo Tour + Tips

Matt and I just moved into a beautiful two bedroom condo right down the hall from our first 515 sq ft cozy nook condo we lived in for two years. 

I was and still am so proud of our old place. We were both just starting off when we signed the lease – we both didn't officially have jobs at the time and the rent was a huge amount of money for us to take on. I was 22 and really for the first time ever I was on my own financially; it was a sink or swim situation and we managed to make it work. At the time it was all the space we needed but eventually we started to outgrow the space. The front door closet was my closet which worked well because of my 5 am morning wake-ups but our entrance area was starting to overflow with luon. When the opportunity came up to move into a beautiful two bedroom unit down the hall I jumped at the chance and after three long months we got it! 

:: Pilates Room + New View ::

This new space is absolutely beautiful and better than we both dreamed of. Matt and I joke (but are actually semi-serious) that we will live here forever. The layout is great for us, the island is key and the two bedrooms and two bathrooms feel like a ridiculously great luxury. I'm using the second bedroom as a Pilates studio. The views in the Pilates room are perfect – city to one side and ravine on the other. My Allegro 2 Reformer from Balanced Body came last week and I've been on it every chance I get, it's an amazing machine. 

:: Paint – Simply White by Benjamin Moore ::

In order to save about $2,500 we painted the entire 900 square feet ourselves. I was really intimidated at first but once we got started painting was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. It took two days straight of intenselabour. And when I say intense I mean it was full-on non-stop paint until you can't see straight intense. Even though we fell asleep at the wall a few times it was worth it to do it like that, very Matt-Christie style to dig deep and get'er done. We talked to a decorating friend of my mom's before painting and she told us the best and brightest white is "Simply White" by Benjamin Moore. We went to Home Depot and had that colour copied, bought their paint kit and tape and got started. We also found this youtube video on how to paint really helpful – see here

We have done a lot in the last few weeks and now we are ready to just enjoy the space and buy as needed. I hate clutter, less is more so we are just going to work with less and add more as needed. For example, to combat clutter we don't have a coffee table because we just put junk on our old one. We might get some small side tables but we are trying not to eat on the sofa at all so maybe not! If you are moving into a new space I highly recommend starting with the bare essentials and building from there. You pay for extra space to have space, not to put a desk down that you'll never use and block off a room. 

:: New sectional from CB2 and pillows from West Elm ::

My favourite part of our new condo is that Matt and I did this together. We have both worked out bums off these last two years and hard work combined with a little luck and great people around us has really paid off. It's nice to come home and completely love it. I honestly couldn't dream of a better space with a better person. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

DIY Herb Garden

Last year for my birthday Matt gave me a herb garden. We decided to wait until the next spring (now) to plant it to reap full use out of it.

This past weekend we planted our herbs and I love them already! They have inspired a lemon and thyme chicken recipe as well as daily cups of mint tea.

The herbs we planted are: basil (for pesto), lemon thyme, tarragon, sage, mint, and peppermint. We bought our boxes at Home Depot and our herbs from Sobeys and Summerhill Market.

The planting was so easy and the herb garden really only needs to be watered weekly and it will be fine, especially with all this rain we are getting lately. I'm looking forward to cooking with my herbs this summer! Plus it's nice our little balcony actually has a use now!

Healthy Humidifier

Matt officially thinks I'm a heath nut lunatic.

But he will thank me one day when he doesn't get cancer. Or at least once he makes it through a full winter without getting sick! 

With my job I cannot afford to get sick. There is no such thing as a "sick day" it just cannot and does not happen. In order to minimize my chances of catching colds I do pretty much everything to stay safe. The healthier you are the healthier you will stay!

Last weekend I purchased this humidifier for our 515 square feet of bliss we call home. Matt thinks it looks great on the ground or beside the garbage can under the sink, I think it looks nice right beside the door, we compromised with a side table.

Here are some of the health benefits of having a humidifier:

  • Congestion relief
  • Dry skin relief
  • Improved air circulation – especially in the winter months when you don't open the windows as much
  • Allergy relief
  • Tooth spot relief – I find I am far less likely to get white spots on my teeth in a moist room … but maybe that's just me!

I add a few drops of bergamont essential oil to the water so it also adds a great light fragrance to our condo and it's also supposed to aid digestion?! Who knows, but it smells amazing.

I bought my humidifier at Know Your Body Best in Toronto. If you haven't been – go check it out! The store is a one stop shop for massage and spa products, it's filled with amazing heating pads, yoga mats, massage tables, essential oils, body creams, therapeutic tools and more. It's certainly worth a trip if you've never been. Everytime I go I find something that I love, maybe next time I'll look around for Matt!

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

Growing up when Christmas time came my mom literally decked our halls.

She went all out with decor and I know a little bit of that gene was passed down to me. I love Christmas decorations; they add a little something extra to the winter season. This weekend I'm hosting my first ever Bod Squad Brunch at our condo so I picked up a few things yesterday to get ready for the party!

:: Bookshelf Words of Wisdom ::

Two sayings that perfectly sum up how I feel about the holidays.

:: Advent calendar ::

My mom bought me this in October because they usually sell out quickly at Costco! It took all my willpower not to open this ahead of time. They have giant Lindt chocolate treats inside. This little bear is one of the smaller treats! #yum

:: Quinoa flour ::

Great for holiday baking – I just substitute for all purpose.

:: Ceiling snow flakes ::

Great for small spaces to keep decorations up and out of the way!

:: TV Fireplace ::

Nothing beats the real thing but this will do for now! I attach a cord to my computer and play this youtube fire place recording.

:: Star lights on the balcony ::

If you look closely you can see these little lights are star shaped!! A nice subtle change from the typical.

Golden Pumpkin

I love everything about Halloween!

The chocolate, the candy (yes, even trainers eat candy!), costumes and the decorations are so much fun for me! Since we live in 515 square feet I need to be careful not to go too overboard on the decor because when I do the condo looks a lot like a circus fun house! 

I was shopping at a local store yesterday and they were selling spray painted pumpkins for $20 each! I decided I could copy and maybe even improve on their idea on a budget. I bought my own spray paint ($3), pumpkins ($1.50 each) and squash ($2). The project was simple and fun! If I do say so myself the results are pretty stunning!! The best part about this display is that it will keep for weeks because nothing was cut! Now that I have all of this gold spray paint I need to decide what to paint next!! 

Dream Home For Sale

One thing I love about my family is we know how to come together as Team Preston and get stuff done.

Two weeks ago my parents decided it was time to officially take the leap and sell our Toronto home. They had been talking about selling for the last two years and figured with Lindsay just graduating now is the perfect time. I'm so proud of them and excited for this next chapter.

This house has been absolutely perfect for us. After moving out last September I really began to appreciate how awesome it is. It's been well taken care of and it's taken good care of us!

One thing you should know about my parents is they are perfectionists. Especially my Dad Ian! He has this funny line that makes my sister and me simulateously grown and die laughing: " girls, take it from an eight to a 10." Meaning the little extra makes all the difference. All week that phrase rang in my ear. "take it that flower bed from an eight to a 10!" While I was knee deep in the gardens, Dad was power-washing, Linds was scrubbing walls and Mom was at work orchestrating all the chaos. It was a full hands on deck operation!

Throughout this process we learned a ton about housing staging. The thing that shocked me the most was how much JUNK we have. And how much our instinct is to hang onto the junk! For example, I had to convince my Dad it was time to part with a dusty toucan stuffed animal bird that had been left untouched hanging in our furnace room for 21 years. Dad, put down the bird, donate and walk away from the bird. You won't miss it!

The other key thing we learned in setting up the house was how much better everything looks when there's less furniture. Less is really more!

I find myself looking around the apartment now telling Matt we should get rid of everything and go Zen. He thinks I'm nuts, but that's normal.

We emptied the place out and it looks so good my parents are semi joking that they might just stay after all. If they do, I'm busy the next time they stage the house!

So what do you guys think? I bet if we all chipped in a little bit we could buy it and share it!? But seriously want to?

If you're interested in looking at more photos and the specifics have a look here.

If you're seriously serious contact our real estate agent Lauretta: lauretta@torontoforsale.com. Just know that if you buy it, I'll be coming over for workouts in the backyard!

Bedding Debate

Matt and I currently sleep in a pink fluffy bed! I'm sure he wanted you all to know this.
When we moved into the condo we were both jobless and took whatever we could get. Pink and fluffy for free, we’ll take it! Now that we have incomes we are looking to get some bedding that doesn't de-masculate Matt everytime he crawls in!

We've narrowed it down to two options:



Please vote in the comments!

Both options are from West Elm. We will post a before and after shot once the room is done!

Condo Floating Vase

My boyfriend and I live in 515 square feet.

Let’s just say it’s a great relationship tester – you really get to know everything about eachother quickly! We don’t have a lot of space to decorate so I really like things that hang and are out of the way.

love flowers. I spent three summers working at Foliage Fetish, an upscale garden company in Toronto. Our average summer flower budget was anywhere from $10,000 – $75,000! My appreciation and understanding of how to care for them really developed there.

When I found this floating vase (click here for tutorial) on a blog that I’m in love with – cupcakes and cashmere I was so excited to make it! It’s perfect for small spaces!

Here’s what I did:

Went to Home Depot and bought wood (10″ x 8″ x 1/2″), steel wire (a wire hanger would probably work too), white matte paint, and a paint brush.

I borrowed my boyfriend’s drill and carefully drilled 4 holes into the wood.I painted the wood white and attached the wire around a well washed jar of honey.Attached the wire around the top holes and hung from our wall! Ta da!

Tips on Tulips:

Cut the stems on an angle under cold running water. This way they will absorb more water and look healthy longer.

Put ice cubes into cold water – tulips will stay closed and last about three days longer than without ice.

Don’t change tulip water – they are too temperamental.

Perfect Portions

For those of you who have just moved into your own place you can understand that money I used to spend on clothing now all goes to Ikea, Anthropologie Home and Home Sense!

I love a good bowl of yogurt and granola in the morning but I find a lot of bowls are far to big. Especially because granola is calorie dense compared to cereal. With a big bowl it’s difficult to portion out the right amount – I usually end up filling the bowl and having soggy granola or eating too much.

Anthropolgie’s Inside Out Bowls are the perfect portion size for yogurt and granola and they come in four different colours that are really beautiful and fun to mix and match!