Drake Hotel Brunch - JanessaMann.Com

Brunch at Drake Hotel’s Rooftop Patio

Drake Hotel Brunch - JanessaMann.Com

Somehow I went the whole year of living in Toronto with only going out for brunch once. That’s a big no-no for Torontonians. Our last Sunday in Toronto, we went out to the Drake Hotel on Queen St West for brunch with our friend Wilson.

Drake Hotel Brunch - JanessaMann.Com

Their patio was perfect. I love their style-super mid-century modern and lots of super cool art pieces. I’d only been there for a friend’s birthday in winter, where we were mostly clubbing in the basement.

Drake Hotel Brunch - JanessaMann.Com

I had their smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese, greens, and capers. Nic had their Drake breakfast (eggs, sausage, potatoes etc.) and Wilson had the special, which was bread pudding with plums.

Drake Hotel Brunch - JanessaMann.Com

Yup, delicious.

Drake Hotel Brunch - JanessaMann.ComDrake Hotel Brunch - JanessaMann.Com

2 Terms of Grad School in - JanessaMann.Com

Cottage Days with Nic

Cottage Time - JanessaMann.Com

After camping on the weekend with my family, Nic and I drove the car through Ottawa to get groceries and have dinner with his parents, then north to my parents’ cottage. We had a great couple days there. I was so happy to be back at the cottage. This week has really done wonders for my mental health.

Cottage Time - JanessaMann.Com

Monday morning we woke to a thunderstorm, so we read while watching the rain.

We climbed the closest largest mountain, which has a lookout tower. The view was gorgeous! We also enjoyed time on the dock.

Cottage Time - JanessaMann.ComCottage Time - JanessaMann.ComCottage Time - JanessaMann.ComCottage Time - JanessaMann.Com

DIY Wedding Flowers - JanessaMann.com

Wedding Wednesday:How to DIY Your Wedding Flowers

DIY Wedding Flowers

If you’ve read any of my other wedding posts,(see here) you know that since Nic was in grad school and I was saving up to pay off my debts/get ready for grad school, we had to cut costs wherever we could. One was was to do our own flowers. This is not for the faint of heart. If you’ve never arranged flowers before, you probably should skip this unless you know someone who has. I was fortunate that Moira, the mother of one of my bridesmaids, had done the flowers for another wedding Ally had been in, so she was able to direct us on how to make the centrepieces, bouquets, boutonnieres, and aisle pieces. In all, we spent about $300 on the flowers, containers, and supplies–way cheaper than typical wedding flowers!

View More: http://photos.pass.us/janessa-nicwedding
My bouquet

If you think you want to go this route, there are a few steps:

  1. Start a physical or Pinterest board of what floral styles you like
    1. (See mine, here)
  2. Make sure you have friends and family who are willing and able to help with the flowers- we worked on them for 5 or 6 hours on the Friday before, and the day-of people had to make sure there were no dead blooms.
  3. Research places to buy flowers in bulk
    1. Some cities have flower markets, but I wasn’t willing to risk not getting flowers I loved
    2. We went with BunchesDirect.ca, who sells bulk orders of flowers online, and then we picked them up at their dealer in Ottawa
    3. Stores like Costco also sell them
  4. Once you know what styles you like, check to make sure you can get your preffered flowers in your wedding season.
    1. My favourite flowers are peonies, so I had this ridiculous dream of having white peonies at the wedding. I knew it’d be tricky for a June 20 wedding, but I held out hope. Moira surprised me with 3 beautiful blooms for my bouquet, and it was one of the best gifts I could have received! However, I didn’t go and order beautiful flowers like anemones, which would have fit the theme, but are in season in October, and therefore much more expensive.
    2. Hope but don’t obsess!
    3. Be willing to give up something you want for something else interesting: I wanted stocks, but BunchesDirect was pricing them too high, so I went with Irish Bells instead, and they ended up being really cool and unique.
DIY Wedding Flowers - JanessaMann.com
Bridal bouquets – it was a lot of fun for each of us to make them unique. Each bouquet worked together because of the colour theme (white and green) but I had each woman pick wahtever they wanted.

List out what elements you need, then edit it to make sure it fits your budget:

  • Bridal bouquet
  • Bridesmaids bouquets
  • Boutonnieres
  • Corsages
  • Headpieces
  • Centrepieces
  • Altar bouquets
  • Aisle runners
  • Wreaths
  • Garlands
DIY Wedding Flowers - JanessaMann.com
Nic’s boutonniere – one of my bridesmaids saw what I was putting in my bouquet, and made Nic’s have some of my elements!


  • Flowers
  • Floral wire
  • Floral tape
  • Scissors and wire cutters
  • Vases, bowls, whatever else to put the arrangements in
  • Tubs to put the flowers in
    • When we first got the flowers, they were in boxes and very flat. We let them soak in the water for a while, and they opened up
  • Fridge to keep them fresh in

How to have a floral party:

  • Willing participants
  • Supplies
  • Pictures of your ideas
  • Good instructions on floral care and assembly
  • Lots of time
  • Don’t rush it, have fun!

Two final tips: don’t make your centrepieces super tall, people want to have conversations. Also, stay away from super smelly flowers, or some people might get terrible allergies and sneeze all through your vows!

Some Resources:

Let me know how it goes!

DIY Lamps

In third year of university, I made this adorable dinosaur lamp. I bought a lighting kit from Home Depot, found some plastic dinosaurs at the thrift store, picked up gold spray paint, a lampshade from the thrift store, and used a scroll saw to create the wooden base. Making a regular lamp is obviously a little easier (but make sure to read the instructions to do the electrical parts!) because there’s less drilling and sawing etc.

The awesome thing about making your own lamp is that you can have whatever base you want: I’ve seen people drill holes into piles of books (aaagh how!?), mason jars, pieces of driftwood… The sky is the limit. Every day that I look at my lamp I feel super proud because I made it.
Side note: Nic’s not super fond of it, though he does think it’s cool that I made it. I told him that once we have kids it’ll be a dinosaur-themed nursery so that I can keep making gold dinosaur DIYs! (My parents even made me gold dinosaur bookends the year after I made this!)

Here are some YouTube tutorials to give you some tips on how to make whatever lamp you want to make! You can also check out my “Lights” board on Pinterest.

 DIY lamp Terrarium – Live Your Style
This one is the most similar to how I put my lamp together. You’ll notice that for the height of my lamp I have some plastic tubing (probably leftover from a plumbing project) that was the correct width for the base of the lightbulb to sit on. This means that you don’t see any of the wires except the ones coming out of the base.

Copper Tripod Lamp – The Sorry Girls
I hope to make this or something similar to it when we get a bigger place, because it’s so art deco! These two girls are so great at their explanations for their DIYs, and super creative.

DIY Concrete Lamp by Rachel Aust
Rachel has an example of when you wouldn’t even be using a lampshade. Her style is super cool and minimal, so that’s always an option.

Crocheted snowflakes – DIY Christmas Ornament

Last summer I had decided to learn to crochet, because I heard that it was less horrible than knitting. I tried it for a weekend, and then got a full-time job, and quickly forgot about it.
This Thanksgiving I had my parents bring my box of yarn, knitting, and crocheting supplies so I could try my hand at it again because I was craving some creative expression.
I fell in love with crocheting.

I’m working on a large grey pouf right now (but I need more yarn, waiting for a good Michael’s coupon to come out), but I also made these white snowflakes to attach to the gifts we’re giving this year.
I followed some patterns and then also came up with some of my own once I understood crocheting better. I can bang a simpler one out in less than 20 minutes, so once you’re fast, it’s super easy. I could probably make a garland in a couple nights, if I liked garlands.

The wrapping paper scheme I went for this year was red plaid (dollar section at Michael’s) and gold (IKEA). I haven’t put all the bows on the presents since we’re taking the Greyhound home for Christmas, but I’ll use that white ribbon to attach the snowflakes.

Here are various tutorials I used:
Easy Peasy Snowflake – The Planet Pearl Living
Crochet Snowflake Coasters – Craft Passion
Simple Snowflake – Sarah London

Christmas Decor on a Budget

Christmas is absolutely my favourite time of the year. I love the music (I’m sorely missing good church music and singing in a choir this winter), the decor, the get-togethers, the excitement of picking out the “perfect” present for your loved ones, and celebrating Jesus’ birth. 
The problem is, decorating and all that stuff gets expensive, and I’m guilty of wanting things to look adorably perfect. 
My number one tips for decorating for Christmas on a budget:
  1. Buy things on sale after Christmas when it’s all discounted.
    1. This is easiest if you keep a steady theme over the years instead of thinking you need to redo everything year after year.
  2. Make what you can
    1. But remember that sometimes buying all the parts to make something can be more expensive than buying it.
  3. Always use coupons. Michael’s? Absolutely subscribe to it!
  4. Find out if any friends are tired of their previous decor and are willing to give it to you or sell it for cheap. 
  5. Plan your decor before you do any shopping, or make sure that you can return things you buy if they don’t work well together.

I made this super easy advent wreath for our table. The wreath and candle set are from Bed Bath & Beyond, I bought them last year when we had the ridiculous post-Christmas sales. I threw on the gold beads from Dollarama which I had previously used as a garland on my tiny tree.

For the beginning of December, I put out this green tablecloth from Ten Thousand Villages since it’s not overtly Christmasy, but it is green.

I set up this little vignette on the piano. The fake poinsettia and the pot are from IKEA, the red candle is from Dollarama, and the little statuette is a gift from Sweden.
Christmas lights always make things feel festive. Except that I have mine up year-round, because at night we like to cuddle on the couch in the romantic lighting. #newlyweds
For many years my youth choir performed at the Sankta Lucia celebration in Ottawa. We would sing Swedish Christmas carols, wear white robes, and hold candles in our hands. It was always a magical night. My Dad has been on a couple business trips to Sweden, so one year he brought back a little Sankta Lucia for me. She’s adorable.

Earlier this week I posted about our Christmas tree. Despite fake trees not smelling right, not looking right, etc., you can buy them on sale, and save them for the next year. (Last year when Mom and I bought our large, real tree, it was at least $80. This tree was $25.) When decorating your tree, go for slowly collecting items that you can use for years and won’t go out of style. Mom gave me the gold balls, which will probably be in our scheme for a while.
I may wish I had tons of vintage balls and other vintage ornaments, but for now, with our limited budget, that’s not feasible. Maybe once we’re both out of school? (Hah, that’ll never happen lol.)
Cheap tree skirt? Put a pretty scarf down. This one isn’t warm enough for the winter, so it was great covering up the plastic base.

Easiest wreath ever: grab a wreath on sale and add a fake bird. (Anyone remember Portland, “Put a bird on it!”)

Every year I make my advent calendar using this little tree. I bought a set of 24 pearly bulbs, and have been putting them up one day at a time.

Merry Cookiemas! – Cookie Decorating Party

For our first Christmas, I wanted to host some sort of a Christmas cookie party. I figured for the three houses of my friends from undergrad, we should either make cookies together, or exchange them, so we have more cookies. We ended up decorating regular sugar cookies, and doing Maddie’s cool egg-wash orange cookies, and splitting them up at the end. 

I set up our side table with the baked cookies (since Maddie was baking the orange ones in the kitchen at the same time), hot chocolate stuff, and someone even brought Bailey’s.

Nic’s parents lived in Zambia for a few years, and came back with this sugar cookie recipe. Nic was adament that we had to make!


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 cups flour


  1. Cream sugar, butter, shortening, and salt.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
  3. Stir the baking powder into the flour.
  4. Alternate adding milk and baking powder/flour mixture slowly.
  5. Chill dough.
  6. Roll out, cut out shapes, and bake at 350* for ~10 minutes.
I got these stunning copper cookie cutters at my bridal shower this spring, and I love how they look! My other cookie cutters are 5 dinosaurs that I got from Dollarama. We used both. 
We made basic icing with butter and icing sugar, and added food colouring.

 Maddie really wanted to do her egg-wash orange cookies. I’d never seen these before, so it was really cool to try them. I found a recipe from Pioneer Woman that you can try out. You roll them out, then paint them with different egg-washes, and then bake them.

I didn’t do a cost breakdown, but I’m pretty sure that all of us chipping in for 4 dozen + cookies was cheaper than doing it all separately. And way more fun.