..the secret life of daydreams..

a blog of the everyday beautiful

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get by with a little help from our friends…


This past weekend was a fence-post-hole-digging kind of weekend. My dad and I spent the better part of Thursday measuring and marking, which proved invaluable once we started to dig. As they say, measure twice, cut (or dig) once!


Having everything laid out in the real space and marked with spray paint and stakes meant that on Saturday and Sunday we just got to work. Justin picked up a rental hydraulic auger to make the work faster, and at just under a $150 for a day rental, that might be one of the best decisions we have made with this garden so far.

I’m sure in some alternate universe, hand digging 40-plus, 3 foot deep holes in rocky ground wouldn’t be torture, but we weren’t about to subject ourselves to that. Instead, they all got dug in essentially one afternoon with relative ease.



That auger was a workhorse, and much easier to use than a handheld two-person auger. I think we would have run into difficulties with anything else in our rocky soil. It wasn’t all a cake walk though; Justin was definitely feeling it in his forearms that night.

A huge thank you to our friends Corrie and Thomas who volunteered their whole day and made it fun to be working. Corrie and I tackled a few things on my to-do list (pruning the red currant, moving soil, lining some of the boxes with landscape fabric, and leveling and squaring off those same boxes) while Thomas helped Justin manhandle the digger.

Love you guys. Couldn’t have done it without you!


Also big thanks to my dad for helping me think through logistics and planning, and being available hands when we needed him. This girl also pulled her weight keeping an eye on the all-important measuring tape:


a special garden party


This is a little late in being posted, but back in May I had the wonderful chance to throw my mom a special 50th birthday party. Most of you who know me know that I love to host a good themed party, so with gorgeous weather in sight and my peonies in full bloom, we decided a garden party would be the perfect foil for this sophisticated but casual party.

I can’t say enough ‘thank you’s’ to my aunt for all the work she put in alongside me, and for the use of her gorgeous backyard and patio. It was the ultimate backdrop for this event and I am so pleased with how everything turned out. It always causes me delight to know that I’ve created a comfortable environment for people to relax and spend time together, as evidenced by those who linger long after they have said that they “really should get going.”

Also special thanks goes to Julie from Julie Christine Photography. She came out and captured all the lovely details for me and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have all these beautiful photographs that I just don’t have time to snap when I’m playing host!

I hope you enjoy this little peek from our day.

welcome sign

welcome chalkboardfrench garden setting

bistro lightsbistro lightsflowers

drink setup


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cakeImage #-109dessert table

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cake cutting

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Happy Birthday Mom! Love you.

newborn shoot – baby wade


I had the great privilege of taking a few shots of this little guy at the beginning of January. He was born to my good friends Mike and Kacey back in November, so while this isn’t exactly a newborn shoot in the classic sense, he still makes for a pretty good subject. Wade is a mover though, as you will probably see in the photos; and he is most definitely a cutie-pa-tootie!

Here are a couple of my favourite shots from our  little session:

pia baerg photographypia baerg photographypia baerg photographybw collagepia baerg photographykacey collagepia baerg photographypia baerg photographyLove you guys!


kostelyk family photo shoot


For whatever reason, fall always brings an increase in demand for family photos. I suspect it has something to do with the approach of Christmas and the need for updated photos to send out with Christmas cards (does anyone actually send cards anymore?…). Maybe I’m wrong about that.

Other times the photos are simply long overdue, and as schedules fall into routine again with the passing of summer vacations, this season is a great time to get family together for some photos, especially when there are new grandchildren involved.

This family was no exception, and the kids decided to organize a session for their mother, who has been dreaming about getting family photos done for some time. I was more than happy to help.

These were shot at Bateman Park, and Willband Creek Park, in Abbotsford, BC.

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festive snowball lanterns


The first snow of winter always brings back fond memories of shoveling, snow forts, snowmen, snow angels, and staying out until I could barely see because the early winter sun had set. My mom would have to call me inside for dinner and I would trundle into the house from a winter wonderland that more often than not had already started to melt. These events were, and are, rare and special in this wet and mild coast we live on, so I still get excited when I see snowflakes; however, I don’t like that I have to commute in it these days… but that’s another story. That said, last weeks snowfall reminded me of another childhood memory: Finnish snowball lanterns. These are especially fun to make during the holidays as some outdoor cheer, but unfortunately here, the snow melted before Christmas actually came. That’s ok, it still felt festive!

snowball lanternThey are pretty simple to make.

Pre-make a big pile of snowballs and then lay them in stacking rings, one on top of the other. Don’t worry about it being perfect, that’s part of the charm! The layers will naturally start to come together as the rings get smaller and smaller at the top. Before you lay the last couple layers, put a tealight at the bottom (make sure you compress the snow underneath, otherwise the tealight will melt the snow and sink, flooding it) and light it. Then go ahead and close it up! If it is below freezing outside, the tealights should last few a couple hours.

And for those of you who live in areas where snow is in abundance at this time of year, these would make some great outdoor decorations lining the driveway or walkway to your house for guests coming over for Christmas or New Year’s parties! If you want to ensure that the candles remain lit for many hours, you could also put in battery operated pillar candles into each lantern (just be sure to put the candle on a plate first so it stays dry on the bottom). It won’t glow in quite the same way but also won’t burn out before your guests leave.

festive snowball lantern

advent calendar diy


It’s again been a while between posts, but the Christmas season is approaching and I’m getting inspired to craft and create again. I figured it was time to share this diy project I did a few years ago!

When Justin and I were still dating, I made him an advent calendar that he kept in his room. I filled it with little treats and notes that let him know how much I cared about him. Ultra cheesy right? Well, regardless of that, and the fact that he did marry me in the end, I think it is an adorable calendar and I can’t wait to give it to our kids and let them have the joy of waking up early and sneaking out of bed to get the next days pocket open.

The whole thing is actually made out of scrap fabric that my mom had sitting around from the days when she used to sew all my clothes. So yes, all of these are made out of pieces of old childhood dresses, pajamas, etc., that I had. That alone holds a lot of sentimental value for me. The stick at the top is an old walking stick I had whittled as a kid, and I re-purposed here; it was definitely a fun project, and with some help from my mom (her sewing machine would misbehave regularly so I didn’t want to try wrestling with it), I put this together. Here are the basic steps of how I accomplished it.

  1. I decided how big I wanted the whole thing to be. This one is 2ft. wide by 3ft. tall in total, but the main fabric backdrop is 2′ by 2’8″. The tabs at the top are then by default 4″ long.
  2. The backdrop is actually two layers of fabric (so that you couldn’t see stitching on the backside), so I cut out two pieces the same size. Because you need a half inch seam allowance all the way around, it ended up being 2’1″ by 2’9″.
  3. Once that was done, I took paper and used it to create a template for all my pockets. Basically I cut rectangles and squares out of the paper, numbered them 1 through 25, and laid them onto the backdrop; arranging and cutting until I was happy with how it looked.
  4. The prospects of actually making pockets and sewing them onto the backdrop seemed bulky and ineffective, so I cheated. It’s actually just the front square sewn on top of another patch of fabric that acts as the pocket flap. So basically when you open the pocket, you see the green of the backdrop. This made it far less cumbersome to sew and made it look less thick and bulky.advent pocket
  5. Before putting it all together, the button holes were sown into the flaps, and the numbers hand stitched onto the pocket fronts.
  6. Then it was just a matter of assembly and getting all those pieces put together, and adding all the buttons.
  7. Finally the back panel was sown onto the calendar, and the tabs inserted like you would with curtains.
  8. For good measure I stitched the date onto the back so we would remember when I made it! And that is that.

It was a great little project and we still hang it up every year for advent. I hope this inspires you to make your own advent calendar this year!

advent calendar diy

cozy up – velvety butternut squash soup


Today is one of those classic fall Vancouver days: gray and damp, with abundant amounts of precipitation, and we get to look forward to a whole weekends’ worth of similar conditions. I have to admit I don’t wholly hate it, at least not yet. There is something about getting cozy with knit sweaters, blankets, and chai tea lattes that warms the soul as days get shorter and increasingly soggy.

But today there was only one thing I was craving when I got home from work after driving through the rain and that was a bowl of warm, velvety butternut squash soup fresh from our fall squash harvest in the garden.

butternut squash soup

Butternut squash soup

– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 2 yellow onions (chopped)
– 2 cloves garlic (minced)
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
– 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
– 1 large butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 6 cups)
– 4 cups vegetable broth

Heat the oil and butter in a large pot (I like using a big dutch oven). Saute the onions until softened (about five minutes). Add garlic, salt, pepper, and garam masala and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and cook for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the broth into the pot and bring to a boil, add turmeric and lower to a simmer. Cook until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree the squash and liquid in a blender in batches. Pour back into pot, gently heat, season with salt, and serve with a little sprinkle of nutmeg for garnish.

Enjoy! And if the garam masala really isn’t your thing, you can replace it with a 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and two sprigs of fresh thyme (removing the thyme before the pureeing step). Delicious!

butternut squash soupbutternut squash soup