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Chocolate Beet Cake & Stress

By 06/10/2012August 8th, 201729 Comments



I got home from Toronto this morning. Since I was out of town for my birthday, my sister Elizabeth baked me this most amazing chocolate beet cake that we ate today instead.

She also made butter pecan ice cream without ice or cream to go with it in her Vitamix! It all tasted very healthy.

William and Markus decorated my cake and I thought it was perfection.

Elizabeth’s husband thinks she’s taking the raw food kick she’s been on lately, to the extreme. He eyed the cake rather suspiciously and I’m not sure he ate any of it. Here’s the recipe in case you are feeling adventurous.

Markus stuck the entire bowl into his mouth and then when he was done, he leaned over and said “Mom I need some more icing, I ate all of mine.

In other news, I came home to see lots of things my contractor had accomplished at the house all week. When I walked outside and saw this square piece of wood getting ready to sit behind the light fixture I had ordered for my design studio, I had a total fit (I really did, I was embarrassed actually because we live so close to our neighbours).

This is what they all look like right now on my house (above). There were four of these beauties installed all along the back of the patio behind the house.

Heinous (it’s my new favourite word for everything ugly on our house) plastic square things that are imbedded in the siding so there’s nothing much I can do (the old way to keep a light fixture straight on plastic siding). I was going to paint them the same colour as the house and I’ve pulled them all off, but then I found some white plastic ones from the hardware store. I’m not sure if they will work though, we’ll find out tomorrow.

Anyway I certainly don’t want the same look repeated on my design studio so I texted my sweet and patient contractor STAT who said “In case you didn’t notice, that’s why the siding isn’t finished, I didn’t like the way it looked either”.

Isn’t it true that when you really have stress, that’s how you know what kind of person you are? I’m worried that I’m a bad person. Do I have to REACT so HUGELY over stuff like this? Honestly, you’d think the world was coming to an end. Sigh.

I have lots more to report on my reno, lots to show, and very busy this week to catch up from being away!

Any advice on how to fix the existing problem of the imbedded plastic on my house would be great!! xoxo Maria

Related posts:

Managing Client Expectations

‘What do you Think?’ Is NOT Advice that Helps

Happiness is. . . Being Uncomfortable

Download my eBook, to learn what you didn’t get in Colour Theory. How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.



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  • Oh how stress gets us! You’ll figure it out. We ALL freak out over stupid stuff. Renovating is so tough on the nerves. And then add a career. Hello! You rock, Maria, don’t be too hard on yourself. 🙂

  • Cathy says:

    I can so relate to the over-reaction! I get so involved in the little details —- every little thing seems it is going to make or break the design…I know my attention to detail drives my husband crazy…but in the end all that attention to the layers of the design makes the overall look beautiful! My clients definitely appreciate me being detail-oriented..I think that is one of the characteristics of a good designer! I find I have to apologize alot though during the process! lol…Have some cake and hang in there! Happy belated Birthday!

  • kathy says:

    Totally relate. I am hyper about the details! Driving our builders crazy, we are on change order #67 ! I thought it was the clients…now I know it’s me!

  • Louise says:

    Stress gets to us all Maria, given enough ‘stressors’ whatever they may be. Your reaction does not mean that’s the kind of person you are – it just means you’ve reached your limit. Believe me, building 5 of our own houses, I’ve “been there, done that”. It will all get sorted out so be gentle on yourself in the meantime.

    Thanks for the chocolate beet cake recipe – when you have a chance (no pressure) could you post the recipe for the pecan ice cream since I also have a Vitamix and would love to try it (maybe you sister can help you out on this one and send it to me directly if you don’t have any other requests).

    Hugs…… Louise from Ottawa

  • tricia duggan says:

    Hi Maria,

    Your contractor should locate a supplier of vinyl siding and order mounting blocks. They come in different sizes and colors to match your siding color and size of your lanterns. Norandex is one in the states.

  • Angela Taylor says:

    Goes with the territory….being a creative soul.
    It will get sorted, just give it time:)
    Lucky girl to have such a loving family.
    Happy belated birthday!
    Look forward to seeing more of the renovations.

  • Susan@Susan Silverman Designs says:

    Hi Maria

    Having had four kids, for my own sanity, I’ve learned “not to sweat the small stuff”. It’s the “bigger stuff” that counts, and I’m sure with your expertise you will find a solution that will work for you. However, having said that, if that happened with one of my clients, I’d be freaking out (in a nice way), for my own home……not so much. I always felt, it was better to accept things in my own playing field than in someone else’s. Don’t let the stress get to you.

  • jackie says:

    Oh, I feel for you! You also have a lot of pressure on you to make your house look perfect since you ARE involved in design maybe? I would feel that way anyway.
    I was reading the recipe, but it’s not a raw food is it? It said eggs and oven so… lol! Maybe just the icing? I made my one year old avocado/chocolate pudding for his brithday, thinking because he loved avocado…but no go! I’ll try again some time.

  • She made butter pecan ice cream in her Vitamix?? I must get that recipe!! I just got a Vitamix a couple of months ago I love it! I’ve been doing crazy smoothies in mine that have spinach and kale in them…but I have to say, ice cream sounds much better.

  • sandra says:

    Agree with tricia – change or cover the exisiting mounting block behind the fixture with a new one.
    this kind of stress comes with the territory …
    my yoga teacher used to tell us:
    acknowledge it but don’t give it any more energy
    It’s precisely because of your attention to detail that creates a beautiful home. And worth every stressful minute !

  • KJ says:

    Oh, I always wondered what those things were! Our last house had the light fixture mounted directly on the siding and it never moved (but the siding was wood, maybe that helps???). Our light fixture in our new house is mounted on brick. Maybe you could turn the flaw into a feature. Ideas: find a small ceiling medallion to mount over the ugly plastic thing (like this: Or find a plastic convex mirror and drill through it and use that as a cover (something like this:

  • ellen Rush says:

    Oh Maria, I can totally relate to your REACTION to something you don’t like and did not expect to see. Having just spent the last 5 months renovating our place I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I’ve had a hairy fit. After looking at the pictures of your light fixture holders I went out and looked at ours. The base of the fixture is round and our contractor cut round peices of wood slightly larger than the base and they are painted the house color, it looks just fine. That treatment is only used where the fixtures are attached to posts, where they are attached to the house the round wood things are unecessary because the fixture wires go into the walls.

  • Maria, tell Clinton to do what he did for me when we worked together on the large mansion in Mission. I had him, or one of the other guys change it as well to either wood or Hardi Plank. Looks much better than the cheap plastic.

  • megan says:

    we just finished a 1920’s garage renovation and I obsessed over every part, including the wood pieces behind the lights. At one point my husband sent me a photo (it wasn’t installed yet) and i freaked! we aren’t to the point yet, why are they installed and why are they plastic!! No worries he was holding them up. So i had my contractor make them out of cedar and put a slight pencil edge on them so they didn’t look so massive. I wanted them to just be a bit larger than the fixture base. I can send you photos, but not sure how to post them. Our garage was 2 1/2″ clapboard so even though they are flat on the back, we caulked around them, painted them white to match the garage and they look perfect!

  • Vanessa says:

    Give yourself some grace, Maria… moving, renovating, travelling, teaching & blogging all at the same time…. that would be more than enough to send most of us into fits… And the desire to make the absolute best design decision at every turn can certainly heighten the stress. I do hope you let yourself have a ‘down’ day and put up your feet! Especially after working so hard on your birthday!

  • Debbie Bruna says:

    The mounting blocks for my outside light fixtures are covered in vinyl and are an exact match to the vinyl siding so you don’t really see them. I would let my contractor know if someone put up white ones, the contractors know better and you should accept nothing less.

  • Christian says:

    You are not a bad person! I can totally relate. I am working on my reactions to disappointments, too, b/c I would like to remain more calm when things are not going as I had envisioned. When you have a personality type that pays a lot of attention to detail, it can be a challenge b/c nothing seems like “small stuff”.

  • AnneElise says:

    I’m not a designer, but design is important to me, and there are some things I wil not compromise on…but since the lights need to be mounted on something, can’t you make the mounting a feature – like a bracket of painted wood??
    (My contractor is dumbfounded that I insisted on ordering a bathroom vanity that costs 4x what he would have picked up, but…it’s wall mounted; it comes with a spiffy sink all ready to accept the spiffy faucet I ordered; it has DRAWERS!!! instead of doors and a buried shelf – so worth it to me. But plain old white 6″ field tiles are just fine for the tile work.).

  • Jan says:

    Happy Birthday! Enjoying your ebook on choosing color! I am refacing my 25 yr. old kitchen cabinets and trying to choose a good white. All our trim and ceiling is white dove and walls are monroe bisque (BM). Not sure whether to go with white dove or a white that is a little warmer…looking @ swiss coffee as an option. Any feedback?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Without knowing your finishes it’s hard to say but it’s a good idea to match your trim to your cabinets. If you don’t have a stitch of white or cream in your countertops or floors then I would consider another colour option. Maria

      • Jan says:

        Sorry! Finishes are: venetian gold granite counters, light walnut travertine stone floor, stainless appliances. There is cream/white in counter and floor. I just want to be sure white dove isn’t too bright a white???

  • Elara says:

    Wow, what a cake! I hope you had a great trip! Markus is so sweet… I bet everyone is so happy to have you close!

  • Mary says:

    At exactly your age I went through a phase of thinking that things like this shouldn’t be “the end of the world” too. A dear friend told me to instead embrace who I am; that aesthetics like the one you’ve described matter to me because I have good taste. Everyone understands when you don’t second-guess yourself.

  • Julia says:

    Happy Birthday Maria! How do you like your yellow sofa with your ceilings?


  • Diann says:

    I’d be upset with those yellow blocks too. When installing new outdoor lights on my home, I encountered the same issue you have. The vinyl siding was already forty years old with a profile which no longer existed, so no mounting blocks were available. Additionally, the lights had a long rectangular mounting bracket, not the usual round one. I used cardboard to make a profile of the siding, took it too a carpenter who made wooden blocks to match the profile. Then I painted them to match the siding. Worked perfectly. Good luck! It will work out. Diann

    Re the mounting block, what I did to assist a friend of mind who had a similar problem; we purchased precut round wooden discs we found at a Craft store and I faux painted them to match the fixture (not the siding). In her case, it gave the illusion it was part of the fixture which would have even fooled you. 🙂

    • P.S: I have even been known to cut off the pointed finial element that you often find on outdoor fixtures as they just do not appeal to me. (It’s been my experience that all of them have ‘not’ left a hole to be filled.) Oh, and if you are in the market for a good adhesive, I highly recommend the product GOOP. They have various types for different jobs. i.e: I used it to repair a few of my Mother’s vinyl shutters a number of years ago and they are still holding up to the weather.

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    I was SOO cranky when I got home too! We did a lot.!
    It was a blast and intense. Plus YOU were the teacher.
    All of these comments are good, so we have to “cut ourselves a break”. Therefore, will you please, (for me) go and give that little munchkin Markus a big hug and a smooch! 2 smooches. This recipe is guaranteed to relieve your stress :~)
    xo, Paula

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