Hands and Hustle

Weekly Music Playlist No. 8

By October 1, 2014 Weekly Playlist

This week’s mix has a handful of gorgeous songs that are goosebump-worthy (like the first track by Agnes Obel and James Vincent McMorrow’s) with some fun, folky tracks for good measure.


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8 Colourful Coats for Fall / Winter 2014-2015

By September 30, 2014 Style & Beauty
Colourful Fall Winter Coats 2014 2015 Hands and Hustle

Cold weather doesn’t have to mean black jackets.

Okay, I may own a black leather jacket, but my winter coat is a soft blue-grey (from Joe Fresh!) and makes the cold months more bearable. So here’s a little something something I put together to inspire you to venture into colour this winter — or even a neutral — anything but black!


Colourful Fall 2014 Winter 2015 Coats Look Book Trends

1) Dustee Coat| 2) Wool Coat from Fancy | 3) BDG Cocoon Sweater Coat | 4) Free People Womens Sweet Child Fur Hooded Parka | 5) Edith & Ella Yellow High-Neck Coat | 6) Double or Nothing Convertible Trench Coat | 7) Kimchi Blue Cozy Mid-Calf Duster Coat | 8) Coat With Pockets

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Free Stock Photo of The Week: Grass Bliss

By September 29, 2014 Weekly Free Photo

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Behind The Blog: Community Series

By September 29, 2014 Rambling
Behind The Blog: Blog Series

Two weeks ago, I posed the idea of  doing a week-long Behind The Blog series in my post about my 5 Takeaways from BlogPodium and was thrilled to receive emails from fellow bloggers who wanted to participate.

What is Behind The Blog? A week-long community feature where 2-3 bloggers share completely honest run downs of their typical day.

Why? To pop the bubble of mystery that surrounds bloggers; What do we really do? What do we eat for breakfast? What does our day normally look like?

Today is the first day of this week-long feature. Along with myself, Brittany from mydailyrandomness.com will be posting her answers. Be sure to check out the other bloggers involved at the bottom of this post!


1) Be honest: What time do you wake up and what’s a typical breakfast?


Pictured: Steel-cut oats from my Instagram

I wake up (naturally) between 8:00 am and 8:30 am and make myself one of the following for breakfast, all of which are accompanied by a piping large mug of coffee:

  • Steel cut oats with bananas, maple syrup and walnuts (if it’s cold and I have a half hour to wait)
  • Scrambled eggs, an English muffin and 2 strips of bacon (if I did a power yoga class the night before)
  • Shreddies or Oat Squares with Raspberries and soy milk (typical go-to)


2) Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do? How do you find the balance between blogging and work? What are the pros and cons? – If blogging your full-time gig, please explain how that came to be.


365 Days of Type | Personal Design Project



VOA: Illustration, Writing & Design for my Thesis project


TD Aeroplan Art Direction

Molson Canadian Illustrations by Sabrina Smelko

Illustrations for Molson Canadian for Osheaga 2012

Yes, I do have a day-job, though it’s loosely related and co-exists with blogging and is sometimes my night-job. I’m a freelance illustrator/Art Director/designer, I help design Mozilla’s Firefox Operating System and am a contributing writer for Design*Sponge and Computer Arts Magazine most of the time, and a blogger the remainder of time.

Because I’m a freelancer, I work from home which allows me to work on many things at once–including blogging. I get to construct my own schedule and organize my own time which is a huge pro. As for cons, sometimes it’s tough to focus and work on just one. I’m an ADD creative and work best when I can bounce around from one thing to the next, hour by hour, but sometimes structure would be beneficial–as would having an excuse to get out of the house. I go for a lot of walks, attend yoga and try to get to industry events when I can, but some days, I’m in my home for 24 hours at a time and it can lead to going a bit stir-crazy.


3) Where did you grow up (what city/town, do you have siblings, can you share any stories about your upbringing)? And where do you currently reside?


Pictured from left to right: me, my eldest sister, my other sister and my cousin, crusin’ the mean streets of Milton circa 1992

I grew up in Milton, Ontario, within arms reach of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I’m half Italian and half Slovakian so I was never without tons of food and family. My two older sisters live in Kitchener and Toronto and my parents and their chubby tabby Beatrice live just 2 blocks from me–on the same street I grew up on.  I was an extroverted, energetic, impatient and fearless kid who lacked (and still lacks) the ability to be embarrassed. I did karate, had imaginary pets and worked at the local library from age 13 to 19. I was a maniac of a child and still remain some form of crazy now.

My nickname in grade-school was “Psycho Sabrina Smelko”. I didn’t know I was strange then, but looking back, man I was a weirdo. Maybe this is better left unsaid, but to paint you a picture of how I was in grade-school; at the beginning of most recesses up to grade 7, I’d do a kart wheel that ended in a collapse that I claimed would transport me into another realm. I’d lie on the grass, dead still, eyes shut, for the entire duration of recess until the bell rang which would prompt me to somersault “back to reality”. I cant believe I sacrificed so many recesses to stare at the back of my eyelids. Along with being a weirdo, I was impatient and never satisfied (and still am).

Like any teenager, I didn’t like my home town of Milton when I was younger, but I’ve come to fall in love with it. Growing up, it had a population of around 25,000 but by my late teens, the population tripled. With it came a movie theater, more restaurants and shops, bowling, yoga studios etc., which was a much needed change for my teen self’s sanity. Now Milton has a population of around 100,000 and I currently live here, having moved back after living in Mississauga and Toronto.


4) Outline your average, typical day. Be as transparent as possible.


Pictured: My Moleskine notebook

As outlined in this post on how to be productive when working from home:

  • 8:00 am: Wake up naturally
  • 8:00 – 8:15: Check emails in bed. I know it’s not the healthiest habit; I’ve been trying to at least begrudgingly move to the couch to check my phone!
  • 8:30 am: Get dressed and make coffee. In no particular order. Though I work from home, I find getting ready and getting dressed (in comfy clothes only) makes a big difference in my productivity.
  • 8:30-9:00 am: Blog, read blogs, browse the internet, Buffer my social media for the week, get my brain inspired and warmed up.
  • 9:00 – 12 noon: Work on real jobs (Mozilla work and freelance projects I have on the go) interchangeably; This job for 30 mins, back to that job for 40, back to this job for 15 etc.
  • 12 – 2:00pm: Break. I take a leisurely lunch, go for a walk, run errands, dink around the house and garden etc.
  • 2 – 5pm: Work on real jobs.
  • 5 – 8pm: On days my better half and I don’t go to yoga, we eat around 5:30-6 followed by an after-dinner walk around town. On days we do go to yoga, we prepare a simply dinner to finish making when we get home, then we leave around 6:45 for the 7pm class and eat when we get home around 8:30.
  • 8 – 11pm: Work on personal projects. Includes blogging, illustrating for myself etc. The dream-job stuff.
  • 11 – 12: We typically re-convene and watch a Wife Swap or Tosh.0 if I’m being completely honest. No judgy.
  • 12 midnight: Bedtime!

5) What’s your dream job/career? How are you working towards that?

Hands and Hustle Storenvy print

Pictured: Me with my Morning, Dear print. Photo by Wild and Light

I feel lucky enough to say I’m already doing something I love and dreamed of doing as a kid. I get paid to make pretty things, which is very awesome. My dream at this stage is working towards producing more tangible product and consulting on home goods, products, apparel, etc.

I’m currently building up my  online Hands and Hustle Storenvy and exploring printing my illustrations onto fabric and am exhibiting a hand-made product (which I’ll keep a secret for now) for a MADE exhibition this coming winter curated by Julia Breckenreid.

In time, I’d love to be a consultant or Art Director for product collections/lines like Joy Cho does for Target. Home goods, apparel, fabrics etc.


6) What would be your dream dinner-party guest-list? Explain why you chose each person.

James Kicinski McCoy to pick her brain on blogging and her career, Jillian Harris for conversion, shop-talk and fun, Kristin Wiig for obvious reasons, Daniel Tosh for comedic relief if it got awkward, and The Property Brothers, Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott.


7) What’s one thing you’d like to start, one thing you’d like to stop, and one thing you’d like to continue.

Crow pose Bakasana Yoga

(pictured: Bakasana or Crow Pose. Photo by Wild and Light)

Start getting out there and really pursuing my dreams, whole hog. I do take my business and dreams seriously, but one can always push more.

Stop doubting myself. It doesn’t happen a lot, but here and there when self-doubt creeps in, it’s hard to kick.

Continue making my yoga practice a priority.


8) What’s your current obsession?


Textiles, tapestries and weavings, like the ones pictured above made by Hazel and Hunter. Any tangible material, such as SUNO NY’s apparel (below).



9) Link to 5 websites/blog you can’t go a week without?

I can’t limit it to 5, so here’s 7. Deal with it! Breaking my own rules!

Hype Machine, Brit + Co, The EverygirlDesign Milk, BlogLovin’ (mine), Design*Sponge, Apartment Therapy.


10) Tag and mention 1 blogger who you’d like to partake in this feature.

Christina from City Loveee!



Below is a list of other bloggers involved in this Behind The Blog series and the posting schedule. Be sure to visit them as well–especially on the corresponding days that they’ll be publishing their answers/posts!

Monday September 29th
Sabrina Smelko (yours truly) | handsandhustle.com
Brittany | mydailyrandomness.com

Tuesday September 30th
Brittany | Gallerynoeight.com
Kelly | glitterdiaries.ca
Shawn Lovering | wildandlight.com

Wednesday October 1st
The Party Girl | thepartygirl.ca
Renee | reneemleblanc.com

Thursday October 2nd
Katie Rose | wildrosebuds.com
Hilary Ramsay | houseofher.weebly.com

Friday October 3rd
Jordana | WhiteCabana.com
Vanessa/Decor Happy | www.vanessafrancis.com/blog

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Things You (Probably) Need To Know This Week

By September 27, 2014 Rambling, Things You Need To Know

+ The only makeup looks you need to see from NYFW


+ Get 15% off anything and everything (except books?) at Chapters.Indigo this weekend only with Promo Code 15OFFWEEKENDS.


+ You should check out these 12 embroidery artists


+ Download this week’s free stock photo as used in the header image. Yes, free to use anyway, anytime.


+ Rachel McAdams will be the female lead on Season 2 of True Detective


+ In related news, you should probably watch this Ellen Page and Kate Mara True Detective Parody


+ New studies show yoga can help people with bi-polar disorder


+ Brittany Spears got a short bob


+ It’s cold out. Make roast potatoes


+ Want to make money? Investment advice for Millennials is to get rich slow


+ You should make yourself a throw blanket

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DIY Cotton & Wool Throw Blanket/Duvet

By September 26, 2014 DIY & Projects
diyblanket--28 copy

With fall in full swing and winter around the corner, this  DIY throw blanket is useful, beautiful and easy to make. A perfect weekend afternoon project!

I poke around my local thrift store every few weeks and was tickled when I found this dotted and arrow patterned beauty. I was saving it for just the right project when I stumbled on a coloured sheet in the same shade of green (!).

I’m not a very patient person, so I was pleased that this entire project took only 2 hours from start to finish.

DIY Easy Cotton & Wool Blanket Throw


- Two pieces of lightweight fabric;
One piece for the back, one for the front. These can be the same fabric or different — get creative and switch it up! It would be cool to do a two-tone blanket, or use the same colour in different shades. I find alot of my fabrics at Thrift Stores.

- Wool Batting
I got this quilt batting from Walmart for around $12 for a Double-bed sized piece.

- Needle & Thread
You could hand-sew this beauty, but a sewing machine simply makes the process faster. (Thank you mom for letting me use yours!)

DIY Easy Cotton & Wool Blanket Throw


1) Iron both sheets.

2) Lay both sheets on top of one another, flat on the floor. The front sides (the ones that will be exposed) should be facing each other, “kissing”; the back side of the first sheet should face the floor, the back side of the second sheet should face the ceiling.

3) Lay the batting on top and cut the sheets and batting so they are all the same size and dimensions. It should now look like this:

Bottom: first sheet with right side facing up  —  Middle: second sheet with right side facing down  —  Top: batting, all cut to the same size


 4) Secure the blanket on all sides using straight pins or — in me case — bobby pins, clothespins and bulldog clips. Honestly, they serve the same purpose; as long as it keeps everything in place and flat while you’re sewing one side and the next, use anything!


5) Sew all sides! If you’re ghetto like me and used unconventional clips, simply remove them once they near the needle. When you’re sewing the last side of the blanket, leave an opening big enough to pull the rest of the blanket through, about 5″-10″ wide–you’ll sew it back up later.


6) Pull the blanket through the hole and marvel at your greatness! Pull the corners out so they’re nice and sharp.

7) Pin the gap closed with the raw edges on the inside of the blanket and hand-stitch it closed with a blindstitch. Voila!

Stay warm and DIY on! I’d love to see your creations! Tweet, mention or tag me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.


DIY Easy Cotton & Wool Blanket Throw


DIY Easy Cotton & Wool Blanket Throw

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My $250 Kitchen Renovation: Before and After

By September 25, 2014 DIY & Projects, Home
kitchen renovation under $250

When I bought my first home last year, I fell in love with its charm and potential–not it’s dated decor. I knew that with a little elbow grease, the home could be brought from 1960 to 2014.


My Kitchen Before

First thing’s first — I don’t know who those people are. Believe it or not, I bought this home at an estate auction, and these randoms were looking at it as well. And here they will live eternally on the interwebs.

Second thing’s second, welcome to 1968, am I right?

Kitchen Before

So without further ado, here’s my kitchen now!

My Kitchen After:



Side-by-side Comparison


What I Did

Removing Wallpaper.

It started with removing the gosh-darn ugly border wallpaper of repeating grossness. Thank goodness it wasn’t all over the walls! After a quick wash and scrub, the walls were as good as new!

Replacing Knobs and Small Features

Next came replacing the knobs. I got this pack of 10 simple silver knobs from Home Depot for around $23. That alone updated the overall look and age of the kitchen.

New Flooring

I found an awesome and durable grey-scale, geometric vinyl lay-flat flooring from Re-Store (a Habitat for Humanity-run store in the GTA) for $60. I found the exact same flooring at Home Depot for almost triple the price–but still a reasonable and fair investment for the result. With a lot of nooks and crannies and corners in my galley kitchen, I ended up measuring the footprint four times. And believe it or not, I got different numbers each time. I only felt confident once my measurements were identical twice– on the third and fourth try. It just goes to show you have to re-measure over and over to get it right. Making a mistake is pricey and you’ll feel silly.


Floor before:


These days, with advances in flooring and materials, there’s no need to remove the previous floor unless it’s falling apart or damaged. And even better than that, there’s also no need to glue or adhere the flooring down! The Tarkett lay-flat flooring like the one I got stays in place with gravity and the securing of baseboards ontop, and grips to whatever is underneath. It has never shifted or moved even a centimeter in my home–and it’s a high traffic area!


Floor During

kitchen during

So I simply removed the baseboards and — after a good sweep and vacuum– laid the sheet flooring, cutting off excess where it met the wall before putting the baseboards back in place. I liked the floor so much I decided to put it down ontop of the ugly tiles in my entrance ways, so I got the exact same flooring at my local Home Depot as I mentioned before.


Floor After



As you can see, I also painted the wooden window trim and baseboards white. Like the knobs, with a little elbow-grease and change, it updates the look tenfold!


Next came the back-splash. I found white subway tile at Eden Tile-It in Burlington for around $50 and got my grout and tile-adhesive from my local Home Hardware for around $40.

With a few new switch and outlet plates, a good scrub and plenty of decor, kitchen accessories and plants, voila, my kitchen went from 60’s to 2014!




Another thing to note is the use of the overhead storage to divide the room. I am in love with my overhead storage, and previously, the shelving was used for china and kitchen paraphernalia. But with the open concept layout opening into the living space, I opted to use this shelving as a pseudo-bookshelf and put living room goods, books and nick-knacks there instead. It divides the space and makes the living room feel more like a living room when looking towards the kitchen.



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By September 24, 2014 Weekly Playlist

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10 Ways Yoga Can Enrich Your Life & Career

By September 23, 2014 Lifestyle
 (Pictured: Yoga Handstand | Wearing: Blundstone boots, Danier leather jacket)

I first started practicing yoga when I was 15. I was recovering from a rough time both physically and emotionally, and someone turned me on to the idea of yoga.

I still remember my first class like it was yesterday: I felt so out of my element and in my own head at the same time. I remember being asked nicely to take off my socks and shoes (I entered the studio wearing them!) and then was encouraged to enter the room and lie on my yoga mat, just breathing. I remember thinking, thinking, thinking, waiting anxiously for the real yoga class to start.

“Let’s go!” I thought.



 (Pictured: Modified Flying Half Pigeon | Wearing: J-Crew Sweatpants, Blundstone boots, United Colors of Benetton Sweater)

I had practiced yoga prior to that class using Baron Baptiste’s VHS tapes in my parent’s basement (laugh away), and each time, I fast-forwarded to the middle of the session and started from there and hit ‘stop’ once they lied in their final shavasana.

All of those times– in my basement and in those first few yoga classes I attended–, I was robbing myself of the true benefits of yoga.



My practice is something I hold dear and something that continues to benefit my mental, emotional and physical health, spilling over into all aspects of my life. I won’t go on about my practice, but I hope this post might encourage anyone reading to give yoga a serious shot. Why?


1) Yoga helps people with PTSD, Bi-Polar Disorder & more

2) Yoga reduces anxiety and helps you focus

3) Yoga boosts self-confidence

4) Yoga teaches self-discipline

5) Yoga helps you see the big picture & offers perspective

6) Yoga increases your physical strength, flexibility and endurance

7) Yoga increases the health of your organs, lungs & cardiovascular system

8) Yoga boosts your immunity and helps you sleep better

9) Yoga increases the health of your Neurological system

10) Yoga can improve your relationships and your emotional quotient


As a word of wisdom, like any other physical activity or sport, you have to go slow. Never jump into poses beyond your bodies capability at that given time. Yoga can harm you, if you don’t practice properly. Like everything in life, enjoy it moderately–flirt with your limit, but never surpass what you’re ready to accomplish.



What are your favourite poses? What has been your experience with yoga? Has it helped you in any way you didn’t anticipate? I know it did for me!

Sources: Harvard Medicine Study | Huffington PostH Industan Times | Women’s Health Magazine | 2013 Research Study | Art of Living Organization


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