Thursday, February 26, 2009

let the countdown begin

I can't contain my excitement anymore! In just 39 days husband and I are going to Florida and I will make my inaugural visit to Disney World! YAY!

We're spending eight days in the sunshine state, two days in the parks in Orlando (one in Magic Kingdom and one in Hollywood Studios), and the rest of the time in Fort Lauderdale visiting husband's grandma, laying on the beach and shopping! We're also spending a day in Miami and going to see the Miami Heat play the New York Knicks (husband's favourite team). 

For those of you who know what it's like to live in eastern Canada — it's freaking cold! Even though the past week has been pretty sunny, it'll still be more than a month until the snow really starts to melt, so you can understand my excitement at taking my first "down south" trip. 

Can I start packing now?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

is it easy to be green?

It's so sunny out today! I just called husband and asked him to open up the patio doors to let some much-needed fresh air flow through our apartment. And now I'm thinking about spring cleaning. 

Organizing bugs bite me throughout the year. Every few weeks I'm pulling everything out of a closet here or a cabinet there to get things re-organized and orderly. But the deep cleaning is another story. My lovely friend, A, on the other hand has the cleanest apartment I've ever been in. I'd eat off her floors. Really, I would. Trust me, it's that clean.

So, taking my inspiration from her, I'm starting a to-do list and master plan of all of my spring cleaning projects, and by the time the snow starts to melt, I'll be ready to get down to business.

I keep noticing lots of "green" cleaning products on the grocery-store shelves. While I'd like to do my part for the Earth, I don't have the budget to spend $10 on a little bottle of eco-friendly soap. So, I dug around online and found some helpful hints.

There are many non-toxic — and inexpensive — all-natural ingredients that can make your home shine, like vinegar and baking soda. Mixed with equal parts water, vinegar can be used from a spray bottle as an everyday cleaner and also acts as a deodorizer. Baking soda also tackles smells and can be used as scrub on tough stains. 

Fascinating, I know! Now, I'm heading to the dollar store to pick up some spray bottles so I can put my diy cleaning supplies to the test.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

happy holidays

What's a holiday without lots of festive decorations? 

I'm slowly collecting — as much as possible with very little storage — decorations for every holiday. For example, I just took down the shiny, red, heart-shaped wreath from Valentine's Day. 

The next holiday we'll be celebrating in our home is Ayyam-i-Ha. Husband is Baha'i and February 26 to March 1 is his gift-giving, celebratory holiday. We'll be spending the weekend out-of-town with the whole family, but I wanted to decorate our apartment so we could start celebrating as soon as Ayyam-i-Ha begins tomorrow.

Here's what I've made so far:

We decided to use blue and silver as our colour scheme. Since Baha'i decorations aren't standard and aren't sold in retail stories, I've used card stock, brads and ribbons to make these nine-pointed star decorations and garland. The nine-pointed star is a symbol of the Baha'i faith, representing the oneness of the nine world religions. I also picked up some blue, white and silver candles for the holiday. 

Any suggestions on what else I could make for this special occasion?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

is my thumb really that brown?

I cannot keep plants alive. I don't know why. If you saw my mum's yard in the summer, you'd think some of her expertise would've rubbed off. It didn't. Just ask husband. He's watched me more-or-less murder each and every plant he's bought for me. 

So, that is why I am writing — to toot my own horn. Husband brought this cute little potted gerbera daisy plant into our home on February 12, and I am thrilled to say that it is still going strong!

the pillow covering continues

After covering the comfy new office chair with the green and ivory striped knit, I had just enough left for one more little project:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

not as adventurous as i planned

When I'm poking around the bloggosphere, I take note of any photo that gives me inspiration for future projects.

Here is an example from one of my favourite blogs, This Young House:

I love these photo collages with various frames and photos in an abstract cluster. So, with this as my inspiration, I printed a variety of photos from our honeymoon on the Cabot Trail, but this is as adventurous as it got:

Well, at least the hallway isn't bare anymore.

to paint, or not to paint

Believe it or not, I'm actually on the fence about painting the bedroom now. We got a new duvet cover, which we love, but I can't decide what colour should go on the walls. Should it be matching or contrasting?

(Note the sneaky fur ball who appeared out of nowhere when I brought out the camera)

Here are the paint chips I picked up:

I was originally thinking light gray would work, but now I'm thinking it should be a contrasting shade.

I found this colour palette example, but I've always read that using a dark colour paint in a small space is a no-no.

Would brown work? I'm not really sure where to start. Suggestions?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

total transformation

Operation kijiji chair is a success! 

Last night's trip to Fabricville was one of the most successful to date. The store closes at 6 p.m., so by the time we got there through rush-hour traffic, HH and I had about 15 minutes to divide and conquer. I found a great green and ivory striped knit in the sale section for $2.99/yard. I was going to use pre-cut square chair pads ($14.99) for the seat, but on our way out, HH spotted a roll of left-over cotton batten in a clearance bin for $4.50! And in the same bin, I found some amazing upholstering fabric to cover the throw pillows in the guest room/home office for $8. 

OK, this probably all doesn't mean a lot without a visual.

Behold, the before:

And the after:


I had a couple chocolate brown throw pillows from an old bed set that were taking up space in the closet, so I used the upholstering fabric to cover them up.

Behold, the before:

And the after:

It's amazing what you can do with a little bit of ambition. In the end, I have a perfectly matching chair and two coordinating throw pillows for about $35. Can't beat that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

i heart lists

Yes, I've said it. I love lists. To-do lists. Grocery lists. Wish lists. You name it, I love it. At any given point, I probably have at least three lists floating around the bottom of my purse of things I want to remember/do. My desk at work is covered in post-its and notebooks filled with ideas, thoughts and reminders. I should add "buy more cute post-its" to a list.

Anyway, husband and I recently made a list to share. It's our 2009 Amazing To-Dos. We've decided to make a list each year of the things we'd like to do together. Some of the tasks are big, some are small. Some require spending money, and others are completely free and more about spending time together.

Here's what we have planned. As we accomplish each item, we'll blog about the fun we had.

In no particular order:

1. Make our own sushi: Husband is a bit of a picky eater, so I was so thrilled when he was willing to try sushi last year, and he loved it! I must also mention that I am a vegetarian and neither of us are seafood lovers, so we only eat veggie sushi. Going out for sushi or buying it in the store is a bit of a treat for us, so we're going to attempt to diy.

2. Read the same book: We both love to read and have read some of the same books in the past, but this time we're going to read the same one at the same time so we can chat about it. It'll be like our own mini book club!

3. Golf together at least four times: Husband loves golf. LOVES it. I strongly like golf. I haven't said the L word to golf yet. But we are definitely in like. I even got my own set of clubs last year. But I'm not very good, so the fact that it was husband's idea to add this item to our to-do list means he's willing to suffer through some very long rounds of golf in order to help me learn.

4. Go camping at least twice: We love camping; it's just hard to find the time. Even if it's close to home, we're going to get out with the tent at least two times, hopefully more.

5. Get a Wii: Husband and I like to play anything together — rummy, Boggle, Scrabble, Monopoly — so we think we should own a Wii to expand our repertoire.

6. Paint another room: As you might recall from a previous post, we recently painted our bathroom, and now we've agreed that we should also paint our bedroom. There will be plenty more posts on this topic, I'm sure.

7. Sleep in all day: We don't sleep in. Ever. The latest we've slept in since we've been married is 9 a.m. It's not that we necessarily want to sleep all day, but we want to have a completely free day when we can spend the whole day in bed, watching movies, reading good books and trying not to drop crumbs while we also snack there. Husband doesn't think I have the ability to do nothing for a whole day. Sounds like a challenge to me.

8. Pull an all nighter: Maybe this should've been on the list before #7; it would make it easier to want to stay in bed all day. We used to stay up all night when we were first dating, talking for hours and hours about anything and not get bored, but we haven't done that in years. Not sure what we'll do all night this time. Maybe we'll wait to do this one until after we buy the Wii.

9. Go on a hike: Our fair province is filled with beautiful, scenic trails. We plan to explore at least one this summer.

10. Try kayaking: We wanted to try sea kayaking during our honeymoon in Cape Breton, but it was too cold while we were there. We're going to give it a try this summer.

11. Spend a day on the Common: We've never utilized the Common to its full potential. We're going to take all of our sports equipment and a picnic lunch and spend an afternoon.

12. Go back to Ingonish for our anniversary: Our honeymoon was amazing. There is so much more to see and do around the Cabot Trail that we plan to do it again a year later.

stitch 'n' bitch

I am tres excited today!

I have a tradition with my good friend, HH. She and I have a wish-it-were-weekly stitch 'n' bitch date. We meet up after work and usually hit Michaels or Fabricville and spend the evening crafting and gabbing. I look forward to these evening so much because it gives me the perfect excuse to put time into unfinished projects and, more importantly, gives me the time to catch up with my lovely friend.

She's one of the craftiest people I know. She has an entire closet devoted to every supply you can imagine — decorative ribbon, felt, paint, buttons, pins, pretty paper, fabric, stickers, the list goes on. So when I told her about my kijiji chair, and my options to paint or upholster, she jumped at the chance to help me cover it. 

I also stumbled upon these cute bags recently, and she's going to help me figure out a pattern:

Aren't they cute? And just think, in these difficult economic times, how much money we can save by doing it ourselves!

Monday, February 16, 2009

can I be trusted?

I like the idea of wall sconces, but since we live in an apartment, I'm not about to attempt any hard wiring. I saw a couple of candle sconces at Pier 1 over the weekend, like this:

I love the atmosphere candles provide. People often comment on this because I always have some lit when we have company. It's a great way to give a small apartment a more homey feel. I usually have one lit on the centre of the coffee table even when it's just me and husband at home. Warm candle light doesn't have to be a romantic thing, it can just be warm, comforting and inviting.

So, because I love candles, I really like the idea of mounting candles on the wall for ambience. The part I'm unsure about is my ability to not burn the building down.

Friday, February 13, 2009

love day

In honour of Valentine's Day — an occasion husband and I are marking by watching the NBA all-star festivities in sweatpants, while eating junk food — here is a cute and inexpensive project from How About Orange to brighten up your Friday:

And the finished product:

Enjoy <3

it's amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do

As apartment dwellers, husband and I are limited to the home improvement projects we can take on. There's nothing wrong with the way our apartment looks, but we recently decided that we'd stay in our current home for a few years, since the rent is quite low, in order to save money for a house.

Since we've only lived together for four months (since our wedding), we're having a lot of fun doing little domestic projects together. About a month ago, we started this home-improvement spree with a coat of paint on our bathroom — we figured if we screwed it up that bad, it would be the smallest room to have to re-paint.

Here is the before (with all of the decor already stored):

And here is the after:

Since Husband happened to do most of the work on our inaugural paint job, I was pleasantly surprised when he allowed me to linger in the paint chip section of Canadian Tire last night. "I think we need to paint our bedroom," he said completely voluntarily. I was shocked. And now my mind is racing — oh, the possibilities!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

i would sleep much better with one of these

I would like a different headboard. The one that husband and I have now is my childhood bed, and it doesn't coordinate with the decor in our room.

I'm feeling very crafty lately, so this is what I would like to make to replace it:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

i heart ecojot

In honour of my creative partner's birthday this week, I ventured into a local art supply store in search of a fun sketchbook for her. What I found was an entire line of the most adorable, environmentally friendly books made by ecojot. And, because I loved them so much, I got one for me, too. This one's mine:

This is the design that I picked for the birthday girl:

These books are a total win-win. You can do your part for the environment, while brightening up your day with these cute designs. 

Goal: Make things prettier

I recently discovered the wonder that is Contact paper. As an apartment-dweller, it isn't always worthwhile or economical to make costly changes to perk up the space around me, but I've been trying hard to make the most of our newlywed love nest. 

That said, we'd been having some issues with our kitchen cupboards. The apartment-building-issued paint is clearly not high-end, and we sometimes notice little bits of paint sticking to the bottom our dishes. The solution: Contact paper. Rather than putting the money into a nicer quality (and colour — glossy white doesn't do it for me), I decided to cover it up. And what a difference! 

Now, I'm trying to think of other fun things I could do with contact paper, like line the insides of bare drawers and spruce up the back panel of a bookshelf. But where can you buy prettier versions of Contact paper? I got a speckled beige pattern for the kitchen, but I'm hoping for something a little more like this:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

you should start a blog

OK, here goes nothing. 

I've recently become a blog addict. Well .. addict may be too strong a word. I did subscribe to Google Reader though, and I can't seem to close my laptop until I've at least scanned all the new posts. I'll just add it to my towering pile of guilty pleasures and carry on.

I've got a wide range of interests — far too many to list at once — so I'm going to start out this inaugural post with a little diy project, because I for one need a fun little distraction from this hideous winter.

This is my new chair — or at least it will be once it's delivered from the seller on kijiji:

Not that exciting, you say? Wrong. This chair just oozing with potential. A little sand paper and a coat of paint, or maybe some foam padding and pretty fabric, and it's going to be the perfect desk chair for our two-in-one home office/guest bedroom. Just wait and see!