Tuesday, March 31, 2009

diy prettiness

I saw this idea somewhere around to blogosphere recently and was intrigued enough to give it a try. Here is a before photo of our plain, boring medicine cabinet:

With just a single piece of embossed cardstock, here's the after:

Ahh .. so satisfying. Here's a close-up:

The flash sort of drowned out the pretty green colour, but it's much more attractive than it was before!

maltesers are not for kitties

Somebody discovered chocolate ... and instead of being in bed at midnight, she's still running around the apartment ... hmm ... 

She seems really concerned about the chocolate she's getting on the carpet, doesn't she?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

five-dollar challenge: before and after

This challenge was a toughie. 

Living with Lindsay issued a blogger diy Five-dollar Challenge a few weeks ago. It seemed like a simple task at first; here were her only rules:

1. You may only spend $5 out-of-pocket (not including sales tax).

2. Your $5 may only be spent at a "dollar store." 

3. You may also use items you already have around the house, such as tools and supplies.

The trick for me was coming up with an idea that would suit our decor, using only items found in the Dollarama. Easier said than done.

So I started with this little sign ($1):

Husband liked it as-is. "It's true!" he said. He's very excited about adopting our new addition in a few weeks!

Then I got paint and brushes — it appears that I went over budget here, but I only used two colours of paint (so $3 more spent in this pic):

I painted the sign red to go with our kitchen decor:

Then, for my free, diy stencil, I printed out the words in the font I wanted and carefully cut them out with an Xacto knife. It was tricky to keep the paper steady while trying not to let the paint bleed around the lines. 

Here is the final result:

I added a bit of ribbon to cover up the nail. And voila! New, personalized sign for our entry — and for only $4!

Friday, March 27, 2009

to dye, or not to dye?

First, it was one. And I took care of it.

Then it was two or three, and I got sick of laying down the law.

Now, creeping out of my roots are several grey hairs. And they're getting busy, multiplying like nobody's business. So, I'm forced to come to terms with my feelings about it. I've been asked on different occasions if I mind the idea of going grey and I've always said no. But now it's really happening, I'm not totally sure.

I will probably get in trouble for saying this to the world, but husband is ... well ... loosing a bit of hair. Let's just say that. So his reaction to my silver strays is, "Oh well, you'll be grey, and I'll be bald." Fair enough. 

The thing is, he can't really do anything about his issue — I will not be married to hair plugs guy — but I can correct my changing hair. I just can't decide if I want to make the commitment. Dying my hair every couple months or more is a pain, in terms of time and money.

I tease certain people — cough Mum cough — about dying grey hair. I always tell her to let it go natural. But now that I have my own, I'm singing a different tune.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

i almost called in sick

Husband and I have worked ourselves into a pretty good morning routine. Husband hits snooze just once — oh, the willpower!  — and he then gets up to make the coffee, while I sprawl across the warm bed until he tells me it's ready. Then, at about three-minute intervals, he reminds me that the coffee's ready. This goes on for about 15 minutes. Sometimes he grabs the duvet and pulls of off the bed. But, eventually, I get up, enjoy my coffee, and get ready for the work day.

Today, that all changed.

Husband: "Umm, wife?" 
Me: "Hhhmmmm?"
Husband: "Do we have anymore coffee?"
Me: "Aagggghhhhhhhhh."
Husband: "You sounds like a dying cat."
Me: "No coffee?"
Husband: "No coffee."
Me: "Can I call in sick?"
Husband: "No ... but you can get Starbucks."

This was enough to get me out of bed in record time. Today I got to break our budget-friendly, no-buying-coffee rule and pick up a delicious hot dark roast on my way to the office.

I know I might sound crazy or addicted, but I just really like starting my day off with coffee. Really really. I can see my sister-in-law, A, nodding her head in agreement. She understands me.

How do you like to start your day? 

how do you judge a book?

This is such a neat idea. I read about this another blog recently — I can't remember where, so if you saw it too, leave a comment to remind me. 

This has got to be the quickest and easiest reno tip I've ever seen. Just take the jazzed-up book jackets off of your favourite books and you'll discover that the book underneath often looks cleaner and more sophisticated. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

total transformation

Husband and I have economically decided rather than putting money into new bedroom furniture while we're still living in an apartment, we'll renovate what we have to better suit our needs.

Exhibit A: Our dresser. A hand-me-down from my childhood.

Confession: I'm a baddd blogger. I totally forgot to take a before photo! Oopsie! Lets just say it had that lovely, shiny faux wood exterior that most pressed wood pieces had back in the early '90s. 

This dresser belonged to my parents more than 15 years ago and I've been carting it around since I moved out of residence.

And not to toot our own horns here ... ok, maybe a little ... these renovations were done in the middle of our living room, thanks to a plastic drop cloth and a day warm enough to keep the patio doors wide open.

After a lot of sanding, priming, two coats of paint and some sassy new Lee Valley antique brass cup pulls — voila:

For those of you who like to know these things, like me, the paint colour is Pebble Mosaic by Glidden.

Exhibit B: Our headboard

Also a cart-away from my younger days, this baby has adorned my bed for about 20 years and counting.

And the after:

Then we'd really caught the painting bug. I remembered a little end table that I'd packed away for a rainy day, and it got a splash of Pebble Mosaic, too:

The lesson here: It doesn't have to be new, to be new to you. In one day and for about $60 (with all the new hardware), we've transformed our hand-me-downs into a matching set. Success!

don't underestimate last season's beauties

By mid-February, I was dreaming of buying a new spring purse. I do this with every new season — fantasize about the new accessory possibilities that come with the changing weather. 

But, I am proud to say that I have saved myself $40 by being slightly neurotic. Allow me to elaborate. This is somewhat embarrassing to admit, but I started packing for our Florida trip about a week ago. For those of you keeping track, the trip is still two weeks away. What can I say? I'm excited. Anyway ... packing for Florida meant digging out a neatly packed box of our summer clothes, and imagine my surprise and utter delight when I opened the lid and found this little baby:

Last year's spring purse! Hooray! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

just a tease

I tried really hard to have our weekend projects completed and photographed for blogging yesterday, but it's taken a bit longer than initially anticipated, so here's a little taste until I can get the wonderfulness properly documented.

These are the old pulls from our hand-me-down dresser:

And these are the lovelies that now adorn our drawers:

And this is just the beginning ...

ah, how the tables have turned

You know when you're a kid and you absolutely hate it when you're parents drag you into stores like Kent, Canadian Tire and Home Depot? I remember these dreadfully boring days all too well, mum and dad. That's right. You. 

But it's confession time. I am finally ready to admit that I have crossed over to the other side. I love these stores. We don't even have a house, yet I have an amazing ability to wander in the hardwood floor and marble countertop sections. 

Husband and I went to Home Depot this weekend and I practically skipped down the aisles. We spent our time in the paint department this weekend, choosing the perfect colour for our bedroom furniture. 

Me: (staring at the employees with paint-smudged aprons) Man, I'd love to work here.
Husband: (with one curiously raised eyebrow) Why?
Me: Imagine the colour possibilities!
Husband: But you'd be mixing colours for other people; you wouldn't be taking them home with you.

He just had to burst my bubble, didn't he?

Friday, March 20, 2009

i heart grey and yellow

I'm quite enjoying the grey and yellow combination for spring. 

But, let me tell you, that the first people in my life to embrace this idea — before it became trendy — were my grandparents:

[Grampie Stan photo]

When they moved back to Canada from the U.S. a few years ago and bought this cute little house, they painted the trim grey and the door, and garage doors yellow. I was skeptical when mum told me about the colour combo that G&G picked, but when I saw it with my own eyes, I loved it. They had a good idea here, and now I see yellow and grey popping up all over the place: 

[You are my fave's ode to yellow]

[Nestled In loves these colours, too]

happy spring!

No, the flowers haven't started to bloom quite yet, but most of the snow is finally melted! Hooray! 

Happy Spring and Happy Naw Ruz to my Baha'i and Iranian friends!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

summer tote: new and improved

Something about last week's summer tote bag project didn't feel quite right, so I took another look at it during this week's craftapalooza at HH's. This is what it looked like last Thursday:

I realized that it was just too big. Bigger than my winter purse, in fact, and it just didn't accomplish my goal of downsizing. So I made some alterations and actually added the real straps. Here's the finished product, which I will finally start using tomorrow:

Much better!

where do you eat breakfast?

The answer to that question for us, I'm proud to say, is at the kitchen table. There was a time where we were more likely to curl up on the couch with a bowl of Rice Krispies, but now we're in a nice routine of getting up early enough to eat breakfast together like civilized adults, at the table.

This brings me to my latest dream home addition:

[photo from Apartment Therapy]

I would love to have space to have barstools at the kitchen counter — especially if they're bright red beauties like these. When I was a kid, my brother, S, and I would sit up there together every morning to eat breakfast. I love the idea of sitting there with husband and eventually our own kids being able to do that together, too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the randomadness is here!

Husband and March Madness are here! Wife asked me to do a guest post because she thinks you might be interested in what I have to say. Since I don't know much about home decor or organizing things, I'll blog about basketball and what better time than now since the randomadness starts today! What's randomadness you ask? Well, it's a brand new term that I just came up with to describe the randomness that is March Madness. 

You see, there are millions of March Madness lovers out there, all of them counting down the minutes until the tip-off of the first of 64 single-elimination, high-paced, electrifying games. Can it get any better?? As a matter of fact, it can! No doubt, at least 99% of the fans following this tournament will have filled out at least one tournament bracket.

So by now you're probably thinking that I'm an expert on "bracketology." Well, you're wrong. I know my basketball, but there really are no experts when it comes to filling one of these things out. I used to think it mattered how much you knew about the teams, their opponents, their offense, defense, coach, winning streak, mascot, etc. ... it truly makes no difference. The seeds rank from 1 to 16 (four regions) and just as long as you don't pick the 16th seed upsetting the No. 1, then you have an excellent chance of picking a better bracket than Dick Vitale himself. Seriously. I'll even do it for you. I'll set up a completely random bracket to go along with my other one (three actually). Maybe wife will even let me post another guest blog after April 6, so you can all find out which bracket won.

Speaking of wife, she and I have had a contest going for five years now, which we like to think of as our little tradition. The goal: see who can pick the best bracket. The 2009 stakes: dirty chores! If I win and pick more games correctly than her, she has to take out all the garbages/recyclables for a month (one of my many, many chores). If SHE wins, I have to scoop Scarley's litter box for a month (she's a stinky girl!! Scarley ... not wife haha). Anyway, we're both very excited about it and don't tell her this, but I'm also a little scared. I don't like scooping poop. Wish me luck!

cheap, but not easy

Since our No. 1 goal is to decrease/completely get rid of our student loan debt and start saving money for the future, husband and I have made a list of ways we can save money:

  • Buy more practical groceries. I love to cook and husband definitely likes to cook, so we're going to cut back on yummy-delicious, over-priced, not-so-healthy, guilty-pleasure packaged foods. Savings: cut back the bi-weekly bill by $25 
  • I've started cutting husband's hair — yes, I'm serious. What I can't believe is that he actually let me give it a shot. The results were a pleasant surprise to both of us! Savings: about $20 every six weeks
  • We've cancelled our newspaper subscription. The journalist in me is sad about this, but we really don't need it. We can read most of the news online on the paper's website and from various other sources. I know that my fellow journalists are cringing, but when we have more surplus cash, I will get it back, I promise. Savings: more than $200 per year
  • Since it's finally getting warmer out, we're canceling our gym memberships and spending more time exercising outside. Savings: $80 per month
  • We're canceling our home phone. Husband and I just got a new cellphone plan with a new provider, so we've decided to ditch the third phone. Savings: about $20 per month
That's a total savings of more than $2,000 per year! The trick is to keep that money aside and not let it fall into other expenses. 

I'd love to add more money-saving goals to this list. How do you save money?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

black snow

Today I will finally hold the printed version of Black Snow in my hands. My brilliant friend Jon Tattrie has just published his first novel and I couldn't be more proud. I was lucky enough to have a few reads of the book during the draft stages, but I can't wait to be re-introduced to the characters as I flip through the final, bound copy.

Black Snow is a love story set during the Halifax explosion. The 1917 disaster was the largest man-made blast the world had ever known. The first time I read it, I couldn't put it down. I hope you love the characters as much as I do. 

For more info on how you can get your own copy, click here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

it's official ...

... Scarley's getting a sister!

Brother (in-law) B and sister-in-law C came to visit this weekend with our fur niece, Lola (of the chiuaua variety). This is the second time Scarley and Lola have spent a weekend together and it was another success. By the end of the weekend, we're sad to have to separate them. To see our pleasantly plump Scarley running around and playing with her cousin really showed me and husband that she would definitely benefit from a full-time playmate. 

So, when we return from Florida, we'll be heading over to the SPCA to adopt our second daughter. YAY!

i think i can, i think i can

With my recent — knock on wood — success taking care of my lovely white mum ...

... I'm feeling inspired to add more plants to our home. My mother-in-law has given me a number of plants over the years and only one has survived my reign of terror ...

I don't have the slightest clue about where to start. Can anyone recommend any types of plants that are particularly tough? I'm looking for varieties that are flexible to our dry, sometimes sunny environment, too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

a girl can dream, can't she?

I've been spending so much time lately thinking about buying a house. I'm so distracted by bedrooms and bathrooms, decks and yards. 

But the fact is, husband and I won't be financially ready for home ownership for at least a year, maybe more. So, it's time to get off mls and get realistic. It's time to forget about what we don't have yet and focus on what we do have — a lovely, budget-friendly apartment with lots of potential.

Friday, March 13, 2009

multi-tasking craftiness

Pillowcases weren't the only thing on the agenda at last night's craft-a-thon.

I'd like to introduce you to my new summer tote, though it still needs a few edits. Rather than one narrow strap — which was pinned on for the sake of this photo — I'm going to add two wider straps, one on each side, for added sturdiness.

I fell in love with this gray and ivory fabric immediately. Now that I see it in bag form, I think I'm going to go back and get more to make a skirt!

Do you like the pleats? It was my first-time attempt, and I can safely say that it's something I'll use again and again.

I'm not sure the size of this baby is going to help  my overloaded purse issue, but what can ya do?

what would martha do?

Let me preface this post by saying I'm not a Martha Stewart fanatic like some people are, but I do give her credit where credit is due. That woman is crafty. That said, when it doubt, you really must ask yourself, what would Martha do?

This might have been the most productive craft night to date. We already had the materials we needed, so we set straight to work. HH already had her dining room table set up in her living room for our matching Singers.

I started with pillowcases. I bought some light yellow cotton with a bit of stretch in it to make cases for our spare bedroom. As I was preparing to cut the fabric, I asked HH if she thought I should just fold over the bottom, to avoid having to sew that third side, or if I should cut all the way around and do three proper seams.

At this, she promptly ran to her linen closet and whipped out a genuine Martha Stewart brand pillowcase — which, of course, had three perfectly stitched seams. "What would Martha do?" We had our answer. Once I had the case together, it seemed a little dull, so it was HH to the rescue again with some lovely ivory satin ribbon that her mother-in-law gave her. Here's the end result:

Thanks to the Fabricville sale, our spare bedroom now has coordinating pillowcases for less than $2 each. Success.