Tuesday, June 30, 2009

june goals: truth time

After a relatively unproductive May, I gave myself a list of tasks to accomplish by the end of the month. Let's find out how relatively unproductive June was, shall we?

— Craft with HH and launch our Etsy shops. We did craft on a regular basis this month and have hatched a genius plan for opening our Etsy shops, which will be among the to-dos for July. Score: 50%

— Accomplish at least two things on our 2009 Amazing To-Dos list. OK, we get a 50% on this one, too. We did take a lovely hike earlier this month at a nearby provincial park.

— Organize all of my craft supplies. Umm ... Fail.

— Try at least 3 new recipes. Zucchini Loaf, aka Dilly Loaf? Check. Sweet and Sour Pork? Check. Leek chips? Check. Success!

— Truly finish the spring cleaning (since it's pretty much already summer). The hard to reach places are still hard to reach. Fail.

Total score: 40%

At least I have something to work toward in July ...

lovely sentiment

Monday, June 29, 2009

nope nope nope

— I always remember my Not Me Monday posts. I didn't forget to write one last week.

— I did not mistake tsp. for tbsp. when adding dill to my Zucchini Loaf over the weekend. I did not feel the need to re-name the meal Dill Loaf. I will definitely eat all of the dilly leftovers.

— I do not put my bare feet up on the dash when I'm in the passenger seat, and it doesn't leave footprints on the windshield of the car. And Husband doesn't find this annoying. He loves it.

— I do not take whole weekends off from blogging. I post faithfully each and every day. 

Friday, June 26, 2009

opposites attract

We've had Ellie for almost 5 weeks, and though we weren't sure how Scarlett would manage with our new addition at first, we're sure now that they were meant to be sisters. But the more Husband and I talked about it, the more we realized that they're really nothing alike. For instance:

Scarley is big. Ellie is small.
Scarley is dark grey. Ellie is white.
Scarley likes to sleep under the bed. Ellie sleeps on top.
Scarley takes her time eating her food. Ellie inhales her food.
Scarley is slow. Ellie fast.
Scarley's fidgety. Ellie likes to cuddle.

Maybe it's true that opposites attract.

Don't they look pleased to be having their picture taken?
Cameo by sister-in-law C.

i love lamp

When I moved out on my own into my first one bedroom, the apartment had no overhead lights, and had little expendable income, so I picked up this set from Walmart for less than $50 if I remember correctly ...

Now we're in a two-bedroom place that has a few overhead lights, but not many. We still rely largely on lamps and these babies are starting to cramp my style. Again, I find myself with little lamp spending money, so it's time to get creative.

I'm thinking I could paint the bedroom lamp white and add a blue or brown shade. Anyone tried to re-wire a thrift lamp? Me + exposed wires = disaster, I expect. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

it's time for a reunion

It gives me great pleasure, and makes my heart go pitter patter, to announce that by mid-July, we will have a new addition in our home.
Yes, this is TiVo, not a DVR, but you get the point. Yes! Recorded television is within my grasp. I can smell it from here.

I had a short affair with a DVR before I got married, but being a logical, money-saving adult, I chose to abandon my love in exchange for a cheaper deal from another cable provider. Well, that deal is over now, and it's time to rekindle our relationship.

As a matter of fact, for the same price that we were paying with our former provider, we will now also have a DVR and HDTV. Same price. And just in time for Big Brother, no less.

That also means that our shiny flat screen will now live up to its full, high-definition potential, and Husband will never leave the house when golf is on again.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

shutter envy

During a quick trip to the flea market over the weekend, mom-in-law and I mulled over a set of three folding shutters. My in-laws recently moved to a new home with many windows to cover, but she wasn't sure about the size. Even though seller was letting them go for a whopping $5, she decided to pass, since they probably wouldn't fit. I didn't give them a second thought, since I have ugly, awkwardly-shaped apartment windows that I hide behind thick curtains.

Then, blog karma kicked me in the butt, and I saw this on The Nesting Place:

And then, BHG.com posted this today:

And now I have major shutter envy.

new from ny

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

the 4 Rs ...

... reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink.

Bear with me, this is going to be a long one — but for good reason.

Husband and I attended the waste management meeting in our apartment building because they were giving out free gifts we wanted to learn best recycling and composting practices — especially since we found out that 67 per cent of the trash being put out by residents of our building should actually be composted or recycled.

Kathy Johnston, the self-proclaimed Recycling Princess of HRM, came to our building on behalf of the city to educate us and only six people showed up — including the residential manager, her granddaughter, Husband and I. How sad is that turn out? There are 120 units in our building, some of them housing four or more people.

Turns out Husband and I were both guilty of not knowing all of the rules. Husband's a stickler about putting all plastic in the blue bag, but it turns out, only No. 1 & 2 of the seven types of plastic can be recycled in our city. All others go in the trash. Johnston's reminder: 1 and 2 go in the blue. Add a little cha, cha tune behind that rhyme if it helps.

Sometimes, in an effort to conserve, I wash out food containers (yogurt, etc.) and use them to store leftovers. Bad idea. All plastic breaks down. Even No. 5, which is the most durable type, will eventually break down into your food. And never microwave food in plastic. You know all those clear containers that are stained orange? That's because some of the plastic particles melted into your food during heating and were replaced with spaghetti sauce. Delish.

The same logic goes for bottled water. The plastic eventually breaks down. So many people thing they prefer the taste of bottled water to tap water — that taste is plastic!

Want to do a science experiment? Get a hot Tim Hortons coffee. Let it sit until it's cold. Pour it out and refill the cup with hot coffee. That second cup, according to Johnston, will leak. It's because after being heated up by the first cup of hot coffee, the plastic broke down. Where do you think the plastic went? Right into your coffee. I've often heard people complain that making Tim Hortons brand coffee at home doesn't taste the same. Probably because there's no plastic in it.

— Of note: Coffee cups are always garbage, even the ones that seem like they're only made of paper.

And the "reusable" totes that we're all buying for our groceries? Not recyclable. When they rip, wear or break, they're garbage. Plastic grocery bags were recyclable all along. They go right in the blue bag. Now, we have to use the reusable bags or pay 5 cents each for the plastic sacks. A little counterintuitive, no?

Recycling doesn't have to be as complicated as people think. Just separate bottles and cans from paper and bundle cardboard separately.

— Surprising discovery: You don't need to remove staples or tape from paper or the clear plastic windows on envelopes before recycling.

By inspecting our building's compost bin on a daily basis, Johnston deduced that about three or four people in our building are composting. That's it. At least, starting last night, Husband and I can add ourselves to that number. Johnston provided us with lots of info and tips for this:

— Boxboard, this means cracker, cereal, pasta boxes and the like, are compostable.
— Cat poop is not.
— Use a coffee can with a tight-fitting lid to keep the compost in; this keeps the smells within the container and it's small enough for an apartment-sized kitchen.
— Keep the compost can in the fridge to keep the food waste from breaking down as quickly and thus preventing oders.

At the end of the 45-minute session, we left with a hand full of blue bags, a nifty magnetic clip to hold our recycling guide on our fridge, and a bucket load of knowledge about how to preserve the Earth.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

happy father's day

To my Dad, Dad-in-law, Step-dad, 
Grampie B and Grampie K,
Have a fabulous day!
Love, Me

Friday, June 19, 2009

some work and some play

I have this image hanging on the wall next to my desk at work ...

I found out here that it was actually created for Oprah at Home Magazine by Jillian Ditner. I came across it in an illustration magazine of some sort that was floating around the office. I liked it, so I put it up.

The more I look at it though, the more I see what it represents. Not sure if my subconscious picked up on this from the beginning, but this image shows what I consider to be the best of both worlds. I love playing house wife. Even though I work full-time, I like to come home, cook and craft, and do things with Husband. When I'm at work, I'm always thinking about the projects I could be doing at home. That said, when I'm at home, I think about things going on at work, and often dabble a bit in one work project or another, read articles or peruse industry sites.

I'm not a stay-at-home wife and I'm not a workaholic. I'm a little bit of both.

Here are a few more Jillian Ditney lovelies for your Friday ...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

i heart blogging

Eek! This week is so busy, I almost missed MamaKat's Writer's Worskshop. Don't worry though, there's still time! My chosen prompt:

Tell us about your blogline — how long have you been blogging, when did you start, what were/are your goals for your blog?

I started this blog on February 10, 2009. Why? Because I was yammering on to my creative partner C about something I'd read on a blog — this was just after I'd discovered Google Reader and was completely obsessed. Still am really, though I digress — and she turned to me and said, "You should start a blog." I said, "OK" and the rest is history.

The biggest challenge I faced was trying to focus on what to write about. If I simply mused about anything and everything that popped into my head, I would lose my day job for blogging all the time, and you would get very, very bored. I blogged for several weeks before I leaked the link to a few close friends and family members. I got some great positive and constructive feedback and continued to write. It's a great outlet for me — an advertising copywriter — to be creative in ways that doesn't include a client's approval. 

I love that lots of family and friends read and comment. Since I live away from many of my fave people, this blog is the ideal way to fill them in on what I'm up to. For the people I don't know and the many lovelies I've met through blogging, it's a fun way to share tips and tricks on almost anything. I subscribe to more blogs in my reader than I'm willing to admit and read each post for a different reason. Some write about cooking, some about crafts, lots about newlywed life or their families. Each blogger has her own story to tell. It's a lot of fun to be a part of.

To read more from workshop writers, click here.

weekly date

Making our own little traditions is one of my favourite parts of being married. Husband and I have started a new little ritual — visiting the library on Monday nights. It's all part of our money-saving plan. A few books and movies provide a week's worth of free entertainment.

If you aren't currently using your local library, you're missing out. The movie titles are just as current as in the store. This week we picked up Becoming Jane, Drillbit Taylor and Twilight. Blockbuster = $6 each. Library = free!

I visited a new section this week — the cookbooks. Why didn't I think of this before? Rather than buying them, I can check them out of the library, experiment with some recipes and write down the ones I like for future reference. This week I'm trying out Rose Elliot's Vegetarian Low-Carb Cookbook. I'm already planning the next week of veggie-friendly, high protein meals. 

Between watching movies, reading and cooking, we've got plenty of free entertainment for the week. What do you do for fun that's free?

blog love

Have you visited le love? It's one of my new faves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

sorry, mother nature

On our way to work this morning, Husband and I were hit with a shocking piece of information. Posters in our apartment building are informing tenants that the city recently performed a garbage audit on our six-storey building, and it turns out 67% of the waste in our garbage is recyclable! 67%!

Husband's pretty good about making sure paper and cardboard make it into the blue bag. Me, not so much. Though I'm sure neither of us sort things properly, which may mean more to the landfill than we realize. The statistic about our building floored me. I can't believe that we are contributing to that kind of waste. 

A big part of this issue is laziness. The garbage shoot is conveniently located down the hall, while recyclables have to go outside, and we actually aren't sure where the compost is supposed to go. Until we saw these signs, we didn't know our building provided a composting program. 

To date, our only excuse for not composting is the fact that we live on the 5th floor of our apartment building, and I have always been worried about fruit flies and stink. So I did a quick search and found several lovely options for kitchen bins.

I have been known to openly complain about the amount of litter around our apartment building and along our city streets. I hate it when people spit their gum out on the sidewalk or in the grass — that's litter, you know! But now I'm realizing, I'm not any better than someone who litters. If I can't be bothered to sort my recyclable and compostable waste, it's essentially adding to the litter in the landfill. I swear, I'm not completely stunned. I was aware of all of this before now, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to be reminded. Husband and I are looking forward to the information session being held in our building next week. It'll be a great way to get us back on track.

There. I've outed myself. Now I'm going outside to hug a tree.

Monday, June 15, 2009

a girl needs bubbles

Every once and a while — not often — I enjoy a hot bubble bath. I'm not a soaker. I don't like to stay in the tub until my fingers and toes are prunes. I like to be there long enough to read a chapter or two and unwind.

This leads me to reason No. 947 why we need to buy a house. Our apartment tub isn't adequate. Firstly, even though I trust my own cleaning skills, there's something sort of weird about the fact that who-knows-how-many other bums have splashed around in our tub. Secondly, it might have the worst design I've ever seen. The back of the tub (opposite the faucet) is straight up and down — 90 degrees to the floor.

So, for those of you keeping track, our dream home now includes a bathroom with a clawfoot tub, a pedestal sink, modern tiles, ruffled shower curtains and stunning light fixtures. I'm nothing if not specific.

not me monday

* I didn't skip yoga to go out to lunch with a co-worker late last week. I always stick to my workout schedule, and always eat a bagged lunch from home.

* I am not one of those shameless people who ignores hockey all season long and uses the final game as an excuse to invite friends over. 

* I didn't burn three batches of pita chips before finally getting enough edible ones for a dinner party. I always set the timer when I put something in the oven. And I would never forget to turn the oven off when I'm finished.

* I don't use the snooze button on my alarm clock. Husband doesn't have to make sure I'm out of bed before he leaves for work. I never get back in bed after he leaves. And I certainly didn't miss my bus this morning because I stayed in bed for an extra 30 minutes hour.

tales of a female nomad

Thanks to Maggie (of Magchunk), I've finally found a can't-put-it-down book. Thanks for the recommendation!

I picked up Tales of a Female Nomad at my local library. It chronicles one woman's journey to learn more about other cultures and more about herself.

On her website, author Rita Golden Gelman explains:

I am a modern-day nomad. I have no permanent address, no possessions except the ones I carry, and I rarely know where I’ll be six months from now. I move through the world without a plan, guided by instinct, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities.

People are my passion. Unlike a traditional nomad, when I go somewhere, I settle in with the locals long enough to share the minutes of their days, to know the seasons of their lives, and to be trusted with their secrets. I have lived with people in thatched huts, slept in their gilded palaces, and worshipped with them at godly ceremonies and dens of black magic. I have also cooked with women on fires all over the world.

When Maggie discovered the book, she invited her readers (that includes me!) to check it out — a mini Magchunk book club! When we're finished the book, we're going to have an online chat about it in the last few days of June. Don't worry, with a book this good, you'll have no trouble finishing by then. Feel free to pick it up and join us in the discussion!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

project pillows

I had a couple throw pillows wasting away in the closet. That's just not right. What to do ... what to do?

Step #1: Cover them up.  

Step #2: Plan some embellishments. 

Step #3: Ta daaa!

OK, maybe I skipped a few steps .. and maybe I didn't sew up the bottoms of the pillow covers before I took this photo .. but you get the idea. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

better late than never, right?

MamaKat's prompts (which are supposed to be answered on Thursdays) are just too good this week. Rather than one long, rambling response, I think I'll weigh in on all of the topics. 

1) Describe something someone has done to make you feel special.

My lovely creative partner C thought of me on her recent trip to NY and brought me a stunning watercolour print. I love it and it made me realize how well she really knows me and my taste. I'm lucky to work closely with a gal who has also become a close friend.

2) Name your current addiction ... we can get through this together.

Thanks to migraines and at the advice of my neurologist, I'm having to kick several long-standing, delicious addictions. One is Diet Coke. No more aspartame for me. If you, too (HH), are a Diet Coke lover, you feel my pain on this one.

3) What have you been busy doing that's keeping you from updating your blog? How hard is it for you to get back into the swing of blogging when you take time off?

This is a great question for me, since I haven't been keeping up on my blogging schedule lately. It's really just everyday life that's preoccupying me. Playing hostess, spending time with Husband and enjoying the arrival of warm weather. I can usually get back into the swing of things easily after a day or two hiatus — I work best under pressure. I've got a few good posts up my sleeve though — stay tuned!

4) Write a letter.

Dear lovely friends A & J,

I miss you guys. 
A, I hope New Zealand is everything you hoped and more.
J, I hope you love your new job, home and city.

Love, Me

5) Where would you like to be?

On a beach, in the hot sun, reading a good book.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

didn't your mother teach you any manners?

In the life of a commuter, today was a doozy. Prepare yourself people, this is going to be a rant.

This morning, on the #34, the guy sitting next to me on the standing-room-only-bus decided he should call his cellphone provider to demand information about his bill. Really? Is there no other time in your day for you to call them? I've had my share of frustrations with cellphone-cable-Internet companies; I feel his pain. But the bus is not an appropriate venue in which to voice this pain. He proceeds to yell at the poor operator on the other end, "... No, I can't write that information down, I'm ON THE BUS." Well whose fault is that buddy? In the middle of his tantrum, he spilled his coffee all over the floor, so half of the seated passengers had to lift their feet for the rest of the ride to avoid getting their sandaled toes wet. Nice.

On to Round #2. On the way home, I took #33, which delivers people to the 'burbs, so it was one of those accordion-linked, double-length buses (read: many, many seats). Now that you've been properly briefed, picture this: I decide to make the most of my commute by trying to do a little more work before I get home. So, I set my purse on the seat next to me, haul a couple books out of my bag and start taking notes. A woman walks up, stands next to me and clears her throat. "Excuse me ..." she says, looking down at my bag. ARE YOU KIDDING? There were eight. EIGHT. empty seats in front of me. If the bus was full, I would definitely not place my belongings on the seat next to me. Come on! But maybe she's craving some human interaction, you ask? NO. She proceeds to put on her headphones and blast pop tunes so loud that any and all reading I was trying to do was futile. Lovely.

Every day, a.m. or p.m., there's a story. Do these people act like this all day? When they're around friends and family? I just don't understand it. 

Am I being unreasonable? Please, commiserate with me.

pretty as a picture

Monday, June 8, 2009

b is for better

We weren't joking around at last week's craft night ... and I think this photo illustrates what I mean ...

It had been almost three weeks since HH and I crafted, so we had to seriously make up for lost time. While she and her sister L worked diligently on mixed media frames for their mom's birthday, I took on a painting project of my own.

Remember my botched B

I decided to give it another go. And the second attempt wasn't better. Actually, I think it's probably worse.

Barf. What's wrong with me? 

But then HH pointed out the C she has hanging in her kitchen ...

... and my inspiration was renewed! So, I broke out the red.

And about 849 coats later ... 

And a little sandpaper around the edges gave it a bit of distressed feel.

What do you think? Better?

Friday, June 5, 2009

i have an etsy crush

I've been spending a lot of time on Etsy, browsing for tips and tricks to a successful store, as HH and I are crossing our fingers to finally launch by the end of this month.

During my Etsy travels I discovered the oh-so-lovely dazeychic and her amazing prints. This is her store. This is her blog. I'm not sure I'll last the weekend without making a purchase.

june goals

How on Earth is it June 5 already? Where's the fire, 2009? 

May was crazy, filled with goodbye parties, house guests and social functions. I blinked, and it was over. 

Now, with 30 25 glorious, and hopefully sunny, days of June stretching out ahead, I've decided to make a firm to-do list of everything that must be accomplished. At the very least, by making it public, it'll guilt me into getting it done.

— Craft with HH and launch our Etsy shops. We've managed to meet once already, but there will be several more craftapaloozas required to get Magenta Revolution officially up and running.

— Accomplish at least two things on our 2009 Amazing To-Dos list. We haven't done any of these yet! Shame on us! We do have one camping trip planned already this month, so we're well on our way.

— Organize all of my craft supplies. Paints, fabric, paper, embellishments, ribbon ... it's exploding out of every drawer, box and bin in our spare bedroom. Every time we have house guests, I have to ram it all in the closet, out of sight. This is not working. Something has to be done.

Oopsie, got a little distracted there for a minute ...

— Try at least 3 new recipes. We've been in a food rut lately. Pasta, pizza, burgers, Chinese .. it's getting pretty boring. Anyone have a must-try recipe to suggest?

— Truly finish the spring cleaning (since it's pretty much already summer). This includes window washing and cleaning in the annoying places, like the space between the counter and the stove.

If I can get through these things, while also attending several evening meetings and events, going away for two weekends and sleeping through the night, I'll be pretty proud of myself. Husband, put on your project hat!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

worth a thousand words

I'm about to make a new year's resolution. Six months late, I know. But better late than never, right?

Husband and I splurged on a Nikon D60 just before our wedding. Sadly, we've had it for about eight months and I still haven't put the time into learning how to use it properly. To date, I've been a point-and-shoot kind of gal (shh ... don't tell my photojournalism professor).

I've been inspired by lately by some of these ...

[by Whitney @ Darling Dexter]

[posted by Amy @ Rainy Saturday]

[posted by Joanna @ Cup of Jo]