Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bedding

As our closing date is slowly and painfully approaching, I am getting antsy about decorating our new place. I am constantly on Pinterest putting together ideas.

While I'm not sure we'll buy much furniture before moving, I do feel ok with getting some of the smaller things that I have been dreaming of.

One of these things is white bedding.
Last year, Joe and I went out to Ikea in search of a new duvet cover. I had full plans of buying a white duvet cover, since I have wanted one for a long time. When we were there, however, my colour-loving side ruled and for some reason we ended up buying a floral-patterned cover, seen below:

And in person in one of our spare bedrooms:


While it is pretty, it was not what I dreamed of.
So finally, I got my white duvet cover!

I love it because it can stay neutral if I feel like it:


Or I can add a bit of colour for my colour-loving side. Which usually wins. Yep, this is how our bedroom looks right now (below). Love it! In our new place, I will be switching our dark wood headboard with the white one seen above in the spare bedroom. We won't need the dresser any longer, and I prefer the look of the white headboard these days.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New Flatware

For our wedding, Joe's parents offered to buy us flatware.
Before now, we've always used mis-matched cutlery from who knows where.

After 8 months, we finally got around to picking something!
We went with the "Wave" set from Bed, Bath and Beyond.


And here it is, with our pizza dinner from last night. (It looks much better in person...but you get the idea!)


Joe and I both liked the feel of a thinner handle. I love it!

Before and After

This week I googled my address.
Somehow, there was the picture of our mud room before we re-did it on the net! (This was obviously from a previous sale of our home).

Anyway, in this post, I showed the make-over of our mud room, but I didn't have a before to show a before-and-after, to show how much we really changed it: So, here it is!

Before: (I know, quality is not great) This was before the flood, and before we ripped out everything including the ceilings and the walls!




After:


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Living Simply

Living Simply is one of my life goals.

I was thinking about this while taking out the trash tonight. Why? Because each week Joe and I only tend put out one small (half-filled) white garbage bag of garbage between the two of us. It probably weights less than a pound this week. This got me thinking about our garbage in general. We fill up one and a half recycle bins each week*, mostly filled with junk mail that gets dropped off in our mailbox. The heaviest of our garbage is made up of our compost bin. It is pretty heavy.

This got me thinking about the idea of living simply, and how in some ways living simply has become our normal.
I'm going to give you some examples of what I consider living simply:

1. Being happy with your "needs", not your "wants"

 An example: I don't know the last time I bought any new clothes. While I am getting pretty sick of the same work clothes every week (and all clothes), I can't justify buying more and more just to have more variety. I have all that I need. Regardless of this, the LARGE majority of Joe and my clothing comes from thrift stores.

Of course, I am very aware that we just bought a 3-bedroom home. This was simply thinking ahead to our future needs :) I'm also not saying we only have the things we need. Our biggest fault is probably thrift stores. I mean, how can you turn down a beautiful pottery mug that is only $1.00, even though you already have a cupboard full at home? We are only human :)

2. Eat Local

Joe and I buy most of our groceries each week at the local Kitchener market. It is such a great resource for our community. We buy local eggs, fruits and veggies, cheeses and flowers. It feels good to know where your food comes from. It is also comforting knowing your food is fresh. It is also better for the environment, and gets us thinking about eating the fruits and veggies that are in season and available. This weeks seasonal meals were Butternut Squash and Orzo with Sage and Parmesan (Yum!) and local turkey sausage with fried market cabbage. (Luckily for me, I have Joe, who loves to cook. This makes it a lot easier to eat local, non-processed foods as it takes a lot more prep.) We always make large batches to last us through the week.

At the grocery store, we usually only buy a few staples like milk, juice, yogourt, canned beans and meats.

3. Having a good work-home balance

I think it is really easy nowadays to let work and obligations take over the majority of your time. I definitely have weeks where there is less time for family, friends, and myself. But I think it is really important to find a balance. This is one I definitely need to improve on.

4. Being frugal, or as I like to call it, thrifty! 

This is pretty similar to #1. But it's still important on its own. I have always been very frugal; I very rarely feel the urge to own extravagant things. Nor do I need things to be new. I choose more for function. I already mentioned our love of thrift stores, right? Joe and I also tend to not buy each other gifts. We express our love in other ways.
*I'm still working on finding a balance here, as I can sometimes be frugal to a fault...or seen as cheap. I think I've really improved over the past few years as I am much more aware of this. I'm sure my family and closest friends can agree!

5. Reducing your environmental footprint

Of course, this one is ongoing for me.
I have made many efforts the past few years to be environmentally aware and to actively live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. I've made a LOT of small (and not-so-small) changes, including:
- Using canning jars to transport my lunch instead of plastic or throwaway packages. (Joe gets the credit for this idea!)
- Changing my job location so that I am able to walk to work now (this cut out about 1hr of driving per day! Wow! Plus I get 40 minutes of exercise instead. Bonus.)
- Going down to 1 car (and soon, maybe 0? Something I've been contemplating)
- Eating less meat (I was a vegetarian for just over a year... but now I'm choosing to simply limit my meat. There are many weeks Joe and I do eat vegetarian still.)
- Buying local foods whenever possible
- Biking and walking whenever it is an option
- Programming our thermostat to go down at night and during workdays, keeping it low at all times.
- Not buying pre-packaged foods; avoiding plastic packaging whenever possible
- Teaching my students environmental awareness whenever possible
- Living near all of the amenities that I need. Yay downtown!
- I could go on.


I am aware that sometimes living simply will be a challenge. Especially with buying a new house. We are going to need a lot more furniture to fill this house. And I have many paint project ideas for it. I am aware that these things are complete opposites of some of the ideas I've just presented. I think it's most important to find balance in everything and remember that home and family are the most important for me. I want this home to be great for that reason.

I'm sure I'm missing some of the point that I wanted to make, but in a nutshell, living in a more simple way makes my heart happy!

*Please note: I don't consider recycling to be the be-all and the end-all of environmental living. In fact, it could probably be more environmental itself. But it is a step in the right direction I suppose. I try to teach my students the idea of reducing first. To me this is the most important of the 3R's.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Picture Wall Inspiration

I really like the idea of having a picture wall.
I've talked this over with Joe, and he likes the idea, too.
We were particularly inspired by this photo which I found on Pinterest:


The reason we liked this so much is not only because of the neat old frames, but because of the subject: Birds! Joe LOVES birds. To the point that he went out and spent *a lot* on a fancy pair of binoculars this winter. He spends a lot of time outdoors looking into the trees and trying to catch a glimpse of something neat. So, nothing seemed more fitting than a bird-inspired picture wall for us.

All of this being said, it is clear that the owners of the above picture wall must have spent quite some time collecting different pictures of birds. We, on the other hand, had a better cheaper quicker idea.

As seasoned thrifters, we knew it would be easy to find an assortment of antique frames at the second-hand shops in town. So, for the past couple of weeks we have been collecting antique, golden frames. (We decided on using only gold frames, but this could be done with all different frames, too.)

I also had the idea to look second hand for a bird book... you know, one with bird drawings in it. Luckily, I did find one! First, I chose a few bird pictures that I liked. Of course, I had to make sure that they fit into the frame without showing any writing or anything. Then, I would trace it and cut it out.





Next, I put it the pictures in the frames. After doing a few, it was starting to look great, comme ├ža:


But I realized that something wasn't quite right. I LOVE the little black and white Lyre bird on the far left. So, I decided I wanted more black and white pictures. As I was feeling particularly creative, I decided to draw one, and it came out pretty good! Here it is:


I was so pleased with how it turned out that I decided to draw another*. Here they are side-by side!


We don't plan on hanging up our picture wall in this house. For now we'll just display them in the kitchen on the ledge (as seen). However, I'm really excited about this bird project! And I'm pretty excited that it got me sketching again...it has been way too long.

Overall, this project has been fairly inexpensive:
Frames: About $7.50 so far.
Bird book: $2.25
Total: $9.75
Time: A few hours :) Totally worth it.

* For the record, I did draw using inspiration from some bird sketches I found online. So although they look good, they are not overly original. I'll have to ease back in!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Decorating Personality

Having bought our new house, I'm often (perhaps obsessively?) thinking about paint colours and furniture I might want for our new place. It's fun because it's almost like an empty canvas in that we have plans of making some major colour changes when we move in. (And some bigger changes down the road...) We also don't have enough furniture for our new place, as we are going from having only one sitting room to three.

I've been thinking a lot about my decorating style, and other decorating styles as well. I have narrowed my style down to a mixture of 3 different styles...I like to take a bit from each. Here are my 3 decorating personalities:

1. White, White White: I often complain to Joe because in all of my House & Home magazines, everything is white. White walls, white furniture, white accessories, white kitchens, white bathrooms. But I secretly love the look of a white room. However, I don't think I'd ever go quite so extreme as to have an entirely white room... I think that even warm neutrals make a room more cozy. That being said, I do think every room should have white highlights, in some form.


2: Neutrals: I do love neutrals...in fact, I probably lean towards having neutral bases when it comes to walls. But I do find a room with ONLY neutrals to be a little bland. But they sure do look cozy! I also love neutral furniture, but I realize in my home now all of my chairs and couches are colourful or patterned. I think the next furniture I buy will be more neutral.


3: Colour obsessed: I absolutely LOVE a bold room full of colour. My concern with colour is that what is in style today may be out of style 5 years down the road. While I would love a colourful house, I do need to think about what is more classic (i.e. white and neutrals) that will be in style for years to come. It only makes sense financially and environmentally.


Which brings me to what I have decided is, combined, my decorating personality.
I think what I like is a neutral base with colour added on top through furniture and accessories. A neutral base is always in style...and it's easy to change carpets and throw pillows. Of course, I think that every room should have at least a little bit of white. And I will most likely have a few colourful, non-neutral rooms since paint is relatively cheap and easy to change.

Here are a few rooms I've pinned on Pinterest that I think really compliment my style. (Did I mention that I like tufted sofas?)







There you have it!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Exciting times!

Today is my first nephew's 1st birthday!

Just one year ago today, this was me meeting him for the first time :)




I am just getting home from his party where I was a photo-stalking auntie. What a fun day! Here are a few of my favourite photos of him from today.



Brady and his Mom - My beautiful sis, Kate.



Dancing dude



Mesmerized


Yum!


Family photo. Braden was pretty tired by the end of it all.

Today got me thinking... this Spring/Summer will be full of exciting times!

In May, as you already may know, Joe and I will be moving into our new home.
Early this summer, Joe and I are probably going to go to Europe.
In the summer, my sister-in-law, one of my best friends, and two of my favourite cousins are getting married!
My sister, Kate (pictured above), and my friend, Kate, are both having babies this summer. Can't wait! I love babies.

It is an exciting year for us! I'm looking forward to it all! I feel so lucky to be surrounded by so much good news and a great family and friends.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hotel Inspiration

I was away for a couple of days this week in Toronto for a teaching conference. I got to stay in the Royal York hotel with 5 of my coworkers (and about 370 other teachers!)

We had a blast.
Staying at the Royal York (right downtown) was definitely interesting. The hotel was huge, and a bit musty, but I loved it! It had a really neat and elegent feel to it. I just thought I'd share some of my favourite things about it:

1. The chandeliers. I love chandeliers. And they were everywhere. The concert hall where most of our meetings were held had the best chandeliers. I have a vision of one day having a room with a nice chandelier. Here are a few of my favourites.




2. The rugs: They were bright and patterned.


3. The tile: It looked better in person. I felt like a creeper so some of my photos were taken pretty quickly....


4. The wallpaper: This picture doesn't quite show the soft patterns. It was nice!



The stay was fun. The company was great! And it felt like a much-needed break from the everyday. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Closing Dates!


We've been working on getting an earlier closing date on our house. And, it's official! May 23rd will be the day we say goodbye to our beloved first home and hello to our new place!

I'm already getting the urge to start packing things up...even though we have almost 4 months to wait. In fact, I have 3 months and 19 days. Or, 107 days... 2579 hours... 154750 minutes. You get the idea...I'm anxious to move in!

My new internet addiction is Pinterest. (If you don't have Pinterest yet, and would like to join, message me and I'll invite you.) At first, I wasn't sure what I thought about it. I didn't really get it. Now that we've bought a new home, however, I'm addicted! I am constantly looking for new decorating ideas and paint colours and inspiration for our new home. I'm finding myself even searching the internet more in general for ideas, which I didn't really do before Pinterest. It might be a bit of a problem. I mean, weren't Facebook and my blog enough to keep me occupied?

Anyway, one of the things I've been trying to decide is exterior paint colours for our home. Right now, it is white brick, brown roof, and brown front door and garage.


It's not terrible, but I LOVE fun door colours. My current house has a purple door. I love it with the yellow brick, but purple probably won't do for our new place. I do tend to love the bolder door colours, but I think with the white brick we'll need something a little softer.

So far, some of the colour combos I've thought up are as follows:

1. taupe garage/door sides and a pale yellow door :








2. Taupe garage/door sides and a pale pinky peach door:




3. Another option would be a darker taupe and a pale green door:




I'm not sure what Joe would think about option #2. I could also foresee this pink going out of style pretty quickly. But I think it's beautiful! So, we'll see! I may end up scrapping ALL of these ideas and going for something more neutral, like painting it all taupe and simply decorating around the doors with something colourful. We shall see. All I know is that the reddish brown has got to go.