Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Basement painting!

Our home has a large finished basement. When we moved in, like the rest of our house, the walls were an outdated pale yellow. The worst part was that the previous owners had fixed a few nail holes and painted over them with a different outdated pale yellow, making the walls all patchy. In the stairwell, the baseboards, ceiling and rails were ALL painted that same yellow. Barf. Since we only use the basement for the laundry room (for now), repainting wasn't exactly on the top of our to-do list. In fact, we have completely repainted the upper two floors and it was the last thing to paint.

The tiles in the basement are my favourite tiles in the house (maybe the only ones that are really my style at all.) However, they are a greyish colour that could make the basement look cold. So, I picked a grey-brown color that brought out the warmer tones in the tile. We also made sure to paint the rails, baseboards and ceiling in the stairwell white. As for the rest of the baseboards, which are not white, we decided to leave them for now. We will see if we get around to painting them white, too. We might also one day get around to replacing all of the light switches and outlets. They are all mismatched and either a yellow-beige colour or a metal. I often have trouble understanding why these were ever installed! Unfortunately, these are throughout the house...

All in all, the paint definitely updated the look of the basement and I'm quite happy with it. It still looks a little barren, so eventually we will need to find a carpet and some better fitting furniture. For now, it works! 

If only there were some trick to magically make the bar look nicer...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

This is my first earth day as a parent, and has me thinking about some of the ways to raise kids with the environment in mind. I know, that is a bit of an oxymoron. Even having kids might be one of the worst things you can do for the environment, since overpopulation is becoming a problem for our poor, overburdened earth. However, I don't think people are going to stop having children anytime soon (aka, ever!), and Joe and I certainly plan on having more than one. So, what can we, as parents, do to lessen our negative environmental impact?

Joe and I try to be environmentally responsible as much as possible. Henry is still new, so he doesn't need much yet. They say all they do at this age is EAT, SLEEP and POOP. Add in a mixture of happy times, playing and a bit of fussiness and it is pretty accurate. With that in mind, here are some of the ways we have been trying to lessen Henry's environmental impact at this stage.

1. EATing: Well, we breast feed Henry. Not only is it natural and his perfect food, but there is no waste or plastic or packaging involved. That being said, I fully understand and respect that some mom's can't make this happen. I came very close to switching to formula in the first weeks... It is not easy! But it was worth it!

2. SLEEPing: When we first brought Henry home, we had the thermostat set down to 16 degrees at night. Our midwife told us it was too cold, so we turned it up. After a few weeks, I realized that Henry was a little furnace and would sweat through his clothes at night. So, now we have the thermostat set down at night again (although now it isn't quite SO low!) I'm not sure what else could make sleeping more environmentally friendly (?)

3. POOPing: For the first 2 weeks or so of Henrys life, we used disposible diapers*. As diapers contain plastic, they don't exactly biodegrade very easily. I always felt guilty throwing out yet another diaper. Then, we made the switch to cloth and haven't turned back! I know that cloth diapers aren't perfect (they still require a LOT of electricity and water use), but they do seem to be the better choice. An even better choice would be the elimination communication technique that I talked about here. I haven't been doing it as much as I'd like. Maybe I'll put in more effort again, now that it's on my mind!

*Next time, we might look into a newborn cloth diaper service for those first few weeks. No washing means less work for new and tired mom and dad!

4. Clothing: I am very fortunate to have a (very generous) sister with two boys. She has been giving us all of her hand-me-downs. That, mixed with generous gifts from family and friends, has made it so that Joe and I have not had to buy ANY clothing for Henry! We plan on continuing dressing Henry is used, hand-me-downs and thrifted clothing as much as possible. 

5. Toys: Most of Henry's toys right now are either cotton or wood. We hope to keep it that way! I say that now, but we will see what time brings :) I've been learning to keep my opinions to myself, since I have learned and changed so much since becoming a Mum. It is very humbling. 

As for the future, we hope to continue raising our family in a more environmentally positive way. Some of the things we will continue to do or hope to do:

- Eat vegan and raise our family vegan. This is by far the best thing you can do if you want to lessen your families' environmental impact. Too much? Eat vegetarian, or simply cut back on your animal product consumption. Every little bit helps!

- Walk/Bike/Stroller/Run/Skip/Scoot... you get the idea. We hope to use our car as little as possible. We have even talked about becoming members of Community CarShare  and ditching the car altogether!

- Plan trips in nature: Joe and I love camping/hiking/canoeing/biking/swimming/cottaging and enjoying nature in general. It is something I hope to pass onto my children. To me, it is important to know what you're trying to preserve!

- Choose your home wisely! This means a few different things to me. 1: Live where the action is. Somewhere that helps you to avoid car use by having things nearby. For us, this means living downtown. Right now, we don't. That means we will probably need to move. More on that in the future. And 2: Live in a perfectly-sized house. We won't mind if our next home is a bit of a downsize.  To me, it is important that all of the space in our next house is usable space. A smaller house also means less space to heat in the winter. 3: Make your house as efficient as possible; whether this means reinsulating, replacing windows, upgrading appliances etc... there are many small changes that can make a big difference when it comes to your home. We recently went on a tour of the REEP house to get some ideas. If you live in or near KW, you should check it out!

- Go to the local market: It is easier to know where your food is coming from when you can buy it straight from the farmer! We love our local farmers' market and go every week. This is where we buy most of our food. It also helps us to prevent using packaging. We buy the rest of our food at a local health food store, where they even let us use our own jars in the bulk section! This prevents a lot of packaging, which we love.

- And more!

I'm not going to pretend we are the most environmental people in the world. However, we do try our best to live lightly and make changes towards sustaining our environment. What do you do to reduce your negative environmental impact? I would love to know!

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Kitchen Saga Continues...

In my kitchen refacing reveal post, found here, I was very excited about the guy I found on Kijiji to do the job.

Today...less excited! You may also remember that I had mentioned a couple of cupboard doors had been mis-measured (see picture). The guy said he'd have them remade and ready in a week. Well, now it has been over a month!

I waited a week, and nothing. Then I sent about 10 e-mails, and called even more times leaving messages, and nobody responded. Just when I thought I was being screwed over, we got a call from the guys' son, who had some big story about how is Dad was no longer able to work and he was trying to tie up loose ends. (I failed to mention in my earlier post how these 'excuses' had made getting the cabinets installed the first time a frustrating experience, too). Although it was sketchy, I arranged for him to come today, at last, to install the cabinets.

Of course... he shows up late, and empty handed! Apparently the paint job isn't done. He asked if he could take the doors for reference, and I guess enough was enough. I told him I was extremely frustrated and he would have to leave the doors (I had a bad vision of him taking the doors and disappearing for good). He tiptoed out apologetically after taking a few last measurements, and said he'll be back tomorrow at 10:00 am. I will believe it when I see it. I might have also scared him away, since my ranting at him occured while I was also holding a screaming Henry.

The worst part of it all... I've been waiting around my house on this beautiful, sunny day! I guess I'd better get outside to let off some steam. Ahhh... I needed to vent! That feels much better.

All in all, I guess it has still been worth it. The kitchen looks good and was a great price. I need to focus on the positive! On that note, outside I go!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Henry at 2 months

It's hard to believe that 2 months have already gone by with our little guy. I'm beginning to understand how fast life begins to go once you have kids. He is turning into one sweet little guy with a lot of personality!

Easter weekend reminded me of how lucky Henry is. He is a part of a great, big, loving family and is so loved by so many. Here are a few photos from our weekend. Enjoy!

With the Barlen aunt and uncles

With Grandma

The ladies of my family

Auntie Erin and her cute nephews

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Veganism update

As I mentioned in an earlier post (found here), Joe and I have started eating a plant-based diet.
It has been going so well!

I have to admit that for a while I had a few "cheat" foods that I would treat myself to once in a while. This included things like Dairy Milk chocolate bars, a donut at the market, or cake at a birthday. Since our main inspiration for eating plant-based was for health reasons, I felt like a little bit of animal product here and there wouldn't hurt, and felt justified treating myself.

Until I watched the film "Vegucated".

A friend of mine posted about it on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I had to watch. It outlines the more ethical reasons for avoiding animal products. Oddly enough, although it was a bonus of our new lifestyle, animal rights were NOT on the top of my list for why I was choosing to eat this way. To be honest, I hadn't really looked too much into it. "Vegucated" showed scenes of factory farms, and completely changed my views. I haven't turned back and have completely cut animal products out of my diet since watching that film. I can't help but picture what I saw whenever I am faced with any type of animal product temptation. I even had some easter treats that were given to me in my pantry for a week, eventually giving them away. (For me...that is a big deal! I am a chocoholic...) The bonus of this is that I am feeling even healthier! As you can see by my cheat foods... they were all unhealthy treats. I have even been losing weight, which is welcomed for this new mama! (I have, however, discovered a few vegan friendly alternatives already... Lindt dark chocolate, anyone?!)

I plan on getting the book "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer soon, as well, to further educate myself on eating a plant-based diet. I have been loving this new lifestyle, and love that I have time these days to really delve into it.

By the way... "Vegucated" happens to be on Netflix right now, so go ahead and watch it!