Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Celebrating Christmas While Looking Ahead to 2015

It's almost Christmas! It's so exciting, because you know what that means? It means the whole house is decorated and I get to spend quality time with my family and friends. Usually around this time, I've already wrapped up all the presents, sent out all my greeting cards and the only thing left is to wrap my mind around all the goals I aim to accomplish in the new year.

Well this year was a bit of a whirlwind and I'm lucky I even got to decorate and wrap presents. Unfortunately I didn't get around to sending out Christmas cards... and the New Year resolutions are running amok in my head. 

Some of my resolutions are big and others are just small day-to-day tasks that I would like to adopt into my life and this year I have to figure out a way of prioritizing them all.

I know that for the new year I want to blog more. My life has been so crazy, but instead of blogging about it, I've been letting it all ride into distance memory. In the new year I want to be more candid, more open and let more people into my life.

I want to take better photos, take more photos, print more photos, and send more photos to friends and family. I want to buy less stuff, make more DIY gifts, take better care of the environment and spend more time researching eco-friendly solutions for everyday life.

I want to travel more, work more, laugh more and cook even more than I already do. I want to read more, sleep more, stress less and be more organized. In fact, I hope that by the end of the year, I can actually be organized enough to send out Christmas cards in 2015.

So here's to seeing more of each other in the new year, I can't wait!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Repainting Furniture: Ikea Dresser


I recently put the finishing touches on our re-vamped bedroom dresser. It was a sturdy and reliable Ikea Hemnes dresser, with 8 roomy drawers but a scratched up top and a color that no longer matched our master bedroom.

Since painting the room different shades of gray and white, I thought it would be great to have a crisp new gray dresser as well. I went about removing the existing drawer knobs and painted the wood with one coat of primer and 2 coats of Benjamin Moore semi-gloss paint in Gray Owl (OC-52).

It always surprises me how fast painting projects finish once you actually take the plunge and start.  Before I knew it the paint was dry (I let it sit for about 2 full days for the semi-gloss to really set) and I was putting the drawer knobs back on. But before I put the black knobs back on, I polished each one with this silver wax product that I love. It allowed me to turn the black knobs into brand new silver knobs with just a few buffs of the polish.

I'm so happy I didn't have to get rid of the old dresser, and now I feel like I have a brand new piece of furniture. Once I've had a chance to post the other little projects that I have finished in the room, I'll be sure to pan out and show you how the dresser fits in with the decor of the whole room.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Ban Plastic Microbeads


Did you know that micro-plastic particles are being found in pretty much all bodies of water, all over the world? This is so terrible for all of the marine wildlife that are being affected by this, but if you don't care about that (you scare me) then you should care about the fact that it all eventually comes back to you and the food you eat. Don't eat fish? Well other animals do, in turn they can absorb those chemicals as well, and then it's another chain cycle of life that all comes back to you. Humans + Toxic chemicals = Birth defects, Illness, cancers, etc... (enough said?)

So do your part, share this infographic created by The 5 Gyres Institute and just sign this petition to ban plastic microbeads already. Your body, and the Eco-system will thank you.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Vineyard Reception Fashion: Elegant Guest Wear

The hubs and I are going to be attending a vineyard engagement party in the Niagara Region soon. I've never had to think so much about what I'm going to be wearing as I have had to for this particular event.  I need to be comfortable, but dressed up at the same time. I need bling but to still look understated. I want something sexy, but romantic at the same time... So below is my checklist of all the fashion madness that's required.

What to Wear to a Vineyard Engagement or Wedding Reception:
  • Smoking hot dress, not too short and classy at the same time. I'm loving this ruffled Susie dress from Forever Unique.
  • Wedge heel sandals. There is nothing worse than sinking into grass while trying to look cool, calm and collected.
  • Minimal Jewelry. Going for few statement pieces with a hint of romanticism. My Venezia Luce pendant does just that.
  • A pretty clutch that can hold my phone, lip gloss, a pen and some cash.
  • Neutral nail color or just a base coat like one that NARS carries.
  • Long last lip color that wont fade or come off on those wine glasses I'll be sipping from all afternoon/night.
  • A feminine perfume that helps you smell like a walking dream. This one by D&G is sure to do just that.
The best part of this whole thing is that the invitations we received in the mail are printed on seed paper like these ones below from Botanical Paperworks. I can just plant the invites and they will grow into beautiful wildflowers!

My small garden of wildflowers will be a great way to remember the union of the happy couple and you just know how much I love environmentally friendly weddings. To get invites like these to a gorgeous vineyard engagement party in the Niagara Region is just icing on the cake. I can't wait for this!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Chair Makeover: The Time I didn't DIY and Hired a Professional

A couple of months ago I bought a pair of super comfortable Bergere chairs off of Craigslist. I was really drawn to their beautiful shape but I bought them knowing that the faded fabric would need to be changed and the frames repainted. I went back and forth between teaching myself to re-upholster them or hiring someone to redo the chairs from top to bottom.

Me taking on the re-upholstering of the chairs would have meant saving money on the labor and being able to splurge on expensive fabric, but there was a huge risk of me damaging a pair of perfectly good chairs as it would be my first foray into furniture re-upholstery.

After much consideration, I decided to transfer my energy on reading local reviews of re-upholsterers. Thank God for yelp, because after sending numerous photos of my chairs to various re-upholstery shops, I finally found a guy that was awesome. He met with me, let me know that I needed about 12 yards of fabric and quoted me about $500 per chair to paint, refill and reupholster (that seemed steep at first, but that was actually the lowest of all the quotes I got and since new Bergere chairs go for double that price I went with it.)

I chose a gray shade for the frame and went with an off white canvas fabric that cost me about $20 per yard. Three weeks later, I had brand new chairs and couldn't be happier.

These past four months I've taken on about 15 different DIY projects, but with these chairs I knew I had reached my limit. I, for one, did not have any spare time on my hands to redo these chairs, nor the patience to spend tons of time learning a new skill.  Besides, I didn't want to ruin the chairs and was also sick of living in a sparsely decorated house. I was so ready for my decor to come together and I think they go really well with my new green throw pillows.

At the end of the day, I get the same pleasure from looking at these chairs that I would have had I re-did them myself. It makes me happy that I got to choose exactly the color and finish I wanted in addition to saving some money compared to what I would have paid had I bought them new.

Sometimes, you just gotta know when to give up and hire the right person to do the job better, faster, with less headache.

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Air Balloon Ride: One More Thing Crossed Off the Ol' Bucket List

I just realized that since I've been working so hard on decorating our place, I haven't made any other fun posts to this blog in a long time. I used to post photos of our trips, random findings on the internet, or environmentally friendly products that I liked, but I've been really slacking lately...

That's why I've decided that I am going to start posting on a weekly basis again and that I'll even go back in very recent history and post photos and things that I forgot to share with you.

Today's post is very recent though, it's from yesterday's balloon ride. About three years ago I bought an air balloon riding package for my hubby, and after 4 failed attempts (the weather conditions were never right), we finally got the ride of a lifetime.

I can't describe how exhilarating it was to climb into an actual wicker basket, and be lifted off into the air by manipulating hot air (the pilot did that of course). We spent about an hour in the air, but the whole experience required about 3-4 hours, while they drove us to the lift off location, set up for the flight and then deflated and wrapped up the balloon before driving us back to our car (The balloon landed in a friendly farmer's field)

It was really interesting to find out about the history of hot air ballooning, and that it all started in 1782 in France, and the first ever passengers of a hot air balloon were a poor sheep, a duck and a rooster. Animal testing is so cruel, but thankfully people lined up to be human test subjects after the animals made it back to earth safely.

It was a great ride and an amazing experience, but if you think it is as simple as hopping on and going, you have another thing coming. All in all, it required us to be patient and wait 3 years after initial booking to actually ride. Then we had to travel 1.5 hours to the meeting point, then another 40 minutes to the lift off point with the chase crew and also wait around for set up and dismantle for another 2-3 hours. If you don't mind waking up at 4:30 am to make it all the way up to the meeting point, only to have it be possibly cancelled (weather and wind conditions can be so finicky), then you are sure to have an incredible and unforgettable experience.

We flew with Sundance Balloons, an easy to deal with company with a great flight crew. Our pilot Earnie had over 40 years of flight experience and told awesome stories.  We're so glad to have been able to ride with them to cross yet another item off of our lengthy bucket list. Let me know if you have any suggestions for our bucket list. Our bucket seems to be a bottomless bucket, always ready for more adventure.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

House DIY: Dated & Brassy To Whimsical Crystal Chandelier

I've been busy searching high and low for a nice light fixture for our dining room. As I stated in my original post about moving to Chicago, I want the majority of all our decor to come from a second hand source. Buying second hand is great for the environment and it also makes room for some budget friendly creativity. I love one of a kind items that won't break the bank.

For this project, I started with a dated chandelier from the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Elgin, Illinois (Why so far? I was in Elgin getting my new Illinois driver's license and the Restore was close by and it was a nice respite after the 4 hours I spent at the DMV). First I made sure that the chandelier was working and that it had all it's parts, then $15 later, that baby was in the back of my car.

I gave it a good cleaning with a damp rag and scrunched up tape into the light tubes to make sure the electrical components didn't get a spray of paint. You can choose to hang your chandelier in a well ventilated area (from the rafters in your garage if you have them) or just place it on some newspaper, making sure to keep rotating after each side has dried. I totally forgot to take a photo of that step, sorry!

I used a $7 can of Rustoleum Metallic paint spray in Oil Rubbed Bronze to get the look I wanted. I know it looks black in the photo, but it really has a beautiful bronze sheen in person. I gave it about 2 coats, and didn't use a primer or anything. Once the paiting was done and dry, it was ready for some bling.

I ordered 6 feet of glass crystals from Amazon for about $15 with shipping. I got about 5 feet when I actually measured the garland out, but that was just enough to separate into 1 foot strands for each of the 5 arms. I also bought a bag of clear acrylic tear drop crystals for another $12. I really wanted to use glass or real crystals, but I had a hard time finding a full set of vintage ones, and the new ones are way too expensive for what I had budgeted for this project.

To attach the crystals, I used a 20 gauge colored copper wire that I bought for 4 bucks from Michael's. First I separated the crystal garland into 5 even length strands.

Then I fed the crystal strands through a 6 inch piece of wire and made a loop.

Take that loop over to the chandelier and twist around the top of the fixture. Keep your loop wide so that the crystals can move towards their respective chandelier arms.

Spread out the crystal strands and now you can attach each strand to each arm using a new piece of wire for each arm.

Next came the acrylic crystal, and that was easy as well. Just take a small piece of wire, thread it through one crystal, create a loop, then attach to the base of the light. I also added the cystals to the curved arms of the chandelier as well.

Once you've added all the crystals you would like, then it's ready to hang. I finished up by adding all the bulbs and stood back to admire my handiwork:

I'm super happy with it. Though now that it's done, I would love to eventually put a round metal cage around it to make it look like the Restoration Hardware Iron Orb Chandeliers I've been eyeing. From start to finish, this project was only around $55 and I got to save an old brass light fixture from making it to the landfill.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

House Decor Has Become My Life: Fans

I bet you're wondering why I've been so MIA... well the answer is simple, I've been busy living out of a suitcase.

Seriously, it's been 2 months since we packed up our Toronto home to make the big move to Chicago, and since then we have been living in a state of limbo. We wanted to re-do the floors, paint the whole condo/townhouse from top to bottom and also take a couple of weeks to travel to Europe for a much needed vacation.

The floors are coming along nicely, the walls are finally painted, and now we need to unpack our countless boxes and finally move in. Along the way, we hit a couple of snags, had a few leaks and more than a few contractors that were less than reliable...

I have been itching to post before and after photos, but alas, there are no after photos yet.  Give me a few more weeks, and I'll hopefully wow you with the changes that are going to take place.

For today's post, I am posting photos of some of the ceiling fans out in the market that I've had to familiarize myself with. I have always hated ceiling fans. They look dated, collect dust, and don't have the charm of chandeliers. Unfortunately for pretty chandeliers, our ceilings are just way to high, and they seem to trap air like a gassy belly after a night of binging on junk food.  Fortunately for me, once I took down the dated, oak and brass fans that were already up, I was able to find a whole series of amazing ceiling fans that were both functional and full of charm.

The photo below is of the fan I found for our Master Bedroom. I picked this baby up at Lowe's for only $139 and lucky hubby got the chance to spend an hour installing it. I'll wait to give you the full bedroom reveal once the whole room comes together.

Be sure to stay tuned for the big reveal!

Friday, 2 May 2014

DIY: Kids Dollhouse from an Old Bookshelf

This post is a little late in the making. About 2 months ago I gifted my little niece with a DIY playhouse that I made from an old bookshelf I found by the side of the road. I've just been so busy with the move to Chicago, that I haven't had a chance to edit any of the photos I had taken from the dollhouse.

So I literally found the bookshelf on the curbside and made my hubby pullover and pick it up. I then cleaned it off, sanded it and gave it a coat of primer. I followed that with a couple of coats of semigloss paint in this season's Pantone color of orchid purple. The choice of color was made easy by the fact that my niece Lila loves purple and her bedroom walls are a lovely shade of green that went with the orchid really well.

For the gabled roof of this dollhouse, I chose to connect two pieces of particle board together with glue and brackets and painted those too. I let everything dry and started putting together the contents of the rooms.

To keep things interesting, I chose to not just make a dollhouse, but a little town instead, complete with a little classroom, roadway and petting zoo. I told Lila that when her doll leaves the comforts of her little apartment, she goes downstairs to school and takes a schoolbus to the petting zoo. For the most part she seemed okay with this and has played with all the little sections at one point or other. She really seems to prefer the little bathroom the most though. Not sure if it's because the little rubber toys in there included a little rubber plunger and even a little pile of rubber poop. 

I don't know if you've ever looked for little dollhouse toys, but they are really expensive. Instead I only bought one set of actual dollhouse toys (the little sofa set for $39 from Hobby Lobby) and the rest I played my hand at arts and crafts with glue, little wood pieces and dollar store toys. The rubber pots and pans and the toilet are actually eraser sets from Dollarama. The kitchen consists of a photo if an IKEA kitchen cut out from the IKEA catalog. Other items like the window were made with found objects and rugs are made by simply cutting some felt.

I also attached a little chalkboard on the front of the dollhouse to break up the space a little. The chalkboard is on hinges and can sit right up with a twistable nail I attached to it. The stairs I made were also used to break the space up and I made those from little wood blocks, you could use jenga pieces if you had them. Some sticky astro turf made a good grassy pasture for the little animals in the petting zoo and interesting bbq and classroom stickers helped decorate the walls of the school and the petting zoo background.

I'm not sure how long this toy will last or continue to amuse her, but my sister can always revert the dollhouse back to a usable shelf for books and baskets. It feels so good knowing that I saved this little shelf from a bleak future at the landfill and helped it fulfill its destiny.


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