Thursday, December 31, 2009

A year in review

Well, another year has come to an end. It's been a very busy one to say the least!
~In January, we finished signing all our papers, and my dream of finally owning a home was finally made a reality. (It is MY first home, Cory's second.)
~February, brought along some decision making, as we made the design selections for our home.
~March was bittersweet, as I lost my job the week before we left for Mexico.
~In April, I started a very long job search, and still found time to complete my first furniture re-finishing project.
~Mid-May, I finally got a new job.
~We spent all of June packing, and visiting this construction zone to prepare for moving day: June 30th!!!
~July was spent unpacking, and getting used to our new digs, and I didn't blog the whole month!
~In August we made our first large change to the house.
~September was very busy and we had Cory's birthday and our anniversary, while making small progress on our home.
~I acknowledged my slacker tendencies as I turned a year older in October.
~November, was spent looking for Christmas inspiration, and worrying about my ailing family. Cory spent some more time in the hospital, my mom still awaits an angiogram for her increasingly worsening heart, and my dad suffered a mild stroke.
~I finally picked it up a bit and spent December, crafting and creating Christmas decorations, such as these Christmas stockings. I also changed the entire color scheme for my holiday decor into Silver and blue.

So, tonight as I look back on the events of this year, I realize how poorly I documented the events of the past year. How little I actually executed some of the well thought out plans I had.... but you can't change the past, so instead of dwelling of what I could have done, or should have done, I look ahead.

In 2010, I plan:
+ to take more pictures, with my new baby, my Canon Rebel Eos xsi, and actually print the photos. Frame them. Scrap them. Make some of them into full-sized art for our walls!

+ to start a collection of milk glass and assorted white ceramic and pottery pieces, to showcase in our dining room. And fill with cheap flowers to bring a smile to my face every time I see them!

+ to finish all the upholstery projects I have half-started, and find them their place in our home.

+ to plan and start the landscaping, that I am sure will take many, many years to fully develop into the lush beauty I want it to be. But to nurture it, and realize that growing things take time.

+ to spend more times in Goodwill, and at Antique malls, and being a "greener" consumer. It's cheaper, not to mention more fun!

+ to tackle one large craft each month. To amass a wonderful collection of handmade goodies, so I can share them with my friends and family come gift-time!

+ to work on paying down any debt we have, so that I can actually have the sort of funds to accomplish beautiful projects or purchase great pieces for our new home

+ to be a better blogger. Blogging every weekday, and occassionally on weekends. With pictures to accompany those posts.

+ to actually learn to use the camera I received, and the photo editing software that accompanied it, and perhaps use my under-used library card to research html, and design a better, prettier BLOG.

+ to have my first giveaway, now that I have started to amass a wonderful group of regular readers, and commenters, to show you all my thanks!

** there are a ton of more things I wish to accomplish/be/do/make in the new year. But I still have to get ready for my party ;) so I'll leave you all with that for now. This way, I'll actually have stuff to write about come the end of January haha!

So, here's wishing you all a very Happy New Year! Please celebrate responsibly [otherwise your shirt becomes untucked in pictures... like his] :)

Artwork Challenge

Another item I scored this Christmas (thanks Dad!), was this great RIBBA frame from Ikea.

For the last 4 months, I've had this blurry image in my mind of putting a great piece of art inside the stark white frame and it looking AMAZING! So, of course, I put it on my list.....

Now that I have it sitting here in front of me... I'm at a loss. I have absolutely no idea what I want to put inside it. Or, for that matter, where I want to put it. Initially, I thought about replacing the art in the powder room that I hate. But, it would also look sooo great in the master bath, which has NO art currently.....

Any ideas blog world? We're pretty contemporary around here... a mix of neutral classics, with some eclectic, fun accessories. We have ICI's "Antique Sterling" as the wall color throughout (a grey that reads as a gorgeous blue in our place). The floors and cabinets are a very dark, espresso color, and our trim is bright white, and all hardware is brushed nickel.

Let me know if you see any inexpensive art out there that you think I might be interested in!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Boxing Day Finds: Christmas Decorations

I have to say I was pretty disappointed with the Christmas decorations that were leftover at many of the stores on Boxing Day. Mind you, the selection in November this year, left little to be desired, so I shouldn't expect it to be better.... but I expected more selection.

Sadly, I purchased very little. Other than Rudy, our new grapevine porch reindeer, I got only a handful of ornaments, a few things for our bathroom and some gift wrap :( I might go back and check other stores around the city this week and see if I have better luck.. or better deals :)

Here's a few of what I DID find:
At $0.98 , this was one of my favorite finds. I love birds, glitter and this gorgeous blue. I wasn't sure about how it would look on the tree, but now that I see it - I am going out tomorrow to buy as many as I can find!

I bought two of these mercury glass birdies and I love them. They were also about $1.00 each, and are possibly my faves! Gonna search for more tomorrow as well.

This box of teal and white balls was the ONLY set of teal ornaments I found that match the rest of the ones I bought back in November. Very sad! $5.00 for the box, so at $1.25 per ornament, I am happy. Hopefully the closer (but much busier) Walmart will have more of the snowflake covered ones I bought....?

My initial color scheme for this year was Blue, silver and white.. but no white ornaments made their way home with me until Boxing day. I liked the assortment, and $5.00 for 12 ornaments made me smile, so it's a start. Here's a close-up of the detail:

Also making the cut were these two finds for my powder room. Both were items I almost bought (a handful of times each) from HomeSense, earlier in December, but couldn't justify the costs.

I really wanted the blue and silver towels on silver holder, but after checking 3 stores, this was the only style left. For $8.00 for the holder and 2 finger-tip towels, I figure I can always silver-leaf or spray paint the holder.

This little soap pump was $6.00- not the cheapest, but too cute to pass up again and risk losing for good. I can't get a good pic of it (cause of the round shape) but it might even find a permanent home!

For now, the ornaments that did not come in boxes are on the tree for another few days, the rest are in bags under the tree awaiting storage. I can't wait to pull it all out again next year!!

So that's a little re-cap of some of my goodies. I'd love to see what you snagged!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gorgeous Neutral Home

I picked up this month's copy of Style at Home on boxing day and really liked this home.

I love that they went with really neutral stuff throughout, and really just used the accessories to add a little punch. It would be so easy to change out your style as it changes, and not have to spend a ton.

The bamboo wallpaper really adds impact, but at the same time, really kinda reads as a neutral somehow!

This dining room is so simple and elegant. I would love a fireplace next to the dining table!

My next kitchen will without a doubt be WHITE!!! It will also most definitely have white stools with dark legs and nailhead trim!

This little kitchen nook looks so cozy and warm! A nice contrast to the stark white kitchen. I'd love to snuggle up in one of those gorgeous chairs and enjoy a croissant. Plus, I'm totally wanting that gorgeous chalkboard for my home, despite my freaky dislike of chalk.

One word for this bedroom: GORGEOUS. I absolutely love everything about it.

Talk about a grown-up nursery! This one is incredibly cute, but doesn't scream CHILD! This would take this kid through many years without needing to re-do the whole thing!! Love the bird cage light fixture that the homeowner made herself for less than $100!!

Gift Ettiquette??

I have to say this was one of my best years, gift-wise. Despite the fact that we agreed it would be a "Small" Christmas, I still ended up with a lot of stuff I really wanted. (yay). Typically, my family doesn't do so good... Even though several years back we decided to resort to lists, the gifts have usually been a little off the mark.

As I have gotten older, I have started becoming really detailed in my lists. Even going so far as to list the store, item style or name (if applicable), size and color that I want. It seems to be helping ( as evidenced by this years loot!)

However, once in a while, I still manage to get something completely out of left field. Something that didn't make the list, or something that is totally not my style, sometimes it's BOTH!

That's what happened this year. My dad, the great guy that he is, knew we needed a rug for our currently unfinished basement. I had been asking about an old one stored in his basement for some time now. But he thought it better to go out and buy me a new one. Points for him. Unfortunately, it is not my style at all. It's a very formal kilim-style rug, with a large fringe, and colors that appear no where in my home. He also apparently spent a fair bit on it, and does not want me to use it in the basement, but bought it for my main floor.

I of course, smiled and thanked him graciously. However, it's been bugging me since. I really don't think I will use the rug as he intended me to. It is too big for our main floor, and even if it was my style, I didn't want a rug for this floor.

What should I do?

~Should I keep the rug, and use it in the basement (where it is greatly needed), and just shut up about it? Hoping that if he ever sees it, he'll understand?

~ Should I call him and tell him that I really appreciate his kind gesture, but let him know that the rug doesn't really go with the rest of the stuff we currently have? Perhaps suggesting that I would love to go out with him and we could choose one together that would fit a little better?
** note: the possibility of hurting his feelings on this, makes me feel sick**

I know I should just call him, but I don't want to seem like a brat. However, since I know it's a pricey gift, I figure it makes sense for it to at least be spent on something in our style, so we can actually use it.

Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions? Please know I am not being un-greatful!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A seat..... and storage

One of the items on my Wish List this year was a storage bench or ottoman for the front hallway. In the last 2 places we've lived, the stairs opened into the entry way, which meant there was always a place to perch when putting on one's shoes, or tossing a purse, etc.

In this house, the entry is it's own little area, separate from the rest of the house, which I really liked. What I didn't like, was trying to pull on boots while either sitting on the floor, or balancing on one foot, trying not to leave hand prints on the wall or knocking pictures off said walls as I came crashing to the floor.
Better yet, I sometimes sat on the stairs to put my shoes on, and then walked from the middle of the house to the door..... then cursed and dusty footprints later!

We definitely needed something. I started re-upholstering an ottoman last year, but when we moved, some of the materials got buried in the garage. I'm gonna wait for warmer weather before I try and track them down this spring!
Thankfully, my mom was so kind as to grant my wish and got us a cute little chocolate brown leather cube ottoman.

This little guy sure likes it. We were initially worried that it would the new place for him to stretch and scratch his claws... but it's now where he likes to sit (especially when mom is taking pictures of his new perch!).
I'm worried it might actually be a bit too small for the space, but at least I know that if down the road, the blue one gets finished and works better here, this new one will have no problems finding a new use! But this shows it, in scale to the actual wall and area it's in.... I can't really go much bigger.

I'd love to be able to put something under this mirror, but then walking space would be nil!

In the meantime, it's the perfect solution. It's small, unobtrucive, comfortable. Plus, it's small enough for us to bring it in if we need extra seating, or even a little sidetable, when I we are laying on the couch and are too lazy to lean over to the coffee table!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

As I mentioned in my last post, I was incredibly blessed this year. In addition to a "real" camera, I got a ton of beautiful things to take pictures of! 95% of the items on my list this year were housewares-related goods, and my family obliged my desire to fill our new home, and treated me to a good portion of the list!! Thanks everyone!!
I also headed out Boxing Day shopping today, with the hopes of snagging some great-priced Christmas decor. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed with the selection at most stores. It took me all day to find a store with any gift-wrap left! However, of the few items I picked up - I am very happy with my purchases, and think I got great deals.
My absolute favorite purchase of the day, was one that I spotted just a few days before Christmas - this fantastic grapevine reindeer from Walmart . His price tag was $50, a little out of my price range for something for the porch.... I had however mentioned to Cory that if his price tag came down, he'd be coming home with us. So say hello to Rudy:

(excuse the mess on the siding, it's new but I'm not sure from what....)

I was so happy to finally fill this big space on our front porch! I had been thinking of a big wicker chair or something like that, but this is so much better, and much more festive. Yet at the same time, I am really happy it doesn't scream "Christmas!!!!" , like all those tacky blow-up Santa lawn ornaments do! Just a really perfect, simple addition.

The only other adornment we had, other than the wreath were these pretty little trees. Unfortunately, it got too cold too quick for me to rig them up properly and so they sit staggered on the steps, with some gorgeous cords visible... sigh

Thankfully, in the grand scheme of things, everything looks pretty pulled together as a whole! Now if only the builder could get their stuff together, and cover those stair treads, so my porch could actually look finished!

I'll be sharing more of my new stuff over the next week, be sure to check back!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays from our house to yours!

We have been beyond blessed this year! I feel incredibly spoiled, and thankful.

My top gift of the year has got to be my new Canon Rebel xsi Eos Camera. I have wanted one for quite some time now, and I am eager to learn the ins and outs and take beautiful pictures to share with you here!!

I'm off to share the rest of the evening with those I love, so I will leave you with some shots from today!
This beautiful boy loves to pose for the camera!
I love this photo of the living room! I actually thought it looked a little "busy", but here I think it looks perfect!
From our house to yours, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

an update

Just a quick hello to let everyone know I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I have however, been incredibly busy!

Friday, we finally moved into our new office building at work. It was long-awaited, but very stressful and exhausting. I worked many late nights in the days coming up to the move, as well as now. My goal is get everything and everyone, unpacked and organized as quickly as possible, in order to regain some sense of "normal". In the meantime, outside of work, I have to say I prefer to use my donwtime working as little as possible.

The weather here, is cold and there is a ton of snow. The roads are awful, and given the time of year, I have opted more than once, to stay inside and avoid the icy streets and busy stores!

Lastly, with Christmas parties to attend and host, I have been far too busy with cleaning and preparing to get any work or home-related projects completed. I do hope, that with some time off from work, and the holidays wrapping up this weekend, I can finally get around to completing some of the projects on my list.

I plan to post through out the holidays and share the festivities going on around here, so stay tuned! Hope your holiday plans are rounding out wonderfully!
Photo courtesy of (sorry my links are not properly working)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas To-Do List: Current Progress

I am beyond happy to say that my Christmas to-do list is coming along much better than expected, and I attribute that to the fact that this is the first time in 11 years ( holy cow!) that I have not worked weekends/ part-time in addition to full time.

Here's my list:

~ create and order Christmas party invites
~ get exterior lights up before it gets cold
~ make new Christmas wreath
~ get tree set up & decorated
~ decorate house interior
~ buy Christmas poinsettia
~ design and make new Christmas stockings
~ make glass block presents for under Christmas tree
~ finish Christmas shopping
~ wrap all Christmas gifts
~ start "Christmas Binder" for next year
~ take lots and lots of pictures
~ buy food for Christmas party
~ Christmas baking

I am happy to report that almost everything is done, and ahead of schedule. I have a few more gifts to buy, and theorectically, I could be done, but I opted to stay in the last few days. We've had some record-breaking cold weather around here, and I much prefer to cuddle in front of the fire with a kitten, than slave out in the cold, only to battle holiday crowds. I plan to hit the stores the rest of this week, late in the evening!

We're also doing a big batch of baking later this week! So stay tuned to see our holiday care packages for everyone!!


Friday, December 11, 2009

DIY Designer Christmas Stockings

What can you make with the above supplies???

Last year, I decided I wanted to make new stockings for the house. This year, we switched up our Christmas color scheme, so it was the perfect time to make those new stockings.

I knew exactly what fabric I was going to use, an embroidered silk for mine, and a shantung silk for Cory's. Unfortunately, I had only a little of each fabric left, and I found the silk to be a little too "floppy" to use for a stocking, so I was planning on lining the fabrics with felt. **This turned out too thick, and far too cumbersome.... I abandonned that plan and went with a half silk, half felt stocking for both of us - I'm happy with the results!

~ fabric (for front)
~ felt ( for back)
~ faux fur or other trimming
~ tassel or ribbon or loop of fabric
~ sewing machine
~ matching color thread

How to:

1. Find an old stocking the right size to use as a stencil. Pin to felt, use a pen to trace stocking. Cut out of felt.
2. Pin felt stocking shape to fabric. Trace and cut out fabric stocking piece. You should now have 2 stocking shapes (one in felt, one in fabric)
**TIP: If you are using only 1 type of fabric for your stocking, FOLD YOUR FABRIC IN HALF WHEN YOU CUT!!!! Otherwise you will end up with 2 pieces of fabric facing the SAME WAY..... which will mean when you sew them together, one will have a good side, the other will show the bad side!!!!!!!******

3. Pin the fabric and felt shapes together (good sides in, together). Sew together, as close to the edge as possible, while still making sure to get both pieces of fabric in your stitches. (Sewing as close to edge as possible, will allow for a bigger opening, and the ability to stuff more gifts inside!!)

4. If there is a lot of excess around the edges, trim it off, being careful not to cut your stitches. Turn your stocking right-side out and have a peek at it!! It might look a little awkward, but it probably just needs ironing, and some trim to make it pop!!

5. Next up is adding your trim. I used white fux-fur cause it was cheap and easy!!! Cut a piece of faux fur that is long enough to wrap neatly around the top of your stocking, and wide enough to give you the look you want (add about an inch for seam allowance!)

**TIP: WHEN FAUX-FUR IS CUT, THE ENDS WILL SHED!!! You need to fold them over, and stitch them down. Then run a wet finger along the raw edge, and any remaining fur will come off on your hand!**

6. Fold and stitch over the top and bottom edges of faux fur, to give it a finished look. Then pin ends together to form a loop that would fit at the top of your stocking, stitch together!!

7. Now, for the hard part: attaching the trim to your stocking. I had a really hard time figuring out how to do it without seeing the ends, and I can't for the life of me explain it. Plus, when I went to do Cory's it wouldn't work, so I cheaped out and hot glued it on!!! Easy Peasy!!

8. Add something to hang the stocking from the mantel. I happened upon the cutest little tassels which were perfect! I hand stitched one on, the other I just ran through quickly with my machine... it's up to you!
9. Steam your stocking, or press it to get nice, clean edges! Hang, and fill with gifts!!

What do you think? I think they are a great quick fix! I got to match my color palette, and it didn't cost much,
~ fabric: I already had the scraps of silk laying around the house; $0
~ white felt - Fabricland -$3.20 for 1/2 yard ( I used half of the half) ; $1.60
~ tassels -Fabricland - ( didn't need but thought it would be a nice touch); $2.00 each
~ white faux fur - Walmart - (I cut the first one wrong, so I needed 2 packs) around $4.00 each
** I already owned all the notions, glue, thread, etc.
Total: $6.80 each!!!
A great little holiday addition for under $10!!! Can't beat that!
What do you think?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keeping Busy & Keeping Cozy

Posting this week has been kind of a bust, and I apologize. Besides working late, I'm exhausted as Cory is on early mornings, which means I get up twice.... grrr.
Plus, winter has definitely arrived here in Edmonton, so all I want to do when I am off work is curl up with a blanket in front of the fireplace.

Luckily for my to-do list, on Tuesday, I actually tackled an item on my Christmas list. I had decided to make new Christmas stockings this year, in order to match the new blue and silver theme we have going on this year.

I headed to the fabric store, and despite many, mnay re-dos and trials and errors, I have fully completed 1 gorgeous stocking. I hope to get the 2nd one, and all the pics finished tonight!!

However, once the stocking is finished, I've very little left to do. Finishing my shopping, wrap those gifts, our holiday baking (closer to the date), and some cleaning!!

How's your December coming along? Are you ahead or behind schedule?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lowe's is coming to Western Canada

The majority of blogs that I read, are written by Americans. While I love getting great ideas and inspiration, sometimes stuff I like is only available in the US.... .

Well, this morning I found out that one more American big name, is headed from MY PROVINCE in the new year!

Lowe's has just recently announced that they'll start their venture into Alberta in 2010 by opening 3 stores in Calgary, and then expand into Edmonton ( where I am), and Vancouver in the coming years!

I have to say, I'm excited to see what they have to offer!! I know a lot of people have found some great finds there, such as John & Sherry!
If anyone has any debate on which Home Improvement store is better - Home Depot, Lowe's or Rona, I'd love to hear why you think so!
Drop me a line!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bright, Shiny Gifts!

What's that glowing under our Christmas tree you may have asked...? Why, presents of course!!!

Last year, Cory's friend's wife created these great glowing presents for centerpieces at a party we went to. I fell in love, and then forgot about them, until we were there last month picking something up. Mike was in the midst of helping her on them, and I immediately begged Cory to get me supplies from work!

~carbon-fibre drill bit
~ some sort of paste (to keep the drill bit and glass from getting too hot and shattering)
~ glass window blocks (various sizes)
~ mini Christmas lights
~ ribbon
~Adornment for your presents


1. Using your carbon-fibre drill it, and the special paste, drill a hole into the side of your glass block ( I got the bf to do this, as I had no idea what I was doing, plus I hear that if it gets too hot, or you touch a seam, it can shatter!!)

2. Let block cool overnight.

3. Use damp rag to clean up paste from hole area. I did not know how to clean up the glass dust inside block, so I didn't!

4. Stuff mini lights inside hole (someone suggested LED, to keep it cool, I didn't wanna pay that much... I used regular lights!)

5. Wrap block like a present with ribbon

6. Add any adornment, like bells, or pinecones, etc.
7. Plug your present in, and smile at how wonderful it looks! Place under tree (especially wonderful before and after the presents make their way underneath!!)
** They actually looked best when there were no presents under the tree.... to really light up the space.**
I'm also gonna search for some narrower ribbon, but for now, they match the theme and get the job done!!! If anyone tries this, please let me know how they turned out!!