Archive for the ‘home’ Category

Decorating with Colour

There’s something about a new house that brings the designer out in people you know — your real estate agent, your new neighbours, your family, completely strangers — and their advice is always the same, if you’re going to update the paint keep it neutral. I understand where they’re coming from, colour can be very personal, but the whole off-white, beige, neutral colour scheme just doesn’t work for me. When we bought our first house we didn’t do much in the way of painting because we had more important things to take care of. But after a few months the neutral colours in the place were bringing me down. We went and painted every room, bright bold colours: ox blood red, royal blue, mustard yellow. And when it came time to sell the place we had no problems, no issue with colours.

So when we bought our second home, paint was one of the first things we did (though some rooms, like my son’s, are still waiting for a good colour of paint). We followed with the same colours we used in our old place. Many people who visit say they love the colour but they could never do it in their own place; it’s far too bold. I find the colour warms the rooms up, translates our house into a home. The rooms may be darker, sucking the light into the walls versus reflecting them off of a white, but that just gives me an excuse to buy funky lamps. And forget the idea about not using bold colours in a small place. We painted our small downstairs bathroom a dark red and it has such a rich feel, like a royal throne (pun intended).

A forest green for our foyer

Mustard-like yellow for the living room with green accent

Dark red for the kitchen with black and stainless accents

Red kitchen connects to a burnt orange dining room

Granny smith apple green with yellow accents in youngest' bedroom

Blue in the upper stair hallway

Blue hallway leads to read and yellow office space

Red office with yellow accents

Even if you don’t think you can do a whole room with one colour, try painting just one wall or the ceiling or a banding. There’s a great article on EverythingMom about painting with colour, specifically red, and it has lots of great tips. You might be surprised at how much your room will warm-up with a little (or a lot) of colour.

Christmas Day: 12 Hour Photo Essay

We had great fun participating in Andrea‘s 25 Days of Christmas blog post. We sailed with Santa and ate with him too, did crafts and puzzles, even went to the symphony and many other things, some of which I just never got around to writing about. Instead of focusing on work and general household tasks, we actually took time to enjoy the days leading up to Christmas. I would definatly do it again.

Another activity Andrea did this year was create a photo essay of Christmas Day, capturing 12-hours of Christmas, one photo each hour, giving you a peek into what Christmas was like in her house. Christmas always seems to be over in a flash so what a great way to capture it all: the frenzy, the calm, the chaos. So I did the same thing, capturing one photo every hour on my iPhone starting at 7:12 a.m. and ending at 8:12 p.m.

Here’s a peek into our Christmas Day.

7:12 a.m. Bedroom Surprise, Puffle Gifts from Santa

8:12 a.m. The Token LOUD Gift from Relatives

9:12 a.m. Countdown Clock Christmas Greeting

10:12 a.m. Disney Princess Overdose

11:12 a.m. Chocolate and TV for Breakfast

12:12 p.m. Army Men Protect the Santa Train

1:12 p.m. Merry Christmas Greetings with Grandma via Skype

2:12 p.m. Enroute to Visit Nana and Gramps

3:12 p.m. Quality Street Chocolate just for ME

4:12 p.m. Driving Back Home

5:12 p.m. Tiki Inspired Rum and Eggnog

6:12 p.m. Turkey Dinner

7:12 p.m. What’s Left after Christmas Fun

8:12 p.m. Relaxing with a Christmas Vacation Moose Glass

I sort of thought I’d end up with a lot of photos of us sitting around but our day was actually pretty busy. I’m looking forward to enjoying this week and not doing too much. How was your Christmas?

25 Days of Christmas: Day 6 – Mini Me Christmas Trees

If you celebrate Christmas you probably have a Christmas tree in your house. We do. We have a few actually: a fake one upstairs in our family room, there’s the Elf tree on the second floor and our real tree, the main Christmas tree, in our living room.

We love Christmas trees so much that each of my three kids have their own mini tree; a mini me tree since they decorate their trees themselves with whatever they want. So for our 25 Days of Christmas activity for day 6 we dug out the trees and let the kids decorate them.

My 89-year old has a pink tree. It was originally a Dora tree with Dora branded ornaments. The ornaments have since disappeared but the very pink tree lives on. This year my daughter has gone very minimalist, just having lights on her tree and letting the pinkness shine out.

My 6-year old son has my old Christmas tree. I remember buying this tree when I celebrated my first Christmas at my first ad agency job. I still have all the original pieces, including the light string which is might actually be dangerous, and the original box with its Zellers $9 price tag. When I decided to leave the agency world and work from home, the tree came with me and my son inherited it.

Of course he’s added his own touches, decorating his tree with some of his favourite Hot Wheels cars.

My 4-year old has a sort of Charlie Brown Christmas tree, really skinny, but she liked the shiny pink and silver metallic branches. She thought about covering her tree with Polly Pocket dolls (we have a few of them) but when I told her that items on the tree stay on the tree, she changed her mind. Instead she opted for some mini Santas. Sometimes the Polly Pockets visit.

Every night while the kids are getting ready they plug their trees in and enjoy their creations. And on Christmas Eve they can actually sleep with their tree lights on all night so Santa can find his way to their room and leave a small gift under the tree; ideally something that will keep them busy for a few hours Christmas morning so I don’t have to actually get out of bed at 4:30 a.m.

How are you celebrating the Christmas season with your family? See what we’ve been up to for our 25 Days of Christmas.

The Ghosts Woke Me Up

I’m my own worst enemy. I haven’t had a full nights sleep in, uh, eight years. That’s a long time to be sleep deprived. It doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a night owl. Knowing that one of my kids will keep me from sleeping that night I really should go to bed early but my routine bedtime seems to be around midnight.

I think my mind is conditioned to wake in the middle of the night now or 3 a.m. in the morning as was the case last night. My 3-year old who usually comes in to see me at that time was sound asleep in her bed, yet here I was awake. Or at least half awake. Maybe it was because I was only half awake, but I swear I heard something moving out in the hallway. I strained my ears (and eyes) a little to see if it was a small child shuffling down the hall or the cats chasing dust bunnies. Nothing. Actually the sound seemed to stop as I tried to determine what was making it. I would start to drift off and the sound would start again. This time I sat up (because we all now how much better our hearing is when you’re sitting). It didn’t help that my husband, who was sound asleep beside me, seemed to be snoring each time the sound happened making it impossible to determine what was causing this noise. It seems the laser beams in my eyes directly into his brain to get him to be quiet weren’t working.

Of course now that I figured out that it wasn’t a child or the cats my mind started filling with all sorts of other possibilities. I mean we live in an old house, built in a time when people were born…and died in their homes. I’m really not a big believer in ghosts but that didn’t stop my mind from freaking me out with thoughts.

So now I had to figure out this sound or I would be up all night imagining what it could be. I was wide awake now. I got out of bed and walked down the hall and waited. Was it rustling paper? Was there a mouse in the hall closet? Was that a faint outline of a small shadow person at the end of the hall? I stood at one end, straining both ears and eyes. Was that…rain? Heavy rain was hitting the back roof. It sounded unlike any rain I had heard before but it was indeed rain.

With my discovery made I was starting to feel tired again. I went back to bed. I closed my eyes. I started to drift back to sleep.

Then my 8-year old woke me up saying she couldn’t sleep. She heard a strange noise outside her room. Good thing my body is use to being woken up in the middle of the night.

Getting Ready for Halloween

Yesterday was cold and wet and leaves were all over the ground. It was a perfectly, eerie afternoon to work on getting the house entry way spooked up for Halloween this weekend.

I have two intermittent helpers during the day though I think they had more fun playing with the skeleton pieces in the front yard than actually decorating.

A few chilly hours later we turned our porch into something a little scary. Okay, maybe not much but at night it might look scary (meaning more Halloween candy for me).

Boo! Happy Halloween.

The Fall Home Show: A Family Playground

When you own a home it seems most of your spare time goes into renovating it, fixing it, improving it, beautifying it. And when you’re not physically doing the work you’re dreaming about it or planning it. We’ve lived in our current home over 5 years now and the doing and dreaming and planning never seems to stop. So this past Saturday we went on a family road trip, to the Fall Home Show.

We usually go to the National Home Show in winter but the lovely Dee Brun (@cocktaildeeva) was going to be doing some great holiday drink demos at the Fall show which I wanted to see. Plus this cooler weather has me thinking about getting a sauna and fixing that jail papered bathroom of ours.

The Fall Home Show is actually smaller than the National Home Show (taking place in the Better Living Center down at Exhibition Place) but that was sort of nice, not to big to seem overwhelming. We went early on the Saturday and it was pretty busy.

I must admit I was surprised at how patient my 3 were at the show; usually they’re bugging to head home once they discover there are no rides or kid activities for them. This time they eagerly walked up and down each aisle, wanting to visit every booth. I quickly figured out why. Seems most booths had little candy dishes and my kids were basically going from candy dish to candy dish.

We did stumble upon Nintendo‘s booth. They were promoting the new Professor Layton DS game (The Tea Master’s House). You could sit and enjoy an herbal tea while playing one of the game levels on the DSi XL. The kids loved it (I enjoyed the tea). The DSi XL looks pretty sweet, larger screen play and I’m already a fan of Professor Layton’s logic puzzle games. After much cajoling we were able to convince the kids to move on.

That’s when my husband found his distraction, some sort of sound proofing insolation from Sonopan. We are looking at renovation our basement into an office/sound room and this material doesn’t take up much room (which is great when you don’t have a lot of ceiling space). He even sat in a sound proof room to test it out. After much cajoling we were able to convince him to move on.

My favourite discover was the iyashi Massage Chair from Panasonic. Every time we go to the home show you see these monstrous massage chairs. They may do a great job giving you a wonderful massage but where would you put these coffin like things. The iyashi Massage Chair actually looked like a piece of furniture and it can give you a mean shiatsu (just don’t hold a cup of tea in your hand when you do it).

I was excited to see you could get free wifi at the show, sadly I couldn’t get it to work on my phone. But it is a nice feature when you’re out and want to check out details on a find or send a photo to someone or just tweet about spilling hot tea on yourself while having a shiatsu massage in a chair.

It was great seeing some of the people I follow on twitter at the show also, like Tassimo Canada (@tassimocanada) and Tomboy Tools (@tomboytools).

As it approached early afternoon we decided it was time to go. Sadly we didn’t get to see Dee’s show but I heard is was smashing (no surprise). Someday I will get her to make me one of her cocktails. The Fall Show has us thinking again on some home plans and it was a fun morning. Now we have a few months until the National Home Show, when we can experience the fun all over again (maybe without the kids and candy).

My Lazy Decorating Technique

When you buy a house you try to look beyond someone’s decorating style; you try to focus on the structure and space. A new coat of paint can transform a room to fit your style and is much cheaper than having to rework a main floor because you don’t like where the doors or windows sit.

When we bought our last house we did just that, especially in the main bathroom (actually the only bathroom). It was more than twice the size of our current bathroom and the large cupboard would be big enough to hold our washer and dryer. Sold.

The bathroom was always one of those things on our list that need to be redone but things like knob and tube wiring and asbestos had to take priority. The bathroom has gone through many renovations, in our mind. We’ve never really done anything because with a bathroom you only want to do it once.

But I guess after five years the black and while ‘jail’ wallpaper must be getting to us. It doesn’t help that the previous owner did such a poor papering job, with bubbles and corners flipping up. It was one of those corners that finally got to my husband. He pulled a little and a whole sheet came down. Later that day I pulled a corner and more came off. It’s been like that every day down, each time one of us goes into the bathroom another piece of plastered wall is exposed.

This probably isn’t the best way to remove paper (some spots come off clean and easy while others leave a residue of paper lining behind) but it does get me thinking about finally doing something with the bathroom, even if it takes another five years to get all the paper off.

Nasty New Neighbours

It seems no matter where you live you end up with a neighbour you can’t stand, or at least I do. Perhaps I’m too picky. Neighbours are probably one reason why I want to get out of the city. We live in a great neighbourhood, with so much within walking distance; the kids have a big yard, for the city that’s amazing; we have easy access to transit. Yes I’m always on about getting out. The only thing I can think of is the neighbours. I don’t want to live in a field in the middle of nowhere; I love having people around. I just don’t want them breathing down my shoulder or looking over my fence.

I was starting to come to terms with my neighbours, until these guys moved in:

Now I hate my neighbours even more. How could they build a home so quickly? It feels like it was just overnight they appeared. Thank goodness we’re pretty busy this August. This means I can wait until the cold weather arrives and then evict them. We’ll see if I can tolerate them that long.

Celebrate Canada Day with a Gun Salute

It’s Canada Day! Families will be celebrating all over the country. Some will have backyard BBQs and pool parties. Other’s will travel to visit family and friends. There will be fireworks and balloons, face paint and beer, lawn chairs and sunshine.

Things aren’t so different at our house; we’re celebrating too, though maybe not in a traditional way. Maybe it’s our proximity to our friends to the south or maybe it’s just a child’s fascination with…um, water. Either way, here’s our tribute to Canada, a 3 kid gun salute

Happy Canada Day! How are you celebrating?

The Birthday Cupboard

A tweet by Real Life Sarah (@RealLifeSarah) this morning about buying gifts last-minute had me thinking. With 3 kids we have our share of birthdays, not to mention parties they’re invited too. I’m not very good at getting out to buy gifts. In the past I would be one of those moms who would buy it on the way to the party. Thank goodness most independent toy stores offer gift wrapping as a service or else I’d be putting a bow right on the store bag.

This started to become stressful. And shopping with the kids in tow meant having to explain to reluctant little ones that the shopping was for a gift for someone else, not them.

But I think I found a solution. We have a Birthday Cupboard. During toy sales, like the big Mastermind Annual Warehouse sale that just happened, I scoop up great finds and store them away. My birthday cupboard is full of Lego sets (big and small), Hot Wheels, Barbie outfits, books, games, arts and craft supplies and more.

For my son’s most recent birthday I had a Lego set we picked up on the Lego store’s clearance table. He didn’t care that it wasn’t the latest Lego. It was Lego and that’s all that mattered. I didn’t have to stress about running out to the store to buy something plus I got a great deal on what could have been an expensive gift.

Now when my kids come home with party invites we head to the Birthday Cupboard, I pull out 2 or 3 items that might be appropriate and the kids pick. This way they feel they’re still choosing the gift for their friend (versus mom choosing it) and they know what it is when their friends open it.

We’re lucky now that our kids’ interests are pretty generic; they’re not requesting certain gifts by name. And yes, sometimes we do go out and buy a specific gift item when the time calls for it but for all those other times the birthday cupboard has been a relief.