Monday, December 31, 2012

One Resolution

** I started writing this post a few days ago, and then yesterday ran across a similar sentiment on one of my favourite blogs. I debated whether or not I should post mine, but decided that since it's great and useful information, the more that's out there, the better. Any similarities you encounter are complete and utter coincidence as this post was independently written by myself about my own experiences.***

Just before Christmas, I came across my 2012 New Years resolutions. Although I've been on and off the "I don't make resolutions because you're only setting yourself up to fail" train, the last few years, I decided to drink the koolaide and go full on resolution mode. Last year was the first year I really followed through to a point where I can say I am content with the changes I made.

It is in part a result of increased motivation, but also can be attributed to the types of goals I set. In the past, a resolution may have read "Workout 5 times per week" whereas last year it read: "Do more: be more active". It was this little change in verbage that helped propel me to making some changes. If I didn't have time for a full five workouts a week, oh well. Maybe I'd walk to the ten minutes to the market instead of drive on a rainy day. Maybe I'd run around and dance a little more while cleaning and cooking.

I also let go of a lifelong belief that in order to exercise you need to take a couple hours out of your day, drive to a gym, and kill yourself to the point where you never want to go back. But you're supposed to go back, but you don't want to, so you don't. So I didn't.

 I ditched the gym memberships, and the "must workout for at least one hour" mentality, and found something that worked for me. I started running. I started small. Just a few kilometers that would take me just over 20 minutes. I was slow, but I ran. When I discovered the Nike running app, I started to get competitive with myself, and wanted to beat my time. Then, I wanted to run further. After a while, I committed myself to 6K runs. I have a great 6K route that I'm comfortable with, and I know it takes me around 34 minutes. Who doesn't have 34 minutes? But then there were times I wanted to run further, longer. And so I would run 10K. But I never beat myself up if I only ran 6K. Or, if on occasion, I only ran 3K. The point was that I was out there. I was doing it.

I had many other resolutions that I followed through with as well. And, upon examining each resolution  and the effects they had on me, there was one resounding theme.

There were no cut and dry goals that I had to "meet" in order to check them off my list. As long as I made tiny improvements, there was no "failing". Every single resolution was a way to live my already great life, just a little bit better. And that's all we can really hope for, right?

This year, I am setting that one resolution, to live better, and I'm bullet pointing it. To be honest, I wouldn't even bother writing anything past those two words optimally, but I do like to have a reminder of what I want to acheive, so bullet points it is. These bullet points will evolve over the year. Some will go, some new ones will come.

You will also see there is no"try". I used to put "try to eat healthy" in my resolutions. No more. There is no try, only do. Thanks Yoda. But really, don't give yourself a way out. You ARE going to live better this year, and every year following.

  • More home cooked meals. From scratch. Less packaged foods. 
  • Less coffee. More tea. 
  • Less salt. Less sugar. More herbs and spices.
  • More fruits and veggies.
  • Continue to make consitent excercise a part of life.
  • Be kind. Everyday. Go out of your way to be kind.
  • Donate your time. There are people out there who need it.
  • More books. Less TV. Less blogs.
  • More hubby time. Less computer time.
  • More face to face friend time. Less facebook.
  • More real. Less tech.
  • More scheduled. Less random.
  • More organic. More nutrients. 
There are more, but you get the gist.  Everything is just in an effort to live my life the way I see as ideal. And so far, it works.

I hope that whatever 2013 holds for you, that it is better than last year. That you may hold your resolutions, should you choose to make them, near and dear to your heart.

To a very merry and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all!

xox J

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Worst of 2012... Just kidding

I'm baaaack!

Happy holidays everyone, and hope you had a very merry Christmas. I sure did, and I'm not yet ready to say goodbye to it. I'm currently writing this post from my brand spanking new Macbook Pro which hubby got me for Christmas. It's the same as my last, just not 4 years old. I'm loving the new Lion and how fast it is compared to my old one. I want to try to cull all the "stuff" on my computer, so I have to sort through 12,000 photos and a gazillion fonts. Sheesh, I may be busy for the next few months!

Anyways, I'm loving the "Best of" posts, so figured why not do one here? I know there are a lot of you who just found my wee space of the internet, so here's what you may have missed in 2012.


My first and only post of January was this makeup organizer that was repurposed from a pasta tray. Does this make me a garbage lady? Please say no.  And check out the first version of my blog logo.... eeeek, cringe!


The month of Saint Valentine was a one-post only kind of month as well, but was really the catalyst for this entire blog and the jet fuel for my etsy shop. It continues to be my most read and most pinned post (I honestly have no way of finding out how many times it's been pinned, but its feature on Dollar Store Mom was pinned over 18,000 times... holy geesh!). Go re-visit my $48 pantry project here.

After two one-post-per-month months, I made a record with the most posts of 2012 in March.

One of my most popular posts (searched via google) is the Moustache Bash baby shower I designed for a friend. Apparantly moustaches were very on trend in 2012!

I also shared our new marble backsplash that we had installed over the winter. It's probably the biggest project we've undertaken in this home (along with our floors), and has certainly made the most impact. Go checkout the blah tan before photos. Blech! It's been a year since we ripped it out and I can say whole heartedly, it's been the best decision we've made in this house so far. Instead of griping about how badly I wish my cabinets were white and not espresso, I can look at my backsplash and be thankful for a little taste of my future dream kitchen.

In March, I also completely re-did our spice cabinet with a very affordable dollar store DIY project. It's still almost as pretty, but I do need to go through and de-clutter than cabinet once more.


In April, I re-did our "dog" cupboard with some, yes, toilet paper covers....

And then, the garbage lady in me came out to play again, and I painted some really nasty nasty outdoor pillow covers.

And I also started my "Look What I Found at the Dollar Store" series... which I really need to continue!


I was in full backyard mode this spring, and decided to do a quick DIY recover of my tired patio cushions using a table cloth.

I also re-capped this renter makeover from 2007. It's an oldie but a goodie. If you are, or anyone you know is, renting and want to "personalize" your boring kitchen, then this is a must read! Just switch up the colour and pattern to your taste.  


June saw a master bedroom transformation for us! Hubby re-did our free CL dresser, and painted the entire room among many other tweaks.

Still on a backyard roll, I spray painted some outdoor chairs for a little bisto area for our patio. I am sad to report said spray paint did not hold up and is cracking all over. I will have to figure out something to do with them when the weather gets better.

And I shared our DIY/Ikea built-ins...


I failed, and failed again, but ended up really liking our red wine rack.

And finally shared my office tour...

Completed my first reader e-design...


In September, the hubby undertook the task of ripping up and replacing our laminate floors. It was quite  the time suck, but I love how it turned out. I still have yet to fully recap the project... oops!

I also re-did our fridge (and re-did it again) for my guest post over at Modern Parents Messy Kids. Ya, it doesn't look like that anymore (except for the bins).

In October, I shared my experience with changing to a plant-based lifestyle. My family still thinks I'm crazy. I also hit 500,000 page views which was pretty awesome.

And a year and a bit later, my chrome table base finally got a top. Previously it was sunbathing on the beaches in Cannes (topless, get it? Ya I'm not that funny).


In November, I started growing some green. You should try it!

And did another makeover with a dollar store item and some paint..


And last but not least, this month I poured myself into card making, and cheap holiday decorating.

That's just a smattering of the 90 posts from 2012 ( I really wish I was able to hit the 100 mark- oh well, there's always 2013!). 

Hope you enjoy the last few days of this year, and have the very best start to the new year!

Happy happy holidays!
xox Jen

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Must-Make Christmas Recipe

I wasn't planning on posting until after Christmas, but my mother-in-law made the yummiest dish for our "Christmas Rehearsal Dinner" the other night, and I loved it so very much I just had to share it with you in case you're looking for something to add to your Christmas menu!

My in-laws tried a similar red cabbage dish at a fancy restaurant in London, and mom-in-law decided to give it a go herself this year. It is a traditional German recipe and absolutely packed with flavour!

If you don't like red cabbage, have no fear; this does not taste like cabbage one bit. The apple, vinegar and cloves make this dish taste like pure, unadulterated Christmas. It will leave your taste buds a-tingling. I was weary before taking a bite, but as soon as I tried it, I knew a new Christmas dinner tradition had been born. I'm very much looking forward to having it again for our Christmas meal!

And, did you know that cloves are one of the most anti-oxidant rich foods on the planet? And that red cabbage is probably the most affordable nutrient rich plant food out there? I think that makes this a win-win recipe if you ask me!.

To find the recipe for this deliciousness, check out the original here.

And to my lovely, fantastic readers who put up with my random, sporadic postings, Merry Merry Christmas to you and your family! I hope the holidays bring you many happy memories with those you  love.


Friday, December 21, 2012

FREEBIES | Printable Merry Chocolate Labels

chocolate christmas label printables

This is going to be a very quick post because I'm turning my tech-self (mostly) off for the holidays, but I did want to share this super easy DIY and printable! (Please forgive the iPhone/insta pics!)

When a Christmas card just isn't enough....

And when a gift is just too much, or too awkward....

... there are two options I like. For the hubby to give, scratch and wins. Who doesn't like those? Hubby put those in some cards for his co-workers this year.

And, my personal fave, chocolate. I found these smaller versions of Lindt dark chocolate bars, wrapped them in some holiday paper, and printed easy labels. It's just a nice little treat that can either substitute or supplement a Christmas cards for co-workers, classmates or acquaintances

The printable template should work for both the metallic (72451) and kraft (72432) versions of Martha Stewart Avery labels at Staples. You could also just print on cardstock and cut to size!

Download "Merry Chocolate" labels here!

Enjoy, and as always, please facebook/ instagram/tweet me pics if you use them! I love to see what people have done with the printables :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Snow Day | House & Home

It seemed like everyone outside of a five kilometre radius of me yesterday had snow. My mom didn't even believe me when I told her I hadn't seen a single white flake on the ground. She kept asking me if perhaps the snow plough had come through early, but what she didn't quite get was that there was no. snow. at. all. It was like our little neighbourhood was under an oversized snowbrella...

Well, all of my grumbling yesterday paid off, as I woke to a beautiful, fluffy, white landscape this morning. Only problem is, tonight is my family "Christmas" an hour plus drive away (in good weather) and then tomorrow we leave for his family Christmas which, in this weather, is probably a 12  plus hour drive away. Wish us luck and safe road conditions!

What is even more exciting than waking up to a marshmallow world? Why, waking to an online feature on House & Home! One of my go to glossies for home decor inspiration has some incredible web content and an admirable social media presence, and I was lucky enough to have my $5 glitzy garland and holiday decor featured on their website today! Just seeing my name and "House & Home" on the same page is one of the best Christmas gifts I've received thus far. Thank you the powers that be at H & H!

Check out the photo gallery (and other great holiday decorating) right here!

And check back later for Round 2 of free printable holiday labels!

Happy snow day!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

FREEBIES | Printable Holiday Tags

It's the time of season where Christmas cards are posted, presents are mostly wrapped, and you only have one difficult person left to shop for. It's also the time where you probably realize you need something to label your Christmas presents with. Please, I beg of you, don't go buy the cheesy tags from the dollar store. Unless they're for close, non-judgemental family members. However, for friends, and co-workers, those tags just will not do.

I was in need of some tags the other night, so I whipped these up. In case you're in a bind too, try giving these a whirl. I've designed them in a "shopping tag" shape, however you can also cut off the top to make it a square if you fancy (I did both versions and they turned out lovely). Hole punch at the top and thread a ribbon through, and ta-da! And for beginner printers wondering what to print on, I recommend a heavier card stock (at least 80 lbs) to get a nice, professional feel.

Happy Holidays! And I would love to see your gift wrapping so please tweet/instagram at me @thepapersociety or post on my Facebook page. You just might win a prize! :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Decorating and a DIY Garland

I'm not one to dress the house for shorter lived, child-centric holidays like Easter and Halloween, but when it comes to Christmas, well, come on, it's Christmas!

How can you not LOVE decorating for the holidays? It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Much to my husband's dismay, I start listening to Christmas songs the beginning of November, and try my hardest to get our tree up then as well. I compromise and wait until the end of November to deck the halls, but if I were a bachelorette, I would probably be one of those crazies who keeps her tree up all year. Yup, that's me :)

Back to my holiday decor...

I am a firm believer of decorating within the parameters of your style. If you live in a modern, minimalistic home, then frou frou red and gold frillies and ornate velvet stockings might not work. I like holiday decor that jives with my home's identity (although I'm still not quite sure what it is), and transitions well into New Years too. I've got a lot of gold, silver, and muted bluey green tones, so that is what I stick with for the holidays.

This year, I had a very late revelation that I NEEDED a tassel garland. Thank you Andrea (of Andrea + Chris + Our Chaos) for single handedly almost ruining Christmas for me ( I kid, I kid!). I decided that if I didn't have a tassel garland too, that I would become a very grumpy Grinch.

Andrea ordered hers from The Flair Exchange and I am in lurve with the seaside garland. I want, I want. I've seen these tassel garlands around for a while, but for some reason it just didn't click with me until the holidays that I really needed one. Unfortunately, I leave in 6 days for the in-laws, and I doubt my "flair" would arrive in time for me to enjoy it.

I found quite a few tutorials online that explain the process. It doesn't look difficult, but it does look time consuming. Considering I just placed some of my hair follicles in a petri dish to try and see if I could grow myself a clone, time is not something I have a plenty. And, I couldn't find any good coloured tissue paper or mylar to work with, so I scrapped that idea. What to do, what to do?

Make an easy, quicker version, I guess?

Although all of the required supplies are available at the dollar store, I found some cheap glittery garland from Canadian tire for $2 a piece. I bought 2 of them, and then later saw the same ones at the dollar store for $1.25 each. Just so you know..

Only two other supplies were used for this DIY. A rope and floral tape (both on hand but originally purchased from the dollar store and readily available anywhere). I cut the garland (I used two different shades of gold) to lengths that I liked once folded in half, wrapped around the rope, and used floral tape to wrap around to keep it put. To be honest, I didn't have much hope for how it would turn out; I also didn't have much to lose.

Low and behold, it worked! Cha ching! No no, it's no tassel garland, but for a quick and cheap DIY, it does the trick. It's so sparkly and blingy, and makes me want to host a NYE party. No, not really.

It dresses up my favourite piece of furniture as well, a danish modern sideboard I refinished a few years back.

I am still going to order the Seaside garland because it's just perfect for my house!

Have you ever bought or made a tassel garland? Do you keep it up all year? Because I'm pretty sure I would.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Card Display | Staircase Garland

Last year we had so many Christmas cards that after displaying them all throughout the house, there was barely a surface to rest a glass of Christmas cheer on. I decided to free up some space, and created a card garland. It's incredibly simple (you know me, I like the easy and cheap DIY's!), involving only a long stretch of ribbon and a stapler.

The rest is pretty self explanatory. As the cards arrive in your mailbox, take a moment to read and enjoy, then staple to your staircase garland.

Not only does it open up some space on your surfaces, but it's free Christmas decor! Win win!

How do you display Christmas cards?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DIY Metallic Hand Painted Christmas Cards

You may have noticed my recent obsession with all things gold and polka dotted if you're following me on Twitter or Instagram. I la la la la looove gold polka dots.

So, I decided to get crafty and bring my own touch of gold to the holidays. I had so much fun stamping away, that I made enough cards to last a lifetime. Or, since I've already done the majority of my Christmas cards, to sell on etsy...

They turned out even better than I imagined in my head. I like the mix of ink and paint and kraft and white. It's a beautiful combination.

But no need to buy mine! Make your own! Nothing makes me happier than an easy DIY :)

For this project, I bought blank cards and envelopes at Michael's, ran them through my printer to get an oversized and slanted "Merry", and then used my Martha foam circle sponges and craft paint to create gold dots. I mixed a gold and silver metallic paint to get the "perfect" gold.

I think the kraft cards look great with a white envelope, and vice versa, so we did a little switcheroo!

The best part? You can be as random as you like with the dots! If you don't have a perfect pattern, like the one above, you can just make it look like confetti! 

Have you crafted your own Christmas cards before?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Paper + Package | The Paper Society

Along with my new logo and soon to be launched web store, I've also been working on a new collection of creative packaging called "Paper + Package".

 I kind of missed the online Christmas train this year, but some of my handmade holiday seals, tissues, and wrapping papers will be available locally if you're interested.

 I'm going to continue to develop it and work out the kinks so that a full launch will happen sometime in 2013.

Photo and wrapping above by customer nystevens

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rum and Eggnog Cupcakes

Rum and Eggnog. I don't think there's been a better pairing since Bert and Ernie.

Although eggnog is no longer something I will enjoy in it's store bought state (see this post here), I still love to make this simple recipe for guests and friends. It's so yummy. And so easy. So easy, in fact, that instead of giving you a full recipe, I am giving you this.

Cake Mix. Follow directions. Replace a portion of the liquid with rum. Or rum extract. A lot of rum if you like it. I like rum. Make cupcakes.

Buttercream. Follow directions from Google. Pretty much, butter, icing sugar, milk etc. Replace milk with eggnog. Double the vanilla extract. Add some nutmeg.

Sprinkle nutmeg after piping butternogcream on your cooled cupcakes. Put in a cute box. With a label...

And you're done! Just a few simple subs to a standard recipe and you look like a baker extraordinaire!

Thank me later :)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Moments of Christmas Past

As I wasn't "really" blogging last winter, I didn't post any Christmas fun. While I work away on crafting up our Christmas this year, here are some of my favourite photos from the holidays of yesteryear.