Thursday, May 31, 2012

Twenty Eight

Monday was my 28th birthday. Twenty eight on the twenty eighth. I think it's referred to as a champagne birthday, no? I planned on having some champers that night but ended up feeling not so great after work. I did have an excellent day, though, and was truly and utterly spoiled by all. Perhaps more than any other birthday.

Friday night we headed over to my parents house for a delish dinner made by my little brother the chef and some pickle ball in the backyard. My parents were in Bermuda and my brother left on Saturday to meet them in NYC so my birthday festivities were all in advance. Yes, I was left at home in rainy Vancouver while the rest of my family was in sunny New York City. 

On Sunday, two of my girlfriends popped into work with prezzies and balloons. Such sweethearts and know how to make a girl feel loved!

I also got my hair done... finally! Excuse the self portrait, but I was very excited to finally have some layers and some new highlights for the summer (when it gets here). I rarely get my hair done because sitting still and doing nothing for 4 hours drives me bonkers. My days off are valuable to me, and wasting half of one away in a salon chair is not my idea of fun. This time, however, I had a very captivating novel to read on my iPad, so after I excused myself to my stylist, I read away and the appointment was over before I knew it!

My always adorable hubby could not wait until my birthday to give me my presents, so a week before my birthday he gave me a gorgeous new handbag (I should have taken a pic- she's pretty!) as well as a wine aerator (I've been wanting one for ages and so happy to finally have one). And, as I posted about last week, he painted our bedroom! No more builders beige! Now it's an earthy, moody grey and I can't wait to get to decorating the rest of the room.

I have been lusting over mint watches for a while now. I saw some to.die.for ones online made by a (Swedish?) company called Tiwari. Alas, they no longer sell them on their website, and I was unable to locate them anywhere on the interwebs. I did, however, see this one on Pinterest, and when I followed the link through, guess where it brought me! Tar Jay! Oh yay! A mint watch AND it's affordable. Saweeet! Unfortunately it's not available online, but I still asked for it for my birthday. My sweet baby bro jumped in his car the same day and made the hour long trip to the states in hopes that they had them in stock, and they did! Wippee! I was beyond shocked to open the gift up and find he had actually bought it. The colour is even better in person than pictured on their website as well.

And from the hubby and the in-laws, I was SO happy to get my Silhouette Cameo! I haven't set her up yet but I can't wait for my next day off to see what I can create!

And when my parents returned from their NYC trip last night, they surprised me with not one, but TWO new watches to add to my collection. My collection that just started about a month ago. But I'm having fun collecting them and learning to accessorize with them. I now have rose gold, mint, white, dark teal and silver. 

And I also received a bunch of gift cards and cash as well that will really help me make a dent in our bedroom design. I really can't wait to show you what I've got in mind!



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shades of Grey

My birthday is next Monday, and along with my much anticipated Silhouette Cameo, and a bunch of other gifts the hubby has showered upon me early, he is also giving me one of the best presents I could ask for. He is painting our room!

The wallpaper came down the night before last. The walpaper paste came off last night (5 hours it took him) and the paint is going on today! Wippee! Now just to pick the perfect shade of grey...

 While he's been toiling away (I offered to help but he won't let me) I've had my nose stuck in a certain trilogy. I'm about to start book three, and I'm going to take it with me (on my iPad) to the salon today to get my hair done. Hope I don't get any weird looks. Now I'll have Grey on my iPad and grey on my master bedroom walls. How fitting. Oh Fifty.... sigh.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Look What I found at the Dolla Store | Part Two

*Quick note! I am experiencing some issues with Pinterest for some reason. If you are pinning from the .ca site you may receive an error saying my blog has been flagged due to inappropriate content (hmmm, Pinterest doesn't like the Dollar Store?). I have contacted Pinterest and hopefully the issue will be resolved soon!*

It's that time again! That time of the month where I curate some of the best finds my local Dollar Store has to offer. In case you missed it, check out my intro to my dollar store finds here, and Part One of "Look What I Found at the Dollar Store" here.

I decided to only feature one find today, and that is because I heart it so so much! I picked it up a while ago and have been eagerly waiting to share it with you guys! 

These little notebooks are too cute for words. They look like something you'd find for $10- $20 at a bookstore or gift shop, yet the two of them only cost $1.25 TOTAL! Such a steal. The colour is obviously my fave, but they have so much more going for them. Perfect size for  your purse, you can easily jot down notes or ideas. They are actually stamped with "Pella Paper" which from their website looks to be a line of stationery that might have been discontinued? Whatever the reason, I am happy they ended up at Dollorama (and that they don't have "Dollorama" stamped on them!).

The material of the notebook and the pages are good by dollar store terms, and again, you just can't beat the colour! If you're planning a bridal shower anytime soon, how cute would these be for favours? 

You can even leave a cute little personalized note in the front for your friend that will make their day every time they go to open up their notebook!

I am ANXIOUSLY awaiting my Silhouette Cameo and one of the reasons is because I really want to do something amazing to the front of these lil guys. Until then, I've used my kraft stickers to demonstrate how cute these would be personalized (and give you an idea of scale since the labels are 2.5 inches). I know I said in one of my previous dollar store posts that I would never get a gift for a friend at a $ store, but I might just have to eat my words. I think this would be a perfect hostess gift (paired with a bottle of wine) or a great takeaway for the next girls night I host.

What do you think? Are you in love like me? I think you need to go to Dollorama STAT and snag some up! I know I will be :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

DIY "Renters" Backsplash with Vinyl Tile

This post is brought to you from the pre-Social Home Vault. 2007 to be exact. Not only is it an old makeover, but it's not my style. At all. So why am I posting it? Because I still think it's an awesome idea and hope that some of you renters out there may appreciate this post as much as my friend did, and can put your own spin on it to make it work for your space.

Now let's go back in time, to 2007. My friend, let's call her Sarah, just moved into her first 1 bedroom basement suite. She was in love. It wasn't anything special, but it was a place to call her own, and her first place other than a dorm room outside of college. 

The kitchen was okay. Just okay. It's obviously much better than a ton of other rentals out there, but it had absolutely nothing unique to offer. A beigey colour laminate countertop, white cabinets with brushed nickel hardware, white appliances and a tile-looking vinyl floor. Not awful by any standards, but being stung by the home decor bug, Sarah was itching to do something to it. And truthfully, the only thing she could really think of doing to spruce it up was a backsplash. 
Traditional tile was out of the picture for two big reasons: budget, and, it's a rental of course! Sarah wasn't quite sure what to do, so she left it in my hands to figure out and I (not having a place of my own to decorate) was more than up for the challenge! 
Trying to stay budget and rental friendly lead us in the direction of stick on tiles that we could create a mosaic with. We checked out some online resources and found this UK company which seems to have a really great product (since 2007 there must be a slew of other companies that create something similar).
The problem with this option was that Sarah didn't want to be spending a couple hundred dollars on a kitchen she might only be in for 6 months, and she didn't want to start sticking tiles to the wall of a rental for fear of completely ruining walls that didn't belong to her.
I started researching vinyl peel and stick floor tiles for use on a backsplash and actually found a couple places where it had been done (HGTV has a couple articles on it) and figured we might as well give it a go. We really didn't have much to lose.
THE TILE: We headed to the Home Depot and chose two remarkably nice stone-finish vinyl tiles. One in a rustic brown, the other in greyish beige. The colours worked together, and best of all, tied in both the kitchen floors and the counters. While I'm all about whites, sea blues and greys, Sarah is definitely more of a beige and brown girl. She loved the colours, however if you decide to recreate the project, your colour options are pretty endless.
We bought 24 tiles in total, 12 of each colour, with the intent to cut the into 4-inch squares. They cost about 1.50/ sq foot. We rented a vinyl tile cutter and got straight to work on many hours of precise tile cutting. I'm sure you could try this with an exacto knife, but trust me, it is worth it to rent a vinyl tile cutter!
 After taping up some of our cut tile squares with scotch tape to create a mock mosaic of how it would look, Sarah and I decided that the 4-inch squares we had cut just didn't do the trick. Two inches would have been much better. Back to the cutter we went to create some 2-inch samples.
The 2-inch mosaic mock up looked much better than the 4-inch, but there was something missing. We realized this right away but after putting so much effort into creating this two-tone masterpiece, Sarah was just happy to settle with what was already done. I wasn't ready to give in just yet, so I forced us (and our bloody, blistered, ravaged hands) to make one last trip to the store.
We lucked out and found even cheaper vinyl tile (60 cents each) in a glossy black finish. Total contrast from the matte faux-stone, but we figured with such a low price, might as well buy some and see how it looked. The glossy black balanced out the earthiness of the other tile quite nicely. We only bought 6 of the black tiles because we didn't want the black to take over the kitchen. 

THE INSTALLATION: You're probably wondering how the heck we put these tiles up if we didn't want to wreck the walls. We originally wanted to find some really thin plexiglass that could be cut with an exacto knife. That way we could fit and cut it to the backsplash, screw it into the wall, and cover with the peel and stick tiles. There would only be a few holes to fill in the wall when Sarah moved out and IF the peel and stick tiles didn't work out, then we could have just nixed the whole idea. Unfortunately plexi is not only expensive but it's also much thicker than what we were looking for.
Plan B. That plastic corrugated cardboard-like stuff. I don't know what it's called but it looks like plastic cardboard. It's sold in massive sheets at Rona for about 20 bucks (and only one sheet was needed for this kitchen). It is relatively easy to cut to size using an exacto knife and they sell a bunch of colours so you can choose something that best matches your kitchen.
We created a paper template of the backsplash and then traced onto the corrugated plastic and cut. Once the multiple pieces were cut and ready, we started the peel and stick process, leaving a few spots empty so we could screw the piece into the wall (and then cover with the tile afterwards.) After many more hours of peel-and-sticking, the big backsplash pieces were done and ready to be screwed in. When it was all said and done, Sarah was a happy renter, and DIY-tooth was satisfied. Sigh.

I certainly recommend this project for anyone in a rental looking to upgrade their kitchen on a budget and, more importantlytemporarily. You're making almost no commitment because if it doesn't work out all you need to patch are a few screw holes in your wall!  We were able to do Sarah's entire kitchen backsplash for under $100. Not bad, hey?

Any great DIY rental projects you have up your sleeves?

Featured on Dollar Store Crafts!

Eeeek, my bangles were featured on Dollar Store Crafts! Thank you so much Heather! I'm obviously a BIG Dollar Store freak, so this just made my day :) Check out the post here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Under the Sink Organization

Some may think I'm an innately organized person, especially after seeing my pantry, my spice cupboard and my doggy cupboard. Truthfully, organization does not come naturally to me. It's an everyday challenge that I continue to struggle with. Like keeping fit, maintaining a happy marriage, and all around living well, it's not about just doing something right once, it's about putting in consistent effort, requiring constant work and time investment.

I'm not an expert in any of those things, but one thing I know to be true: it's the baby steps that make all the difference. If you make small, manageable changes everyday, you are sure to end up ahead in the long run. Sitting back and waiting for things to happen, or doing something once and then sitting back, will not get you anywhere.

I must say, my pantry has maintained a really nice level of organization thus far. I set it up to succeed by not giving it any opportunity for clutter to accumulate. Yay me! But other spaces seem to get clutter-fied faster than it takes to organize them in the first place. So back to the drawing board I go, back to re-work the system and try to think of a way to make it more maintainable.

One such area is under the sink. Like most people (I presume) we store our cleaning products down there, and cleaning products are plentiful. To be honest, sometimes I have no idea how some of those things even got there. I don't think I bought them, and I certainly know Mr. Mans did not. I'll just say they grew feet and decided to walk from all corners of the earth to find their way underneath our kitchen sink.

Well, I got tired of looking at this mess day after day, so a little bit of time and some label making were in order. Anything almost empty got married with something else (be careful not to mix different types of cleaners or chemicals in case they react to each other!) and got rid of some old old things that were under there. De-cluttering spaces is such an amazing feeling and will truly lift your soul. Less is definitely more int his case. The cleaning supplies I did keep were put in this wooden caddy that came with our home (that I painted a while back) and a label is the prefect accessory to motivate us to keep it looking neat and clean.

I think sometimes it's nice to hear that it's not all unicorns and butterflies! That we all have to work for it. I found this Gwyneth Paltrow quote on Pinterest SO refreshing! To know that it takes work and dedication, and that in the end it is worth it, gives me the energy and motivation to keep plugging away!

What areas of your life do you struggle with? 

What keeps you going?

xox J

Linking up with: A Thoughtful Place

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

DIY Bracelets Using Dollar Store Bangles

I've been a busy bee this past week, designing a logo for a local business (SUCH an adorable company and I can't wait to share it!), and working on some web design, as well as invites and event graphics for two showers and a wedding. Oh, and doing my Paper Society thing as well, which means I haven't had the time to tackle any of the big house projects I have in store, but with the beautiful weather sticking around for a while, I am hoping that we can get the ball a rollin!

One fun little project I did accomplish was jazzing up my dollar store bangles I talked about here. I figured to aide my transition into the world of gold jewelry, I needed to soften up the gold a bit. I just grabbed some thin satin ribbon I had on hand and started braiding. I cut the pieces about a foot and a half long and of course tied the 3 pieces together. Once braided, I just wrapped around the gold bangle and tied at the end, and tada! The beginnings of an arm party!

I still have to figure out what I want to do with that gold cuff I also found at the DS, but it can wait.

The bottom bracelet I just made with some gold chain I had laying around the house, and weaved the braided ribbon through. Easy peasy project and only took about an hour to do. And on top of that, I saved time by using my iPhone to photograph (lazy day off I guess) and I'm pretty happy with how they came out after a little editing in iPhoto. Gosh do I heart my Apple products!

I do have some bigger projects to post in the upcoming week, like my mom's bathroom reno! Since we live in a new home with no renovation budget, I am quite happy to get to design my almost "dream" bathroom at my parents house. It's been a learning experience like no other, but it will look fabulous when it's done! Looking forward to sharing all the steals and disasters with you!

xo J

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Backyard on a Budget: Part 1

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you already know I'm very budget savvy. If there's a way to do something on the cheap, I will, and this summer-long series chronicling my backyard adventures will be no exception. Sometimes I'm thrifty to the point of yuck (like in this post) and sometimes a light bulb goes off and I think I've thought of a pretty good idea (like in this post, this post, and this post).

Well, on our trip to the states last week, I walked into the home aisle at TJMaxx (first place I go!) and saw my go-to vintage blue colour just screaming my name! It was a vinyl polka dot outdoor table cloth, and although I don't actually have a table outside, nor do I actually use table cloths, I knew I had to have it! My first thought was "How has it never crossed my mind to buy table cloths instead of fabric (especially if they're on sale for $4.99!)?" Granted, this was of the vinyl variety, but there are plenty of indoor/outdoor table cloths that aren't vinyl and are a very weighty durable material that could be used for loads of things. Although I wish these weren't vinyl, I do love the colour, and I do love the fact that they're wipeable.

We have a pretty standard "conversation" set outside which consists of two arm chairs, a love seat and a coffee table (please don't judge the sorry state of this before photo- it hadn't been touched since last summer!). We got it as a wedding gift from my grandparents, so it's served us well for nearly four years. The furniture itself has held up spectacularly! We leave it out all winter long and do not cover it up, and it still looks the same as when we first assembled it. This resin wicker stuff is grand! The seat cushions, on the other hand, have not faired as well. They were pretty flimsy to start with, and over the years they just haven't held their own. I'm dying (DYING I tell you) for some nice chunky, beefy white cushions, and Ikea just happens to have them. I was oh so very excited, until I saw the price tags. They are $40 each, and I need 4, so including tax it's going to total $180. Eeek! Just for seat cushions? And of course, once I have pretty seat cushions, I need to get pretty toss cushions, and so the total would not so slowly creep up!

I do one day hope to get new cushions (it IS my birthday the end of this month, hint hint to the peeps in my life!), but I really wanted to do something in the interim. Plus, if I am ever the lucky owner of $180 worth of cushions, I can tell ya that as soon as September hits, those babies would be wrapped up and inside my garage about as fast as I shovel down dark chocolate during my period. So, since we do have the occasional nice day in the fall that I might like to take advantage of, it would be nice to have a "secondary" set of pillows that can hang out all year long.

So, that is how the polka dot table cloth seat cushions came to be! The colour is so fun and they were so easy to do! I didn't even bother sewing them. Just wrapped em up like a prezzie, and instead of taping the sides, I glue-gunned it.

Although I'm not one to shy away from a good DIY project, you will never see me take on any "big" DIYs. I admire those people who build furniture like Anna White, and tile their own floors, and reupholster their sofas, but I'm not one of those people. My requirements for a DIY to be worth it is that it HAS to be both inexpensive and somewhat quick and easy to accomplish. If it does not meet those requirements, then I would rather SEDI (someone else do it). Time is valuable too, yo!

Ok, back to my cheap and easy DIY. Oh wait, it was so easy that I actually have no more instructions to give! Buy cheap table cloth, cut to size, wrap your pillow, glue gun it, and you're done!

 I am hoping to accent my blue with some graphic tangerine or coral pillows like I posted about here (which will definitely be a DIY and certainly a part of this series), but until then I just brought out some extra pillows I had inside to demonstrate the idea.

Not bad for $5 makeover, hey?

What do you think? Yay or nay on the bold pattern for the seat cushions?

And this lil makeover has sparked a new idea.... DIY graphic barbecue covers! Genius, no? The ones they sell are so ugly. This would be cheap AND pretty! I think I may have to break out my sewing machine soon....

Thanks for stopping by!

xox J

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Backyard Dreamin'

Not going to lie, sometimes as a blog reader, I tire of the "inspiration" posts. Sure, they're pretty and all, but if I wanted to see beautiful inspiration pics, I would head on over to Pinterest and look for inspiration myself. I read blogs for the REAL projects and REAL photos so I can see something I CAN do, can ya hear me?

Well, now as a quasi-blogger, I get the inspiration posts. There are lull times between projects (or when you don't have photos of projects yet) but you still really want to share what you have coming up! Well, that is where I am at, and I'm hoping you don't hold it against me.

It is May, and May is my FAVOURITE month ever. Ok, I was born in May, so that might have something to do with it, but I like that it's a time to gear up for the summer. Time to start transitioning the wardrobe and to start thinking about the outdoors. Well, if you know me at all, I'm a lot more into the home than I'm into my closet, so the backyard it is! 

I ABSOLUTELY love these pics below from my Pinterest board. The juicy colours make me happy inside. And so you don't think I'm just being a sell out with my inspiration post, I actually DO have plans to make some magic! Cheap, do-it-yourself magic that will hopefully make me feel less worse about not having a patio that looks like this:

Stay tuned for my May backyard projects and please share anything you've done that's related!

Happy May! xox Jen