Saturday, 16 March 2013

Sparks and Recreation

Last Saturday we started a new series, where we share some of the great articles and blog posts we read throughout the week. It's just a good opportunity for you to be introduced to some new blogs, or just read something interesting. We're trying to keep some good variety, from home improvement, to self improvement, information that's interesting to bloggers or those who don't spend hours in front of the computer trying to come up with something interesting to write about. 

On Simple Mom this week, Tsh shared recipes for some of the homemade beauty products she uses. Philip has had a ball making fun of this the whole week (coming up with his own "homemade beauty remedies" including tomatoes as deodorant , but I have to admit I was somewhat intrigued. Nothing really to lose in trying it, so once our bathroom is set up I'm going to give a couple of these a go and let you know how it was. My mom already used coconut oil as lip balm/moisturizer like Tsh recommends here, so they can't all be crazy! I'd recommend reading the previous posts she links to where she originally wrote about each beauty regimen in detail, I found them interesting!

For those of you who know us, or who have been reading regularly, you know we don't have a hot clue what we're doing (where does that saying come from anyway??). We had to patch a few holes in the ceiling from where the old air conditioning vents were, and the patching did not turn out great. Here's how we should have done it. 

This is not house related at all, although I guess it is do-it-yourself. Lately we've been buying this salad at Costco that has "7 superfoods", I came across this blog post teaching how to make a variation on it yourself. 

Can you imagine living in 40 sq. feet? This Apartment Therapy post shares photos of homes in Hong Kong where they live in 40 sq foot areas because of the housing crisis. My purging urges would definitely come in handy if I had to live in that small a space.

Until grade nine, I needed my mom to do a ponytail for me. I don't know how quickly I will learn these hair tutorials, but some of them are really cute! I also love having one link to access 20 hairstyles, very handy.

Last but not least, on Project Organize Your Entire Life, I came across this giveaway which links to It seems like a great budget tool. I get sucked in by clean graphics and pretty colors, so this is definitely tempting to me. In the coming weeks we're going to be starting a series on finances and budgeting and all that jazz so definitely get excited for that (Philip's a Marketing & Finance major so he knows his stuff). We try and be responsible with our money, plan for the future, and be good stewards of what we're given. Our system works for us, but if you don't have one, a site like this might be a great idea! Otherwise hold out for a couple weeks, and join us in a financial planning series that will help you to get your act together.

That's all for this week! What blog posts/articles did you see this week that were interesting to you? We'd love to be introduced to a new blog or just an interesting piece of information we may not have heard. We don't have cable, so sometimes we're out of the loop on this kind of stuff (although I should speak for myself, Philip weirdly knows everything that's going on all the time while I live in ignorant bliss). 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Window Shopping What-the...?

Cass has been enjoying running our new Window Shopping Wednesday pieces lately, but the way I see it, talking about just the cool stuff is throwing the universe out of balance a bit. This is misrepresenting my shopping experience; I spend so much of my time at many of these stores asking "WTF?" (Not literally Mom!)

Some stores inspire this more than others. The more eclectic and decor-focused the inventory, the more rich the "What-the Factor" (see what I did there?). So Superstore and even IKEA are not going to show up much in this space, whereas Pier 1 Imports is a veritable land flowing with milk and honey bee dining cushions.

So today, as my usual Friday Phil guest spot, we explore the other side of Window Shopping. In fact, we went to one of our favourite stores, Urban Barn, and found a wealth of weird.

I even have come up with my own, proprietary "WTFactor™" that measures weirdness on a scale of 1-10 using a unit I'll just refer to as "björks". (Should be self-explanatory, but if not: this. And this.) To get a sense of the scale we're working with:
  • 0 björks means an item is totally normal. A plain pencil or a white t-shirt would earn 0 björks.
  • An item with a WTFactor™ of 5 björks would be something that, if you displayed it in your home, would make your friends wonder if you've gone off your meds.
  • An item that earns a perfect score of 10/10 björks would be one that you could rope off your front door and charge admission to see, but only if Ripley's Believe It Or Not didn't sue you for idea-infringement.

All clear? Let's begin...

Disclaimer: In all cases, you can see larger versions of the photos by clicking on them. But don't blame me for the quality; I was working with an iPhone camera and trying not to attract too much attention as I was snapping away.

From the "Hyper-Specialized Tableware" department, these pizza plates are cool, except who has room in their cupboards for plates that you can only use if you're eating pizza? You could use them for all slice-shaped foods, including cakes and pies, but the plates are labelled "Pizza" and, seriously, what kind of commoner doesn't already have cake-specific and pie-specific plates?
WTFactor™: 2.9/10 björks

*Small warning: link contains a bad word, and might not be safe if there are little ones in earshot.
WTFactor™: 3.1/10 björks

"This food tastes like death! Could you pass the salt?
...Oh. Never mind."
WTFactor™: 4.4/10 björks

"I know it must be intentional. But it does look off doesn't it? But they must have meant it to look like that. But it does look a little off."
Two hours later...
"But what if it actually starts to break... How will I know if it's leaning more than usual? But they meant for it to be like this! Aghh! Take it back, Urban Barn, take it back!"
WTFactor™ of the lamp: 5.2/10 björks
WTFactor™ of my description: 10.0/10 björks (Take that, Mary-Lou Retton!)

Urban Barn focus group participant: "See, I'm going for this horse-themed room, but like, it's going to be classy, right? But I'm looking for lamps in all the stores and finding, like, nothing!"
Urban Barn executive: "Somebody solve this problem or heads will roll!"
WTFactor™: 5.9/10 björks

And yet, the movie industry does this, All. The. Time. And we're apparently totally okay with that.
WTFactor™: 6.2/10 björks

"For the farmer in your life who sleeps far too comfortably, get them this pillow to remind them just before they fall asleep: 'locusts.'"
WTFactor™: 7.3/10 björks

Apparently "Bling" culture-subscribers have grown out of their Juicy Couture sweats (or not) and Urban Barn now feels the need to court their business. But 1000 points to anyone who can point to a place where these pillows are legitimately used as decor.
WTFactor™: 7.8/10 björks

Cool, a black ceramic gorilla. That's kinda neat.
WTFactor™: 1.3/10 björks
I mean, why would you even post that...

Oh. It's actually an uncomfortably-bulbous black ceramic gorilla, who's mirror-finish has the tendency to blind passers-by using light reflected off its pronounced gluteus maximi.
WTFactor™: 7.9/10 björks, +1 björk just for how uncomfortable it made me to take this photo. Let's just say, I got looks.

I'm so confused. I mean, what are these for? How-? Wha-? Never mind, I'm just going to give it...
WTFactor™: 8.7/10 björks
...and keep moving.

We have a winner! not only are these amazingly weird, they are also seriously awesome. I mean, I don't know where you would display them--except for all over your house! I'm just happy to live in a world where these exist.
WTFactor™: 12.9/10 björks

...and just to prove I'm not just a peanut-gallery laugh track, here's something I thought was actually cool. I'm not sure it would find a place in our house, but it's got a neat mix of fun and style. Kudos, Urban Barn.
WTFactor™: 1.2/10 björks

That wraps it up! Anybody else come across anything truly weird at a decor store lately? Did you take a picture of it? Link to it in the comments, and we can all chime in with how many björks it truly deserves.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Writers Block

I have a serious case of writers block today, but I really want to keep up with writing every day, so I'm pushing through and I'm just going to keep it real today. I don't have a lot to share, we haven't been doing a lot of home improvements - a lot of it is at a stand still. 

Here's what has happened this week though to keep you in the loop as to where things are at:

1. Upgraded our light fixture - this you saw earlier. This takes our Winter To-Do list to:

Winter 2013 (December-February) 

Plans Plans Plans
Design/Quote Bathroom
Window Coverings
Quote blinds and curtains
Install blinds in living room
Light Fixtures
Replace bedroom/hallway light fixtures
Gut Upstairs Bathroom
Remove mould
Discard wall tiles
Discard bathtub
Discard flooring
Discard sink
Discard vanity/cabinets
Uninstall toilet
Replace window
Discard walls/ceiling
Upstairs Bathroom
Reinsulate ceiling & exterior wall

2. On that last to-do list item, we contacted our electrician who will be coming over tomorrow to give us some recommendations on the order we should continue our bathroom in and what electrical improvements need to be made - some new outlets (only had one non-standard outlet previously), the moving our our "car plug" switch (so convenient next to the toilet!), and installing a ceiling fan at the least. So after tomorrow we should have some updates on where our bathroom is at and what our next steps are.

3. We fixed our blinds, the right most blind was no longer properly retracting. Philip took them all apart and figured out how to fix it...he's getting so handy!

4. Today I signed all the papers meaning I'm a proper part-time working lady starting next week. I also went to my new digs and found out a bit more about what the role will look like. Exciting times lie ahead! 

What has your week been looking like? Any ideas for future blog posts? Feel free to send us an email and we'd love to answer questions, write about things you're interested in, etc. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Wednesday Posts are Causing Me to Shop an Extreme Amount

We had a post planned for this week, but then went shopping again so I have fresh photos! We were going out to Superstore to pick up some light bulbs for our light fixture switch yesterday, and we decided to take some photos of the great items they have in the home section at Superstore. For you non-Canadians, you're missing out. I go crazy for Joe Fresh, and all of their home stuff is fantastic. We took quite a few pictures, hopefully there will be something here that you can envision welcoming into your home!

I don't like carrots all that much, but I do love these carrot tea towels. Such an easy way to update your kitchen! 

I really like this crisp white ceramic vase. 

These are chalkboard circles. They only cost like 2 dollars and something, so I was thinking of buying them and cutting them into labels for our pantry containers (which I'll post about soon).

They have some nice cheap blankets for our day bed.

Most serious, unhappy unrelated to corn corn holders.

Bright totes! In the kids section, but could definitely be used anywhere. 

Fox Clock!!

So get yourself over to Superstore! Buy some cute stuff from the kids section!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Lighting Up Our Life

Yesterday we did a completely unnecessary but never the less exciting improvement to our home. Sometimes it's nice to do a quick switch up while a bigger and at-a-stand-still project is going on (cough bathroom cough).

A while back, our friends Chris and Nicole bought a two pack of some standard light fixtures, they installed one and then had planned to donate the other one since they didn't have a place for it. We are apparently a charitable cause, because we received this free light fixture donation. Free. Most beautiful word in home improvement.

Installing light fixtures is so far one of the main used-to-frustrate-us-but-now-is-a-breeze projects. Sometimes when we're working on something and we both feel crazy and we're looking on Google for how to do it and we think we're so stupid, I remind us that the next time we do the project we'll already know and so every project is a learning opportunity. That has been the case with light fixtures, Philip's dad used to always get a phone call when we needed one hung, and now Philip does it quickly and efficiently. So proud!

Unfortunately we don't have a lot of photos of this switch, because Philip did it while I was making dinner and so I wasn't around to take photographic evidence. We did get a few photos for you though so you'll get the idea.

He was so speedy that I didn't even get a before picture.
But here are his not-attached-to-his-body arms, reaching up to take out the light bulb. 

Here's the original shade. If it suits your fancy, come pick it up at our garage sale this summer! 
At some point we'll do a real tutorial of how to do this light fixture switcharoo, but this one just isn't it. Handyman Philip was much too quick, I was just cooking up some chicken in the kitchen and kept running over to take pictures whenever it wasn't urgently needing attention.

Here is how it looks now!

Up close and personal. It's just a plain light fixture, similar to what we have
in our office except a little smaller. 

Just so you get where this light is located, to the right there is the front closet, straight ahead is the 3rd unused bedroom. 

This is the view from our bedroom, down the hall to the bathroom. 

We weren't totally sure where we wanted to put the light fixture when we first were gifted it, but it made sense for the hall because of the size and I like that it's semi-flush because otherwise there would definitely be some hitting of heads on the groggy walk to our bathroom...once it's done. Now we just need to get rid of the extra smoke alarm, paint, trim, popcorn ceiling, agh.

Anyone else mastering the light fixture upgrade? Got a free home improvement gift? 

Monday, 11 March 2013

E-Book Bundle

I finally bit the bullet and bought my first E-Book bundle, and thought it deserved an extra Monday post. Each week, at, they offer 5 e-books for the price of $7.40 (I bought this week's bundle and it came to $7.80 Canadian). I've seen them before and been tempted, but this week's bundle seemed too hard to pass up.

I only just started reading the first e-book, 31 Days to Clean, and I'm hooked! If you're interested in reading some interesting materials on Spring Cleaning (sounds like a yawn, but I get motivated by this kind of thing), click the link in our sidebar and take the plunge. I can't say much about each book, but this first one is about cleaning your home, but more so, adjusting your perspective on cleanliness and what it means to put work into keeping your home a haven. It talks about giving life back to the people who live in your home with you and gives daily "Mary" challenges and "Martha" challenges - based on the Bible story of the sisters, one who spent all her time cleaning, the other who was a good host to Jesus when he came to visit. This book tries to balance the two, learning to keep a beautiful home, while recognizing the importance of letting your home be a space for peace and hospitality through daily challenges practicing both. If you decide to purchase the bundle and start reading let me know what you think! I'd love to hear about your take on the 31 Days of Clean book, as well as the ones I haven't started!

Change is in the Air

Last week I sat down to write an article about how I'd officially been home from work for a year (I'm not actually sure on the actual date, but I quit in March so sometime around now). A lot of people ask what I do during the day, or why I quit, or what our plans for the future are, so I thought I'd get some of that out to you in a blog post. 

The day after I began that article, I received a few missed calls from my former employer while out for breakfast with friends. After an official year off work, it looks like I'll be going back part-time. Today we find out more information like exactly what the schedule looks like and the wage, but I'm happy to help out a friend and it will add a bit more structure to my week which is a good thing. I've been getting a little bit stir-crazy staying home, especially since house cleaning is not one of my greatest skills, so I think this will be a welcome change. I hope. I'm a little bit nervous about it still because obviously I did quit so things weren't awesome before, but I'm going to be working at the smaller retail store so a bit removed and in a very different role than I occupied last March, and it's a good opportunity for me because I already know most of the job and so there isn't a lot of training and I should be able to just jump right in and get some work done. It will be really nice to have some non-house related productivity in my week. 

I don't think it should impact the blog because it will only be a couple of days a week, but we'll keep you posted. Blogging was one of the things we decided to start as something to give me a bit of a more regimented day and something fun to do each day that isn't washing dishes for hours, so definitely wanting to still keep it up. Just wanted to keep you posted on some of the behind the scenes of our house and what's going on in our daily lives also. So back to kitchens for me then, hopefully this doesn't make not being able to renovate our kitchen for a while even more painful!

Anyone else going back to something they didn't think they would? Making big changes that came out of left field? Thought we were having 10 babies when they read that title?