Saturday, 30 March 2013

Sparks and Recreation

We have a great roundup of links for you this week, things that generally sparked our interest or provided inspiration. Hope you'll enjoy visiting a couple of new blogs, and maybe learning something that helps you in your day to day!

This first link includes some car-maintenance-for-dummies like tips that can help one who isn't familiar with the inner workings of their automobile know where to start with some of the basics. 

If you have files or binders that are less than inspiring to work with, head over to The Pretty Blog for some free printables. She has binder labels that make tax time look like a breeze. 

The last couple of weeks we've had plans every evening. It's getting a little bit hectic. It's articles like this one that brings me back down to earth, this month we're hoping to save 2 evenings each week as free nights and tell people we have plans. We'll either have a date together, get a couple things done on our house, or have some much needed relaxation with a board game or Netflix. 

I've been really into the idea of a terrarium lately. I want to make 38 terrariums. That's an exaggeration, but you get the point. 

Philip and I have yet to try our hand at any actual building of things. Ana White provides some great free plans for building projects that make it seem somewhat doable.

Last but certainly not least, The Nest this week shared a list of 20 tools one should have handy. A great way to start your collection, put some of these on the birthday list this year.

What great reads did you find this week? Feel free to share them in the comments. Have a great Easter!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

100 Posts!

Wilt Chamberlain celebrates our
milestone with us, 51 years ago.
We've officially published 100 posts on our blog! That seems like a lot, so we're going to celebrate it. 

Since we started blogging on October 29, 2012 (almost exactly 5 months ago) a number of things have happened:
  • 5.76 Million babies were born! (Welcome one and all!)
  • 2.34 Million people passed away. (Our condolences to the families.)
  • We've had a change in Pope! (Congrats, Catholics!)
  • 159.2 cm of snow fell on our fair city! (Good thing a bunch of it disappeared, or else it would almost be up to my head!)
  • Something called the "Harlem Shake." (And if you haven't heard of it, count yourself lucky!)

We're really excited to hit this milestone, because at times the blog has been a bit of a challenge. (I've definitely almost quit more than a handful of times!) It's hard to keep being vulnerable, sometimes I still feel embarrassed when people talk about it. Philip makes a joke that my dream for the blog is to have thousands of readers I don't know, but none of the people I do know. That's obviously a joke, because I love that our family and friends have been so supportive, but it sure is a lot easier to write these posts from the heart when I don't think about the people I know who will devote a moment in their day to reading it!

It's been a great project for Philip and I to tackle together; we both love writing and this is a fun way to do that as a couple. It's also a great challenge, pushing us to be disciplined with writing every day, coming up with new and interesting content, and hopefully pushing us to get more done on our house. We've had to branch out from house projects a little bit because we don't have limitless amounts of time and money to devote to renovating, but it's also forced us to develop an appreciation for the little things: a drawer better organized here, a small painted canvas there, even a random trip to Urban Barn.

Looking ahead, we have some exciting plans for the blog. We've heard from you iPad and iPhone users about your frustrations trying to comment on our posts, and we're working toward a resolution. As well, we have an exciting series or two up our sleeves. And more than anything, we're looking forward to reporting our bathroom progress (as you'll see from our April's upcoming banner, the weather's finally starting to warm up here in Winnipeg, which means we might be able to embrace our insulation challenges!). And after the bathroom, well, the To-Do list has some exciting things in store!
What would you like to see from our blog in the next 100 posts? Leave your answer in the comments below (or iOS users, go ahead and leave them on the Facebook page).

Quick note before we go: tomorrow is Good Friday, a statutory holiday here in Canada, so there will be no new post. Philip will return with the exciting conclusion to his "(Pipe) Dream Sports Room" next Friday, but you can look forward to another "Sparks and Recreation" this Saturday for your Easter Weekend reading pleasure.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Window Shopping Wednesday: Stereo Table for Jonathan

Window shopping is extra enjoyable when I get to look for products I know others are interested in buying. It allows me to shop vicariously through them and saves me money! My brother-in-law Jonathan recently asked me to keep my eye out for a table that he could put his stereo on in the living room. When we first started our blog, we talked about their style as being somewhat contemporary but rustic.

This makes it fun for me, because when I'm out shopping I see things that wouldn't fit into my house because of our style, but that are still wonderful and would maybe fit in more of a setting like theirs. I'll often send them pictures or tell them about something I saw that would fit well in their condo.

For this Window Shopping Wednesday, I thought we'd do some shopping for the stereo table Jonathan is looking for. 

I am digging this Zinc Console Table from Urban Barn, because they already have some dark woods happening in their living room so I don't want to add to that too much. This is definitely up the alley of Contemporary Rustic, however, I don't think it's their taste entirely. It would also be good to find something with some shelves or drawers to hold CDs that they'll use in the stereo. I am unsure about something really closed in though, because the way that the room is set up, it would be in a corner that is right next to their wood fireplace which has their TV above it, so I don't want it to look too crowded and heavy in that corner. Something like this just might work, maybe even with floating shelves above to house the CD collection. 
Keep looking!

This cabinet from Ikea could work, with some baskets inside to store CDs, it could look neat, and conquer the issue of creating a really heavy corner with too much wood going on. I'm still not sure this is their taste, but I think I am identifying some of the issues they will need to think about when choosing a setup for the stereo. Something not too closed in, but still having storage.

Restoration Hardware has some amazing finds, and I had trouble narrowing it down. I think this is simple enough to work, because a table with a stereo on it isn't necessarily something you want your focal point to be (and there are some crazy pieces of furniture there that would be super cool if it was going to be a main conversation piece in the space). It's a lighter wood, and the slats still make it a little bit less solid and heavy. It would also hide the CDs, which to be honest aren't the prettiest things to look at. 

That was a lot harder than I expected actually. I browsed a lot of websites just to come up with 3 different concepts. Another suggestion, and probably what I would want to do - especially when wanting a more rustic look - is going to a local thrift store and finding a dresser or table that you can paint or refinish yourself. It's a one of a kind piece and you get the pride of a job well done. Right now Philip and I have been scoping the local thrift stores every Saturday looking for two different pieces. We'll keep you posted when we find them!

Is there a certain thing you've been shopping for but don't have the time? I'd love to feature it in my Window Shopping Wednesday post. Send me an email at, I'll go shopping for you and give you a few ideas on what you could purchase for the space. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Would You Tues: It's Back!

This Tuesday we welcome back our regular "Would You Tues?" feature, where we ask you probing, intellectual question (not really) and you answer it. 

This week, we're wondering: How have you made your current home as beautiful as it is? 

a) We had it built!
b) We bought a new home (built on spec)!
c) We bought an existing home and have primarily hired renovators since!
d) We bought an existing home and have primarily renovated it ourselves!
e) We bought an existing home and have learned to love it as it is!
f) We aren't homeowners yet, but someday we plan to (choose from above).
...and don't forget to tell us why you've chosen to go the direction you've taken!

Answer the question in the comments or on our Facebook page, we'd love to hear from you.

Most of you will know that we bought an existing home, and I'm not sure what the second half of the answer should be. We're fumbling our way through renovations, hiring out the tasks when we need to, learning some of it ourselves, and learning to love a lot of it as is until we can save up time and money to tackle them. 

So far we've ripped out our previous boiler system (ourselves), gutted our basement (ourselves), put in a new HVAC system and hot water tank (hired), new windows (hired), gutted our bathroom (ourselves), put in a new bathroom, learned to love the empty room at the end of the hall as is until warmer weather comes and we can deal with some of the insulation issues, redecorated our office and bedroom (ourselves with help), and a few other touches around our new to us house. Check out our Take the Tour page for before pictures, and we'll be adding progress photos one of these days when our house is clean (maybe when the bathroom is done?). 

It's all in the journey, and while it's taking us a lot longer than it would take someone handier, or someone who is more able to dedicate all of their time to the project, we're learning as we go and are sure our house will be beautiful when we're done with it in a few years. 

Today is about you though, tell us about your house adventures, whether they are buying a new house that is ready for paint and furniture, or have bought a huge project that is going to take years to complete. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Pastels and Egg Shells: Part Two

One week till Easter, and 3 more Easter inspiration ideas to share. We actually celebrated with one side of our family yesterday, so we've already experienced some of the greatness that Easter has for us! If ham, potatoes, asparagus, and delicious citrusy Spring desserts aren't enough for you. Here are some more ideas to inspire your Easter celebration. 

Spring basket cookies are definitely my kind of Easter treat. 

These eggs are paper mache, which seems a lot easier to me! Plus you could paint them and then pack them somewhere safe for next year. I've also read that you can buy paper eggs at craft stores like Michael's if paper mache doesn't sound like your idea of a good time.

This really made me want to make a chalkboard to lean against the wall in our living room, it could be updated to add a backdrop to mantle decorating. 

What are your Easter plans? We'll be celebrating 2 more times, once on Friday with my cousins and again on Sunday with Philip's family. What a beautiful season! Now we just need this snow to melt so that we can feel Spring in more than just our hearts. (Although snow melting has its downsides too...our gutted bathroom has been experiencing a light shower through the ceiling into some buckets). Ice dams anyone?