Christmas Around the House

December 17, 2014

With Christmas around the corner, I managed to finish decorating the house. Keeping it real simple this year, I just added bits of Christmas decor throughout the main floor. My go-to decor items are Christmas balls, I have 2.5 bins full! They are perfect for arranging in a bowl, to hang from a drapery rod or string together to make garland.

My Czech corn husk nativity.

Sent the hubs and son to get a tree, knowing they'd come back with a ginormous one! Love how we have the space for a beautiful tree! Had to  s  t  r  e  t  c  h   the ornaments all over the tree, spacing them so it looked covered.

The nutcrackers are chillin' with Beethoven (or is it Mozart?)

The quickest way to decorate - throw balls in a basket and you are done!

Simple, but I love it.

XO Barbara

Smelly Stuff

December 16, 2014

This isn't a pretty post, but instead about the nitty gritty inner workings of under my kitchen sink. If want to see pretty, then read no further...

Naturally one puts their garbage can under the kitchen sink, but who puts a heating vent under it as well? The two combined, make for one stinky kitchen. Another thing that makes me go..."hmmmm". Clearly, the thought was to keep ones toes warm while the dishes are being washed. That would be fine, but somehow the heat vents up the sides where there is an opening because of the angle of the cupboard. That makes for a "ripe" smelling garbage that can stink up the kitchen. I was wracking my brain how to solve this problem, when in my inbox I received an email from Glad wondering if I wanted to review their Glad Odour Guard bags with Febreeze. The timing couldn't be better. I received  green can compostable garbage bags along with some kitchen catcher garbage bags.

 See? Heating vent under the garbage. P.U.!

Why yes, those are dishes in the sink...keeping it real.

The green can compostable bags fits perfectly in the compost can where I collect all kitchen scraps. It keeps it nice and clean and no smell! The only drawback is I found out our municipality doesn't allow compostable bags in our Green Can. Not a problem, I just dump what is in the bag into the outdoor Green Can and dispose of the bag in my regular trash bin. It makes for a clean under the sink compost bin!

The Kitchen Catcher Odour Guard garbage bags from Glad are large enough to fit my under the sink garbage can perfectly. I found that my el cheapo garbage bags I was using previously weren't quite long enough, and would slide down inside, then I had more of a mess to clean. These bags are long enough and really do trap odours! So nice to come down in the morning and not be turned off by the smell. A quick grab and tie and into the trash they go! 

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

This helps make for a smooth and calm morning so I can enjoy this...

And be glad :) 

XO Barbara

* This post was created in partnership with Glad Odour Guard garbage bags, the opinions are all mine.

Printable Christmas Card from Meeshworks

December 14, 2014

I HAVE to put in a plug for my really good and VERY talented friend Michelle Mollinga who does not do enough self-promotion. She is not only an amazing illustrator but fabulous photographer, which is evident on her Instagram feed. She makes my Instagram look blah. Her chair prints are simply amazing. I have one in my bedroom. She even taught me how to do hand rendering as a trade, I teach her how to use her sewing machine (which she needs to FIX!) and she teaches me rendering. I drew my beautiful house from when we lived in Virginia.

This year she has made two downloadable Christmas cards for only $5, you can download and print! I am getting the little tree. 

I love supporting artists, so instead of running to Walmart to get cheesy cards, consider buying from my dear friend Meesh!

XO Barbara

Things That Make You Go...Hmmmm...

November 9, 2014

We have been living in our new rental home for a few months already. Most boxes are unpacked, but I still have little bits to finish to make the house feel more "us". I have been busy with the family room as we spend most of our time in there. As much as I would love to toss everything out on the curb and start over, I am not. With a bit of rearranging, paint, fabric and some accessories I hope to create a fabulous space. More on that later.

When we first looked at the house it was under a cosmetic renovation, there were painters and carpenters in the house and I was enamoured with the space, the hardwood floors, and the kitchen. Upon moving in, I noticed little details that made me wonder, " What the ?#%*$?" 

There are niches in some of the walls, this one along a huge wide staircase is one that makes me think....why?  

When I first saw the fireplace, I loved the stone, but upon further inspection, I wondered, "What the....?"  The fireplace was covered in weird random concrete brick like pieces and odd pieces jutting out. What purpose do those jutting out pieces serve? They are random, some don't stick out far enough and others are slanted. Whoever revamped that fireplace should go to design hell. I am wracking my brain how I can cover up those jutting pieces.

Really? Let's just place a piece crooked and with stamped initials for all to see. 

And finally....the ever so lovely powder room. It was hard to get a good photo, but the WHOLE house inside and out was painted, new roof, new gutter, new topsoil, refinished hardwood, etc BUT somehow this wallpaper was deemed fabulous to keep?

I have been given permission to remove it. And by golly it will be gone! The landlords left me all the paint and I love the paint colour in the kitchen, so it will go into the bathroom. 

I am hoping to work on few updates in the next little while. With me working fulltime and Christmas/athletic activities beginning to fill the calendar, it is a challenge! Bear with me and my sporadic blogging. In the meantime, you can catch up with me via "real time" on Instagram!

XO Barbara


October 17, 2014

If you follow me on Instagram you would notice that I participated in Vancouver Home and Design Show's fundraiser benefiting Habitat for Humanity Vancouver in their Upcycle Challenge. 

We were given a chair of our choice, $50 from Habitat for Humanity Vancouver ReStore and products from Rustoleum, one of the sponsors of the Upcycle Challenge. We made over a chair using our creativity, imagination and a lot of spray paint!

When I spotted my chair at the Vancouver ReStore I knew it was the one! I made sure it wasn't an original Saarinen Tulip chair and then went to work. My original plan was to spray paint the front of the chair fluorescent pink, but that paint is not really meant for painting furniture and after 2 bottles, the coverage was awful. So I switched to glossy blue. But didn't like that either. So black it was. When I was given the Rustoleum catalogue to pick out the products I wanted, the Glitter spray paint called my name. The  base got glitterized. I LOVED how it went on and how it turned out!

Using fabric from Tonic Living and some leftover pom-pom fringe my chair went from blah to WOWZA!

My chair is ready for YOUR bids. Come to the Vancouver Home and Design Show this weekend from October 16-19 and make your bid. All proceeds go straight to Habitat for Humanity Vancouver. 

Habitat for Humanity is an organization that helps, along with various partners, in building housing, providing low cost mortgages that assists low income earners in putting a roof over their head when going the traditional route isn't affordable.

The ReStores are run by Habitat for Humanity, where through donations from corporations, businesses and people, sell furniture, building materials, etc., keeping things out of our landfills and at the same time raising money to assist those who need a roof over their heads!

So what are you waiting for? Head down to Vancouver all my local friends. Be inspired by what you see there and bid on a chair!

XO Barbara

I'm Featured....

October 10, 2014

The lovely Terry's Blinds from the UK asked me to be featured on their Designer's Insight page. I had to make sure they understood that I was not a designer, just a blogger who dreams design. They were fine with yours truly is featured on their blog!

Go check it out along with my 5 Top Stylish Picks for this season!

XO Barbara

Why We Rent

September 19, 2014

A few have asked whether we finally broke down and bought this house, or are we renting. We are still renting. After moving back to Canada in 2008, we moved in such a hurry that we wanted time to figure out where we wanted to live. We liked the high school in this area, but didn't want to commit in buying. In 2009, the market had dropped a bit and we were seriously looking. We found a few, but then we thought, the next house will be the "one".

Then the market shot up, we decided to wait. My husband's work restructured and he was given a generous severance and a nice long paid holiday, which he enjoyed fully. With a possibility of moving towns/provinces for work, purchasing a home wasn't something we were financially comfortable with. Work was found in our area and we started looking again. Again, overwhelmed at the cost of home ownership and comparing what we could of bought back in Virginia, it was a hard pill to swallow. I remember being at the bank and when the banker told us what mortgage she could approve us for, I started having a panic attack. Felt like a noose around my neck was being tightened. So we decided to put it off until kids graduated. 

I am ok with renting because it makes economic sense for our family. It means we can live in an over-valued neighbourhood and live in a house for cheaper than owning it. We did the math and if we bought this house, our savings would be depleted for a down payment and with our mortgage payments/property taxes and repair costs it would be AT least $1200 more a month than renting. Sure everyone says we are paying down someone else's mortgage. We have investments elsewhere but we don't believe it putting ALL your eggs in one basket. If the market falls (which it did when we lived in Virginia and this area is not immune to that, contrary to what the belief is here), we won't lose it all. We have been there once before, purchasing a leaky condo and losing everything and starting from scratch. Hard to do with 3 little kids and one income. So we are wary in putting everything we have into a house in a market where no one bats an eyelash in taking on a $500,000 + mortgage. Combine that with the fact that in 2 years our youngest graduates from high school, which then means we aren't tied down to this school catchment area. It opens the door to moving elsewhere! So we are renting.

(Our old family room)

 I feel like we hit the jackpot with this house. It was only 2 streets over from our last place, and ironically next door to our real estate agent, who I am sure is tired of our indecisiveness! We are in the same neighbourhood and my son has a 2 minute longer walk to high school, going from 10 min to 12 min. Also, this house was given a cosmetic renovation before we moved in, so it feels fresh and "new". We also negotiated a lower rent (cheaper than our other place) to take care of the landscaping, which is overgrown. I love gardening, so it was a win-win for us and them! The kitchen looks pretty but in reality the cabinets need replacing. Which might be something the landlords are interested in doing next year. They had a bad, bad experience with the previous tenant, so they are hesitant as to how much they will renovate. Fair enough. I think I can cure them of that!

So in a nutshell, here we are. I am in a house with good bones and my creative juices are flowing!

XO Barbara

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