Monday, Monday and a Great Read

How was your weekend?

As usual we experienced liquid sunshine here on the "wet" coast, when not at the soccer field or hockey rink I stayed snuggled up by the fire.

What I enjoyed the most was catching up reading the amazing collection of online ezines that are published, my favourite House of Fifty didn't fail to disappoint.

Janell has really created a niche in the ezine world and I look forward to when the magazine arrives in my inbox.

My favourite article was Home Sweet Rental -

As a renter I have embraced the home I live in and the limitaions of renting. The article shares invaluable design tips: add colour, add storage, mix high with low

Love, love, love this article and all the inspirational images!

Thanks for the inspiration Janell and team!!

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Angie from Echoes of Laughter

Feeling disorganized? Stumped for party ideas? Not sure what to feed your ravenous children? Well look no further, my latest guest's blog is full of ideas that can help you with just that.

Please welcome.....

 Angie Pitre from Echoes of Laughter

She is...

You know how when you read through the hundreds of blogs that are found swirling around on the internet but only a few catch your eye? Angie's blog Echoes of Laughter is one of them. The funny thing is, the first thing that caught my eye on her blog, was not the content but a photo she has of her bike on the sidebar! Being married to a bike fanatic, I appreciate a great bike when I see one. Angie's bike is one I would love to have to just leisurely bike around the neighbourhood! Silly, I know...

I heart this bike.

Reading Angie's blog is so inspiring, her zest for decor and organization makes you want to create order in your own home. Martha, better watch out, Angie is hot on her tail! Not only can she organize the chaos out of your home, she can make the simple things in life extraordinary! For instance, Angie can made ordinary hot chocolate into a party at her home...her hot chocolate bar she had set up during the holidays made me crave some!

 Her blog was named in the Top 25 Home Management Blogs by Circle of Moms. I can understand why, her blog is full of amazing articles like this one: 5 Easy Steps to Packing School Lunch!

Want to stream line your household? Well hop over there quick! You won't be disappointed.

Angie also always manages to be on top of decorating her home for the seasons...

The gallery wall composed of her children's art create a cheerful and colourful vignette.

A great way to organize and display jewelry.

An organized mudroom shelf.

Angie always has the most amazing party, holiday theme decorating ideas or yummy recipes!

Tell us a bit about yourself? Your background? Your education? What makes you tick!

I was born and grew up in Nova Scotia. I lived there with my family until my husband’s job required a move across the country 7 years ago. It was a big move for us…we stepped off a plane in a new city and knew no one. I actually have a background in business….I have a bachelor`s degree in business and worked in small business for 12 years before moving to Alberta in 2005 and becoming a stay-at-home mom to my children, who were 4 yrs. old and 8 yrs. old at the time. I have relished my life and role at home these last 7 years. What makes me tick is that I am very project oriented! I love seeing projects thru from beginning to end. And I love pretty!

What made you decide to start a blog?

I started blogging in the fall of 2005 as a form of therapy for starting a life in a new city and being a little lonely, as I had not met a lot of people yet. Later, it became a way of keeping in touch with all of my family back home in Nova Scotia. I think my Mom & Dad were my only readers for about 2 to 3 years!

What have you enjoyed about blogging? Any surprises along the way? Any dislikes?

The thing that I have enjoyed most about blogging is the connections I have made with people from all over the world. For instance, I have readers in Israel and Australia, and they leave wonderfully kind comments on my blog. To me, that is astounding and wonderful! The biggest surprise in blogging has been the impact of Pinterest…the biggest source of traffic for my blog now is Pinterest. People are finding me because others have pinned my projects there.  My only dislike is that there are just not enough hours in a day to keep up with all of the fantastic blogging talent out there!

Your blog is such a resource for fabulous organizational, meal, party and just plain pretty ideas. Where do you find the time to come up with such inspirational ideas? Where do you find your inspiration?

{Aww! Thanks Barb!} I am not really sure if I “find the time” as it is more of a natural part of me. My mother kept a wonderful home when I was growing up. She was always making things look pretty, or sewing something, or whipping up something wonderful in the kitchen. My mother also has amazing presentation skills, and I think I just kind of learned through osmosis from her. I also have a long-time love of pretty dishes and flowers. And I was a huge magazine junkie for many years. I would say most of my inspiration now comes from other blogs where amazing women are showcasing so many wonderful skills….be it sewing, baking, photography or design.

I noticed you author another blog called “Beautifully Organizational Living”, where you not only offer organizational tips on your blog, but organizational services. What are some easy ways we can find order in our homes?

Some easy ways to find order is: 1~ Start with small projects that take only 15-20 minutes. Instead of starting with big projects, which can be overwhelming, start with small, more manageable goals that fit into a busy schedule For instance, instead of organizing the whole kitchen at once, start with a drawer or cupboard a day if that is all you have time for. Set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes, work for that time and then stop. Soon the kitchen will be done and you can move on to another project. I used to work full-time when my kids were small and that is how I took care of my home….in small bits at a time. 2~De-clutter often! I usually take a bag or box to Goodwill every week. I regularly weed out things we don’t use and try not let them turn into messy piles! Again, 15 minutes a week is all it takes. 3~Manage those paper piles! Buy blue bags for recycling and toss junk mail and papers you don’t need right away!

As a mother, how to you find balance in your everyday?

I don’t know if we ever find the perfect balance…but a happy medium! I try to loosely schedule my day so that it includes a bit of everything. I have little habits that help me. For instance, after the kids leave for school, I always put in a load of laundry. I plan meals for the week on Sundays. On Mondays, I change bed sheets. On Wednesdays, I clean bathrooms. {It’s old-fashioned, but it works!} Tuesdays always seem to be the day for creative projects. I try to schedule a ‘fun day’ during the week where I meet a girlfriend for lunch, shopping, a movie or a walk. I hug my kids and husband a lot! And I practice being grateful every day…for things like good health, my family, a yummy meal, skyping with my parents, etc. I consider myself so privileged to be able to stay home and take care of my family in the way that I do.

Tell us one thing that might surprise us!

My smoke alarm goes off more than it should {when I am in the kitchen}!  

You have created an amazing home for your family, what tips and suggestions do you have for creating a home on a dime?

A~I think the best tip is to get on the computer and spend some time in blog land. The ideas and inspiration are abundant. Bloggers make incredible projects out of stuff found on the side of the road or Goodwill or with their own hands and the local hardware store. It just takes some imagination and elbow grease.
B~Always try to think outside the box. If something doesn’t work in one room, can it work in another? Can it be re-painted? Can it be re-covered? I have spray painted picture frames, lamps, shelves, and candlesticks. I have re-covered chairs. I visit the dollar store for seasonal décor and I am never disappointed.
C~Paint is truly the best decorating tool. It can transform anything! I painted for the first time when I got married. I have painted in every house we have lived in since. It’s a life skill! My 13 yr. old daughter and I painted her room together and then she did her closet on her own. Don’t be scared and get out that paintbrush or spray can!

You are an east coast gal living on the Prairies now. Have you noticed any differences in the way people decorate their homes between the East and West? What do you miss the most about Atlantic Canada? What have you grown to love about living in the West?

Hmm. That’s a bit of a hard comparison to make because I am not sure if the differences come from where I live or not: big city {Alberta} vs. small town {Nova Scotia} but I have seen a lot more ‘modern’ décor in the West. I notice there is less antique furniture in family homes here. Of course, the biggest difference is the residential landscape itself. In the Maritimes, you will find almost every river, dale and town dotted with cape cods, colonials and Victorian style homes.  The West was settled later and has more recent residential styles. What I miss that about Atlantic Canada….doors or homes painted pink or purple with gingerbread trim and ‘widow’s walk’ rooflines. So pretty! And I painfully miss the ocean at times! The West has beautiful mountains and prairies and I find the people so friendly!

If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone or do anything, what would it be and why?

Well, over the Christmas holiday, I saw the new George Clooney movie, `The Descendants` and that made me desperate to take my family to Hawaii, as we have never been. The cinematography captured in the movie was so beautiful and I am an ocean-loving girl…so a quiet spot in Hawaii on the beach for 2 weeks when we have recently experienced temps in the -40`s here in Alberta sounds perfect to me right now!

What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style and design, and if so, what is it that you think sets us apart?

I love Canadian design! I think it is unique and eclectic in many ways. I think Canadians do have a unique sense of style and design that works for our lifestyle and climate. I think because we spend 3 seasons with our doors and windows closed for the most part means we want our indoor spaces to be warm and comfortable and light-filled. When I think of how designers such as Sarah Richardson and Candace Olsen have become so recognizable and popular, it makes me think that we Canadians must have it going on!

Thank you so much for having me here at hodge:podge Barb! I am so touched that have included me alongside so many other fantastic Canadian bloggers and talent such as Suzanne Dimma. I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing blogging community! Angie xo

Phew Angie! You put my household management skills to shame. Glad to have stumbled across your blog, looking forward to implementing some of your fantastic tips!

XO Barbara

Chalkboard DIY

Another project that has been on my to-do list has been to make a chalkboard for our kitchen with the vintage frame I found at a thrift shop over 6 months ago. Yes, things take me forever to do....

At first I was going to paint the frame. But after being indesicive about what colour I decided I liked the the patina of the frame as is.

All that was needed was a piece of wood. Heading to Home Depot I got a piece of 1/4" thick smooth planed pine cut to size.

Next I painted one coat of primer and coat of chalkboard paint. 
I didn't take photos because I figured you all knew how to slap on paint? 

I fit the painted piece into the frame and secured in place with some small finishing nails!

Easy peasy!

My artsy middle daughter could help herself but to immediately draw on it. Now we have a way of letting the family know what is for dinner, when it is dinner and what is going on for the afternoon/evening!

XO Barbara

Slowly Checking Off the To-do List

Slowly my to-do list is getting shorter. 

Who am I kidding??

 I just keep adding more to the list, but at least I am making some headway.

This past weekend all sports activities were cancelled due to our weeklong snowfall {Vancouverites don't handle snow too well} and I had some free time on my hands.

Using these photos as inspiration:

I finally hung up this. 

So my husband comes home for a few days away skiing with the guys and announces he does not like my gallery wall. 

Phooey on him. I like it. It stays.

And I really want to paint the walls, getting tired of the greeny hue. I think I might go crazy and paint the walls white! 

I know, I like to live dangerously.

Another little project I worked on was a Martha-inspired blind made from a gorgeous linen for my friend Tracey.  In fact I am meeting up with her today. Fingers crossed this was what she had envisioned!

Since Tracey is a photographer extraordinaire, I will let her take photos of the blind up in her bathroom and then I will steal borrow her photos!

I also worked on another project {I know this was a crazy productive weekend!} that involved 

Here's to another productive week!

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Shannon & Dean Acheson

Happy Sunday! 

Thanks for stopping by for another installment in my So Canadian eh? series.
For my newest followers you can read past interviews with fantabulously amazingly talented famous, and not--famous-but-should-be  Canadians here.

This week brings a husband and wife team who have transformed an ordinary builder blah bungalow to
a beautiful abode all with their ingenious DIY skill.

Please welcome...

The Mrs. and Mr. of {aka}Design, Shannon and Dean Acheson.

They are...

The super duo have had their home featured on Apartment Therapy's House Tours, on the Steven and Chris' Show and various other "big" name websites such as DIY Showoff, Miss Mustard Seed and Remodelaholic.

I am blown away by their talent, sure helps to have a willing husband who is handy with power tools!
{ehem..are you listening???}

Whatever they dream up, the make! Words can't describe what those two are capable of, just take a look and see.

Their Union Jack coffee table made from a typical country style coffee table. Nothing a little board and batten and paint can't fix!

Cool and hip bedroom for a train loving boy!

Rustic farm table made from wood pallets.

Restoration Hardware inspired industrial shelving
Dean made them. Yes...sick...


 Their master bedroom. What a cozy space to be in. I love those lamps!

Fabulous desk niche in their open concept family/dining room.

Their dining room, all decorated with re-vamped furniture.

Tell us a bit about yourself? What is you background? Your education? Did you study art/design?

I dabbled in architecture during high school; taking drafting and AutoCAD courses and working in an architectural firm for co-op and as a summer job. After Dean and were married, I went to college for what was previously known as Desktop Publishing followed by a year of art and design; colour theory, photography (with film and darkroom!), package design, etc. I spent two years working in advertising and graphic design before we had our kids. Since then I've come back to my original love of home, but this time far more focused on interior decorating and DIY. Dean has worked in sheet metal fabrication for almost twenty years, so his ability to see and plan a project is phenomenal. We make a really great team in that way: I come up with a concept, he plans it out and constructs it , then I put the finishing touches on it.

What made you decide to start blogging?

We bought a war era bungalow in 2009 that needed so much work. About six months into the renovations, I had been reading all these other blogs and I thought I could so do that. 

What have you enjoyed about blogging and what has surprised you along the way?

I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing and of finding my unique (I hope) voice. That is a little bit of a surprise - I had no idea I'd love it so much. I also very much enjoy the learning process; from finding sources and gleaning ideas from the web to improving my camera skills and gaining a working knowledge of seo and all the technical stuff that goes with running a blog. There is always so much to learn.

Where do you go for inspiration for your blog and for your home?

I use google image search quite a bit. And Pinterest has become a new source of beautiful images over the last few months. Other blogs provide a huge wealth of inspiration. And I still read print mags occasionally.

You have created a beautiful home with a lot of elbow grease, what tips do you have for others who want to create a fabulous home on a dime?

That's a loaded question! There are so many ways to create a great space with little money. I always say that decluttering and organizing are absolute musts. After that, decide on one large piece that you absolutely love and go from there.

As a seasoned veteran blogger, what tips do you have for other bloggers?

It's funny, I still don't think of myself as a veteran blogger. I've been asked a few times in the last few weeks for advice though, so I suppose there's something to be said for our growth. My biggest recommendation is to write about what you are passionate about, especially if you want to grow and perhaps make a little money. It takes awhile. And it takes a lot of hard work. So be patient too.

Your home has been featured on television and websites such as Apartment Therapy, how did such features come about?

Online networking. Our blog is currently linked to by over 200 other sites. Some of those links came about by others seeing our content and linking to us. Others came from me requesting a link. Then there's Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. They each have their advantages: Pinterest is great for ideas and for drawing readers to our blog, Facebook is wonderful for connecting to our readers in a conversation and twitter is fabulous for networking with other bloggers and brands.

Tell us one thing that would surprise us!

Hmm. Tough. We're pretty open. I don't know - I don't use power tools. I'm a bit scatter brained and clumsy so anything that can take off my finger if I happen to lose focus for a few seconds is not so friendly!

How would you describe your design style?

I think we are a bit modern country, farmhouse and industrial all thrown together.

How do you balance life, family and blogging?

Sometimes well and sometimes not so well! It is something we strive for. But occasionally we bite off more than we can chew. Mostly that's my fault but Dean tends to go along with my suggestions too. Last fall we participated in an online contest, followed immediately by hosting Thanksgiving, and then our tv appearance on the Steven & Chris show. All of which were incredible experiences. But it was an unbelievably busy time. We homeschool our kids so after they get themselves breakfast, I teach them in the morning. And then while they play and read in the afternoon I work on projects and take photos. Then I hang with them a bit and when Dean gets home we all do dinner together. After whatever evening activities we have going on Dean and I read to the kids and tuck them in. Then we talk projects etc and I write, often while everyone else is asleep.

If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone or do anything, what would it be and why? 

I'm not really much of a star-struck kind of person, so meeting celebrities is awesome if it happens but I don't really idolize anyone in particular. In regards to the blog, I would really love to attend a big blog conference like Haven, be on The Nate Berkus show and have our projects or house appear in print too.

What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style and design, and if so, what is it that you think sets us apart?

Canadians have a lot do deal with by way of weather, so our homes and spaces have to work with that. We can have light bright airy spaces in the summer, but we also need to be able to pull out the plush throws for the colder seasons. I think this allows us a lot of flexibility and freedom because we're not stuck with any one thing. I think we are also a very laid back bunch overall, which makes our design very comfortable and welcoming.

Thank you so much, Barbara!!!!

Shannon {and Dean}, thank-you so much for letting us into your world. I too dabbled in architecture and drafting in high school but it was pre-AutoCad and was all hand drawing. I also worked for an engineering firm as a coop summer student! 

And power tools and I don't mix, as my focus can be a bit lacking and my appendages would be at risk!

XO Barbara

The Obsession Continues...


my obsession with stripes continues.

I was reading my blogging friend Camille's blog, The Vintique Object, and saw a photo of her bathroom with this fabulous rug in it! She too is a fellow renter trying to spruce up her place within the constraints of renting.

I   heart that rug!

Camille kindly sent me a link to the rug. 

Thanks Camille.

Funny, she thought of me when she bought it.

 Am I that obvious???

Here are some of my favourites I have found:

The Olin Rug from Crate and Barrel {that is what Camille has}
The ever-so-popular-that-I-can't-ever-find-it-in-the-store rug from Ikea

The Milliken Rug from Rugs USA

crooked stripes AKA "chevron"

but could be a good contender!

I would love a striped rug for my entry or laundry room, but wondering if any of you out there has one?

If you do, how to you keep it clean?
Or clean it?

I have a wonderful, yet occasionally drooly and dirty Chocolate Lab and need an easy to clean area rug!


XO Barbara