Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Review: Most Viewed

This is a small blog.

That means, I don't have a lot of page views. When I do have a lot, it means I've either 1) included a search term or a topic which people google and find here, or 2) I've participated in a challenge and linked to another site with a lot of traffic.

I'm pretty sure that's what happened with most of the posts I've rounded up below. I wanted to a do some sort of review of 2014: so I selected the posts with the highest number of page views in each month.

In January (5 posts, total) the theme is a popular one: my mood and the mess around me:

I got better at getting these done consistently, this year. I got good at delegating, too!

How I Improved my Mood.

In February (4), I talked all about how I'd procrastinated putting up a curtain rod. At more than 400 page views, it is one of my most viewed posts this year. I wish I knew why. (Is it the word procrastination?)

This room got a bit of a makeover this year.

How I Stopped Procrastinating

March (9) saw the start of the decorating posts. I did a lot this year, more than perhaps I should have (though our payments on our debt have continued and we owe less this year than last--just not as much less as we could have, had I not spent the money on decorating.)

It all started with this duvet cover.

I still love it.

Bedroom Makeover Step 3: The Duvet

Now, for something completely different. I started using my beloved Bullet Journal. I am still using it. In April (8), I wrote about my first month. This was the most popular post all year.

How I keep track of my hours for work is on the left and on the right is some information, now irrelevant and crossed off. A list of good gold spray paints is highlighted.

The Bullet Journal: My Try

May (7) saw the results of seven weeks of hard work on my Mom's Bedroom finally revealed.

Mom, in front of the headboard I made for her.

ORC7: Mom's Bedroom is Done!

In June (13), the numbers returned to normal levels, for me. This little post on purging a few clothes was the most popular.

The Summer Purge

I didn't post a lot on this blog this summer. I got caught up in a wave of enthusiasm for all things sartorial and neglected this blog dreadfully. July only had one post!

So, my legs look a little short! Who cares when my waist looks this good?

What I've Been Up To.

In August (2), I gave myself a shake.  I'd been working --a lot. My free time was spent at the computer--in front of a fan--chatting about all things clothing related on a forum I truly enjoyed. But, things were starting to slide just a bit too much, so I wrote this post to remind myself what was important to keeping our lives running smoothly.

What Matters

The theme of getting my life back on track and my house in order continued in this --the most viewed post of September (8).

va va voom, baby. The kitchen is clean, the cabinets are painted and it's on its way to being transformed. But wait, we have to do the living room, first.

Accountability Post: Maintaining Momentum

In October (13), I took on the One Room Challenge, this time focusing on my own house instead of my mother's. The most popular post in October talked about both weeks 2 and 3.

ORC Weeks 2&3: Catching Up.

November (18) saw the living room finale garner the second highest view count for the entire year. As it should be.

I still love it to pieces, though that rug needs a vacuum almost daily.

ORC Finale: It's Unbelievable

In December (9), I rode the wave of the living room's success and completed the Style Cure from Apartment Therapy. We made some changes to the kitchen.

Boo rah!

Style Cure 2014: Kitchen Reveal

And so there we have it. That was fun.

For me, this year will stand out for all the decorating I did. My bedroom, my Mom's bedroom, the living room, and the kitchen are all fabulous, beautiful places to be and I could not be happier with them.

I keep this blog mainly for me--but without readers, I probably wouldn't write it at all. So, I want to thank you--that solid core of readers who give me my modest page count on every single post I write. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and for being faithful. I love having you with me.

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Habit: Monthly Review

Today, my ten minute tidy took an hour.

And that's great!

When I started this habit, I was looking for something to help me keep my house under control. I picked it because it seemed intuitive to me that after spending 10 minutes walking around my house--even at its tidiest--I would find something which needed to be done. In truth, the habit wasn't so much "tidying" as it was 10 minutes of focused action-oriented attention on the house.

For a habit to be successful, it needs a trigger and a reward. My trigger was finishing my first cup of coffee in the morning. At the beginning of the month, I set up a sticky note on the coffee maker to remind me to do it (as I reached out to pour that second cup.)  I never did figure out a reward. As for tracking my habit, I decided to use a simple calendar of the days of the month and mark an "X."


I performed my habit 28/29 times.


First, and most disappointing, a ten minute tidy--even when I do it every day--is not sufficient to keep my house picked up. It kills me, but it is only a start. In truth, I'll do whatever needs doing for that ten minutes--sometimes whatever is easiest, sometimes, whatever is most urgent--there's always something to do--and something always left undone. I need to make my peace with that. It won't be too hard, really. I just need to remember something is better than nothing--and it all counts.

Second, as you know, about half way through the month, I struggled with resentment. Apparently, having negative thoughts about the habit (thoughts that would justify quitting) is normal. For me, part of it was resenting the people who make the messes and don't clean up after themselves, the other was because of the way I'd set myself to do it. It interrupted my morning.

The first. I will figure out how to deal with separately. As for the second, I've decided that it makes sense to adhere to that schedule on the days I am working. Mostly, I am afraid that if I promise myself to do it later, I just won't--as I didn't on the day that I missed. However, on days I do not have to be at work and can enjoy some leisure, I've decided to wait until I am "ready" --however many cups of coffee later that may be.

That's exactly what I did this morning--and why I spent an hour in my room picking things up, putting things away, folding laundry, making the bed, dusting, and swiffering. It was most satisfying to be able to devote the time to making my room the clean, calm sanctuary I need it to be.

I am going to continue with this habit.

So nice.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


I enrolled in Leo Babauta's Sea Change Program this month to work on creating habits.

For my habit, I picked 'tidying the house for ten minutes.' In reality, I've been doing various housekeeping related things, so the habit I am trying to form is better expressed as giving the house some focused and concentrated action oriented attention.

My trigger to begin is finishing my first cup of coffee. I put a reminder on the coffee pot. Yesterday, I slept in and did not even have a second cup of coffee--let alone ten minutes to tidy up. But boy-o-boy--did the house ever need it!

I figured I do it later. But as things do, "later" turned into "never" and there is a consequence for that. Leo suggests that we institute an "embarrassing but fun" consequence for missing a day. I haven't been able to figure out the "fun" bit--but I've got "embarrassing" ready.

The kitchen table:

and because I do have some pride. (Ok, a lot.) Here we are now:

So that this exercise isn't merely self-flagellating, maybe you can help?

I am having a couple of problems (both mental):

1) Timing. As I mentioned, I do this after my first cup of coffee and before I pour the second. Often, though, I am in the middle of something at that exact moment: writing a post, or reading something, usually. It is quite a wrench to pull myself out of what I am doing and start picking things up. It is a good time, however. Easy to remember--and--as long as I don't compress my morning--easy to do. It fits well into my morning routine. Maybe I just ought to just suck it up and do it (as I have been doing)? I have managed to do it 19 out of 20 days so far. The only day I've missed was yesterday.

2) Resentment. I wish it weren't true, but on some days I have a lot of resentment towards the other people in this house whose messes I am constantly cleaning (or so it feels). I am also resenting the interruption in my morning--as I mentioned above.

Any thoughts? Ideas?
Have you struggled with forming a new habit?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not a Lot of Fuss

The front hallway has this old niche for the telephone. I like to decorate it seasonally--usually with a plate. Christmas cards hang from a mini- clothesline I got from the dollar store years ago.

I didn't want to decorate this year.

Some paperwhites by the living room windows--a first for us this year.

The living room "mantlescape."

Probably because I have been decorating since the beginning of October. The living room and kitchen look fabulous, though, don't they? I could not be happier. But have you noticed? Neither room really wants red.

The shelves in the kitchen get a silver charger and a snowflake plate, both in silver-grey.

Still loving white flowers. The green sparkly placemats on the table are another nod to Christmas in the kitchen.

And my son loves red. "It's not Christmas without red and green decorations," he told me.

Oddly enough, I did add some red to my bedroom.

The little bear belonged to my daughter when she was three. She decided to get rid of her stuffed animals recently and I rescued this one.

But, as for the rest of the house, my husband hauled out the tree and a few boxes of things and I told the family to have at it. Other than stringing the lights thru the tree, putting up the creche and putting out a few things, they really didn't do much.

The tree. I put on the old green, red and gold ribbon chain we made years ago--and then just a few balls. Nothing else--oh except some fake pine smelling sticks which are so awful I removed after about an hour. Actually, I only found about half of them so that corner stinks like a car wash.

That was fine by me. I arranged a few things, put some balls on the tree, and called it done.

A few pretties on the table in the dining room.

This is not "artful, minimal" no-fuss Christmas decor. This is just a few things from the boxes under the stairs. The things that seem to matter to us. The things that say Christmas, I guess.

Over the TV.

How is Christmas coming along at your place?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Colour Palette, Part 2: White vs. Cream

The couch photographed on reveal day. The walls are clearly a creamy white while the couch cover and lamp base look solidly white. 


I may have goofed.

This week I purchased Maria Killam's brand new e-book, White is Complicated.

In it, Maria distinguishes between two trends or "families" of colours: the Tuscan Browns; browns/beiges/golds/creams/earthy muted colours (on their way out) and the Parisian Greys: blacks/whites/greys/fresh, clear colours, which is all around us. There is also a third category which she doesn't discuss in the book but does on her blog. It has to do more with colour (and not white per se) and that is Fresh (off-white, cream, and clean, pale colours.)

For the Tuscan palette, creamy whites are best. For the Parisian Grey palette,  any white from blue-white to true white to an off-white will go well with the other colours.

Unfortunately, whether you can go with colours from the Tuscan Brown trend or the Parisian Grey trend isn't just a matter of preference: not if you want your home to be harmonious. In order to obtain harmony, whites, like the complex neutrals you will pick to cover your walls must go with the undertones of the hard finishes in your home.

I'm lucky. My home does not have a lot of "hard" finishes. I have wood floors, upstairs and down.  Downstairs, the oak floors have an orange cast. Upstairs, the wood has a reddish cast. The small amount of wood trim we have is also orange, though I call it cognac, since that makes it sound more current! This puts my house closer to the Tuscan brown family than the Parisian Grey.

My kitchen floor, on the other hand, with its black and white tile (and which I love) is firmly in the Parisian grey family of colour. The counter-top (with built-in backsplash), an ancient gold-flecked laminate, can go either way. But really, truly? The best white for my kitchen has always been BM Cloud White which is at the creamy end of off-white.

But wait. Black and white floors? Genuine oak floors and trim? Douglas Fir woodwork? Isn't that closer to classic than Tuscan brown? After all, these finishes actually pre-date the Tuscan brown trend by a few decades.

Wood floors are like Blue Jeans. They go with everything. Black and white floors certainly do, too. So, really, this house can go any which way I want. And I want Parisian Gray. Or, at least, I thought I did.

Even if my house's finishes did nudge me towards the Tuscan brown family, Maria allows for an exception. If my hard finishes (in the earthy and warm palette) can be described as light to medium toned rather than dark, then I can move towards the creamy off-whites (like Cloud White). Off whites belong in the Parisian Grey family of colour.

That sounds right to me. I will never have true white or blue-white in this home. (Well, OK, never say never) but when it is all said and done, true white and blue-white feel cold and harsh to me. So, I am happy with a colour scheme based upon off-white and creams. (But I don't have to go the earthy, muted colour scheme of Tuscan brown (thank goodness). I can go Fresh. (More on that later.))


Here is where I may have goofed.

1) My north facing living room may not have enough light to maintain the ethereal quality of white. More importantly--and alarmingly-- the shadows of a darkish room may make the white look dingy and dirty: not clean and fresh. In these rooms, a pale neutral, or a little colour, or even greige would be better than a white.

Please forgive the mess that passes for Christmas decorations. It's a process.

I don't know. I think the shadows look fine. Of course, it is winter and the room is always brightest in winter from the reflection of the light off of the snow outside. (I know it looks awful. We're in the process of hauling out the Christmas decor and none of it looks right anymore.)

But, I think this same white might be the wrong choice for the adjacent dining room. Any white would likely be the wrong choice for the dining room. There's already an awful lot of white in it. Any more and the place will be washed out and drab. One window makes a cave: not a place where whites can come alive.

why, yes, those are new curtains. The room is currently painted French Vanilla CC 248 (or Papaya to all you Americans) by Benjamin Moore

see? Lots of white already.

2) Let's say white is the right choice for the living room: should it have been a white as creamy as Glass of Milk? Yes, I think so. Anything less yellow would have been too stark, I think. Is this the absolute best colour for this room? Who knows? I'm not painting the living room again for along time.

 It'll do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Kitchen Cost Post

In the interest of forever keeping it real, I'm going to break down what it cost to make over the kitchen --as best I can.

Paint: $146.24

1 quart Benjamin Moore Advance in High Gloss, "Dragonfly" (AF 510) 25.00?

1 quart CIL Smart Alkyd, Custom Matched. $25.97

1 gallon Ralph Lauren Eggshell, "Elgin Grey" (RL 4343) $56.72

 (not yet painted): Benjamin Moore, Patriotic White, (2135-70) $38.55

Chairs: $54.93

Paint: 1 quart Ralph Lauren Semi-gloss custom matched to Benjamin Moore Old Navy (2063-10): $26.97
Cushions: JUSTINA (Ikea) $6.99 x4

Light Fixture:  $30.89

SECOND cord set (I bought white) Ikea: $8.99
Shade (Home Depot): $7.96
Small appliance bulb (Home Depot): (2 in the package) $3.98
Command Hooks (for cord): $9.96

Roman Shades: $64.66

Fabric, shower curtain from Target (Likely) $20.00
Shade cord (Home Depot): $4.74
brass rods (Home Depot): $11.99 x 2
Screw Eyes (Home Depot): $2.99
Mounting Wood 1x2x8 (Home Depot): $7.53
Shade Tape (Fabricland): $6.42
Shade Rings (Fabricland): $19.80
Cord Cleats (Home Depot) $1.97 x2

Microwave Shelf: $22.54

Shelf Brackets (12"): $5.99 x2
Melamine Shelf (16 x 24): $7.30
Plastic edging: $3.26

Accessories: $15.98

"Tea" Canister (Homesense): $5.99
"Milk" Jug Utensil Holder (Homesense): $9.99

Miscellaneous: $53.71

Spackle for walls (Home Depot): $2.64 x2
Painter's Tape (Home Depot): $5.47
Tape for Freshly painted surfaces (Yellow Frog Tape) (Home Depot): $9.97
Testers (Home Depot): $4.99 x3
Foam Paint Brushes (Home Depot): $5.77 x2
Paint Brush (Home Depot): $6.48

Total: $388.90
plus: Pizza we ordered in: $59.27

Grand Total: $448.17

And I'd said my budget for this makeover would be $100 for paint! Even accounting for having purchased the fabric for the blinds and the paint for cabinets and the table already--I really had no idea, did I?

Monday, December 8, 2014

From the Weekend: The Difference between Navy and Black

In case someone needs to know.

It's the last chair to be painted for the kitchen.

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on the AT Style Cure kitchen reveal. It was quite gratifying to have my pics up on Apartment Therapy's site.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Style Cure 2014: Kitchen Reveal

After a hard week of filling holes and cracks and sanding and painting, we have a *new* kitchen.

It is not perfect. It's not even quite done. (I still have two chairs left to paint and the ceiling will be done in January when my husband has his next week off.)

But I am so happy. It is genuinely refreshed.

I was inspired by three things.

1) I painted the cabinets in the summer. I'd always intended to finish "making over" the kitchen this summer. But it was much too hot and I worked long, hard hours at my job. I spent most of my down time sitting in front of a fan.

2) When I finished up the living room for the ORC on November 6th, I was still raring to go. Proof that doing something you love gives you energy. I had achieved some sort of clarity in my vision for the living room: I was eager to see if I could carry that vision over to the kitchen. The kitchen was actually much easier than the living room: fewer moving parts!

3) The Syle Cure happening at Apartment Therapy. It kept me focused on days I worked and couldn't actually do anything (other than sew and re-sew that first Roman blind!). Even though it ended on Nov 21st, I trudged ever on. Besides, I was well into the swing of things.

So: to the "Befores"

This room has only been painted twice since living here. The first time was in 2000. I painted it "Ursa Major" a lovely yellow on a palette created by Martha Stewart. (Anyone remember that? I think the paint was carried either by Sears or Canadian Tire back then.)

The cabinets were also originally painted according to the palette--but I painted over that particular yellow years ago. (Not by choice--I had no idea what colour it had been!)

Here we are with the cabinets earlier this year before their new paint job.

Then, in September, I sanded and painted my kitchen table:



That brings us to the middle of November when I'd hung my new pendant light over the sink, as per Day 19 of the Cure.

And, to finish off the tour: the stove wall.

That is not dirt! That is a terrible crack in the plaster board right above the stove. As you can see, it has been patched before.

And now, here we are:
(I am so excited!)

Here are the two Roman shades I sewed-- together in the same shot. They were made from a shower curtain I found at Target.

The cabinets with the cord all snugged in with command clips. (The cord still has a few kinks in it, unfortunately.)

Here you can see that I decided to paint the tiny bit of wall between the original aluminum banded backsplash and the upper cabinets with trim paint. I thought that by using an off white, instead of the grey, I'd create a cleaner line. Looking at it now, I'm afraid it just looks like we forgot to paint here.

I am so proud of this area! We took down the shelf of cookbooks with the utensils hanging underneath it and never looked back. Even though the cabinetry looks weird stopping short of the fridge like that, this is ten times better than the clutter that used to be here. Bonus: the utensils won't fall on the floor anymore like they used to do when you missed your aim for the hook!

The utensils live here, now, inside a jug from Homesense. (The tea canister holds the dog treats that were also on that shelf.)

Why didn't we do that before? The microwave shelf was mounted too low. We bought new brackets and a new shelf and raised it.

So, now, how about a round of Before and After?

So, what do you think?

Linking to the December Party at Remodelaholic.

Added later: Wondering what a "little refreshing" cost? See this post.

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