Saturday, October 1, 2016

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

Sorry about that.

I spent most of the summer working on launching a new blog and website all about design and decor. I was busy accumulating ideas. researching names, buying a domain and then, settling on a web site design and getting someone to install it for me.

It is called The Joy of Home.

It was fun.

Until it wasn't. My arthritic hips began bothering me so much I couldn't sleep. I began to unravel just a bit--and a friend stopped me and asked me to take care of myself. So, I put my baby business venture on hold and started a tiny little blog on taking care of myself. I didn't research the name. I didn't buy a domain. I just started a wordpress (dot) com blog and began to write My Body and Me Blog.

So, I started out wanting to write a blog on decorating and decor and offer consulting and courses, the whole shebang.  Instead, I started a weight loss and fitness blog --well, let's say, more accurately, a blog on getting healthier, hopefully fit and we'll have to cross our fingers on that weight loss thing--at least for a while!

I don't think I will be posting much here in the future unless it is to announce the official launch of The Joy of Home. I am looking forward to that. I wish it was up and running already, but I have to remind myself there's really no rush.

For now, you can catch me at My Body and Me Blog. Come and say hello.

Monday, July 11, 2016

How to Sew a Spiffy Pen Quiver for your Bullet Journal*

*or any other book you like to write in! It does need to have a fairly rigid cover, though.

There's nothing worse than searching for a pen when you need to make a note. Well, except for asking for a pen to jot a note. I was at a meeting the other night--and I had my bullet journal to take notes--but no pen. Everyone else was taking notes on their phones, of course, so I didn't want to ask for anything so old school as a pen. Yeesh.

A pen quiver was past due.

It's quite easy, really.

1. Take two pieces of fabric you love.

They don't have to be different, but it is more fun if they are (and easier for a tutorial!)

 2. Measure.

A. Measure your book lengthwise.

B. Determine how much you want your quiver to overlap your cover on the back x 2.

C. Add on your seam allowance x 2.

A + B + C = length of both pieces.

You are essentially cutting the two pieces of fabric the same length and width even though the top piece will be positioned lower on the cover.  Later, you will simply fold down the extra fabric of the front piece to make a nice edge for your pen caps.

D. Determine the width you want. Add 1/2" for seam allowances.

3. Using the above measurements, cut out both pieces from your fabric.

I got carried away before I took the photo and started pressing on to a few steps ahead. 

For an 8 1/4" x 5" bullet journal, my pieces were 12 1/4" long x 3 1/2" wide.

4. Fold down the top piece where you want it to be relative to the bottom piece. Press.

I had started out thinking I would make side seams but when I pressed them together, I realised there would be far too much bulk. You don't want your pen quiver to be so thick it makes the left hand pages of your BuJo wobbly.

I folded down the top piece so that about 4" of the bottom piece remained in view.

5. Place the top piece of fabric over the bottom piece as you want them on your cover. (both right sides up). Align the bottom edges.

Turn the piece over so that the wrong sides are now facing you and fold back both pieces your allotted seam allowance (C).  Press. Sew. Cut off the corners.

6. Fold over the top piece and sew. Cut the corners.

7. Take your pinking shears and cut along both edges. I hope you can cut straighter than I can! If you don't have pinking shears it will be fine if you just cut with straight scissors.

8. Turn the piece back over and secure the top folded edge with pins.

My apologies, those pins should be lengthwise. This way they will get caught in the machine, as I soon discovered. In other words, pin the edge with the heads of the pins pointing left to right.

9. Sew both sides. I used a zig zag stitch, but you can use a straight one if you prefer.

Securing the elastic.

10. Fold over the bottom piece and mark where the elastic will go. You certainly don't have to place it as close to the edge as I did.  (I'm not sure why I did that, frankly!)

11. Sew the elastic to the fabric.

12. Place the quiver on your cover and fold over the top and bottom pieces. Stretch the elastic to the top until you have some --but not extreme-- tension. Mark.

No, I am certainly not the neatest sewer in the world. In fact, I'm pretty bad. As long as it holds, I figure we're good. That bookplate is from Tsh Oxenreider's e-course, Upstream. 

13. Remove, turn inside out and pin.

Again, please change the direction of the pin before sewing.

14. Sew the elastic to the fabric.

15. Turn your completed pen quiver right side out and slide it onto your cover.

I used an old elastic saved from some defunct pyjama pants--that's why it looks stitched. Old pyjama pants not required for this project. Just some elastic. 

Load up with your favourite pens.

And there you have it.

No more fumbling for a pen at the bottom that black hole better known as a purse.
No more embarrassing moments, whispering in the weird face phone glowing dark: "Can I borrow a pen?"

Linking up to these parties;
DIY Show Off: The Summer Edition.
That's What Che said: Monday Funday Link Party
Sand and Sisal: Inspire Me Monday

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Decluttering the Donation Station

oops, the last time I did this was in March!

I meant to do it every month-- but working over at my Mom's place this Spring: decluttering her porch and then decorating her powder room meant I haven't been doing a whole lot here at home.

I started tripping over stuff while I was doing laundry, so I figured a run to Value Village was in order.

My donation station is in my basement laundry room underneath the folding table. A great place to catch clothes I don't want anymore! 

I also took the paint cans I'd decluttered from the paint cabinet, oh, back in March, to the eco-centre!

And there we have it.
I feel like the house can breathe again.

That box contains old towels and such for the Animal Shelter. I didn't have time to get there today.

Now I can start decluttering afresh.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Finding Your Style: A Room to Love

This is part two of Step 1 in the five step series. 
5 Steps to Decorating Any Room: An Introduction. 
Step 1: Create a Vision. Part One: How to Translate Inspiration into Rooms You'll Love to Live In.

One of the very best ways to find your style is to collect and analyze rooms you love. Your gut knows what you like. Start there. A bit of thought, though,will help you take those gut feelings and translate them into a room you'll love because

knowing what you love means you'll love what you have.

I had a huge gut reaction when I saw this kitchen in the June issue of House Beautiful. Designed by Robert Stilin, this New York kitchen is a fabulous departure from all the white kitchens we usually see.

Isn't it stunning?

Lately, I've been feeling my style shift a little. Ever since I finished my dining room, I've noticed I've been drawn to more of an industrial, urban look--and here it is in kitchen form! So let's break it down, shall we?

Finding your style is as easy as looking at your favourite spaces and making a quick list of what you love. And then we'll dig just a little deeper.

What I love:

1. Those pillars! Cast iron.
Digging Deeper:
The material is so solid. Yet the shape, the columns are such a classic. They are showstoppers, for sure. Such drama.

2. Those lights!
Digging Deeper:
I love, love, love the cone shape. I love the scale...they are ridiculously huge. They add humour and playfulness to what could be a very serious space. (Imagine any of these in their place, for example. The whole vibe would be different.)

3. The lower wood cabinets and island.
Digging Deeper:
Wood is warm and inviting material. The cutouts for openings are simple and straightforward. Functional.

4. The stainless steel backsplash behind the range.
Digging Deeper:
Repeating the same material from the oven to the hood keeps the room simple and streamlined. Flanking it with fridges on either side creates a balanced colour blocked effect which is very soothing.

5. The backsplash tile.
Digging Deeper:
The glazed terra cotta tile has such a lovely sheen to it. It reminds me of Mother of Pearl. Again, another material to love.

6. Texture.
Digging Deeper:
This room is all about the controlled use of subdued shine. There's the dull shine of the frosted glass in the steel clad uppers, the counter top, the backsplash. Even the shiniest materials: the stainless steel and aluminum are not mirror bright. The matte floors, cabinets and cast iron just glow.

7. The light.
Digging Deeper:
This room is beautifully bright. I love the way the light reacts with all the different materials in this room: so much so that I begin to wonder if I'm on love with a kitchen --or a photograph! (The photographer is Joshua McHugh).

8. Colour--or, rather, did you notice? the lack of it.
Digging Deeper:
This kitchen relies entirely upon the natural colours inherent to the materials themselves for colour. Almost all of the colour in this photograph was introduced by the stylist with the food and flowers.

9. The French blue limestone counter top.
Digging Deeper:
Finally--here's some colour! Here's some pattern. But like everything else, the colour is found in the material itself. Still, I am happy it is blue and not white, or black or anything else.

10. I love the layout.
Digging Deeper:
Symmetry is very calming to me.

11. The stools.
Digging Deeper:
Simplicity itself. They remind me of school, somehow.

12. Contrast.
Digging Deeper:
Blue and orange are opposites--so the countertops are a deliberate but subtle contrast to the wood tones. The shiny silver of the stainless contrasts gently with the flat, matte of the cabinets and pillars.

To sum up: my love for this room exemplifies my love for texture, good, solid, unadorned materials, symmetry and contrast.

This is only one photograph, one room. Sometimes, that's enough. But it is generally best to have a large pile of photographs to do this exercise with. I hope to show you how that's done, soon. My daughter and I are collecting pictures for a makeover of her room. I'm hoping I can show you how we'll nail down her style, soon.

Do you like this room? Any aspect in particular? Let me know in the comments.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cleaning Day is like Ground Hog Day*

 *The movie. Not, actually, you know, February 2nd.

It really is, isn't it?

There aren't any "before" photos in this post. I didn't take them. I am actually getting pretty tired of showing pictures of my messy, dirty house. It didn't used to bother me, but I've realised a couple of things since I started blogging my "before and after" cleaning frenzies, as Melissa calls them. (Not an affiliate link.)

1) Everyone has messy rooms. I didn't used to know that. How could I know that? But I joined a decluttering facebook group where, once in a while, people will post a challenge to clean the house, 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, and away they go. On breaks, each lists what they got done in their 20 minutes. It is incredibly motivating. But I realised I am not the only one with a messy house. Who knew?

2) If they are depressing for me, they might be for you too. I don't know. Pictures of shiny, sparkly homes can be off-putting. All the afters with never a "before"  can feel intimidating and discouraging or worse, fake, and artificial. I don't want that either! Can the "afters" uplift and motivate all by themselves? You tell me.

I want this little corner of the blogosphere to be all about creating a home that delights and inspires. Yours and mine.

I didn't know if I'd even blog about my day spent cleaning. I'm not sure what belongs on the blog, quite, anymore.

I do know I want this blog to encourage all of us to live in the best homes we can, whatever our circumstances and limitations. 

And a clean home, ahem, a clean kitchen is delightful. And inspiring.

I left those bowls for my daughter to do as she promised she would after a bout of baking last night.

So, there might be more than a little light housekeeping around here soon, for sure. Maybe even a deep clean.

But, never fear, I will still be the same, doing the same things. Or sort of the same things. We'll see.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Translating Inspiration: A Quiz

You remember Lesson 1?

The one where we learned all about how to turn our inspiration into a room where we can feel all the feels?

I collected a gazillion images for that post, so I thought it might be fun to do a little quiz.

So, the steps to creating a room from an inspiration piece, quickly, were:

1) Identify how you want to feel in your room.
2) Find an inspiration piece which evokes those feelings for you.
3) List the characteristics of your inspiration piece. (Its colours, shapes, patterns, textures, and materials)
4) Duplicate those characteristics when putting together your room with rugs, lighting, furniture, etc...

But, we're not going to do all that today. Today we're just going to play a matching game. We are just going to go with our gut.

Like this:

1. The feels: regal, traditional, classic, elegant, but not overly serious.

This inspiration image;

best expresses which room:


If you said "all of the above" you're right! If you said none of the above, you're also right! It all depends on you and what you respond to.

How about this one:

2. The feels: Free, alive, inspired, well-rested.

(Those words make me think "vacation" so I went hunting for a favourite vacation spot.)

best expresses which room:


3. How about full, lush, happy, and alive?

Which one captures it best--for you?


Ok, so maybe I got  little carries away with all the colour and lushness of that last inspiration image!

What do you think? Would you ever use this method for decorating?

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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Don't Let Your Decluttering be like that Sliding Puzzle

I spent six hours yesterday moving crap from one place to another.

You can't even call that decluttering, really.

The municipal electrical company needs access to my Mom's meter. Apparently, they are changing them out. When they arrived last week, this is what they found.

This is actually good. There used to be another shelving unit on the other side of the meter, too. Mom plans to have the porch re-built this summer, so we need to empty out this space regardless.

They told Mom she had a week or so to move the shelving unit so they could have access. We planned to do it Monday.

Mom was admitted to hospital on the weekend with pneumonia. As planned, I went over Monday. Without her there to declutter and get rid of stuff, it took me six hours to move this shelf unit which is loaded up with mostly paper--files, notebooks, note pads, stationary, envelopes, and compter paper. Heavy.

Why did it take me so long?

Because I had to find room for it in here. The garage.

It looks like there is space here, but there really isn't. I could have moved the hose (though I don't know where) but there's mold all along the bottom of the drywall all around the garage. So, I wanted to stay away from the walls, for sure, since we will have to cut all that out, eventually.)


It took me probably a good half an hour just to figure out where to start (and I started with breaking down the empty boxes, as I usually do.) I finally settled on clearing out the entry way since I could hardly make it in there, anyway.

Fortunately, I found a shelf unit on the porch which I was able to assemble in the garage so I could get things up off the floor.

Several hours later, here it is to the right of the door:

The other, from the porch, faces it on the left.

There used to be a room inside the garage. The closet bifold doors are leaning against one of its old walls.

Without Mom to decide what to get rid of, I had to keep--and move--everything. Well, except for the dead bird I found in the corner and other bits of trash and garbage. Not a fun job--especially in 30 degree heat. (That may not seem warm to some of you, but remember we wear t-shirts when its 6 degrees and break out the shorts when it's ten!)

And so, the porch:

Those are a couple of dollhouses in a large wheeled laundry hamper. All will be donated.

And now, for a nice before and after, of the garage:

There's still a lot of work ahead. Just looking at these pictures makes me itchy to get over there!

This is my second kick at this particular can: you can check out here we started this Spring, here.

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