Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas... and hello out there!

It's funny how now that I've found myself with a day off, and literally no work in sight for at least a week, I suddenly have time to blog. All morning as I've tinkered about my house, I have been thinking about the blog posts I'd like to write. Perhaps, I should use the next week to blog profusely, ensuring I have more content in 2012. For any readers who decided to stop by again, it has been nearly six months since I last posted. I promise I haven't just ignored you, I have also ignored my house. The bright spot is I have tried to focus on spending as much time with family and friends as I could, considering I spent the past 2 months traveling.

I did think it was worth sharing a few updates on my house.

Since my last post about the craft room, it is well on its way to being complete. The ceiling repair is nearly complete. We wallpapered two walls. I hung curtains, which not only match the wallpaper perfectly, but were a great clear-out deal at Wal-Mart (only $10 each)! We only have the floor left to finish. I do solemnly promise, I will post a finished photo.

Rearranged my living room into separate 'living spaces' for watching TV and eating. With the craft room / office nearing completion, I no longer needed to use my table as a desk, and we have actually ate at the table. Shocking!

Harvested a huge tomato crop. So large, I had to buy additional canning jars for all the tomato sauce and salsa I made in September! At one point, I worried about what I would do with all of it, but there are only a few jars left! 
A perfect tomato from my garden. Mmmm.

Rows of freshly-canned tomato sauce and salsa.

My most recent addition was new couches! I wrestled with the decision to buy new living room furniture most of the year, but common sense finally won out. Cats + new, leather furniture = disaster. With Christmas around the corner, there were several listings for like-new sofas on Kijiji, and we picked up these barely-used, comfy, brown couches for only $300! Now, if only I could replace the chair my cats have claimed ownership over!

The cats favourite spot to watch the world go by.

Finally, you won't see these photos anywhere else, but I even managed to get my house decorated for Christmas. Returning home from travel, with only two weeks to go before December 25, I hauled out the totes of decorations and 'decked' the fireplace, front door and put up the tree. Undoubtedly, I'll be spending some time over the holidays catching up with bloggers and checking out your decorations, but for today, I have to get back to the baking. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and should you not hear from me again for some time, best wishes in 2012!

- Savvy Homegirl

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More Craft Room Inspiration

The craft room project is back on and actually making progress. I realize I haven't posted in months, but since there were readers possibly interested in seeing how this turns out, I thought I would come back to the "Homegirl" blog with a couple of posts. I've been over here for the past few months.

We finished the dryway, and after LOTS of sanding, we could not get the main wall smooth. It was just a hopeless case, and it was a real testament to why dry-walling in older homes is so complicated. I knew we were doomed to fail when my neighbour commented most people drywall over plaster, rather than try to match them. We were already too ambitious at this point though and had the drywall and mud on the wall.

I have to give bf props, because he did do a good job in the closet. You can't even tell there was a wall removed. The problem area is on the main wall though, so I've decided to finish this wall with wallpaper.
It sounds very much like a botched-DIY fix, and well.. it is.

Nevertheless, I feel like there is light now, and this project will be finished afterall. I'm already dreaming of all the turquoise and off-white accents. I would love to pick out a classic, country wallpaper like this pattern below, but I keep telling myself to stick to neutrals. While I may love it, future home owners may not.
Photo: House of Turquoise
Speaking of love, I came across House of Turquoise while searching for decorating, specifically wallpaper, inspiration. I am in love with this blog. Check out the beautiful turquoise shutters and doors featured today.

Reminds me of Young House Love's turquoise built-in shelves in their dining room.

Friday, May 20, 2011

April Showers Bring May... Showers?!

Rain, rain and more rain. That has been the story for five days now in Southern Ontario. The forecast is even bleaker. We're all wagering on the one nice day predicted for this weekend, before the storms and rain move in again. If the weather was depressing last month, now it's downright frustrating. I'm planning a 'staycation' to plant my garden this weekend. I have to remind myself it's the holiday weekend, because the weather would have me believe it is only April 12.
Honestly though, I have so much to do, I doubt I'll get it all finished. One good day is just not enough.

That's it for my weather rant for now. I got my camera back, so I wanted to share a few more pictures from our crazy wind storm. Amazingly, much of the debris and mess was gone from around the city last week already.
Three big pines in front of this apartment building were uprooted.

Trees snapped in half like this one, were common all over the region.

Big, old trees took down hydro lines, landed on cars and homes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Gift From Enbridge? The Taps Program

I responded to a knock at the door this week to find a man holding a cardboard box and a clipboard. My eyes immediately went to the name tag pinned on his pocket, and I prepared to ask him to leave. Then, he introduced himself as an Enbridge employee. I had thought he was an energy marketer. Gas prices had just shot up from 1.34 to 1.41 in my town after all, and poor, unsuspecting consumers were ripe to be ripped off further. 

He quickly proceeded to explain he had been hired for the Enbridge TAPS program, and he had some free gifts for being an Enbridge customer. He handed me four compact florescent light bulbs and two aerators (one for the bathroom tap and one for the kitchen). I was still skeptical. Why was I getting this for free? What does he really want?

Next, he pulled out a water-saving shower head, but asked if he could install it. Um, I hesitated. It's not every day someone comes to your door, asking if they can stand in your shower. He insisted he had to install it. It was his job. I agreed, and 2 minutes later I had a new shower head.

I was still perplexed after he left though. Since when do gas companies give their customers anything free? Did they overcharge me somewhere, and this is their way of making it up? What kind of a tax break are they getting for doing this? Obviously, he had to install the shower head to guarantee it got used.

Regardless, I replaced a few old light bulbs with the new this morning and put the aerator on the bathroom tap. It reduces my water use from 7.5 gpm to 1.5 gpm. Not huge savings. According to the program card, it's about $122 in gas (to heat the water) and water savings / year, if I also installed the kitchen aerator. The light bulbs account for a $21 savings. Not a fortune, but still $143 I could put toward a new TV, garden plants, or decorating my craft room!

Did anyone else have someone from Enbridge TAPS come by? Did you take their offer? Anyone know what their motivation is behind TAPS?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Has {finally} Sprung

Bf continues to insist this spring is not 'late'. Rather it's just about on-time, and the last few years, spring was early. OK. Good luck telling the farmers that though. <- I keep that comment to myself, because he is well aware how the farmers feel.

It seemed like the rain would never end, but we finally got almost an entire weekend of sunny weather. Aside from a splash of rain Friday evening, I spent most of the weekend outside either in my yard or enjoying Mother's Day lunch. Not only do I have a burn to prove it, but my yard is finally starting to look like I love it again.

My tulips have mostly popped up, and I realized they look better in clusters than planted individually.

Bf cut the grass for me. I think my backyard was at least 8 inches long in places, so he had to leave it as long as the lawn mower would let him. It was still a slow-go at times. It looks so much better now that it's cut though. Bf, you rock.

Funny enough, it was only a few minutes after he fired up the lawn mower and headed to the backyard, and my next-door neighbour did the same. They both puttered back and forth across the yards, and all-of-a-sudden, I felt like I was living in The Sims. Especially, since there did not appear to be any real pattern for my neighbour. I always wondered why the Sims people only cut 3 or 4 random strips. Maybe, they were modeled after my neighbour.

The Sims - The People Simulator from the Creator of SimCity 

I finished laying the patio stones along the side flowerbed. In an effort to stop the erosion of soil under my downspout, I assembled a rock garden. I'm looking forward to seeing how this works next time it rains. I have decided to try a clematis on this side of the house also, as it gets so hot and dry, I don't know what else to plant.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Survived the Wind Storm

My neighbour finally had power restored to his house today. It was cut on Thursday, when the wind storm that came through our city knocked both our lines down. Thankfully, mine was put back up.

In the big scheme of things, we were really quite lucky. Our region was ravaged with destruction, yet it paled in comparison to the devastation Alabama faced only a day earlier. Nevertheless, my city declared a State of Emergency at one point, and some homes are still waiting for power. Winds up to 124 km/h at times blasted our region, uprooting huge trees all over the city and crashing down on homes, power lines and roads. Several people lost shingles, or worse yet, most of their roof.

I felt a little strange taking pictures of some of the destruction, but it's something I've never seen before. Of course, I left my camera at a friend's house this weekend, so I can't share. I promise I'll post as soon as I get it back.

I did get this photo from a friend. It was too wild to not share. It almost makes you think the picture is sideways. That's the hydro line holding the tree up. This would've been considered only medium priority likely, if that gives you an indication of what the rest of the damage looked like. Yikes.

I wanted to get this post up, but come back later this week. I promise I'll add more pictures. We lost two older men here. As tragic as their deaths were, they seem eerily similar to what you might imagine could happen in a tornado. All I could think about last week were the families that experienced any of the 312 tornadoes that hit the U.S. last week. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Time = Cake Pop Time!

Spring has been desperately trying to force it's way into my neighborhood lately. You would never know if you looked at a weather forecast, but the sun has managed to poke through at least once a day, the past two days, and with it, my energy is increasing! You won't find me running marathons, but I have been accomplishing more in my evenings. I even tackled cake pops again! 

You'll recall I last made cake pops over a year ago. They were cute. They were also a ton of work.

When bf got me Bakerella's book for Christmas, I was genuinely excited to try them again. For a little while anyway. Then, work and life and all-around-being-lazy-with-my-free-time set in. For the past three months, I've flipped through the book, awed by the cool creations, yet daunted by the work. 

Until this week. 

With a little help from bf, I whipped up a partial batch of Cupcake Bites (think Cake Pop, without the stick) for my Girl Guides. You can find Bakerella's directions here.

Not bad for only my second try, if I do say so myself!

I wanted a Girl Guide theme, so I used blue and white M&M's with sprinkle stems to make a trefoil.

I made a special one for bf. Can you find it? 

He deserved a thank you kiss for his epic cake-baking skills. Funny, he also picked up this jar of icing for me... 

Some of Bakerella's tips that really helped this time around:
        • Make a small batch. It's manageable and more fun. BF made 2 batches of cake mix, so I had an extra-thick cake. I used 3/8 of the cake and made 18 bites. Mine were on the slightly large side, so you can estimate 1/4 cake = 12 bites/pops.
        • Use cake mix and pre-made icing. I NEVER use store-bought mixes, but it was just downright easier.
        • Use lots of candy melts. Last time, I didn't have enough and I had trouble dipping. You can always save extra and reuse later.
        • Wash and dry your hands often while rolling the balls. They stay together nicer.
        • Have everything set out before you start. Isn't this the golden rule in the kitchen? It's necessary for cake pops/bites. Once the candy is melted, you want to dip. Once you dip, it dries fast. Your M&M's and sprinkles have to go on right away or the candy will be hard.

One day later... only one little guy left! YUM!