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!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Was the Girl That Bought a Playbook This Morning


I bought a Blackberry Playbook today!  

Isn't it pretty inside its box! I like the blue!

There's even 'no brainer' instructions. 

I got to step 3 and now I'm waiting for it to download 750 MB of updates. Yes, 750 MB on a 16 GB machine! Yikes! I hope this is doesn't preface what my Playbook experience is going to be like. 

As it would've seemed this morning, I appear to be the only person that bought one. I should have taken pictures. Imagine if you will, when I pre-ordered my Playbook on Saturday, the sales associate assured me this would guarantee I don't need to stand in line when they open at 7 AM. "Perfect," I think.  "I can pick it up before work." I roll in at 7:15AM this morning to a parking lot more deserted than a school yard in July. 

No line. In fact, 2 sales associates actually came outside to greet me with open arms. Oh wait, no, they were having a cigarette. It was like a dream walking into the store. All the red-clad reps waiting in a line at the door. "Are you here for a Playbook?" 

I actually felt slightly pathetic for them. Then, I felt pathetic for myself. Am I the only person that wanted this thing I was willing to come at 7? Where were the door crashers? I got back in my car, and thought, where is the hype? I heard all about the date the iPad 2 was released? Nobody mentioned the Playbook once.

Turns out some TV crews even went out to stores to find they were empty. Look at this, 3 people?

The only story I could find about lineups on Google was from the Waterloo Record - RIM's hometown. I'm guessing this isn't the welcome RIM was hoping for. With their tight-lipped updates and the official announcement of it's release date 2 weeks ago, my gut tells me they were hoping for more excited customers. 

Regardless, I'm excited! The updates are done, so I'm going to go PLAY! 

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Almost Here!

1 day

12 HOURS!!

It's almost here! Can you guess? Check back tomorrow morning and I'll reveal the surprise. I am so giddy, I feel like a child at Christmas waiting for St. Nick to come. Hopefully, I'll be able to sleep tonight!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Vacation property a la Kate Winslet-style

First, I'm looking for a cottage rental on Manitoulin Island. Anyone know someone?

Some might not even know where that is. This should help.

That's the 31st largest island in Canada, according to Wikipedia. Largest in the great lakes with a booming population of 12,600. Actually far bigger than I expected. But I digress. If you know someone who has a brother / sister / stepdaughter / uncle with a cottage, let me know!

It was while searching for a cottage that my mind starting wandering toward 'house swap' websites. After quickly realizing no remote, island cottage was going to be found, I couldn't help but see what else was out there. Naturally, I went right to England to see if all the homes looks like Kate's quaint little, country cottage in "The Holiday", and I did come across this gem!

What about this super cute place on the Avon River?

BF and I have been talking about taking a trip, so I was starting to contemplate the house swap concept, when one glaring item came to mind. Could I get a swap with my house? It's cute, but what do I have to offer? 

  • Near wine country (by Canadian standards)
  • Big semi-private backyard, deck and hammock (soon)
  • Good neighborhood
That was all I could come up with. Who wants to vacation on a busy street in the 'burbs afterall? It's not even quiet.

It would never hurt to post though, right? It would also be a good motivator - get my house up to 'swappable' standards. Then, I realized BF's place would be even better- in the country, backing onto a woodlot and large river, overlooking rolling fields. All that's missing is a deck and a couple of big, comfy chairs. This might be even better motivation to get his house in 'swappable' condition! 

I may be dreaming, but what a great way to vacation, don't you know? Has anyone done a house swap or know someone who has? Any recommendations or insight?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bad Blogger Girl

One month + 2 days.

Question: The length of time between my last 2 posts. 

It certainly didn't take long to come up short on my goal of posting 2-3 times per week. I missed the bloggy world, unfortunately, I'm a full-time working girl and only a part-time blogger. Not only has life taken over lately, but there has also been very little of interest to post about in the past few weeks. I've commented to bf multiple times about getting the craft room done, but truth be told, unless I were to work on it during the wee hours of the morning, it is going to be yet another month before it's complete. I did sand some drywall last night.

Funny enough, after I started writing this, I cruised my blogroll and came across Amanda's post from last week, Rut. Check out the comments... We could start a support group for bloggers sitting on the sidelines these days! The farmer in me thinks it's the weather. It has been a long winter afterall.

I don't usually post comments I make elsewhere, but this time they sum up what I have left to say.

 Savvy Homegirl Says:

Wow, I was going to say I’m ‘totally with you’, then I saw all these comments. Perhaps, it’s the time of year? We’re all blogged out, needing a break?
I have to agree with Babs too though. Quality over quantity. We can’t all be Young House Love, completely dedicated to home projects and blogging. I have a full-time job that pays me for being at work, traveling, putting in copious hours of overtime (well, maybe they don’t pay for that, but still). When I hit a rut, I find when I do pull back out and start writing again, I have some (hopefully) worthwhile and interesting posts.
Hopefully you agree on the last point!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Never Too Soon For Spring Cleaning!

The time change has brought with it more energy than I imagined. Or maybe it's the unseasonably warm weather? Either way, I tackled the most massive spring cleaning job I've ever tonight. I wish I'd taken pictures.

Our Girl Guide group meets at a hall downtown, and over the past few months our 'supplies' have reproduced grown from a cabinet-full to multiple cupboards, boxes, bins and plastic bags overflowing across our storage room. Now that the former Guider's basement has been unloaded into our storage room, we were finally fed up with the mess and decided it was time to do something about it.

It wasn't quite this bad, but every week when we walked into the room, we felt like it might as well have been.
Photo: Ed's Project Bike Blog
It was more like this:
Photo: X-tropia
Our storage room would be Blue Raddish Girl's dream. Oodles of boxes of wooden craft cutouts, pipe cleaners, silk flowers, ribbon, lace, beads, Popsicle sticks (4 boxes to be exact) boxes and bags of felt, foam and 3 bins of crayons. It looked like White Rose had dropped by with a truckload when they were going out of business. In fact, we are fairly certain something like that went down.

We tried to document as much as we could. Our goal is to not buy another craft supply for our unit. We should be okay. Yep, that's FIMO at the bottom. That clay you cooked in the oven to make beads! Do you know what else we found? Gimp. Apparently, it's not called that anymore though. Too politically incorrect. Sheesh!

Pipecleaners - red, neutrals, sparkly, 
Fake flowers - pink, white
Wooden craft pieces, clothespins (dollpins)
Popsickle sticks - large, coloured and small
Tin lids
Barettes, porcelin faces
Pom poms
Googly eyes
Film canisters
Easter egg dying kit
Photo matting frames
Foam letters, confetti
Scrap paper, construction paper
Silk flowers 
Paper bags - brown, white with handles
Red twisted paper
Cotton batting
Plastic Bottles (Bracelets)
Pringles containers
Walnut shells
Straw hats and lace
Foam, felt, paper
Seam binding
Drinking straws
Cotton balls
Trillium SWAP kits
Be Prepared Kit
6 SWAPs - don’t know what they are
Parafin wax - 1 box
Crayons - 3 tubs
Coffee filters

We actually didn't throw out as much as we expected, but we still left with 2 bags of garbage, 1 recycling bin of cans and bottles, a couple boxes of paper and cardboard and a few boxes still to sort. It took 4 hours, but now we have a cupboard of craft supplies, labelled and accessible to our girls. We have hula hoops and balls where they can reach them (rather than buried under a mountain of boxes that was certainly a liability) and a cupboard of "Guider Only" material. Oh, and we can also see the floor again!

Perhaps, I'll take an 'after' shot next week to brag a little...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

{Dream} Home

I suspect it had to do with Hip House Girl's post about a church house, but I had a strange dream last night.

I dreamt I had, let's say, come into possession of a house. I don't know how. That's one of those irrelevant details in dreams. The house was a split level, with a few bedrooms. One of them was at the very top of the house, completely staged by the previous owner and never used.

What I recall most about this house was the basement bedroom. In my dream, it was my parents'  basement, but in this house that now belonged to me. You know how those things happen in dreams. It had the exact same cement steps as my parents' basement. It also had the cold feeling typical of farmhouse basements. Instead of the stone and plastered foundation, also typical of farmhouses, my dream basement bedroom had a brick-like stone wall.

It sort of looked like this:
Courtesy of Country Living via Candace Rose
But a little rougher, like this:

Or this:

Courtesy of TripAdvisor - yes, TripAdvisor

In one corner, next to the bed, there was a fireplace and across from the bed, there was a TV. It was actually quite similar to a hotel room; perhaps, reflective of the too much time spent in them?

The floor was old cement, except for the more recently poured steps, which I previously mentioned. I'd decided in my dream to tile the floor and steps with ceramic tile. I imagined in my dream, it would turn out like this: 
Courtesy Aerials Home Construction
There you have it. Not enough time spent in my house lately, reading blogs before bed, and I'm dreaming about renovating a basement room in a home I don't own. It gave me a great excuse to blog today though! Does anyone else have dreams about renovating that are this vivid?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seriously Jonesing for Soda

That's right- soda. Not to be confused with Jones Soda, but good ol' bubbly, carbonated water.

I was cruising through Shoppers Drug Mart, when I was overtook by nostalgia. All thanks to this sleek bottle of 'carbonated spring water' on the shelf. The next thing I knew, I was gladly handing over 1.99 per bottle for nothing more than bubbly water.
Isn't it beautiful?

This isn't a new fad for me. I've had on and off cravings (can you call them that) thirsts for carbonated water since college days. I blame the origin on a three-month exchange to Europe in high school. If you've been to Europe, you understand the value of water. It always comes in a bottle, and it's just as likely to be carbonated as not. The brand I recall being purchased in our household came in a 1L bottle (roughly) and the name was in red font. I was more fond of Rosport Bleu, which was sold in restaurants. To this day, I still have an empty bottle I brought home as a souvenir.

I love the small luxury of having glass bottles of carbonated water in my fridge. The thought of cracking them open and pouring a fizzy glass with a splash of lime is bliss. It never occurred to me before now, I could create this luxury for myself. You can buy a machine for this, can't you?

So, I did a little research.

SodaStream Shop - This one kept popping up; not only in paid search, but also in the various organic search results. It also had several positive comments. $99 - 239 for the machine. Gas refills range from $19.99 - 34.99 (depending on if you keep or exchange container). Glass bottles are available for $17.99, but only compatible with top 2 models. Free shipping in Canada, but returning gas 'carbonators' is at own expense.

Homemade device - This is where my brother would use the term 'gerry-rig'. This looks a little complex.. a CO2 tank! That seems much more intense than a cartridge system. Where would I put it?!

Strangely, I couldn't find many other products, but perhaps I didn't look hard enough. Does anyone else make carbonated water at home?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dreamin' Red & White

There was no shortage of excitement a few weeks ago when Target announced they were coming to Canada. It only seemed appropriate then, when popping in to pick up some toiletries during a recent work trip, I would browse some of the home decor aisles of Tar-jay. 

Here's a few items that had me longing the stores 'north-of-the-border' debut was sooner, rather than later.

Oh, blue and silver. Ohh ahhh.. How much I'd love to purchase this whole collection.

Here's a close up of those blue and white vases. I love cobalt blue!

These wall accents are so sweet. They remind me of IKEA's dandelion-fluff-style light.

Look at this dishware! I sense a soft spot for retro colour schemes, as evidenced by the bright blue and orange flowers on this plate. Maybe it was the lime, green flowered panelling in the farmhouse I grew up in? See the blue and brown plate? I bought dipping bowls in this style. If I didn't have a plane to catch home, I would have bought a whole set!

Last, but not least, who DOESN'T love a giant container of cheese puffs!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Photo Gallery Wall

I can not believe how little time it took to feel completely overwhelmed and exhausted again. I thought the calm feeling would extend a little further into the month after Christmas break. I thought wrong. The past two weeks I feel I have been as busy as ever.

I do have some updates for you! Remember I said I had a few 'gimme's on my list? Adding more photos to my 'gallery wall' was one of them. I had plenty of great photos, but I hadn't got around to framing and hanging them. Luckily, I had a chance to pick up some frames from the dollar store before I got too busy again. A few hooks later, and they were ready to hang. Hope you've had a little more time to relax than I have!

Here was the 'gallery wall' before:

Here is the updated wall today. I added 8-10 more photos.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Appliance Overload?

Can you have too many appliances on your counter?

I'm not really one of those people who has to have an empty counter. For me, convenience is more important than clean lines and a stylish kitchen. The appliances I use regularly need to be close at hand, otherwise, it just takes me that much longer and I don't like that.

However, over Christmas, I acquired several more appliances.

I finally bought a new toaster. My old one had spent the past 8 1/2 years with me, since I moved out of my parent's home and into my university dorm to be exact. (Shhh, don't tell the rez police. It could have started a fire.) It was a $10, 2-slice special. It still worked, but I was ready for something new. I used a Christmas gift card and upgraded to a sleek, silver 4-slice model from Black and Decker.

My brother's GF also gave me a used breadmaker, because I'd commented I wanted one. Her grandma, "a hoarder of good things", had 3. I have already made a loaf of bread and pizza dough 4 times in it.

The dilemma? My "appliance corner" was already crowded. As you may have noticed in this photo:

Despite the crowding, the small toaster fit on the stove, and I could leave my coffee maker, kettle and George Foreman grill on the counter, without interfering with my workspace or the tool turnabout.

Not so much now. The toaster is now twice as big and doesn't fit on the stove, and the breadmaker takes up the entire corner. Only the kettle and George Foreman fit well in my cupboards, but I use them more than the breadmaker. What to do?! Is it too much if every one of these guys stays on my counter?