Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We-Design-Day: Thinking, rethinking and thinking again

Every so often I've experienced the 'doubt' and it does usually surround my own projects (for our home). The less residential work I do the more I doubt my ability to do residential work. For some bizzare reason, planning labs, offices and the like is far easier - perhaps because it is just one project of many. My home is mine and the choices I make impact a greater audience.


I did have 'the talk' with my Husband about budget and true to our usual dance, he said "What does the project need?" and I said "I knew you'd say that!" and I explained my desire to design a project to a budget and not budget to a design. This is causing me many mixed feelings because I want more than we can afford. But with our budget in mind, I'll be planning a project to fit.

This week has me finalizing (or trying to between play sessions with TroubleMaker) the measured plan of our basement as welln trying to find just the right solution. This morning, my husband and I sat around discussing his needs for his office and studio. He was able to further help me refine and define his needs. I've got a better understanding of just what he requires which does simplify a few things for me and what I need to squish into our family space.

I also need to take a careful look at the ceiling. Our ceilings downstairs are suspended with accoustical tiles. Not exactly a designer's dream but they are simple and easy to work with. We have a few wacky bulkheads to deal with. One of which I have no idea what purpose it serves. My plan is to take down some of the tiles and see if the one is actually necessary or if I could replace it during the renewal. I also need to improve the lighting in both what will be in my new sewing studio as well as in the library area. I'd like to improve the lighting in the family room as well, however, my main focus will be the area in which we work.

A photography studio has special lighting needs that generally aren't met by general room lighting. My husband has a series of soft boxes and hot lights that he uses for table top work (like the pictures he did here) as well as his portraiture (seen here). He does need good task lighting around his office space. Furthermore, we will be moving all the prop storage into his new studio and that area will require special lighting as well - likely I'll use unit mounted lighting to provide the best direct light so we can see what we're selecting.

Think about your space and the tasks you do. For my sewing studio, I already have incandescent fixtures mounted to my sewing table. These are postitionable so I can focus them on the task at hand (whether sewing a piece or threading a needle). I need more general lighting for cutting and the other crafts I do. We'll be having a work centre in the Sewing studio and I need to ensure adqueate lighting there as well. I have an issues with shadows and must think about those as well.

One of my first renovations was to our kitchen in our condo. I picked two halogen fixtures that had three positionable lights. They provided very decent light - except when I was standing at the counter doing anything! Because the light was so bright (and very hot, I might add) my body cast huge shadows and I was always turning and shifting to allow the light to get past me.

Here are some lighting basics.

The typical types of lights used vary with the application. There are fluorescent, halogen, LED, incandescent and compact fluorescents. My personal opinions aside, each light has an appropriate time and place. Think about the work you are doing and what you need for lighting to see. Think about the time of day that you will use the space and what (if any) access to natural light you have. Take the heat the lights give off into consideration - as I mentioned, halogens are HOT. They have a good light rendition but they generate a lot of heat! Fluorescents of old caused many problems for people (flickering) but the new ones are much better and there are even 'true' light bulbs that replicate day light.

I'm not 100% familiar with LEDs but I do know I personally have difficulty with them. I cannot see accurately with them and the light itself is muddy and I see flickering and fluttering when I look at them. My husband read recently that it may be caused in part because they only emit on certain wavelengths and our eyes see the full spectrum. I know the are environmentally friendly but my issue with them is, the colour rendition aside, is that if one light burns out on my string of Christmas lights, I must replace the entire string... And that's a green thing I can't wrap my head around.

Come really close and I'll tell you a secret... Compact fluorescents drive me nuts. First, the colour rendition is horrid. never, ever, ever try to pick a paint colour in the presence of a compact fluorescent! Second, they flicker like mad (to me). Third, they are STILL a fluorescent and contains mecury - which requires special disposal procedures.

Incandescents are the oldest and most commonly used light for residential applications. They are not eco-friendly but they do have a nice light (albeit a bit yellow). And they can be turned into some pretty cool crafts once they burn out!

I'd hope I'd have another download for you this week, but with all the holiday fun, I didn't get it printed out for this edition.

Have a great week and feel free to send me any lighting questions!

Monday, December 27, 2010

MPM#33 - An Appy New Year!

Before I get into my post, I must announce with a HUGE helping of pride, my husband's website. The majority of the images I post are taken by him via his company, Blackstone Images... Well, this Christmas our/my gift to him was his own website! It is very early and extremely preliminary but I'm just SO pleased to post a link to HIS site... Blackstone Images

Ahhh... Another Christmas has come and gone and our house was a hive of fun and activity! We had an excellent and even moderately relaxing Christmas. Santa answered TroubleMaker's request for a Race Car Game and we've all become very good at racing the little cars around the track at high speeds! His Gran made him some awesome new clothes and he's got more socks then me and his Dad put together!

We got the chance to visit with some family we don't see often at my Mom's on Boxing Day and I ate so much I had a tummy ache!

Presently, I don't feel much like eating so I'm quite glad I planned this menu weeks ago! We'll be playing it pretty casual around here this week. Between building new (train) layouts and racing cars, there won't be much time for cooking!

Enjoy your week and Happy New Year! We are doing our first "Appy" New Year - we're getting together with our friends and are all bringing 2 or 3 of our favourite appetizers to share!

December 27 to January 2

Monday Chicken Nuggets & FriesTurkey & Ham Sandwiches
Tuesday Assorted subs
Wednesday Spaghetti & Meatballs
Thursday Chicken Nuggets & fries
Friday An "Appy" New Year: Crock Pot Spinach dip plus 2 yet to be determined!
Saturday ??
Sunday Pork Roast with Brown Sugar Glaze


Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, Pancakes, Bacon & Eggs

For more great menu planning ideas and resources, check out the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fun Sock Friday (The Christmas Eve Edition) – How to Make the Perfect Bow

It’s just after eight on Christmas eve morning. I’ve been a busy little elf so far this morning… Buns are rising, ham is in the crock and I’m stopping for a sip of juice before tackling the rest of my to do list.

Over the past week or two I’ve been working on my bow making skills. I must admit I have a bit of a ribbon addiction and I have rolls and reams and spools of ribbon just waiting to be made into something. I’ve bought the majority of it because I love the colour or the texture but some has been purchased because I knew it would make a perfect bow. Four and a half years ago when I got married, I thought I’d perfected my art of bow making but it’s been a long time and when I sat down to transform the lovely Christmas ribbon into bows, I couldn’t remember my tail from my nose (hahaha). So in my chair I sat, ribbon in one hand, wire in the other and thought… I twisted and trimmed, tried and retried and then it happened.

Now I realize that I likely did not “invent” this bow, with so many talented crafters and artisans before me, they likely happened on the recipe long before I did but this is my attempt and I hope you find it makes as splendid a bow as I did!

Wired ribbon (I used 12’ (about 3 metres) of ribbon to make the bow illustrated)
Florists wire (24 gauge) on paddle
Wire snips

Cutting your bow

1.Decide how big/full you want your bow

2.Snip this length, allowing ½ to 1” extra for overlap

3.Cut three of this length (illustration used 20” for this)
4.Cut two more – one inch (1”) shorter (2 @ 19”)
5.Cut one more – one inch (1”) shorter than the previous (18”)
6.Cut nosing – 4 to 7” (depends on how you wrap it)
7.Cut tails – decide on how much hang you want on one side, cut 2x (leave one long piece)

Putting it all together
1.Pick up first long loop, overlap and fold loop in half to mark centre point. Pinch centre point in with overlap (accordion the pinch).

2.Using florists wire, wrap 2x around pinch, pulling very snug to secure (DO NOT CUT WIRE)

3.Repeat step #1 with next 20” piece, place immediately below first wrapped loop and wrap 1x snuggly with wire

4.Repeat with final 20” piece and place below second wrapped loop and wrap 1x snuggly. Wrap all three loops once or twice and pull tight. DO NOT CUT WIRE

5.Pick up first medium loop (19” piece) and repeat step one. Lay this pinch atop the foundation bow layer. Wrap wire around 1x.

6.Repeat with second medium loop and wrap 2x around, pulling snuggly.

7.Pick up small loop piece (18” piece) and repeat step one. Lay this pinch atop the middle layer. Wrap 2x to secure.

8.Pick up tails and fold in half. Place below all loop and secure.

9.Cut about 8” of wire from florist wire paddle and set paddle aside.

10. Take nosing and loop around middle of bow. Leave it loose and overlap at back of bow.

Using wire, loop around and secure nosing. Form a loop in the wire and secure to itself (for the hanger)

11. Fluff up the bow and viola! The perfect bow!

I just love crafting and I’m so glad I have this to share with you!

A huge thank you to my photographer extraordinaire and fellow blogger for helping me with the photography for my first tutorial. I can tell you the hot lights are HOT but they made the pictures just pop. I love you and thank you!

**So excited to be sharing this with Blissful & Domestic and her Friday Linky Party!**

All images used with permission. All images copyright Blackstone Images

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We-Design-Day: Money Talks

There is something funny about talking design budgets just days before Christmas… But budgets are important – whether it’s a redesign, a lipstick & eye shadow makeover or a new build we must all look at what we can afford versus what we wish we could afford.

I’ve worked on projects both ways – where we designed the budget around the project needs and where we had a set budget and we designed the project to fit. Of course, unlimited or ‘unset’ budgets are the best because you get to cover all the essentials and design the space as it’s really needed. The reality is, those projects don’t come around often (if at all) and it’s very easy to have champagne taste on a Kool-Aid budget.

One of the questions I get asked often is what should my budget be? There are of course all kinds of formulas that I could put out there but the essential thing to remember is to spend what you are comfortable with. I would never want to see a client stretch their budget to a point of being uncomfortable or have them later regret the money they put into their home because they spend 20 years paying it off. Conversely, you do often get what you pay for and if you spend $400 on a couch and it falls apart six months later, it wasn’t a good investment either.

Budgets often rely on scope. If you are doing a new build, you want to ensure your money is spent where the investment will be best realized. Windows, adequate insulation, good heating and cooling and quality construction are always essential. Next, decent appliances (if you cook) followed by floor coverings. Making sure the things that stay with your home are good quality will always help your resale. Window coverings are a good investment but one must always take resale (of a home) into account with any fixed furnishing. Spending thousands on window coverings will not see a return if you resell your home.

Life cycle costing is another area to look at. Spending $4000 on a sofa may seem extreme but if you have the sofa for 20 years and sit on it daily, that works out to $0.54 cents a day. Granted, very few things last 20 years and we all know the family with the wine coloured velour sofa with matching chair! That’s where style comes into play – if it costs $4000 but you don’t want to own it in 20 years, maybe it’s not worth the investment. Furthermore, from an environmental stand point, if we all owned our things for 20 years, our landfills wouldn't be so crowded! I like to reuse as many soft furnishings as possible. Slip covers; paint and other tricks can extend and revive the life of well worn pieces. If the mechanics are still good, new foam and fabric can revive a great sofa or chair. Recycling pieces and searching for used items can be a good idea too. It’s taste and style dependant and if you’re patient, you’re likely to find something fab at thrift stores too.

For our home renovations, I usually come up with a pretty detailed budget, go to Management (my husband) for approval and then begin the project. This time, with money tight, I’m going to set a budget first and design towards it. Or design within the confines of a strict budget – depending on how you look at it.

Electronic spread sheets can be a great tool for design projects. You can record purchases or preplan your budget and have it do the math for you. This helps you keep an exact tab on the spending and allows you to categorize purchases. Next week, I’ll share a template with you that you can use to track your project.

As promised, I’ve got a nice downloadable for you. I’ll release these in phases over the coming weeks (as they take time for me to make – if you’re hurried, you can download a DWF viewer and use a search engine to find more free AutoCAD blocks). This week, I’ve got kitchen and bathroom fixtures (sinks, tubs, etc). All scaled at ¼”=1’-0”. You can print on card stock and cut out. Then begin to work arrangements on the graph paper I shared last week.

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas! I’ll be back next We-design-day with more downloadable furniture blocks and my budget spreadsheet.

Kitchen & Bath Fixtures

Monday, December 20, 2010

MPM #32 - The Holiday Edition!

The countdown is on at our house – four more days of work for me and then CHRISTMAS! Now, I am a Christmas lover but since having TroubleMaker, Christmas has renewed meaning and has revived my faith in the holiday spirit. Seeing my son so very excited about everything festive has played a major role in my joy with the season. Hearing him holler from the backseat of the Jeep “KISSMISS LITES” and excitedly exclaim his joy at the snowman on the carton of eggnog, and enjoying his exuberant shouts of “Santa” at anything with a beard and a red hat.

He’s finally come to terms with the fact he is truly the only one in the house who wants a ‘new race car set’ and has reluctantly agreed that Mommy does not want a race car set and neither does Max (the dog) or Tsarina (the cat). And although Daddy may enjoy playing with his race car set, it’s unlikely that he really, really, really wants one too. His friend, “Narrow” does not want a race car set either although I’m not sure I’ve managed to convince TroubleMaker of that – how could a little boy his age want anything but?

Our house is getting more festive looking each day. Although I started decorating in late November, I’ve finally gotten around to putting the finishing touches on different things. I still need to figure out where I’m going to put the 10 extra sets of lights I’ve managed to accumulate over the past 2 years (I’ll blame Mommy brain – I have each year made a ‘rush’ to the store to buy more indoor lights for our upstairs tree – only to get home and realize I did the same thing the previous year and evidently, the year before that too)… I have; however, after all my years crafting, found the secret to the ‘perfect’ bow (I’ll make one tonight and take pictures and share on Fun Sock Friday).

I hope your home and family the warmest of Holiday Wishes and all the best for the coming New Year.

~”Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” Henry Van Dyke~

December20 to December 26

Monday Baked Potato & Leek Soup
Tuesday Gramma’s Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
Wednesday Shepherd’s Pie
Thursday Egg Wraps
Friday Mom’s Crock Pot Ham, Gramma’s Buns, assorted cheeses, pickles & olives
Saturday Turkey breast roast, Vegetarian Stuffing, Broccoli & Cauliflower w/ cheese sauce, mashed potatoes & gravy
Sunday at my Mom’s for Boxing Day Family Dinner


Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, Pancakes, Bacon & Eggs, Gingerbread Waffles

For more great menu planning ideas and resources, check out the Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday – Holiday Edition!

PS Ok... So it's Tuesday but I meant well!

Gingerbread Waffles
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/3 cup shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 egg unbeaten
1 cup sour milk

Stir together flour, soda, salt & spices. Cream shortening and sugar; gradually blend in molasses. Stir in 1/2 cup dry ingredients. Beat in egg. Alternately add remaining dry ingredients and milk. Bake in waffle iron at low heat. Makes 20 portions.

Vegetarian StuffingLacto-Ovo
1/4 cup margarine
1-1/2 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tsp veggie or Chicken boullion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
16 slices bread, cubed
1/2 cup water

Heat margarine in pan. Add onioins & celery. Saute until softened. Mix in next 5 ingredients. Turn into large bowl (making sure to get all the marg). Add cubed bread and water. Stir until well combined. Cook in a casserole dish at 325 for an hour or so to let flavours blend. Can also be done in crock pot - cook on low for 3 hours or so

Gramma's Buns
2 tbsp yeast
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup lard
3 eggs
2 cups water
3-4 cups flour

Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Rise once, punch down & let rise. Make walnut sized buns and let rise. Bake @ 375 F for 15 minutes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fun Sock Friday – let’s start a revolution

I’m certain you’re asking yourself “what the heck is fun sock Friday?” – Well, it’s a new things I want to try here at Barefoot Deliberations and was inspired by a memory (of mine) brought forth from a conversation with a new coworker.

Let me tell you the story of me and Fun Socks.

Many, many years ago, like most young adults starting out own their own, I didn’t have much. I worked in a warehouse picking and packing orders. It was grubby work and the ‘dress code’ was stuff you didn’t mind getting dirty. Since I’ve never been much of a clothes horse, I had very little to wear. I started having to wear my boyfriend’s “hand-me-downs” – old sweat pants and t-shirts. However, I always went barefoot (in my shoes) and owned no socks. This job required socks and closed shoes because of the risk of injury from falling objects. I did have a pair of shoes but no socks… So I had to wear HIS socks. And I wore them until we separated three or four years later.

And then I was single and my sock fixation started. Within a week of separating, I owned seven new pairs of socks. By the first month, I owned nearly 20 pairs of socks. Primarily, they were just plain socks but I started seeing some cute ‘fun socks’. With prints and animals and stripes…

When I met my husband, he was horrified that I ever wore my ex’s clothes and so started the tradition of sock giving… Every Christmas since we started dating there have been socks under the tree for me.

Warm socks, striped socks, printed socks, argyle socks, camping socks, summer socks, fuzzy socks and pom-pom socks. Socks of every colour, material and style have graced my sock drawer in the past 12 years and I’ve loved and worn every pair.

But I’m a professional now and for the past 8 years, my primary sock of choice has been plain black trouser socks and the pretty Christmas and ‘just because’ socks sit unworn and unloved. Then one Friday morning it happened… I had no clean black socks to wear to the office. The only pair of Fun Socks that I had that was even close to work worthy was a pair of striped ‘jail’ socks my sister had brought back from Alcatraz. I got to work and of course, everyone noticed my very noticeable socks and I said it was Fun Sock Friday and so my tradition of wearing Fun socks on Friday’s began. I tried to start a revolution and get everyone I knew to wear Fun Socks on Friday but like the pet rock, after a couple of weeks, I was the only one who wore them.

Meek and sheepish, I backed off too and decided that the month of December would be my Fun Sock Friday time and I’d wear my ever-growing collection of Christmas socks.

Fast forward through a wedding, a baby and a new job and a conversation last week with my coworker and I decided to revive Fun Sock Friday... But in a slightly different forum (and form, I suppose).

I know we all have something – be it socks, electronics, singing ornaments, or a closet full of beads that we want to share with the world. I want Fun Sock Friday to be a potpourri of things you love. I know this is vague and nondescript and I’m sure we’ll refine as we go along but let’s play!

This is new and as far as I know, original. Share here and spread the fun but please don’t host your own Fun Sock Friday.

Fun Sock – the Guidelines
1.Fun Sock Friday is about sharing. Posts should be original, posted on Friday’s and mention your participation in your post. I’ll try my best to ensure my post and the linky are up by 9am Mountain.
2.Share something you love – craft, photo, person, song, collection – it can be anything but it should be something done by you because you love doing it!
3.Posts should be “G” rated and family oriented– no adult content or graphic images, please.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We-Design-Day: Fitting it In

Please pass in your homework… Just kidding! How did it go? Did you get stuck measuring or did you get lost? I used to find the whole measuring a space thing daunting and I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to go back and re-measure… Even now I have to go back to a job site every so often and get one dimension I’ve forgotten!

I have some cool tools for you to download and use… First, I’ve got a nifty ruled piece of graph paper – this will help you plan your space well and get things ‘to scale’ – so you can see just how much floor space your partner’s 42” television takes and figure out how big a couch you can fit in your formal living room. Next week I’ll share some printable furnishings you can download and cut out too!

Everything is scaled to ¼” = 1’-0” – this means that one square on the graph paper actually measures ¼” but it represents 1’-0” (or if you’re a metric kind of person, that’s 1:25 scale). This will be helpful in the coming days and weeks when we start talking the ‘fun’ stuff – furniture selection and layout.

Because I’ve been down this road before, I did my measured drawing of our basement years ago and because I use a computerized drafting program, I drew it in that. However, I recently noted a few ‘issues’ with my original measurements. I plotted (the fancy term for printing) my drawing and measured it again. As you can see, I have a few little problems with my original drawing and how the space actually measures (note the interior wall measurements in the space labeled “Existing Office”). Inside the room it measures 9’-5-7/8” but the wall in the family room is 6’-10-1/4”. As it turns out (and I don’t know how I missed this), our master bedroom projects out from the house – which means the foundation should match this. It does but I didn’t seem to notice that when I drew the original plans. This caused me much confusion when I measured the basement a few months ago!

But now I’ve got a nice measured plan, drawn to scale, and I’ve also got my preliminary bubble drawing that I’ve further refined and worked it into the space I have. A good way to do this is to overlay your scaled room drawing over your bubbles. Then you can redraw your bubbles, fitting them better in the space you’ve got to work with.

This was a difficult task for me. I have so many different things I want to accomplish in our space that it doesn’t all want to fit. It’s about juggling, shifting priorities and deciding if any of the functions I want to have happen can happen elsewhere in our house. If you look at the drawing below, I scaled down my bubbles to fit the space I’m working with and the dashed lines indicate major traffic paths. I already know I want to take one of the walls out (the one separating the ‘Design Studio’ from the Family area. I also know it’s a non-load bearing wall.

Please, please, please – do NOT remove any walls in your home until you consult with a professional. A structural engineer is the specialist you’ll want to consult if you are removing walls. Taking out a load bearing wall can cause the collapse of your house. I am NOT certified to make decisions on what wall can be removed.

Now that I’ve figured out my general layout, I can start working on my solution. Furniture layout, fixtures, finishes – all will come in to play soon.
Your homework this week is to make a list of all the things you have presently in the space. Identify what you’ll be reusing and if you plan on getting any new pieces. With the templates I’ve provided, draw your room to scale and start playing with the layout. Move the furniture around, play with your space.

A few important things to think about when laying out furnishings:
1.Access to power (for electronics, lighting)
2.Circulation space
3.Leaving adequate space between pieces of furnishings
5.Views/lines of sight
6.Door/room openings (not blocking)
7.Mechanical considerations (cold air intakes, heat registers, radiators)
8.Swings – doors, appliances, etc

There are, of course, specific concerns relating to bathrooms and kitchens – drop me a line if you have any additional questions about those spaces. I’ll be tackling bathroom and kitchen design in upcoming We-Design-Day articles.

Next week, we’ll talk about budgets (and I’ll post the furniture templates)… I’ve kind of been putting the budget talk off as it’s the ‘un-fun’ side of design!

BDI Quarter Inch Graph

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MPM # 31 - To Grandmother's House We Went!

Since the late 90's, my sister and I have made the trek out to our Mother's for an "Annual" Bake-a-thon. Usually, we do it in late November or early December and at various times through the years, others have joined us, but more often than not, it's just the two of us with Mom baking up a storm. My sister is in charge of chocolate making - a craft we started doing waaaaay back in the early 80's. My sister has carried on the tradition as although she's probably one of the most impatient people I know, she's the only one with enough patience to hand paint chocolate inside the molds. I usually take one too many things on and get frustrated and a headache and my Mom always, always makes butter tarts. My sister and I have added our own little helpers to the mix and our nephews have participated a couple of times too.

I usually cook up a Christmas craft for us to do and we always find time for a game of Scrabble.

This year, however, my sister and I aren't baking at all and the butter tarts aren't getting made. Don't worry - Mom is still alive - none of us have the motivation or bother to bake. We all work too much and don't get enough time to spend together. So Grammy is baking up a storm with two of her grandkids (TroubleMaker and my niece, TroubleInventor - who are actually now sitting in the living room reading a book together) - although all the baked goods are prepackaged cookies and squares, they are still having fun.

I'm sitting at Mom's kitchen table writing on my laptop

and my sister, bless her new found patience, is HAND writing one of her stories.

Mom is cursing her 30 year old oven that only seems to be problematic when we're home visiting and the "Helpers" are sitting in the living room reading stories.

I think Santa (and our husbands) will forgive us this once...

Here is my Menu Plan for the week... It's been a bit troublesome putting it together - no idea what I feel like making (I'm a little overdosed on cookies)... A few of the recipes I'm going to make up as I go along so I'll come back and post them (update to this post) once we've eaten them.

December 13 to December 19

Monday Hamburger Rice ScrambleHamburger Hash
Tuesday Egg Salad Sandwiches
Wednesday Chicken breasts w/ Twice Cooked Garlic Potatoes
Thursday Crock Pot Stew
Friday Tacos/taco salad
Saturday ???
Sunday Ham & Scalloped Potatoes

Cereal, toast, bagels, muffins, Pancakes, Bacon & Eggs

For more great menu planning ideas and resources, check out the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Hamburger Hash
1 lb lean ground beef (frozen or thawed)
1 rib celery, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 can mushrooms
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1-2 gloved garlic, mined
1/4 onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp flour
1 cup beef bouillon (or water)
salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, paprika

-In a large frying pan, cook ground beef. If frozen, add 1 cup of water or beef broth, cover and cook until broken apart and nearly done. Do NOT drain
-Add all vegetables (including canned tomatoes & their juices) and a good sprinkling of salt & pepper. Add 1 to 2 tsp parsley, 1 tsp oregano and about 1 tsp of paprika.
-Simmer until carrots are tender.
-Combine sour cream and flour in a bowl until well combined. Add several tablespoons of 'sauce' from frying pan to sour cream mixture. Then dump all back into frying pan, lower heat and simmer until thickened.
-Serve with rice or egg noodles.
Note: this was very tasty for a 'toss together' dish. My Husband thought it would be better suited served with egg noodles. TroubleMaker and his friend (who was over for dinner) ate very well and said it was "REAL GOOOOD!" You could add more onions but I cut way back because it was our dog's birthday and he got a good helping of it on his kibble (and onions are BAD for dogs). Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

We-Design-Day: Getting Down to Business!

I hope you found the interview sheet helpful in mapping out an idea of where you are hoping to take your project. It can be difficult to put into context what you want to see. It’s very easy to get hypnotized by pretty rooms in pages of magazines or on the design shows on TV. A lot of what we’re working through goes on behind the scenes on those shows too and design is often a work in progress, built through layers of sketch-trace, napkins, and scraps of paper. Window dressings and paint colours play a role but understanding the function of the space is important because it will ensure that it all works together as a space – and that it’s not just a collection of pretty vases and floral balloon valances.

Many of the things you read (on line and in print) will suggest you get design magazines and put together a collage of your design style – this works if you understand that you will likely not end up with that room. That exercise serves the function of finding out what you like (and what you don’t). It helps you find out if you are a modern contemporary or if you’re more a traditional Victorian (or any of the other styles out there). One thing I’ve learned over the years is that those magazine photos are carefully and deliberately orchestrated – ever notice that there are never any cords or light switches visible? The light is always perfect and never dark (or too bright). I liken them to the magazine ads of the “top models” – never a blemish or a line or dimpled thigh – rooms, like models, are perfected before being put to print. Unless you have studio lighting and a degree in photo-retouching, our rooms won’t function like that.

Budget also does a long way in dictating our design style. I’ve worked on million dollar (office) projects that put in bottom line systems furniture because there was no money left after the glass curtain wall was installed and the premium mechanical system put in place. Why? Because the interior environment doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. The function of an interior space is as important as the envelope of the building but if your house leaks heat from the windows, are you more likely to spend $2000 on a sofa or put the money towards new windows?

Write your goal:

Create and open and inviting family space that is comfortable, flexible and that promotes creativity.

That sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Since we are embarking on the season of wishes and lists, we are going to chill out from the rigid design guidelines and dream a little dream… Get a blank sheet of paper or a cool ruled sticky note. List on it all the things you want in your space – this is your design room wish list – list everything you want to see in your space and within reason, place budget concerns aside. This is a wish list; we’ll deal with the practicality of white carpet with a toddler later!

Now get another blank piece of paper and with your room in mind, let’s draw some circles that represent the zoning. Zoning is a word used when you section off a space. Here is a look at mine – I’ve taken all the areas we need (and want) in our space and allotted a certain size bubble for each one. These are not to scale – we’ll refine them next week. Right now, we are just conceptualizing the space. Each bubble, although not to scale, should represent a realistic amount of space – meaning that if your largest activity in your kitchen is dining, the bubble needs to be in proportion to the smallest task.

In my bubble, you can see the "family/play" space takes up the largest amount of space as it will be the primary function of the area. Next week, we'll look at refining it.

This week, you'll need to do some homework! Get another blank piece of paper and start measuring up your room. Draw the basic shape first and then measure the walls. Depending on how detailed you want to get, we can do scaled drawings too - this will help with furniture arrangement.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email! See you next week.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We-Design-Day: Program your Space!

How did your interview go? Were you a helpful homeowner or did you find yourself less than forthcoming? It’s hard to know what you want and whether what you want is attainable. All sorts of thoughts have to go into the discussion when you are the designer and the client and often, there is a lot of second guessing!

I’ve been doing this design thing for years and although my clients often have an idea of what they want, I help think of the things they don’t see (life & safety, building code issues) and help flush out ideas and guide things along (and often, I know what questions to ask). It’s easy for me to say “I want to put up a wall here and build a custom shelving unit.” Because I’ve taken woodworking courses and detailing courses so I do know how to both draft the plans and build the piece. I know heights and proper dimensions and the necessary clearances for hallways and how far your table should be from the wall.

Whether or not your interview went well, let’s work together to see if we can get a few more ideas on paper. I’ve used a myriad of different styles of documents throughout my career to capture these details. More often than not, I end up just taking notes while meeting with the client, jotting down things they say or wishes they express. This morning, in fact, I was out on a job for my ‘day job’. I just took a piece of paper and listed the key points they mentioned. It’s hurried and fast and I’m likely the only one who could read it but I know (usually) what I meant!

I know what to ask (and I learn more each day) and I want to share with you so you too can figure out what you want. Before we get into colour or finishes or even drawing the space, let’s take a look at some basic questions you can ask yourself. Feel free to download and use this document – but please, don’t use it or alter if for your own commercial use. It is property of my company and was developed by me and is shared with the understanding it’s only for your personal use. Thanks!

Residential Client Interview Worksheet

Once you've filled out the interview sheet, you've got the start of your program! Add to that any information you shared with yourself last week and we can get going on starting the analyzing and formulating some preliminary design work based on the information we've gathered!


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