Thursday, March 31, 2011

52 Week Challenge: Week 13 - A Recipe for Disaster

What a crazy week the Barefoot D house had last week... TroubleMaker turned 3 and even though we swore off birthday parties after the boy turned 2, I went out on a limb and planned not one, but two parties... The rationale being that if we split them up, it would be easier to take.
Photobucket How can one refuse that face?

I was really wrong.

None the less, we had an amazing weekend celebrating our son's third and my first dance recital. However, my organizing task got pushed aside in favour of sewing glitter text on my costume, the making of dinosaur bones and being hit by a wicked cold. Did I mention the six children we entertained followed by a supper for some very excited grandparents?

This week, I'm mostly in recovery mode, however I realized that a few weeks ago, I organized - well, mostly purged, my recipe box. I've had this recipe box a good majority of my life. When I received it, I don't remember (that's a sure sign I'm getting old, right?) and it's been falling apart for the last 10 years. The recipes went from organized and indexed to stuffed in where ever there was a spot. I haven't closed the lid on it in at least a decade and there were nails, thumb tacks and $0.13 in the bottom of it.

I had numerous recipes printed off, folded and jambed in the box as well as at least one neatly written recipe on one of the many different kitchen stationary pads my Mom has used over the past six years (I always check her magazines and cookbooks for new recipes when I visit). Those were transferred to the binder I use for my Internet print-recipes and from the electronic master index I started over a year ago. The cards were neatly put back together and returned to the box.


I still can't close the lid but I know I made progress as on Wednesday night, I was able to find (for the first time in months) my fettuccine Alfredo recipe! No more trying to remember the recipe from my head - which I can do but it's far easier to read it on paper than access the deep recesses of my cluttered mind!


Eventually, I hope to do away with my recipe box all together. I intend to type all my recipes in a nice electronic document, print them and put them in page protectors and have one neatly organized and divided binder on my counter. But until that happens, at least I'll be able to easily find my husband's favourite cookie recipes!

For more inspiration and organizing tips, check out all of us participating in the 52 Week Challenge over at the Organizing Junkie's website. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We-Design-Day: Making old stuff new again

Part of my on-going design plan is to incorporate old pieces in new ways. I'm a creative person and often I think of something that could be repurposed. Years ago, I took the foot plate off the high chair me and my siblings used and turned it into a breakfast-in-bed table. For several years, I used a sturdy cardboard box as a night table and I once turned an over sized storage closet into a work room.

A good part of design is seeing things that aren't there and interpreting things in new or inventive ways. I wish I had a picture of an art piece a fellow design student did - she used all the discarded plastic laminate samples and created an art-deco inspired wall art piece. This idea plays well into certain styles of design - the 'shabby chic', 'folk' and 'country' styles often reuse existing pieces in a way not generally thought of.

A couch will always be a couch but dressers can be any number of things - an airing cupboard for linens in large bathroom or how about in a living room to hold movies, video games and photo albums? End tables can work as beside tables, laptop desks or if two of the same are put together, a sofa table. During my recent peruse of blogland, I found this great idea for repurposing a baby changing table! What a fantastic idea!

The Internet is a fabulous show place for the many possibilities of ways to repurpose and recycle 'things'. The only real limitation is your ability to think of things to Google! Want some inspiration? Check out this and this and what about this? Ok, so that's not technically a recycling project but what an incredible space saving idea! Makes me want to tear our our cold room and create that storage area under our stairs!

Now as I progress through the detailed planning of our basement, I don't think I'll be repurposing furniture but I am trying to look for different and creative ideas to help me organize my sewing/design studio. So much to store - so little space! Additional research on the storage topic led me to this Easy Organizing: Craft Supplies at Good Housekeeping. It struck home because we've been saving glass jars from our pasta sauce. In part because they can be reused as canning jars but now I'm thinking the idea of fixing a lid to the underside of a shelf would provide additional storage in an unlikely spot. It will also free up some valuable real estate for other things not easily contained in a jar. And my inner hoarder is also telling me that then I could use my mountain of buttons as a decorative feature thus allowing me to further expand my collection!


Seriously though, I have to start looking at finalizing some choices for our project and this is where I got held up when I first started this project in 2005. I've researched possibility after possibility, thought, re-thought and thought again. I've evaluated and examined and printed off so many cut sheets, I'm sure I've deforested a small country (Ok, that's not true, but you get what I mean). I need to work through my anxiety of choosing the wrong solution and try to disassociate myself from the fact it is my house.

I'm going to do to myself what I do to my clients - set a 'deadline'. I need to finalize a floor plan and a colour scheme by next Wednesday... Can I do it?

Have you voted yet for the wall colour for the We-Design-Day Fun with Colour contest winner? Have your say and vote soon, the poll closes at midnight tonight!

Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you next We-Design-Day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

MPM # 47

I am relieved that last week is over. We had a fabulous birthday party for TroubleMaker and the dance recital went well (even if it was just two of us). I'll have to share the cake pictures - even I was amazed and surprised how well the cake turned out! But with nothing huge and looming on the horizon, I wonder if boredom will start to take hold...???

Here's what we've got planned for this week - how about you?

March 28 to April 3
Monday Chicken Caesar Salad
Tuesday Pork Kebabs, Rice
Wednesday Spaghetti & Meat sauce
Thursday Corn chowder & Grilled cheese
Friday Enchilada Casserole
Saturday Pizza Party! (with this crust)
Sunday Meatloaf & oven roasted vegetables

For more great menu planning ideas, check out all the people posting and sharing their menus at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

TroubleMaker, sand and the dinosaur party

We survived. Five kids, 6 buckets of sand, one three dimensional dinosaur birthday cake, and let's not forget the Grandparent's Dinner...

It has been 48 hours of mayhem, confusion and non-stop movement (and that was just me)! And I loved and thrived on every minute of it... I've heard 12 balloons pop, 20 kg of sand dug through by shovels, rakes and brushes, cleaned up two spilled drinks and watched 16 napkins get soaked by just being in the wrong place. We've lost one icing coupler, a bit of our sanity and the dog (for just a few minutes). I now know the names of no less than 20 dinosaurs and I am learning to harmonize with our singing schnauzers (it's only taken 11 years to learn the key of Dog).

I know every store in Edmonton likely has nothing dinosaur related anymore (as I bought it all) and even if the extra special bones I ordered from the United States got tied up with Canada Customs, my dough art vertebrae looked real enough to gross out my dear friend as she dug dinosaurs with her daughter.

Three years ago this night, I did not sleep. I held my beautiful, perfect, sleeping baby all night and just stared at his face. And as I lay down to sleep with him in a few minutes, I know I'll spend just a few minutes more.

Happy 3rd birthday, Brennan. Thank you for making each day just a little more amazing.

Photobucket Three Days Old

Photobucket First Birthday

Photobucket Second Birthday

Photobucket Days before his third birthday

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We-Design-Day: The Colour Consultation (part one)

Don't forget to cast your vote for your favourite colour!

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with the We-Design-Day Fun with Colour winner, Paul and his wife, Michelle. First, I’d like to thank them for inviting me into their home to discuss colour and second, thank them for giving me permission to share with all of you the results of that evening.

I like doing colour consultations with people – I think it probably is one of my favourite things to do for residential work. The broad spectrum of colours, the endless combinations and everyone’s personal take on colour always fascinates me. Personally, I am generally fairly reserved with colour. I often opt for dark clothing and my home is generally neutral in paint and décor. I admitted to Paul that I have commitment issues with colour – although I love vibrant and bright colours and I can spend hours pouring over the paint chip collections at Home Depot, selecting colour for my home gives me anxiety and causes me to continually second guess myself. However, recommending and guiding others is something I love because being bold is part of my personality (even if being bold in my own home scares me just a little…)!

Meeting with Paul and Michelle, I knew my experience would be a little bit different. Paul is a graphic designer and artist. He has a fantastic grasp of colour and design and is probably the only man I know who is ‘in charge’ of painting and selecting the colour choices for their home. He is creative genius and his artwork is amazing – as is, of course, his ability to challenge me and everything I know. I am not used to being grilled and put on the spot for my choices. Generally, clients ooohhhh and ahhhh at the suggestions I make and always ask “how do you know what to pick?”. But not Paul.

When I got there, Michelle was still out at a meeting so Paul and I set to work. I opened my paint kit and starting flipping through a fan deck. I started with my usual conversation and started working towards sussing out what he was looking for. Quickly I learned the plan was to do a couple of feature walls in their home. One in the dining room, one on the TV room and perhaps one in his office. When I asked what walls he thought they should highlight, his reply startled me.

“What walls do you think we should do?” he paused briefly, “I want your professional opinion.”

I stared at him for a moment, not sure what to say next. The wall in the dining room was an obvious choice because there are only two walls. But the TV room had three – two of which continued up to the second floor.

“Well, I’d like to see you try and paint one of those walls.” I said indicating the two tallest walls.

“Why?” he asked.

It became evident that he was not going to give me a break nor did he immediately catch on to my failed attempt at a joke. I giggled nervously and decided he wasn’t open to banter or small talk. He wanted to do business.

“It would probably be best and easiest to do the wall where the TV is as it’s broken above by the railing around the loft. That way you don’t have to try and paint all that vertical space. I’d also leave the bulkhead the existing colour so the wall will really pop but still relate to the rest of the space.” I answered.

“Oh.” He replied, seemingly satisfied with my answer. “Now what colour?”

“Well, what were you thinking of?” I asked, as I always do – trying to get some feedback from the client.

“What colour would you pick?”

It was quickly becoming apparent Paul was not going to give me an inch. I picked up the fan deck and started thumbing through it.

“Well, I would go lighter. Even though a feature wall is traditionally darker, because your existing paint is so dark, I think a lighter complimenting colour would give a nice punch to the space.” I turned to some golden wheat colours and another swatch with warm browns and held them up to the wall in the dining room.

He made a disapproving sound. I flipped a bit more through the deck and selected some warm gray tones that I thought worked well.

Another ‘ehhh’ sound. I flipped again and stopped at a deep burgundy.

“Too muddy.” he replied.

“I think something more like this.” He showed me a brilliant red from the companion fan deck.

“Don’t you also meet with your clients at this table? I think they might find that a bit intimidating.” I said.

We chatted a bit more about colour and when Michelle arrived home, I briefed her on the discussions we had before she arrived. She and I went through the top four colour choices – she also thought the bright red was intimidating too.

What do you think? Below are the four top colour choices. Paul worked his magic and painted the wall with the colours we agreed on. On the right sidebar, I've opened a poll. Your opinion counts! I'd love your feedback and what colour you think the feature wall should be painted! Voting will remain open until next Wednesday at midnight. I'll be following up with the winners again next week to get their decision! Check back for the results and an interview with Paul about how he
approaches design! Thanks for stopping by!

Abington Putty
Confederate Red
New London Burgundy

Sunday, March 20, 2011

MPM # 46 - A Whole lot of Cookin' Goin' On!

My discussion last week about being able to juggle menu items around to different nights never was so true until last week. I'm not sure we ate one of the planned dishes on the night it was planned. But that's the great thing about it - the flexibility!

This week is CRAZY week... Next weekend is TroubleMaker's 3rd birthday and my dance recital (heheheh - me, a dancer?)! I've got so much to do before next weekend, I'm not sure how we are going to pull it all off... But I'm sure we will. Thankfully, my husband's contract is wrapping up so he will be home (and able to do "home stuff") and I'm hoping that will help!

I'm keeping the menu simple this week so that I'm not spending all the time cooking. I need time in the evenings to prep some of the stuff for the party and to finish off adding the sparkles to my costume.

Here's what we've got planned for this week - how about you?

March 21 to March 27
Monday Hamburger Hash
Tuesday Chicken, rice and vegetables
Wednesday Corn Chowder with Grilled Cheese
Thursday Tuna casserole
Friday Perogies and sausage
Saturday ?
Sunday TroubleMaker's Birthday Potluck (we're doing ham)

We're back to planning lunches - my husband feels very comfortable doing breakfasts so this week, they are doing leftovers, crackers and cheese and bagels for the three days they'll be home together for lunch.

For more great menu planning ideas, check out all the people posting and sharing their menus at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, March 18, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing: Week 11 - Another Doomed Space

This week, Laura's 52 Weeks of Organizing post didn't really sink in until I started my Week 11 task. She speaks of how those of us participating have been really good about not chastising ourselves for the things we aren't accomplishing. That is true - what I don't get done, I'm not worrying about.

However, what I have been doing is a lot of self discovery and self realization. I know I'm a scatter brain who suffers from a continuous lack of organization. It has been a life long affliction, likely starting early in my childhood when my bed was packed with stuffed animals (my protectors) and grew through the endless things I started to pile up in the corners of my bedrooms (one day, I'll explain the pluralization of that). Sheet music, stories, magazines, books, school notes - anything that can be piled was.

It has followed me into adulthood and the things I've learned to pile has expanded as well - as has my tendency to hoard. My things bring my comfort, the chaos my piles create give me control. It's quite a discovery that I could spend hours dissecting because it is tied to a whole bunch of weirdness in my life but let's just say I think I'm beginning to see where some of the behaviour stems from and that, I think, is part of the battle.

I could organize and tidy until I've completed my list but I know there would be an entirely new list next year because, like my battle with weight, I need to work through the root cause in order to repair the problem.

That's right - psych 101, new on Barefoot Deliberations! ;)

Back to the reality of the task at hand. I realized that our Phone Desk hadn't been seen in a few years and it was as good a time as any to tackle that Doomed Space. As I emptied the contents of the desk, my feelings were mixed. I don't know how or when my house became so cluttered and I'm not sure why I don't deal with things as they occur.
As I sifted through the things piled on the desk and organized them into manageable piles - keep, recycle, freecycle, trash, rehome. I found a few things that made me laugh.
Photobucket Just a few of the weird things I found... See the motorbike toy? The head? The Christmas pin I spent an hour hunting for at Christmas? It's amazing the treasures you find during this process!

First I discovered that my husband's dedicated cubby had junk (like garbage) at the back. Second, we chuck a lot of stuff up there that doesn't belong. Third, we have things that neither my husband or I can identify tucked away in the desk. Fourth, I have not sorted through some of the stuff since 2005.

But sort I did. I dusted too. And I've got this pile to go through while watching something on TV (as suggested by Laura in today's post).

The end product is something I can live with and my husband was again shocked with the progress. He actually forgot the oak phone desk has a tambour front it's been so long since we've been able to close it!


This week was a good week for me - I learned some things about myself and I'm going to finally deal with the enormous stack of ignored documents!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We-Design-Day: Design Goodness!

I’ve determined that storage is key for my studio space to work so I’ve focused my planning this past week on finding the ‘right’ solution for the storage of all my stuff. I’ve gone through three different plans or ideas.

First, I designed this baby…


It was custom designed around all the crafts that I do presently with lots of storage and cubbies and places to hang things. It was 14’ of practical goodness that had me excited! But then the real world caught up with me and my space shrunk. I need to keep part of the non-fiction library in my space so what was my 14’-10” wall has decreased to a mere 6’-10”… So I have to work with that.

So I tried this:


It was cost effective, allowed me to take advantage of the vertical wall space and had lot of drawer units to hide my goodies in. But the downfall is twofold. First, the availability of the pieces isn’t great. When I inquired with the retailer, I was told they had 50 in stock. This was over six weeks ago and not only was I not prepared to purchase (as I wasn’t decided) but this store serves all point north of Red Deer, the Northwest Territories and all of Saskatchewan. So I’m not confident that when I go to buy that those 50 will still be there!

I also started thinking about the stability of the product – it is cost effective but at what cost? Furthermore, I’m likely to just have a bunch of drawers stuffed with items leading to jam-packed chaos. I also worry about dust.

Dust + fabric = too much work for me

So then I started looking around to see what else is out there for effective, contained storage that provides flexibility, growth, possible expansion and still fits my budget. I want it to have a flat surface so I can set things down or perhaps work on something at counter/standing height. Although colour isn’t a big concern for me, my sewing table and cutting table are white laminate with wood-like edging – at the other end of the basement I’ve got black/brown storage units so as long as it all works and provides balance (and of course, solves my problem). I’m also not keen on gobs of plastic storage bins. I have several large plastic totes for my crafts now and it solves nothing. It keeps my fabric clean but that’s it. Everything else is helter skelter and I can never find what I need, when I need it.

I began looking around for inspiration – Crafty Storage has some wonderful and fantastic links to other blogs where fellow crafters and artisans have changed their spaces into glorious places of creation. I found this place and this with several really cool ideas for storage. This would be totally awesome but I'd have to refinance my house to pay for it.

I ended up back at to shop. It seems Ikea is very popular with many people. Probably because it is reasonable priced, of reasonable quality and it meets a certain aesthetic appeal. Now I've tried several combinations. Dressers and bookshelves, wardrobes and and side boards. The fact is I have a finite budget and anything I can put together is either too big or too expensive. I've found it all very disappointing and frustrating. I know what I want but I can't seem to find it! I think I may go back and try to custom design a smaller scale dream unit. Even if the materials cost me a few hundred at least I'll be specifically meeting the need I have.

I'd hoped to get to some green ideas this week but my storage dilemma has really been the focus of my week! We'll get back to that in a few weeks.

Next week, we'll be looking at colour in action when Paul from Clever by Design and I butt heads over paint, colour and the design ideas a graphic designer versus an interior designer!

Monday, March 14, 2011

MPM # 45

Happy Monday – and welcome to Daylight Savings Time – for those of us who change… *Yawn* I really dislike DLS – it messes up my internal clock and it takes me weeks to get adjusted. I think this is the first time in my life where I haven’t been thinking in “old time” for the first 24 hour period after the change. Although we were all very groggy this morning and I am thankful to the Coffee Gods as they will be solely responsible for keeping me alert today.

One question I field from family and friends when they hear about my diligent menu planning is about the lack of variety or not knowing what you’ll feel like ‘that day’… Well, as I’ve learned really well over the past two weeks, it is a plan and like any plan, change can be a constant.

Last week, our meals got juggled around. The good thing about planning at least one week at a time is the ability to have on hand what you need for seven different meals. I’m not a doomsday kind of person, but given the recent natural disasters around the globe, I’ve got the recommended three days of food on hand. We also have so much snow that I’m sure we could survive a LONG time without water. We’ve even got a water purify and camp stove in the house. Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, so because I’ve got seven meals planned I can move any meal to any night of the week. On the menu for tonight was “chicken salad sandwiches” but we had that last Thursday because we didn’t feel like the new chicken dish that was planned. So this week, I’ve moved Tuesday’s meal to Monday and I’ll move something else into tomorrow’s slot. When planning, I plan on the three meats we eat: beef, chicken and pork. I also alternate a vegetarian dish and a fish dish every other week. I add a pasta dish, soup and sandwich night and a slow cooker meal to round out the week. These seven ideas give me a starting point for each meal I plan and add a lot of variety to our menu.

After doing a little more reading this week about the cost of food, although we may spending a little more than some, part of the escalation is also related to where you live and of course, where you shop. Furthermore, how you cook should also be taken into consideration. The fact that we live in a northern area, I won’t shop at the discount chain (I cannot stand the crowds) and the fact that I scratch cook, all should be factored into the cost of groceries. Surfing the local papers also scared me into the idea of a food crisis and food shortages so now I’ve got to deal with a little bit of crazy paranoia too!

Here's what we've got planned for this week - how about you?
March 14 to March 20
Monday Mushroom Soup Hamburger Casserole
Tuesday Chicken Salad
Wednesday Taco Salad
Thursday Tuna Casserole
Friday Tater tot Casserole
Saturday Roast Turkey Sandwiches
Sunday Crock pot roast with vegetables

For more great menu planning ideas, check out all the people posting and sharing their menus at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing: Week 10 - Our Dresser!

Wow - week 10! This week I was a little slow getting my organizing done but as my son played with his friend earlier this evening, I tackled another one of my infamous toppling towers...

Our dresser.

Now I should truly thank and probably point a finger at my husband for both putting up with the ever growing pile of stuff on our dresser and also to say "HEY! I didn't put that box of calendars on our dresser!" Or if I did, I probably forgot and I owe you a chocolate cake... :)


So yes, it is a mess. And yes, I am embarrassed by it but I suppose there is something to public shaming that motivate a person like me... I started wading through the pile of junk and wondered why I put the basket of bibs TroubleMaker quit wearing a year and a half ago on our dresser... And then I wondered if I'd dusted the dresser since last year... I must've right? I found my watch (it needs a battery), my other glasses, $0.25, a nose for Winnie The Pooh, a key and several dinosaurs. There were five story books, the Trudeau biography I started reading before Christmas, To Kill A Mocking Bird (I finished reading it for the 20th time in November) and the lotion that matches my perfume.

I dusted the dresser once I'd emptied it, made a trip to the garbage and the recylcing bag and the four other rooms to return stuff to it's proper place. I was a little (ok, a lot) surprised when I uploaded the 'finished' picture... Look at that wood shine!


I know, right? I wonder how long it will stay like that...

It got me thinking about the questions Laura posted on her site on Week 9...

Do you know what your “good enough” is?

Yes, I think I have an idea... I just want a tidy home that I can manage. I'm tired of being ruled by my possessions and I'm tired of having my 'things' take over my life and home.

Are there areas you are struggling with in this challenge

Yes - keeping the momentum going and I think the biggest thing is struggling with the 'things' I mentioned in question one. I love my stuff - it gives me comfort and security and status and parting with anything is like giving up a part of me. I've been working on parting with stuff and some stuff, I'm ok with... Others, it's like trying to give away a part of myself - especially when it comes to my craft stuff... I decided to give away a bunch of my craft stuff this weekend - no organizing involved, just simply parting with some of the things I've not touched in ten years...

For more super inspiring organizing goodness, check out everyone participating in the 52 Week challenge! Thank you for stopping by and visiting me!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We-Design-Day: Choices, choices, choices!

When I started delving into all the ideas I have for our space, it's a little overwhelming... Ok... Really, it's a lot overwhelming and I keep getting distracted by really cool storage ideas, expensive couches and even lead astray by my desire to redo our kitchen...

That's part of my problem when I undertake a project is the distraction factor - I keep thinking of all the things I could do our house and how hard would it really be to do it all at once?

The reality is, I actually know the answer. It is impossible. Well, not impossible, but improbable. And it causes the stress level to go through the roof! I know this because before we moved to our house, I renovated our condo. I didn't make any huge structural changes - mostly it was an update with flooring and a mostly new bathroom but let me tell you... I ran a month over schedule, ended up over budget, enlisting help from even my two year old niece (kids are handy with paint brushes if you don't mind paint blobs) and it cured my desire to do any home improvements for eight (yes, that is 8) years.

My tip today would be only bite off what you can chew - if you are new to the home renovating world, make your first project a small one that you can manage. Consider the energy, time and cost and multiply it by two - still want to tackle it? I've worked in the field for a long time and even on commercial and institutional projects, I've learned to always add a month to any schedule, plan a 25% contingency fund and expect at least one surprise during the course of the project.

I'm still wading and sifting through all the possibilities. The reality of opening my studio space up to the rest of the basement is scaring me. A good many things I am, but organized isn't really one of them. I flourish in chaos and clutter (and most of my best work gets done under pressure) so being very neat and tidy fascinates me but I'm beginning to really wonder if I can pull it off... Will any storage system, no matter how well planned, allow me to keep my husband? ;)

The cost of things frightens me too and I'm subject to scope creep. Sure, it's just some flooring, storage and a some art... But then I see some really cool lighting, the best play ideas for TroubleMaker and don't get me started on the really good ideas out there for photography studio design! I'm also not sure how I ever survived without Ikea... Do you have one near you? It is fantastic and reasonable. Speaking from experience, a good majority of our house is furnished from there and it holds up well too.

How is your search going? Have you had the same distractions I have? Share your thoughts and pictures of what you're dreaming about! Below, I've put together a small collage of some of the items I've been looking at - specifically related to my sewing studio.
One of the best ways to create a sample board, it so lay out all the pictures, paint chips, product cut sheets, fabric swatches, flooring samples and any other items you've gathered and place them all in front of you. Pair related things together, mix and match, move them around. Remember to keep the Principles of Design in mind - scale and proportion can play an important role when creating your sample board. If you are covering a couch in a red velvet and the couch is 80" long, you will want the fabric swatch to be bigger than the throw cushion fabric.

Another important tip is if you are using a fabric with a pattern, ensure to get a sample big enough to visualize the repeat. Most stores will cut you just a tiny square but if you are going outside your comfort zone with a pattern or print, consider buying a half metre so you can really get the feel for the fabric and how it will relate to your space.

Design solutions don't usually come over night - or even over a week. Putting it all together and refining the choices is a process. Selection, evaluation and repeating are often how things are done. I could count on one hand how many times I've hit the 'perfect' solution over night or on the first try. Usually, if you are in tune with your needs (or your clients, in my case) you get close but there is always some enhancing and tweaking that occurs. And that is just fine! You want to make sure that you are picking something you can live with and your family can live with (and hopefully, even like). This is an investment in your home and it shouldn't be made on the fly!

Keep looking through those magazines and catalogues and haunt a paint department at your local home improvement store!

Next week, I'm planning on sharing some more of my plans and introduce the idea of reusing and revitalizing some of my existing pieces and take a bit of a look at 'greening' up my project.

Have a great week and see you next week for the next issue of We-Design-Day Wednesday!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

MPM # 44 - Menu Planning Saves!

Last week, I mentioned checking our grocery habits for the past couple of months.

I'm going to run a report on our budget for groceries to see how our month added up with the careful planning and scheduled grocery shops.

So I've compared January & February 2010 to January & February 2011 - I planned in 2010 too but I've tried to be more consistent and better organized in 2011.

January 2010 $959.54
January 2011 $709.55
Savings: $249.99
February 2010 $737.68
February 2011 $665.84
Savings: $71.84

I have to admit, I'm disappointed but I also know that the cost of food here has increased a lot lately (Milk has gone up $0.50 per 4L (1 gallon) in just the past six weeks). I've also been trying to introduce more (fresh) vegetables into our menu planning - we always have vegetables but generally, it's the 'boring' things like peas, corn and green beans (all frozen).

One thing I've never quite understood of the pioneers who settled here is why they did... We are so far from any place warm that there is no "fresh" produce here other than the months of July and August. So as you may well imagine, anything I buy "fresh" right now is a premium as it's being imported from every where but here (I think the closest place of import is California). I bought a pound of strawberries last weekend - and it was a great price - $2.99 - and only one was rotten! I can get nectarines - from Brazil or Chile - but they are hard, woody and $4.99 per pound.

But I digress, there is a decrease over both months and that is a good thing. There are also a few too many shops at the local bulk store and I know that I kind of overdid a few things. I like tightening my belt, but it's really easy to get off track (and harder to get back on). We'll keep tracking and planning carefully. In an effort to reduce our grocery bill even more, my husband and TroubleMaker braved the crazies and shopped on 10% (off your total grocery bill) Tuesday... Normally, I wouldn't insist on shopping on that day, but running the numbers, we just aren't seeing the savings I was hoping for! I guess I need to adjust my expectations - we aren't going to eat a healthy, well balanced meals for $200 per month!

So perhaps my expectations were a little off - so I did some digging and found some information. It seems that my fellow Canadians spend about what we do on groceries - somewhere between $500 & $600 per month - some statistics suggest $250 per person per month. Phew... That makes me feel better - but it encourages me too - I don't want to be just average, in this case, I don't even mind being a bit below average!

Here's what we've got planned for this week - how about you?

March 7 to March 13

Monday KD and Fish Sticks (TroubleMaker's pick)
Tuesday Tacos
Wednesday Zesty Chicken and Rice Skillet
Thursday Egg Wraps with Tater Tots
Friday Nachos with refried beans, salsa and sour cream
Saturday Pizza Party
Sunday Crock pot meat balls and gravy

For more great menu saving planning ideas, check out all the people posting and sharing their menus at the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

52 Weeks of Organizing: Week 9 TroubleMaker's Toys (Part One)

After hitting the wall last week, I knew I didn't want to leave my organizing until late in the week (when I'd be tired, overwhelmed and "done")... So, following my roadblock realization, I enlisted my wonderful son to help me go through his toys...

We've really tried to control the number of toys our son has. It was one of those things his Dad and I agreed on - too many toys stifles creativity, so we have worked to control what he has gotten for Christmas and birthdays - or at least what we got him!

We have, since his first year of life, gone through all the toy bins periodically and purged toys. Broken stuff gets tossed and all the good toys that are no longer age appropriate, we've passed on to others. We've done this dance two or three times - and generally, my husband does it while TroubleMaker and I are out of town at my mothers!


With his birthday approaching, we knew it was coming time to clear out the bins again. And because he is a "bigger boy" I thought it was time to involve him.

We started with the process I've familiarized myself with over the past nine weeks (empty, sort, purge, organize).TroubleMaker made his own decisions on what went and what stayed - no arguing, no whining - all his decisions were done with conviction and he seemed proud of himself!


I think hope involving TroubleMaker in the organizing process will help to prevent the all too obvious hoarding tendencies his family has! And for the record, I'm not the only 'keep everything I've ever owned' person in our house... My husband has his magazine collection that dates back to the early 90's... His Gran has her fabric stashes... My Mom - well, remember this post? I also know his Memere has problems too (she recently packed up two boxes of excess stemware). His Pepere is a keeper of things too - there is a story from long, long ago that involves a leaf patterned piece of Plexiglas, Pepere (my Dad), and a trip to the local landfill...

But that's another story and just a brief example of why, like so many others, I need the Org Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing project!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

We-Design-Day: Moving into Phase Two

Photobucket This week, we're going to continue down the path of designing our space. Back at the start of this series, I introduced the Two Phase, Eight step approach I apply to my projects. Reviewing the first half of the process and the progress I've made helps me to ensure that I've covered all the important things I need to for this renovation project.

I was able to state my goal, gather more information and better assess our needs. This all allowed me to properly commit myself to this project (even if it is taking a little longer than I'd hoped). Being able to look back and review my plans has given me time to analyze and digest everything as well as allow me time to start figuring out what areas need the most focus and attention.

Can't find the right answers for your design problems? Sometimes the best solution for a problem is to take a step back and come back to it later.

One thing that became clear to me in my project was how the space will function for us and how the zoning will work for our family. One of the most important desired functions of this plan is open the space us so I can work and see TroubleMaker. The other key component is keeping my husband's equipment behind a closed door so it doesn't get bumped or knocked. Related to the first part is my need for storage (and organization) of my sewing and craft supplies (and my design studio, of course). But this whole idea working hinges on my keeping my area tidy, I will no longer be able to shut the door on my mess. My mess will be out in the open and I know that it cannot look like my studio currently looks (I joke with friends that you almost can't open the door - the funny part is, it isn't a joke).

As I move into the second phase, I need to keep those really important details in mind. So what is the next phase? The FUN phase - the looking through magazines, furniture showrooms, online catalogues, your friends homes, design TV shows, home renovation shows (both on TV and ones that come to your city) and the thousands of books written on the subject! If you are the creative type, you can sit somewhere cozy (it's snowing and 25 below here), sip tea and THINK... Or you can hire a professional to help you with this task. Now it is about finding the solutions to your design problem! You don't have to come up with just one - sometimes the best solution is a combination of different things or it's starting with "Plan A" and part way through realizing "Plan B" fits your style better. Look for inspiration anywhere and everywhere! You'll never know where you'll find inspiration.

This week, I'm going to sift through my design library, sip some tea and think, surf a little and look for inspiration so I can work towards my solution. Initially, I'm just going to pull together all the things I like - whether they will be 'right' for the solution or not - we'll refine later. Now it is about brainstorming, gathering ideas, creating ideas and compiling it all together.

Next week, we'll look at refining our solutions and creating a sample board that will showcase your design!


Benjamin Moore Paint chip photo courtesy of Blackstone Images


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