Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian friends and family!We are over here feeling thankful that we have no agenda today just the kids and I, a ton of left overs from a family filled weekend, a stack of board games and our pajamas on at noon. These days are so good for the heart and not so good for the waste band.

 
 
 From our Little Estate to yours, may you be filled with so much gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day that every area of your life benefits from your thankfulness.

(Here is an excerpt from Instagram about my feelings for these three during this time of year and always. (Feel free to follow along on our day to day journey there.))



"I will forever be grateful for the kind of love they give me, the kind of love I wished for since the beginning of time, the kind of love that is easy, honest, deep and heart wrenchingly beautiful, the kind of love that stops me in my steps and begs me to stare a second longer, to REALLY see what my blessings are made of. Blessings that are their lives unfolding in front of me --- the greatest kind of blessing around. Feeling grateful for their unconditional love, to see their little lives grow from the slight swelling in my belly and into these sweet souls before me. Today and always I am so thankful that God saw something in my husband and I, maybe something small and maybe something only we could give them, but HE saw IT and He reached down and ever so gently picked us both and pushed us into each others paths and then blessed us three times, and big time. �� Gratitude fills every part of me each time I step back and count my biggest blessings: one two, three."

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Quick Organizing Idea!

I just had one of Oprahs "Aha Moments"

The Merrium-Websters dictionary describes such moments as meaning: a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.

I  had to double check with said dictionary, to make sure I finally had one, and yes, it happened.

You see, I decided to go into our garage this afternoon, since our freezer is full of these delicious cream cheese pops on a stick, covered in caramel and rolled in skor bits  to clean it up for my loving husband, and I came across an orange plastic 2L pop holder from the grocery store. 

The last time diet coke went on sale, I clearly stalked up, I figure DC might come in handy if we have a particularly long winter/ice age -- again. Caffeine is a must when you are stuck indoors with three stir crazzzzzy children and your house is encompassed in three inches of ice. Canada problems, eh?

Well, as with everything others might throw out, I looked at that plastic thing with the holes meant for fizzy pop and just knew I could use that thing for the betterment of all man kind, or in our case, just our garage's/marriage betterment, but you know what I mean. 
 

Sure enough, I took some of the cans from the teeter-tottering tower of paint cans stacked dangerously in our garage (No, I still haven't attended paint-hoarders-anonymous because more joy comes from this habit than not. Just ask alllllllllll my thrift store finds. Don't ask my husband. :)) and I simply plunked some of my 921ml cans, my 942 ml cans and my 925 ml cans from their mountain in the corner of the garage and into the empty coke bottle slots.

Insert "Aha moment" HERE.

#perfectfit
#diyideas
#paintorganizing
#holla

I cant wait to buy more and more caffeinated bevys so I have an excuse to bring more of these plastic babies home with me for keeps.

Now, I am picturing all my paints and stains stacked up nicely on top of each other in the corner of our garage, and beyond getting my paint hoarding organized, I am picturing a happy husband who doesn't have to move multiple cans to get to his saw and other equipment and even beyond that, I am picturing our sweet children who will no longer have to put on their bike helmets  #safetyfirst every time they want to steal a Popsicle from the freezer in the garage or get some sports equipment from the garage.

Clearly I deserve a frozen treat on a stick for all of my amazing brain waves today, no? Im going with the idea that if I eat is super quickly in our darkened garage, and if I eat it reallllllly quietly my stomach wont know it is devouring hundreds of calories in every incredible indulgent bite and my eyes wont tell it so either. 

Wish me and my waist band luck.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

A Painted Piano {Part Two}

I am so excited to share with you our painted piano. 

If you are a bare wood enthusiast (Sorry Dad!!) then you should not read the rest of this post. Instead, your time would be more wisely spent taking a leisurely walk in the yellowing forest where all of the wood is still untouched and beautifully natural. This post might make your eyes itchy. ;0

On the other hand, if you are someone who can see beauty in the discarded, can see potential in the forgotten, can see beauty where there is only the banged up and beaten down, if you are an adventure lover, a do-it-yourself executor and if you are partial to the colour of the sea, then this post is for you!


We picked up this beaten up beauty from our local Re Store three and a half years ago. I had big plans for her then, and finally this summer got up the nerve to put on her makeup.

You see, I pictured our children clanking on her worn out keys and I imagined scenes of family members gathered closely around her while voices were bellowing out folk songs, ballads and good old Christmas carols.

(Kind of, EXACTLY like, the final living room scene from "Its a Wonderful Life")


 But the only problem is, I didn't want to cause any trauma to my sweet babies in the process of teaching them how to make this old girl "sing" again. (Like MY childhood. 
See the whole "woe-is-Me-post HERE)


I matched a little thrift store bench to our piano and gave its padded seat a quick update. (More to come on that)

And then, with the piano and the bench married in holy piano-matrimony, we all got down to business.
  
//////Step One//////

Wash down the entire piano from sticky kid hand prints and yesterdays breakfast jam. 

Dry it immediately.
 

//////Step Two//////

Tape off all of the edges that you do not want to get paint on. (Wheels, pedals, keys and even the inside components)

//////Step Three//////

 Prime your piece. (I didn't even bother moving this gigantic thing anywhere. I simply tucked a big old bed sheet around the base of it and I got to work painting away. I  personally like to mix a primer with a latex paint, because I have found in the past that primer + paint, makes for better coverage on big ticket items. I use equal parts. ) 


 //////Step Four//////

After your primer + paint base has cured (check drying time on your paint selection. I chose to let mine dry for 3+ hours.) you are ready to make your piano pretty.


//////Step Five//////

I chose to make my own homemade chalk paint for this piece and I am in love with how it turned out. I chose to use the plaster of Paris recipe I have been using for years.

Homemade Chalk Paint 
(Plaster of Paris version)

Three parts paint
One part plaster of Paris
water for mixing
 
painted piano this little estate

//////Step Six//////

Lastly, apply your paint!


I applied three thin layers to our piano and our bench. 

I find that this homemade chalk paint dries fast so I was able to complete all three coats on a Saturday. A definite doable weekend project! Horray!

//////Step Seven//////

Now, sit back and take in your beautified piano and get ready to make some beautiful music that matches your new beautiful piece!

 painted piano this little estate

 Though I am a person who loves all different types of woods and could gladly live in a rustic cabin somewhere forever surrounded by natural wood elements, I am so please we took the leap to breathe new life into this old piano.

Depending on the time of day, the blue paint color changes from bright to subdued.  (My constant changing creative side, lovvvvvvves that.)


I decorated the top of her with a few special pieces and hung my favorite painting just above her.

 


Our little thrifted bench, now a pretty blue too, finally looks like it completely belongs with our piano.

  

All together this little duo brightens up our upstairs family room and now adds the perfect pop of unexpected colour to our most lived in room.

 



After:

Now, if only we could play this baby while finding people to dump money at our feet, like in Its A Wonderful Life. ;D




Would you ever paint a piano? If so, what colour would you choose to brighten your home? :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

A story and a plan. {Part One of the Piano makeover}

Have I ever told you the story about five-year-old-conniving-me and the piano debacle??

Nope? 

Well then you have missed out.

Don't worry about it though, my parents missed out too. They really should have seen my full potential from this story, but the only thing they saw was an opportunity to ground me and teach me an important lesson. ;)

#wellplayed
#almostaconartist
 
You see, when I was five years old I had to take piano lessons. That half an hour of practicing after school each day felt like an eternity, so, I took matters into my own little girl hands. 

I started by hatching an epic plan in my little mind, I thought of my plan over and over and tweaked it to perfection.

 Then one day, I got to work right away tape recording myself playing my dreaded piano lessons on my handy dandy tape recorder (NOTE: Babies born after 1990 may have to Google what that is. ) After I had clunked through my half hour lesson and successfully tape recorded it, I waited for the following day to put my plan into motion. 

Just as I had pictured, over and over in my scheming imagination, I dragged my big-life-like-doll from its special spot in the corner of my bedroom, and exchanged her polka dotted dress with the one I had worn to school that day. I squished and pulled my dolls soft arms and legs through my outfit, complete with the ketchup stain, until she looked just like me - lopsided pigtails and all.  

I stood back and took my dolly in. 

She was about three and a half feet tall and exactly what I had wanted for Christmas the year before. My older sister and I had spotted these giant stuffed dolls and became obsessed with the fact that they weren't "baby" dolls, no, they were just like us and as big as us, and we immediately focused our attention on bossing them around instead of each other. (Bonus, they never talked back and always played all the terrible "boy parts" in our imaginary stories. Every little girls dream come true. Boys have cooties don't ya know, and life as you know it is over if you have to play the "boy" in any story. Yuck.)

I held my doll up with both arms and marveled at my own genius with this plan. I then tucked my portable tape recorder under my arm and set the scene in our families dining room.

Our upright piano was big and brown and bo0000rrrrrrring. 

Finally, it would see some excitement.

I felt like it should high five me or something.

I plunked my life size doll, clad in my very own dress, onto the slippery piano bench and propped her stuffed hands "just so" along the black and white keys. Her head drooped a little and her hair hung around her face, but the effect seemed to make the setup look very life like to me. I never was one that sat upright on that slippery bench,and just like dolly, I remembered to show my parents, with the important drama of a five year old girl, that music lessons were so boring that they did in fact make allll the muscles in my body turn to mush. My giant dolly was nailing her part in this plan.

I stepped away, viewing the bored senseless dolly, and pressed PLAY on my tape recorder.

I remember thinking, I wish I had of thought of this sooner.

Then, with that off tune plunking music coming from the speakers of my beloved crackling tape recorder, I swooshed out to the street, hopped on my little bike and zoomed around the block half  a dozen times until I heard my mothers tell-tale-angry-voice hollering my name from our kitchen window.

Ok, so now you know that I was a child prodigy. or perhaps a budding mass-manipulator, but whatever the case, my grounding shook some "respect" into me and I never did cunningly escape another piano lesson. 

 

So you can imagine why my parents stopped paying for music lessons and why to this day, I still wonder if my talents in "music recording", "costume design" and "Producer" could have been better focused on learning to play an instrument instead.


This baby is gonna help with that.

But first there is just one small problem. This piano is much like my childhood piano, and truth be told, it bores me.

(All you wood loving enthusiast will want to stop reading now.)


Cause, YEP, you guessed it. 

This little beat-up-thrift-store-find has gotten an unbelievable makeover.

I'm hoping that the new updated version will entice my children to sit at it letting their imaginations run wild. I hope that they don't take after the way I acted as a child, I hope they rock self discipline and that this new and improved version of an old piano makes us all excited to play music again.


I will see you soon to share with you what she looks like now.


I have a feeling this little seat is going to be used a lot. ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Trash to Treasure Chairs

If you shop at thrift stores, junk stores, antique stores, consignment stores and in alley ways, then you will probably see me there too.

Wave back next time, k? ;)
 
I will be the girl with the lipstick on, hair coiffed, probably donning heels, yet armed with my measuring tape, a dreaming mentality and a back seat ready for treasures.


A few weeks ago, no dumpster diving was required though.

phewffffffff.


I found these two beauties in my local thrift store and fell in love with their shape and texture immediately. 

You see, our two year old had recently ruined/ ninja kicked/ broke/ colored with permanent marker, all over our previous desk chairs. They also had patted seats that couldn't hold up to juice stains and grubby hand prints, not to mention, when friends visited I prayed they would lovingly avert their eyes from the yuckiness that our old chairs were.

So, when I spotted two matching chairs, that were easy enough to wipe down and stand up to
the abuse of two year olds and their budding artistic talents and messy juice chugging,
I scooped them up!


 

At $8 each, I knew they could be transformed into something wonderful with a good clean and perhaps some new paint.

My visit to the CNE this year confirmed my thoughts. I found these gorgeous chairs (pictured above) with a similar design at the Bowring outlet location during the last long weekend of summer. I loved how the chairs metal base was painted a metallic gold and how the textured sides were a beautiful contrast in a dark hue.

Best of all, I loved that THEIR version was $321 more than the ones I scored. If my budget could afford them, I would love to bring some of the Bowring version home, but unfortunately at this time in our life with permanent marker wielding babies pricier pieces wouldn't work out too well in our beautiful mess of a house.

#youknowyouknow


These two will do just fine for this time in our lives. :)

And actually, now that they are in their permanent new homes, I'm wondering if I even need to give them a little makeover now. 

????
 
Im kind of digging their color and texture and how they add some much needed warmth to this bright space that is a corner in our family room. My thoughts are, that if I tire of them eventually, or the kids take the coloring action into their own hands, I may need to pull out the spray paint collection later on. ;)


Until that time comes, Im tempted to just enjoy them as is, and try to convince my husband that I saved $642 by shopping the thrift store instead of the mall.

I wonder if I can convince him that that big sum of money I saved us should be spent on other house hold things? Do you think he would buy that?? Get it? BUY that. ;)  
#punproblems
What would you do with these babies? Paint them or leave them as is? I would love to hear what you think!

PS: CHECK BACK OFTEN, I AM PUTTING TOGETHER A POST OF MY FAVORITE THRIFT STORES (AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR!!) TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU TOO GET FIND FABULOUS THRIFTING DEALS.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Vegetable Soup (A 100 calorie meal!)

When the colder weather arrives, so does the soup. 

If you have been following a long here, for any length of time, then you KNOW that I am a major soup fan. They are easy to make, easy to eat, easy to clean up, and the way I make them, they are easy on the waist line too.


The perfect combo for the business of life right?

To make this vegetable soup you will need to roughly chop half a medium head of savoy cabbage, four leeks, three medium carrots, two medium egg plants, three stalks of celery and one head of garlic. 

You will also need four red tomatoes, whole, and three yellow tomatoes whole. 

This one is a chunky, hearty, FILLING soup and is great to make if you are feeling your body needs a bit of a detox after a weekend of indulging.


To make, fill a soup pot with seven cups of vegetable broth. IF you don't have any on hand, simply fill your pot with seven cups of purified water, two teaspoons of "Vegetta" powdered soup mix, one teaspoon of garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. I also add half a teaspoon of crushed chili peppers for a teeny tiny bit of a kick, yet still kid approved.

Throw all of your coarsely chopped veggies into your broth along with your whole tomatoes. Cover and simmer for approx 25 minutes or until the vegetables are done to your liking.


Using a wooden spoon, gently poke and prod at your tomatoes until they easily fall apart within your soup. The key to this one is enjoying the chunky bits of tomato with the textured pieces of savoy cabbage. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy.

Your taste buds will love it, and at approximately 100 calories for 2 cups worth, your belly will thank you too.




Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Backyard Overhaul {Deck Progress!}

So, it is official. The kids are back getting in the groove of school, our University town is buzzing with excitement, the Canadian temperature has quickly dropped (to colder than I would like) and our deck did NOT get finished this summer

So basically, all is right with the world.


You know, how long our projects take by now, right???

In our defense, it isnt like we were just sitting around all summer either. I didn't get any tan lines this summer and we totally blame the awful "summer weather" on why the deck didn't get finished in record speed.

If you are from around our parts, in Southern Ontario, then you know all too well that we had way more rain filled days then beach days this summer.  Which meant, staring longingly, with our greasy-grubby-faces against our rain streaked windows staring at our drowned deck holes.


When we first bought our home three years ago, I was excited that we would inherit what seemed to be a big new-ish deck!


But after some further investigation we realized that our deck, though new-ish was not built to last.

 We quickly referred to our "new-ish" deck as being our "old deck", and to be frank, it just wasnt cutting it for us any more.
Not only was it void of all personality.


But it was a giant B-O-X, right off of our main level, which meant we lost out on a lot of our ground level backyard space.


Which would have been fine in theory, but our new-ish deck, kind of shook back and forth. 

And by "kind of" I mean that if you moved on it too much you felt like there were earth quakes happening.

I love a good rock on a boat or a sway in a hammock, but from my limited deck building experience, structures should not shake.


...and stairs should not be lopsided.


...and lets not even get to the part about children not being aloud to play under said rocking, swaying, lopsided deck.

#longestyetshortestsummerofmylife
#irony

 And, to top it off, this sad dilapidated deck was covering a very important window.


So, with our "con list" growing, we decided, mid-summer, that we were going to change our backyard from the place where toys and tools went to die, into a relaxing private retreat.


We also put on the list that it had to be a solid non-rocking, non-swaying, non-lopsided retreat.


We dug some holes.


Made a feeble attempt at creating some foliage/privacy against our back fence.


And got to work putting our footers into our yard.


As things go around here, we usually don't start with a drawn out plan. We usually, just jump into a project with both feet first.

In this case, my more methodical man went to Home Depot and had them design us a handy little approximate blueprint of the deck we had discussed: two tier, smallish, discreet, and it had to fit into our modest budget. That, by the way, is great to have as a starting point.

We tweaked as we went.

#creativepeopleproblems

 ...and then, with dreams in our head and power tools in our hands, in about five minutes, we tore the sucker down.


Don't try this at home kids.


Our deck furniture took it easy this summer and basically sun tanned on our lawn for three months.


Our methodical man did not.


(The kids always end up choosing the best seats in the house.)


Slowly but surely, this guy of mine, clocked in after work hours, weekend hours, late night hours and more.

Sorry for the scary jarring saw noises neighbours!!!


Once the decks railings were removed, we installed the huge heavy posts that would eventually give us some privacy.


You should have seen my hubs biceps popping as he held these huge wooden babies up and I easily screwed them in underneath.

#teamwork
#uglyfacesweremadeinthebuildingofthisdeck
#therewasgruntingtoo

 The kids were impressed. Which says a lot.

One time, they didnt blink an eye when a guy tiperope walked across Niagara Falls.

Meanwhile, I was peeing my pants and blaming the mist.

  I remember the kids marveling that neither of us got killed in the process of installing those heavy puppies, and they were right to be astounded.

I am still sore.


Because I enjoy continuous momentum when it comes to projects, I encouraged my brother and dad to show up and offer some man power to my main man. The only problem is, when you don't have a plan, extra help wont really make a difference.

Thanks Dad and Matt for coming over and watching us argue "ho and hum" about what steps to take next! Those four boards we got up in two hours are soooo level and straight, AND AWESOME, and I will carve your name in them one day in memory of the amazing teamwork you all displayed.

#Sometimesitdoesnttakeavillage


We attached a piece of wood on the inside railing of our deck walls and then framed in the upper deck sections with slanted boards for a prettier visual effect. 


Since we live in a 15 year suburban development, mature trees are at a premium. We knew we wanted shade but also knew that we didn't have the patience, the green thumb, or the budget to bring in mature trees into our yard.


Instead we installed a beautiful custom wooden system that would give us the privacy and shade that we craved. 

We made our upper deck out of five sections and added these wooden "blinds" totally around it, so that we can be out there in our pajamas with a morning coffee in hand and the neighbors wont have any idea that my favorite pair of pajama bottoms are actually my husbands thread-bare-ones and that they are covered in obnoxious happy faces which will never match my own morning face.


This whole process took a lot of days after work to complete.


We made it up as we went and there were more than a few times where my husband couldn't continue building because I had to scour Pinterest to decide what I wanted for our dream, budget friendly, deck.


Lucky for me he is patient.

I never did find something that would work for our yard from Pinterest, but  I guess this labor of love will be unique to us in the end...


Though our yard is totally copying the amazon jungle right now.


We finished the upper deck a few weeks ago and have been busy tearing down the other side of the old upper deck that we have no use for anymore. With the cooler weather moving in we have also been steadily moving forward on the new bottom deck.


My fingers and toes, and hairs, and feet, and legs and arms, are crossed tightly and hoping that in a few weeks I will be ready to show you the whole reveal with proper pictures and a source list. 

Until then, you will find me hiding out on that upper deck in my pajamas, with a morning caffeine fix in hand, covered in heaps of blankets to ward off the cold Fall air.

PS: fingers crossed the Canadian snow holds off till next month too! ;0
 
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