Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Organizing and Storing Dog Toys

On a recent trip to Homesense I picked up a set of 3 stuffed building block dog toys for Max. They are made by Planet Dog and retail for about $20 at most pet stores. I once grabbed a set for $20 and carried them around the store with me, but alas could not shell out the dough and put them down before checking out. So I was over the moon to find the same set on sale for $3.99 at good old homesense, because we all know Max needs more toys, sure let's go with that.

I realize the idea of dog toy storage is kind of crazy, most people don't have enough dog toys to worry about storing them. We on the other hand are crazy and do. Thanks to some very generous friends and family, a dog that hasn't once destroyed a toy in his 8 years and a puppy mommy (me) who loves the reaction a new toy gets, we are overloaded with dog toys. Even after a recent donation of toys to my sister and her new fur baby, we are still left with the issue of where to store all these toys.

There is a method to my madness, Max has seasonal toys, that are stored with the seasonal decorations (christmas toys are stored with christmas decorations and the same for halloween) and the rest are stored downstairs in the living room and are switched out when they need washing (Max is missing teeth and as a result ends up gumming his toys until they are gooey and smell horrible), therefore they need washing frequently and need to be kept close at hand, or paw.
 So if you ever wondered what all the baskets are for, now you know, they are for Max.
The two baskets in the bookshelf on the fireplace are for less frequently used toys.

Then for the toys that get dragged all around the house there is a basket on the stairs to trow the toys into, usually after you step on one releasing a very loud squeak. I'm in love with this basket though, it's got a cutout for the step, it's really handy and kinda cute sitting on a step.

For the rest ,we keep his little favorites in a small basket under our coffee table, that way he can pull them out when he wants a new one.

If you are interested in Max's favorite toys I have a list of them on our Amazon Store, under the Pets section. He likes all of his toys but he has some very specific favorites.
And the last picture is just a slightly fuzzy photo of a very happy little puppy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Decking out the Deck: Progress

Between the front foyer redo, the closet organizing, and the laundry room painting we thought it would be a great time to add another project, decking out the deck. To be fair I couldn't really control the timing, it was well past time to start planting. To date, we have bought and planted all of our new annuals, we are just waiting until they fill in a bit more to do a full reveal. But I thought I'd let you in on a sneek peek.

We used "Blackie" I believe it's a potato vine, Yellow Petunia's and Flowering Tobacco (I love the bright green Flowers). Most of the deck will follow the same color palate as this planter. The contrast between the bright green and yellow against the dark black leaves is my favorite color combo for plants.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Martha on Monday: Closet

This week's Martha on Monday is on bedroom closets. We have recently organized our bedroom closets, got rid of a lot of clothes that we don't wear, or like, or fit (come back on Thursday to see our closet reveal). But all weekend I was searching for inspiration and tips on organizing a bedroom closet and found there is no better place then Martha Stewarts Website.

Image via Martha Stewart 

Image via Martha Stewart

Martha has a great article on her site about organizing your closets and drawers, you can find it here.
I can't wait to show you our closet redo's this week, although they don't look as nice as Martha's I'm sure you'll still enjoy them!!!

Bathtub Caddy

I have always wanted a bathtub caddy but could never seem to open up the old pocketbook to pay for it. I was never really convinced that it was worth the money. I mean how often do you really get the chance to sit in the bath for a good long while with a book, and a drink. I've seen them in store's many times but I always found the price tag to be a bit steep.

We always do something when we buy something new, we call it "doing the math". It means we take the price and divide into the estimated amount of times we'll use it and get our cost per use. I knew I would use it, but how much, besides it's not really a necessity. This was my train of thought, that was until I found this chrome one for $2 at a local second hand store. Making the cost per use very low, even if I use it a total of 8 times over it's lifetime that's only 25 cents per use. Then there was the issue of storing it. Easily solved the caddy fits right under the faucet tucking nicely away when we are having a bath, with out a book and a drink. It also fits all the way at the other end of the tub when we are having a shower. It passed the Maillardville Manor test: will we use it (more then once), is it the best price possible, and is there room to store it. Three out of Three makes for a new bathtub caddy for the Manor.

In case anyone was wondering, yes I did pick that book for the picture because it was pink like the flowers, and if anyone is interested the book is Yuppy Puppy by Binky von Barksdale / Robin Zingone.
It's a very cute book we got as a gift when we first adopted little Max if you'd like to see more of it, check out our Amazon Store under Pets.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Flowers on Friday: Pink

This week's Flowers on Friday is a little more feminine then usual. If you can remember last weeks bouquet, well all of this weeks pink flowers were a part of the same bouquet. It's very common for me to take parts out of bouquets and turn them into mini arrangements. Why keep one big arrangement in one room of your house when you can have one medium bouquet and a couple of mini's all over the house. So, back to the flowers. I pulled all of the pink and purple flowers out and put them in this little vase from Ikea (linked here) I use this vase all the time, definitely worth the $2.99 price tag.
I took the picture of this little guy in the kitchen but it's real home has been in the bathroom. Come back on monday and see where and on what this little pink bouquet is sitting.

Small Changes in the Bathroom!

I love this time of year! Clearance Time! When stores are getting rid of the spring and sometimes left over winter stock to make room for summer (it happens a little later up here in Canada). It's not the new summer stock that gets my motor running it's all of the spring stock I've been drooling over for months that is now on sale, 75% off to be exact. If you read the $4.00 toilet post you would have gotten a sneek peek of our latest finds but here are the gory details. I needed a new toilet brush, the plastic white one just wasn't cutting it anymore, style wise and function wise. We found this nickle finish one for $7.50, which is good because I love it but would never spend $30 on a brush to clean the toilet. Then there it was, something we completely didn't need but was sitting there looking beautiful, I believe in love at first sight but could I actually be in love with a bathroom garbage can, Yup, turns out I can. We picked up this white ceramic, cable knit sweater inspired beauty for $10, which is good because as much as it pains me to say it I wouldn't spend $40 on a garbage can even one as nice as this!

I didn't really make it out of the bathroom section of the store that day because it was the first section when you entered the store and by the time I was done with it I was too afraid to go to another, I had already spent my limit. Alas, before I made it out of the bathroom section these adorable little hand towels were winking at me, and with the same siren song that calls sailors out to sea, they called me over to shop. All joking aside I love anything monogrammed or embroidered, the little Mr. and Mrs. were just too cute ( word to the wise if your husband is anything like Lee you'll want to grab an extra Mr. We use to have His and Hers but the His got way dirtier, and when I could no longer wash the dirt out I had to take both down).

So there's the result of our end of spring shopping excursion. I got away with out too much damage to my pocketbook, and I think they added some very nice jewelry to the bathroom.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Even More Kitchen Organizing

For a small kitchen I sure can squeeze out a lot of posts out of it! After this I am all out of kitchen organization, but don't worry I have a few future plans in the works.
Now on with the show,
our dishes cupboard is extremely easy to keep organized, I say that because one of my close friends declared that there is no way our cupboard could look like that all the time, but, alas it does, you can ask her, she checks every time she comes over. The reason it's so easy to keep organized is simply because everything has a place.I'm not trying to fit in things that don't fit. I'm only stacking like items together, saving us from the inevitable avalanche that happens when too much is stacked too high. We have the right amount of glasses so that we aren't trying to squeeze them into the cupboard, they all fit nicely. We also have just enough room for 8 dinner plates, no more. Having a set amount of room also helps us from impulse purchases, I know we can only fit 8 plates, we have 8 plates so I know that no matter how cute the new plates are, they won't fit!
Also the Martha in me loves seeing everything all lined up, neat and tidy.

We bought this in drawer knife organizer last year and if I could find it again I would buy another one, for back up, just incase. I found this gem at Homesense and it was worth the money I paid for it twice over. It has saved our knives and probably some of our fingers too. It holds every knife up right and in place. They no longer bang around in the drawer, crashing into each other, dulling and chipping the blades as they go. Also it's much safer to get them out, no more cut fingers for us.

And last, our breakfast cupboard. This is a very small cabinet beside the dishwasher, it almost seems like an oversight by the builders. Because it is too small to hold plates or tupperware we weren't sure what to do with it, but I knew I didn't want to clutter up the counter tops with small appliances, so we removed a shelf and held our breath hoping the coffee maker would fit, and as you can see it did. Now in the morning we just open the cabinet pull out the coffee maker and toaster then breakfast is ready.Gotta love a one stop shop!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Today I was featured at "The DIY Showoff"

Thanks to Roeshel at "The DIY Showoff" for spotlighting our Computer Room/ Craft Room Redo.
It was so exciting to see our little room on a fabulous blog like "The DIY Showoff". I have been a huge fan of Roeshel and her blog for a long time now. If you haven't already you should go check out "The DIY Showoff" 
Too check out our computer room Redo you can follow this link to our resources section.
You can check us out at "The DIY Showoff" Here.
Thanks again to Roeshel, I've had so many nice people stop by and leave comments, it's been so exciting.


More Kitchen organization: Spices

We do a lot of cooking over here at the Manor, Lee is a big eater and if we ate dinner out a lot we would be poor! So our solution is to eat at home. We even make our own sushi, and curries. Although from time to time we are seen running across the street to the japanese restaurant for take out (our sushi restaurant is a one minute walk across the street, so tempting to just order sushi anytime you're hungry).
We don't have a crazy amount of spice, we only buy what we use, for instance I hate cumin, even if a recipe calls for it, I cut it out. So buying one of those racks with all the spices in it, wasn't a good idea for us. I also much prefer fresh herbs so all spring and summer we grow them on the deck (more on that in a later post).
What we do use a lot of we buy in bulk, like our Montreal Steak Spice and Olive Oil.
I recently bought these two little spice racks from Walmart (from this line Linked Here). They hold all of our large bottles of spices.

We have an in drawer spice rack for our smaller bottles of spices like thyme, rosemary, bay leaves spices like that. We purchased our spice rack from Loblaws but the container store has a lovely one too (Linked Here).

Above our stove is also where we keep our Vinegars and bulk olive oil. I use a dispenser for our olive oil and keep that by the stove top, we go through olive oil like crazy so it saves us money to buy it in bulk. We also have a lot of Oils, we make our own salad dressing as we need it, have you ever read the salad dressing label? I did once and now we make our own. It's really very easy and fresh!!!

I keep our salt and pepper on a tray beside the stove. I also keep the Olive Oil dispenser there as well as the oil and vinegar bottles. The salt hog is also useful because I like to use coarse kosher salt to season, well almost anything!

So there's our spices, laid out and at the ready. I think I'll head out for some sushi now, just kidding!

To see how we organized other area's of our kitchen,  Check out these links:
Under the Kitchen Sink
The Pantry

More Kichen Organization: Pantry

Although I have posted about kitchen organization before, I still have more to show you! Truth be told, I'll probably always be posting on kitchen organization, it seems that the kitchen is a living, breathing being in our house, ever changing, ever evolving. Just when everything is perfect you turn your back and you're back at square one, but once we have kids keeping the kitchen organized will be easier, right? haha just kidding.
We recently lined our pantry cupboard shelves (check it out here) and I thought it would be the perfect time to re-organize the pantry, seeing as it was already emptied out.

Seeing the contents of our pantry laid out brought out two feelings in me, one, it made me want to simplify, cut down on duplicates, and really just keep the basics on hand. And two, it made me feel grateful, we are very blessed and there is nothing like literally seeing it laid out in front of you to make you realize it. We are very lucky to have more food then we need, but not more food then we'll use (I think there is an important distinction there).
 Lee is a big tea drinker, most people don't believe us but Lee is the tea drinker of the family, he even has a tea cup and saucer (although you didn't hear that from me). Mostly he drinks green tea but we also have a decent collection of tea bags for myself and for the days Lee's feeling a little crazy and has a peppermint tea instead. This tea bag organizer from ikea (linked here) is really handy, it's nice because you can see what you have and saves us from keeping a bunch of tiny half empty boxes of tea in the cupboard.

The bottom of the pantry stayed fairly similar. I grouped the baking goods together (flours, sugars etc...), and am still storing my serving platters on the shelves. The onions and potato's are still staying nice and cool in the same stop.

An old part of the kitchen becomes a new addition to the pantry. We've had these glass candy jars for a number of years now and somehow I always find a use for them. One is being used to hold protein powder (for Lee) and the other holds Granola (costco brand in case you were wondering, they make the best granola).I wanted to make sure that I stored both of these items in glass and not in plastic, one because I worry about plastic's leaching chemicals and two because the granola is fresh and does go bad so I wanted it to be easily accessible so that Lee would eat it all before it expired.
 So, that's the newly organized pantry. It was a lot of work, there was a lot of trial and error, seeing if things will fit then finding out they don't and starting again! The the results are worth it for us! We love the green paper and all the extra space it feels like we have in the pantry now that it's organized and thoughtfully laid out.

Also, come take a look at our food poster we hung by our pantry to help us make better food choices. There is nothing like a sign telling you to eat better starring you in the face everytime you reach for a cookie!

Monday, June 21, 2010

$4.00 Dual-Flush Toilet

No that wasn't a typo, this is the story of our brand new, dual flush, four dollar toilet. It's really quite simple, our town gives a $100 rebate when you buy a low flush toilet (6L or under). So our local Home Depot was having a toilet sale, 20% off the regular price. So we bought a low flow, dual flush toilet and with the 20% discount it came to $104.66. We took our receipt, along with a picture of our old toilet with the tank broken, and a picture of our new toilet installed and sent it to city hall. One month later we had a $100 cheque arrive in the mail. Which brings our new toilet's grand total to $4.66. Not bad.

Old Toilet:                                                                           New Toilet:

 We were only able to take advantage of this offer and save that much money on a new toilet is because Lee is able to install the toilet himself saving us an estimated $100.00. Another cost savings was that our neighbors let us use their dumpster they had rented for reno's, so we didn't have to pay a fee at the dump. Also It was a matter of knowing what incentives your municipality offers as far as rebates for renovations, and waiting for a sale to make the most of your savings. We couldn't be happier with our new toilet, I love the dual flush option and as a bonus I don't feel so bad now when I take a bit longer shower, the water we are saving on the toilet buys me an extra minute or two.

Martha on Monday: Laundry

As soon as our front entrance project is done (check back later this week to see the results of our teeny, tiny front entrance re-do), we will be tackling our Laundry Room Closet. It's a very small closet, it holds a stacking washer and dryer and has a spare 8 inches to hold the ironing board. It's going to require a lot of small space solutions but i'm looking forward to the challenge, although a nice big laundry room like these would be nice too.

Photo via Martha Stewart (

 Image via Sarah Richardson (

Happy Fathers Day!

I know it's a little late but Happy Fathers day to all the dad's out there. Over here at the manor we celebrated fathers day with a car show at a local tool and auto shop. Lee got a Ducky soap on a rope and a to go coffee mug from his fur-baby Max.

Yes, that's right Max (our dog) got Lee a fathers day gift, and why not Lee's the best puppy daddy ever. In fact Max wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Lee. A couple years ago we were at a dog park when a big black dog attacked Max. Max was right beside me and there was nothing I could do the Black dog was way too big for me. Lee ran over and wrestled Max out of the dogs mouth, once the big dog let go of Max Lee had to wrestle the dog trying not to get bitten until the owner finally came over and leashed their dog. If that's not worthy of a soap on a rope I don't know what is.
 The ducky soap on a rope was more of a gag gift for Lee, but the to go mug was a gift that he's been asking me to pick up for a while now.
At home drip coffee cost approx. $0.42 a cup (that includes sugar, milk and coffee). Drip coffee from the cafe approx. $1.50 and if you prefer a fancier coffee that average price is $4.00 a cup. Lee has one cup of coffee a day so we stand to save approx $34.00 a month, and that doesn't count the impulse purchases like pastries.
We had the metal coffee to go cups but they weren't able to go into the dishwasher and were incredibly difficult to clean. What is different about this mug is it's ceramic with a silicone lid. The ceramic mug and lid are dishwasher safe,  I loved this mug so much I might have bought one for myself, and it might have a pink lid! 

~ Ashli ~

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flowers on Friday!

This is the first installment of Flowers on Friday. I am a very lucky girl with a very sweet husband who brings flowers home on each payday, twice a month. I really don't know how it started, but I'm not going to risk questioning it. It's extra nice, because Lee picks them out for me and try's very hard to get a different bouquet each and every time. I have no idea how I got this lucky but again, I'm not going to risk it by asking too many questions.
When people find out I receive flowers every two weeks their first reaction is shock and awe, and their second reaction is "what a waste of money". What they don't realize is that each bouquet costs under $10, and from each $10 bouquet I make one medium bouquet and at least one little bouquet, sometimes two.

There is a chinese proverb that goes:

"When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other."

Thankfully we have more then two pennies left in the world but I still love the sentiment.

Kitchen Accessory

On a recent trip to Seattle Lee and I stopped in at Target. It's not unusual for us to go to target what was unusual was that we were just stopping by target, normally I make the almost 2 hour trip just to go to Target, have I mentioned I love Target. Anyways, the shopping stars must have aligned just right because on this particular trip I found two exceptionally great deals.
The first deal of the day were these two white ceramic bowls, with ceramic saucers as lids. They will be so handy this summer. I can just see making, serving and storing potato salad in these beauties. While I already own a very handy white ceramic bowl I couldn't pass up the bowls with the lids, and for $6.00 for the large bowl and lid and $4.00 for the small bowl and lid it was worth every penny. Plus, can you ever have too many white ceramic bowls? (Lee says yes, one more would be too many)

The second deal Being an in sink dish rack. We have a dishwasher so we only needed a little dish rack for the few items we wash by hand, items like our Knives, pots and pans. I didn't want one that took up counter space so when I found this one that drops into the sink, for $2.98 I threw it into the cart faster then I throw peanut butter M&M's into the cart.

We try not to buy impulse items, meaning we try to only buy what we have planned ahead to purchase, and while the dish rack was on the list, the white bowls were not. With such a limited amount of space I have to be careful what I buy, but I absolutely LOVE these bowls, I have already gotten alot of use out of them, and they are white, therefore matching the rest of our dishes (not bad, I came up with these reasons on the spot in Target as part of my "get Lee on board with the white bowls" Campaign.)


The bowls pass the William Morris test!

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”

-William Morris 



Shelf Paper for the Pantry

I love shelf liners. They're like wallpaper for your cupboards!
So, when we had left over liner from another project (Kitchen Sink Linked HERE), I jumped at the chance to line more shelves with this pretty green paper. The paper we bought from Target (LINK) and for around $5 you get so much paper, seriously I still have enough to do another cupboard.

It's really easy to use, just make sure you follow the old adage, measure twice cut once. 

Since our pantry doors are glass it just made sense to make the shelves as pretty as possible. Even a can of tuna looks nicer against the celery green paper.

My only concern with the paper lies in it's potential to off gas, it did smell a little gluey (if that's a word) right after we installed it, but the smell quickly disappeared after a few minutes. Everything stored in the pantry is sealed so I'm not too worried about the paper leaching chemicals into any food. When I researched the paper I found that the adhesive chemicals are considered Food Safe (whatever that means) and the Low Adhesive type, which this paper is, contains fewer chemicals then the regular adhesive ones. Not the most organic of solutions but beautiful non the less, plus the ease of cleaning tipped the scales and we installed the paper yesterday.
Special thanks to Lee who did  the measuring, cutting, installing, the whole project. Thanks : )


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