Thursday, May 30, 2013

Perfect Drawers

First . . . please excuse my photos I forgot to charge the battery on our camera so these are phone pictures . . . phone pictures in low light.

I LOVE unexpected pops of pretty. Like when you open a closet door and it's painted a fun color inside or a jewel box powder room. Our cutlery trays were at one point a splurge item for us. They are wood and while we snagged a good deal on them, I would still consider them a splurge item. So almost 5 years later they are seriously showing some signs of wear and tear. But structurally they are still great (if a cutlery tray can be structurally sound??).

I thought about giving them a coat of spray paint but I didn't like the idea of our cutlery touching the paint and all of the chemicals that go along with spray paint. I thought about painting them with a more natural no voc paint or even a chalk paint . . . but I didn't think they would hold up to the abuse, from all of the metal utensils.

I thought about shelf liner . . . easy to clean, easy to install. So I went to Target . . . (p.s. I couldn't be more excited there's a target in Canada now!!) I looked at the pretty liners, but then I saw the cork one and cork in cutlery drawers just made sense. The utensils would slide around as much when the drawers were opened and closed! And for less than $10! Perfect.
The only Piece of advice I have about installing it, is:
Cut with scissors not an exacto knife . . . for some reason the cork doesn't appreciate the cutting blade approach, it kind of crumbles around the edges.
The drawers are in way better shape now . . . I was able to get rid of some extra bits and bobs, and most important make room for a recent gift . . . my new Sophie Conran measuring spoons and cups!!!

Once the battery is all charged up I will take some much better photos for you . . . but I hope these will do for now.
If you follow us on Instagram you would catch a couple photos of my new Sophie Conran dishes. I am so so so excited! When we first got married I wanted to much to register for Sophie Conran dishes but we decided that the fact that we could barely afford food at the time . . . having fancy dishes to eat off of seemed a little extravagant. So I waited and waited, finally 7 years and an amazon gift card later I have them!!!
So I am doing a major cupboard overhaul . . . probably as you are reading this. I can't wait to share!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Nose, knows.

Well at least my nose knows. It knows everything!!
I have terrible eyesight. Like really really bad eyesight. I haven't seen the time on an alarm clock first thing in the morning since I was 10.
But what I lack in the eyesight department I more than make up for in the smell department! I smell everything, cigarette smoke from 4 houses down, fabric softener on the person behind me at the movies, or the perfume on every overly coiffed woman at the mall. 

Home Fragrance is something that I tended to avoid,  I was from the school of thought that NO scent is good scent . . . but that's not entirely true. Cookies, for example, smell amazing . . . as does fresh lemon. It wasn't until I started making my own Soy Candles using essential oils that I realized I missed a light scent around our home. 

I cannot stand the smell of plug-in air fresheners, or aerosol air fresheners. I wanted something really subtle, but more importantly I wanted something NATURAL! Our natural soy candles are great, but they aren't powerful enough to infuse a whole house full of scent.
You've probably seen the recipes for the "William Sonoma Scent" they are all over pinterest (probably because William Sonoma smells amazing). But I decided to try it out for myself . . . it's awesome! LOVE IT!  I let it simmer on low and when the water runs low I just add a bit more. It gives off an amazing subtle scent.

The last party we threw I simmered a pot on the stove and we had more than one comment on how good it smelt! And I also had one Fed Ex delivery driver tell me my house smelt nice. But it was an early delivery and I was wearing some pretty sexy flannel pajamas and no makeup so he might have been hitting on me. ;) just kidding #flannelpajamasaren'tsexy

Thursday, May 23, 2013

4 Steps to an Organized Coat Closet

I set out to organize our coat closet . . . it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. In fact it was pretty simple.
First we installed a simple wire shelving system, you can buy packaged systems, rubbermaid makes a good one. Or you can buy the individual pieces like we did, from stores like Home Depot and Lowes.
I usually don't like the wire systems but I chose one for our coat closet for a reason. Because our coat closet on the main floor is where we keep all of our "everyday" shoes. There are no high heels, or men's dress shoes in our main coat closet, just runners, and boots, shoes that Lee wears to work (a cross between hiking shoes and dress shoes), and flats. Our everyday shoes get dirtier than our dress shoes, and if I had chosen solid shelves (either wood or MDF) they would get muddy and dirty and I would have to clean them off. Wire shelves don't leave a lot of surface space to get collect dirt. The wire shelves also allow the circulation of air around the soles of the shoes drying off wet bottoms.

After we installed the wire shelves, I was able to organize the closet in 4 steps:


Step 1: Hooks

Every well organized closet needs a couple of hooks. The back of the door would have been wasted space. I usually have a tote bag and a scarf hanging from them

Step 2: Seasonal Storage

I think all coat closets could use a basket or box for seasonal items. In the summer we keep our snow boots, and all of our mittens and toques, knitted scarves . . . and a couple of Max's winter sweaters (don't laugh he's very tiny and needs a little sweater, the fact that it has a monkey on it is just for fun). In the summer we keep our flips flops and sunscreen in the basket . . . because we live in Canada and there is NO need for flip flops in the winter unless you wear them with socks . . . so classy.
*basket is from Michaels.

Step 3: Baskets

These two little baskets are from The Real Canadian Superstore. They are the same baskets from our townhouse bathroom. They are the perfect addition to our coat closet. They catch all the hats, and mitts, and toques, all the essentials for a Canadian winter. In the summer we use them to hold a cotton scarf or two, sunscreen and our ball caps.

Step 4: Somewhere to store re-usable shopping bags

We all try to use our re-usable bags and storing them can be a bit awkward around here. I use to store them in the car . . . which was great but while they were in the house they would always be sitting on top of the front hall console, or in the mudroom on top of the machines. They aren't the prettiest of things and I didn't like seeing them on the counter or table tops.
This little wire basket is meant to work with the wire shelving systems, and we use it to hold our shopping bags! Because I have to go into the coat closet to get my shoes before I leave the house . . . I never forget my re-usable bags!
Your family is probably different than mine . . . so your coat closet might have different needs . . . for example you might need extra hooks, or extra baskets. You might need two or three baskets/boxes for your seasonal storage. But I really do think that these are the 4 parts that every coat closet needs.

Bonus Step 5: Matching hangers

Ikea sells hangers for amazing prices, grab a couple packs . . . spend less than $10, and wow yourself with your pretty closet! ;) haha

Bonus Step 6: Key Hooks

We have our key hooks beside our front hall console, but if you don't have a console a couple of small hooks in your coat closet would be very useful!
Anyone have any other Coat Closet organizing tips??? I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Greener Way to Water your garden this summer

The more I research ways to be green, and the more I implement green changes around our home. The more I am convinced that green just makes sense, green changes usually save you money, and a lot of the time they save you effort as well.
This is so true of our latest green change. We added a soaker hose to our rain barrel and it's been awesome!

First it saves us money! 

Sprinklers waste a lot of water! While we are careful not to water the sidewalk, or the street, some always ends up there. Sprinklers also loose some water due to evaporation!

Second it saves us time. 

Because sprinklers are a bit of a waste of water, we took to hand watering which ends with us standing in the front yard for 30 minutes watering all the beds, all summer.
Even if we kept using the sprinkler to water our garden beds, we still have to run back outside every 10 minutes to move the sprinkler.

3rd green benefit . . . 

Most soaker hoses are made from recycled rubber!

Soaker hose tips: 

  • Soaker or Weeping hoses work best in lengths of 50 feet or less. Any more and it's hard to get the water all the way to the end of the hose (because there is no pressure pushing the water through . . . just gravity from the rain barrel). 
  • Don't bury your soaker hose in the dirt . . . lay it on top of the dirt and cover it with mulch instead. The mulch works two ways, one to cover the hose, and two to trap moisture in the soil. 
  • Keep the hose approx. 2-4 inches away from the base of the plant. 

Here's how we tackled it . . . 

(please excuse my terrible drawing, graphic designer I am definitely NOT!)
Because we are using our rain barrel for our water source, we attached the hose to our barrel.
We used a regular hose to run from the barrel to the garden bed so we didn't waste water that would seep out over our gravel . . . gravel doesn't need to be watered, silly!
(p.s. ever tried to take an artsy shot of a garden hose??? . . . nailed it ;)

Then we hooked up the regular hose to the soaker hose at the start of our garden bed.
Then we weaved the soaker hose in a big squiggly line between the hydrangeas (since they are the plants that need watering the most in our front yard).  We made sure to keep the hose 2-4 inches from the base of each plant.
Lastly we covered the hose with mulch so now, you can't see it at all. Soaker hose?? What soaker hose?? 
One last tip before I go . . . to promote strong, deep, healthy roots systems on your plants, water longer and more infrequently, instead of short burst of water frequently. Let the water soak deep down your looking for about an 8-12 inch deep soak! It usually takes all the water in our rain barrel to achieve this . . . luckily we live in the Greater Vancouver area, where rain is abundant . . . even when you wish it wasn't.
Here's a link to our Rain Barrel Guide from last year! Our rain barrel is one of my favorite green changes we've made . . . and now with the addition of a soaker hose it might take top billing.
I am also pretty happy with my clothesline from last year!

You can find soaker hoses everywhere, we picked ours up off Amazon for a great price, 50 feet for under $17, and free shipping!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2 Desks are better than 1

This was a happy reason for a small redo of our office. The 'ol blog is getting bigger (a big thank you to all of our readers!) I needed a place to deal with bloggy stuff (emails, writing, researching, sponsors, moodboards etc . . .). Before I would just use Lee's desk during the day while he was at work, but from time to time Lee is able to work from home, and if he tackles a bit of work in the evening I would be relegated to the sofa or the dining room table. The solution was a simple $75 desk from Ikea (found here). Actually it cost us two $75 desks, but we were able to sell our old desk for $75 (even steven).

Now we are able to work in the office together, it's really nice! It's more than really nice, it's the best situation for working. We are able to talk while we research, we are able to play footsies under the table . . . just kidding.
It also gives me a chance to use my favorite chair, I didn't want a 'desk chair' like Lee's, but I did want a black chair so it nods to Lee's without matching.
We added a couple of Ekby brackets and shelves to the desk, I thought it gave more definition, and more of a cubicle feel. haha I like that I have an extra shelf to hold books I am using as reference for a post, or a cup of tea.

I added a desk pad (also from Ikea, apparently it was an ikea sort of day), I also grabbed some $5.99 fabric and cut it to size under the desk pad. It's pretty! ;)
This weekend we added a couple of drawer units, also from Ikea. They are the Micke Drawer units, they have three shallow drawers and one deep drawer for files. They have been the most useful thing we've bought for the house! ;) I'll share in another post how we organized them all, but even just this weekend they've been so great.
We are so happy with how our office for two is coming along. We still have the rolling ladder to add to the bookcases,
 but we are making some serious progress in the office, with the addition of our new bird cage for Carson, our new bookshelves and now our desks!!!

What do you prefer, a quiet office for one or a busy office for two??

Friday, May 17, 2013

Spring Clean your Purse with Grace Adele

I think keeping a clean, well organized purse is almost as important as keeping a clean, well organized home. It keeps you on top of things, when you phone is ringing you can find it, when you need a tissue it's right there, when you need to return that item because you found a similar item that's way cuter at Target . . . the receipt is easy to find.

I was introduced to Grace Adele bags by a friend and I couldn't wait to share them with you. They are so smartly designed, even Lee said that's a really cool bag when I showed him all the goodies.

First you pick out your bag, then you pick out your accessories like:
My personal favorite a removable clutch, it fits perfectly in to the front, and gives a pop of color to your bag, and when you want, you can take it out and use it as a clutch.
My second favorite accessory:
The Key chains and the D ring on the front to clip your keys on to . . . no more searching elbow deep in your purse for your keys.
Next accessory is another clutch type purse on the inside, that clips in or out. It also comes with a strap so you can use it as a purse all on its own.
Grace Adele also makes lots of clip on accessories to go with the purses or clutches, I like the leather flower!
and don't forget the matching jewelry . . . I'm not kidding Grace Adele has matching jewelry to their bags!!! It's awesome!!! haha
On top of all of this they have coordinating wallets and makeup bags, phone holders, rings, scarves and pretty much anything else you can think of, including a whole line of Leather Purses.
 I hope you'll check out their catalog, they really put a lot of thought in to their bags as well as having TONS of styles and colors!

*I was not paid anything for this post, I was given a bag to photograph. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Magazine Storage

Today I am contributing over on I Heart Organizing!!!
If you have a second pop by and check out my quick fix for Magazines you'd like to keep around! There is always an issue or two a year that have amazing articles and are full of great Idea's. I usually love January issues (with all the organizing ideas) and of course September issues with all of the great fall fashions!!

Office Sneak Peek

We are putting some of the finishing touches on the library this week. It's almost done . . . so close. We went and ordered the metal for the ladder in the library this weekend. It was so exciting to move one step closer to my dream library/office. I sometimes talk about "Dream Home elements", those are things that you have always dreamed of for your home. A library with a ladder is my number one dream home element. It feels great to be one step closer.

I mentioned last week that we were planning on adding another desk to the office . . . and we did!!! We've almost finished the changes in the library . . . here are some sneak peeks:

We found a spot for my favorite green lamp. The curtains have a bit of green in them and the green lamp ties in really nicely. 
These fabulous paper weights were something I couldn't resist . . .especially because they were on clearance at Chapters for $2!!! They stack up neatly, and are numbered so if you have piles of paper on your desk you can prioritize the piles!
Lastly, our terrarium is still doing really well!!!
I can't wait to share our new desk and library!!! I think you're going to love it!!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Shedding New Light in the Foyer

After rearranging our living room . . . we wanted to add a little light to the foyer. We have pot lights installed but something that hangs down into the space would be ideal. I always loved these Allan and Roth lights from Lowes. When I saw them installed in a friends new home, and they looked so amazing, I had to pick one up for our manor. They come with amazing Edison light bulbs . . . but the orangey glow was a bit too much for our little entrance so we swapped it out for an incandescent bulb, but have a couple of those fancy shaped florescent bulbs (plumen) on order (they are green and stylish).

We used a pot light converter kit. It was really easy. All the instructions are in the package it was simple.
Next, if you follow us on Instagram you would have caught my recent photos from a trip to Homesense. I shared a driftwood wreath I purchased. I was finally able to get it up and on the door. I've been looking for a summer wreath but wanted to stay away from silk flowers this year. Driftwood was perfect!
Lastly we need to add another plant to the front foyer, because our old piece lily (seen in our house tour) is way way way too big now, and I am also thinking of adding display rails to hold pictures or mail, but of course I will post about it when it happens.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Living Room Update!

It's a bit of a story of how we got to this point . . . but stick with me and I'll explain it all.

Back Story:
We have an additional 900 square feet in our basement, it fully finished (with really ugly carpet) but it is totally unused. And in case you are thinking that's where we hide the junk . . . you'd be wrong. Our basement is completely EMPTY! Like echo-y filled, ride your bike around in circles, Empty! In this post I shared our basement steps and hallway, I also shared where we were hoping to put a small home gym. The home gym plans were dropped because our gym is now 24 hour so it seemed kind of silly to have a 24 hour gym 15 blocks away and a home gym.

So we decided the room at the bottom of the steps should be a small movie room/video games/ surround sound/ other things I'm not that into ;). haha Lee loved the idea of a small room with surround sound, because of our vaulted ceilings upstairs surround sound wouldn't work that well (you can see the disappointment on my face, right?? ;)

Main Story
We always planned on moving our existing sofa downstairs when we were ready to tackle a bit of a living room redo. That "redo" came a little faster than expected when we found our new sofa on clearance at Homesense for $240! It was marked down from it's original $999 Homesense price tag, and it was made in America!  I couldn't believe we snagged a new sofa for $240! That's less than we paid for our secondhand sofa!
I always knew that I wanted the living room arranged with the sofa facing the fireplace . . . but with our HUGE 107 inch sofa it didn't leave enough room to comfortably make your way around (here's a post from when we first moved in and the sofa was in front of the fireplace). But now with our new smaller 75 inch long sofa it fits with so much room to move around!

So with every new purchase there is a "ripple effect" the sofa being in a new spot now means that we can't fit both large wingback chairs. Which was fine because we were able to move one into the nursery. But then we had the small rocking chair from the nursery leftover, so I brought it down and it fit perfectly! Which made me so happy because I am seriously in love with that chair.
Then we needed a new rug because our existing cream rug, wasn't cream anymore. It was a dirty shade of dirt ;). When we moved the sofa off the rug, the part of the rug that was under the sofa was BRIGHT cream, and the rest of the rug was . . . it was gross, just plain gross.
We were gifted our new rug from friends who had bought it but it didn't fit their room . . . it's the EGEBY rug from Ikea. It's a beautiful sisal rug for an amazing price (at $169). It was a bit rough so we layered our cow hide on top and I am in LOVE with the look.
(please ignore the fluffy tree stump dog toy under the coffee table . . . Max loves that toy and it almost never gets put away . . . I didn't even notice it until I was writing this post)

I should explain why I ran the rug length wise instead of horizontal in the room. It just came down to we really liked walking on the wood floor in to the living room. It made the "traffic flow" more natural.

What's left to do
-Some throw pillows for the sofa.
-Find/ buy/ make a sofa table. 
-Depending on how high the sofa table is . . . maybe find a new lamp.
-Maybe find another matching rocking chair??? maybe. Lee's saying no as he's reading this over my shoulder. Okay he's gone now . . . -find a matching rocking chair!

I read a quote by Suzanne Kasler:

"A room should feel Collected not Decorated" 

I know the room seems less decorated now . . . and maybe not as 'put together' as it did before and it's really hard to describe it . . . but it just feels so much better now. Not that there's was anything outwardly wrong with our living room before . . . now it just feels more collected! Less put together and more natural. Sorry that's the best way I can think to describe it.  We are really happy with the switcheroo. I am hoping to decide on a sofa table this week, so maybe later this week I'll have an update! I really think that a sofa table is going to make this room!

Still more changes to come this week . . . we'll have some of our first shots of the basement "media" room and the office has two desks in it for the first time!!! :) So exciting/stressful/ amazing/ crazy/ fun!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sneak Peek Update

I have so much to show you and yet . . . nothing to show you.

This is one of those weird bloggy things where we are so busy tackling projects that I've had no time to photograph them to share. This week has been INSANE for projects. Almost all of them (other than the office) were unplanned. I also decided to tackle some spring cleaning at the same time . . . my sister is getting married next month so we had makeup and hair trials, as well as final dress alterations and many other odds and ends. We had a couple photos to take for some possible upcoming things . . . I will let you know about them as soon as I can, and the house generally looks like it has been turned upside down, then flipped back around . . . like a Martini Shaken, not stirred.

Piece by piece it's getting back together, I am so excited . . . and kind of nervous to share everything we've done and changed. I don't know why I am nervous, I think we just changed so much I don't want to shock anyone. . . because it's kind of shocking. Not that I added any color . . . not that shocking ;) haha.

I'll be snapping photos tomorrow and all weekend then I'll share all next week. It's not done, but it's getting there.

Here's a Sneak Peek of what's been going on: 
Don't ask why my watch is in the collage I just got a new watch and I like it! ;) So I put it in!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Someone to watch over me

I'm back, a little impromptu vacation to my parents, if you follow me on instagram @minimanor you would have caught a couple photos of my last minute trip. I had a great time, a little shopping, a lot of sleeping. But I am back now!

When I came back I found my recent ebay order sitting on the front porch. I ordered a old fashioned vinyl record of our wedding song. I've been searching for ways to add more meaning to our home. I want our walls to speak, I want them to say something about us, even if what they are saying is "hey this is your wedding song" ;). 

We didn't choose our wedding song lightly. We put lots of thought into it. We wanted it to be classic, but sweet, but not too corny. We covered classic with Frank Sinatra and the song we chose was "Someone to watch over me"
I found the record for sale on Ebay for a whopping $1.01, with shipping it was still less than $7. The frame I found on Amazon for $12. I placed the cover behind the record, I figured we should be looking at the record not the cover, even if the cover had a young Frank Sinatra on it.
I am so happy with how it turned out. I think it's small touches that make a house a home (for lack of a less cliched way of saying it). And this record is so meaningful and personal, as well as being a conversation piece.
I think when you LOVE neutral colors as much as we do, you have to get creative in other ways, like personal art from your sister, or great grandmother, or mother in law. I want to add heart and personality to our home . . . with out adding a lot of color.  I think one of a kind items that are full of meaning (for you) are the way keep neutral exciting!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mom's Cheap and Cheerful Makeover

This post doesn't need much explanation, their before fireplace wasn't great :S. They were hesitant to paint it because they . . . honestly I have no idea why they were hesitant to paint it.
A coat of white paint can do wonders! I really loved the addition of the framed botanical prints. The fireplace is really wide and tall, leaving not much room at the top . . . I love the grouping of the small frames. Finding something in the right scale was hard, but I think she nailed it.

New Art in the library

We have a couple of new photographs in the library. We've been meaning to add more meaningful art to our home. We added the oil painting from my great grandmother's house in the library last month, and now we've added some more family art work in the form of Lee's Mom's Photography!
Lee's mom is very talented nature photographer and during our last visit I was able to steal (with permission) some of her latest snaps.

The first one was a large picture of a bird on a snowy branch.
The two smaller ones are made up of a crystal clear photo of an owl. And another beautiful photograph of one of her trips abroad.

We are very lucky to have both a painter (my sister) and a photographer (my MIL) in the family. It feels nice to add some pictures with a little bit of soul in them.

In Today's theme of family I'll have a new photo from my mom's living room this afternoon. She did a cheap and cheerful, traditional update on her fireplace I think you are going to like.


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