Friday, 9 December 2011

Holiday Traditions

The holiday season is approaching us again and I wanted to share a few traditions Matt and I have started with each other.

Exchanging of ornaments

We started this tradition the year we moved in together. Anytime before December we purchase a Christmas ornament, wrap them up and exchange them when we put up our Christmas tree (the first weekend of December). Here are photos of our ornament exchange from our past 4 years together:

We hope to keep this tradition going when we have children;  to get them each an ornament which they can open on the day when we put up our Christmas tree. Our hope is that one day we will only be hanging the ornaments from our exchange and hope it's something our children will look forward to each year!

Forgoing Christmas Gifts

Matt and I made the decision this year to not do a gift exchange for each other. Instead, we will purchase one or two mutual gifts for ourselves that will benefit the house and help us with our renos and decorating. This is something we plan on doing every year from now on. We decided to do a stocking for each other to open up Christmas morning together, but the rest of the money we'd typically spend on each other will go towards the house and other family members. We've realized we don't need gifts to celebrate the meaning of Christmas. It's enough just being with friends and family around the holiday's and be thankful for having a wonderful life together!


Last year we started the tradition of giving back to others by helping our community or children or families in need around the holiday's by participating in local charities. Last year we did Samaritan's Purse where you fill a shoe box filled with toys and school supplies for children around the world in need. It was SO MUCH FUN! We loved going around to different stores and picking out things for the shoe boxes for the kids and dropping them off at the collection centres.

Our goal is to pick a charity each year that helps children or families in need. We want to continue this with our own children to teach them the meaning of giving back. We want them to know that Christmas is not just about receiving gifts - it's about spending time with those you love and giving back to others.

This year we did something a little different. During 2011, we have been raising money for the Children's Heart Network which was inspired by my little cousin Kaylie. At just 8 months old was diagnosed with a heart defect called Pulmonary Atresia.  She has had numerous surgeries since and in spite of her condition, she is a very happy, spirited little girl.

We had a charity yard sale this summer which all proceeds went to the network. We received lots of donations from friends, family and even neighbours for our yard sale. It was nice to see the community come together and give back to something so close to our hearts.

Advent Calendar

Another thing Matt and I decided to make tradition starting this year is make an advent calendar! Except instead of little treats or toys, we made up activities to do together. I don't want to spoil what our advent activities will be, but I will try to update weekly with what we do! :)

We took some festive scrapbook paper, cut them into circles and wrote our advent activity on the back. We decided to hang them off our Eiffel Tower which sits in in our living room!

So those are some of our most important tradiations that we have started and are carrying out through the holiday's!

What are some of your holiday traditions?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Back Deck Reno

Well, we FINALLY got our back deck all done! It was a work in progress but it's finally done and we are so pleased with how everything turned out.

(Oh yes, please do not judge our back gardens... they are not complete and we won't be re-doing them until next spring!)

As much as we loved the peeling red stain on our wooden deck, we decided to go with a more neutral stain.

Matt worked SO hard on pressure washing the back deck and applying the new stain colour which we are in LOVE with!

We also had some peeling shingles on the small part of our roof that we had to get replaced this summer and finally got it done!

We replaced our existing small roof vents with 2 new (much larger) ones. The back of our house gets constant sun so we had to consider that into our design plan. We also changed the colour from a dark grey to a lighter grey (in hopes to not attract as many sun rays!)

My uncle, my dad and Matt did this in a matter of hours...I am SO impressed with the finished product!

It looks incredibly professional and we are so grateful for everyone who played a part in making the roof look so great!

Check out our house tour for more photos of our house!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Wedding Day Bliss ~ September 22nd

Today marks exactly one year from our wedding day! As exciting as it is, I started feeling the stress 2 days ago and it hit me like a wall. I kept thinking of allllllllllll the little things that need to get done and how I should be doing AS MUCH as I can now, so that closer to the wedding I will be less stressed.

I received a message from Matt's aunt Amy at 10am asking, "wonder what you will be doing one year from this exact moment?" And I thought.. hmmm... 10 am... probably getting my hair done . And then it hit me - I already have an idea of how the wedding day schedule is going to go and it's a year away - in fact, I have a timeline, a schedule and a detailed budget. I AM more organized than I feel! I just have to learn to relax and know that all our planning will turn out to be fine. And we have a whole year to do it!

I've since started making a "To Do NOW" list of the little things I can do while waiting for the bigger items to fall into place. I thought I would put my list on my blog to help keep me on track and organized.

Since I am a big DIY person, almost anything we can do ourselves, we are. Such things include save-the-dates, invitations, thank-yous, programs, menu cards, bouquets/boutonnieres/corsages, favours, centerpieces, cake topper, card box, favours,   .........we are even doing our own engagement photos! I feel like so many of these things we can do now...even though I don't have exact numbers, I can start making the small things and getting them out of the way.

To Do NOW list:

  •  Card Box
  •  Ceremony programs
  •  Guest Book
  •  Invitations
  •  Save the Dates
  •  Seating Chart

  •  Boutonnieres
  •  Bride's bouquet
  •  Bridesmaid bouquets
  •  Corsages (Moms)

  •  Headpiece (bridal)
  •  Flower girl/Ring Bearer flowers/accessories
  •  Flower girl hair piece/barrette

Other Decor
  •  Cake topper
  •  Centerpieces/table numbers
  •  Ceremony Decorations
  •  Favours
  •  Head table vases

Any wedding day advice you can have to accomplish things more efficiently?

Friday, 9 September 2011

You Really Do Learn Something New Everyday...

So when I was back home visiting my parents last weekend, I decided to pop into the local restore store to see what they had for used furniture. Of course, my extreme pickiness took over and I didn't find what I set out for. I DID, however, stumble across a section of the store where they sold used paint - PAINT! Now this was complete news to me but apparently my family knew that they sold used cans of paint at the restore store. I, on the other hand, had been left in the dark!
I was so excited and searched the piles of cans for a small can of white paint {to be used when re-painting some trim on our front door!) and found pretty much a full quarter gallon can of white latex paint for only $2!! I was so pleased!
This made me think....from now on, why don't I come HERE for paint when doing a small project? You're helping your local business, saving money, and limiting the amount of paint people dispose of! Triple bonus!
So I'm going to ask two things of you the next time you do a DIY project:
1. Before you start your next project, check your local restore (or Habitat for Humanity) store and see if they have something there you can use instead of getting a new can of paint! You will save money and help the community!
2. After your project is complete and before disposing of your paint, would it be more beneficial to donate it to your local restore store for someone else to use? (like me!)
~ A penny for your thoughts ~

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Moved in!

We are finally officially moved into our house! Granted, very little is organized. We have boxes in every room of the house slowing being put away and organized. It's quite the task to find a place for everything! I wanted to organize things as I put them away instead of "temporarily" putting them away and organizing them "later".... this never happens which is why we are trying to organize things as we empty the boxes.

I have uploaded photos of our house under the new "House Tour" tab here! Check them out!!! 

{Please note:  the photos were taken the day we got possession and before we painted! I will post the 'after' photos once our house is a little more organized!}

P.S....You can get a little 'sneak peak' of the main floor colour from this photo!

Monday, 29 August 2011

My first project: Jewellery Display Frame


I was looking for a unique and creative way to display my jewellery and had seem similar products in stores that you could purchase. I knew I could come up with something similar to make myself that would hold both my necklaces and earrings.
I had made this basic "before" jewellery holder about a year ago because I simply wanted a place to hang my jewellery at the time (knowing that in the future I would eventually paint it!) I purchased the frame at a yard sale for 25 cents. Just the frame - no glass or backing.

I added some thin wooden dowelling to the back of the frame where the glass would normally sit, then stapled some twine to the back for hanging.
I recently decided to paint the frame white - I like the simplicity that white paint gives furniture & decor. Through trial and error I realized I should have sanded the frame before painting (especially white) as the frame had a really heavy finish. After 3 coats of using white acrylic and a good sponge brush (after which I could still see the brush strokes!), I decided to use my trusty spray paint (Rustoleum's Stops Rust White Satin spray paint) and it covered beautifully with only one coat (over my previous 3 acrylic coats!) It probably would have only taken 2 coats of spray paint in the beginning. Oh well. You learn from your mistakes, right?
I cut to size a cute piece of scrapbook paper and glued it to the back of the frame to finish it off (carefully cutting out notches where the staple met the frame).

The paper can easily be changed since it's just glued down. So if we decide to change the colour and style of our bedroom, I can just rip the paper off the back and add a new one!

I am so pleased with the way it turned out! I use it everyday!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Frugal Finds - Wine Cabinet

We found and purchased this off kijiji for only $20! It holds 12 bottles of wine and 12 wine glasses. It also has a drawer for a wine opener, napkins, cork screws, etc. It was just PERFECT and couldn't wait to get it in our house!

It was already painted with distress to get that country feel. We did not have to do a thing to this item (which is sometimes nice when you find such a good bargain!). 

It sits nicely in our dining room by the island beautifully showcasing our house warming gift from my mother-in-law....Perfect! 

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Possession Day

Today is the day we get the keys to the house! I cannot even begin to tell you how it feels. I'm not sure what I am more excited about - the fact that we finally have our OWN home, or the fact we can decorate it as we like!

Two nights ago we had our final walk through and it was weird walking through the house thinking "in 2 days, this will be ours!" It's still very surreal and probably will be until we start unloading all of our stuff - but we cannot be more excited about it.

These past few weeks just waiting for tomorrow has got us thinking how proud we are to have a home at such a young age - I am 25 and my fiancé is 23.

Getting to this point in our lives was by no means was this easy, and before we took this plunge there was much to discuss {financially} between the two of us.

We both decided that it would be the smartest decision to pay off any and all of our debt before purchasing our first home (which we did and are now both debt free). I know, I know. a mortgage is still debt, but it's a different kind of debt - it's good debt! But we both agreed that any and all excess debt was unnecessary. And unless we win the lottery or figure out how to grow money from trees, a mortgage will always be the way to purchase a home for us. So we look at the mortgage as a good thing!

Let me define debt in our eyes - we have no student loans, no credit card debt and no outstanding balances on purchase from stores or any other creditors. We now only owe money to our mortgage. If we want something, we save up for it. It's that simple.

I'm looking forward to taking the next step in the DIY decorating world while keeping our budget in mind. We will be buying things we can afford and not stick a bunch of new furniture or electronics on a piece of plastic and end up paying a ton of interest fees. That is not for us. Garage sales and thrift stores have our names written all over them!

If you are interested in DIY decorating, keep watching my blog as I post projects and crafts on here that you can do to save yourself some money as well!

Happy House Day!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Finding Our Home

When we were looking for a home, we originally wanted it in a mature neighbourhood, an older home (40-60+ years old) with a nice backyard that didn't look onto backyard neighbours. After viewing a tonne of homes, we realized that purchasing an older home in our price range would require too much TLC - something neither of us have the time or money for. As it turns out, our perfect first home was only 13 years old, in a newer subdivision AND we still got the amazing backyard! We are still surprised we ended up loving exactly what we didn't set out for! :)

Our House Specs! 

13-year old 2-storey home located in a newer subdivision within the city
 It has......
  • 3 bedrooms
  • 2.5 bathrooms
  • Finished basement
  • Open concept kitchen/living/dining
  • Central air conditioning
  • 1-car garage
  • Large backyard that backs onto green space (bonus!!)
  • And all located in a growing subdivision in the city

What We Love:
  • Large backyard backing onto green space
  • Open concept kitchen/living/dining
  • Finished basement
  • Master bedroom
  • Garden "rough-ins"
  • Large back deck
  • Walking distance to schools and shopping centres
  • The garage
  • 4-car laneway!
  • Central air
  • The fact that it has "room to grow"!

What We'd Like to Change Over Time:

Living/Dining/Kitchen/Powder room
  √ Wall colour of entire main floor (done!)
  •  Update kitchen counter tops
  •  Adding self-closing devices to kitchen cabinets
  •  Replace main floor flooring to be laminate or hardwood throughout
  •  Adding a mail station in the kitchen
  •  Update main floor powder room (to our own style!) c/w self closing devices

  •  Creating a home photography studio!
  •  Update wall colour/decor/furniture
  •  Replacing carpet
  •  Updating the bathroom with new fixtures
  •  Finish laundry room (drywall, storage, etc.)
  •  Change lighting

2nd Floor Bedrooms
  •  Painting of guest bedrooms on 2nd level

2nd Floor Bathroom
  •  Putting in longer vanity in 2nd storey bathroom
  •  Adding a 2nd sink to 2nd storey bathroom

Master Bedroom
  •  Vaulting the master bedroom ceiling

  •  Adding storage solutions
  •  Drywalling garage
  •  Re-finishing the concrete

  •  Landscaping the backyard
  •  Re-finishing the back deck (power wash and re-stain)
  •  Building a sun structure over back deck
  •  Buying/building a shed
  √ Patching part of the roof (peeling shingles) (done!)
  •  Installing a rain barrel
  •  Building a vegetable garden in the backyard

I will post photos of the house soon!!

On a side note..................T-Minus 23 days until we get our home!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Our First Home

My fiance Matt and I just took a huge step in our relationship and purchased our first house together! We are thrilled - and love it to bits!

As thrilled we are about the house itself, it needs some changes. Aside from the mint green walls and hunter green countertops, the huge backyard is a blank slate waiting for us to put some love into it. We cannot wait to get started!

We don't get posession of our home until July 28th.... so until then, we will be posting smaller projects that we are going to implement in our new home!

My entire life I have always made different things out of different materials - I've always had the ability to take any object and transform it into something beautiful (and useful)! My parents would always ask "what are you making?" which I would always follow with "You'll see!" I loved keeping them guessing and constantly asking themselves "what on earth could she be making with that?!" If you're like me and LOVE do-it-yourself projects then please take a look through some of my designs!

This love for DIY projects grew when we purchased our first home. We are the kind of people that find something we love, look at the price tag and say "I can make that for 80% less!" If you're looking for inexpensive, EASY solutions for your home, please visit some of my DIY designs!