Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

January 31, 2011

Super Easy Abstract "Art"

This post necessitates a little flashback pic: our old apartment, before we became bona fide homeowners.  Woot.  Recognize the chairs & red bowl?  Still love 'em.

See my painting?
 This seems like so long ago - look how super short my hair was:  

Anyway, what I wanted to blog about was the painting I made.  I favor abstract, mostly because I'm not a good artist.  (But I also choose abstracts willingly when selecting, or just ogling, art from artists who have the mad skills to paint anything).  In any case, the painting I made (in the first pic) has garnered many nods of approval from friends and family, so I thought I'd post about how I did it:
  1. I actually painted over another painting I made, and hated, so you could use a fresh, clean canvas or an acrylic painting you find second hand (added bonus - already framed)
  2. Using a ruler & permanent marker, I mapped out a grid pattern
  3. Then I just painted away (using acrylic-oil takes forever to dry), painting each marked off square a different colour
  4. Try to vary the lights & darks but not too perfectly
Up close and personal with my painting

You might not like the colours I chose (I'm not as in love with them anymore either, so this painting now lives in our to-be-spruced-up basement) but you can choose absolutely any colour combo (like these works by shanuo):



Spookily like mine, but I hadn't seen this
until working on this post . . . think I have a long lost twin?

Or you could try some less "perfect" squares (I did some less perfect squarish paintings for bedroom, see here) and try something more imperfect like Gareth Bate:


Or maybe more layered, like Oskar Fischinger's work:


Or maybe just a few big squares, like Josef Albers:


The point, I think, is to have fun and paint something you like.  I don't pretend to be an artist and I hesitantly call what I make "art," but "colourful squares painted on canvas for wall decoration" is so verbose, so "art" it is!  I've made three paintings for our bedroom (see here) & I also painted the large tree in the office (see here) - plus loads of other paintings that never made it onto a wall! 

Have you painted anything fun recently?

January 30, 2011

Pushing Those Coloured Bathroom Fixtures

I've been meaning to post this vintage bathroom advertisement (see it after the beautiful Betty White) and I'm glad I forgot waited because it is totally making me smile.  I watched the sappy Hallmark movie tonight, now I need something cheery.  (I'm so embarassed I cried-and it made my cold symptoms worse, to boot!).

I'm fascinated by coloured bathroom fixtures.  My grandma has a 1960s pink bathroom that I heart.  We had a pink bathroom originally too, but it wasn't good pink (click here to see).  We also had a yellow half bath (see here) which was equally bad.  Both are gone.  But if we ever have a home with a cutie coloured bathroom, then it is staying.

How adorable is this vintage ad?  Who else is a fan of coloured fixtures??


P.S. Thanks to everyone for wishing I get over this cold soon!
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I've Got Chills . . .

. . . plus a fever.  I caught a cold.  Blargh.  I usually rely on my jumbo bottle of Coldfx from Costco to keep me cold-free, but I thought my sniffles yesterday were allergy related so I didn't take any!  Must remember to take one a day, like the bottle says!  I read, but I don't heed.  So, today's plan:

Use all the Kleenex in the house.  Including those from my fancy new brushed silver Kleenex box:

You already saw it here, in my "evolution of a power room" post

Eat the entire banana bread I baked last night (when I wasn't so foggy headed.  Today I wouldn't trust myself not to forget the bananas):

I baked because a friend was coming over, but I told her to stay away . . .

My Banana Bread Tip:
I'm sure everyone has a well-loved banana recipe, but here's a neat tip.  If you're ever short a banana (my recipe calls for two, but sometimes I only have one neglected banana) throw in some shredded apple.  I dice mine in my mini-food processor and toss it in with the banana.  Makes the bread a touch softer!  Yum.  Snack time.  Then nap time.
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Fire Safety Week Wrap Up - What Did I Do?

This week was fire-focused, on account of the fire across the street.  I blogged about go-bags, escape routes, & smoke detectors, plus how to prevent fire in the first place.  Definitely not an exhaustive account, but a good start. 

So the question is: did I take action to be more firesafe (& fire prepared) this week?  Well, between listening to She & Him repeatedly . . .

. . . continuing to admire the green chair . . .

. . . working on my exams, of course . . .

. . . and also deciding if I want to keep these washcloths I bought at Winner's . . .

9 for $8.00?  Yes please.
P.S. The blue is more teal in the real world

. . . I did start my go bag!  Well, I started a pile of stuff that will go in it.  Man, if I ever need this bag, I will be the shabbiest looking person around (I packed sweats and sweatshirts that are warm but ugly).  Bonus points for starting to put out some stuff for hubby's go bag too!

Laying out stuff for the go-bag

And I also:
  • Started photocopying important docs and identification (using my super giant ugly printer/copier in one)
  • Set off the smoke detectors accidentally (again) so I know they work!
  • Started an inventory of the home contents
I need to:
  • Finish the go bag
  • Finish inventory
  • Have a chat with our insurance company
  • Stop leaving the dishwasher running at night or when I'm not home
  • Start making lint elephants

How about you?
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January 29, 2011

Not Crummy Thrills Me

The blogosphere is buzzing with talk of junk drawer and cupboard cleaning.  Well . . . I hate to be a braggart but my cupboards are pretty tidy.  See?

One thing was bugging me though.  Because we bought a 5 gallon bucket-o-paint (plus another gallon) when we moved in and drenched every paint-able surface in a crisp clean white, it should come as no surprise that the inside of the kitchen cupboards got the same paint job.  But I was so eager to put stuff away, I didn't let the paint cure properly (it was soooo humid here then) and the paint came on in some spots.  See?

Note to self: let paint dry before filling cupboards

So, along with everyone else doing drawer and cupboard makeovers, I emptied out the cupboards.  Oops.  No room to cook.  Shucks.  Pizza it is!

 . . . And in the process spilled a bunch of sugar

P.S. See more kitchen pics here and here

Ta da!  Nice new paint job.  Everyone is doing pretty liners and fun colours.  Not crappy is good enough for me!

After - fresh new paint!

As an added bonus, we fixed some random gap-action (aesthetic prob only) with some caulking.  See?


After - hooray for caulking

With flash - is it any clearer?

And that's it!  Hmmmmmm, the no longer crummy but maybe not note-worthy project is kind of a theme for me (see here for my microwave spruce).  In general we've been doing little teeny jobs around the house.  Like the half bath spruce.  I can't do any super involved projects until my exams are finished (one more month) because I don't want to get distracted.  Have you done any simple jobs around your home recently that may not have sizzle but have tons of steak (in your eyes, at least)?

Once spring rolls around we're tackling the big bad basement and the garage.  Huge projects we've put off.
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Fire Safety Week: Protecting Your Assets

A fire escape route, smoke detector, and even a "go bag" can help save your life in the event of a fire.  But what about your stuff?  The furniture you saved up for?  The heirloom jewellery you inherited?  Here are some things your insurance company will really want you to do:
  1. Take photos of your rooms and store the photos elsewhere (a safety deposit box, friend's house)
  2. Inventory your goods (try sorting by categories: furniture, clothing, tech stuff, etc.)
  3. Record the value of as many items as you can - especially big ticket items
  4. Bonus points if you attach copies of receipts & record serial numbers
  5. Make a note of when you bought things and highlight newer items as insurance companies sometimes take depreciation into account
  6. Have your extra valuable valuables appraised
  7. Don't forget to keep all of this additional data somewhere off the property also
Here are some other things you can do:
  1. Store photocopies of your passports/house deeds/insurance papers in your go bag and also somewhere safe, off the property (maybe where you store your inventory photos)
  2. Consider a safety deposit box for irreplaceable items
  3. Don't skimp on your insurance policy - really figure out how much you would need to rebuild your home (have you seen the price of sofas recently?)
  4. Keep back ups of family photos online or at someone else's house
  5. Invest in a fire-proof safe (there is no guarantee you'll be able to retrieve it, but if the fire isn't all consuming, you might be able to save some jewellery or other items)
Tips for photographs:
  • Take wide angle shots with good lighting
  • State Farm recommends taking a photo with you in it, to establish ownership
  • Don't forget stuff in drawers, closets, tool boxes
  • Take close up shots of valuables, with any markings or stamps visible (like 925 for sterling silver)

Ah ha, proof we own our kitchen. 
And that bottle of vinegar we were using for cleaning

Not as good a photo for insurance purposes . . .

Much better for insurance

A blog is certainly a good start (I sure have tons of online pics of our place), but I need to get serious about taking an inventory.  I found a good checklist that will help (see here).  Do you have a checklist created already?  Any other tips for protecting your assets?
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January 28, 2011


Ahhhh.  That's better.  Last year (okay, a month ago - but it was another year) I blogged about the "spit & polish" the hallway got (see here), but I didn't show the whole view.  I think because the black floating frames were bugging me.  I had wanted to frame the two little paintings (actually sent to us as b-day cards) made by hubby's mom in white floating frames but couldn't find any in this city.  (I found some online, but you know. . . ).  Anyway, here is the secretive full hallway shot, ugly black frames and all:

We also hung them waaaaay too high

Hooray - I found white floating frames.  At Chapter's Bookstore, oddly enough.  So we popped the paintings in new frames, switched 'em around, and lowered them a bit too (after we patched the previous holes).  Better, right?   

It was wash day - hence the missing tea towels!

Why no tablescape?  Because its a useless table!  I dump my purse, groceries and miscellaneous goodies on it the minute I come in the door (we enter through the garage, not the front).  Although I did try putting my lovely McCoy planter there . . .

. . . it just got in the way.  As soon as my "photo shoot" was over, hubby plonked some DVD's to be returned on the table.  So here is the useless table in action:

See how I painted our useless table (and why we call it a useless table) here.
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Smoke Detectors: A Gal (or Guy's) Best Friend

Who tells you when you've over cooked the turkey?  The smoke detector.
Who alerts you to a flame so you can get your loved ones out in the event of a fire?  You guessed it.
And for those who live alone, who alerts you to flame so it can be put out before your shoes are injured?  The trusty smoke detector once again. 


I've been thinking about them since the fire, but also because the shower steam set ours off the other night.  Haven't heard that sound since I made dinner for a visiting relative (No joke.  In the process of opening doors and windows to release the smoke, I set the house alarm off too.  I am the host with the most).


So, now that you respect your smoke detector a bit more here's what you need to know:
  1. Make sure you've got one outside of sleeping areas & on every level
  2. Follow manufacturer's instructions for installation and maintenance
  3. Test periodically (by following directions on package-not by lighting a flame or burning a turkey)
  4. Vacuum/dust occasionally to keep the vents clear of debris
  5. Choose batteries with a long life
  6. Replace ones older than 10 years
Did you know there are two kinds?  I did not.  Courtesy of Health Canada, I learned this info:

Two types of technology are used in smoke detectors and each is better at detecting a certain kind of fire.

The ionization type of smoke detector is generally better at detecting fast, flaming fires that burn combustible materials rapidly and spread quickly. Sources could include paper burning in a waste basket or a grease fire in the kitchen. These kinds of fires account for 70% of home fires.

The photoelectric type of smoke detector is generally better suited for detecting slow-burning fires. These fires may smoulder for hours before they burst into flames and are caused by such things as cigarettes burning in couches or bedding. These kinds of fires make up 30% of home fires.

You may want to consider installing both types of smoke detectors, or models that incorporate both types of technology. This would ensure that you are alerted as early as possible to any kind of fire in your home.

Hmmm.  Good to know.
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H(owl)ing With Laughter

Too corny?

How hilarious is this owl?  I'm so tempted to buy it (I found it here, on Etsy) but I'm not really an online shopper.  With a few rare exceptions, I tend to only ogle online.  But I'm soooo tempted.  I seriously have to stop looking at it. 

Ahhh, that's better.  Now I can get back to work.
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January 27, 2011

Fire Safety Week: Escape Plans

Fire Safety Week continues.  (See here for my post on Go Bags, here for tips on Fire Prevention (with pretty pics), and here for why this week is Fire Safety Week dans le townhouse). 

Every dweller should have an emergency escape plan.  Take a look around your home and map out:
  1. What is the main exit from your house?
  2. What are secondary exits?
  3. Can you get out of your home on every level?
  4. If you're in an apartment - what paths can you take to get out of the building?

It sounds silly but practise your various routes out of the house or apartment, especially tricky ones like shimmying out of a basement window.  Pretend the fire has started in different places to make sure you're covered for multiple scenarios.  You want to make sure your routes are realistic and practising is especially key for the little ones who might also dwell in your abode.  Try to keep your go bag near the main or secondary exits.  The handier it is, the more chance you have of being able to grab it as you dash.

Okay, you're out.  Now what?  In case your family is separated (or will be evacuating from different places), plan some places to meet:
  1. Somewhere close, like a neighbour's house across the street
  2. Somewhere farther in case there is an evacuation, like an Aunt's house in another city or town
Update your plan as required and try to go over it every few months so it is fresh in your mind. 

P.S. I make sure I'm fully dressed at all times.  There was a mild earthquake here in the summer so we all dashed from our homes and my neighbors got a good long look at my super skimpy lace tank top and yoga pants so tight, I'd previously split a seam.  All because I hadn't gotten around to finishing the process of donning clothes that day.  Nice.  Now I make sure that even if I'm wearing comfy clothes at home (as I always do!), I'm not wearing anything I wouldn't want my neighbors to see.
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Inspiration: Pretty Bathroom "Before & After"

I was entering a Chatelaine contest (wish me luck!) and ended up looking at the magazine's design section.  And I found some pretty makeovers that never made it into the magazine, I'm guessing, as I have a subscription and they were new to me!  Check out this sweet and simple makeover (unfortunately, there was no wide shot for the "after"):


Of course, I'm loving the pop of yellow
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A Few of My Favorite Things

Style at Home, you tease me.  This room has everything I like:
Tulip table? Check.  (Although mine is a cheaper, crummier version, to be painted once the snow goes)
Ornate White Frame? Check. (Mine is a DIY job and I kinda want another to paint a bright colour!)
Turquoise-y/Teal-y goodness? Check.
I want.

What room pulls at your heartstrings by managing to combine everything you love?
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January 26, 2011

Evolution of a Powder Room

In Phase I (aka "Before") there was wallpaper and general grossness.  See me remove the wallpaper, with gusto, here.


Phase II (which you likely saw here as well) involved new lighting, paint, (bad photography), DIY refurbished cabinet pulls, plus a half hearted attempt at decorating (with a chipped sink and rusting faucet, how much enthusiasm can one really muster?)  For cost-effectiveness and environmentally friendliness, we kept the existing cabinet but painted it to match the walls, so it blends in a bit.  Obviously too bland still but, when considering Phase I, totally livable. 

PHASE II = Bland

Phase III was more impressive: new counter, sink, faucet, mirror & slightly better photography.  Plus - alert the media - coloured towels.  We picked a vessel sink to add height (the counter seemed super low when compared to the super high new cabinetry in the upstairs bathrooms, see here & here) & the counter matches the kitchen.  We don't have a big house, so we're trying to create some continuity so it doesn't look "choppy". 

PHASE III = Better

Phase IV was just completed.  After desperately trying to find a black towel bar, see here & here, we found a great one at Target.  The whole shelf-y/bar-y unit was only $14.99!  I couldn't actually find real life versions of the towel bars I was looking at in previous posts (I could only order online) & with black fixtures the colour can really vary from purple/black to brown/black.  I definitely recommend purchasing black fixtures at a brick & mortar.  Anyway, at Target (while on holidays in the states) we spotted this rack which looked brown on the package pictures but is actually pure black.  Yay!

I re-framed my mom's print in a simpler frame to let her artwork shine.  I used an inexpensive frame from Black's Photography; I lucked out with the right sizing.  I also added another version she made of the same print  (I went rifling through her portfolio).  With hubby's help, I hung a print by another artist beside the sink and a small little painting, bought for $2 at an estate sale, on the wall between the shelves.  The artwork adds some more colour and the new towels (made in Portugal, purchased from Winner's) add some pattern. 

I'm really going for broke with patterned towels!
Pretty soon every room will have pattern & I will have gotten over my fear.

A slightly different angle

Some pictures with the lights off, below.  It is tricky, because there is no window.  But without the lights you get a better sense of the wall colour.  This bathroom was tricky to photograph, in general, because it is so small.  Squish: me + camera squeezed in there. 

Without lights on, it is a touch more blurry . . .

I won't guarantee it won't change some more.  But for now this powder room is more updated with a few more hits of colour. 
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