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

January 1, 2016

A Look Back at 2015

2015 was a difficult year, to say the least.  I put everything on the back burner to help my family navigate the tragedies and losses we experienced, and was away from home for months as a result.  There were so many things Hubby and I intended to do this year but couldn't, because of this commitment to family.  I ended up really burnt out, but I don't regret a minute of it because I made a trying time more manageable for my loved ones.  When Hubby and I finally had time to ourselves, we decided to just cut ourselves some slack and enjoy our life on Lake Superior.  We might have made more progress on the home, had we not set aside so much time for bonfires, canoeing, and swimming.  But it was seriously the best thing we could have done for ourselves!  I'm sure our neighbours gave us the stink eye as we paddled around the lake while our lawn was an overgrown jungle, but we have a lifetime of landscaping ahead of us.

Even Szuka seemed to enjoy the water more this year, and I shared this funny story in the spring.

BUT - that's not to say we didn't make quite a bit of progress around the house!  Here's a re-cap of my favorite projects, big and small, from 2015. 

Bathroom Progress...

The troubles we experienced with our bathroom renovation definitely tested our patience (things are still unresolved with the tiler, after three tries we have yet to acquire cabinetry fronts that aren't flawed, and we still don't have counters).  This year taught us what things are worth worrying about, and what things aren't.  The bath reno will come together - eventually - and I'm looking forward to decorating the space and sharing a reveal!  Frankly, I'm just thrilled that we're bathing inside again...

Bedroom Progress!

Meanwhile, updating the bedroom went swimmingly and it's been such a treat to wake up to a more finished, practical space!  Beautiful new glass-front sliding closet doors and two mid-century inspired dressers finally solved our storage woes and made the space infinitely tidier. 

We actually knocked off a lot of bedroom projects.  In addition to installing the new closet doors, we sewed new green tweed back tab curtains, built walnut storage bins, added to my vintage poster art collection, and created two DIY abstracts.  In the new year I plan to take some better photos with my new camera and share a proper "before and after" but you can see the bedroom "before" by clicking here.

Living + Dining Room Updates!

The living room got a little unexpected love, with new, softer Marimekko throw pillows that pull in the vintage blue I've been loving recently.  I'm always amazed how a small, seemingly simple change can really pull a room together. 

A whole collection of inherited plants necessitated some new planters: a DIY walnut plant stand, DIY painted terracotta beauties, and a Modernica splurge - those walnut legs still make me drool!  Although the orchids aren't thriving, the other plants love their new home and add so much life to the living and dining room.  I've treated myself to fresh cut flowers now and again too.

When I least expected it, wasn't even looking, and was 1600km from home, I (finally) found new dining room chairs!  I'd been wanting to replace our tired brown chairs for years but had never found something as comfortable.  These teal tweed beauties look amazing, are super comfy, and are made in the USA!  They've made such a huge change in the open concept space, making the dining room feel brighter and lighter.

Also filed under "finally": we updated the kitchen pot lights!

Front Hall Progress!

Hubs and I have worked to build a life we don't want a vacation from, so coming home is always a treat but since we replaced our old door with this mid-century modern inspired beauty, coming home is even sweeter!  I love how much light the privacy glass lets in - even the hallway and adjacent laundry room feel so much brighter.

Office Progress?

We had planned to build new walnut desks for the office and re-vamp the closet into something cool, but the office definitely fell to the wayside.  At least I tidied it, hung up the old bedroom curtains (until we sew the aqua tweed curtains), and have created a usable space to work - even if this is where all of the furniture comes to retire.  Click here to see the before!

We don't have the budget to be tackling major room renovations every month, so I focused on some smaller projects this year.

DIY Borax Crystals

The DIY borax crystal project was something my Dad and I actually worked on together!  It was SO much fun to craft with him and this goofy little project reminded me of the value of making something for the sake of making something.  It also blew up on Pinterest and that was unexpected!

A Bushel of Sewing Projects

My Mom and I were busy bees in the spring and we knocked out an adorable cat nip toy for Wido Piddy, boot stuffers for Mom, and a polka dot pot holder for me.  We haven't had the steam to do any sewing lately, but I'm hoping we can get back into the swing of things.

Dip Dyed Napkins + Beaded Napkin Rings

Early in the year I partnered with Canadian Tire to create a Mediterranean inspired tablescape and I whipped up dip dyed napkins and beaded napkin rings - complete with videos, plus photos I'd never shared from my honeymoon in Greece.  That collaboration was a blast and brought back so many good memories.

Jewellery Tutorials

Every year I share a few jewellery making tutorials, but this year I only made two pieces: an aquamarine tassel beaded necklace and a tutorial for how to re-string a beaded necklace and add a clasp (does that even count as "making" something?).

DIY Agate Wreath + DIY Evergreen Wreath

It was so exciting working for Leon's Hello Holiday - I loved having carte blanche to create some beautiful holiday projects.  No one even noticed that mine were distinctly "wintry" and not "Christmassy" (shhhh).  The DIY agate wreath is one of my favorite DIY projects to date!

That's not to say I didn't like the evergreen wreath I made!  It's just that it was notably stickier and pricklier to make.

DIY Dyed Bottle Brush Trees + Poured Soy Candles

The dyed bottle brush trees and poured soy candles were both projects I'd been wanting to try for years and I was so thrilled for an opportunity to make them.  I have a newfound appreciation for handmade candles, now that I realize how much time they take!

The earl grey tea cup candle was definitely my favorite candle of the bunch and it created such a beautiful aroma as it burned.

Wintry Tablescape

The idea to dye some doilies teal was simple, but I really love dyeing things so this project was immensely satisfying.  I love an excuse to bust out the bronze flatware!

DIY Ornament Stand

This ornament stand was a gift for my friend Ashley.  Hubs and I made these last minute before my flight and I was so relieved when they made the journey in one piece!

Wood Burned Ornaments + Cranberry Centerpiece

While I spent time with Ashley in Ottawa, we made some wood burned ornaments for her tree and created a pretty cranberry "snow" centerpiece.  I think that resisting the urge to make these projects aqua shows considerable willpower ;)

Nautical Table DIY

Hubs and I participated in our first furniture building challenge this year and made this cool table using rope and marbles!  I love creative challenges because I think they keep the right side of my brain whirring and buzzing.

DIY Doggie Biscuits

Szuka is such a sweet girl - I don't know what I'd do without her.  I brought her to Toronto when I was dealing with my family emergency (it's hard to believe such a large dog is so portable) and she was so good.  She would sidle up to my sad relatives and present her bum for rubbing, as if to say "Hey, you'll feel better if you scratch my back. Yeah, right there, that's the spot. Feel better?"  I bake her treats whenever I have a chance and obligingly rub her bum to show I care.

DIY Paint a Pot Class

We recently took our niece for an afternoon of crafting.  I actually tried to enroll in a proper pottery class but there's such a long waiting list, so this will do.  We had a blast!

I don't tend to share a lot of personal details on the blog because I've been more comfortable keeping it project-focused.  I did share some thoughts on money, but the best "personal" post I shared was a tour of a neat exhibit of Hubby's grandpa's artwork.I get a lot of questions about Bert's art.  It was so incredible to see some of his larger pieces that we've only ever seen in the book published about his art.

This year life really threw us some curve balls, so I'm hesitant to make grand plans for 2016.  I'm going to go with the flow and try to find a great balance between productivity and having fun.  I'm committed to enjoying every day of the coming year!

I wish everyone good health and happiness for 2016!!  Seriously - I hope for nothing but the best for all of you.  Thank you so much for stopping by the lakehouse.  I love hearing your good advice and I'm thrilled when I can help someone with a decorating or design dilemma.  I'm so grateful that I've been able to connect with so many wonderful people!

P.S. If you want to see round ups from previous years, check them out here!  


  1. Even with your family tragedy you got an amazing amount of projects done. Happy New Year.

    1. It's always fun and motivating to look back because I feel like I got nothing done, but then I see a bunch of projects listed like this and I think, "that's not bad"! It's a great way to start the year!
      Happy New Year to you as well!

  2. Great projects for 2015...can't wait to see what you have cooked up for 2016.
    Wishing you a healthy and happy new year, Tanya.

    1. Thanks Marigene! I'm very excited for the new year - I have a lot of abandoned projects from 2015 that I'm really motivated to get done.
      Wishing you all the best for 2016!

  3. Gorgeous projects for 2015. Your DIY projects inspire me a lot in terms of decorating our home... and now, I was thinking of having canary yellow and teal as a wedding motif. Thanks Tanya. Have a great 2016!

    1. Thanks, Jessie, that means a lot to me. I think teal and yellow would be a beautiful wedding motif! You might like this tablescape (I've been drooling over it for some time):

      Hope your 2016 is nothing short of amazing!

  4. That's a lot of lovely work! Hope 2016 turns out to be a happier and calmer year for you.

    1. Thank you! I hope 2016 is calmer too, but I've learned a lot this year about just going with the flow. Life keeps moving, with or without me. I hope you have a happy new year!

  5. Thanks for all the inspiration. My orchids have done better this year - keep them by natural light in a window and give them about an egg cup of water a day. As long as they have a green leaf left there is still a chance.

    1. My leaves are so wrinkly - I read that's either too much water or not enough, so I have to pull out the roots and take a look. I'm scared! I think I might be under-watering them because I read so often that the biggest problem is people over-watering them. SO happy to hear that yours are doing well - you give me hope :)

  6. Life is never going to be smooth sailing, but you have to learn to roll with the punches. Just remember to have fun. No problem is permanent anyway. You still have great amount of lovely projects despite what you've been through. Have a great 2016!

    1. SO true! Life definitely keeps moving, with or without me. Thanks so much for your kind comment.

  7. Hey Tanya, thanks for the round up. You and Handy Hubby have been busy. Life will always throw a curve ball, it's how we handle it that make a difference to our lives. Looking forward to 2016 and being inspired by you. Cheers!

    1. It's so true: there will always be something to deal with, big or small. I think I was dealt a lifetime's worth of crap at once, so I'm really naively hoping for smooth sailing. At least now, little problems that used to seem like the end of the world no longer seem that dramatic!

  8. Have a great new year! I loved all your projects this year and love the new look on your blog!AriadnefromGreece!

    1. Thanks so much Ariadne! Happy new years to you as well!


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