Cheaper By The Dozen

I have a confession to make.  As those who know me can attest to, I am a bit of a pack rat.  Not one of those scary pack rats/hoarders, like on the A&E show Obsessed, but a bit of a pack rat none the less.  For example, I like to hold on to clothes I haven’t worn in a year, just in case (I eventually donate them).  I also like to save old magazines, notebooks and papers from school, and various gifts from well-meaning relatives that I don’t use, but feel bad giving away.  It does make things like packing and moving more difficult (I’ll never have a clutter-free, clean and modern house), and means that I need LOTS of storage space; however, sometimes being a pack rat can come in handy.

Take this example.  I’ve been holding onto a few old calendars that I really liked, and thought were too nice to throw away.  When we moved into our basement suite almost a year ago (before this house), D discovered these old calendars, and tried to convince me to toss them.  I told him that I had an art project planned (I actually had no idea what I was going to do with them, but didn’t. want. to. throw. them. out.)  So I kept them, and packed them up for yet another move a few months ago (to our new house!).  Now, being in a house, and having a lot more empty wall space to fill, I got to trying to think of creative ways to fill that space.  We have some hand me down art, and some beautiful original pieces from the many talented artists in both our families (thanks E, G, and T!), but we still had lots of empty walls.  And finally it dawned on me!  A fantastic use of those carefully preserved calendars that I’ve been saving for years!  And so, last weekend we bought some cheap frames from JYSK, popped in some calendar art, and ta da!

Calendar wall art


I was really happy with how they turned out – they look like real art, and way more expensive than they really were ($12.99/frame).  I still have a lot of empty wall space though, so if anyone has any cheap and creative ideas for filling it, please share!


October 19, 2009 at 6:12 pm Leave a comment

Blog Action Day: No Idle Matter

Well, today is blog action day, and it is time to deliver on the ecoblog front, as promised.  Now, I don’t really want to write a boring post telling everyone that they should change their lightbulbs to compact fluorescents, or turn down their thermostat two degrees, or remember to recycle their newspapers.  I also don’t want to write a post bragging about the things that we do (yes, we recycle, compost, and turn the lights out when we leave the room).  I had planned to post about the projects around our house that we have done and plan on doing to reduce our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, but to tell the truth, today my mind is elsewhere.  And that is because I did something today that I think will make a waaayy bigger difference in the grand scheme of things than changing a lightbulb.

In the spirit of blog action day, I am going to stray a bit from my intended blog topic, and reveal a little bit about what it is that I do every day when I’m not painting cabinets or building fences.  I am…(cue drumroll)…an Idle Free Ambassador.  And what, might you ask, does and idle free ambassador do?  Well, I tell people to turn off their engines!  Ha!  Actually, I do lots of other stuff, including research and providing education and awareness about air quality, climate change, and vehicle emissions.  So every single day I’m actually doing work to help protect our earth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Today was a special day though, because today I gave my very first presentation to a classroom full of twelve year olds.

Why is this such a big deal?  Well, because kids really are the future – they are the ones who will have to grow up and deal with the problems being created today, and they are the ones with the power to change our course.  Today it was great to talk to twenty-seven kids who were receptive and enthusiastic, and that definitely gives me hope.

And while we’re on the topic, just in case you’re wondering what type of impact idling has on climate change, here are a few facts:

  • Just 10 seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting the engine
  • For every litre of gasoline used, 2.4 kg of carbon dioxide are produced
  • If every driver in Canada reduced idling by just 3 minutes a day, it would be equivalent to taking 320,000 cars off the road!

Food for thought.

October 15, 2009 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

Taking climate action – one blog at a time

Thanks to John and Sherry over at Young House Love for drawing my attention to this great opportunity to link up with bloggers around the world in expressing support for climate action.

Climate change is the biggest environmental issue facing our planet today, and threatens the sustainability of life as we know it for future generations.  By standing together in support of finding solutions, spreading the word about ways of reducing our environmental footprint, and motivating our political leaders to address this vital issue, we can play a role in encouraging dialogue and promoting a more sustainable way of thinking and living.

As it says on the Blog Action Day website:

“…the blogosphere has the unique opportunity to mobilize millions of people around expressing support for finding a sustainable solution to the climate crisis.”

You can help!  Just click here to register, and on October 15, write a post relating to climate change on your blog, in the context of whatever it is you like to write about.  So, for example, I’ll be talking about some of the eco-friendly changes we’ve made to our house so far, and other renovations we have planned to help reduce our carbon footprint, save money, and live more sustainably.

October 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

All fenced in, and nowhere to go…

P1000175One of our most recent projects with the house involved fencing in the yard – a prerequisite before going to pick up our new pup (who was introduced in the previous post).  Now, when we bought our house, most of the yard was already fenced…except for one section along the side, next to the kitchen entrance.  Actually, this lovely, almost magical little pathway leading into the backyard was one of the things that sold us (or at least me) on this house – I just loved it.  So, once we decided that we would need to finish fencing in the yard, I worried that our lovely path would be ruined.  When D started talking about his plans to put up a six foot tall barricade, I worried even more.  After much debate (and even a few tears), we finally came to a compromise, and were both quite pleased with the result.

P1000390First, up went the fence posts.  Three were installed using big spikes, which screw into the post and then go down about two feet into the garden to hold the posts in place.  The post with the important job of holding up the gate was cemented into the ground, using a quick set cement.  Then, cedar lattice was cut to size and framed in using two-by-fours on the outer frame, and one-by-ones to hold the lattice in place.  The same process was repeated on the section to the right side of the path.  Once the two lattice frames were installed, the next step was to build a gate.  And here is where my highly instructive play-by-play comes to an end, because I was banished from the area while the extremely technical process of gate-building was going on.  

Luckily, it turned out that all my worrying was for naught, since we ended up with a lovely fence that didn’t destroy the path and side garden at all (although Juno has happily taken on that task herself).  Below, the finished product:


Now, Juno can be safe and secure in her yard.  Although, they say that huskies can be escape artists, and it’s true!  You can’t see it in the photo above, but there existed a tiny gap between the stairs and the left fence post, where the vines come through, and the little bugger managed to squeeze herself through it  last week.  Luckily, she didn’t go far, and we’ve since blocked off the hole.

So, what do you think of our new fence?  Any exciting fence building stories of your own?  Feel free to share.

October 4, 2009 at 1:05 am Leave a comment

Is anyone alive out there?

To those out there who may have been following this blog (hello…?  Anyone out there…?  Mom…?), you may have thought that I’d forgotten all about it… indeed, it’s been well over a month since my last post!  But nope, I’m still here, and I thought I’d better get an update in before September is over!  (Does it seem like time is flying by for anyone else?  Whew!)

Autumn Tree

Well, as you might imagine, we have been super busy around here.  The summer has flown by in an absolute blur, and we’re now officially nearly a week into autumn.  The leaves are changing, the flowers are shriveling up, and the kids are back in school (not our kids though! – the only kids we’ve got are of the furry variety!).

And speaking of said furry children, we have a new addition to our family – one that has been keeping me so busy that I have no time for important things like updating this blog…or sleeping…or showering…(just kidding about those last two…sort of).  Her name is Juno, or Junebug, as we often fondly call her – our new siberian husky puppy.  We picked her up at the beginning of September, and she is now twelve weeks old (tomorrow), and growing like a weed (four pounds in one week!).



Now, it would be remiss of me to post about our new puppy, while leaving  out my two very favourite fur boys (and those who know me are probably shocked that no photos of these two have yet made it onto the blog…).  So,  without further ado, I present Alfred and Finnigan!

Alfred and Finn

Well, now the gang has finally been officially introduced.  No doubt all three will be appearing in future posts, since they’re always underfoot!  In fact, Finnigan is attempting to climb across the keyboard as we speak, which at least is better than hanging himself over the back of my neck as he often prefers to do.
And now that I’ve made my excuses for the extended absence of new posts, I shall be doing my best to get back on track! 
Coming soon: the long awaited cabinet painting adventure, gate building 101, a full house and garden tour, and some fabulous and mind-blowing “before and afters”.  Well, maybe not quite mind-blowing, but pretty fabulous anyways…
Stay tuned!

September 28, 2009 at 10:14 pm 2 comments

Cabinets and Carpets and Moving – Oh My!

Wow, I can’t believe it has been two months since I started this blog!!  These last couple of months have just flown by with all the busyness and excitement.  Finally, after all the stress of packing and moving (and trying to get everything finished in the house in the meantime), we’re in our new house, and loving it!

We managed to have the floor installed by Thursday (July 30th – right before our move!), and on Friday, D took the day off work and his brothers helped him move most of the big stuff over while I was at work.  As they moved furniture, we had a carpenter working around them to get the baseboards installed.  And after I got home, we spent the rest of Friday night and most of Saturday finishing moving, cleaning our old place, and unpacking a few essentials.

Now, I didn’t take any photos during our move, and I haven’t yet taken many of the house since we’ve moved in (we still have lots of organizing to do, and hanging of pictures and so on), but I did in fact take many pictures during the fun process of cabinet painting and carpet tearing up….here are a few teasers, with a post devoted to the kitchen cabinet painting process coming soon…

Our Living Room BEFORE (taken during our house viewing)

Our Living Room BEFORE (taken during our house viewing)

Our living room...sans carpet

Our living room...sans carpet

A view from the opposite direction...and a sneaky glimpse into the kitchen

A view from the opposite direction...and a sneaky glimpse into the kitchen

August 10, 2009 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment

House Update

Well, it has been quite a while since my last post – we’ve been so busy that my plan to update this blog daily has flown right out the window (I started writing this post over a week ago!).  And now for an update…

We officially took possession of the house on July 16th, but we were lucky enough to get the keys to the house a full week before that!  The previous homeowner was heading off early, and kindly left us a set of keys so that we could check up on the house.  That first night, after she had left, we had a picnic in our very own backyard.  We then went on a patio furniture shopping spree over the weekend, purchasing a table with two matching chairs, two lawn chairs, a little side table upon which to place our icy margaritas while lounging (that is, if we ever get a chance to lounge), and cushions for all the seating.


The last two weeks have been an absolute blur of painting, packing, tearing up carpet, ripping off baseboards, and trying to remember to feed ourselves (and the cats!).  We’ve been busy busy busy, and we’re now on the final push to finish the projects that we’ve started and get packed for the big move.  Our fingers are crossed that when we begin to move the furniture over on Friday, we won’t be moving onto bare plywood floors (actually, sexy green underlay).  The kitchen has undergone a major transformation, and I anticipate that the living room and bedroom will be pretty amazing as well once we have a floor!  Pictures to come soon!

July 29, 2009 at 9:46 am Leave a comment

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