I have moved!

As I have JUST learned, I can’t just get all fancy with self-hosting at no cost (and I don’t just mean money wise!) – apparently this causes one to lose email subscribers and WordPress Reader followers!  AH!  So here is my official announcement:


I have “moved”, so pretty pleeeeeeease come and re-follow me 🙂  Make it WordPress, RSS, whatever your preference, and I promise not to do this again for quite some time (hopefully that means never!!).




How stereotypical…

Let me begin this post by saying I am NOT one of those people who makes resolutions or reflects on the year’s events at the end of every year, so this may seem stereotypical to some, but it’s kind of new to me. 

engagedIt’s the end of the year, and what a great year it has been.  This year alone I experienced some of the biggest moments of my life.  Getting engaged in 2011 was certainly the kick off point for a lot of these happy changes, so thanks to my lovely husband for the wonderfully romantic Boston Pizza proposal.  (For those of you who don’t know the whole story, I’ll post about it [maybe] at some point in my blogging life, so for now you may be left scrunching your foreheads at the last 5 words in that final sentence.)

April 12, 2012:house 3

We signed papers and officially became homeowners. That afternoon/evening seemed to last forever as we sat in the car, walked through the neighbourhood, and waited for the back and forth negotiations to cease.  It was hard to believe just 3 days before we had seen the house for the first time.  Alex called me and I rushed over from the gym, not even knowing this would be THE house.

June 12, 2012:house collage

We got keys to our brand new (it’s 25 years old but new to us) house, which we are still working on making into a home.  I sort of wrote about it during the month of October for a 31 24 Day Series.

house collage

I’ll be posting what we have accomplished and what our next goals are in a separate entry within the next few days.  It’s been a learning experience so far trying to decorate, keep a budget, clean and relax in our humble abode, but we’re making it work!

August 17, 2012:

I started this blog.  One of the scariest things is to put one’s thoughts, feelings and ideas out into the world.  Starting this has been sometimes scary for me, but I want to keep going – not for worldwide fame and gazillions of dollars (because I could totally be the famous Learner Observer lady some day.  HA!), I do it for myself, to document my journey and to know that sharing bits of my life doesn’t have to be scary, because though people may not like what’s here, or might judge me by what they read, this little tiny blog has come to mean a whole lot to me.

August 23, 2012:Calendar august

I got the offer from the Durham District School Board to become a Supply Teacher.  This might sound like an insignificant event, but if you live in Ontario you understand – there is no room for new teachers here!  I graduated in 2010 and have stayed at my desk job since, not being able to find a teaching gig in our region and feeling unable to quit my steady job to volunteer at schools for a potential opening.  When this news came, I was over-the-moon-super-giddy-happy!  Foot officially in teaching door (classroom?).  YESSS!

September 15, 2012:wedding collage

We got married!  It was a beautiful and perfect Summer day.  Oh wait… except for the crazy Toronto traffic which kept about 3/4 of our guests from being able to see us actually say our vows!  That’s right…we chose the worst day in GTA history to wed in the West end of the city.  There were highway closures, cultural events closing off several blocks right by our venue, and extra extra extra traffic EVERYWHERE.  In all honesty, I didn’t notice much of it.  15 minutes before the ceremony all I could do was sweat as my bridal party fanned me down with menu cards in the reception hall.  Once I set foot into that chapel, it was all forgotten and I didn’t even notice who was/wasn’t there, whether there were flowers or walls or a floor.chapel

All I knew was that I was about to get married to the only person I have ever wished to be married to.  It was the best day.  This is how I felt all day except for those sweaty 15 minutes:

PicMonkey Collage

October 20, 2012:luther collage 2

We picked up a new member of the family and Luther (aka Lu, Lulu, Luli-Paluli or Freakshow) the hyperactive pup was officially adopted.  We love him – even when he eats our personalized leather USB drive with all of our wedding photos (*see photos below), even when he pees on the carpet (which has thankfully stopped happening!), even when he wakes us up at 5am, even when he digs up half of the backyard…

usb collage

…because let’s face it, he’s adorable!Luther collage

November 25, 2012:The Village

Our church (The Village) was officially, publicly launched, and it was such a happy/proud/exciting day after being on a journey with old and new friends to start this beautiful community.  It has been a HUGE privilege to be part of something this amazing.  I can’t wait to see where God takes us next!!

December 25, 2012:

I officially entered the last, final year in my twenties.  There will be no photos of this atrocity.  Ok so this was not a high, but it needed to be documented because I always had timelines in my head of “where I’ll be by the age of ___” and I can honestly say I didn’t expect any of the above things to be happening to me by the age of 29.  It’s funny that even 10 years ago I thought I’d be married by 25, having kids by 28 but I had no idea where or with whom.  Now I don’t know when I’ll have kids, and I’m just insanely happy to be married!  Not because I feel like this is where I should be in my life, but because this is where I want to be, where I was meant to be, and who I am meant to be with.  That’s the best part.

2012, you ROCKED!

Now it’s time to set some goals……..

Weekly Wishlist: Holiday Chalkboard Prints

These are super amazing!!!  One week left, so let’s get all Christmas-y, shall we?

Weekly Wishlist: Holiday Chalkboard Prints.

Thanks Two Purple Couches for sharing these!!

Chalkboard Kitchen Labels

In my quest for attractive organization I bought some glass containers for the kitchen.  They are simple, square jars that I thought could be useful for day-to-day items I didn’t want to keep in the pantry since our pantry isn’t actually inside our kitchen.  We’re insanely short on counter space in the kitchen, so as tempted as I was to have pretty labelled jars on the counter, the tiny space left on the shelf beside the microwave won!

Truth be told – I did this weeks ago, but it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, and that was entirely my fault.  I tried too hard to make the writing on the labels seem like my regular handwriting, and I don’t even like my own handwriting, so naturally I hated the way it looked.  Of course I’m going to share that with you!

chalkboard jar CollageSo that’s what the shelf looked like for the last few weeks.  It only really bothered me for a few days, but every time I thought about other people seeing them, I felt uneasy.  Yes, I know how silly that may seem, but in this life we have control over very, very few things.  I am someone who likes to control everything, and suddenly this blog post has turned into a therapy session?  Anyway, I can control this, so I did!  I changed it.  Want to see how much better it looks?

chalkboard labels 2If you guessed that this is not my handwriting, you are correct!  I cheated… I found a font I really liked (2 actually) and I printed out the words and transferred them onto the labels (step 1).  How?  I cut them all out, rubbed chalk on the back of the paper (step 2), grabbed my labels (step 3), taped them onto the labels (step 4), and transferred the words by tracing around them with a pen (step 5).  Ever done this before?  I used to do this as a kid all the time when tracing wasn’t an option, but with lead rubbed on the back of the paper instead.  Anyway, what I’m saying is this is a tried and true method here folks!  Check it out:

chalkboard jar 2 CollageThen I sat back for a second and admired how amazingly this had worked (step 6)!!  I went over the writing with a marker because I don’t want these to rub off easily since they will be handled often.  The Dry-Erase Crayons I used the first time were actually pretty fantastic as well, but I’d rather use them for other projects, plus I would have had to sharpen them about 15 times to get through these.

chalkboard labels 3And that’s what the shelf looks like now.  It’s so much better I actually WANT to look at it all the time!  And I’m super happy with how the marker looks too.  This is going to be a technique I’m sure I’ll use a lot once the chalkboard I have been working on for the living room is complete.

I do love The Nester’s motto “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”, and this is by no means perfect, but it’s much closer to it now the words are at least straight, right?? (That was for you Cheryl and Jon, if you get to read this!)


chalkboard labelsLinking up at these awesome places plus Cheerios and Lattes, The 36th Avenue, Skip To My Lou, The Shabby Creek Cottage, House of Hepworths, WhipperBerry, Savvy Southern Style, and My Repurposed Life.

Visit thecsiproject.com

Thrifted Cigar Box Turned Pretty

thrifted cigar box with painted herringbone patternA while back I decided to go to Goodwill on a whim, just to see what I could find.  It turned out there were a few little treasures there – remember the embroidery hoops I used in the book page wreath?  I also found a fantastic little cigar box from Nicaragua.  It was in great condition and it cost $1.25.  How could I say no?  I didn’t take any photos of the inside, but it’s a wonderful velvety red and smells sweet and woody all at once.  If you don’t already know this about me, I am a sucker for smells.  I think I have sniffed every single vintage book I have ever bought.  Too much information?  Sorry… I just like all things old and with history, and most importantly with a story, and sometimes smells tell us a story – or they at least help us to come up with one!

Truthfully this little box could have stayed exactly the way it was, but I wanted to spice it up a bit.  I kept seeing these beautiful wooden boxes at Chapters, so I had a bigger vision for this lovely $1.25 treasure.

Here is an example of the boxes I was lusting over at Chapters but did not want to pay $34.50 for (the one I really liked had a grey and white chevron pattern, but they don’t seem to have that one anymore):

882709054986_hiNow for the pièce de résistance:

cigar box pattern

I did a rough measure, taped it all up and made sure all ends of the tape were down really well.  I thought about taping the edges to make sure they were all perfect also, but perfection is overrated, right?

cigar box DIY

I started with just the blue and put on about 4-5 coats of it.  Yep… that many!  I used Martha Stewart paint in a Satin finish.  If I decide to have a shiny finish I might add a coat of clear shiny something to it…?  I don’t know yet.  We’ll see.  The paint colours were kind of Alex’s idea and it was a total coincidence that they both have “summer” in the name.  So that’s that… There are no real instructions per-say – like almost everything else I make these days, I just sort of went with it.  Hope you enjoy, and maybe this will inspire someone to paint an old wooden box somewhere!

cigar box DIY 2

Linking up at these awesome places plus Cheerios and Lattes, The 36th Avenue, The Shabby Creek Cottage, House of Hepworths, WhipperBerry, Savvy Southern Style, and My Repurposed Life.

Visit thecsiproject.com

Woo Hoo!  This post got featured!! 🙂

Faves for December

Following up on last month’s collection of my favourite online finds, here is some good stuff for December!

Awesome ideas:

This is a biggie for our home – new pup, new messes, much dirtier carpets with all the dirt he tracks in!  This saves me from feeling I need to buy or rent a carpet steamer.  YAY!  Great idea via Cheerios and Lattes.

DIY Amazing Carpet Cleaner via Cheerios and Lattes

DIY Amazing Carpet Cleaner via Cheerios and Lattes

Paper Goodies:

Seeing Benign Objects‘ and Besotted Brand‘s book plates makes me wish I found these about 5 months ago when I started putting together the books we gave to our guests at the wedding!  I just know I will be able to use these beauties in some of my own books (or future gifts)!

Bookplates via Benign Objects

Bookplates via Benign Objects

Bookplates via Besotted Brand

Bookplates via Besotted Brand


I realize that this is not breaking news.  By no means is this a new product/website, but I just recently discovered how awesome PicMonkey is and just had to share it… about 500 years late!  Gotta love the goodness of the former Picnik with a few extra goodies.  Oh, and photo collages just became 100x easier!



This is DEFINITELY not free, but I thought I’d share what’s on my wish-list – not just for Christmas, but in general.  No surprise here people, you will see a LOT of house-related stuff!

Christmas wish list Collage

1.Lexington Quilt & Shams (West Elm)2.The Handbuilt Home (Amazon)3.Decorate Workshop(Amazon)4.Young House Love (Amazon)5.The Perfectly Imperfect Home (Amazon)  – 6.Birch Candle (Indigo)7.Chunky Tassel Throw (West Elm)8.Antler Pillow Cover (West Elm)9.Yarn Candle (Indigo)10.Papier-Mâché Animal Sculpture (West Elm)


I’m a bit chalkboard obsessed these days (wait, isn’t EVERYONE?), so seeing these fonts made me giddy with daydreams of pretty chalkboard writing thanks to Nest of Posies.

Free Chalkboard Fonts & Dingbats

Free Chalkboard Fonts & Dingbats via Nest of Posies

I hope you enjoy the line-up of awesomeness for this month!!!

Book Page Wreath

Some of you may see this and think “been there, done that.”  In the blogging world, we see no shortage of wreaths made out of just about anything these days!  Does that mean the joy should be sucked out of me making my own?  As I always say, “No way José!”  I wanted to give another wreath a go – after all, circles are such a pleasant shape, aren’t they?  I’m finding we have more and more rounded edges around the house, and I have to say I like it!book page wreath

Here’s the story with this wreath: The more I see other bloggers putting up their tutorials, the more I see materials I do not seem to have/want to pay for.  The foam wreath structures are, as far as I’m concerned, a bit pricey at places like Michaels.  $12?  Really?  That just did not sit right with me.  After all, the goal is to make beautiful things at the lowest possible price, and $12 competes too aggressively with pre-made wreaths I have seen at Home Sense lately for around $15.  If I’m going to spend money, I’d rather not also spend time and if time is to be spent, well the cost best be low, right?  So here is what I used:

  • One of the 7-8 embroidery hoops I got a few weeks back for $2.25 at Goodwill.  (No, I do not do any embroidery – I bought them with wreath daydreams in mind!)
  • An unattractive old book I purchased this weekend for $3.  Never judge a book by its cover, right?  The pages were beautifully aged with rich copper tones at the edges AND there were some illustrations.  Perfection!
  • My trusty glue gun!

book wreath step 1

In the spirit of my usual candidness and honesty, I have to say this:  I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING!  Further honesty?  This is true in the beginning stages of most of my favourite artsy projects.  I just have a vision and I go with it… no instructions, no rules. What is now the front of this wreath originally started out as the back, so you can see in one of the pictures below that I had the leaves on the bottom, embroidery hoop sitting on top.  I still knew nothing about this wreath at that stage, obviously!

book wreath step 2

In the end, I am absolutely enamored with this wreath.  It’s up on our wall leading to the second floor for now, but I have bigger plans for this little project!  Stay tuned…

P.S. anyone catch some of the funny illustrations in the wreath? My favourites are the skeleton and the chickens!

photo 5

Linking up at these awesome places plus Cheerios and Lattes, The 36th Avenue, The Shabby Creek Cottage, House of Hepworths, WhipperBerry, Savvy Southern Style, Centsational Girl, The Nester and My Repurposed Life.

Visit thecsiproject.com

Mini Winter Forest DIY

It has been an honest-to-goodness long, long time since I have posted, right?  I know… And for that I am sorry.  I have slacked off since my blogging marathon in October.  My feelings are almost entirely expressed in my blogger-friend Gillian’s recent post.  She seems to have read my mind when she mentioned feelings of anxiety over not knowing what to do next and feeling the pressure to fall into the niche the 31 Day Challenge created.  I LOVE what I blogged about and I intend to continue, but I was feeling like I ran out of steam, and that has much to do with the pest pet we adopted in October.  Talk about hard work… this little guy is making it his full time job to eat/chew on/make toys out of as many items in our house as possible!  He is a bundle of incessant and annoying wonderful energy!  All kidding aside, we have our ups and downs but we’re making our little family work!

Anyway, I mainly have not blogged out of fear that the content I have now is suddenly not good enough, and that I will let down the few of you that actually read this little tiny blog!  Silly?  Maybe… but aren’t most of our insecurities?  Leaving all negative thoughts behind, I’m happy to say that I am BACK!  I have a full month ahead with decorating an entire house (inside and out) for Christmas for the very first time ever and I intend to share all of my trials and triumphs here with you.  I hope that’s ok.

Let’s start with this little (and I do mean little) guy.  I’ve actually had this in the house for a few weeks now, and I can tell you I love it as much today as the day I made it.  It’s one of the few small projects I have actually finished on my giant blogging/decorating to-do list!  Here is the finished product:

miniature final

And here is how I did it:

part 1 - miniature forest diy

I used 3 miniature snowy trees I bought at Walmart for $1 each, a plate from my kitchen, cotton balls and the thrifted cloche I bought at Value Village a few weeks ago, which up until now had nothing but a few dead rose petals in it (don’t ask…)!  I loosened up the cotton balls a little to make them look less like what they are, and more like fluffy snow, plopped the trees on top, followed by carefully stuffing all loose bits into the cloche.  As far as my husband was concerned, the craft was finished at this point, but I was no fan of that messy/incomplete-looking edge at the bottom of the cloche.  It made the whole thing look too much like trees and cotton stuffed into a small space and less like a magical snowy forest.  Solution: cut some of the small pieces off of the pine branches I just happened to get that morning and place them around the plate.  Better?  I think so!

part 2 - miniature forest diy

And there you have it.  A very quick, inexpensive and easy way to add a little winter wonderland to your home!  I think this could be an adorable centerpiece, but for now it sits on a spot where I can see it as soon as we enter the house, which is a lovely sight!  It makes me think of fond memories of Whitehorse (which was B-E-A-utiful, BTW!).  The trees there were all gently covered with snow, and the mountains were so, so, so gorgeous.  The weather was, as expected, cold (understatement at -22° C), but the warm people definitely made up for that!

Here is where you’ll find me linking up, plus these awesome places: Cheerios and Lattes, The 36th Avenue, The Shabby Creek Cottage, House of Hepworths, WhipperBerry, Savvy Southern Style and My Repurposed Life

Joy to the World

Last weekend I started on some heavy duty Christmas shopping.  I didn’t buy a single gift for other people.  Oh stop it, it’s not what you think!  My mom and I picked up several different things to decorate my new home for the Holidays.  It was very exciting (to say the least)!  We now have a tree, lights, several ornaments, garlands and even a wreath in my living room… all in bags or boxes.  I’m off to Whitehorse (that’s right… the one in the Yukon) to visit a dear friend.  I’m lucky to be her Maid of Honour for her upcoming wedding in February – SUPER exciting!  Anyway, what I’m saying here is all that stuff from last weekend will continue to sit here until I get back on Monday – then Alex and I can get started on the decorating (eeeee!  Yep, I let out a little squeal just thinking about it!!).

I couldn’t help but leave one little tiny touch of Holiday Cheer as I’m off to the true Great White North…

Plus, I just happened to have one last little plant that didn’t fit in either terrarium #1 or #2, and it needed a little home.  Isn’t this mug just delightful?  I’m not sure I’ll be able to get rid of it once Christmas has passed.  Is that nuts?  I just figure you can always use the reminder that celebrating Christmas is a joyful time, and that I always have reason to be joyful for the day that little baby came into the world to redeem us.

Here is where the mug of joy sits, as I stare at it now.

I can’t wait to share all about Whitehorse.  I can’t wait to get back and decorate our home.  I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas.  Anyone with me (at least on the last 2)?

Here’s where I link up.

Terrarium #2

So remember when I tried that first terrarium in the round fish-bowl-like container?  Well I tried another one.  I promised my mom I’d give her one as a gift, and since my terrarium hasn’t died yet (though the ever-curious Luther did try to eat it one day), I thought it was about time to make her one.  For those of you who may not have seen the first attempt, here are the directions you need to follow.

Start with some rocks.  It may seem silly to purchase rocks, but it’s a balmy 3-5 degrees Celsius around here these days so I (guiltily) bought 2 bags at the dollar store.  At least it only cost me 2 bucks, right?  After rocks comes charcoal or carbon which you can find at pet stores or anywhere (like Walmart) that sells fish food or aquarium filters.  Then comes the soil – pretty straight forward.

I used only succulents for the terrarium.  They are (apparently) easy to maintain, and like I said, I haven’t managed to kill any yet, so fingers crossed!

Here is the finished product after I added the moss.

There you have it!  Easy peasy terrarium.  Here are some extra looks at the first terrarium and this one:

I’ve heard a lot of people say “Oh I want to make one.”  Well, I’ve made two.  And I am NO green thumb!  You can do it too!!

Linking up here.