Will You Be My Bridesmaid?

Happy Easter! I hope you got a bit of time off to spend with your family. I had the chance to give my last bridesmaid invite yesterday, which means it’s just in time to share it with you!

Even before I got engaged, I thought about how I would want to ask my friends to stand beside me on my wedding day. I’m all about enjoying the process, and not just the day, so why not do something special for the girls who are closest to me?

I originally thought about leaving flowers and a card on each of their doorsteps like Jenny Stephans Hobick did for her friends one May Day, but as the majority of them live in apartments (or across the ocean!) and one of my bridesmaids doesn’t even like flowers (I don’t understand it, but to each their own :), so instead I settled on simple pictures, cards and cookies.

Bridesmaid invitation

First, I searched for cards. I thought about writing them myself, but I wanted them to look special… I ended up splurging for these lovely cards from MarryGrams Etsy Shop.

I can't say I do without you card

She has a lovely pearly sheen to her cards and the envelopes and are great quality. I would absolutely recommend her stationary!

If nothing else, buy a card to share all the things you love about them and why you really couldn’t do it without them. My MOH (maid of honour, if you’re new to the wedding blog thing) almost teared up!

Next, I made these brownie cookies (honestly one of the best recipes I’ve ever tried!) and wrapped them in cellophane bags from Michael’s. Tip: Don’t add in any chocolate chips as they tend to smear in the bag.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Tape ribbon to the top of the bag.

Wrapping cookies step 1: tape ribbon to the top of the bag

Tape ribbon to the top of the bag

2. Roll the top of the bag around the ribbon.Wrapping cookies step 2: Roll plastic bag around the ribbon

3. Keep rolling until you reach your cookies and the top of the bag is stiffly wrapped around the ribbon.Keep rolling until you reach your cookies and the top of the bag is stiffly wrapped around the ribbon. 

4. Tie a bow!

Wrapping cookies step 5: Tie your ribbon in a bow!

You’ll find an step-by-step photo that’s easy to pin at the bottom of the post. How cute do they look with my little card?

Bridesmaid invitation cookies

To make them even more personal, I decided to add photos of my girlfriends and I throughout our friendship.

I especially enjoyed doing this for my friend living overseas… There’s just something special about receiving actual mail. This way she’s still involved, even though she’s miles away! Plus, she always has some photos to look at if ever she’s feeling lonely :).

I can't say I do without you!

Will you be my bridesmaid  Be my bridesmaid 

I hope I’ve inspired you to do something fun for your friends when you think about asking them to be a bridesmaid! I know it made it just that much more special for me.

Have a wonderful week!

How to wrap cookies in a clear bag with ribbon

Rental Inspiration: 5 of my Favourite Spaces

Ever find yourself super inspired at the beginning of a project, only to find yourself losing steam a few months down the road?

Let me tell you, I often end up feeling that way. My apartment is no exception. It’s hard to stay in love with your place when you spend far too much time browsing pictures of beautiful homes on Pinterest.

Here’s the issue. My apartment is simple. It’s basic, void of any glamour or architectural charm. That being said, I have seen so many plain old apartments like mine, so I can’t possibly be alone!

For all of you in the same basic box like me, I decided to make a round up of my favourite rented spaces. If you look closely, you’ll see that none of these homes have particularly amazing bones, but these renters have done an amazing job with them!

1. Colourful and Eclectic

This has been one of my all time favourite apartments for quite some time. In fact, this accent inspired my own chevron wall in our entry!

I love her mix of vintage and unique pieces with big box store basics like her expedit shelves in her little office nook. And even though her living room is small, she does a great job making it feel cosy instead of cramped with this small scale white sofa and ottoman.

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2. Mid-Century Modern Mix

I’m a huge fan of adding clean lined mid-century modern pieces and this home is no exception. I would never have thought of putting a dresser in the living room, especially of making it do double duty as a mini bar! Plus, that gallery wall? Fantastic.

What comes off as character in her home I bet wasn’t nearly as nice in her first walk through. She adds just the right amount of modern with those industrial kitchen chairs and crisp striped shower curtain (below) that it comes off looking charming and purposeful.

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3. Feminine Glam

Do you not LOVE that living room? If I was the only one living in our space, I would definitely want to add more shots of pink like she has.

Even though it reads girly, it’s still tasteful. And somehow she manages to pull it off in a tiny little rectangle studio. Talk about smart furniture and layout choices.

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Also, I love love love that little secretary desk, especially the way she placed it on it’s side to create a divide between her “bedroom” and her living area. I might have to pick one up before I go back to school next year…

4. Unique New York

Let’s really talk “blank boxes”, shall we?

This is Joanna Goddard’s living room (if you haven’t read her blog, I strongly urge you to check it out!) before Emily Henderson had her way with it.

Can you BELIEVE that’s the same space? Now we’re not all professional sought after designers, nor is this really my personal style per se, but you can’t ignore how fabulous this transformation is.

Emily didn’t even paint the walls, yet she pulls together a unique and welcoming family space. Just think of what a basic bookshelf like this could do for your walls!

5. Gorgeous Pastel Townhome

If I could have anyone design my home, it would be Sarah Dorsey. She has done AMAZING things with this basic town home, most of which was built by her and her hubby! She blows my mind.

That gorgeous backdrop in her bedroom? Handmade.

So much of the personality she added to the space are her own creations or upcycled pieces. The chairs, the word art, the bookcases… I believe those curtains are even created from her own stencil. You must take a look at her blog!

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And the most surprising part? She makes it look that great, with carpet. I STRUGGLE making do with our carpet. Hardwood is like a good pair of jeans. So much easier to create a look with depth and interest. Carpet is like black pants. It can look nice, but mostly it ends up looking flat, in my opinion. With all her varied elements of texture and colour, you forget she even has carpet in her home!

I hope these little virtual tours have inspired you like they have me in my own home! I may just have enough motivation to tackle our layout issues in the living room…

Have a wonderful week!

Wedding DIY’s: My First Few Wedding Signs

After months (let’s be honest) years of following the blog Ruffled, I knew I wanted to personalize my wedding and add as many little DIY elements as I could. After scouring pages and pages of wedding photos, they start to blur to together… I, as many, many brides do, want this day to reflect us; to have people say “That is so them!”

One way to that is through signs. Directions, welcome banners, programs… The list goes on and on.

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How cute are those?

I really wanted something unique, something different. I tried to avoid chalkboard signs, since they’re all over Pinterest…

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(That one’s one of my all time favourites. So detailed… I could never recreate it!)

I tried white with gold painted letters, white with black letters… But nothing popped like white on a black background. Chalkboard signs are much more user friendly too… No need to write well with a paintbrush or worry about mistakes; you can simply erase it! As a bonus, I could even give out my boards to friends and family after our wedding.

I also remembered to enjoy the process, not just the result. As much as I want one (and will still continue to strive for it), a Pinterest-perfect wedding is not what it’s about. I want to enjoy the planning and project-making as much as I can, and just be happy I get to marry Shaun!

I wanted something innovative, but I was frustrated. Chalkboard eventually won out, and I’m so glad it did!

There are many, many tutorials online, so let me save you some scanning time! This one will explain how to use a paint roller to create chalkboards with some extra tips from my painter-fiancé. If that’s not for you, feel free to scroll down to see the end result!

What you’ll need

Chalkboard paint (I used this Craftsmart one from Michael’s) $6

Chalk

Bistro Chalkboard marker $7 (Note: This one writes really well but is more “semi-permanent”. I’d keep looking if you’d like one that easily washes off chalkboards!)

Fine whiz (yes, that’s the technical term!) paint roller. I used a “mohair whiz roller” which left a nice delicate finish.

For the sign, I used some basic 1/8th of an inch MDF from my local home depot. A 2′ by 2′ board cost me less than $2. Sold!

Wedding Sign Start with a 18 MDF board

 

The Steps

I skipped priming and went straight to painting.

1st coat

Chalkboard painting tip: Your surface needs to be very even (read: non-porous) to have crisp chalk lines later on. To avoid uneven patches, run over your painted surface lightly with your roller before the paint dries. You want it to look like the second image below:

How to create a smooth chalkboard with a roller

 

I covered the entire board with one coat, let it dry for an hour, and applied a second coat.

Painter’s tip: If ever you don’t manage to knock it all out in one sitting, you can keep the same roller by wrapping it tightly with a plastic bag. The trick is to have the entire roller surface touching the bag so that the paint doesn’t dry. Once the paint’s dry, your roller is toast.

Keep your roller fresh by covering it in a plastic bag

 

While my paint dried, I came up with a few designs for my signs.

Wedding sign sketches

 

You could certainly stencil a sign, but that takes the fun out of crafting for me. Using my drawings as a guide, I sketched out a rough draft on my board with regular chalk.

Sketch out your base in regular chalk

 

Once I was happy with the placement, I went over it with my chalkboard marker.

Use chalkboard marker for a more permanent sign with crisper lines

 

Like I said before, this marker is more “semi-permanent” on chalkboards. It easily erases off of smooth surfaces like mirrors and glass, but it leaves a faint trace on chalkboard.

However, it worked in my favour because it will stay on a lot better than chalk! Using chalk first and going over it in marker is like writing a sign with pencil and going over it in pen. Lightly rub off the chalk lines and the chalkboard marker remains

From there, I lightly erased my chalk lines with some paper towel and filled in my letters with the marker. Mine is free-hand, largely based on this AWESOME free tutorial on how to “fake” calligraphy. If you love fonts like me, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!

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I still have a number more to do that I will be sharing with you as I go along, but for now, I’m very happy with how these two turned out!

Wedding Chalkboard sign Welcome to our wedding sign

I wasn’t sure about this one since Shaun thought it was a bit much, but my girlfriends have since convinced me to keep it. What do you think? Instagram Wedding SignMake it easy for you and your guests to find photos with an instagram # !

So there you have it! My first couple homemade signs for our wedding. Of course they’re not quite as nice in our living room as they will be at our wedding, but one needs vision, right?

How do you feel about chalkboard signs? I resisted for a while, but I gotta say, they’re perfect for this. Are they old news for you? Or do you still love them just as much as I do?

Wedding DIY: Vintage Glass Cake Stands

Ready for one of the easiest wedding DIY’s ever? And really, they go beyond weddings. Think cute showers, dinner parties… Anywhere you want to step it up a notch and show off some pretty desserts.

Vintage glass cake stands.

Glass candle stick base

We opted for an “all-included” type venue, a beautiful, character-filled restaurant in one of Vancouver’s prettiest gardens. I still wanted to put my mark on our wedding, and they will luckily let us bring in some of our own foods, like family recipes and favourite desserts. I decided to make a special table dedicated to all those little treats, complete with unique cake stands. 

To stop myself from wanting to DIY everything at our wedding, my projects need to hit two requirements: Will they add the personal touch I’m looking for? Are they actually cheaper to DIY? Or would it be more cost effective to buy or rent for the day? Is the effort worth it?

To DIY or to buy new… Let’s see how these stack up.

1. Money: Much cheaper! Even my more expensive stands were reasonable: 7 dollars for a stand and 4 dollars for the plate (and these were new from Ikea!) Compare that to these ones from Anthro for $38… If you’re doing many like me, it’s definitely worth it!

2. Personal: Since each one is unique, they add a lot of interest and personality to a wedding. These hit that vintage note I was looking for.

3. Effort: Major pay off for very little effort. Trust me, it took less than two minutes per stand! 

Glass cake stands

I started off with some plates, platters, candle sticks and wine glasses from Value Village, planning on spraying them glossy white.

Gather plates and candle sticks

When I started trying them out though, I loved the look of the sparkly glass and the shadows it make on the table! I opted to go all glass instead.

For this project, you’ll need:

Glass plates: Most vintage plates will be scratched, so I got the majority of mine from Ikea, which actually ended up being cheapest anyway. The plain smaller plates were only $1 each! The detailed larger ones were $4 a piece. The more detail the better.

Glass candle sticks or wine glasses: These are the most important element in your cake stand. I found narrow sticks that taper out on the top and the bottom were the nicest. Make sure to get ones with wide bottoms, especially if you’re using heavier plates.

E6000 Craft Adhesive: This is an industrial bond-to-any-material adhesive. I actually started out with Elmer’s glue that’s made for glass,  but this one worked so much better. You can find it at Michael’s and Home Depot. It’s the same stuff I used for my refinished jewelry box.

Q-Tips to clean up any excess glue

Ready for the crazy easy steps?

1. Try out different plate and base combinations to find one you like.

Center your plate above the vase

2. Apply adhesive to the rim of your chosen base.

E600 to the rim of the vase E6000 to make cake stands  

3. Carefully place your plate on top and hold for about 30 seconds. (You could let it cure for about 10 minutes before gluing for maximum adhesion, but I found they were fine this way!)

Carefully place plate on top

4. I let them sit overnight to be safe. Personally, I would still be very careful with them with washing and that sort of thing, but they seem very sturdy to me!

Vintage DIY cake stands

It’s hard to capture just how much they sparkle, especially since we don’t have much natural light in our kitchen, but I’ll do my best!

The detailed plates are definitely my favourites. They’re so lovely and delicate…

Plate detail

And their shadows create such beautiful patterns on the table.

Vintage wine glass base

I was surprised to see that even this plate stands out. It doesn’t have any fine details, but the rounded bottom creates wonderful shadows.

Vintage vase base

Wedding DIY Glass Cake Stands

By far though, this one is my favourite. Both the plate and the candle stick are from Ikea, and my guess is they’re from the same line… They just work so well together!

Ikea hack Wedding Cake Stand

I’m so happy with how they turned out. I want to make a cute pennant banner to go above them too. My other projects are still… well… works in progress. I’ll keep you posted.

Glass cake stands

Are you in the midst of wedding planning and working on any DIY’s? What criteria do you follow for your projects? Are things going just as planned for you? I’d love to hear how it’s going!

Moroccan Blues

Sometimes, things happen for reason.

Or at least, they have a silver lining! That silver lining happens to be a lovely, perfect runner for our kitchen to the even better tune of $20 from Winners.

Kitchen rug

How is this a silver lining, you ask? Because originally, when we moved into our apartment around this time last year, I bought a cute little 2 x 3 rug for our kitchen from Crate and Barrel.

Kitchen before

(Eeek..! The quality of this photo is appalling. Glad to know I’m getting better, anyway.) I always love a great stripe, so even though it wasn’t as long as I had in mind, I thought the yellow would work.

Unfortunately, my puppy had other plans. A little while later, it was shredded to bits! And it left me with this.

Kitchen with new pulls

I was so disappointed.

Needless to say, I hate our floors. They’re a horrible, cheap and very common apartment lino, and they never feel clean, even after I wash them. (Have the same problem? I’ve since learned that often, it’s because the finish is wearing off, so they’ll always feel a bit sticky. Awesome.)

Ultimately though, it was for the better. The old one, being too small, looked out of place. The white would quickly show coffee stains, chocolate stains, soy sauce stains.. Plus my colour scheme as since changed to a cooler palette with blues, greys and silvers: even the yellow wasn’t a great match.

Even though it was almost a year later, this rug from Home Sense was so worth the wait. It’s exactly what I wanted!

A new runner for our kitchen

I really wanted a two tone pattern, but the crisp white from the other rug wasn’t especially forgiving. If you’re looking for a rug that will inevitably become a stain magnet but you’re still looking for colour, I highly recommend a rug like this one.

(Even since writing this post, I’ve spilt orange juice, marinade, and broken a glass on it, and it still looks great! Yes, I’m clumsy. That was in the span of three days. Oh dear…)

Upon closer inspection, you can see the white has other colours woven in: greys, browns, blues… That way, even if it stains, it will blend in so much more easily!

Apartment rug texture

The texture is a nice bonus too. I love how it echoes the texture in the baskets above.

Apartment kitchen

So again, here’s how it looked last April:

Kitchen before

And how our little kitchen looks now!

Moroccan Patterned Navy Rug

Before:

And now:

Personalized Rental Kitchen

I’m so pleased with the change! It adds some much needed colour to our all-over white kitchen. Nothing like a rug for a cheap but effective change in a rental space.

Rented apartment kitchen

I’m actually quite proud of our little home these days. After all my updates (and still many more to come!) I think we’ll stay a while.

Have you found any good buys lately? Or better yet, any good pet stories to share? Laughing about them later makes mishaps so much easier to deal with when they inevitably happen again…

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: Merrit’s Creative and Personalized Planner

Bonus post today people. I’m aiming high this week! As I mentioned last Sunday, I’m featuring my first guest blogger today, Merrit from Label Me Organized!

Merrit connected almost a year ago over our mutual blogs about rentals and of course, organizing. She has such wonderful ideas which eventually led to her Etsy shop full of fantastic printables to help organize your day to day life. I adore lists and calendars, but mine are mixed about on my phone, in notebooks, white boards, printed cleaning lists… I love how streamlined all her info is.

Take a look!

Hello L’amour Chez Nous readers!  I am so excited to be here today to share with you how I keep myself organized using my planner.  Life can definitely get a little hectic at times, there always seems to be somewhere I need to be or something I need to be doing.  It can all be a little much to keep straight in my head, so I use my planner to keep it all organized for me!

 Planner

Instead of always trying to keep my schedules, lists and to-dos in my head, I just dump it all into my planner.  My planner goes with me everywhere, so I am never without all the information it holds.  That way, if I happen to be out when I schedule an appointment, or remember I need to do laundry that night, I can simply write it in my planner and not worry that I will later forget!

Since my planner holds so much information, I found it necessary to color code what goes into it.  This way, when I look at my calendar, instead of having to read each individual entry to find out what is going on that day, I can easily see at a glance which areas I have something planned for.

 Colour Coded Planning

I keep a color coding cheat sheet right in the front of my planner.  This way, if I ever forget what color goes with a certain category, I can just take a peek at the front of my planner to quickly remind myself.

 Colour Coding tips

I also like to keep a dashboard of page flags at the ready in the front of my planner.  I use these to jot down quick notes to myself that may not need to be put directly on my calendar, but need to be remembered none-the-less.

To help keep things organized within my planner, I split things up into sections.  I decided on five main sections, which included my calendar, lists, money, work and blog. 

Planner labels

The first thing in my calendar section is my monthly calendar.  I know, ground breaking stuff.  At the beginning of each month, I write out all the plans I have for that month.  This page serves as a basic overview for my month ahead.

Planner calendar

After my monthly calendar, I have my, wait for it…. weekly calendars!  Each Sunday, I sit down and plan out the week ahead of me.  I use the basic schedule I wrote out on my monthly calendar, and add in some more details, and appointments or plans I’ve made recently.

Planner day to day to do lists

Between each of the week pages, I keep smaller pages for my daily to-do lists.  Each page gets dated, and I list out all the things I want to accomplish that day.  If I’m able to complete the task, it gets a check.  If not (which may or may not happen more often than I’d like to admit) the task simply gets moved to the next day.

On the back of the last to-do list page, I keep our meal plan for the week.  Now I’m not the cook of the family, but I still like to know what to expect for dinner. 

Meal planning tips

Finally, at the end of my calendar section, I keep a ‘future’ dashboard.  This is where I keep plans that are so far in the future I haven’t printed out calendar pages for that date yet.  This may be plans made anywhere from a month to a year or more in advance.  I keep a little sticky note on my future dashboard until I print the calendar pages where the plans can be written in.

Future planning tips

Next up is the section I have for all my various lists.  I am a list maker at heart, so it only made sense to include a whole section to keep them at hand.  This section holds everything from a long term to-do list to a running list of gift ideas for the special people in my life.

Master lists

To help remember what lists I have going, and to easily find the one I’m looking for, I keep a table of contents in the front of the section.  Then I write the page number on the bottom of each list to easily sort through the various pages.

Then I have my section for keeping track of my finances.  I have a few pages in this section to help me stay on top of my money.  First I have a budget worksheet so I can track my spending in major areas.  I print out a new budget page for each month.

Organize your budget

At the beginning of each month, I write out the target amount I’d like to spend in each major category (food, rent, utilities etc.).  Then at the end of the month, I fill in what I actually spent.  Then I record the difference between the budgeted and actual amounts.  If I’m under budget, wonderful!  If I’m over budget, I either need to work harder next month to stay within budget, or I need to rework the amount of money I budget for that category.

After my budget pages, I keep some monthly calendars.  I use these calendars to keep track of my paychecks and bills that are due throughout the month.

Calendar printable

As I receive a bill, I add it into this calendar.  Then once the bill gets paid, it gets x-ed out.  This system has made it super easy to keep track of all my bills.  I know exactly how much I owe for the rest of the month, and I never forget if I’ve paid a bill yet.

Finally, I have my work, blog and home sections.  These sections mostly hold blank pieces of lined paper that I can use to jot down ideas or notes as I need to.  These sections have no real structure, but they are always useful to have with me.  Currently in my home section, I have our moving schedule.  It has been super helpful having this schedule with me at all times, so I always know what is scheduled to be moved next.

Moving schedule

That wraps up my planner!  I hope you guys enjoyed peeking through how I organize my everyday life, and I hope you picked up some helpful tips for organizing your own planner.  If you liked the printables I used in my planner, most of them are available in my Etsy shop.  For more planner and organizational posts, you can find me on my blog Label Me Organized.  And a huge thank you to Lauren for having me over to share on her wonderful blog!  She is such a sweetheart and it is such a pleasure to be able to contribute here on L’amour Chez Nous!

Love this! Whether you keep your info stored electronically like me or on paper like Merrit, she has such wonderful tips. I already have systems for most of those areas, but her budget systems inspired me!

My budget is less than organized to say the least, and going back to school next year, I need to get a hold on it all. Especially her note about scheduling bill payments into your calendar. So simple! Why didn’t I think of that?

(Seriously, it’s a bit embarrassing. My hydro company just sent us a bill warning us they would shut off the service if we didn’t pay our bill. How ridiculous and unlike me is that??)

Which tips inspired you? Any that you’d like to put into practice? My bill due dates are going into my calendar right away, let me tell you!

 

 

Edits, Etsy and Anthropologie

Hi all!

Sorry for the radio silence last weekend; the last few weeks of school are always hectic. But now I’m on Spring Break, so you can expect some awesome posts coming your way! (Psst… I’ll even be featuring my first guest post on L’amour chez nous… So exciting! If you’d like to share your home with my readers, feel free to email me.)

This week I’d like to share a few of the smaller updates I’ve been making around our home recently. Alone, they’re hardly “post-worthy” but sometimes (together) the little things make all the difference.

For now, I’ve edited our entry way.

Chevron Wall

Eventually, I’ll get to tackle that dresser (even the mirror with the light blue chevron isn’t working for me at the moment), but let’s forget about that glaring issue for a moment and focus in on those new little knobs on the closet doors, shall we?

Before, our closet looked like this.

A little apartment entry

Or even better, let’s take a look at it before I organized our closet

Plain old wood knobs

Awful.

These ones from Anthropologie were well worth it. From afar, they may not look all that different, but I get a little boost of happiness every time I pull one to open the closet.

Anthropologie knobs

Their vintage vibe works especially well in our home. The closets are far from perfect, but they work with the mismatched look of the doors, instead of against them. 

Obviously, you can’t do a huge overhaul in a rented space. You need to work with what you have. Instead of fighting the ageing look of your rented apartment with only pristine accessories, try to embrace its charm with little vintage pieces. 

Instead of looking out of place, it can help to make your choices look purposeful.

Anthro knob

Anthropologie knob

Next up, our closet needed a bit of tweaking. Everything was working very well… with the exception of our shoe rack.

Apartment closet

Yes, it looks fine here, but, being a cheap, plastic Walmart purchase, it was extremely flimsy and very prone to breaking, leaving our shoes in a heap.

I was convinced I would need to buy one of these fabulous but expensive organizers from Ikea when Shaun came home one day with a FOUND, FOUR level, STURDY shoe rack.

Love at first sight.

Shoe shelves

Updated closet

Now all our shoes have plenty of storage space still tucked away in our closet. Tall shoe racks are worth their weight in gold!

My next apartment closet tweak was our jacket storage. As you can see, the majority of our jackets are hung up on hangers. Now this works very well for me, but Shaun tends to drop his on the ground or throw it over a chair.

I fought the urge to nag at him and instead asked why our system wasn’t working for him. He found using hangers cumbersome. Ah. All he needed was something simpler!

Hooks. Easy peasy!

Use hooks to keep jackets off the floor

We had a couple hanging off the inside of our bedroom door for towels, so I just swapped them to the other side. I hung a silver command hook on the inside of our entrance door for additional space.

Hang it on a hook

It may not be quite as neat as inside the closet, but it certainly beats the floor! When creating organizing systems for you and your family, work with their habits, not against them.

And… My favourite addition, this pretty, little, Etsy calendar by Modern Printed Matter.

Beautiful Etsy Calendar

Every page has gorgeous prints of something botanical: leaves, flowers, branches…

April

The space above our mail sorter needed a little something, and this was a perfect fit.

Apartment command centre

Mail sorter

Organized entry

Have you been thinking of changing something in your home for a while? Sounding just a little too daunting while you’re sitting comfortably on your sofa?

Try something small!

I often think of big ticket items having the most impact, which is often true, but sometimes I just don’t have it in me to get on it (hence why our dresser still stands uncomfortably in its plain untreated wood…) Even making little changes in your home can make you feel so much happier.

Happy Sunday :)

 

Apartment Chores Checklist

Bit of a more personal post today here readers, but I promise a pretty and useful (free!) printable at the end! If you’re curious and would like to know more about me, read on, but if you’re only in it for the freebie, no worries! I won’t judge :).

Every couple has as stumbling blocks, and as I have eluded to before, ours is cleaning. Since I’m sure a lot of you are fairly new at sharing your space with your partner too, I thought I’d share what I learned about how to manage our cleaning conflict. I’m by no means a relationship expert, but read on to see what worked for us.

I knew from the moment I stepped into Shaun’s basement suite back in June 2011 that if we ever when moved in together (I knew right away that he was it for me!) it would be an issue. Blanketed in darkness (who needs natural light, right?) there was only a shirt or two hanging in his neglected walk-in closet (what a waste), everything else was tossed on the floor. We clearly had different ideas of how we wanted our home to feel.

Fast forward a number of months (we moved in together pretty early- February of the following year) and I was fine with it. Have you ever heard Jack Johnson’s “Do You Remember”? The line, “You’d say we’re playing house, now you still say we are” happily hummed along in my head. I felt fine doing nearly all of the cooking and cleaning because a) I worked less than Shaun did and b) I knew a clean house was only of value for me, not for him. Why should I “make” him do it just to please myself? I was so thrilled to be living with him that I didn’t mind.

Shaun and I at Kits Beach

We did have a bit of a system in place, a vague (sexist to some, but whatever works, right?) of “man” jobs and “woman” jobs, blue jobs and pink jobs, if you will. Garbage was his duty, bathrooms were mine. If I cooked, he cleaned, and vice versa. Other than that, nothing was clearly delineated.

Of course, as time ticked on this situation worked less and less for me. Either I’d wait for him to do what I wanted, feeling like he must know that a clean kitchen includes wiping up the counters and he just didn’t bother and end up resentfully doing it myself, or, I’d reluctantly ask him repeatedly to do something, feeling like I was nagging him all along. It’s not that I expected him to read my mind; I realize that’s ridiculous (though honestly, he’s pretty damn good at it); I just assumed certain things were obvious “to-do’s” when cleaning: doing dishes after dinner means putting everything away off the counters. Picking up your clothes means all clothes off the floor. Simple.

Not so.

Enter our Bernese mountain dog puppy and all the effort that goes along with her and our system was doomed.

Bali the Bernese Mountain Dog

It’s not that I don’t love Bali; I’m just not a huge dog lover in general. (Don’t hate me!) When I feel like I’ve already done it all, the last thing I want to do is take her out before we go to bed. 

Man's best friend

(Man’s best friend definitely applies.)

I’ve since realized that we need to have clear expectations for every chore: who does what, what does it look like, and how often. When I think Shaun will take out the recycling, I assume he will check it every day and take it out as often as it needs to be done. He thinks that, if he notices it overflowing and remembers, he’ll take it out. Otherwise, he’ll just wait till I ask him to do it. It’s not that either one is right or wrong, we just needed better communication.

One of my all time favourite bloggers, Jen from iHeart Organizing, published her family’s checklist a while ago, and I was inspired. Shaun wants to make me happy (which I do not take for granted!) he just needs to know how. Since I don’t like having to ask him to do every chore constantly, a checklist was exactly what we needed.

However, we live in a tiny apartment. Just us, and our massive puppy. We don’t have a lawn to mow, multiple bathrooms to clean, and loads of laundry to do every day. (Gosh, how do people do that? Laundry every day? Parenthood, I suppose. You just do it?) Pinterest holds tons of cleaning checklists, but not many for childless renters like us, so I thought we’d make one. This list goes beyond just cleaning, it hits a number of our regular chores as well. Because, as I said, explicitly deciding who does what and when has worked WONDERS for us.

Personalized Apartment Chores Checklist

My chores are highlighted in pink, his in turquoise-blue. I know it looks like there’s more pink, but a number of his chores are more time consuming than mine, like grocery shopping or taking Bali out. Plus, some I find just make my life easier, like meal planning. If I asked him to do it for me, I wouldn’t get the same benefit. I also included asterisks beside certain ones, because we’ve decided it’s ok to ask for help on these ones. Bullet points that aren’t highlighted are shared tasks.

For vague chores, like “bedroom” or “entry” we went over what it would look like. Basically, this means that once as week, Shaun needs to completely clear out his “dumping zones”: our entry and the spot beside his trunk (a glorified dumping zone: he just throws his stuff in a heap inside, but hey, at least it’s out of sight!)

Bedroom dumping zones

Closet dumping zone

So there you have it. A little insight into our home. It may look perfect in photos, but trust me, it takes EFFORT to get it there! It’s certainly not the case all the time. (I’ll be sure to share what those “dumping zones” look like in action in the coming weeks too.) If you’d like one without designated tasks, here’s the base version:

Apartment Chores Checklist

Get it here.

Feeling overwhelmed by all those little bullet points? Easy to pin, but hard to get to action and actually print it? Don’t be. By just printing it (even in black and white, it’s mostly gray anyway!) is a great start. You could laminate it to make it dry erase list, but throwing it in a frame (it’s an 8 by 10) is so much quicker, and you can call it a day!

Even tackling some of these can help them ease you into a routine and you’ll feel so much more organized and serene once a bit of work is out of the way. Like Gretchen Rubin writes: “Doing a little work makes goofing off more fun“!

Hope you have a wonderful and inspired weekend!

Stashed Tea

Happy Sunday! I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that I would be sharing an organizing project soon, but somehow, such a small little project kept hitting roadblocks. It’s finally finished!

Honestly, it wasn’t anything particularly innovative, but I have to say that I feel so much better when I open my cupboard and find this:

Organized coffee and tea cupboard

As opposed to this:

cupboard before

Yikes. That happened.

Even without my David’s Tea bags, I still had layers upon layers of mess!

Hot mess

I can’t even blame Shaun for the state of this cupboard. This is all me. We each have a separate shelf in our kitchen: mine for coffee and tea, his for treats and granola bars. I use this cupboard every day (I’m a huge coffee and tea lover), so it was a daily irritation.

I started off by emptying out its contents and purging whatever was empty or not in use.

Cupboard contents

I had a few organization systems (surprisingly) already in place, but I wasn’t taking advantage of them. For one, I have a number of basic wooden boxes that are great for storing smaller items or for creating a shelf. They’re also the perfect size for tea boxes!

Organized first layer

I got mine ages ago at Jysk, but I’m sure you could find something similar at a dollar store or Ikea. I have a Keurig coffee maker, so my K-cups go on top of the box for easy access. I stacked my Tetley teas in the back because I’m a bit of a tea snob and rarely drink them.

The other system I wasn’t utilizing at all was a little plastic tray I bought a while ago from the dollar store. If you look closely, you can see it in the bottom right corner…

Hot mess arrow

It now houses my smaller tea and coffee extras, like my tea strainer, extra teas and my K-cup reusable container. (Keurig machines are great and convenient, but their cups aren’t recyclable. This takes a bit longer, but is much more eco-friendly! If you’re looking for one, I found mine at Staples for about $24.)

Tea and coffee odds and ends

This is where the challenges came in. For such a small and basic project, I really wasn’t expecting any at all. For one, I tried adding in this shelf insert from Ikea. They’ve been great in the past for glassware, but after fussing to assemble it, it was a terrible size for food storage: nothing fits underneath. I decided to just stick with the wooden box.

I also had a rough time finding the right labels for my teas. I got cheap, stackable glass containers from the dollar store for my loose leaf teas, but they definitely needed labelling to remember which was which. They needed to be easy to change because I usually like to try new teas, but permanent enough that the label wouldn’t come off when I touched it.

Label issues

I usually opt for Martha Stewart’s line of labels at Staples, but they were CLEARING THEIR STOCK! They promise me there will be more to come in May… Fingers crossed. Anyway. I went back twice, only to come back with ones that were either too big or meant for writing notes in a book, not for food labelling. I also tried a dry-erase marker, but I could hardly see it and it would easily rub off. I thought about using my Avery printed labels, but that was a bit too much effort for something I would be changing reasonably frequently.

I finally thought of washi tape, but while in Michael’s I found something even better.

labels

I posted this on Instagram last night. For a $1.50 a sheet of 24 is exactly what I was looking for! These little stickers or “shaped tape” have a similar feel to washi tape, except for far less than the usual $8 a roll from Michaels’s. Small enough labels for my little containers, not too sticky to leave a residue, and cheaply replaced. Perfect.

Tea labels

I bought a few extra containers, just in case I feel the need for more tea… These labels may be not quite as nice as computer printed ones, but I think they’re pretty cute.

Label with washi tape

I added one to my (nearly empty…) coffee container (from the Container Store) for fun too.

Coffee

Silly Cow Hot Chocolate

It’s amazing how much more usable space there is now. Purging helped, but systems and smaller containers make such a difference in keeping it organized.

Keep small items in a trayKeeping the smaller items corralled in a tray makes them easy to find and keeps the teas in the back accessible. 

Organized tea cupboard 

Again, here’s the before…

Hot mess

And the (much less embarrassing) after.

Organized coffee and tea cupboard

Plus, since I reused a lot of what I already had, it was a pretty cheap transformation! The containers were about 1.50 each, so $12 in total, plus $1.50 for the labels, so $13.50. Money well spent!

How do you organize your food cupboards? Labels and containers like me? Or is this just way too over-the-top for you? (It certainly is for my fiancé!) I always love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Wedding Planning: Creating a Mood Board

Hi there lovely readers and fellow brides-to-be!

I’m absorbed in wedding planning these days… So. much. fun! I try my best to enjoy the process, not just the end result, but it never has it been so easy before. Just daydreaming and planning out is a joy in and of itself!

We’ve booked our venue and chosen our date: July, 2015. Just to complicate things, Shaun and I want to go back to school to become teachers next year. I hear it is extremely busy… Basically impossible to plan a wedding at the same time! To make it easier down the road, I’m doing as much planning as I can before September. Of course not everything can be done ahead of time (we’ll have our invites prepped, but not sent out until later, for example), but I’ll try my best! If ever you have any tips, I’d love to hear from you :)

Before I make any further design choices, I wanted to settle on the overall feel and look. I had an idea of what colours I wanted: blush, gold and touches of soft green. I had a vague notion of the design too, but it wasn’t very concrete. I stumbled upon Bridal Musings recently and their awesome set of articles on wedding planning with Pocketful of Dreams, especially their post on creating a mood board.

Even if you’re not planning a wedding, mood boards can be helpful at distilling what you are really looking for in a design. I absolutely recommend it! You can build one like I did (using Picmonkey for FREE) or go for an even simpler route with a Pinterest board or magazine clippings.

First up, when creating a mood board, I decide on specific words: the qualities and feelings I want to evoke with my mood board. For example, when I created my blog design, I originally wanted it to be fresh and airy.

To find meaningful descriptors for our relationship, I followed their advice.

How would you like your wedding to  feel?romantic, personal, inviting and thoughtful

What’s your personal style?classic, feminine and approachable 

What were some of your favourite moments in your relationship?: Dancing in the streets at night when we first started dating. Running through the warm rain in Bali. Strolling through trendy Kitsilano, our favourite area in the city. 

From here, choose the main ideas flowing through your answers. I want our wedding to be romantic, thoughtful, and inviting, with soft, warm colours.

Keeping those ideas in mind, I scoured my Pinterest boards (home boards too!) and came up with this:

wedding mood board

 

Sources from left to right:

peonies / dresses / necklace / champagne / photograph / lace / door / kitchen / aisle / peonies / keys / mirrors / tablescape

These completely capture the feeling I’m going for! They also clarified some of the elements I want to incorporate. I realized I’d prefer a more muted restricted colour scheme (like my home, I rarely use more than a few accent colours) but with lots of textures:

Modern elements like gold, tulle, mirrors (and maybe even some sparkle)

Fresh greenery (like the gorgeous garden in the background of my ceremony!)

Soft touches of lace, petals and satins

And of course, character through woods (the restaurant has beautiful old wood floors) and rusted coppers.

I may not use all these ideas in our final design, but it gives me a great idea of where I’d like to go and what I’d like to share with my vendors! How are you deciding on your wedding colours and themes? Did you go for a mood board, Pinterest, magazines?