Ready to POP Baby Shower

Today I’d like to share a Baby Shower I threw for my sister-in-law about a month back. She welcomed her beautiful healthy son into the world earlier this week and Liam and I are just ecstatic for the new family.

The Invitation & Theme
“Ready to Pop” was a wonderful theme to work with right out of the gate. It was easy to find balloon decked stationary; I chose a vistaprint.ca design that is cheerful and gender neutral. We knew the baby was a boy, but as this was a coed shower, wanted to keep everything as inclusive as possible. We held the party of about 30 guests in our home for a fun and laid-back affair.  invite

Food
The most import part of any gathering! Everything served fitted with the theme:

Popcorn Shrimp w. Thai chili sauce
Popcorn Chicken w. plum sauce
Jalapeno Poppers w. queso
Salad with Poppy-seed Dressing
Pancetta & Cheddar Popovers
Pesto & Chive Popovers
Pop-Tarts
Snap Crackle Pop Rice Crispie Treats
Cake Pops*food

*full disclosure: these are Tim Horton’s Timbits. The local bakers wanted about $3 per cake pop! Sorry, that was not in the budget. But for $10, some drizzled icing and a lollipop stick, these impostors looked great and tasted like good old-fashioned Canadian deliciousness.

Games and Activities

Ready to Pop
To get everyone loosened up, we handed out mini-helium balloons + tooth picks,  counted down together and POPPED! One balloon contained confetti, which burst all over the winner of a fabulous door prize.

Diaper Thoughts
Guests loved writing funny messages on the bums of newborn diapers. The new parents should appreciate the late-night comic relief as well. An instructional sign told guests to “pick a diaper and write on the BOOTY, something to take their minds off the DOOTY“.

Potty Pong
Like beer-pong, but with training-potties. Particularly enjoyed by the gentlemen. games

Baby Amuse-Bouche
A blind taste-test of various baby food. I was ruthless with this one and included flavours like corn, beef, and turkey. Muhahaha!

Pop Quiz!
We challenged our guests to a surprise round of baby trivia. Free French and English downloads available here and answers here.

Decor and Other Stuff
Balloons were obviously the decoration of choice for this party, and I scattered bunches of them around the house in colours pulled from the invitation.

A wooden train-set played centerpiece, winding around small arrangements of seasonal button mums, and is now a bonus gift for the baby! Simple cut tulips in tall glass vases also helped create that spring-time feeling.

Adults enjoyed a “Pop, Clink, Fizz” Mimosa bar and “Pop a Cold One” beer bucket. Kids loved the popcorn machine.

Favours were an assortment of “pop” candy, including blow-pops, ring-pops, pop rocks, and Popeye cigarettes.

For a guest-book, people left messages in the Dr. Seuss book Hop on Pop. How more on the nose could this theme be?details

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There was of course a hearty round of gift-opening by mum and dad-to-be and the customary “oooo”s and “awwww”s from spectating guests.  gifts

It was a wonderful party -to plan, execute, and attend- and a pleasure to meet the friends and family of a couple who have brought a wonderful little bundle of awesome into all our lives. guests

(also, our new hardwood floors look fantastic!!!)

No Doors No Floors No Problem

Although I have not been posting at all lately (sorry) we’ve been very busy since our bathroom makeover. Busy getting new floors! Our house was a hodgepodge of irreversibly dirty carpet and three different laminate flooring (not including the laminate we installed in the basement). We decided to unify everything with quality, easy to clean, durable, beautiful, timeless hardwood floors.

Usually we like to DIY our projects but thought the installation of such an expensive product merited some professional help. We hired a contractor who is doing a fantastic job and is wonderful to work with. Still, being a hands-on type of couple (who likes to save money), we are doing all the demolition ourselves as well as giving the entire house a fresh coat of paint. We spent a very unromantic Valentine’s Day dismantling furniture, ripping out the ratty old floors, and eliminating the last of the peach walls. Ah l’amour.   IMG_3883

Over the last few weeks we’ve been living with piles of boxes, scattered furniture, bare floors, door-less closets, and worst of all; a television in the bedroom. I hate falling asleep with the TV on, and let’s face it, there are better things you can be doing in bed at night! Reading, obviously.

Liam loves it and feels like we are living in a poorly finished hotel. The cats are also enjoying the new (temporary!) set up, probably because there is much more room for them on the bed than on the couch. Even I have to admit that sometimes, after a long day of trim painting and furniture shifting, it is kind of fun to snuggle up in bed and Netflix together.   IMG_3978The project is about 30% done at the moment and we estimate it will make the house look 3000% better. But you won’t see more until it’s completely finished for the big reveal. For now enjoy these sneak-peaks of the new room colours (grey, what else?) which already make everything look so much nicer in spite of the mess. It’s not easy living with everything literally turned out and upside down, but there are moments of joy in the novelty and deep down we know it will all be totally worth it.

 

 

 

 

Happy New Bathroom

I didn’t have time to post this upon completion, as that was literally hours before our big Christmas Eve dinner party. But, by some Christmas miracle, our guest bathroom was finished in time for the Holiday, and it looks fantastic!

The hardest part of this project was cutting the bamboo counter top. None of the big box stores would do any cuts for us as they are afraid of this hardwood damaging their so-called power tools. In the end we accomplished very clean cuts using a circular saw fitted with a finishing blade (60 teeth). As with our Laundry Room counter, we taped under the cut lines to prevent splintering, this was especially important for the bamboo which splinters easily. For accuracy, we used a large plank of wood as a guide, as seen is this very helpful video.

The cuts were so true that we were able to use one of the counter pieces as a back splash, which is simply glued down with construction adhesive. All the edges and cracks are filled with clear silicon caulking, and the counter surface itself is sealed with mineral oil. I am in love with the naturally rich look of the bamboo.

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It wasn’t in the budget to replace the vanity, so all the doors and drawers got sanded down and re-finished with a cream enamel paint. It’s hard to photograph, but there is a nice sheen to the vanity now. The hardware also got replaced to help update the look.

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Installing the sink and faucet wasn’t bad; just a few trips to the store for the right pieces to upgrade the shut-off valves and the p-trap. Time will tell if everything is water-tight, but so far so good!

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The electrical stuff came together fairly easily. The pretty new light fixture is much brighter than the old one, and all the beige switches got replaced with white ones. Remember to use GFCI outlets around the sink!

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The toilet was obviously replaced, as was the wall cabinet above it. A new shower curtain covers the ugly old tile surround I wish we could replace … but as this guest shower gets used very rarely, it isn’t much of a priority.

 

Overall, we made a vast improvement over the moldy, run-down little bathroom this used to be. It is incredible what the pressure of a tight dead-line can do. And now we have a happy new bathroom for a Happy New Year!

before and after

toilet before afterSee my previous post for the shopping list for this room.

 

{Christmas Rush} Guest Bathroom Reno Plans

Just because the Christmas rush isn’t stressful enough (sarcasm) Liam and I have decided to renovate our main bathroom before we host over 30 people to a sit-down dinner on December 24th. The good news is that we had been mentally planning this particular project for a while, so had already stockpiled the materials. Inspired by the beauty (and relative cheapness) of a bamboo counter top, I decided on an earthy wild-child look for the room.

 

guest bath plans
Shower Curtain / Wall Cabinet / Toilet / Rug / Light / Mirror /  Sink / Bamboo Counter / Art / Slate Tray / Towel Ring / Door Handle

The bad news is that with less than two weeks until Christmas, our bathroom looks like this:

bathroom during candy

Festive! We keep telling ourselves it will be okay because we have a plan. Its pretty simple; just some painting, plumbing, and minor electrical work, nothing complicated … eeek!

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So yeah, we have some work to do!

 

The 2015 Christmas Pledge {3 Step Plan}

Pledge 2015 filled

It’s that time of year again; the days are dark and cold, and no matter how much you try to ignore the relentless store displays -Christmas is coming! Stop living in denial and embrace it, November is actually the perfect time of year for shopping, decorating, and baking. Save December for building snowmen, going skating, throwing parties, and marathoning TV Christmas specials in your fuzzy slippers while drinking hot cocoa and munching on sugar cookies.

If you actually want to enjoy the lead-up to Christmas and have some fun with your family and friends, take the Christmas Pledge. It’s just three easy steps:

Step 1: Make list of all the chores that need to be done before Christmas.

Step 2: Download this blank calendar and schedule in when you will accomplish everything on your list.

Step 3: Commit to yourself to get it all done within the month of November.

That’s it! Now get to work, you have plenty of time to prepare for the most wonderful time of the year. Get all the stressful leg-work out of the way now for a December that is jolly and bright!

Some Tips:

  • Don’t wait much later than mid November to order from on-line shops, you don’t want presents arriving late! .. and you need time to wrap them.
  • The earlier you hang your lights, the warmer it will be. You don’t need to start turning them on until December.
  • While you’re out shopping for everyone else, get a few festive outfits for yourself. You know you’ll be invited to a slew of Holiday parties so you might as well save yourself from that crazed last-minuet-mall-hunt as well.
  • I find putting up the tree enjoyable and make a music and eggnog fueled event of it every December. But if you find it a chore, go ahead in get it done along with the rest of your decorating.
  • Check out my freezer-cooking plan for ideas on how to make an assortment of appetizers and cookies you can bake on demand throughout December.

Laundry Room Makeover

Our old chepo washing machine stopped functioning properly about a year ago. It technically still “worked” because it got clothes clean, but we had to manually start the spin cycle. Manually. Every. Damn. Time. Occasionally all it would take was a light push requiring no more effort than giving a kid a twirl on a tire swing, but usually the washer demanded curses, kicks, and a blood sweat and tears sacrifice before spinning the clothes.

I kept my eyes out for a good deal on new appliances and when one came up we jumped on it … I also had a plan ready to completely makeover the room. Once the Mr. and I got everything disconnected and removed, I took advantage of the empty space and painted it a grayish white that immediately made it feel bigger and brighter. The colour is “Swiss White” from Dulux and it took two coats plus a primer to cover that pink, which I think was original to the house. door before and afterThe light fixture got a hit of black spray paint and the drying rack a coat of white, just to freshen them up. We also replaced the doorknob and electrical plates as well as installed a new laundry tub and faucet. The new washing machine not only looks a lot nicer than the old one, but it actually initiates the spin cycle all  by itself!

sink before after

The wooden wall cabinets got painted a creamy white and all the door hardware was replaced. I took my time with this project, first using a spray primer, then an enamel paint applied with foam rollers for a leveled finish. I’m planning a similar treatment for the upstairs bathroom vanity so am super pleased with how well it turned out.

doors

I love my laundry room because of its size and that it is on the main floor (not being noisy beside the bedrooms yet not banished to the basement either), but it is odd not having the machines beside one another. The washer and dryer face each other in the little room leaving gaps between walls that loved to collect household junk. We made the best of the unusual setup by installing a counter over the dryer. It makes the space seem more planed out and built-in, rather than just having an appliance floating in the middle of a wall. It’s also wonderful having a wall-to-wall surface for folding and pre-treating clothes.

dryer

This was a surprisingly easy project. We cut an Ikea EKBACKEN (dark oak effect) counter to size with a circular saw, and then supported it slightly off the dryer by screwing 1×2 boards into the studs along the wall. TIP: tape under the cut line before using the saw to prevent the laminate layer from splintering. We achieved a really clean finish and even drilled a hole for the electrical cord to pass through, cunningly camouflaged by a my framed Weekly Cleaning Schedule. The counter is simply sitting on the supports so it can lift right off if there is ever a need to access the back of the dryer. counter

I put a lot of thought into how to keep this utility room organised, luckily Ikea is always full of organisational solutions. A RÅSKOG cart is keeping all those extra bottles and cleaning supplies neat and accessible under the counter and a FINTROP system above the sink houses sponges, rubber gloves, and brushes. I also added wall hooks designated for brooms and dustpans, and tucked the ironing board away behind the door.

organisational

All said an done, we only spent $1850 on this makeover, including the two new appliances! Laundry is still a chore but it is certainly nice to have a pretty and well-functioning space to do it in. There is some sort of magic in design that means nice-looking rooms stay clean and tidy much longer than the drab ugly ones. Do we unconsciously work harder to keep a space we like looking the way we like it?

I really like the look of this room.

laundryroom after

Craker Jacks for Grown Ass Women {Charmed Aroma Ring Reveal}

ring

If you don’t like watching videos .. why are you on the internet?

Just kidding! Here’s the gist of the above for all you word lovers:

Today I’d like share my excitement over Charmed Aroma candles; which are beautifully scented soy-based candles with a ring hidden inside. We are not talking about gum ball machine type rings here; these are real pieces of jewelry worth anything between $10 and $5000.

stacked candles

How fun is that!? You get a quality candle for a totally reasonable $26, with an included bonus ring (cool) which has the potential to be worth a solid chunk of change (fantastic). I think these make incredible gifts and have purchased a bunch of them for ladies on my Christmas shopping list. … surprise!

I also bought one for myself, obviously, and I am in love with ring it came with. Each ring is accompanied by a code that allows you to check its worth on-line. Mine appraised at a respectable $80.

ring on hand

The candle burned for a little over 5 hours before the wax was melted enough for me to fish out the foil and plastic packet that contained the ring. There was no wax at all on the ring before I handled it with my waxy fingers, its just shiny and pretty and perfect.

All the candles I ordered smell amazing and came well packaged in bubblewrap for shipping. Delivery did take about a month and a half though so if you are considering getting one for some one on you Christmas list, or for yourself, visit charmedaroma.com soon and place an order.

ring solo

Posting a video and/or picture of you ring reveal on social media enters you into a draw for another ring. There are no bonus entries for blog-posts unfortunately, but this video was still really fun to make!

Note: No one paid me to say any of this. This is all just my genuine unbiased excitement over stuff I think is awesome. 

Challenge: every time I say “umm” take a shot!.