Friday, September 30, 2011

Color Of The Week- Bay Leaf

This is one last shout out to green before the October chill hits, and inevitably will shift all greenery into oranges, yellows, and browns. I actually used this color just over a year ago on a piece of furniture, and was, and still am quite fascinated by it. I still have most of a quart left, and am waiting for the perfect project  to bust it out again. Originally, I painted it on a side table for our front door, but it just didn't sit right in that location. Since then, I have re-painted it silver, and have ruined it by over-sanding. And recently, we let go of the side table. However, I wish I had a picture of the Bay Leaf painted table to show off its brilliance.

BAY LEAF, Martha Stewart Living,
This is green is sincerely packed with warmth. While I'm using it to promote the last kick of all things green before the Fall season hits, I truly feel that this is a color that can easily transcend into any season, and into most decor schemes, even though it does pack quite the punch. I love to see this green used on accent pieces- frames, chairs, doors- but cower when I see a room painted this color. This is a color that promotes the mantra of "less is more" and demands the respect to be used strategically in small doses.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I'm on this new rotation at work of actually having every weekend off and it's pretty awesome! *update*  apparently, it's not going to last long, as the powers that be have realized that they need me there on weekends. lame. Anyways, on a typical Saturday morning, if I'm not at work, the three of us head out to the farmer's market down the road for some fresh veggies and maple scones (mmmm). On Friday evening, Jackie noted that there was going to be a Vintage Fair at a local farm, and that we could forego the usual farmer's market to switch it up a bit. 

When we arrived bright and early on Saturday morning, it was packed! And there was so many old treasures to see: old china, jewelry, furniture, and even services like photography were present. It was definitely a neat experience. The trail between booths was covered in loose gravel, and not ideal for a stroller... So, we'll just keep note of that for next year. 

There were a few items that caught my eye... candlesticks, some decorative acorns... and then there was this picture frame:

I've been trying to keep an eye out for an embellished picture frame for quite some time, but the ones I usually find at thrift stores are either too costly, or aren't embellished enough. What I loved about this one was that it looked worn, and literally had chunks of the frame missing- it added so much character! So, I splurged, and bought it for $20.

And, yes, I did paint it. As awesome as the gold finish was, I just didn't feel like it suited our place at all. I finally found a home for this picture frame: The left side of our pink wall! Therefore, the mission was to find a color that would go with hot pink. I pulled out a few paint candidates, and we narrowed it down to: an off white top coat, with distressed blue peaking through. Having the weekend off gave me plenty of time to use a little paint brush to meticulously dab the tiny crevices of the embellished frame (and after 1 coat of primer, and 3 coats of paint, my poor Purdy brush is pretty frayed!)

Check out the hot painted burgundy velvet!
I started off with the primer. I cannot stress enough how important primer is. For both my painted door and our dining chairs, I chose to skip the priming step because I was either using oil base paint, or a paint with a built-in primer. And now paint is generously peeling off both projects! And so: No excuses! ALWAYS use a primer if you want your top coat to last! It was especially "fun" to paint the burgundy velvet trim that surrounded the inner perimeter of the frame... very fun, indeed.

After the primer coat, I painted 1 coat of Peacock Blue (the same color I used on one of the distressed hooks). To dry, I set it down on top of Hazel's Toybox... and, I couldn't believe my eyes- it was the exact same color! Let me explain: as I mentioned, the frame was painted in Peacock Blue (Benjamin Moore color), and the toy box was painted in Lagoon (Martha Stewart color), and they're almost identical! I must really be drawn to that color! It just bums me out a bit- I love color, and strive to incorporate different variations through every project... and to re-use color can often be a bit of a downer. Oh well.
Peacock Blue vs. Lagoon: Can you tell the difference?

I covered the blue with 2 coats of White Chocolate paint (mmm, good enough to eat!) and lightly sanded- just barely, to give it a very subtle aged-feel. Following the sanding (and the hour trying to remove the loose sand from the crevices of the embellished frame), I busted out the water based high gloss varathane, and gave it 3 thick coats, and the frame literally looks wet! Awesome!

The frame in its soon-to-be-home

 I think we'll wrap it up at that for today. The next step for this frame is for me to try and fashion a backing to support the picture, as well as to find some eye hooks and wire to mount the frame- but that's a different story, for another day.

Distressed peaks of blue with a full gloss sheen! Love it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waste Basket Fusion

Over the past month, these baskets have taken the decorating world by storm, and I figured it'd be a shame to not share them with you! The production company of the product, Areaware (check out the baskets on Areaware's site), describes the baskets as being a "study in contradiction", as they fuse the elemtents of natural rattan with a poppy plastic. At $48 a piece, these baskets are not for the timid, but for those areas of your home that deserve a punchy statement piece. And these baskets certainly take upcycling up to the next level! I would love to even try to fuse one of these together myself from found objects.
I would like this one to come home with me.

They certainly are fascinating to look at, and I could definetly see one of these adding a bit of life to our bathroom!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Skinny as a Rail

A few weeks back, we ventured out to Habitat for Humanity for the very first time. It's kind of lame that I haven't been there sooner, as the store is located literally only a couple of blocks away. And, being that we love to upcycle and do home decor projects, the store really is an ideal location for us to search for supplies. It's interesting to note that I've been connected to Habitat for years, without ever really realizing it. For example, whenever something goes clearance for a lengthy period of time at Home Depot, or if it's missing parts, rather than throwing product out, I usually end up writing it off, and sending it to Habitat for reuse. And walking into the store gave me almost an eerie feeling, as I walked past stacks of merchandise that had my hand writing on it, that I had deliberately sent there. It was cool and creepy at the same time... Almost like I had entered the Home Decor Twilight Zone.

I was pretty impressed with the store, and the variety of hardware accessories, especially pulls and knobs. I also felt inspired by the various lengths of printed MDF that would make for great shelves, at a low cost. While we were admiring some light fixtures, Hazel became obsessed with a fireplace mantel insert, and refused to leave it alone. She immediately treated this insert like a little fort, and would cower into the corner whenever I tried to get her out. She ended up pretty dirty, but it was cute nevertheless.

Of the finds of the day, we ended up only purchasing a single item: a lone towel rack with embellishments. It was beautiful, and we both saw great potential for it. We recently purchased a rail for our kitchen (from IKEA, of course- the BYGEL rail), after much admiration of many modern kitchens that use rails to hold pots, pans, and cooking utensils. Ours holds mugs, a tea bag holder, and some measuring cups and spoons. All in all, I've been pretty happy with that purchase. And, I think that it was the first thing that I've wall mounted that didn't give me any grief!

While we were quite smitten with the embellishments of the new rail, we didn't really have a purpose for, nor a desired location for it (generally, not the best way to do shopping). With the upheaval of our closet, we ended up placing our EXPEDIT bookcase full of art supplies across from our bed. The rationale behind the move was to place our supplies in plain sight, and in turn, would hopefully be inspired to do more projects if we were staring right at the supplies. I had the idea of using some S-hooks to hang often used items on the rail, mainly paint brushes, and scissors, so they'd be within quick reach. And we had a bare wall adjacent to the one with the bookcase that has been bare since we moved in.

The new rail!

Such pretty embellishments!

Now, for the most difficult portion of the entire project: color. The rail was sort of an antique brass color, and we all know how much I LOVE brass... (that was sarcasm), and the rail had to be painted. We tossed the ideas around of painting the rail bright green, blue, or even oil-rubbed bronze (holla!).

And the color we picked was *drum roll*: Terra Rosa! The very same color that I used for one of the hooks I made for the closet.

Now, why would I want to match a color up in the closet, if it's not going to be in the same part of the room? Well, after we got that beastly shelf up, we realized that there was a bit of bare wall directly below the shelves that would be perfect for the rail. So, I primed it up, and put on 2 coats of Terra Rosa, and 2 coats of gloss varathane.

The rail was a snap to install, and I must say, my handyman-wall-mounting skills are improving! With the rail in the closet, it'll be kept close to some of our art supplies and canvases, and will keep commonly used tools close at hand, and will save me time from rummaging through the tool box for them.

Something just felt a little off about the rail. Jackie noted the rail's color was a bit too "salmon-y", and that the reason why the distressed hooks stood out so well, was because it was paired with that great brown. The wheels in my head got turning as I tried to figure out how to incorporate a touch of brown, and had the great idea of glazing the brown over top, so it would catch and puddle in the embellishments, to give it an aged feel. The problem: I have no glaze. The solution: I made some up! By using the same gloss varathane, I mixed in a dish a big blob of clear coat, with 1/4 of the amount of paint. I mixed it up, painted the rail, and wiped it off. The "glaze" caught brilliantly into the crevices, and it added some instant character and looks much less flat. 

The only thing that I'm a little on the fence about is the s-hooks. I think they look a little off being unpainted.... I realize that not everything has to be matchy-matchy, but I'm unsure of the look. What do you think?- painted or unpainted?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The closet 2.0

The closet reno that was recently chronicled over here, actually only involved 2/3 of our closet- and left a big wall blank in the middle. I kind of liked the possibility of what we could do with this large expanse of blank space. We were flirting with the idea of hanging a large mirror, or maybe even doing an art piece that would incorporate the wall color a bit. But then, IKEA happened.
On a recent trip to the Swedish wonderland (and just as we were about to leave the store empty handed), Jackie spotted a large clearance shelving unit. The shelves were marked down from $60 to $30 because the color was being discontinued (this was a floor model). What a bargain! The original plan for this bad boy was to have it mounted above our bed, and we would dress it up with some books, vases, and candles. And, the white wash shelf would pop on our teal feature wall! Sounds delightful, yes? But, after an impulsive buy, and on the drive home we discussed the weight of the shelf (the thing is a beast!) looming over our heads, and how frightening it would be to have the thing fall on us in our sleep...

...and then we remembered that big empty space in our closet. The white popped just as well against the grellow paint. And could serve as a unit to house towels and linens. There you have it- problem solved! After a bit of research, we attempted to mount the shelf. Here's a disclaimer: In our home we have wall mounted many objects over the past few months, and it's always a bumpy road. Our walls hate us. Literally. We always have anchors snap off and break, or our stud finder lies to us and we end up in drywall only, or the drill won't work- there's always something. And this experience really pushed me over the edge.

I learned that the best way to wall mount a heavy item (in drywall) was to use toggle bolts. And I snapped some up, and anticipated to mount 4 toggle bolts, and then the shelf, and we'd be laughing.
We held our breath and mounted toggle bolt number one. It went in effortlessly *phew*.
We mounted toggle bolt #2. It only went 1 1/2" in... turns out there was a stud there. Which, is a blessing in disguise, as I've learned mounting into studs is the most desirable way to hang something. I grabbed my 3" wood screws, and we got to work... they only went 2" in (I've since discovered that 3" wood screws are too long).

We moved on to the next toggle bolt (directly below the first)- for whatever reason, it spun in place.

Frustrated, we went on to the final screw (into the stud, presumably, as it was directly below the stud wood screw)...and it went straight into drywall and spun.... the screw rubbed against the stud, and missed it!! AHHHHHH! Sheer frustration at this point, and I was about to throw my arms in the air and give up, but I couldn't lift them anymore after holding this beast up for 20 mins. We painfully decided to take out all the screws, and move the shelf over to hit the center of the stud on the one side. Which meant more drywall patching and painting.
This experience really deterred the rest of the closet reno. I desperately lacked motivation for weeks to finish the project, as I felt useless to accomplish it. And so, for several weeks, the wall remained untouched with white, unpainted drywall compound, just waiting to be sanded.

And on Friday evening, the shelving project was finally completed (only after about a month or so- not too bad, in the reality of most of our projects can remain unfinished for much longer). I had my father-in-law over to lend a hand with hanging the shelf, as he's a bit more of a seasoned handyman than myself. And what took us approximately an hour to not complete, he did in 10 minutes, and taught me a few lessons about locating studs too. (can't help but feel awkward about that statement)

The final purpose of these beastly shelves is to hold our towels and linens. I know.. all this fuss for some fabric and textiles. But, in a small apartment, every inch counts- and your towels have to go somewhere! Most of all, I'm just happy to have them up and out of the way. And, it feels amazing to cross another thing off the neverending checklist!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tablescaping 101

With festivities such as Thanksgiving and Christmas merely looming around the corner, our thoughts begin to dwell on holiday gatherings that generally center around a shared meal. Make this holiday season more than memorable by opting for a tablescape that will provide a tactile feast for the eyes (And the mouth too).

I admit, I can't help but feel like a bit of a hypocrite by providing such advice, considering I can't really remember the last time I actually sat at the dining table... the couch is just so much more convenient and comfortable. But, as the saying goes: those that cannot do, teach.... right?
Today we have a sampling of advice and guidance regarding tablescaping, brought to you by yours truly, that I like to call: Steve's Steps to Tablescaping Success!

1. Forego the blank canvas.
A well balanced tablescape begins with a bold splash of color- something out of the ordinary! Roll out a saturated table cloth or table runner for a color pop to layer other table elements upon. Choose textiles that you love, that are versatile enough to be used for multiple gatherings in various seasons.

2. When in doubt, choose white.
I realize that this may seem contradictory to the last piece of advice, but for your core pieces- mainly plates and universal serveware, choose white. Also, Chargers are our friends. Use them generously, as well as decorative napkins, to inject color and texture. Also, don't be afraid to mix things up: try using a variety of dinnerware for your guests, rather than making every place setting identical.
3. Incorporate an element of nature.
For a Fall tablescape, the entire expanse of table does not need to be covered in layers of leaves. Rather, use natural elements sparingly, but in intentional areas to promote a feeling of authenticity and simplicity for diners. Try a simple vase filled with branches with leaves in tact, gather some fresh herbs and spices, or use large, smooth stones as trivets for hot dishes. Or, strategically place small bowls filled with water, centered down the table, with a lone flower floating in each one.
Various spices and herbs add small pops of color, fragrance,
and flavor to your tablescape. (Neobaroque Dinnerware, West Elm)
4. Use centerpieces to center the attention.
Centerpieces- candles, vases, and accent pieces will drive focus and ground the viewpoint of guests. However, beware of choosing centerpieces that are too high, large, or gaudy. A centerpiece that blocks or constricts the conversation will quickly defeat the purpose of the gathering.

4. Don't forget the bling!
Crystal champagne flutes, or embellished napkin rings will add instant sparkle and dazzle to the tablescape. Especially when paired with tea lights and candlesticks, metallic and sparkly elements will set the table aglow and create an ethereal environment, prime for deep conversation and hearty laughter.

5.Most importantly: The table should say something about the host.
Don't be afraid to inject your own personal style or flair into the tablescape. A tablescaping task can become daunting, but do what comes naturally to you, and go with your instinct.

Core table elements in white are versatile and pop when
placed on top of a punch of color!
(42-piece fab four carbon dinner set, CB2)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mission for Missoni

I had another day off... and this time, we ventured into the great big land of TARGET! (or Tar-jay -said with a sexy French accent). Now, you must understand: a trip to Target is a very big deal for us, as we don't have the luxury of Target in our country (at least, not until 2013 rolls around and our Zellers will be taken over, woot!) and it could also potentially mean a trip to Taco Bell for some cheap greasy food (instead, it ended up as a semi-formal dinner at Olive Garden!). Ah, life over the border... if only..

Anyways, the whole point of the Target trip was to go and find some awesome Fall decor at a great price... and we wanted to check out Halloween goodies, because the candy is at a way better price than it is in the Great North. (we ended up snagging a huge 40 ounce bag of chocolate bars for $30).

And I secretly wanted to check out the whole Missoni selection. Missoni, what's that?- you may be wondering. Firstly, Missoni is an Italian fashion house in Varese. Essentially they pump out wonderful knitwear and other accessories that feature bold colorful patterns (some say it's a throwback to the 60s/70s). And Missoni decided to put out a line of home decor and clothing at Target last Tuesday... and nearly every Target had line ups of hundreds of people wanting to purchase the goods, and the overabundance of Missoni-minded visitors to crashed the website that day- repeatedly. And nearly all of the products were sold out. And I kind of wanted to see if there was anything good left! I'm oddly curious that way.

And I was disappointed. They had compiled all the Missoni product in the store into a single stack out at the entrance, and all that remained was a couple of picture frames, a vase, and some clothing. And, I personally came out empty handed. Jackie and Hazel, on the other hand, snagged a dress each. Boo! Both look amazing in their new garb. But, no Missoni for Steve.

MISSONi: failed.

On the bright side, many people have experienced their grief to the whole Missoni fiasco online, and one girl posted a crochet solution: a pattern to imitate this blanket:

Fortunately, I have someone in my life who does a bit of crocheting, and apparently, if I ask really nice (and buy all the different balls of fabric), I just might get my hands on a personalized variation of this chevron-inspired bliss.

Friday, September 23, 2011


In the recent news of our new website and interior decorating business, I forgot to mention that I've made a Room To Grow page on Facebook! Like us, and become our new best friends! Check it out over here.

Color Of The Week: Mustard Field

This year has surely been a year of yellow exploration for me. From upcycling a drawer into a garden bed and painting it gloss yellow, to painting our closet a shade of grellow, to even purchasing a muted yellow v-neck shirt the other day... Times are changing. I can't help but wonder if there is deeper significance through it all. For my entire life, I have literally despised every shade of the color, and now- I can't believe I'm saying this- I can't get enough of it!
Mustard Field 377
Enter this week's color: you can call it honey mustard, dijon, or even just plain old mustard- no matter how you size it up, this yellow is versatile, warm, and pretty user-friendly.

When choosing mustard yellow, don't stray towards it's muted counterparts, but be bold and embrace it fully. Consider this: the darker the shade of mustard yellow, the more likely it will be viewed as a neutral element, rather than a blaring accent color. Let mustard yellow flavor up your life this fall.

Kitchen of the 2011 Princess Margaret Hospital showhome,
as featured in October's issue of Canadian House & Home.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Meet Gilbert

This is Gilbert. 

This is the 2nd of 3 drawers that I stole awhile back to turn into some planters (check it out here).  I went on a bit of a scavanger hunt for the legs for this one. I wanted something with a bit of flare, and with some great curves that could be accented by a glossy vibrant color. I couldn't find any that I liked at the thrift stores, and as fate would have it- there were a set of 4 on the clearance rack at work (if for nothing else, the advantage of working at a Home Depot is all in the first dibs of Oops Paint and the clearance products). I painted them in Eccentric Lime (glossed them like crazy with water based Varathane) and painted the drawer itself in Stormy Monday (same color as our bathroom- both Benjamin Moore colors).

Gilbert, in his unfinished state.

Side view (aren't those bright green legs sexy?!)

And for the added twist: the moustache! Because moustaches are awesome. By a twist of fluke, I ended up painting the existing handle the same color as the drawer to disguise it a bit, and after the moustache came into play, the handle totally looks like a nose! It was such a welcomed coincidence. I figured that he should be named Gilbert, as it's an old fashioned-sounding name, and I could quite picture a person named Gilbert to flaunt a waxed moustache.

I can't help but feel that Gilbert looks a little unfished to me. Like he needs some more ornate details or a bowler hat, or something. I'll keep that one on the back burner.

In the meantime, I put getting him finished ahead of a few other projects because I wanted to get my bulbs in, and the weather is really starting to shift with a cool chill.

Bright and early this morning, we filled him with dirt, and Hazel helped me pristinely line up a series of bulbs .I'm pretty sure she was able to line the bulbs up more evenly than I did. And the whole time we were out there, she kept looking at me with huge eyes, saying, "wow!" to the entire process. I can't wait until Spring rolls around so she can she the fruits of her labor. I think we managed to squeeze 24 bulbs in there (under most circumstances, I know that bulbs are supposed to be spaced out at least 4" apart, but I love the look of flowers all crammed in tight spaces). Which leaves me approx 15 or so more! So, we've gotta find some spare room somewhere.

While I was at the thrift store looking for furniture legs,
Hazel happened upon the toy in her hand. It was pretty grimy,
and I think that ball on the end used to be clear, but for $1, I couldn't
deny my child of happiness. And she drags that thing with her everywhere!

I still have the third drawer to transform into something awesome, but I think turning it into a planter is out of the question, as it's only about 3 1/2" deep- and the bulbs would have no room for the roots. So, back to the drawing board with this one. If you have any ideas, feel free to throw them my way.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Signs Of Fall

I typically don't get to accessorizing our home with Fall Decor until sometime around Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, that is). And at that point, it seems so late in the game to really appreciate it, due to the rapid celebration of Christmas right around the corner. This week, the weather changed. It's that change in the air that happens late one night, and after keeping your bedroom open for the past 3 months of Summer, and you realize that it's time to close it up, because it's just getting too chilly in there. That's the very moment that I realized it's time to bust out some Fall decor.

 In the daily craziness of trying to start up a business, and make some Christmas gifts- all on top of the daily motions of life- we hope to get around to doing some DIY Fall projects. And of course, you will be kept posted on those. 

In the meantime, there has been a subtle explosion of orange in our living room. Firstly, do keep in mind that the big pink wall is still in existence. And, yes, we have committed the cardinal sin of introducing orange and pink in the same living space. Part of me cringes every time I think about it. But hey, it's fall- our favorite time of the year!- so why not?

While attempting to get out the Fall decor, we also put the Air Conditioner away- a ritual in itself- and realized that it opened up our living space a bit more... And Jackie was inspired to re-arrange the living room. And once again, surprised me with the flow and how much bigger the room feels!

Here's a small sample of how Fall has broken into our world:

Here's a vignette we put together on the dresser in its new location. Pretty.

A Fall without Japanese Laterns isn't really a Fall at all!

Jackie took this pic/ arranged it with the Fall leaves- shortly after we were engaged.
Even though it has Fall elements, we tend to display this one year round.
And to the right of this picture is a Fall-themed gift card from Starbucks.
No, there isn't any money on it... and yes, we do occasionally borrow them
from Starbucks...

Gerber Daisies on our dining table... not really in celebration
of Fall per se... but they're vibrant and orange!

This is Pierre the Owl. I literally just named him. He lives in our kitchen all
year round. I think he's a cream container... even though neither of us take
cream in our coffee, somehow we just could never part with him.

And finally, the unforgivable sin of the orange next to the pink. It doesn't look as
bad in pictures, but it still doesn't sit right with me. What do you think?-
Are pinkand orange a valid color combo?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DIY Crate Storage

Here's an idea to steal:
Nab some old wooden crates, paint them in bright colors, and wall mount them! Done!

I could see this look working especially well in kids bedrooms, or even at an entryway.

For a fun twist, designate a different crate to each member of the family, paint them all to each person's choosing, and use that crate to house objects such as shoes, gloves, scarves, and other miscallaneous items. It's a fun way to keep everyone organized.

Now that I've got the idea in place, I just need to find some crates... any suggestions?

Monday, September 19, 2011


Today's post really isn't about interior decorating (at least, not in an obvious way). Rather, it's a story that took place while I was working at a home decor store several years ago. I still love to share this story, in all its awkward glory.

A few years ago, I had a a part time job, while I was going to school, at Pier 1 Imports. It was probably the most ideal job for me at the time- it was walking distance from my home, and I pretty much spent all my free time shopping there, so I might as well make some cash while I browsed the selection, right? The annoying: they made me dress super nice for work and take out my piercings. But I guess that comes with the territory. And ultimately, it was worth the 20% discount (which, I managed to combine with other offers, and occasionally walked away with candles and other merchandise for next to free!).

Twice a year, on an early Sunday morning, we had a staff meeting. And they even served us breakfast! We'd all gather around one of the big wooden display tables, seated on rattan wing back chairs, and would have eat our meal on paper plates, served on top of the beautiful chargers. It was a breakfast de-LUXE! (ha!- couldn't resist)

During the meetings, we'd discuss new product, upcoming sales, and that sort of thing. And the meeting would end with some positive thing that Pier 1 was doing in the community. And this particular month's theme was Susan G. Komen for the cure.

Before I go any further, I have to qualify this story with 2 statements:

Firstly, I was the only guy that worked there (I'm pretty sure in the entire history of the store. Since then, only 1 more male has ever been hired). I know that part of the reason of why I was hired was because of my extensive product knowledge (particularly the candle department), but there was an underlying tone of sexism attached to me working there- they wanted to hire a guy that they could use to climb ladders, to lift heavy product, and to do the grunt work. Bah! I mean, some of the women that worked with me were beef-ier and much stronger, but Pier 1 is a woman's world.

Secondly, if you're unaware of Susan G. Komen for the cure- it's a campaign hosted by Pier 1, once or twice a year, in which they sell a special candle, and all (or most) of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. It's an awesome cause, but again, this is a woman's world. I'm not meaning to diss on breast cancer. I know there are many tragic losses out there, and many brave survivors of it. Just wanted to share an awkward story from a guy's perspective.

Back to the story: we're all listening to this year's breast cancer awareness message, and are ogling the new candle for this year. And then the store manger busts out this weird team building exercise:

She says "Breast cancer is a very real disease out there. And many women are ignorant of how to give themselves a self examination. We're now going to walk through a simple demonstration of how to self examine for the cancer. I want you all to follow my lead and walk through this with me."

Oh my God...

All eyes turned to look at me. Some started to self examine. One lady spoke up: "I think I feel a bit uncomfortable to self examine in front of a man". Another said: "I think that men should know about breast cancer, and I think he should stay". And they began bickering and yelling at each other over whether or not a man should be involved in breast cancer. Two ladies stood up and were talking down at each other from across the table, pointing fingers and shouting.

And I politely asked to be removed from the activity.

"Uhhhh... this curriculum wasn't written with males in mind...." the store manager stammered.

But, because it was in the curriculum from head office, I had to stay.

Worst. I simply adverted my eyes and focused on some candles. Probably the most awkward 5 minutes of my life.

Awesome cause. Not so awesome scenario.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

15 Minute Face Lift

I remember when we were first married, we'd watch "What Not to Wear" and the Makeup Artist, Carmindy, had this technique that she would teach battered-looking women, called the 5 minute face (essentially, how to apply the bare minimum of makeup and still look good), and at the time, Jackie was working as a makeup artist, and she'd freak out, because Carmindy was a little too "hands on" and would run her fingers all over the contestants' faces, and wasn't very sterile in her approach, especially when she'd apply makeup on her hand first like a palette, and then apply it all over their faces, and Jackie would point out all the grease and oil and dead skin that was lurking on that hand, and I thought it was hilarious, and I also appreciated her professionalism about the whole process.

Anyways, this is a story about a face lift. It took a little longer than 5 minutes, but was definitely a long time coming:

I bought this drawer to accompany my JERKER desk from IKEA (...does that word make anyone else feel a bit awkward?) years ago- 9 years ago, to be exact- right when my IKEA obsession began. And it's definitely served its purpose over the years, housing everything from College Term Papers to wallpaper samples, to various sketches done by yours truly. It currently has found a home in our closet on top of my dresser. I mainly use it for wallpaper samples, scrapbook pages, and other papers that are a bit over-sized.

But our newly renovated closet has a very specific color scheme about it, and silver foil finished objects just don't seem to go!

And, I came across a sample of wallpaper at work the other day...

It's a beautiful bold floral print that reminds me of my white cosmos that bloomed like crazy this summer...

...and I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, some magic could happen if we cover the drawers of that drab old set of drawers...

And right I was! Although the pattern is bold, it flows seamlessly with the rest of the closet. It gives a well-needed punch without being too over-the-top. I'm thrilled with how it turned out, and it was sooo easy to do. I simply removed the drawer fronts, cut the paper to size, and Mod Podge-d like crazy!- although, I technically would've been done in half the time, had I not originally put the paper on upside down... which is pretty typical of me when I get all hands-on...- And voila!- an item that I potentially would've thrifted has become new again! I'm beginning to see the world with new eyes- or at least items in my home. We have boxes of items that we're considering donating or selling through a garage sale, and I'm starting to look at our old junk and asking myself: "what can this old piece of garbage become?". And the results are starting to excite me. There's a whole world of beautiful treasures waiting to be restored with new life. I think that if we all opened our eyes a bit, we'd see that our junk could potentially become our greatest treasures.