Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking Back

Reflection time!

This week Rob and I were discussing different year-end rituals and how sometimes it feels forced to review the year behind or predict the year ahead. I agree that it can but I also think that no matter what puts me in a reflective mood, I'm going to use that ju-ju and REFLECT. So, here's my reflection on 2012.

Speaking of reflection...

Big things:
  • We went to the USA - a LOT!
    • Trip to NYC - it's so close! We need to go again, soon.
    • Trip to Orlando - I still can't believe I booked a flight on Monday and left on Wednesday. Turns out spontaneity isn't a synonym for impending doom. 
    • Trip to Chicago - why haven't you been to this city? It was perfection. I would live here
    • Trip to Buffalo - always a classic
  • We did a bit of work on the house and now I am overcome with the DIY itch and it can only be scratched by a new rotary sander that I'm going to buy today...
  • My brother got engaged! He will be married in May 2013 and I can't wait for all the good family time that we'll get!
Huge things:
This happened. A small gesture that will forever change my life and yet, hasn't changed a thing. I mean that in the best possible way. My mother reminds me on a weekly basis that I should never expect anyone or anything to change without major cause and specifically not to expect marriage to change anything. Well, we have successfully managed to live the same life pre and post engagement and damn, it's a good life. I look forward to being married and having an unchanged life.

This year, more than ever I felt confident and strong. When confronted with a bad situation or dealing with bad news, the constant thought that 'I can get through this' and 'there is literally no part of this situation that is going to kill me so I can soldier on' was stronger than even this year and I came through on the other side more easily than I've ever anticipated. I think this is in large part due to Rob's undying support and patience. He listens to my ideas and never makes me think they are stupid or unworthy of our time. Damn, it's a good life.

To review my resolutions for this past year

  • Reduce household garbage - ongoing, this upcoming year's focus will be to not only use the recycle and green bins but to just plain produce less waste. 
  • Be more kind in all cases - I think about this a lot - I'm not sure how succesful I was but I feel better about my relationships than ever before so we'll consider this a temporary success and vow to keep working on it.
  • Reply to emails - I started striving for Inbox: 0 and it was a big help - if an email requires no action, archive it, otherwise it sits staring at you! Success :0
  • Wear more dresses and skirts - moderate success - finding fun tights was helpful.
  • Be thankful - based on how I feel this week and the messages I've sent I can honestly say I have been more outwardly thankful and it feels GREAT. It's one thing to feel it inside but it just amplifies the feeling to share it with others, especially those that you are thankful for. 

Do you reflect at the end of the year? Do you do this alone or with your family? Do you think all this New Year stuff is a bunch of BS and it's just another day passing?

Next up: Looking Forward & 2013 resolutions

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday Favourites ver. 25

It's still Friday... in my mind...

You guys, it's totally Christmas. Well, it will be in like 4 days. How did that happen?? Are you ready?? I have 2 batches of cookies, 2 desserts, 1 dinner to attend, 1 dinner to make, 2 families to visit, and 1 dog to drop off at the kennel and THEN it will be Christmas.

This week? This week was alright.

1. On Sunday, as Rob and I were installing a light fixture, standing on our kitchen chairs in our pajamas, we realized that it was our third dating anniversary and that maybe we should do something more romantic than curse at each other in the dark (though maybe that's your thing...). We went for a nice dinner to celebrate our LAST EVER dating anniversary. Are we still dating once we're married? The terminology confuses me.

 A little make-up and BAM I'm a real person

2. Per tradition, and for the third time, we went to see the Stuart MacLean Vinyl Cafe Christmas Concert at Centre in the Square. If you've never heard of it, it's a bit of a variety show with stories and music and the most moving Christmas medley ever. I was nearly brought to tears it was so beautiful. The musical guests were the Vinylettes - 3 beautiful women with equally beautiful voices - and Reid Jamieson. The acoustics in CITS are like none other and you really feel the music all over, it's wonderful, take your family.

*Reid's newest album is 'Songs for a Winter's Night' and it's full of delightful Christmas-y tunes. Listen to (and purchase!) the whole thing here.

3. I got a new camera last week to... compliment my iPhone. It's called a 'compact systems camera', kind of like an SLR little brother, very easy to hold with one hand (it's this one if you're curious). I'm hoping to learn a lot over the holidays and then register for a beginner class in the new year. In the meantime I've been reading these articles which have proven quite helpful so far. Here are a few of my first shots...

I'm not sure why but I really love this picture. This is what I spent 90% of my free time doing (baking) and to be able to capture nice pictures of the process is going to be a fun, and rewarding experience

Requisite dog picture, duh. 

Links this week:
Have a wonderful holiday next week, I mean it, DO IT. Hug your family, cherish the time you have with them, turn the TV off, listen to each other, and eat some junk food. You deserve it. xo

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Personalities: Myers-Briggs

Lately Rob and I have taken a very keen interest in personalities, different personalities, our personalities, how our personalities are different/same, etc etc etc.

Two metrics that we've been looking at are the Myers Briggs personality test (yes, the same one you took in high school) and more focused, the 5 Love Languages. I'll get to the Love Languages later.

Looking at both of these metrics has given us a lot of insight into how we each behave and has helped us to better understand each other. Maybe it's our crazy analytic brains working too hard but regardless, learning more about the person you're going to spend your life with is always a priority to me.

Background: Myers-Briggs personality type indicator "is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions." You take the test and you get a four letter code that represents your personality. 

Your first letter is your attitude: E for extrovert or I for Introvert
Your second letter is how you perceive: S for sensing or N for intuitive
Your third letter is how you judge: T for thinking or F for feeling
Your fourth letter is your lifestyle: J for judging or P for perceiving 

We used this test this time around. 

When I was in grade 11 we had a whole day devoted to taking the Myers-Briggs test and then working out what our personality type meant. I remember that at 16 years old I was an ENTP which can be described as the 'inventor' and fits into the 'Rationals' group. When I re-took the test this week (with Rob over my shoulder calling my bluff) I came out as an ENFJ with the N being very marginal (meaning I could sway to an S easily). That's two whole letter changes in ten years - very interesting!

My ENFJ personality can be described as the 'teacher' and falls into the 'Idealist' group. Should my N change to an S I would be an ESFJ or the 'provider' from the 'Guardian' group. Both are described as very caring and nurturing with a strong focus on people. A big change from my ENTP teenage years but I can still see how I'd fit into the 'inventor' personality with such descriptor phrases as "Inventors are always on the lookout for a better way, always eyeing new projects, new enterprises, new processes." and "Inventors often have a lively circle of friends and are interested in their ideas and activities."

Rob came out as an INTP (very close to my high school result!) which is the 'architect' from the 'Rationals' group. It's a pretty accurate (creepily accurate) description of him with such notes as "It is difficult for an Architect to listen to nonsense, even in a casual conversation" and " interested only in what make sense, and thus only statements that are consistent and coherent carry any weight with them."

Interestingly, our two personality types couldn't be more different - mine focused much more on emotions and people and his focused more on facts and experiences - they still compliment each other quite nicely. Rob's secondary code - INTJ - still falls in the 'Rationals' group which suggests that his N and T attributes are fairly strong while my N was my weakest letter and that I could sway between an N and an S.  

Anyway - all of this is to say that Rob and I learned a lot by going through the exercise together and reaffirmed many things that we thought about each other. It was a fun little experience and has given us countless hours of discussion - in fact we spent our 3 year dating anniversary discussing how our personalities work with each other!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Livingroom Update: Coffee Table

Remember my livingroom? You can see all the before pictures here and some of the after pictures here.

One of my favourite pieces that we added to the room is the coffee table. This is what we were replacing:

It's from Ikea, too dark, falling apart, glass top drives my bonkers with fingerprints etc. Basically the worst.

And now for the replacement...

TA DA! Our new table!

I would like to sleep on it.

The story of this table...

My wonderful uncle hooked me up with the table top. The piece of wood is hemlock (not the poisonous kind), reclaimed from the roof of an air plane hangar that was torn down. Specifically, an air plane hanger that was built as part of a WWII training facility, near Brantford, Ontario. I believe it's this one - No. 5 Service Flying Training School. More history here. My uncle stained the wood for me and I finished it using this product. I did 5 coats - our coffee table gets a lot of traffic so the extra two coats were an easy decision for extra protection (and recommended by the aforementioned uncle).

That's the inside of the building - my table came from the white planking you can see on the ceiling.

Table top post-stain, pre-treatment

Attaching legs with help from Rob. 

See how shiny it is post-treatment? The extra coatings really made the colours and textures pop. 

The table legs are hairpin legs, which I procured from this company. I conducted all business via email and the guys at were extremely easy to deal with and I had my order very quickly. Doesn't it make your life easy when people are friendly and professional? Ya, I thought so. I ordered raw steel legs because the table would be inside and not subject to the elements. I coated them with this product. While the stainless steel legs would be more durable they are twice the price and I didn't feel that they were worth it for my project.

The assembly was pretty simple, I used #10 panhead screws, as recommended by the hairpin legs guy

Yes, that's a bowl full of remote controls. This is real life, people. I ain't got time to cut fresh flowers or clean up the broken vase and spilled water when the dog knocks it over. 

I love that our coffee table is one of a kind, solid wood, and (partially) made by me! If you're looking for something similar check your area for stores like Timeless Materials that sell reclaimed products that can easily be turned into benches, end tables, or coffee tables.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Great Livingroom Make-over - Part 2

Much has happened since I posted part 1!



To recap - this is what I wanted to accomplish in my livingroom:
  • New floors - carpet and vinyl has to go. It's in good shape but it's a dated finish
  • New window treatment - those weird beige curtains are actually sheets with weird sheer curtains with dragonflies on them. No thanks. (Came with the house)
  • Paint - I think I've finally decided on a colour... maybe
  • New art work - I love the car pictures (taken by friends!) but I want a change
  • New coffee table - it's just all too much black. 
  • Bar cart for dining area - going DIY all over this
  • Buffet table for behind couch - provides more storage and I actually have one, just needs a face lift
  • New light fixture above dining table - that old one... will haunt me
  • New couch - this one is the least likely to happen any time soon as it'll be the most expensive addition but we'll see...
  • Bookcase - paint it or get a new one, it's falling apart
  • Dining set - the folding chairs and my old university desk have got to go
Some photos of our progress:

Floors!! I didn't realize how disgusting carpet can be until I had to rip it up. You think you've done a good job vacuming but all those nooks and crannies just trap the dirt and dog hair. I'm so happy it's gone now. VOILA, our new floors!

We went with laminate 'wood' and 'tiles' instead of hardwood and ceramic. Largely for cost-savings but also for the durability. Dog nails tend to scratch hardwood pretty easily, laminate is more resilient. We also decided that our current home didn't deserve high end finishes as we are unlikely to recover the costs upon selling. Rob and coworker PK did the floors and what a wonderful job they did!

Window treatments! I got rid of those weird beige curtains! You can see in the above photo that we installed blinds. We ordered them from Home Depot and Rob installed them. Due to a slight measuring error he had to trim 1/4" off the edge of one set. Whoopsies... but much cheaper than ordering a new set.

Paint!! That you can hardly notice!! It's a very pale grey that has done wonders for the room, much less stark. I suppose I should also mention the purple closet doors. They add a great pop to the room with little commitment. I originally wanted to paint them chartreuse but Rob vetoed in favour of this purple.  I also added a small shelf (which I made) below the mirror in the front entrance. 

Table!! Well, sort of... we replaced the desk and folding chairs with a standard Ikea table that I bought off a friend. It's a cheap, temporary solution. I re-recovered the chairs from beige to a blue checker-board. While the table will be replaced someday I love that the leaf for this table is stored within the table and the two ends come apart to fold in the extension. Good move, Ikea. 

Bookcase... another 'sort of'. It's still the same old, falling apart bookcase but I've given it some life with some pictures and a crazy spider plant. I moved it from the livingroom area to an in-between spot to help define the two spaces of living-dining. It's less in the way over here. 

Bar-cart... another 'sort of'. I have the bar-cart but I want to paint it. Work in progress. 

In the first picture you can kind of see the corner of the new coffee table. I finished the table this weekend and I'm so happy with the results. I have a whole post coming  on how I built this puppy. 

To re-cap:
  • New floors - carpet and vinyl has to go. It's in good shape but it's a dated finish - FINITO!
  • New window treatment - those weird beige curtains are actually sheets with weird sheer curtains with dragonflies on them. No thanks. (Came with the house) - FINITO!
  • Paint - I think I've finally decided on a colour... maybe - FINITO!
  • New art work - I love the car pictures (taken by friends!) but I want a change - working on it...
  • New coffee table - it's just all too much black. - FINITO! Stay tuned for details...
  • Bar cart for dining area - going DIY all over this - working on it...
  • Buffet table for behind couch - provides more storage and I actually have one, just needs a face lift - it's in the room now, but still needs to be re-finished
  • New light fixture above dining table - that old one... will haunt me - Another item that we have purchased but haven't installed. 
  • New couch - this one is the least likely to happen any time soon as it'll be the most expensive addition but we'll see... - zero progress made on this item :(
  • Bookcase - paint it or get a new one, it's falling apart - working on a plan for this
  • Dining set - the folding chairs and my old university desk have got to go - mid-term solution achieved
We've made a lot of progress and crossed off some large items. The painting was a big job but I got it done in one day and I'm happy with the results. The couch and dining set are going to be on hold as they are the largest financial commitments and the least urgent. I think the next projects will be gussying up that bar-cart and buffet table. Also, I need to work on the art situation and get to filling those bare walls. 

Friday, December 07, 2012

Friday Favourites ver. 24

In which I post fun and favourite things from my week, semi-regularly... every-other... randomly... on Friday!  

1. HELLO CHRISTMAS!! Let's get real for a second. Christmas is 18 days away. Less than three weeks. 2 weeks of work, 1 holiday party, 1 Frisbee game, 2 cupcake orders. Christmas. It's coming. Whether you like it or not.

We aren't doing much decorating in these parts - largely because we don't have a lot of decorations and those things cost money. We put lights up on the house and instead of a tree I purchased a wreath made of real balsam fir branches. I hope heaven smells like balsam fir.

I mash my face into this thing every morning. DEE VINE. 

Our first year attempting lights... not bad! I was the ladder holder

2. I love that December brings a huge influx of gift guides. It's the thing to do. My friend Amber Marlow is writing a bazillion of them and all so far have been delightful. If only Rob read all the blogs that I read...

3. Coworker PK's adorable and amazing puppy has moved on to her advanced training. I went with PK last week to drop her off and it was a crazy combination of heart-warming and heart-wrenching. She was so happy to be there!! PK was trying to have a nice goodbye moment with her but she was too concerned with collecting every toy in the room. I will miss her so much but I know she's on to do bigger, better things with her life!

I think they will miss each other the most

4. Wait a minute. Did I tell you the deck is done? What the hell, E. Well... it's done!! Just in time for the snow to cover it for the next 6 months! Once the warm weather hits there will be no delay, we can plunk our fannies down and enjoy that SOB like it was meant to be! You're invited. Bring chips.

Before! What a mess! I miss the sun...

After! Stupid grey sky...

5. Links this week:

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Stuff I Love: link party

I am a slave to my reader. Getting the 'All Items' tab to equal zero is a bigger accomplishment than getting Inbox = 0 (I file like a MOFO).

My life... 5 days a week

Some new things I'm reading lately:

1. Bev Cooks - holy shit she's funny. Ridiculous, and funny. She also makes wonderful food. I'm looking forward to trying this sausage ragu ASAP.

2. Young House Love - thanks to Kaylee for the intro - their home projects are so beautiful and they make them all seem so very DOABLE - which is important.

3. I'm Charming You - wonderful, Toronto based, blogger/socializer. Good fashion tips, product reviews, and general hilarity.

4. The Pintester - a ridiculous account of her attempts at ridiculous pins... somewhat NSFW (language).

5. Sweetapolita - beautiful, baking creations... I want to make every.single.thing she posts.

Some old favourites:

1. How Sweet It Is - "for people who, like, totally love food". Top 3 favourite food blogs. She's funny, clever, and takes great pictures. She also makes TDF food.

2. A Practical Wedding - not just for wedding advice but for general relationship insight. So many of their articles make me feel more normal and having me saying 'me too!!' and 'right??' out loud... to myself.

3. Nothing But Bonfires - Holly is hilarious and has great taste. I want to be her friend and steal borrow all her DIY ideas.

4. Smitten Kitchen - because, duh.

5. The Oatmeal - another one that has the whole population of the internet saying 'right??' out loud... to themselves... and then sharing on facebook.

What's in your reader these days?