Monday, September 26, 2016

The $75 bathroom makeover inspired by Chris Loves Julia

It’s sort of strange that a tiny basement bathroom in Nova Scotia could be inspired by a grand study in an Idaho home, but that’s just the reality of #PinterestLife.

We bought our home almost five years ago and our third bathroom — all the way down in the basement — hadn’t been touched. The walls were beige-on-beige. The tile was different shades of cream and beige. There wasn’t a window. It was incredibly dull but not offensive, so I just left it until I decided what to do with it.

My inspiration came in the form of a beautiful study in the home of Chris and Julia Marcum, better known as the DIY bloggers behind It’s a dramatic dark green room at the front of their home with wall-to-wall floating bookshelves and touches of white and cream to keep it light. (It is definitely not a windowless basement bathroom.)

Since it wasn’t in the budget to swap out our existing beige tile — and that would be silly since it’s in great condition — I had to work with it. But that didn’t mean the walls had to keep the icky two-tone beige look.

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home ...


Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home ...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Can you choose your kids' friends?

Our six-year-old son got his class assignment as part of his report card, in the form of a nice welcoming letter from his Grade 1 teacher. There was a flurry of Facebook-ing amongst the parents-of-Primaries I have as Facebook friends, and it looked like much of their sweet little Primary class was going to be split into different Grade 1 classes.

I wasn’t worried or even that disappointed when I saw that he wasn’t going to have many familiar faces in his new class. He’s a friendly kid and not usually shy. He went into Primary not knowing a single soul in the school and it wasn’t a problem, right?

But I must admit, when he came home on the first day and announced which kids were *not* in his new Grade 1 class … I was relieved. All throughout Primary, my son seemed drawn to the kids that acted up. He’d come home from school with stories of how they were “rude” or “didn’t show respect” or “made loud noises when the teacher was talking.”

He loved these kids — LOVED THEM. He thought they were hilarious and I became extremely paranoid that he was going to start copying them, dooming his entire educational journey from the start.

I asked his lovely Primary teacher about this (um, repeatedly) at parent/teacher conferences, and she assured me he wasn’t picking up on their behaviour. Still, though, I worried. When he’d tell me stories about their antics, I’d ask if they’d gotten in trouble and remind him that what they did was NOT COOL. He seemed to get that, and definitely didn’t want to get in trouble.

But it wasn’t just the classroom clowning-around that bothered me. These kids also weren’t particularly nice to him on the playground.

They teased him and tried to leave him out of games, or told him he had to play a bad guy while they got to be the good guys. They told him “only girls” did such-and-such, wore a certain colour, played with a certain kind of toy, etc.

Was this was typical kids-on-the-playground stuff? Was it happening to lots of other kids? More importantly, why was my kid OK with it happening to him? Was this going to set him up for a lifetime of toxic friendships, or was I mistakenly judging these rowdy books by their covers?

A year later and I still don’t know. All I know is that on the first day of Grade 1, he announced sadly that these particular kids were not in his class … and I was glad ...

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene ...

Monday, September 19, 2016

DIY plant shelves for $10

I’m not a plant person in the sense that I’m good at keeping them alive, but I do love the way they look. There’s nothing like a smattering of greenery to make a room look prettier — and cleaner, actually.

So I’ve been slowly, slowly collecting can’t-be-killed-easily plants for my kitchen. I waver between overwatering and underwatering so there have been some brown leaves — and periods of, um, plant sickness? — but things were looking up. I had two cacti, an aloe plant and I think a succulent, all hanging out on the counter around the kitchen sink.

As much as I enjoyed having them there, my OCD was fretting over the counter clutter. I tried moving them to the window ledge but it felt crowded and they obstructed the view. It was starting to feel very Jumanji-esque except without the fun parts, like whooshing down the stairs in a flood.

After some extended begging and pleading, I convinced my handy husband that adding some small shelves around the window was a good idea. No, it would not ruin the resale value. No, it would not be “weird” to have shelves jutting out of the sides of the cabinets. (He is always wary of my suggestions because he does not share my imagination.)

All it took was a single 1 x 6 knotty pine board (less than $10) to cut six lovely little shelves. Two of them ended up being slightly shorter, but I refused to let him go back to the store for more wood to try again. “They’re fine!” I assured him hastily, eager to keep moving forward. “They’ll just go at the top on either side. They’re fine!”

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home ...

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home ...

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fever, hallucinations and sleepwalking kids

This, right here, is the strangest, most annoying sort of plague.

It's not as terrible as the stomach flu, of course -- DEAR GOD, NOTHING IS THAT BAD -- but it's lasting a heck of a lot longer. And the way it comes and goes is very screwy.

It started with a headache on Thursday -- the very first day of school. A headache that came on suddenly and had me seeing shimmering things in my vision, which told me it was likely a migrane. I had to skip Zumba and went to bed ridiculously early. Darling Husband was weak and feverish and that should have been a sign of what was coming, but it wasn't.

Friday and Saturday, I felt off. I went to Zumba (kids and puppy in tow, THAT WAS FUN LET ME TELL YOU) but felt weak and couldn't really give it my all. We drove into the city for D to attend a birthday party, and I felt exhausted. The kids stayed in the city for a sleepover with my mom, and I numbly drove home.

Saturday evening and most of Sunday passed in a blurry haze of painting lots of furniture and binging Stranger Things on Netflix (which is excellent, BTW). I was tired. I was coughing. I had a fever off and on, I think. I don't know, I was mostly focused on the show. D's cough was back, according to Mom, and his appetite was gone.

I slept 10 hours each night, Saturday and Sunday, and still felt exhausted. I was crazy-sick on Monday and had full-out fever hallucinations that night. The puppy was chewing my hair and I thought she was "doing her job" of yanking out doll legs that were tangled inside of it, so it took quite a while for me to realize that, no, she shouldn't be attacking my hair actually.

I cancelled a city visit on Tuesday because I couldn't handle 3+ hours of driving. I kept D home from school because he was hacking and feverish and we had all full-out "sick day." They made jets out of cardboard and crayons. We watched both Batman and Batman Returns because I'd been thinking he might be old enough. He loved them and Charlotte even enjoyed most of them (leaving for the scary parts). No nightmares so far, thank God.

Yesterday (Wednesday) D was full of energy (still coughing, though) and I felt pretty great, other than my own lingering cough. We had a busy day with tons of "firsts" so I was relieved. First morning of volunteering at D's school breakfast program. C's first morning of preschool. C's first ballet class. Everything went fine and I got my work done, and then my body took a nosedive just before dinner.

I slumped down on the living room carpet and realized my whole body was aching, again. My head was hot and my body was freezing. I wrapped myself in a quilt and lay down on the floor for a good 30 minutes before I could drag myself upstairs. Once again, I was in bed for the night at 5:30 p.m. I was so hot that everything I touched felt like ice. Then I thought I was feeling cooler and it turned out I was more feverish than ever.

And that's when my children decided to spice things up with a little sleepwalking. I tweeted it in a feverish haze because I wasn't really sure if it was actually happening ...

Sooooooooo that brings us to today, Thursday -- one week after it all began. I feel good, other than the occassional hacking cough. Normally this would be call for celebration, but this WEIRD ASS FLU is probably going to creep up on me later today.

I don't trust it. It's possibly never going to go away. Maybe I should just get used to on-and-off fever and chills. It could be my new thing -- the sweaty, shaky look?