Sunday, July 24, 2011

Multipurpose Space

Wow what a day...
Since we decided to change the spare room into a home office, instead of a dining room, we have had to return 4 Billy Bookcases + add-ons to Ikea. We had 17 items in total to return. I was expecting it to be a nightmare, but surprisingly it wasn't. We were in and out of the exchange counter in under 15 minutes. I think it's a new record for us.

We then took our $550 store credit back into the store and bought a nice BIG desk for hubby to sprawl out on. I was a bit upset when I discovered I was about to lose all my STORAGE space to a desk, but we then went to the kitchen section and decided to install built-ins around the desk. We will have a tall cabinet at one end of the 8-foot wall, then beside it will be the desk with 2 wall-cabinets above. Fingers crossed it all fits.

Hubby has had a few difficulties with the placement of the power outlets in the room. As it turns out, they are right where we DON'T want them. So yesterday hubby went fishing around with the wires inside the wall and bashed a few more holes out. We are now going to conceal all of our power cables etc. inside one of the lower cabinets. Fingers crossed it also fits.

I was also watching Home to Keep tonight where they install an awesome home office in the kitchen for Kendall. I am loving how they use the space for both a home office AND a kitchen nook with a bench that has FILING CABINETS underneath. It gave me great inspiration for our spare room. Perhaps I don't have to completely sacrifice the idea of a dining space after all?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red Dot Campaign

I realize our mail pile is relatively small considering we recently moved house and no one has our current mailing address, but I have decided to jump on the Red Dot Campaign band wagon and prevent any unnecessary junk mail from reaching our hands. I am amazed at how much recycling we do each week, and how much of it is paper that we don't need/read first. Envelopes cause me the most grief. And why do banks insist on sending statements when we already check them online?

Anywho, here's the spunky little sign that will soon adorn our mailbox.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Green Condo?

I have been doing a LOT of research in the last few months to figure out how to make our new condo more "green". I have read several sources stating that residing in smaller quarters makes for greener living, so we inadvertently ticked that box when our budget determined what size apartment we could afford.

And being poor has accounted for another 'green' habit in our cosy condo; we don't have a TV. We noticed that when we lived at our parents' places, we had a habit of sitting with our laptops in front of the TV. Talk about a drain on electricity. So now, we watch selected TV shows on our laptops and it means we have to focus our entire attention on it. As a result, we don't watch much TV, but when we do, it's more intimate.

But other than that, I fear it's all uphill in terms of being green; our eco-friendly choices are mostly going to take up time or money.

Here's why:
  • We are going to air-dry laundry. We live in a 660-sq foot condo where clothing can only be air dried outside for 1 month of the year, so we are going to have to be clever in the way we set up our clothes lines (including a way to air dry our queen-size bed sheets!) Right now, we have big gawky A-frame lines that stand in the middle of the room. One accidental bump, and the weight of the heavy laundry brings the whole frame (clothing and all) to the floor.
  • We're being selective with furniture. I drive Jason crazy scouring kijiji for 'bargain furniture' which then needs some TLC and about $50 worth of hardware supplies to refurbish. But our efforts are justified; the greenest piece of furniture is one that already exists. It make take us time to restore it, but it's one less tree that has to be cut down.
  • We're supporting eco-friendly companies. There are very few places that are cheap AND ecofriendly but we've decided that for the most part, the benefits outweigh the guilt. Our IKEA purchases are reportedly 90% green (but its going to take a lot of time to put the pieces together), when we paint in the next few weeks, we're going to be using Benjamin Moore's Nature Zero-VOC range (not the cheapest option, but the healthiest) and when our fridge dies (any day now...), we're upgrading to a energy efficient one. The current one came with the apartment 10 years ago and doesn't even have an energy rating. It's now making a terrible clicking sound and we've decided that the little man who lives inside the fridge and turns the light on and off MUST be a gecko.
  • We're multitasking in the kitchen. Turning on the oven uses a crazy amount of energy, so if we are going to use it, it has to cook at least two things (a roast followed by apple pie for desert etc.) And we're using our dishwasher, which is apparently more water and energy efficient than hand washing if it is full and the auto-dry is turned off. Yes, I may have to dry the dishes myself after the cycle is done, but it beats that guilty feeling.
So they're my ideas for now, but I would greatly appreciate more tips or advice on how to be green around the home. My mother is the guru of all things eco-friendly, but most of her earth friendly practices take place in the garden; a luxury we don't have yet. We can't store rain water, we can't have a compost bin and we can't grow our own vegetables.


Floor Plans

We've finally started renovations. And by renovations, I mean sanding and painting everything. We were trying to decide which should come first - painting the walls, or sanding and painting the furniture.

Seeing as space is VERY limited (hence the name of the blog), we have had to change the entire spare room into a 'workshop' and hope that the neighbours below are out when we use the sander, which is hooked to our very noisy vacuum. We took all of the furniture and junk out of the room (guess what's in our living room now? *sigh*) and now it looks like we are sanding everything first.

Oh and we put our shower curtain (due for replacement) over the door, because we removed the door to the spare room the day we moved into the place. When it was going to be a dining room, we wanted the space to flow from the kitchen to the dining table, so the door is now in storage. We've since seen some awesome apartments in this building who have removed the wall completely between the living and spare room to open up the space.

On that note, I think I need to share with you the layout of our 660sq. foot apartment. This isn't exactly true to form, because I recently noticed that the front door is inset a bit, so the hallway is a tad shorter.... buuuttt... you get the idea.

And the furniture in this model is now different too. The BBQ is still on our wish list and we bought a patio dining set (2 tables and a chair from Ikea) instead of the bench.
And the white built-in cabinets along the wall of the dining room is now turning into a desk and will come out a tad further. Not sure what to do with our dining table as the room will no longer be fit for a dinner party. On the up side, we could put in a daybed under the window to optimize the space as a guest room.

Decisions, decisions...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Our Destination Wedding

I thought I'd share some photos from our wedding on Hamilton Island, in Queensland, Australia. We had 42 guests join us for our special day. The Australian guests travelled from Sydney, Brisbane, Barcaldine & Mackay, which is quite a feat in itself. However, 13 of us travelled all the way from Canada (Alberta, Quebec & New Brunswick to be more specific) and we had to negotiate everyone's itinerary; a logistical nightmare!

The ceremony was at 4pm at All Saints Chapel, followed by a reception at the Hamilton Island Yacht Club. It stopped raining an hour before the ceremony and turned out to be a beautiful day.

Hamilton Island Weddings were able to do ANYTHING we wanted, however it all came with a hefty price tag. We could have hired I Do Events Whitsundays to do simple table decorations at the reception for $1274, however we managed to do it ourselves for $410.

I set up everything at home and took photos of what the tables would look like then packed everything into 2 big boxes which we took to the island with us on the boat. I then had an army of angels swoop into the reception venue the morning of the wedding and had everything set up in under an hour.

Here's what we did ourselves:

  • We found chair sashes and table runners online at Tablecloths Factory. Even with the international shipping, it worked out cheaper than having I Do Events put down a table runner and wrap each chair.
  • We improvised our own centerpieces, combining IKEA glass plates and candles with starfish and seashells found on eBay.
  • All of our invitations, ceremony booklets, table numbers and thank you cards were DIY, purchased from
  • We managed to save on flowers by bringing our own to the island... but they were FAKE. Jodie from Flowers by the Vase did an AMAZING job and so many guests commented on how fresh they looked. It wasn't until someone tried to smell my roses that I revealed they were fake. They are now sitting in a nice vase on our dining room table and I get to keep them forever :)
  • I made our "Just Married" banner, after being inspired by this Martha Stewart Wedding and we attached it to the back of our golf buggy after the wedding.
  • The dress was handmade by a dressmaker who my family has used for quite some time. She made my dress, my bridesmaids dresses, my mothers outfit, my grandmothers jacket and the groomsmen's vests and ties (She also did the same for my sister-in-laws wedding). It was a bit tricky sending her my measurements from Canada and I only saw the dress two weeks before the wedding, but it was exactly what I had pictured.
  • Our biggest splurge was the wedding cake, which we all agreed could NOT be brought over on our yacht from mainland. It was a wise decision because we hit 3m swells getting to the island and were holding on for dear life. A cake would not have survived.
  • Our next biggest splurge was the bonbonniere for each guest. We fell in love with these tiny suitcases then set up a candy bar for guests to help themselves.
  • We also brought our own priest! For some reason, having Hamilton Island weddings bring a catholic priest to the island was double the price of all other religious denominations, so my mum paid for flights and accommodation for her parish priest to come and it cost us a lot less.
So there you have it! A lot of stress in the lead up to it, but it's all over now and it was a lovely day. I was SO honoured to have friends travel so far for such a short weekend and seeing them made it all worth it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Brand New Start

Hi there! I've been meaning to start a blog for a while now and, given our new start on life, I think it's a perfect time. The last few months have been crazy and I feel like we've been in a whirlwind of deadlines, panic and last-minute organization. Let me clear things up a little. In the last 10 weeks, we:
  • Bought our first apartment
  • Moved into said apartment
  • Sold all of our old furniture
  • Bought new furniture
  • Took 6 weeks vacation and went to Australia (via Montreal)
  • Got married on a tiny little island in the Great Barrier Reef surrounded by 40 of our closest family and friends in a mostly-DIY wedding.
Talk about stress. And now we are back in Canmore, nestled in Canada's Rocky Mountains, starting our not-so-crazy life together and waiting for my Canadian residency to kick in. In the mean time, our new apartment needs some renovating. Badly. There is a wall I want to demolish, but I've been told it's low on our priority list. And it's true - getting rid of the bright blue and yellow walls comes first. And the entire apartment smells of dog.

To make things a tad urgent, my husband just got a new job that allows him to work from home, so our plans to turn our spare room into a dining room have been neglected in favour of a shiny, new home office. We have exactly one month to have everything ready for him to work from home.

I guess we're not out of the 'crazy' zone just yet...