Friday, October 24, 2014

A Must See Video! {A T&A APPLIANCES ad!}

If you didn't know, I am one of six children. 

That means, yes, my parents had one, two, three, four, five and six babies. They were often asked if they knew how they were getting pregnant. ;) You can now see why I thrive on chaos!

My parents got married at 21 years old, and my dad looked about 11 at the time. They were crazy in love and crazy broke and filled their home with crazy children. They quickly had two beautiful boys and then they had four a row.  

(I'm certain, those teenage years were hard for my poor father, when the big boys had moved out of the house and he was left with a home full of women and every drain in the house clogged with mounds of long hair!)

My second oldest brother was always the joker of the family, was always around and helpful and obviously made everyone smile and laugh till our sides hurt. When he married a sweet girl and moved out of our crazy busy house, we were all happy to know that he found a woman who could keep up with his fun side and we were also so sad to see him go.  

Even though his departure DID mean that I finally got my own room and got my first lesson on removing boyish wallpaper. 

My funny, dependable, loveable brother went off with his sweet bride and they eventually added five equally sweet and comical babies to their home. Somehow, even with gaining all of his new found Fatherly responsibility, my brother ended up becoming more giving of his time, his effort and his pay cheque. He is the one you definitely want as a friend, the one you know you can always rely on and the one who opens his front door any time, day or night to make you feel right at home.

Nathan has dropped everything, including his pants, in the past, to help others, and to make us all keel over in gut wrenching laughter. When I found out his family needed help with something, I wanted to do whatever I could to help them for once.

 Which brings me to this post! :)

A local appliance company has been looking for a short video to share with their customers. Whoever makes a video and  has the most likes on their short jingle will receive NEW appliances.  (A working mom of FIVE should have a live in maid, in my opinion, but I know a new dishwasher would be the best blessing for them too!)  

I am certain Nathan and his family deserve a house full of gas fireplaces and Wolfe stoves and seven dishwashers and the biggest fridge around -- since they are the first to open their home to others (think Christmas dinner with the six original grown kids, plus six spouses, plus thirteen grand kids PLUS two oldies who started it all!)

No pants were dropped in this video, but apparently the complete opposite.  If you have been like me and want to offer a little bit back to people that give so much, you'll have to take a look and vote. xo

Thanks a bunch, it means so much if you took a second to bless a family that blesses so many others.  

Good luck Nathan and Cherie and famjam!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ten things you need to keep in mind when buidling a deck. {The DIY family version}

 Remember that deck we were telling you about mid summer?? 

Yeah, well we picked the worst summer ever to build anything outdoors. I think this is the first summer, that I can remember, where under the heat of the hot August sun, the luscious grass didn't shrivel, dry out, turn brown, feel crunchy and cut feet instead of us cutting IT with the lawn mower.

Nope, instead, this summer endured torrential down pours every other day. Although it made for gorgeous-soft-roll-all-over-the-yard-in-the-nude-kind-of-grass, it made for uneventful deck building.

We built the top deck and then dragged our giant barbeque back up on to it --together. We then took a few days off, knowing that our marriage probably couldn't handle one more near death experience at the hands of the other. ;)


Note to self: start going to the gym that we are paying for anyways and start chugging more protein shakes instead of ice cream cones. BBQ's are HEAVY.

So the long and short of it is, that our deck building experience has dragged on and on and our backyard has actually looked like a land fill all summer.  

The dog doesn't have very high standards, and even she looks mildly disgusted.


Since our deck building has taken all summer and isn't complete, and there are still no pretty pictures to share with you, I figured I would instead share some of the things we have learned while being a do-it-yourself family.

And these are in no particular order...

#1. Big brother wielding a big-ole' hammer, inches away from little sisters head, is never, ever a good idea.  
Where are these kids parents!?

 #2 Do not buy, transport, painstakingly dig holes for and plant 15 cedar trees and then leave on vacation.  
They are not eggs and do not look good fried.

#3 Babies don't need to necessarily wear pants (It was a hot and messy summer, people!) But they should never, under any circumstance, have access to drills of any size and shape. Getting a weapon like that away from a terrible two year old is tres difficile!

#4 Don't let your oldest son practice the balance beam on the itty bitty width of the deck boards.  

Seeee??? Seeeeee wayyy back there???

This picture could have been a lot worse if I hadn't warned him on "deck safety" and threatened that he needed to give me grand children one day.

#5 Boxer dogs are the bomb diggity and are complete camera lovers.

 #6 Action shots are the best.  
My main man sure does show off his cute bum a lot. He is gonna kill me for all these awesome action photos.

Also, that baby-man is much sweeter looking without all that power gripped between his grubby little trigger friendly paws.  
The human baby.

#7 Dogs are said to be mans best friend, but at some point, they question your sanity when you are pantless and grinning like a fool with a death grip around their necks.

#7 Sometimes in the middle of a long freaking project, you need to get refocused, buck up, put on a new outfit that makes you feel great, and keep on going. 

As with pants, your mothers pink lipstick is totally optional but sure does go well with animal print.

 #8 Warning: hard working men can become irritated if a laughing woman with a big camera keeps snapping pictures instead of offering help.  
Or, at least a good looking sandwich.

#9 Mamas, don't laugh too hard at said mini-comedian-fashionista-child because he may beg to smear on lipstick every day after this deck side photo shoot.

#10 Most importantly, give your handy man a ton of encouragement along the way. Remind him how great he is and offer a hand or two when needed. High five him after he drags the heavy saw in during a down pour and after he exceeds your design expectation with his expertise. Hand him a cold drink once in a while, offer sunscreen when its hot, occupy the children when you aren't climbing ladders too, make a hot dinner after he has worked all day and spent his "down time" in the hot sun, and whatever you do, and whatever you say, please, do not rush him.

Great things take time.

There will be times when you feel dared to call him "Noah".

 There will be times when you will both shake your fists at the weather channel and at each other, but please remember to hold on to the fact that when you are a DIY family, these bumps in the road and wrinkles in the plan are things that may slow you down now, but they will be the moments you look back on, laugh at, and they deffinetly are the things that will make you appreciate the building process and the journey so much more.

Turning a house into a home is not for the faint of heart, but it will be worth every long summers night and every pant less and embarrassing photo.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian friends and family!We are over here feeling thankful that we have no agenda today just the kids and I, a ton of left overs from a family filled weekend, a stack of board games and our pajamas on at noon. These days are so good for the heart and not so good for the waste band.

 From our Little Estate to yours, may you be filled with so much gratitude on this Thanksgiving Day that every area of your life benefits from your thankfulness.

(Here is an excerpt from Instagram about my feelings for these three during this time of year and always. (Feel free to follow along on our day to day journey there.))

"I will forever be grateful for the kind of love they give me, the kind of love I wished for since the beginning of time, the kind of love that is easy, honest, deep and heart wrenchingly beautiful, the kind of love that stops me in my steps and begs me to stare a second longer, to REALLY see what my blessings are made of. Blessings that are their lives unfolding in front of me --- the greatest kind of blessing around. Feeling grateful for their unconditional love, to see their little lives grow from the slight swelling in my belly and into these sweet souls before me. Today and always I am so thankful that God saw something in my husband and I, maybe something small and maybe something only we could give them, but HE saw IT and He reached down and ever so gently picked us both and pushed us into each others paths and then blessed us three times, and big time. �� Gratitude fills every part of me each time I step back and count my biggest blessings: one two, three."

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Quick Organizing Idea!

I just had one of Oprahs "Aha Moments"

The Merrium-Websters dictionary describes such moments as meaning: a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.

I  had to double check with said dictionary, to make sure I finally had one, and yes, it happened.

You see, I decided to go into our garage this afternoon, since our freezer is full of these delicious cream cheese pops on a stick, covered in caramel and rolled in skor bits  to clean it up for my loving husband, and I came across an orange plastic 2L pop holder from the grocery store. 

The last time diet coke went on sale, I clearly stalked up, I figure DC might come in handy if we have a particularly long winter/ice age -- again. Caffeine is a must when you are stuck indoors with three stir crazzzzzy children and your house is encompassed in three inches of ice. Canada problems, eh?

Well, as with everything others might throw out, I looked at that plastic thing with the holes meant for fizzy pop and just knew I could use that thing for the betterment of all man kind, or in our case, just our garage's/marriage betterment, but you know what I mean. 

Sure enough, I took some of the cans from the teeter-tottering tower of paint cans stacked dangerously in our garage (No, I still haven't attended paint-hoarders-anonymous because more joy comes from this habit than not. Just ask alllllllllll my thrift store finds. Don't ask my husband. :)) and I simply plunked some of my 921ml cans, my 942 ml cans and my 925 ml cans from their mountain in the corner of the garage and into the empty coke bottle slots.

Insert "Aha moment" HERE.


I cant wait to buy more and more caffeinated bevys so I have an excuse to bring more of these plastic babies home with me for keeps.

Now, I am picturing all my paints and stains stacked up nicely on top of each other in the corner of our garage, and beyond getting my paint hoarding organized, I am picturing a happy husband who doesn't have to move multiple cans to get to his saw and other equipment and even beyond that, I am picturing our sweet children who will no longer have to put on their bike helmets  #safetyfirst every time they want to steal a Popsicle from the freezer in the garage or get some sports equipment from the garage.

Clearly I deserve a frozen treat on a stick for all of my amazing brain waves today, no? Im going with the idea that if I eat is super quickly in our darkened garage, and if I eat it reallllllly quietly my stomach wont know it is devouring hundreds of calories in every incredible indulgent bite and my eyes wont tell it so either. 

Wish me and my waist band luck.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

A Painted Piano {Part Two}

I am so excited to share with you our painted piano. 

If you are a bare wood enthusiast (Sorry Dad!!) then you should not read the rest of this post. Instead, your time would be more wisely spent taking a leisurely walk in the yellowing forest where all of the wood is still untouched and beautifully natural. This post might make your eyes itchy. ;0

On the other hand, if you are someone who can see beauty in the discarded, can see potential in the forgotten, can see beauty where there is only the banged up and beaten down, if you are an adventure lover, a do-it-yourself executor and if you are partial to the colour of the sea, then this post is for you!

We picked up this beaten up beauty from our local Re Store three and a half years ago. I had big plans for her then, and finally this summer got up the nerve to put on her makeup.

You see, I pictured our children clanking on her worn out keys and I imagined scenes of family members gathered closely around her while voices were bellowing out folk songs, ballads and good old Christmas carols.

(Kind of, EXACTLY like, the final living room scene from "Its a Wonderful Life")

 But the only problem is, I didn't want to cause any trauma to my sweet babies in the process of teaching them how to make this old girl "sing" again. (Like MY childhood. 
See the whole "woe-is-Me-post HERE)

I matched a little thrift store bench to our piano and gave its padded seat a quick update. (More to come on that)

And then, with the piano and the bench married in holy piano-matrimony, we all got down to business.
//////Step One//////

Wash down the entire piano from sticky kid hand prints and yesterdays breakfast jam. 

Dry it immediately.

//////Step Two//////

Tape off all of the edges that you do not want to get paint on. (Wheels, pedals, keys and even the inside components)

//////Step Three//////

 Prime your piece. (I didn't even bother moving this gigantic thing anywhere. I simply tucked a big old bed sheet around the base of it and I got to work painting away. I  personally like to mix a primer with a latex paint, because I have found in the past that primer + paint, makes for better coverage on big ticket items. I use equal parts. ) 

 //////Step Four//////

After your primer + paint base has cured (check drying time on your paint selection. I chose to let mine dry for 3+ hours.) you are ready to make your piano pretty.

//////Step Five//////

I chose to make my own homemade chalk paint for this piece and I am in love with how it turned out. I chose to use the plaster of Paris recipe I have been using for years.

Homemade Chalk Paint 
(Plaster of Paris version)

Three parts paint
One part plaster of Paris
water for mixing
painted piano this little estate

//////Step Six//////

Lastly, apply your paint!

I applied three thin layers to our piano and our bench. 

I find that this homemade chalk paint dries fast so I was able to complete all three coats on a Saturday. A definite doable weekend project! Horray!

//////Step Seven//////

Now, sit back and take in your beautified piano and get ready to make some beautiful music that matches your new beautiful piece!

 painted piano this little estate

 Though I am a person who loves all different types of woods and could gladly live in a rustic cabin somewhere forever surrounded by natural wood elements, I am so please we took the leap to breathe new life into this old piano.

Depending on the time of day, the blue paint color changes from bright to subdued.  (My constant changing creative side, lovvvvvvves that.)

I decorated the top of her with a few special pieces and hung my favorite painting just above her.


Our little thrifted bench, now a pretty blue too, finally looks like it completely belongs with our piano.


All together this little duo brightens up our upstairs family room and now adds the perfect pop of unexpected colour to our most lived in room.



Now, if only we could play this baby while finding people to dump money at our feet, like in Its A Wonderful Life. ;D

Would you ever paint a piano? If so, what colour would you choose to brighten your home? :)

Monday, September 29, 2014

A story and a plan. {Part One of the Piano makeover}

Have I ever told you the story about five-year-old-conniving-me and the piano debacle??


Well then you have missed out.

Don't worry about it though, my parents missed out too. They really should have seen my full potential from this story, but the only thing they saw was an opportunity to ground me and teach me an important lesson. ;)

You see, when I was five years old I had to take piano lessons. That half an hour of practicing after school each day felt like an eternity, so, I took matters into my own little girl hands. 

I started by hatching an epic plan in my little mind, I thought of my plan over and over and tweaked it to perfection.

 Then one day, I got to work right away tape recording myself playing my dreaded piano lessons on my handy dandy tape recorder (NOTE: Babies born after 1990 may have to Google what that is. ) After I had clunked through my half hour lesson and successfully tape recorded it, I waited for the following day to put my plan into motion. 

Just as I had pictured, over and over in my scheming imagination, I dragged my big-life-like-doll from its special spot in the corner of my bedroom, and exchanged her polka dotted dress with the one I had worn to school that day. I squished and pulled my dolls soft arms and legs through my outfit, complete with the ketchup stain, until she looked just like me - lopsided pigtails and all.  

I stood back and took my dolly in. 

She was about three and a half feet tall and exactly what I had wanted for Christmas the year before. My older sister and I had spotted these giant stuffed dolls and became obsessed with the fact that they weren't "baby" dolls, no, they were just like us and as big as us, and we immediately focused our attention on bossing them around instead of each other. (Bonus, they never talked back and always played all the terrible "boy parts" in our imaginary stories. Every little girls dream come true. Boys have cooties don't ya know, and life as you know it is over if you have to play the "boy" in any story. Yuck.)

I held my doll up with both arms and marveled at my own genius with this plan. I then tucked my portable tape recorder under my arm and set the scene in our families dining room.

Our upright piano was big and brown and bo0000rrrrrrring. 

Finally, it would see some excitement.

I felt like it should high five me or something.

I plunked my life size doll, clad in my very own dress, onto the slippery piano bench and propped her stuffed hands "just so" along the black and white keys. Her head drooped a little and her hair hung around her face, but the effect seemed to make the setup look very life like to me. I never was one that sat upright on that slippery bench,and just like dolly, I remembered to show my parents, with the important drama of a five year old girl, that music lessons were so boring that they did in fact make allll the muscles in my body turn to mush. My giant dolly was nailing her part in this plan.

I stepped away, viewing the bored senseless dolly, and pressed PLAY on my tape recorder.

I remember thinking, I wish I had of thought of this sooner.

Then, with that off tune plunking music coming from the speakers of my beloved crackling tape recorder, I swooshed out to the street, hopped on my little bike and zoomed around the block half  a dozen times until I heard my mothers tell-tale-angry-voice hollering my name from our kitchen window.

Ok, so now you know that I was a child prodigy. or perhaps a budding mass-manipulator, but whatever the case, my grounding shook some "respect" into me and I never did cunningly escape another piano lesson. 


So you can imagine why my parents stopped paying for music lessons and why to this day, I still wonder if my talents in "music recording", "costume design" and "Producer" could have been better focused on learning to play an instrument instead.

This baby is gonna help with that.

But first there is just one small problem. This piano is much like my childhood piano, and truth be told, it bores me.

(All you wood loving enthusiast will want to stop reading now.)

Cause, YEP, you guessed it. 

This little beat-up-thrift-store-find has gotten an unbelievable makeover.

I'm hoping that the new updated version will entice my children to sit at it letting their imaginations run wild. I hope that they don't take after the way I acted as a child, I hope they rock self discipline and that this new and improved version of an old piano makes us all excited to play music again.

I will see you soon to share with you what she looks like now.

I have a feeling this little seat is going to be used a lot. ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Trash to Treasure Chairs

If you shop at thrift stores, junk stores, antique stores, consignment stores and in alley ways, then you will probably see me there too.

Wave back next time, k? ;)
I will be the girl with the lipstick on, hair coiffed, probably donning heels, yet armed with my measuring tape, a dreaming mentality and a back seat ready for treasures.

A few weeks ago, no dumpster diving was required though.


I found these two beauties in my local thrift store and fell in love with their shape and texture immediately. 

You see, our two year old had recently ruined/ ninja kicked/ broke/ colored with permanent marker, all over our previous desk chairs. They also had patted seats that couldn't hold up to juice stains and grubby hand prints, not to mention, when friends visited I prayed they would lovingly avert their eyes from the yuckiness that our old chairs were.

So, when I spotted two matching chairs, that were easy enough to wipe down and stand up to
the abuse of two year olds and their budding artistic talents and messy juice chugging,
I scooped them up!


At $8 each, I knew they could be transformed into something wonderful with a good clean and perhaps some new paint.

My visit to the CNE this year confirmed my thoughts. I found these gorgeous chairs (pictured above) with a similar design at the Bowring outlet location during the last long weekend of summer. I loved how the chairs metal base was painted a metallic gold and how the textured sides were a beautiful contrast in a dark hue.

Best of all, I loved that THEIR version was $321 more than the ones I scored. If my budget could afford them, I would love to bring some of the Bowring version home, but unfortunately at this time in our life with permanent marker wielding babies pricier pieces wouldn't work out too well in our beautiful mess of a house.


These two will do just fine for this time in our lives. :)

And actually, now that they are in their permanent new homes, I'm wondering if I even need to give them a little makeover now. 

Im kind of digging their color and texture and how they add some much needed warmth to this bright space that is a corner in our family room. My thoughts are, that if I tire of them eventually, or the kids take the coloring action into their own hands, I may need to pull out the spray paint collection later on. ;)

Until that time comes, Im tempted to just enjoy them as is, and try to convince my husband that I saved $642 by shopping the thrift store instead of the mall.

I wonder if I can convince him that that big sum of money I saved us should be spent on other house hold things? Do you think he would buy that?? Get it? BUY that. ;)  
What would you do with these babies? Paint them or leave them as is? I would love to hear what you think!

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