Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Spray Paint + Old Curtains = New Laundry Hampers

Remember these beauties filled with our unmentionables that I shared with you a while back (in this post actually)!

WELLLL. Way back, when it was still spray paint season, I took these laundry baskets out back and sprayed the sh*t out of them. But not just because I felt like it, but because we needed a more color-coded way of dealing with our laundry.  

And so using the paint I had, I came up with a little system. A white bin (for bleachables), a cream one (for non-bleachable whites/lights), I left one of the blue ones bright blue (for brights) and a dark blue one (for darks). And TA DA! Oh how I love spray paint!

But that still left me with the unsolved issue of visible unmentionables. And my first liner attempt had been a total fail (king sized pillow cases). And I didn't actually want to spend any money on making linings, and my fabric collection failed to provide any viable options. So I got a little more creative, and pulled out the old curtains that we had from our last apartment. And since I knew we wouldn't need them all again since we don't have enough windows for them, I decided to make basket liners out of them. Well, out of two of them (we have ten - we had a lot of windows in our last place). Here's what I basically did.

As per usual, I just started figuring it out. First, I realized I could make 2 liners from each curtain, so I chopped them in half and cut the tops off. Then I ironed them, and stitched them together. It was a bit difficult to manage the seam exposure, because you want it to be internal for the body of the liner, but external on the top, so that when you roll it over the edge, the seam is hidden underneath. But whateves. After the first one, the other three were a breeze. And it probably only took about an hour and a half to finish them. 

And since my description on how to make the liners is less than helpful, here's a little step by step tutorial I just found online that's similar to the process I went through. I should also mention, that Patches did help with this project. She totally identified a loose sting and tried to remove it!

My total budget for this project was zero dollars, and I spent zero dollars, so it's a super big win! And I'm totally loving the transformation of these baskets! Yay for spray paint and old curtains!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Magnetic Paint! - What the What!

Well, I've survived my first week back at work, post-holiday, and I thought why not start this month off with an office blog! Remember how over the last couple of months, I've been sharing the little renovations (like this one and this one) that I've had done in my work office. And though there hasn't been any huge changes (maybe the massive tv is a huge change), the office feels totally different. Can you find all the changes?

There have probably been about 15 mini changes, but they've all made a difference in how I work. The magnetic knife strips mean I can now hang big panels and stacks of documents clipped together on one wall. 

And on the other two walls, under my shelves and above my monitor, I can now hang reference documents that I use all the time. Of course, all you see is a bunch of blank paper, and that's because of the magic of photoshop and the desire to keep my work work confidential (though you totally know I'd love to show you what I'm working on!).

But back to hanging those reference docs up, it's made possible through the magic of magnetic primer! This one to be exact!

And because it's a primer, you can paint whatever colour you want on top, but it does go on black!

Now let me just say, that I like the ability to hang things and it's super useful to have a magnetic wall, but it's not a perfect science this paint, it's not super magnetic. Like you can't throw a magnet at it and have them stick (trust me, co-workers have tried). But also this paint is incredibly stinky! LIKE SUPER STINKY! Like worse than being "dutch oven'd" by your loved one after a Mexican fiesta. And it lingers. It's really bad. So this is not a project you want to do in the afternoon, because I'm pretty sure the fumes would slowly kill you while you slept that night (just joking, at least I hope). And it's not something to be used in a confined area without a serious ventilation source. Do you get my point! This stuff smells crazy toxic! 

And honestly, for the little bit of magnetic force it provides, I'm not sure it's worth it. SHHH, don't tell anyone I work with that I think this, because I begged for us to try this product. If doing it again, I would probably just get more magnetic strips, they are easier to install, don't smell and provide more force. But that's just my opinion. And I do like being able to hang things in different arrangements and it does give me that freedom. 

And I'm totally almost done my office. Now all I need is do get some more paper organizers, so that I have a shelfscape and add the text that I want for above my knife strips. Because I've already bought a couple of cute desk organizers (oh how I love colour!), so I'll soon be done. 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

It's that time of year again - NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Well it started with a list of 10 things, then I narrowed it down to 5 sets of things and now I've come up with 4 things that I want to accomplish in 2015! But I have a history of going too big, too fast, too hard and I'm probably not alone in that. 

When it comes to new years resolutions, I would say there are three camps of people. Those who think it's a stupid tradition, not worth their time, or that give it some lip service, but who secretly hope this will be the year they lose 10 lbs or finally get back to the gym. The second camp, who sets a goal, with kind of a plan, and works diligently until about March, April, or May, at which time they are too exhausted or too discouraged to continue. And then there are those who somehow bring about or maintain a serious change in their life for a whole year, and maybe even beyond. 

Each year, I've fallen into one of these camps. But most often the second. I start off strong, and then after months of hard work I collapse back into my previous way of being. I have lost weight in the past, and even ran a full marathon one year. But rarely have I accomplished the feat of some, who manage to make it January to January pursuing a goal. 

These days there are tones of apps, articles and resources to help us set better goals. Like this mash up of the best apps, or this Harvard Business Review article (and yes I found these with a 2 second google search on goal setting). Thank goodness the internet is always willing to help us be our best self. But some how that just isn't enough. 

Part of my problem is that I don't set goals that are flexible enough to be part of my real life. And/or I get stuck in the details of it and can't get moving forward. Oh, classic symptoms of my perfectionism! But over the last month or so, I've been thinking about my resolutions. MY LIST OF RESOLUTIONS. And have been battling the beast that is my brain about what makes sense and what's really obtainable. And in the end, I've come up with these four things:

1.   Completing what I've started or committed too - NO NEW PROJECTS
This one might seem counterintuitive, since part of this blog is showing you projects, but trust me, I've started or committed to enough projects that I'll have lots to share this year. This obviously doesn't apply to my job job, but it does apply to all that is in my life beyond work. Which includes three ongoing project lists; our house, the clinton house (which you are yet to see) and the congregation (First Unitarian of Toronto). And truth be told, I don't even have a serious, actually written down, list for each. I just keep all that crap in my brain (no wonder I feel exhausted). And as my husband has said, get it all down because on January 1st, those lists are sealed and NO NEW PROJECTS! 

2.    Learn to manage my energy, rather than my time. 
I've done the pomodoro method, set different alarms, used a diversity of apps and made a bazillion lists. But truth be told, one of my biggest issues with time management is that I often have time, I just don't have enough energy. Each night I get home, and probably have 3-4 hours of time I could be using productively, but I just don't have the gumption to get anything done because I'm exhausted. Yet I do find the energy to shame myself over my lack of productivity. So I've decided that it isn't about having enough time, it's about having enough energy. Plus, I'm not the first person to think of this, there are some great articles on it. And I plan to figure out how to make this part of my life (can you feel another blog coming!). For 2015, I want to stop worrying about not having enough time or doing enough with my time, and instead learn to manage how I spend my energy.

3.    Take better care of myself - SERIOUSLY
This last year has been filled with some serious ups and downs. And I stopped taking care of myself and started living on autopilot. But it's time to come to grips with the fact that this is the only body and brain I have, and it needs more care than I've given it. I want to find a fun way to exercise and I want to take enough time to fuel my body in a way that helps it, not hurts it. I want to have a meditative practice, find more pleasure and stretch my body out. I want to give to myself with the same passion and energy that I give to others. This isn't about losing 10lbs or running another marathon, this is about caring for the only vessel I have (Rev. Shawn preached a good sermon on this and starts really about page 6, here's the link)

4.    Tending the sacred bonds
Over the last couple of years, my family and friends have carried me through some of the most joyous and heart wrentching experiences. They have loved on me endlessly. And this year I really want to pour back into all those who have poured into me. This means more cards, calls, skype dates, dinner dates, ladies nights, etc. 

And that's it. That's what I want to work on in 2015. Sure I want to use less paper cups, and compost more. Sure I want to buy more local stuff and find social justice projects that I love. You know, all the things that make you a good unitarian. But really what I need in 2015 is less chaos, more perspective, and more time spent loving. 

Here's wishing you the 2015 that you need and want.   

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Scope Creep + Perfectionism = Projects Not Started. So Just Start!

Has this ever happened to you, you think about a small project you'd like to do, (i.e. hang a piece of art in the hallway), and the task seems really simple. For me, all I need to do is pick a spot to hang it, add a nail, and volia, hung art! 

But instead my brain goes to other things, like the fact that the wall probably needs a refresh of paint, and if I do the wall, I should do all the trim in the hallway, which then means needing to remove the carpet runner, and if I pull that up, I should probably wash the floor underneath it, and maybe vacuum the underside of the runner. 

But to get started I need paint, and I think I left all my painting supplies at the congregation, so I need to pick them up while I'm out getting paint. But then I wonder if I should repaint it the same colour or a different colour or if maybe it would be cool to do some sort of really neat geometric design on the wall. So then that means researching some pattern options, pick a design, or get my fan deck out and finding the perfect colour to highlight the art. But because I love this piece of art, I need anything I do behind it to be just perfect, which means I need to do some tests of whatever I decide, which means getting some paint testers or doing a couple of pattern swatches. But that also means that I need to hang the piece to see what will work best. 

And there it is "I need to hang the piece...". So after all those mind bending options and processes, I'm ultimately  back to just freaking hanging the art! That's really all I need to do right now. 

So I did. 

And it's perfect!

Just having it up, is really what matters. The piece was painted by my dear friend, Bruce Schwartzentruber.

A man who deeply tethered Kieran and I to our spiritual home for well over a year before we planted our roots. A man who's smile and kind eye were enough to light up your day. And a man who always wanted to know how you were doing. And he didn't just ask because he should, he asked because he cared and he listened soo deeply. Always remembering details of your life and following up with you later about them. He was such a huge light in our world. And then just over a month ago, he dropped dead of a massive heart attack. Leaving this massive hole in my life, and in the life of our congregation. 

And so I did what I do best, I did stuff to deal with the pain. I created all the flowers for his memorial. 

And with my friends, I pulled together the Annual Time + Talent Fundraising Auction. 

And while hosting our annual auction, I out bid everyone who tried to purchase this painting (you could say being the auctioneer gave me unfair advantage).

  Because I wanted to be reminded daily of who he was and of the powerful work he did. 

Now, every morning, I get to pass part of him as I begin my day. And I'm reminded how important it is to maintain perspective. Because he never would have cared about the wall not being perfect. Or there not being an accent colour. All he would have cared about was being present. His work reminds me that being present in the moment for myself and others is what matters. All the other details are just noise.  Bruce cared about the big picture and having big impacts on people. So let go of the details that are holding you back, just start!

Friday, 12 December 2014

It's been a year...

...since I stood in front of a panel of architects, with my labour of love standing behind me, while they pick apart many months of thought and sleepless nights. It's been a year since I had my final architectural critique. 

And it's been a year filled with emotional ups and downs. and definitely a large collection of doubt.
After that final critique, an architecture friend asked me how it felt to officially be done, and I remember saying something about how I may have just realized that the last 3.5 years had been a total waste of my time. And that feeling of regret didn't go away right away. It lingered, all through Christmas, and sometimes I just laid in bed and cried (for realz).

And then I started to come out of it. I pulled together an RFP (request for proposal, the way that architects sometimes apply for work) with some friends, for a non-profit group that I adore the work of, and by some miracle my team won it. And shortly after the work started by some crazy insanity and legal means, I left the project team. And the feeling of regret returned.

And my friends rallied around me. And my husband held me. And my connections in the architecture community dug deeper for the belief in my work. And then this strange situation happened, that I found myself in a job so perfect, I never imagined that it could exist. And that's because it didn't, (and in some ways, still doesn't because I'm not permanent yet). But a hospital took a risk on me, and decided to hire me to help them get some of their stalled projects moving again. To not only use my architectural knowledge but to bring my clinical skills of group facilitation together into the amazingness that is my job.

And every day, even on the stressful ones, I can't believe that I get to do what I do. I can't believe that I'm living a life bigger than I ever imagined. And that the risk I took almost 5 years ago, to leave my life as an addiction and mental health counselor to pursue my passion for creating spaces that help people heal, was totally worth it. All those sleeplessness. Those endless hours in front of a computer. the absorbing of the abusive words and behaviour from the faculty and it's profs. All of the shit show that is architecture school was completely worth it.

It's been one of the most interesting years of my life.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Happy Herringbone Hallway!

Remember a couple weeks back, when Henry and I were envisioning together a completed hallway runner! Well, we finally got it done. But it sure took a while.

And why did it take so long, because we had to wait for more tiles! And all that waiting and pouring over the images I'd already taken, made me realise that there was another micro project I could do while I waited. The back entry coat hooks!

The mini back story here is that about 8 months ago, I bought some new hooks, only to be reminded by our walls that the gallery side of the hallway is concrete. And after some attempts with all sorts of concrete options, I decided to face the music and buy some of those 3M sticky hooks. And honestly, they worked fine. Until they started falling down. And for the life of me, I don't know why I never considered hanging the hooks on the other side, but I didn't, until I did. 

To note, those other holes aren't from me. So I just left them! Yep, it's a rental! But I was finally able to use the hooks I previously bought.  One additional thing I learnt from having hooks on the other side, was that they needed to be higher, so I hung these ones higher. 

And with the jackets up, and the quick pull tabs removed on the 3M hooks, it looked like this. Even Patches came to check it out. But we both were really waiting for more tiles. 

And then they finally came, and I cut them until my heart was completely content. Or the hallway was full. I think those two things happened at the same time!

And because I already had decided that I wanted it to go wall to wall, I cut a whole ton of little pieces for the sides. Which of course Henry instantly thought he needed to rest on. 

And then I had to make a hard decision, individually cut each tile so it fit the hall width perfectly, or just pretend that our hallway doesn't have quarter round moulding. Of course there was the option to pop off all the quarter round, put the carpet down, and then reinstall the quarter round on top, but come on, this is a rental! And that's at least a full Saturday, never mind when we later move and I have to do the same thing again. No thanks. And I didn't want to custom cut the pieces because then I can't use them again later, again rental reminder!

So I decided I would just pretend that we didn't have that moulding and I would cover it up with my standard cut sizes. 

And TA DA!

It's done (mostly)! I haven't resolved what to do about when it comes into the living room, but it's all down and stuck together. And as promised, our closet is still in the hallway. 

The final thing I want to do is add some additional frames to the gallery and complete it all the way to the back door! But beyond that, it's finally done! And I love the mix of colours and textures. It's a little bit of carpet heaven. Well, beyond our bedroom and our living room!  

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Help! I'm trapped in the hallway and can't get out!

Remember when I started our hallway runner, only to discover I wanted more colour and I didn't have enough tiles to really pull it off. Well, because I'm really inpatient, I decided I could playing with some options in a digital hallway (i.e. adobe illustrator).

I came up with a couple of options, all really based on the design I started with. Which is really just cutting some tiles on the diagonal, and some not. 

But, I quickly realized that I could do this over and over and over again for hours. And though it was fun and kind of satifying, I just knew that once I had the new tiles in person, I wasn't going to fully follow any plan I came up with, because that just how I roll. I like to work things out as I go. So I decided to do the next best thing to DIY, which for me is shop for DIY materials. And to my amazement, I was able to snag some cheap green and blue tiles from the FLOR outlet, and then just ordered 2 orange Fedora.

And as soon as they arrived, I cut them apart and fit them into the hall. 

I love how all the color brings so much life to the hall, but honestly, I really struggled with those blue tiles. They just weren't the right tone. PERFECTIONISM ALERT! 

So I decided to go into the Flor store before ordering any more online to make sure that I got exactly the tone I was looking for. And guess what. They happened to have a couple of the one I wanted in stock. So I bought them. And just look how much better they go with everything. 

And then of course I cut them. 

It just so happens that this is one of my favorite colors, so of course I thought they were perfect. But changing those two pieces made me realize that what I really wanted was a herringbone pattern hallway. And so I experimented with all my half cuts and came up with this. 

And that's when I knew I was in trouble! Because I loved it! And so then a whole bunch more cuts lead to this. 

And after a little clean up it looked like this.

But I still didn't have enough tiles to complete the project, so back to ordering more! But I definitly feel like it's moving in the right direction. 

And even Henry can envision a finished hallway. Or is he looking at those boxes by the back door. What are those you ask, only the wardobe for our BEDROOM! But trust me, at the speed I'm moving, they will still be there when I finish the hall.