Tuesday, 26 March 2013

DIY: Kitchen Organization

Cute Martha Stewart labels with hand stamped letters
Spring is here (sort of) and I know I'm not the only one doing a little spring cleaning and clearing out of clutter. I don't know why, but it feels so great to purge my house of all the things I no longer use or need. Along with the purging, it felt necessary to reorganize the very limited space in my small kitchen. Those of you with limited storage will know what I'm talking about; it feels like I'm always re-working my storage to try and make everything fit and function. So, I thought I'd share a few new strategies to try and wrangle all of that kitchen clutter:
My first idea was to dedicate a space to create a beverage station. I used to have all my teas, drink mixes, coffee, etc. literally stuffed into the spice drawer and overflowing into random other locations throughout the kitchen. The drawer that is now dedicated to beverage storage was previously a drawer for all my many random kitchen utensils. I purged out all the utensils that I never use and the rest fit into a beautiful antique jug that was my grandmother's. I'd been looking for a way to utilize the jug for a while and am thrilled it functions so nicely in it's little spot in the corner on my counter top.  
Now I have a drawer dedicated to my beverages and a drawer dedicated to spices! I still need to purge the old and unused spices. But in the mean time I'm just happy to have a place for everything and everything in its place.
My spice drawer, currently overflowing with spices. How on earth did I also fit my teas in here???
My new tea/beverage drawer!
Not having teas, coffee, cocoa, etc. scattered throughout my kitchen created space for a cubby for my cookbooks, coffee press + all my cocktail making utensils.
As in many small kitchens, we also have very limited pantry space and thus have decided to dedicated a few drawers in the main kitchen cabinetry to canned goods that were previously difficult to find and sort through. As a bonus, I think they look pretty sitting on the shelf and add a splash of colour to my white kitchen.
Lastly, (and btw I can't entirely take credit for this part since my hubby found the jars) we bought a bunch of glass jars with steel lids for like $2 each from the dollar store! We use them to store everything from flour to pasta. I found cute labels from the new Martha Stewart line available at Staples to label each container. Then I hand stamped them for an extra fun touch.
Don't forget to cut out the expiry date from the original packaging and tape it to the bottom of the container.
I know, I'm such a geek for getting such joy from this, but I can't help it. Hope you enjoy it too and get some ideas for your next spring cleaning project!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Places & Spaces: The Shift Home Project

I came across an article discussing The Shift Home Project and I just had to share it because it is such a fresh take on design and just happens to be a local (Saskatoon) project that will, hopefully, turn into a movement.
The Shift Home during construction
Housing here in Saskatchewan, particularly in Regina and Saskatoon has become a major issue. While the rest of the country is in a recession our province is in the middle of a boom. Which is great cause it means lots of jobs and a low unemployment rate. However, it also means housing prices have skyrocketed and properties, particularly rental & low income housing are almost completely unavailable.

This is a big problem and one that the City of Regina and the province has largely ignored and instead decided to focus on building a football stadium. Yeah, that's right, a stadium, a resource stealing, life blood sucking stadium. I'm not going to go on and on about how ridiculously silly the stadium idea is except to say that if enough private companies/investors thought it was a good, profitable idea then there should be no problem in getting a new stadium privately funded. And if it were privately funded, I have no problem with it - people can do what they like with their money. However, if the vast majority of the money is coming from the city and provincial governments then that is a major shift in priorities as far as I'm concerned. Public money should be used for things that benefit the majority of the public like rental and low income housing or like not closing down 11 inner city schools because they've let the infrastructure go unmaintained for so long that the upkeep would now cost them a fortune (plus they want bigger classroom sizes so that more kids can fall through the cracks). Seriously people!?!
The Shift Home Project's Energy Recovery System
 Sorry about that, I'm done ranting now. Anyhoo, two smart, young fellas from Saskatoon decided to take on the challenge of low income housing in their own unique way. They came up with the idea behind the Shift Home, which is that a person making only $40,000/year can afford to build a brand new (& nicely designed) modern home for $289,900 (a major feat in Saskatchewan's booming economy). The main floor is an open concept, small, modern home for the owner & the raised basement is a suite with separate entrance for the owner to rent out. The home isn't just pretty though; it has radiant heat, rain water harvesting, domestic hot water, low flow faucets & toilets, and heat recovery and ventilation to further reduce living costs. What a brilliant concept! The City Councillors of Regina & Saskatoon should takes notes from theses guys!
Rendering of the Shift Home
Completed interior of the Shift Home

Friday, 8 March 2013

International Women's Day, Yay!

I would be remiss not to take a moment to acknowledge that I am so so so lucky to have so many wonderful women in my life. Thank you & I love you!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Your Secret Garden...Again

So guess what??? Its finally March!!! Here in Saskatchewan its still winter for like another month, but there is light at the end of the tunnel! The weather is a bit nicer, there are more sunny days and more birds chirping. Despite all this, we are desperate for some vitamin D and some serious plant therapy. So I decided it was time for another post about beautiful, inspiring outdoor spaces...just to get us through this last bit of winter....
Private Pea Gravel Patio
Love this fence & floor idea
For Beach Lounging
If you have a cabin on a lake, I highly recommend a party like this
Love this succulent planter/arrangement

Great use of patio space & gorgeous fireplace
Vertical Herb Garden
Loving this amazing patio space. We built a similar fence which I will share with you later.
A patio with flow
Most people's yards are just giant boring swaths of lawn, ummm...I must confess that this includes me. Its funny because grass is so impractical. Think of the mowing and watering and then more mowing and watering...both of which are very un-environmentally friendly, not to mention high maintenance and impractical. I mean seriously, how many people do you  actually see hanging out on their lawn on a regular basis? More then likely they're hanging out on the tiny cement square that they've delegated to outdoor living space. Does this make any sense? Why do we do this? Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-lawn, I would like to keep a decent slice of grass for good drinking games of croquet (which I highly recommend) and the like. But to resign ones self to a tiny piece of concrete amongst vast swathes of grass makes no sense. I am talking about myself here too. I've been trying to add more living spaces such as my three season room which acts as my outdoor living room, and my patio which currently houses my fire pit and dining area. Slowly I am lessening the lawn area and creating more spaces that are actually utilized. And guess what? It's actually less maintenance! I'd like to challenge all of you to take a look at these pictures and think about how you really use your yard and how you would like to use it and maybe, just maybe the idea might include a little less lawn and a little more fun.