Monday, August 31, 2009

September Goals

For obvious reasons, September's goals are a little more home-centric.
  1. Send cards
  2. Have a real date night with hubs
  3. Finish organizing the basement
  4. Stage 2 spare bedrooms
  5. Hit up an antique store or auction
  6. Make cinnamon rolls w breadmaker
  7. Get to work on time at least 1x per week
  8. Organize our closet
  9. Host at least 1 open house
  10. List & sell our house

Although the first 9 individually aren't super ambitious, all combined together to make goal # 10...yeah, it's a big month. But we're ready for it. I think. No, no, we are. I hope.

What's on your monthly goal list?

August Goals - Judgement Day

Wait a second--August's over...ALREADY?!?! That's totally insane and I feel soooo old, but I feel like I blinked and it was over. C-razy.

Because of that and a fairly busy month that made it seem even quicker, I just don't think many goals will be met this month. Let's see:

  1. Send cards for every birthday & event Yay! At least one goal is met. I got my parents anniversary and all the birthdays, one that even required a little street stalking since I didn't know my friends exact mailing address.
  2. Have a real date night with hubs Just in the nick of time. We've had a bit more us time lately and Friday night we went on a real date.
  3. Ugh-Organize the basement Mostly complete. I made a huge dent in this goal over the month, and actually plan to finish it tonight. If I do (ha!) it'll be officially completed.
  4. Seriously! Work on Bedroom drapes Yay again! Despite a little hiccup, I've since hemmed and ironed the drapes and moved them to fill out the rods a little more. Now genuinely think they look great. And make SUCH a difference.
  5. Get creative with my birthday parteh As I've mentioned, I've already counted this goal as completed. The party was a success and there were definitely creative components.
  6. Look for new desk for office Failed. Totally wasn't a priority this month.
  7. Art for Front entrance...a little DIY Ditto.
  8. Hit up at least 1 antique store Just couldn't swing it. Although I found out a friend likes to hit up auctions, so...I'm very excited about that option.
  9. Enjoy cake decorating classes (they start tomorrow!) Definitely met this goal. As discussed here, here, here, here , here and here. (Wow-I apologize for the cake infestation this month)
  10. Enjoy summer and stop stressing about the house Partially completed. I definitely have been enjoying the summer thanks to a few nice days and weekends (finally!), and I certainly haven't been stressing about the house on a day-to-day level. However, our recent decision to sell has definitely caused excessive thinking, and, I'll admit it, a good dose of stressing.

Well, alright! I guess I did much better than I'd anticipated. I guess I did make it pretty easy on myself. But for the last month of summer, I think that's more than fine with me.

How'd you do?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Birthday List Revisited

I'm a lucky, lucky girl. This I already know. I was reminded yet again over the weekend/this week throughout my birthday festivities that I'm lucky and have some very thoughtful and generous people in my life.

Enough with the sappy's my (huge, wonderful) haul.

If you'll recall from late July, I posted a birthday wishlist in the absence of anything else to post. Since very few people other than my family read my blog, I'm told it gave some ideas.

Unfortunately though, I was unaware that a certain sister *ahem* had forwarded this blog to my best friends for ideas. I hadn't updated my wish list because, well, that's silly and also because hubs and my siblings are the only ones who read this blog who may be inclined to give me something for my birthday and they all know what I've already bought myself and more or less what I have (we're a very close family and see each other very often). friends went off and, using my wish list and my current obsessions with all things cake decorating and got me these wonderful things:

A turntable/lazy susan, a cake/cupcake carrying case (the very one from my wish list), some silicone cupcake liners (fantastical) and a lovely glass cake pedestal. Great gifts, non? Do my girls know me or what? However, I already have the carrying case and a pedestal, so I'll be exchanging them for some equally great gifts.

Aforementioned sister still did very well though, and true to form, gave great gifts. Specifically, some Bumpits (somewhat of an inside joke) and some bookends:

From my other sister, I got a lemon zester, a very nice metal (and thus chemical and yuck free) water bottle and some totally cute monogrammed hand towels (an A and a J are embroidered in brown). And we all know how much I like my monograms.
And hubs...well, hubs is getting very good at this gift thing. He pays a lot more attention than I give him credit for, I'll say that much. So he had originally bought some lovely metal bookends (almost identical to the ones in my wish list) and a car cell phone charger. Apparently I let my phone die constantly and forget to charge it...and apparently this is a problem :P However, since sis already got me bookends, which I opened Sunday at our family dinner, he had an errand to run and instead got me this:

A bread maker, which I initiated last night. Seriously. Phenomenal. How have I not had one of these in my life before? With less than a minute of effort and a little bit of patience (3 hours for last night's loaf) I had fresh baked homemade bread. Although I was a little eager and didn't really plan too well (wanted to get it going as soon as I was home), the bread was still very soft and fresh this morning, and last night at around 3 am when I was up for a bathroom break, our house smelled ah-mazing! I can't wait to try some other recipes, like cinnamon rolls, cheddar jalapeno bread, banana bread, etc etc. Yum yum--good work hubs!

And I can't forget my parents early birthday gift, which we use almost daily. Our wonderful BBQ! They also gave me some restaurant and store gift certificates which will be put to very good use.

And a similar idea from my in-laws-they got us central vac back in February that covered a whole lotta gifts and occasions.

And you can never underestimate the appeal of money and gift cards. Some birthday money from my Oma got me my very first item of lululemon clothing, the groove pants (which are definitely as amazing as everyone says, but also ridiculously overpriced, which is why they were my first purchase)-thanks Oms!

Also, a HomeSense gift card from my bro & his gf will be welcoming some fab accessories either to this home or our next one if I can wait that long. And a Pier 1 gift card from hubs aunt which will also bring in some lovelies. A cheque from my other in laws as well as some booze from several friends are all such great, appreciated gifts.

Wow--isn't that ridiculous?!?! When you list it all out like that, I feel like a spoiled little brat. Which, apparently I am. Thanks everyone---love you all!

How about you? Any birthdays or occasions lately that make you feel so blessed and maybe even a little guilty?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The finals are over

Cake lessons course 1 are officially over. Last night was our 4th and final class and we learned how to 'master' the Wilton rose...WAAAY easier than it seems, and even than the course implies.

So last night we learned leaves, ribbons and the remainder of the rose. Then we went to town on our final cake. You were given 2 options. The one I chose was to look something like this:
Or, the ridiculously perfect one from the course 1 cover:I liked the purple I'd used for the birthday party cakes & cupcakes, so I decided to go purple again. Plus, we had to make the little border flowers a few days in advance so they could set and I still had some icing leftover, so it worked out nicely. And here's my cake:

Unfortunately, the cake carrying case I got for the course, although multi-purpose, is a little shallow. So when I went to put the lid on to leave class, it smushed the top rose.
Whon Whon. But I made a few extra roses, so if I cared, I could swap it out for a new, un-smushed one. I haven't yet decided if I care or if hubs and I are going to be the ones eating it. Overall, I'm pretty pleased and had a great time in the course. We even signed up for level 2, which doesn't start until November.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Decisions Part Deux

I am having a MUCH more oprimistic week so far regarding our recent-ish decision to move.

Hubs and I both know the decision's a good one-better for us, a great way to make some quick money, and necessary to keep us on the right track to building capital. But that doesn't mean it's easy!

We love our house. Sitting in the family room watching some TV, I see the fireplace I painted (oh my-I forgot what a difference it made!), the potlights hubs installed, and all the other little bits and pieces that make it what we made it, and I'm melancholy.

Combine that with the complete and total lack of inventory, especially that we would like, and we begin to doubt what's going to happen once we make the bucks. Afterall, there's less point in making the money, if we're then just going to get another expensive house and blow all the profit on interest. It's still money, yes, but our goal is to keep it growing.

However, yesterday---I must have had a birthday light bulb. Either that, or I really am getting wiser as I get older-ha!

So, where I've been searching MLS and grapeving using our ideal price range, as you can tell, we've been finding nothing. Run down town homes, condos, complete fixer-uppers and everything in between. There's nothing wrong with any of those options if that's what someone's looking for, but for us, for now-we're trying to steer clear of total fixers, and we're done with our condo days.

Then--I thought "Well, I could expand our range by a few grand and allow room to negotiate in there!". And, voila! Seriously, some of these places that are INFINETELY better than what we were gearing up to have to consider were less than $5,000 away from our original cap.

So now, when I go home and hubs and I check out any new additions I've made that day to our list, it's with a bit of excitement rather than dread. It now looks like we can still use the profit wisely, and not have to totally settle on a place. In fact, with the money we'll (hopefully) be making, we could do some renos and come out with even nicer places, with actual yards (a couple even with pools...nice pools).

We've definitely had to make some choices and think about our plans a bit more concretely than one normally would, but I don't think that's a bad thing. And it's very nice, and very comforting to know that hubs and I are totally on the same page. (It doesn't hurt that with a cheaper house, he'll probably be able to afford a truck he's been pining after like me for Becks).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Goal #5 AND #9

So this past Saturday night was my and one of my best friends birthday parties. Our birthdays are a week apart and have had the exact same group of friends since I can remember, so we usually do a joint get together.

Unfortunately due to the timing (ACDC in Toronto, a sports conference in Toronto), several of our close friends couldn't make it, so it was a smaller get together with somewhat of a random group of prople. As such, I didn't really feel it necessary to get particularly creative, per se with the party as I goaled (eh?) myself to do this month. A little bit though, and I think it was perfect for our group.

Lots of food. I mean, LOTS of food. Since I know our friends and I know that, despite several requests, I may know get an rsvp, so I wanted to make sure that there was enough food for unexpected drop ins. Plus a few people brought food that I wasn't expecting, which was very nice. So there are a lot of leftovers, and hubs will be bringing hamburgers, sausages and pasta salad for lunch every day this week. And probably most dinners too.

The menu was:

Nacho dip
Veggies & Dip
Chips & other munchies
Plus, some friends brought spinach dip & pumpernickle as well as a veggie puff pastry pizza appy

Hamburgers (we ran out of ground beef, so had to buy meat for the first time in 7 months)
Homemade chicken burgers (using our bulk meat)
caesar salad
potato salad
pasta salad

Birthday cake
Birthday cupcakes
Fruit skewers/kabobs
Plus, a friend brought a bin full of sliced watermelon as well

Sounds delish, huh?

I was relieved for a change, that my job has some *ahem* dry spells, so I could plan everything prior to the weekend and avoid scrambling around trying to get everything done and being stressed & panicked when it wasn't. And, I'm an accountant, and naturally anal-retentive by nature, so of course I had a spreadsheet to organize everything, including the timeline (inspired by the now defunct Hyper Homemaker). Most of the prep was done Friday night, so I even had time for a pedi on Saturday afternoon-excellent.

So, basically the point of this all is to toot my own horn at the cake and cupcakes I made for us. The cake was for my amiga and the cupcakes were for me (it just didn't feel right baking my own birthday cake). Both took significantly longer than I'd alloted to decorate, but I think in the end, it worked out:
So I'm pretty certain I can check off both goals this month with confidence. I'm definitely enjoying the classes, and I did put a lot of effort into Saturday's celebration. Plus---if you consider the coincidences of matching plastic table ware thanks to Dollarama, as well as my co-birthday girl and I both wearing white bottoms and purple shirt, which happen to (unintentially, I swear) coordinate with the cupcakes &'s pretty flippin' creative :)

Rugs & Pots

As I mentioned last week, hubs and I finally got to work on a few things that could have been done a looong time ago. I guess the incentive of 2 weeks until we list our home is a good one for a kick in the bootay.

Hubs installed pot lights in the family room, and we finally picked out an area rug for the same room. Yay! I've only been waiting for the area rug since we first layed the hard wood..approximately 6+ months ago:

I love them much! I think the rug makes such a difference, and it's true what everyone says when they're talking designer-speak; it really does ground the seating area in the family room. (Plus it doesn't show every flippin' speck of dust and cat hair that inevitably ends up under that table!).

One of the benefits, for us at least, of buying new construction, is that hubs can sneak into the house while it's mid-construction and run wires for future electrical projects. Having an electrician for a husband is really pretty handy. So this is what he did-for the dining room, the kitchen, and now the family room too.

He put 4 regular sized pot lights in the corners of the room and 2 smaller, more gallery-esque pot lights above the fireplace to kind of showcase it a bit. These 2 smaller ones are also tilt-able, so they don't have to showcase the mantle if we don't want it to (but why wouldn't we? It looks awesome!).
Naturally, they make the room SO much brighter. But not in an annoying way-it's just very nice. And the 2 over the fireplace really do make it seem showcase-y, or, dare I say-model home-esque.

W're both really happy with this progress and there were a number of compliments on them at our party on Saturday night, so I know hubs is feeling quite proud of his work.
In somewhat related news, a home similar to ours was sold this weekend-very shortly after being listed. And it was listed at $30K more than we're planning on listing ours...this is very comforting news...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This is why they scare children...

3rd cake class was last night. It was clown night. Unfortunately, when I went to Michael's 40 minutes early to peruse the aisles and pick up clown heads, they'd cleared out their cake section. So there were no heads. There wasn't anything really, it was frankly quite annoying. So, I wasn't going to do the clowns, but instead work on roses and drop flowers.

But, I didn't want to be the a-hole student that did their own thing while the instructor was going around helping everyone else with the lesson (don't you hate those people). So I made them.

They actually weren't too bad. With the multi-coloured icing, it made it significantly more interesting than dumping a load of icing roughly in the shape of a body. Actually, the multi-coloured icing was pretty neat. You use the food colouring to paint each colour thickly on each third of the bag. Then you have to manage to drop a whack of icing into the bag without squeezing it (definitely makes you feel like a bit of a tool). Then squirt the icing and the multi colours come out. You can see in the above clown...the one at about 9:00...that the colours were really vibrant there. That was my second practice clown we made on the practice board.

My options were to either transplant him and his practice friend or eat them then and there. I'll be honest, I considered both options at length. In the end, there were strangers around and I thought it might be embarassing to wolf down a good 1/2 cup of icing in no time. So I transplanted them, which is why the cake's a little full of clowns.

Personally I like the little guys hanging off the side. A little less weird.

Until I'm reminded that THEY HAVE NO HEADS! How am I supposed to give a cake to anyone when it's (a) full of clowns, and (b) the clowns are headless?

Fortunately, I didn't have to ponder that for very long...

Hubs to the rescue! Those clowns'll be gone in no time.
Really though, last night we learned how to do that shell border, several drop flowers and some figure piping (which is pretty much making dots). It was a good class and I'm excited to make the final cake next week!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Closet Talk

OK, so it's note really closet talk. More accurately, shoe talk.

However, I needed a distraction from the barren land that is house listings and I'm a girl. Henceforth-shoes cheer me up. Plus, as seasons begin to change (I'm sorry-I prefer summer too, but it's a fact), I know I'm not alone in the increasing itch to shop.

Alas, I hit up my favourite cheap shoe shops:
Payless Shoes
Joe Fresh
Globo Shoes
Cutesy Girl Shoes (I apologize for the name, they do have some cute stuff though)
Spring (formerly Transit)

And..despite lots of drool-worthy shoes/sandals/boots, only 2 of the above managed to get their own board:

Payless Shoes and Cutesy Girl Shoes (again, despite the name) were the only 2 places where I considered making a purchase (...or two...or seven). That very first shoe; the purple ruffled peep toe-that started it all off. Yes Please!

And so that it's at least a little bit 'setting up home' related, here are a few pretty sweet closets (which are surprisingly hard to find inspiration pics for online):

And, if you much know...had hubs and I made our current home our forever home, the closet would have looked something like this (sorry it's so small):

With lots of space for shoes, bags, and everything else in there. Ah day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


So, hubs and I are currently deciding when and how to sell our house.

Yep-you read that right. This home that I've been blogging about setting up may soon be re-set up by someone else.
The market conditions are pretty good right now to sell it, and we'd make a good few dollars of it and the work we've put into it the last 7.5 months (has it really only been that long??). We both love this house, but if we eventually want to be mortgage free (or close to it) at an age younger than 85, we've got to keep moving on and building our capital.

So, this puts a lot of things into motion, which is kind of why I've been awol from the blogosphere.

First, we need to decide timing:
We'd like to move before the end of the year because we really don't want another mid-winter move and this winter looks like it's going to be a fairly busy one. So...that leaves us basically 4.5 months! We realize the number of people looking to move (us included) is limited in December with Christmas and the chaos that surrounds it, so...we figure a November 1st-ish closing. We don't know how long it'll take to sell, so we figure we should list September 1st.

That's 14 days from now.

Our list of things to do before we list/show:
  1. Completely finish all trim/caulking/painting trim (95% done)
  2. Family room pot lights (85% done! Post to come)
  3. Rug for family room(done and done! Post to come)
  4. Organize garage & shelving(hubs just needs to get the wood and then we can work it)
  5. Organize basement(Fortunately an August goal anyways and on my list for tonight)
  6. Fix & Iron master drapes(Slow process-they take a looong time to iron, so I'm 2/6 there)
  7. Electrical for Master TV(should only take DH about 30 mins or so)
  8. Hardwood in upstairs hallway(yee!)
  9. Staging (move some stuff around, pretty it up and clean)

I'm sure there's oodles we're missing on there, but that's the bare minimum. I have a write-up done and we'd need to take pics of course once the above list is done.

Since we're waiting until after we sell to buy a new place, there's not technically a rush. If for some reason, there aren't any bites, or we're not getting what we're looking for, we can reconsider since we haven't already bought a place. Do you think that's smart, or are we shooting ourselves in the foot either way?

Therein lies one of the big problems I'm wrestling with today. There's NOTHING out there to buy! Seriously, no wonder it's a sellers market---there's no inventory!

I've been on MLS and Grapevine (the local FSBO authority) very regularly lately, and there's nothing. nada. zilch. Not a thing that appeals to us. Remember-a potential new place has stiff competition in our current home.

Well, let me correct that. There's nothing in our target price range, in our target area and with our target criteria out there currently.

In order to make money off the next house, it needs to be cheaper than this one sells for and have room for improvement (hubs is quite handy, have I mentioned that?). Plus, we like the area near and around where we live right now, and we don't really want to live downtown or much more East than we do now. Does that mean we have to move to the boonies? Kemptville? Manotick? Munster? Arnprior? Carleton Place? How far is too far? Clearly a personal decision and one we've been wrestling with a lot in the past couple weeks.

Another problem? We're cheap. Cheap, cheap, cheap. So we'll be FSBOing it again. No problem-I'm pretty sure our house shows very well and I can handle some open houses. This time though, the cats are staying. Their stuff can be put away, but we're not dealing with that BS again now that there's plenty of room for them to hide in the meantime.

However, with a potentially rushed purchase, do I enlist a realtor? Is that shady---selling it ourselves but then getting someone to help us buy a new place? They may know of better ways to search, better questions to ask us to determine our ideal home, not to mention make the process a lot easier. We've never bought an 'old' house before, only new construction, so a realtor could really help there.

Anyways, there are clearly a lot of decisions we'll be making in the very (very!) near future and, hopefully a lot of progress I'll remember to photograph to post here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cake Numero Uno

I realize I've been departing from the theme of setting up my home fairly regularly lately. However, I'm just so caught up in the cake classes as well as a case of I-don't-wanna-do-any-work-at-home-because-it's-summer-and-I'd-rather-enjoy-it-and-do-nothing syndrome. It's quite serious actually, may require medical attention.

With that said, technically this hobby requires my kitchen. And technically it encourages creativity (or will) that I'll hopefully be able to transfer into more home-related projects in a few weeks/months.

But really, I just want to post about my cake, ok?

So last night was Level 1 Class 2. We had to prepare a cake and have it flat iced for class. We also had to bring a whack 0f medium icing so we could practive those star things, lines, borders, writing and getting started on roses.

Turns out, they're actually really easy to do once you're told what to do (as most things are), but it just gets really, really tiring for your hand. No, I'm serious, and I'm not being a wussy-it's hard work and I'm pretty sure I went to bed with my hand in fits of repetitive stress something-or-other. In the end though, I managed to finish my cake in class, which I really wanted to do:
It's totally girly and juvenile, but meh. You don't have much choice at this point. Our options were to make a rainbow cake, a character cake, or bring a cookie cutter and use that as the shape. Fairly limiting to how modern and cool you could make a cake. For me, anyway.
In the end I quite like it though. Considering I made it and it looks pretty darn good. There's even space to write something if I choose to.

But get this: next week we're doing clowns! Yep-ones like these:
Which, I realize is part of the course curriculum, and perhaps one day I'll need to make a clown cake for my or someone else's child. At this point, though, I'd rather learn how to make more practical designs. Aren't most kids scared of clowns anyways?

Oh well, it'll be more practice and get my hands numb again to get used to the pain.

I actually can't wait. I may practice some more before then...especially on the first stage of the Wilton rose: the turd base as I lovingly refer to it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August goal 4-YAHOO!

Phewf! I was starting to get embarassed about my August goals..thinking the only shoo-in (weird word when typed!) was #9. Fortunately, however, we've made a bit of progress otherwise.

I picked up some Ikea Merete drapes and some Lummig rods last week and we finally got around to getting them up last night. Yay!

So, just so you understand what exactly we were dealing with, not to mention the relative "urgency" (obviously not really urgent) of improving on our ghetto window covers, here are the before pictures, which have been exactly like this since January 30:
Please note 2 different throws flanking the bed. Although they match each other fairly well, they are certainly different (1 fleece, 1 cotton) and certainly not drapes. You will also note 1 (one) set of drapes hung on 2 (two) separate large windows, clearly way too short to even attempt to pass as actual drapes. All 4 of these coverings were being held up with miscellaneous nails and tacks. Lovely, non?

It's amazing what you learn to live with, and what your eyes and mind just accept. Looking at them in the photos, I can't believe we didn't change these immediately and I can't believe we showed anyone this room after 6 months of them looking like this.

Anyway, despite their former coverings, they really are gorgeous windows that deserve to be showed off. Here they are sans coverings and with all our new drape stuff spread out (not to mention a curious feline checking out what all the fuss is about):
Unfortunately you can't tell with these photos, but the lighting is phenomenal with no drapes, or if we had been able-open drapes. Seriously it's so open and light in there we had to just sit back for a moment to enjoy what we had no idea we were missing.

So after washing, drying, measuring and iron-hemming them, we hung them all up. Which, unlike our nailed-in-place, ghetto previous coverings, can be opened to let all that gorgeous light in (when it's not raining during this crummy "summer"):
Honestly, though once they were up I was kinda disappointed. Obviously INFINITELY better than the before, but they just weren't what I was hoping for. I guess I was so stuck on getting drapes with grommets/eyelets, I didn't consider that I may have preferred something a little softer, like these (which, of course, happen to be significantly cheaper): Also, I love him, but hubs hung the rods so we couldn't have the drapes wider than the window frame. I'm going to play around with them tonight to see if I can put a grommet on either side of the support to remedy that rather than have him re-do them all though.

And as a final kicker, they're so flippin' long! After washing and drying them (in order to account for shrinkage, heh heh) I measured one, assuming they'd all have shrunk the same amount and hung them. Wishful thinking on my part I guess, because some of them were perfect, but some of them look like this:
Which isn't working for me. So, I'll have to get in there tonight and re-hem them and measure them each individually...ugh. Oh well, better to get it right in 2 nights than adjust to another set of blinds that don't measure up (pun intended).

Still much better though, don't you think? And certainly overdue.