Friday, March 30, 2012

Cocktail Party Invitations

I had a really great DIY project and post planned for today, but I left my optometry appointment this morning with more than a contact lens prescription. My pupils were HUGELY dilated from the drops they used, and I even had to wear these super ghetto old man sunglass shields behind my glasses because daylight was too much for my eyes to handle, not to mention a computer or phone screen. Couldn't even read my text messages!

Other than the usual cleaning and laundry I do on days off, I did sneak in enough time to whip up these invites. One of my good groups of girlfriends and I get together every month or two at someone's house. The number who attend varies, but consistently there's at least 6 of us. We take turns hosting so usually host once or twice a year, and next month I get to play hostess with the mostess. We drink champagne, eat delish food, and gab all night. My friend Meghan's hubby dubbed us the Champagne Mafia a couple of years ago and it has stuck ever since.

Anyways, the point of this post is that I LOVE actual invites. I do not judge if you invite me somewhere via facebook or evite, but I personally love the look and feel of an actual paper invite. For me, especially, they are super easy to whip up, and since I'm a lover of all things old fashioned, I appreciate the nod to the past in which things were amiably formal.

And, gosh, I'm starting to get embarrassed by my constant mention of the dollar store, but I got this set of 10 invites (paper, backing and envelope) for just $2 making these 20 cents a piece. Best of all, this set by Peter Pauper Press sells on their website for $10. Shabang! Oh Dollorama, how I heart you <3

Now I am off to get ready for Champagne Mafia hosted at girlfriends tonight! It her first time hosting and is sure to be smashing good time!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dollar Store Spice Cupboard

My spice cupboard has looked like this for far too long.

I'm a bit of a cheapo and haven't found a nice spice rack (or even spice containers) that I like enough to spend the thirty plus dollars that they cost. And so, my spices stayed looking like this, which, in my somewhat OCD kitchen, is quite the eye sore.

After living with this mish mash for over two years (eek!), I decided I needed to do something about it. I had purchased three of these little glass spice jars at the dollar store last summer and they were functional and nothing more. I only bought 3, so clearly I wasn't too enamoured with them- I just needed small containers to put my bulk spices and herbs in.

On their own, these guys are pretty blah. But for $1 for 3, how can you go wrong. A little bit of makeup should pretty these up, so off to work I went! I bought 18 more spice jars at Dollorama and used Krylon metallic spray paint I had on hand to paint the lids (Is this foodsafe? Not sure, but the spray paint is only on the outside, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed). I did 3 light coats and they came out perfectly. I toyed with the idea of using blue spray paint but decided silver would give me the look I was going for.

And then, of course, came the labels! I'm a labeler, though and through. I had bought some Martha Stewart labels with the intent on doing something with them for my etsy shop, but that idea has been scrapped for now, which left me these pretty shaped (and best of all, CUT) kraft labels.

I spent $6 on the spice jars at Dollorama, $3 on the kraft labels at Staples, and that brings me to a whopping $9 for my spice cupboard! Such an improvement!

The plastic riser I got at HomeSense for $6 a few months back.

Ain't she purty? I'm just really happy I was able to get the look I wanted without spending a boat load. Move on over Williams Sonoma!

I'm sure some of you are wondering where all the "extra" spices went? Like the stuff that I couldn't squeeze into the jar? Well, I put the leftovers in some little craft bags I got at, yes, the dollar store, and used some old stock kitchen labels I had for them. They are in one of my handy white Dollorama bins.

 If you thought my dollar store kitchen makeover is complete, well, you'd be wrong! I've got some more posts coming up over the next few weeks, including my baking cupboard, my puppy cupboard, and my fridge among others. If anyone else has dollar store kitchen makeovers, I would love to see them! Always gathering inspiration from somewhere!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Funday! Free Label Giveaway

Just in case you don't see it on Facebook, I am giving away a set of 9 "Kraft Flourish" round pantry labels today! They are already printed and ready to go with the most common pantry items (white sugar, white flour, white rice, brown sugar, icing sugar, rolled oats, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda). Come on over to my facebook page by midnight PST and let me know you would like them to be enterered in the draw. I am shipping out tomorrow so you could have these babies in your hands by the end of the week! (And I'm sorry, but only open to Canada and continentel US, since these are free, and I'm shipping them- hope you understand!)

Friday, March 23, 2012

No Dollorama? No problemo!

I've been feeling a bit bad lately. Ever since my feature on iHeart Organizing, I've had so many people ask which dollar store I bought my glass pantry storage from. When I found out that Dollorama was a Canadian chain I was shocked. Not often do we get goodies that aren't available to our American counterparts, so I assumed that there must be an American Dollorama, or at least a comparable store with a less crappy selection than other dollar stores.

Well, fellow Canucks, seems as though for once, we actually have a better store than in the States. I never thought I would see the day (and to be honest I would still give up Dollorama for all the TJMaxx's and Trader Joe's in the US).

I really wanted to be able to find a solution that pretty much everyone would have access to, so when a good friend emailed me about these Ikea storage containers I jumped with glee! Yippee! Affordable storage for all! I think my official slogan should read "Jen: Changing Pantries, One Kitchen at a Time," no?

Anyways, take look see at the DROPPAR line from Ikea. Perhaps I'm slow, but I swear these were not there when I was at Ikea last month. Are they new? Am I the last one to arrive at the party?

They come in a variety of sizes, but a 4 by 7 inch jar is $3.99. Sure it's still double the Dollorama price, but it's still WAY cheaper than most of the containers out there on the market.

Anyone have these? Thoughts?

Kraft Pantry Labels

I've been working on adding some new labels to my etsy shop, and this is one of my favourite designs yet. Simple. Cute. I know I already have a fully labelled pantry... but I'm getting tempted..... must. stop. re-labeling. STOP! Okay I think I talked myself out of that one... Perhaps I can label my garage with these?

On another note, I finished laminating my fridge labels and am in the process of doing a good clean out and organize treatment to it- will of course post pictures because no kitchen tour is complete without a fridge tour!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I need a Dolla, Dolla, a Dolla Store's all I need, hey hey!

When I find something really good in the dollar store, this song usually pumps through my head. I'm a wee bit crazy, and the dollar store makes me giddy.

After finding all of my awesome pantry storage at my local Dollorama, I haven't really been able to stay away from the place. Don't tell the hubby, but I probably go there once a week. I figured it would be fun to share my finds (because there is a lot of crap at dollar stores too) so I can break down the good, the bad and the ugly of dollar store merchandise.

Here is my latest "catch."

Now let's break it down.

  • 2 Clear Glass Mini Apothecary Jars- $1.50 each. I bought some of these last week, but I needed more. They are just so cute, have a crazy airtight seal, and are perfect for so many uses. I now have 6 total, and I know 3 will definitely be going in the bathroom to hold q-tips, cotton balls and the likes. I may hold on to the other 3 and think of a great crafty gift I can make with them. 
  • Galvanized Flower Pot - $2. I didn't actually buy this to use as a flower pot, but I love the industrial look so figure I will make use of it somewhere. I like to use unexpected pieces in random places, so it might end up as a granola bar bin, or utensil holder. We shall see!
  • Clear Plastic Container - $2. I have 5 of these in my pantry, and there was a hole in the back where the sixth was missing, so I just had to get it. It will likely house pasta in the near future. And  for those wondering, it is BPA free (score!). I've also been asked about air tightness on these babies. Well, not super airtight. Some of the lids on these were crap, so I tried out a bunch until I found one with the best seal. But still not fantastic. For things like pasta and flour though (which certainly don't come from the store in air tight packaging) they are perfecto!
  • Grey and White Damask Drawer Liners- $2 each. I bought a couple rolls about a year ago, and haven't seen them in stock ever since. I pounced on them when I saw them. Sorry- I should have taken a close up, but I will get some detail shots in when I photograph my drawers. This stuff is GREAT! It has a really nice look to it, a light distressed grey and white damask pattern, and it is fantastic for all sorts of things. I use it to cover old shoe boxes I want to use as storage, but don't want the original shoe box design, and of course I've lined all my drawers with it, including the dressers in my bedroom.

  • Glue Runner - $1. I used to buy my glue runner at Walmart for $4.50. Now I buy it at the dollar store for a buck, and it's great! It's not as great as the other brand, but it does the trick! This is what I use to adhere my non-adhesive labels to things (like in the fridge)
  • White Baskets- $2 each. I've only ever bought the low profile white one before because I love the modern lines of it and it just feels and looks nice to me. This time, I bought a larger style for under the counter. I think it will probably end up holding things like boxes of crackers and cake mixes. But that may change! The low profile one will likely end up with the others in my fridge, because I just can't get enough of them!
  • Clear Storage Dividers- $1 each. Hallelujah! I was so happy to find these! I have been in love with the lucite ones floating around the internet, and have even seen some chilling on the shelves at Home Sense, but I just can't bring myself to pay $15 for ONE piece. No siree. Now, of course these aren't luxurious lucite, but they are clear and sturdy and they do the trick for me! Even though I currently have nowhere I can think of to use these guys in, I will find a place! 

And my total? Just $21.28! Considering you can buy one storage container for that amount, I think that's a pretty darn good deal! I swear, I don't think I can ever buy anything houseware related without checking the dollar store first.

Any awesome dollar store finds that you guys have to share? Would love to hear!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Installing our Kitchen Backsplash

If you read my kitchen post here, you'll know that I was freakishly excited about our new tile for our kitchen backsplash. The two factors that made ripping out a new builders backsplash a done deal for me was: a) we got the tile at a SCREAMING deal! and b) I knew switching out the builder's tan backsplash for my white marble backsplash would get me one step closer to my white kitchen dream. And did it ever!

First, let's talk about sourcing. Normally, sourcing is a huge pain in my rear end, mostly because I fall in love quite easily, and then narrowing it down to one choice just kills me inside. If I had to think about it and really source and price and compare a huge selection of backsplash tile, I probably wouldn't be writing this post today.

But instead of sourcing, I stumbled. I stumbled upon the deal of a lifetime, I snatched it up before even thinking once about it let alone twice, and ended up with a garage full of tile that needed to go somewhere. I know I posted briefly on this in another post, but I attended a local interior design warehouse sale which is where I found the tile. It was $100 for 7 boxes of tile that contained 35 square feet. That's under $3 a square foot for a tile that retails for $30. And there was no tax on that price either, so it's more equivalent to under $2.50 if you factor that in! To be honest, I think most of the other shoppers didn't even realize the tile was a part of the sale, which is why I was uber lucky to have snatched it up! I can sniff out white marble like a police dog sniffs out drugs. When that gleaming white and grey surface caught my eye, my adrenaline was pumping and my heart was racing, and I think a single tear was shed.

After I packed up two vehicles full of tile and home decor finds, I instantly started thinking about my new backsplash. Although I did get an incredibly great deal on it, I was unsure about the cost of installation. I did just drop a couple grand at the warehouse sale, so I was pretty sure my spending spree was over if I wanted to remain married to my wonderful hubby.

The tile sat in our garage for a few months until my mom told me her bathroom reno guy would do the installation job for me for $30 an hour. Seemed like a incredible deal, but I also had no clue how long a job this would take and what it would entail. I had Ken over for a quick estimate and we worked out a deal that worked for both of us. We would buy the supplies (grout, thin set, spacers, sponges, drywall etc) and rent a tile saw, and he would do demo and installation. To keep his labour at 10 hours, I also offered to grout, seal, clean up and dispose of the demolition. Those things seemed easy enough, so why not save the money and partially DIY it?

After some pleading with the hubby, we finally pulled the trigger! The whole thing took a bit longer than we thought because Ken got sick after demo and before install, but the whole thing was over in about a week.

Here's shots of the old backsplash and drywall being cut out.

And the new drywall going up.

I am SO glad we didn't DIY this part. I watched him with his saw and it looked incredibly challenging. Our old tile was THICK so it took a lot of work to cut through it.

I'm also glad we didn't have to cut the tile or install it. I know many others have DIY'd this successfully, but neither I nor my hubby are great at these kind of things. I knew that $300 to have the job professionally done would be worth every penny (saving me hours of stressing over having to figure it out ourselves, as well as getting a professionally finished end product instead of a DIY job). If you can work out a deal with a tile guy to do some parts yourself and save like we did, I say go for it!

The above photo is after install but before finishing touches. The hubby and I were quite proud of ourselves for successfully removing and then reinstalling our hood fan without any problems. We just made note of the wires we disconnected (took pics with iphone) and then retraced our steps.

We did end up with quite a lot of haze (that cloudy film on the tile surface) that wouldn't go away with just a wet sponge, so I was happy to find that lightly sanding the surface worked (the tile wasn't glossy so I could get away with it). After sanding off the haze, I sealed it twice and called it a day!

Anyone else have any backsplash tiling stories to share?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

DIY Monogram iPhone Case

Everyone's seen those cute colourful monogrammed iPhone cases around the web, but who wants to pay fifty plus hard earned bucks for something that you'll probably either break or tire of after a few months? Not I! I knew there had to be a way to do this on a budget (and give myself some more options to boot!), so I decided to take a crack at it myself. This was a pretty easy project and only took me a few hours to come up with over 10 designs.

For those of you who know your way around any design program, the process is pretty simple: create a rounded rectangle to the dimensions of your iPhone 4, choose a patterned background, and add your shape and monogram in your choice of font. Print, cut and voila! Oh, okay not voila; at this point you only have a piece of paper. Rewind. Buy yourself a clear iPhone case on ebay. They are cheap... dirt cheap! Like $2 dirt cheap. Which means if you have ink in your printer and some good cardstock on hand, this project could cost you as little as $2. That means you have an extra $48 in your pocket to do whatever you like with. Woohoo! 

Now what if you don't know your way around a design program? Well, you can always create the old fashioned way! Literally, cut and paste. Choose a graphic cardstock or fabric, cut to size and use scrapbooking shapes and letters to make your design.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On the Purge of Something Good

Today we are hosting a garage sale. But what makes our garage sale different than most is that, well, everything is... free. Yup, we are having a FREE garage sale. Sure, we could probably list every individual thing on craigslist and maybe make a couple hundred bucks, but the problem is we have a lot of LITTLE things. Things that would sell for $5, if that, on CL. And the time it would take to sell all of our junk just isn't worth it to us. Which is why our junk has been sitting in our garage for a few years collecting dust.

We really want to clean and organize our garage and make it a functional place, so for us, unloading all this stuff and letting them go to better homes, will be a major blessing. We have 30 RSVP's coming to our free-crap giveaway, and after that I removed the posting. We don't want any fights over free stuff, now do we?

What will I be most sad to say goodbye to? I bought 2 chairs on craigslist last spring and was really excited to refinish them. Okay, I guess not really excited because they sat unfinished in my garage for a year, but still. I had a vision for them, and with a nice coat of white paint and some fun new upholstery, those chairs would have looked like a million twenty bucks! Truth be told, I have so many other projects to get to, that this one was so far down my list. Especially since I have nowhere in our house to put these chairs, so pretty much would be refinishing them to sell for next to nothing.

The frugal part of me keeps telling me that I should have just spent the time and listed the stuff individually, but this will make the hubby incredibly happy, and that's worth it. And I know that deep down, I would probably never get around to it, so sometimes you just have to be honest with yourself and PURGE! Even if it means giving stuff away for free :)

Our Carrara Marble Backsplash and Kitchen Tour

Ahhhh, white marble. The stuff that dreams are made of. Well, mine anyways. I dream of a white kitchen. While some of my friends pine after the next seasons "it" bag or  the latest Louboutins, I long for white kitchen cabinets and white marble counters. So bad.

We do (unfortunately and fortunately) live in a new house. With new cabinets. And so, the practical part of me has prevented me from ripping out my new kitchen for my dream kitchen. The time will come though.... oh yes it will.

In the meantime, I am finding ways to customize our kitchen and help it stand out from the hundred other kitchens that look the same in our community (no literally, like a hundred). When I charged slobbering like a rabid dog attended an interior design warehouse sale last September, the last thing I expected to find was tile. Chairs, pillows, art, of course, but tile? Never even crossed my mind. But tile I found, and tile I bought. Three different kinds of tile, worth well over $5000, and I bought it all for $300. I will have to tell you all about my tile finds in another post, but this one, well this post is about my white carrara bianco marble matchstick mosaic that we used for our backsplash.

The installation process and advice I have to give could easily fill two blog posts, so I'll wait to post all the nitty gritty details. For now, let's just look at pictures. Pretty pictures.

This is the before. I love our home, and I love our builder (especially considering I now work for them!), but I don't know who in their right mind felt that espresso cabinets and grey/white/black granite counters meant that a camel/tan coloured backsplash was in order. So out it went and in with the marble!

Before (very before... like before we even painted)

Before (but after we painted Behr Rhino)

Before. This is a pretty good representation of our old backsplash. If you're my neighbour, don't come knocking and asking for sugar....

And now!

 And a nice detail shot of the tile.

And there you have it! I absolutely love the new look and the white marble truly truly makes a massive difference in the feel of the room, and makes it feel so much larger! Had I known how much of an impact it would have, I might have done it sooner. So that being said, if you're contemplating backplashin' in the near future, go for it! You will not regret it :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Freebie: Mini Labels

Aren't these the cutest little jars you've ever seen? I picked them up at the dollar store (Dollorama) last night and they're just a touch bigger than a can of pop (errrrr, soda for my American friends!). They were only $1.50 and I snapped up 4, but now I'm wishing I got more.

As soon as I got home I felt the urge to design these little cuties their own labels. I settled on this quatrefoil/Moroccan tile/clover design (seriously, what is this shape?) and some lovely new fonts I just added to my collection. I have a bit of a crush on the 2012 pantone colours so decided that I needed to incorporate those colours. Of course, I can't stay away from my vintage blue, so I created those as well. I still can't decide which I like better. So for now, they have both labels and I can just give the jar a lil 180 and switch up the look! Fun, hey?

Well, what's even more fun is that you can download these minis for free! Who doesn't love free stuff? I know I do. And if you print them up and love them so much that you'd like to do your entire pantry, well lucky you- I will be listing these on my etsy shop The Paper Society very very soon!


To download your free labels, click HERE!