Saturday, November 26, 2011


On Wednesday my fridge broke... again! This time with no warranty left on it. So we decided it just wasn't worth it to save after so many years of problems (and it's only 7 years old!!). I found one, but until it is delivered we try to keep the fridge as cold as possible and have put the freezer stuff into the basement deep freeze.

So, it leaves me with stuff to use up in the fridge and I kind of like this feeling. It really makes me think creatively about what I have to use and to make it happen. Last night I used up a bunch of the cheeses, a zucchini that would not last another day without refrigeration, an opened bottle of pasta sauce and some leftover chicken from a couple of days prior... voila, a casserole was made. I added some spice, baked it for 40 minutes and it was a great meal that we all enjoyed. And it felt like it didn't cost a cent! I mean, it was all about to go bad anyway, right?

It's definitely something to think about when you want to clean out your fridge. How easy was that to make and  it made it so practical that I didn't have to throw as much out, (or order in - an expense we don't need after just running out to buy a new fridge!).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I often handed the chore of unloading the dishwasher off to the kids because, well I hate doing it. Turns out to be a good thing because by watching them I actually learned a lot. You see, kids are lazy. They think in advance of doing. What they did was stack all the dishes, cups, containers, etc. on the counter in piles so that the dishwasher is fully unloaded, save the cutlery, and then they would transfer everything to the appropriate shelves. No back and forth... Brilliant!

And since this discovery, I have since simplified my inventory too. All my containers are now glass and stack easily, with lids in a separate drawer, and the dishes I use on a daily basis are all the same so they stack and fit perfectly exactly where they are supposed to fit. If you're asking, yes, my dishes are white... it helps keep things simple.

As for storage of your simple dishes and glasses, try some open shelves for those things you use daily. They won't get dusty if you use them all the time, and if they all match each other, it will look neat and pretty in the open. No cupboard doors to open and close so one less step in unloading too! Hmm, I don't have open shelves... yet!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


My simplified Christmas shopping may only be useful for next year, but part of it may come in handy now. Start with a journal. Any kind really, but I like to suggest a pretty one that looks like a book that you can store on your shelves. Now mark down all the people you buy gifts for in list form. Then shop and write down what you buy.

OK, that's too simple. There's a trick to this and it's not about starting early.  It's about starting late. Yes, late. Go shopping for non perishables the year before - like right after Christmas when all the sales are on! The key is to write down what you buy for whom though (the real reason for this pretty journal), and of course to have a big box in a dry place that you can store it all safely. It's easy to refer to the journal any time of year as you find appropriate gifts for those on your list.

That's it, that's the trick. You can work on it all year if you like, but for those special Christmasy things, it's best right after Christmas. It's naturally more economical too!

Up to date electronics for the kids do have to wait until last minute of course - can you imagine a teenager looking at a new Apple product... from a year ago!? They would think it archaic! ;)

**You may prefer to 'journal' on your computer of course. I just like the idea of looking at the list from year to year in a journal form.


(Visit me here for more blog entries - Toronto Designers)

If you are in the market for a new small place and have started looking at floor plans, there are a few important things you should consider.

1. Most floor plans are flat and only 2D. I know, this is obvious, but if you really think about visualizing the space in 3D, it will feel very different.  For one, you have to imagine yourself walking through the front door.  Then imagine yourself going about your everyday activities in that space. You may think you can live small, but how small can you really live?  It's different for everyone.

Take the above small space - the square footage was not listed, but it's tiny, agree?  Now picture yourself coming in in the winter, let's say, with your boots and large puffy coat... you will be coming straight into the kitchen.  No foyer to speak of. Can you do this? Can you downsize your wardrobe enough to allow that one tiny closet to hold your winter coat as well as all your other clothes?  Where will you put your friend's coat when he or she comes over?
2. The above floor plan is a townhouse 2D floor plan. It looks nice and seems to fit everything you might need as they even show the ideal furniture placement (not sure where the inevitable TV goes mind you). But don't be fooled.  Floor plans are designed to entice you to buy and to look bigger than it is. Those furnishings they have drawn in may not be scaled properly to the space. The sofa, for example may not be a full sized sofa. And the master bedroom bed looks like a double, not even a queen. Is that what you have and want to incorporate? If so, it may be the place, but be mindful of these tactics.
3.  This kind of floor plan seems to give the best visuals. If the builder can't provide you with something like this, you can always go to a site such as this one to convert your 2D to 3D. But still be mindful of the furnishings and how it shows it all fits. Also remember to consider what you already own, the size of bed you prefer, and any other furnishings you hold dear and want to keep.

It's nice to buy new and have all the fun choices of finishes, but remember to really visualize not only how your furniture might fit, but how you like to live. Realize that the floor plans may not be scaled correctly, and if there are models to walk through, go there with your measuring tape - they often make the models slightly bigger than what they offer you.

If you remember to think carefully about your small space living, you won't be disappointed.  Just take note that some builders do use the above strategies and that you should be aware.

**Not all builders use the above tactics of course, but it's good to be mindful.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Ok, real mini cooper drivers will say this isn't really small, but compared to my last car, it is small.  And I love it!  I love that when I am out shopping for clients or even for myself at places like Costco, that there is a limit.  I can only load so much into the car.  That makes it easy to say no to things, and if you have to go back for it, well, chances are you won't.  To me this translates into less stuff, more creative thinking in what I buy, and less to unload and put away when I get home too.

Talk about an easy fix for simplifying your life!  Just get a smaller car!  Bonus:  It helps on gas bills and the environment too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I think the best gifts are consumable gifts.  They are useful, pretty, thoughtful and environmentally friendly.  And it`s the kind of gift your recipient doesn't have to worry about displaying... you know, like that sculpture you have to take out when that person comes over... and then if you forget - yikes!  So inconvenient and wasteful!

With consumable gifts, consider what the person`s real tastes are.  Coffee and tea are great for most - spoil them with extra special tea bags and specialty coffees with gorgeous packaging that you know they will appreciate.  Cookies are always a treat for anyone and if they don`t like them, they simply share them with guests.  And soy or beeswax candles are a gorgeous treat for anyone.

There is nothing to make space for, just stuff to enjoy - simply and easily.  Consider that for your holiday giving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I love Chatelaine for their triple tested, super easy meal ideas.  Check out this hearty soup recipe from them here for one of my favourites!  I like to use fresh coriander instead of dried for a more flavourful and colourful soup.  And for spinach, if you have frozen cubes of it (from the freezer section by Arctic Gardens), that works amazing too.

A protein rich soup with a side salad is an amazing dinner idea that takes under 30 minutes to prepare.  And all the ingredients are easy to find.  This is my option for tonight!

Monday, November 14, 2011


That's me in the front at the age of about 4 - I think I was either sucking my thumb or picking my nose. LOL!  We had good times in our little abode.

Today I decided I wanted to share things other than just decor that I hold dear to me - everything simple and practical.  My goal with this blog will be to help you think smarter to achieve a simpler and more practical life.  I want to bring us back to an uncomplicated and easier way of living and thinking as I honestly believe it is the key to happiness.

I am continuing in this same blog that has many posts related to decor, but from now on it changes to all things practical, not just practical decorating.  For decor stuff, visit my other blog here.

This photo is from a time where we all seemed to live quite well.  By today's standards I wonder if we would still think so.  I grew up in an 800 sq. ft. home that housed three children and two parents.  There was one bathroom.  And we were lucky as we had a lovely backyard where we grew vegetables in the summer and had our back deck for extra space for those few short warm months in Montreal, Quebec.  I would say living that way was definitely simpler and more practical - there was less to clean, less to furnish, and way less space for 'stuff'.

Join me here for updates on everything practical from travelling to organizing and all things real and convenient.