Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Guest Blogger - Kristy Athens - Get Your Pitchfork On


In GYPO I write: “Hanging the laundry is one of those ridiculously simple economies that used to be ubiquitous and has now virtually disappeared from North America! No one questions buying an enormous machine and paying for gas or electricity to cook plastic sheets laced with toxic chemicals into their clothing, when there is fresh air right outside! While the invention of the washing machine saved people hours of hard labor in front of a steaming washtub, a dryer saves virtually no time or effort at all.”

Where we lived in the country, we had this great laundry line that was on a pulley system - I simply reeled it away from me.

Now that we’re back in the city, I am making do with a folding rack in the basement. Not the same delicious fresh smell in the clothes, but it does the trick! The rack takes up little room and folds to hide behind a door when not in use.

"I know this inspired me to consider a clothes line again for my backyard - it would be bringing back a lovely old tradition I grew up with in Montreal!" - Susan Abramson - Toronto Designers

Kristy Athens has written a no-nonsense guide to making the urban-to-rural move called Get Your Pitchfork On: The Real Dirt on Country Living. Even if you plan to stay right where you are in the city, a number of things she talks about are pertinent. For example, air-drying laundry. Check it out here!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


To simplify my life, I stopped using a Brita filer. I have beautiful vintage milk bottles that I fill with cold tap water instead of the not so pretty Brita container.

It had occurred to me that I had been consistently leaving water at the bottom of the Brita container for many days in a row, and probably not washing my container often enough to stave off bacteria. Not to mention that the filters are expensive and I already pay, through taxes, for an amazing filtration of our water here in Toronto, Ontario.

One less thing to buy and worry about. And I change my bottle daily for my 'clean and fresh bottle of the day'. It's a practical thing!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


When my aunt used plastic to 'slipcover' her sofa way back when, that was just oh so wrong. Today, however, there are so many amazing options that feel so good and look awesome!

I personally like leather sofas. They are easy to clean and seem to last so much longer than most fabrics. But that's not for everyone, and in a cold basement, sometimes leather feels, well, cold.

That's when a slipcover is best. It gives you the comfort of fabric with the ease of washing whenever you need.

You can have them custom made, or buy them that way from some great stores like Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Ikea and Montauk to name of few of my favourites.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Hiring a cleaning service to clean your house is not only great because if frees up your time to do other things you prefer, it also helps someone else out. The cleaning service/person has a job he or she otherwise wouldn't have, and you get a clean house! Win-Win! Even if you think you don't have the money for it, consider what you can accomplish in those 4 hours or so - work a little more at your job, volunteer, visit someone that could use your smiles, or start a hobby. Thinking about what you can do with the extra time may make it seem like you can't afford not to have a cleaning service.

Spread the wealth.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


It's easy to just buy the right size table, or the right colour table, or worse, the right priced table. But have you considered all the important things your kitchen table will be doing for you? I often sit at my kitchen table feeling so lucky that I chose what I did as it offers me all the things I need and want and what makes it practical for my everyday life.

Here are some things to consider so that you too can get the perfect table for you:

  • First and foremost, will it fit in your space? Consider 3' from table to wall/passage for the ultimate comfort, or a little less if your space is small.
  • If you have chairs you will be using, will they fit under the table comfortably? Will your legs cross under the skirt of the table if you like to do that?
  • Does it have the surface you like? Can you put a mug of hot tea down without a coaster? I love that I can with mine and it doesn't mark.
  • Does it have legs or a pedestal? Legs can get in the way of squeezing more chairs around it so I always say pedestal for the ultimate in leg space.
  • If you like to open up a newspaper and have a cup of coffee, is it spacious enough?
  • How many people will typically be sitting around the table? If more than just you, is there room for everyone and all their stuff? (iPads, magazines, drinks, condiments...)
If you are practical with your table and get the best quality you can afford, you will treasure it for years.

Friday, March 30, 2012


I love to make lists for my daily requirements. And I love to cross things off of it even more!

If you're like me and don't have a set schedule of where to go on a daily basis, i.e. a 9 - 5 office job, then making lists will keep you organized and up to date with all things important.

It's easy to just let the day go by meandering through your daily chores, trying to remember all the little things you have to do (empty the dryer, get to the bank, see client at 3:00...), but if you never acknowledge these little things, they don't seem to mean anything and at the end of the day you may not feel like you accomplished very much.

I like to start with the simple things and to include it all. That way if I do something small like - water the plants - I get to cross something off the list. This small task suddenly feels like I did something that got me through another piece of my day. I just love the feeling! And of course it really helps me stay on top of everything I need to because if it's on the list, well, I just have to do it, don't I?

I like to do my lists on paper and to use a pen to actually cross things off, but lists on computers and smart phones are pretty great too if that's your thing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Start with the front hall. It should be tidy and fresh (don't store all your smelly shoes right by the front door). It's nice to keep some fresh flowers or a plant on a small table, or even a bowl of pine cones with some natural lavender oil dabbed on. Something that says fresh, and smells fresh, is very welcoming. And not only for your guests, but for yourself too when returning home.

Open your windows as often as you can, even in winter. It helps clear out the stale air. Bonus - you will hear your neighbours outside which is hopefully comforting, and your neighbours will know you are home so may even pop in for some tea.

Make your house your home. Choose furnishings and fabrics that really say something about you. It shouldn't read like that magazine cover if that's not you. Select personal things, especially in small items and artwork, and  your home will help always feel welcoming to you. Your visitors will better understand who you are too.

Make sure you home is efficient - consider seating arrangements, space behind dining room chairs and comfortable beds, linens and towels for not only your guests, but you too.

It is these simple everyday little things in life that bring the most joy, so make sure yours is perfect for you.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Sometimes I cheat. I do my laundry during the day because, well, it's easier.

Electricity in Ontario is on smart metres. There are times when it is less expensive to throw in a load, or run the dishwasher than other times. It's quite a big difference in price so it's wise to stick with the off-peak hours for the major stuff. But sometimes I just don't care. Sometimes I just know that the few extra dollars will not make as big a difference in my life as the need to get something done at a specific time. And that just simplifies my life.