Friday, March 22, 2013

Blogabout - Frugality

I'm still "collecting" blogs.  Today I want to share two blogs that I've recently found that focus on frugality.

Blissful and Domestic is written by a wonderful lady named Danielle who writes from Nevada.  I found her blog via The Non-Consumer Advocate blog I've been reading for quite a while.  Katy mentioned B&D because Danielle and her husband managed to live on $14,000 USD a year - wow!  It helps that they don't have a mortgage and own their vehicles outright, but still ... it takes real effort and commitment to keep to such a tight budget.

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I can't remember how I found Living Well on the Cheap - I think I was looking for ways to DIY some window coverings.  Charlotte writes from Louisiana.  I've read her entire blog - so many great ideas to try out.

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Both of these blogs make me re-consider how I approach things in my life.  Instead of buying something because it's the easiest way to get a result I've been trying to "shop" in my own home, search the internet for alternatives, and generally take a moment (or two or three) before making a purchase that I don't really need.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Figuring Out Our Style

I am a member of Fabricland, a store that sells fabrics, sewing notions, and other things related to needle and thread.  During the month of March they had a great sale and I finally managed to get in yesterday after work - the last day for the sale.  There was so much to choose from ... and I ended up leaving the store with nothing.  :(

I had great plans ... fabrics for curtains, blinds, pillows, re-covering the dining chair seats, re-doing a sofa.  But I realized that I was hesitating with every fabric that caught my eye because we hadn't picked out colours, we hadn't really discussed interior design.  By we I mean Manuel and I.  I know that I tend to like the cooler colours - greys, blues - while Manuel prefers the warmer colours - terra cottas, yellows.  I don't want the choices all to lean my way, I want the choices to reflect a mid-point between our two viewpoints ... and I guess I wasn't quite realizing what that colour scheme is yet.

Tomorrow, after work, Walter and I are going to do a Mommy-Son evening at Ikea.  This means Walter gets to play in Smaland while I get to do some shopping with hot dogs and ice cream to follow.  Maybe something will click and I'll come home with some items I can work with.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The New Home - Second Floor

Last time I wrote about the new home I told you about all the rooms that made up the first floor.  Now let's get on to the second floor.

The second floor is about bedrooms and bathrooms.  When you head up the stairs from the main floor foyer and arrive at the second floor landing, the door to your left leads to the Master bedroom, and the door straight ahead leads into the main bathrooms.  Turning right there is a hallway that leads to the other two bedrooms.  On the way you'll find the linen closet on the right and a large closet to the left.  At the end of the hallway are two doors - the one to the left goes to the smallest room which we are using as a guest room, and the door to the right leads to Walter's room.

Master Bedroom

This is a good sized room which can probably accommodate a King size bed.  We are sleeping in a twin bed.  I know, I know, why such a small bed for a couple?  We are snugglers.  Even in the heat of Summer there is usually some part of us that the other person is touching.  We haven't felt the need for additional space until recently ... and it's not really us that's brought this about, it's Walter.  He usually sleeps in his own room without any problems, but occasionally he has a bad dream or is a bit scared at some point in the night and he wants to be with us.  We've never turned him down.  When he was smaller it wasn't too bad, but now that he's older he's getting a bit too big to fit nicely between us.  Plus, he moves a lot during the night.  One of us is always complaining the next day of getting no sleep and being pushed around.  So, yes, we are in the midst of searching for a new, Queen size bed.  I think we've been dragging our feet a bit because Manuel built a lovely frame for the current bed and he'll have to build a new frame for the bigger bed.  Perhaps Walter will get the old frame when he gets a bigger bed at some point in the future?

Although the room size is good there are a few things we would like to change.  The wall colour - a dusty rose - is one of the first things we'd like to change.  We have paint left over from the townhouse, so we'll likely use that for now.  It's a much lighter, happier colour for us.  Second the drapes for the windows - just too old-fashioned for us, and again, the colour (dusty rose) is so not us.  Plus, the blinds are in serious need of some help.

I think, for the blinds I might try converting them into blackout shades.  The tutorial makes it sound reasonable and I've found other bloggers who have followed her lead with success.  The worse that can happen is I have to throw out the blinds and use the material for something else.  At present I'm hunting down the perfect fabrics - cheap, good colour, right fabric thickness - before getting started.

Walter's Bedroom

Walter's bedroom  was really the first room in the whole house to be made comfortable and homey.  We felt it was really important that he had a bedroom that was really welcoming.  A place he would want to play in, sleep in, study in.  I think we've been successful - he plays there quite often on his own.  When we get home at the end of the day he'll often race up to it to play by himself.

Even I enjoy spending time here, sitting in the wicker chair reading a book while Walter plays happily with his Lego while humming or singing to himself.  And as you can see, he's done a fair bit of decorating of the space himself!

Still, there are a few things his room needs - Manuel needs to build some shelving in his closet so all his toys can be stored away when not in use.  And his blinds too suffer from the same problem that we have with the Master bedroom blinds.  Another blackout blind project!

Guest Room

The final bedroom on this floor is the guest room.  Somehow it seems the most complete.  Yes, it needs a different colour on the wall, a window treatment to soften the blinds, and some artwork on the walls ... yet, it still seems to have most of what you expect in a guest room.

Main Bathrooms

You might have noticed that I always say main bathrooms - never main bathroom and ensuite.  It's kind of a weird setup.  When you come into the main bathroom there is a good sized vanity with a single sink.  That's it.  The space is approximately 6 x 8 - large for just a sink.  To the right is a pocket door that leads to our indoor pool - basically a huge, over-sized tub that needs at least three full time hot water tanks in order to fill it up with warm water!

To the left of the main bathroom vanity area is another pocket door.  This one leads to the ensuite section.  It has it's own toilet, teeny-tiny shower (don't drop the soap you won't be able to bend over to retrieve it!!), and a good-sized vanity with another single sink.

There's even an extra closet in this section that I've put my dresser in so that when I'm getting ready in the morning I don't have to go back and forth from the bedroom to the bathroom all the time.

So, yes it is a weird setup ... but the really weird thing is?  It grows on you!  It actually works pretty well.  We all can go in and out from various areas.  You can have privacy when you need it, but can also chat while you are getting ready and not get in each others faces while you're doing it.

The two main issues is a lack of an adequate shower - since Manuel and I only use the shower this has been just tolerable - and the bathtub sucks.  For now we're making do while we work out what the layout should be.  Should it be two separate bathrooms or keep the basic layout and just replace the fixtures?  Once we have that figured it'll be our second big project.  The first big project will be putting a bathroom into the basement.  It's got a roughed-in location for one.  Having that bathroom done will mean pulling out the second floor bathroom can be done without causing us too much heartache while it happens.

Well that's the basics for the house.  Yes, there is a basement.  Almost completely unfinished at this point.  We won't tour it for now ... once we start doing some work down there we'll give you a tour of the space!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What It Means to Be a Parent

A friend and good colleague, Jens, is a Father to two wonderful little boys - Marlon and Tobias.  Marlon was born in March 2011, and Tobias was born in December 2012.  Jens and his wife, Kerstin, are great parents.  The love they have for their children is undeniable.

But ...

Neither child is with them.  Marlon was delivered in a birthing trauma which allowed him only a few days to be with his parents before dying.  After much grief counselling (and I'm sure soul searching) Jens and Kerstin courageously decided to have another child.  Four weeks before his due date Tobias' heart stopped beating.  Despite the shock of this news Kerstin was able to have a wonderful birth experience.

It is impossible to fathom the grief that comes with these losses.  They have taken another courageous step in creating a website that allows parents who have lost children to connect and get involved.  Within the website is also a blog where they share their thoughts as they work through their grief.

If you have lost a child, or know someone who has, you might want to head over to their site to learn more and connect with others.