Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Artist Find: Sara Blake

Simply amazing.  Graphic designer and illustrator Sara Blake uses pencil, watercolour and digital techniques to create these amazing pieces.  Her shop will be launching in October, so keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks to daily imprint for the find!

What's in your shampoo?

Or lotion, body wash, cosmetics... everything, really.  Do you even know? You might be surprised.

I decided that since many of you aren't a part of BlogFrog, I would upload the forum discussion topic as a post on here.  This in information is incredibly useful and I think very important to anyone trying to live a healthier life and to have a smaller impact on the planet.

Canadian author Adria Vasil has written a couple fantastic books, two of which are called Ecoholic and Ecoholic Home.  Adria talks about controversial ingredients found in most of our common beauty products.  Your skin is the largest organ of your body and absorbs everything!   You need to know what you're putting on it.  Here is the list.

#1 Diethanolamine (DEA): A suspected carcinogen commin in shampoos, body wash and makeup.  Cocamide DEA, MEA and TEA may be contaminated with DEA

#2 Formaldehyde: You might not see it on your ingredient list, but this carcinogen is found in imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin and quaternium-15.  Formaldehyde can evaporate into the air when the product is wet.

#3 Parabens: All types of parabens (methyl, ethyl, etc)  have been found to be estrogenic - meaning they mimic female hormones.  Parabens have been found in breast tumour samples but haven't been conclusively linked to cancer.

#4 Petrolatum: Comes from non-renewable crude oil, kind of like tanking up at the pump.  Not breathable.  Mineral oil is also petroleum-based.

#5 Phenylenediamine (PPD): Also goes by the name of P-diaminobenzene.  Found in all permanent dyes, especially darker shades, it has been tied to increases in bladder cancer in long-term frequent users.

#6 Phthalates: You'll rarely see this controversial family of hormone disrupters listed on labels.  It's often tuceked away under the ingredient "fragrance".

#7 Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate (SLS):  Skin irritants; laureth is less irritating than lauryl, but can still case dryness.  Found not to cause cancer after much suspicion, but not everyone's convinced.

#8 Talc: A powder found in everything fromeye shadow and blush to baby powder and deodorant.  Any talc that's contaminated with asbestos fibres is a recognized carcinogen.  The U.S. Department of Health's National Institutes of Health (NIH) voted to have talc (even non-asbestos-tainted stuff) categorized as a probably carcinogen, but it was voted down by another government body.

#9 Toluene: this powerful solvent is found in nail polishes.  Long-term exposure affects the nervous system, liver and kidneys.  It can also contribute to smog, making it an all-round bad guy.

#10 Triclosan: An antibacterial chemical used in everything.  It's building up in our rivers and sewage sludge and can turn into carcinogenic dioxins when exposed to sunlight in water.  It has been found in breast milk and has been banned by U.K. supermarkets.

Here is a fantastic site for checking how safe your cosmetics are, what's in them and which brands produce healthier products: Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Database.  And remember - your cosmetics all have a list of ingredients.  Just like reading labels on food products, you need to read the labels on your beauty products.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm growing!

Well, the blog is.  Sort of - I'm giving it a bit of a push.  (Let's be honest, I haven't grown since I was 14.)

Today I created a Facebook Fan page that you should all join!

AND if you're on BlogFrog, I now have a white collar | green soul community with a couple discussions started so go have your say!  I'll be sharing things I've learned about blogging & code as well as healthy living and eating, home renos... basically anything I think you'll find helpful.

Sooooo, go check those out so I'm not lonely and talking to myself!!

- wcgs.

And if you noticed, I have a new button! Thanks to Hubs finding some great images for me so that I could create something with a bit more personality.

Baby steps forward

You guys might be wondering as to why there haven't been any updates showing grandiose transformations of entire rooms.  Well, there is a very simple answer to that... there haven't been any grandiose transformations.  I know, I was hoping I'd have something but I have discovered that renovations take time... a lot of it.

Four months ago, when we moved in, I thought that by this time, our bedroom would have been completed months before, our living area would be super-awesome and that the bathroom would have been repainted.

And then reality kicked me in the side of the head.  A full-time job and renovations ... well, they suck.  It's really hard to be motivated to spend an evening sanding, patching and painting after a full day of work.

So we have been reveling in the small victories... painted medallions, finished floors (which I have yet to show you - soon, I promise), ordered furniture etc.

Here is a small corner of the house I quite enjoy, but with still a glaring issue (the missing light fixture). The wall colour is BM Colonial Brick - I love it. Sometimes it looks a little orange-y, other times of the day pinkish and even other times a dark red. Add such dimension to the room.

I decided to do a sconce roundup to see what was out there.  I think I want one that's either horizontally oriented, or that washes the wall with light downwards.  I'm pretty sure I can't afford any of these, but a girl can dream, and, if anything, get inspired.

In order from top to bottom, left to right, they are: I-Club by Burkhard Dammer, Barn Lamp - Gooseneck by DWR, All light closed by Rodolfo Dordoni, Calvino Parkade Sconce by Propellor Design, Nevo Wall Sconce, Cubi Console by Mammini/Candido, Calhoun Glass Sconce from Pottery Barn, Olympia Wall Light by Roberto Favaretto, Logico Triple Wall Lamp by Artemide, Acheo Parete by Artemide, Omega P20 Wall Light by Architects Arter & Citton, Jian by Artemide, PH 2.5-3 Wall Sconce by Louis Poulsen, and the Arne Jacobsen Wall Lamp by Arne Jacobsen.

I love the over-sized glass shades.  Gorgeous.  And I admit, the Nevo Wall Scone (the roses) are completely bizarre, but there is something about them that I really like.  In the right space they could be pretty fantastic.

All in all, for this space, I think my favourites are the Barn Lamp and the Acheo Parete by Artemide.  The profile of the Barn Lamp is great.  It comes in black and white as well, though I really enjoy the red.  And the Acheo Parete is simply wonderful - modern, edgy, textured, but the overall design is really simple.

So, what do you think?

Before & After | Ceiling Medallions

Since I don't really have entire rooms prepped and looking pretty for pictures, I will start posting our smaller victories!  These little enhancements are making the house better, baby step by baby step.

Before | Ceiling Medallion

After | Ceiling Medallion

Still left to do:
- replace shades
- paint fixture something fun (yellow?)
- paint ceiling

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meet Winston Churchill

Yes, Winston Churchill is an itty-bitty mouse Hubs just caught romping through our living room.  He is currently hanging out under the blender jug.  How CUTE is he??? I sort of want to keep him.  Sort of.

The slightly hilarious part about this was I was just lamenting how there hasn't been much progress in the house for me to post about.   And voila!  Winston Churchill arrives.  How convenient.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why I blog

Day 5 of SITS Back to Blogging Competition (sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances) is to answer the above question.

Honestly, I write because I have a lot to say.  (Shocker.) I have opinions and passions (strong ones) and, in real life, as in non-blog life, I often forget to filter them (not always a good thing).  But here, I can just write! And write and write and write.  No one really has to read everything, but I pretend they do.

Many of these opinions centre around sustainability and living a non-wasteful, conscious life.  It's not an easy way to live and often requires a lot more energy and patience than the easy, advertised way.  I get very frustrated with the latter and the fact that we are being pressured to live that way by, seemingly, everyone/thing around us.  I try to spread the word of not being so materially obsessed, but still being able to respect objects and the work that went into them, and not simply to love them for the moment they are trendy.  A respect for objects, the true materiality, leads us to buy things that may cost more, but that we know will last us for years. 

I am also a Christian - another non-easy path of living, which takes more patience and effort than our typical societal way of life.  It is also not that far removed from living a respectful life to others and our planet.  Being grateful for what I have and realizing I don't actually deserve any of it (why not someone else?  why not the thousands in this city who are homeless and unemployed?) has kept me level-headed about the process of renovating our 110-year-old house... especially when we learn something 'new' about it, like the ceiling thing.

It's an amazing feeling to know that I am not alone in these ideals and right now this dialogue and this continuous record of the renovation and the support I get from all of you guys is what keeps me from going absolutely insane.

So thank you for dropping by!  And, yes I like to talk, but sometimes it gets lonely talking to yourself, so leave comments, talk back, ask questions!

- a.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inspirational Women

Day 4 of SITS Back to Blogging Competition (sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances) is to write about a woman who inspires me.  

Despite having minor panic attacks of who to choose (I am surrounded by amazing women every day, including my mother, sisters and closest friends) there was one woman unlike any I have every met.

Her name was Irena.
I lived with her in London, England in the summer of 2005.
She was my great aunt - wife to my grandmother's brother.

Remarkable doesn't even begin to describe this woman and despite how difficult it would be to summarize her life and her ... amazingness, I am going to quickly give you a glimpse (seriously, a teeny, tiny glimpse) into an unforgettable life,  and even these tid bits will not do her life any justice.

Born in the eastern part of Poland in 1917, Irena would eventually move to France and study medicine.  WWII broke out while she was living in France - and thank God for that because no one else in her family managed to survive the war.

To escape, she planned to go to the UK.  She walked for 17 days until she reached the port and tried to get on board a ship headed to England.  There was a big storm and the boats weren't letting women on.  Having made friends with some soldiers, Irena put her long, long braids in a bundle on top of her head, slapped a soldier's cap on it along with a soldier's uniform and snuck on to the boat with the rest of the soldiers.

You now know how she arrived in England.

Sometime after, Irena became a live-in-maid in a women's house in London.  She would serve strawberries and cream and biscuits to her employer's writer friends who would come to the house and talk about literature.  One of these friends happened to be George Orwell, but Irena had no idea who this man was at the time.

Later on in life when she was a doctor and wife, she would travel with her husband to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), in Africa and work as the country's main health care providers for fourteen years.  They entertained the Queen, Dukes and other important people visiting the country and the region.  She spoke very nonchalantly about these dinners.

Over those fourteen years they travelled back and forth from Africa to Europe many times and each time it took them about three months journey, in one direction, primarily by boat.

Later on in life, my aunt and her husband divorced.   He developed schizophrenia and couldn't work, but refused to take a government disability pension.  For eighteen years my great-aunt worked and supported them both, paying for both their mortgages, food etc., until his death.

In the late 80's Irene was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  She was given two weeks to live and until she managed to find an Australian doctor who was willing to operate, no one would.  She would get cancer a second time in her second kidney a decade later and survive again.

When I went to live with her in 2005,my great-aunt was 88 years-old.  She was still living on her own in her apartment - except for a woman who would come in and vacuum for her and chit-chat once a week.  Every day she was in a lot of pain.  Getting dressed each morning was an arduous task because it hurt to lift her arms.  Her body was old and frail and unbelievably small; she moved slowly.  Yet, every day I woke up to go to work, there she was, sitting on the couch, dressed.   She had made me breakfast.  Try as I might, she refused to let me do it myself.

Irena told me all of these stories many times while I stayed with her - all of which she would repeat, even twice in an afternoon.  Her short-term memory was slowly failing, but the stories each time, were exactly the same.  Those memories from decades past were vivid in her mind and you could see it in her eyes.

Two months after I came home from London that year, my great-aunt passed away.  I cried.  A lot.  I still get teary when I think of her, but she was just waiting for peace.  She was ready to go and had been for a long time.  I think God must have kept her around here just so I could spend those few months with her.  (Greatly appreciated.)

What she achieved in her 88 years I can only dream of - but I will always strive to have her goodness, determination and resilience.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Breaking floors and breaking down RECAP.

Day 3 of SITS Back to Blogging Competition is to repost a blog with a title I am particularly fond of.
I love the name of this one because it summarized my success and failure all in one clever little sentence. 

So, remember that list?  Yes, I admit, it was a little optimistic.  However, had everything gone according to plan (HA!) then it would have been doable.  Not to say we didn't try!  As of right now the list looks like this:

  • Buy paint for dining room
  • Buy a quart of paint for stairwell
  • Paint second coat in dining room below chair rail
  • Dust and wash trim in foyer, dining room, stairway, living room
  • Paint trim
  • Paint living room walls
  • Paint medallions on ceiling in living room (painted one)
  • Sand and paint banister
  • Spray paint brass hardware on banister black
  • Spray paint remaining towel racks in bathroom black
  • Paint living room light fixtures
  • Cut spruce floor boards to size
  • Patch flooring in master bedroom
  • Tidy kitchen
  • Tidy living room Updated! 2010.09.09
  • Do laundry
  • Vacuum Updated! 2010.09.09
  • Have a glass of wine (or two or three....)
So... decent.  This is what happened that weekend.

After my sister and Ryan left,  I started painting the living room.  It went well, I got two coats on a third of it and I painted one of the medallions.  I have to take a picture of it for you guys, because it looks so unbelievably better now that it's painted out white!  It was a long night; I stayed up until 3am painting, drinking wine.  (Note to self: do not place wine glass under area of ceiling you are painting... it will drip.)

On Sunday, I started with the floor.

I had borrowed a friends circular saw, jig saw, compressor and nail gun.  What you are seeing above is a 3/8" thick piece of OSB, that was extremely difficult to remove.  The reason I was removing it was because the spruce Hubs had bought to patch the floor was just a tiny bit too high with this OSB down.  I would have to remove it and replace it with 1/4" thick piece.

I used the saws to cut holes and try to lift off the osb, but it just continued to break off into small pieces.  I continued to work on this for about two hours.

I cut through a wire.... ? Hmmm - I'm pretty sure it's knob and tube.  At least I know it's not live (and thank God for that).

My plaster ceiling below.... I kept picturing myself stepping on it and ending up in the living room like Tom Hanks in The Money Pit.

Two hours is I cut back some osb to find this....

This is about the time I started to cry... not before picking up the paper, of course, realising what it was and promptly putting it back down.

Thoughts going through my head at this point, in no particular order, sometimes all at once.

"Great, now I'm going to get cancer and die in thirty years"
"Do I have to call in someone to get rid of this?? I don't have time!"
"How on earth am I going to finish this before the flooring guy gets here on Tuesday??"
"Ugh, worst time for Hubs to take his camping trip EVER"
"I should have just gotten laminate"
"I wonder if it's too late to just call back the flooring guy and buy laminate"


My sister, sometimes strangely the most calm and rational person I know (other times, quite the opposite), had her rational hat on that day.  She told me to shut up and stop being an idiot.  There was no way I was getting laminate.  She and Ryan would be down that night to help me finish everything.

....sigh of relief followed by a glass of wine and some more painting.

Back to the asbestos.  As I've mentioned in a previous post, asbestos is safest when it is left alone.  In a state like paper or tiles (as opposed to vermiculite insulation) it's not that dangerous unless you start tearing the stuff apart.  Then it becomes very dangerous.  The best solution for us was to cover the paper back up with flooring and not disturb it.  So that is what we did.

Thanks to a good nights sleep and our combined super-strength, it took Anna and I approximately 20 minutes to finish the job.  Please not the Rona bag and pieces of wood strategically placed over the loose asbestos paper.  There is also some wrapped around the duct - which was one of the typical uses for it.

Yay! New OSB in with duct cut out.


This contest is sponsored by, who I assume are super cool people, at Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Post I wish more people read....

Day 2 of the SITS Back to Blogging Competition is to post what I wish more people would have read.  This is a post from fairly early on and I don't think I was doing as good a job of promoting my blog at that point.

I wanted more people to pay attention to this post because this sofa is amazing.  Admit it.  You love it.  And don't you dare say "It looks like my grandmother's couch" - and if it does, she has fan-freaking-tastic taste.  Seriously!  It rocks.  PLUS, it perfectly matches the Thelma & Louise washer/dryer combo that is up for grabs in this competition sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances. !! (See??).


To the dismay of my husband, the moment I have waited a year for, has finally arrived.  The day I get to find a place in our new home for this…

Introducing: the coolest couch in the history of couches, obtained for free and (besides a tear in one cushion & one broken spring) in incredible condition.

Take it in, folks… take it in.


You have to admit - she's an amazing piece of furniture.  The detail in the fabric and in the wood is beautiful and the survival of the piece is a testament to the quality of its workmanship.  Granted, it's not in everyone's taste, but picture it in a pattern or colour you love, and I dare you to resist.

- a.

Ps.  I lied... I don't actually have a place for it yet.  Due to the chaotic state of the living room, my beautiful sofa moves around from wall to wall, corner to corner, as everything get shuffled every three days or so.  At least it's in the right room (and not the garage)... baby steps.

Now, if you've actually read my posts (HA!) you'll know that I had to compromise on the sofa... I cried a little.  But, the beauty is still here and with the new couch on its way I am brainstorming ideas for what to do with my baby.  Because leaving her on the side of the road is NOT an option.

So far: 
- put her in the bedroom as a lounger- so NOT the colour scheme we are going for.
- put her in the kitchen - let's be honest, nothing matches in there anyway at the moment
- make a WOmen Den in the basement.  To my husband's dismay the basement is six feet tall.. he is 6'1 and I am 5'3 (almost).  Perfect for me, not so perfect for him.  I figure I can take over and make something super amazing down there (and much less creepy than it currently is).

- a.

My first ever post....

Day 1 of an amazing contest - Back to Blogging - that is also meant to hone my blogging skillz.  The first excercise (yesterday's) given by the SITS girls was to repost my first ever post, say what I like about it and what I would do differently a second time around.


What's in a name?

Everything, apparently.  Do you know how hard it is to choose a name for a blog?  To assign it a title that will become associated with you (hopefully) for a long time?  Unbelievable - I have names picked out for my future children (which I'm not even ready to have any time soon) and yet I found it so very difficult to finally settle on a title for a blog.  I've been debating this for months.  Regardless of that, I finally did it, and here it is. 

It is my intention to convey (and combine) two things - my love for design, shaped by a career in architecture and my desire to be a lazy hippie with a vegetable garden and, hopefully, one day a pet goat named Howard.

So welcome to my new project; it will serve as a record for all my other projects - the biggest of which will be... dum dum dum.... our new house! We move into it a week from tomorrow!  I will post on various topics, including our attempts to fix up a 100 year old brick Victorian with a serious 80's decor problem, organic gardening at home and amazing antique finds.  I am an avid photographer and so you can expect many of those as we proceed through this little escapade.

Thanks and welcome!


Okay, so I like the feel of this post.  It's still very similar to how I write now (which isn't surprising as I've only been doing this for three months) and it's very laid back.  I think it's pretty entertaining and somewhat funny - especially the goat.  I'm still serious about the goat, though.  I'd totally love a goat... imagine your own goat cheese??? ugh, amazing.
Anyway, what I would change is that I would definitely put a photo in there... say of a goat. Seriously, who doesn't love a goat.  In fact.. I'm going to do that right now.  So, here is what I hope my future pet, Howard, will look like:

This picture just made my day.  Any time I am sad or upset now, I am going to look at this post.  See how much better this is??? I've learned so much in three months, already!!

So, want to know what the contest is?? GAH! The contest is to win Thelma & Louise - a GORGEOUS (turquoise!) set of Electrolux washer/dryer.  The contest is sponsored by the amazing people at Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen & Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances.  Do you want to see how gorgeous these girls are?? I am in love.  Take a look: 

Could these be more me?? Please, answer me that.  I dare you to find a pair that's more me.... ugh. LOVE these two girls.  Come live with me, Thelma and Louise!


Friday, September 10, 2010

My ceiling is leaking.

No, this is not a joke.

I am getting very frustrated (understatement of the century) at all the corners the previous owners decided to cut.

How do people set such low standards for themselves??

How can someone live in a house that hasn't been cleaned in years, is missing downspouts, has water pouring into the basement..... and apparently has a leaky pipe under the shower.

This is not what I wanted for my friday - I'm sorry for the uncharacteristic grumpiness of this post!

Now, my friends - make me feel better! Tell me when a 'surprise' in your house took you to the edge and how you got back!

I probably shouldn't be surprised....

With the myriad dating sites out there, I feel like I shouldn't be surprised by the any aimed at a specific group of people. But for some reason, I was quite surprised by coming across Green Singles. It's been around since 1985! (Aren't I behind on the band wagon!) I stumbled upon it through EcoSalon while looking for some cool 'green' images for my blog header. It does make perfect sense that dating sites for like-minded individuals can be found for almost any interest - and since being 'green' is more of a lifestyle than a hobby is quite an important aspect to cover when starting any relationship. (If your significant other would choose the easy solution, doesn't like paying more than what he/she pays at Wal-Mart, and eats red meat as if it were the last cow on earth, you might run into problems).

So kiddos, if you're looking for someone who is a more conscious resident of this planet, Green Singles might be the place to look!

Here are some other links that EcoSalon suggests:

"...recently there has been an explosion of green dating sites in cyberspace, all aimed at helping environmentalists and vegetarians find like-minded partners. But even within the green dating niche, there are sub niches. Green Passions seems to attract recyclers, DateForTrees embraces treehuggers, DemocraticSingles is for the left leaning politicos, and for those short on time, there is always GreenSpeedDating. Other possibilities include Earth Wise Singles and Ethical Singles. And if you’re not quite ready for internet dating, not to worry. Try attending a local Green Drinks night instead. It’s a great way to broaden your social circle, make new friends, and – who knows? – maybe meet your sustainable soul mate."

See, these shouldn't really have surprised me. This didn't surprise me, which makes it all the more disconcerting about what I have come to expect from the world. Love long and prosper, kiddos!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Artist Find: Ricardo Actus

May I introduce you to Brazilian artist, Ricardo Actus.  I found his work through a friend's site 1000 hours of drawing.  I find his work absolutely incredible; it's a little dark, as you'll notice, full of an intense energy.  Here are three of my favourites.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
” ‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more.”

POE, Edgard Allan. The Raven.

And my absolute favourite:

Take a closer look.... 
...that's masking tape!

I am waiting for when Ricardo begins selling his work!

Friday, September 3, 2010

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