Wednesday, May 8, 2013

April, May, and Other Things I Forgot

Oh hey, I promise I didn't forget I had this blog. -promise-.

The last two months have been absolutely nuts as you can imagine. For one I got married, that was pretty cool. For two I had to travel down to California for my wedding reception a month and a half later. Less cool but equally exciting. It turned out beautifully and we had a huge group of guests which just made it even better. Here's a sneak peek of the fabulous part-not-a-reception my mother surprised us with.

(Did I mention my wedding ring has a wand engraved on it? We sorta like Harry Potter)
At last! I am free. So here I am, technically supposed to be editing photos....writing a new entry with new fun things that I can finally revisit.

I'll start with the exciting stuff. I have a new puppy!! His name is Remus, we just call him Remmy Dog. Hes an Italian Greyhound and was our missing piece. Since we brought him home last week from our Cali trip he has mastered "Sit", "Down", "Up", "Wait", and more. I'm so proud of him. He and Noodle are getting along brilliantly and my neighbors say they can't hear a thing. Fingers crossed they are being honest! Even 10 pounds of dog running down the hallways must make some noise right?

Along with plenty of wonderful wedding gifts my wonderful Auntie, who took care of him until I came for him, gave us a potty patch! The kind I thought was such a hassle at $75. Well at Petsmart in the states the small size only costs $35! It's a complete life saver. When I'm overwhelmed in editing and forget to take him out he just goes straight to his little patch and squats. I only change it every two days or as frequently as he uses it. I use arm-n-hammer potty training pads that smell like flowers but don't fit so I have to cut them before placing them. Not a big deal in the end since the benefits greatly outweigh the 30 seconds it takes to lob off a piece of the pad!

Then there was my silly project. I thought I might grow myself a patch of grass for the pups to use which would naturally filter out the bad stuff and just water the grass. Well it actually wasn't silly at all. It works wonderfully and there is no smell. I bought a 24x18 wooden garden box with chicken wire on the open bottom for $10. Then we found a garden basket mat for $2.50, organic composted soil for $5 and some basic green seed for $6. I cut the mat to size and added the soil on top of that, sprinkling of seed, and waited for it to grow. I predicted I would have spent $30 on the project which ended up being only $23.50 which was a pleasant surprise. Here's what it looks like now!

I may be no green thumb but I am definitely proud. I have a plastic mat underneath to prevent leaks but so far all it's done is collect condensation since my little patch doesn't leak at all. Pretty proud of this little thing.

Onto home-y things. My mother in law has this darling shop above their studio where she sells vintage home decor and hand painted one of a kind art cards. This summer she is properly opening to the public and wants to offer a few pieces of refurb every month. A task that is now in my hands given that i'm on the big island where all the good pieces are! We just have to find them. So far we're already learning things like, ask for detail pictures if they won't let you view it in person before buying, not a fun lesson. But all things aside we're both very excited to see what we can create.

I've also begun my own projects at home finally. We now have 11 art pieces mounted on the wall with 15 to go...Do you think we have too much art? I'm also finally getting to my darling chairs to finish them off, one of these days, and my bedroom lighting situation. I'm not going to show you what it looks like right now. One of those awful in between phases, like when you grow your short hair out and for a while you have an unavoidable mullet? Like that. However I can't ignore all of it's needs, for example it's great lack of lighting. Half of the plugs in the whole apartment don't work, a consequence of living in an old building. We've been making it work but the more I read with a flashlight at night the more my eyes are suffering. We have one gorgeous lamp, a gift from my mother in law, but no shade and no space for one. And just one. Finding a partner has been a huge pain until I finally cracked in Walmart and grabbed a lamp with a future full of spray paint fumes. It was a big chance and I wasn't sure if the paint would take given that I didn't sand it but my sturdy Krylon pulled through and gave me a wonderful product.

(Yay for peeling paint. Slowly fixing this table up for my MIL)
The lamp on the right is the spray paint job which I am now looking to distress and give a quick coat of light dove grey. I can't wait to get shades and put them in. I'm really picky about shades which makes shopping for them super hard. Too big, too bulky, too old style, too much shine, too much cloth. I may be taking inspiration from one of my favorite blogs, Little Green Notebook with this post and make my own lamp shades. We'll see!

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Resources, Scores, And Doggie Potty Solutions

Hello again. Whew! I feel like half the year is over and i'm only two weeks into March. For the record my wedding was spectacular, despite the tropical storm that decided to rain the entire three hours my family was on Vancouver Island and then let up to sunny skies the minute they left. But i'm not bitter...

I wanted to talk about resources, where I get my stuff and ideas. Most friends of mine know i'm deeply in love with the design world and terribly out of work in the real world. Which of course leads to me knowing loads of places to get good deals and blogs that show you how or give you inspiration for making the best of those deals. When I first began ogling DIY-ers and online decorators I had no home of my own....I had never even lived on my own. I would decorate my bedroom with all things nonsense and dreamed of the day I could truly DIY the crap out of my home. Still, Craigslist was a sketchy alternative, and shipping from online auction sites was out of the question. Now I have this fantastic flat and it seems the online used websites are endless. Let's review:

Used Everywhere-
Unf! My life hasn't been the same since I started using this website. I believe it's Canada and UK exclusive but I could be wrong. I...can't say enough good things about this website. I go here for everything! Furniture, lighting, antique chairs, dog things, and it is SO reliable. The listings are kept very current, so no stale ads like mr Craigslist. Pictures on nearly every listing, email and phone contact, maps to where the items are (Optional if you're not a business). I've been impressed over and over again with this website. I bought a french provincial green velvet sofa, love seat, and arm chair for $200! And the man I bought it from helped deliver them to my house at no extra cost. What a steal. So far the majority of my bought items for our flat have been from listings i'v found on this site. Definitely a must for me.

Kijiji/Ebay Classifieds-
Similar listings to Used Everywhere. I like the layout more than I like Craigslist but less than Used Everywhere. What I like about Kijiji is that, while I can filter on Used with price ranges etc, I can search filter simply low to high price etc. Again, budget freak here really likes to look for good deals so perfect simple opportunity. The downside for me is that while adds such as attack dog training and puppy mill sales might be posted on other used websites the moderation for Kijiji seems to be minimal. Meaning many listings especially scams are being responded to innocently despite victims reporting the posts. No bueno.

And finally

I would say this is probably the most commonly known used website out there at the moment (Granted, this is USA/CA talk, I can't speak for the rest of the world). Meet people, buy stuff, find jobs. For me? It has been the least reliable as far as buying anything furniture wise/decoration wise. That is obviously a downside since I would use it the most if I only knew the minute I sent the email off I was bound to get a negative response. However this is probably the best place for anyone to look for housing! If of course you're like me and have a dog and don't want to sort through excellent pet friendly listings all at 1800+. When i'm looking for just about anything online that isn't housing this is my LAST go to.

Of course these are not the only used websites out there. In fact a simple search for "Used -my area-" on Google will yield more results than you might think. Obviously the popularity of a site greatly determines the reliability, but you don't know 'till you try!

Now, onto stores. For all the internet searching I do for furniture etc if i'm out i'm out. My dear husband has a terrible love of shopping and I have a terrible knack for deals. This generally equates to me coming home with more than I should and him wondering why we can't just browse. I'm a terrible browser. However this does mean I can compare stores, which is a huge benefit. My number one tip on retail shopping if you're going to go somewhere for your home-y needs is scout! I know I just said i'm not good at browsing, but browsing to me is taking your time, leisurely strolling down the aisle looking at many things you wish you could have. No. If i'm scouting i'm in and out of a store in 10 minutes or less. I spot the big items on my list be it cabinets, side tables, light fixtures, then I focus on the little things. Trim, spray paint, pillows, etc. Being in the city i'm in you wouldn't believe the places you can find these objects out of the blue for excellent prices but I truly believe it's about always keeping your eyes open.

This part is obviously a little bit more exclusive. Seeing as I live on Vancouver Island where we don't even have an Ikea the shopping is limited when it comes to large furniture and affordability. So far i'v seen some fantastic places such as  The Junction , The Fabulous Find , and my favorite of all Chintz n Co . I know that last one isn't a used store BUT they have the most spectacular feature. The upper story is the sale loft. I wish I could describe how dreamy it is. You walk in, you're surrounded by beautiful furniture in a plethora of patterns and shades, hundreds of mirrors and paintings cover the walls and luxurious rugs underfoot, then you ascend the stairs to- low prices. Not just any low prices, but amazing affordable low prices (Who hates a store with 50% off all items in store sales, yeah 50% off 3,500 is still 50% over budget). I have hardly been living here for 3 months and i'm still getting the lay of the land but once my wallet catches up i'll be on the prowl again and i'm sure i'll update the list.

Here are my top favorite deals!

One of the most used items in our house, our bedside tables. We scored this sweet pair of pickled wood bedside tables with little writing table fold outs for $99 each marked down from $450! Chintz and Co.

(Don't mind the poorly staged and lit photo. It's all i'v got till this darn room is finished.)

At the same trip to Chintz n Co's attic I also found a great area rug for our bedroom to cover the awful green-y beige carpet ( friendly in a bad way, sigh). For a quick fix it was a steal at $110 marked down from $375. Inset deal dance here. Sadly, I don't have any photos of that yet because as tradition deems it, the bedroom is the last to be finished. But soon!

Another favorite and daily used is our sofa. It came in a set (see my ravings of UsedVictoria above) and it is flawless. While everyone stayed in my home for my wedding it was slept on many times, held more than it's share of rear ends, and has held unfortunately several loads of laundry since. But it's a trouper! I hear no springs, see no nails, and feel no hard spots on the velvet which makes this a definite favorite. Used Victoria.

(Also don't mind this photo. Velvet is hard to photograph and so is my dog.)

On a stranger note, this fantastic ridiculous amazing Moon Globe. Blew my mind, I didn't know they made them. Now I can't think of why they wouldn't! It definitely fills my geek side even though I have no clue what to do with it decoratively...They where made in celebration of the first man on the moon and are wonderful. While this has seen better days it still is in amazing condition. The original plastic moonscape base is even with it! I'v seen several with rust, multiple dents, and missing the base sell online for upwards of $200 or more. Quite the gem, for only $15. The Junction.

Last but definitely not leave, my lovely trunk turned dvd storage-$10. Alright it's not anything amazing, but for the price it's serving me well! The hinges are still in tact and I can lock it shut when i'm not using it. Very useful. Also it's green and I have a bit of an obsession. Used Victoria.

Well, looks like I had quite a bit to talk about today. The last thing I had to cover was my pups potty situation. For my friends who live in rainy cities like mine having a dog low to the ground can be a big hassle when it comes to potty time. Noodle is probably the worst. I'v tried plenty of things but i'm raising my white flag. I may not have a backyard but I have a lovely deck which gives me no excuse for not making use of it for my pup. Some research online lead me to things like the Porch Potty, or Potty Patch, but these kits cost anywhere from $75-300! Ok $75 maybe, but for a small patch of artificial turn raised above the ground which you need to hose off every few days, buy new training pads to place underneath for, and will smell regardless? No thanks. I'm going to try to make my own and experiment! Thus far i'v spent $25 with $10 to go. I'll let you know how it goes!

Thanks for tuning in.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wedding, Diet, and Projects.

Ah! I'v been waiting to write an entry for a while and I finally have a moments calm before the storm.

To clarify, i'm getting married in 2 days. Hes a dream, they come true. However i'v been scrambling all over the place since I single-handedly am making this whole thing happen! Flowers, venue, photographer, suits, food. Luckily my amazing maid of honor made all the bouquets for me (I wish I could show you the process! We made them from thrifted dresses. I love fabric bouquets, they last longer and are much cheaper!) I'll show photos once I have them I promise. Yet all of that aside I have 2 hours waiting for a laundry cycle to write. Lets begin.

I'm getting married in 2 days. I know I already said that but bear with me. When he 'popped the question' in December it was no surprise, we had been talking about it for almost a year at that point. So I figured we would have a fall wedding, spend the year planning for the wedding as casually as possible, and come October we would have ourselves a lovely wedding. Except for one small detail. I'm not currently a resident of Canada. In fact, given another few months i'll have to leave Canada since my passport will run out. So either I would be spending 6 months in California again this year or we would get married sooner. Then my best friend/maid of honor told me she's leaving on a religious mission. In March. DONE. Three days after he proposed we set the date for March 2nd. I had three ish months to plan a wedding which sounds alright.

Now I have some words of advice. I'v been to many weddings in my life and it would appear that no matter how long you have to plan you always end up with the same problems. Thus far our wedding party has had one broken engine, two passport problems, and three fussy professors making it impossible for one groomsman to attend. When your wedding party is only 15 people small you don't expect these things to be a problem. But i'm happy to announce we are one day away from everyone arriving and so far we're only spending 1/4 of our budget on travel. Ouch. We love them, it's worth it. I'm getting off track.

Three months is a good amount of time to try to get back into shape. Of course, everyone makes that vow around the holiday season, I -will- start going to the gym this year. I'm going to lose all of that holiday food. Then the proverbial gym membership is made and ended within the first two months. Well I did try. We where starting to pack for the move at the time I got back to Canada in the end of December which meant I spent a lot of time grumbling about my back being in pain and straining one ankle or the other. Suddenly it was February and we where moving in! More strained ankles and sore backs and promises to start doing yoga and going for jogs...tomorrow.

Our first trip to Costco to stock up for the new flat was very successful. Kept the budget under 200$ and managed to buy everything but window cleaner. As we strolled the aisles exchanging yes's and no's to things we needed and didn't I noticed a bag of Chia seeds for a great bargain and thought I might give it a shot. 14$ isn't bad considering how many bags of quinoa and couscous I buy on a regular basis and I was curious to see it's effects.

I believe the first time I had heard about it was in a documentary I found on netflix called Hungry for Change ( ) which I highly recommend. They talk about adding gelatinous foods to your diet. Not jello or pudding but naturally gelatinous foods such as Aloe and Chia seed. So I took it home, read the instructions on the side of the bag, and came to a wonderful discovery. Chia seeds become gelatinous after you add water, they swell up to 12 times their original size. Which means that I can add a tablespoon (the recommended amount per meal) to my salad dressing, or my omelette in the morning and the seeds will expand in my stomach. A natural diet suppressant. I'v never put much store into diets since they change as often as clothing fads, but this was different. If I have one horrible secret that even I don't want to own up to it's how much of an anxious eater I am. Come any stress and you can find me in the kitchen with a handful of crackers, nuts, olives, just about anything. So here I was weeks away from my wedding and you can bet I had been guilty as they come and desperate to change it.

Now, if you're a skeptic like me you might think it sounds like any other magical diet suppressant plant out there. The green coffee bean kick that's going right now? Yeah i'm not convinced. However I'v been eating the chia seeds for a month now and I am impressed. First of all, they don't have a flavor. Not even a nutty smell. Which makes it super simple to add to teas, soups, etc without messing with flavors. That was a major plus for me. Then to add to the "awesome stuff" list they are inexpensive. In the month i'v been eating them (probably two tablespoons a day?) it looks as if i'v barely touched the bag, which as I mentioned earlier was only 14$. I add them to my omelette in the morning, or my tea, and sip throughout the day. They feel almost like little tapioca beads in your mouth which is sort of fun to play with. I definitely notice if I haven't eaten them as I become restless and hungry. While I am still keeping a safe and healthy diet this is where I can see it going wrong. If you do consider using them for diet suppression don't overdo it and replace meals with seeds. Also, drink lots of water!! Probably my second biggest diet fault is not drinking water if it's not cold. No cold water? Not thirsty. Definitely keep that one on the menu.

WHEW! Sorry for the rant. Anyways, thus far i'm down by about 7 pounds from my usual weight. Partially because I cut my daily salt intake in half (makes you retain water and bloat! Not good for wedding photos) and definitely because of portion control and no more snacking thanks to my lovely Chias! I never feel exhausted, and I am super pleased with the result. If you have any questions about them feel free to ask away.

Projects! Last year I bought a lovely antique 1800's chair for about 20$ off of craigslist. After pulling away the shoddy upholstery job, rusted nails, and stained foam seat I found the original beautiful purple velveteen upholstery. I was so smitten with it, my first project chair and it held so much history! Unfortunately the rust has stained it beyond salvaging and I was forced to move on. I'v spent months mulling it over in my mind. What should I do with that chair? I considered giving it a quick art appeal and reselling it even. But in the end I couldn't part with it. It has too many flaws and too much appeal for me to try to find a new home for it (i'm sitting on it as we speak. Hey, even horsehair can be comfy!). Here's a photo of the original undressing process.

Since we have moved into our new flat and the interior went from a rather modern quirk to a much more fitting Victorian style this chair stands so beautiful and so alone. We have no dining table at the moment and for a while it was just this one chair that would have been the closest to a dining chair we could come. Until just a few weeks ago (first weekend of the month) when everyone was leaving their leftovers on the curb and we saw another beauty. Black, arm-less like our first chair, and with a much larger seat. I snatched it right up, who could resist free curbside like that? Clamped, glued, and now in perfect working order I'm looking at my two mismatched chairs, scratching my head wondering....what am I going to do. At first when we where headed in a more modern direction I had thought to collect odd chairs and spray paint them odd colors, given than our whole kitchen is rainbow. Now there is no way we could tie in our dining room with our living space that way. I'm thinking black with grey..possibly faux tweed seats but I have no clue. Until we have a table though, I think it will all be fine.

Thanks for reading, as always.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Welcome, Introduction, And My First Project

Welcome to Laurel Lane. Here I plan to catalogue the many various DIY projects I've got in store for myself in my new home. To start i'll do a little intro of myself and lay out some projects I have planned for these next few months! Enjoy.

My name is Julie and I live on Vancouver Island with my dog Noodle and my partner Andrew. We share a love for Victorian and French Provincial style as well as Modern and Eclectic decor. Mixing the two has proved to be an enormously fun challenge and with a low budget as well as existing furniture to work around and living in an old Victorian flat we can't paint I have set out to make the most of what I have and to make it awesome.

There are a few goals I want to set for this blog so I might as well list those here. First i'll budget as well as I possibly can so that I can categorize projects by cost. Second i'd like to have at least a project per month. Any kind of project. I want to do crafty things and DIY decor as well as interesting recipes etc and I want to be able to share them all here. Third i'd like to improve my clothing style while still relying on cheap thrift shopping but maintaining a cute look for myself. Well I think that's it. Now onto the projects!

The first thing I did when we moved into our apartment was to look all over our local used website for attractive storage/organizing options. Since Andrew has Ikea furniture left over from his past apartments we already have a few great items like our book case that can double as an organizer if we used baskets. But i'm not really a basket person. In fact, they are probably one of the things that started me on my list of things I have no clue how to make attractive. So that leads us here.


Say hello to Peter (He came with a name tag, promise). I picked him up for 10 dollars despite the broken hinge, obvious wear and tear, and only one working lock. Pretty much anyone these days knows how wildly attractive a trunk is, and the more beat up the better! But this is less of a treasure trunk and more of an 'ooh possibilities' trunk. I'v seen old trunks like this used as coffee tables, benches, even dog beds but I had something better in mind. I wanted a DVD cabinet. I have a huge collection and after some measuring I worked it out that I could make two shelves to hold 70 or so DVDs. Unfortunately I don't have a power saw/table saw/....saw at all so we did this bit over at my in laws home. It's so simple though, really, you can do it all with one piece of wood just measure, trim, and nail in our shelves. Mine slide right in thanks to my crafty fiance. Looks good huh?


As you can see there where existing dowels which I simply used to stabilize the shelves themselves. Since we did this project on a cold concrete floor the wood has actually expanded and fits into the trunk so snug now that I can't pull them out...(Maybe that's just my sissy woman hands ha!) Once the weather improves however I will be taking them out and either staining them or painting them. Grey? Brown? Ideas? I'm still searching for direction with this room but I think for it being my first decorating project it's coming along quite nicely. Here's the finished product:

Don't mind the shelves...we still haven't moved it all in yet! I'll get the hang of this. For now my walls will have crooked art and i'll be taking everything off my trunk whenever I want to watch something. See you soon!


I did say i'd share projects didn't I. Oops. Well In the back of this photo you can see two chairs which will be featured in one of my next posts<3