Easy DIY shelves

Back in May, I shared our plans to convert part of our basement into a shared space for Adam and Hannah. About one-third of the room has been transformed into Hannah's playroom (more on that later) and now I've started making some small updates to Adam's studio - like adding these simple shelves.

We found the metal brackets in our garage. They were part of the most ridiculous set of "shelves" I've ever seen - think scrap 2x4s haphazardly nailed onto the brackets. Anyway, I spray painted them white and picked up some raw pine shelves at a home improvement store for around $10 each.

They house all of Adam's drum and guitar books, and some "just for fun" stuff, like the old fan my dad and his wife found while cleaning out their retirement house. I'm pretty sure it works, and therefore terrified that someone will accidentally cut their finger off, so it stays on the highest shelf, far away from any outlets. I'd like to add another plant to that vase (I spray painted it white months ago and drew the design with a Sharpie). Something that doesn't require a lot of light. Or frequent watering. Basically something that can withstand the neglect it's sure to receive.

I didn't paint or stain the shelves, and I actually like the plain look. I wish I was a better photographer, because they really make the space feel cozier. I mean, it's still a basement with exposed ceilings (not the good kind) in an old house, but it feels like we're finally on the right track with this space. 

P.S. In case you're wondering, the mirror is for Adam's drum students to watch their technique (or something like that). And yes, my painted frame needs a few touch-ups.


Fall beach day

We spent part of our Remembrance Day at the beach, building sandcastles and climbing on rocks. It was a good day.

I'm grateful that I get to live so close to the ocean, and that I have this sweet little family to enjoy it with. That's the thing about the beach: there really is no bad season to visit.


Healthy breakfast muffins

I've never been much of a morning person, so I begrudgingly drag myself out of bed each morning with just enough time to get ready and out the door. Muffins are a great grab-and-go breakfast, except when they're packed with sugar and fat - and most muffins are. I did a little searching online, and discovered this recipe. With a little tweaking, I now have a great go-to muffin recipe - no butter or sugar required. 

Healthy breakfast muffins (adapted from Confessions of a Bright-eyed Baker)

Makes 12 muffins


3 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups very ripe bananas (~4 bananas)
Juice and zest from 1 large lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
1 1/2 cups yogurt
2 cups of fruit (pick your favourite)


Mix your dry ingredients together first. In a separate bowl, whisk together your eggs through yogurt (I did it by hand, but you could use a stand mixer if you have one). The original recipe has somewhat complicated instructions for combining your wet and dry ingredients; I added one to the other all at once, whisked until combined, then mixed in my fruit (chopped cranberries). It turned out just fine.

Bake in a greased, 12-cup muffin tin at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Oh, and as the original recipe notes, your muffin tins will be very full when you put them in the oven, and that's OK.

If you're used to a sweet muffin, these aren't that (but they are delicious). For a sweeter flavour, you could try using a sweeter yogurt - like a low-fat vanilla (just watch the sugar content!) - or add a teaspoon of honey. You could also switch up the cranberries for a sweeter fruit, like blueberries or strawberries.

We've been eating these all week - you can freeze them too - and I can't wait to make them again, this time with blueberries.


Our Halloween recap

I hope everyone had a great Halloween weekend. I was really looking forward to the holiday with a toddler in the house, but H developed a fever and a bad cough on Friday, and had zero interest in putting on her costume or trick-or-treating. Luckily, we'd already done a few things to get into the Halloween spirit, like crafting some DIY cardboard monsters for our front windows and painting pumpkins. We stole the pumpkin painting idea from her daycare class - I poured some of her washable craft paint onto a paper plate and let her go to town. She loved it! 

(And yes, Adam already made fun of me for giving her orange paint to paint a pumpkin - not sure what I was thinking!)

She actually picked these pumpkins from her Grandma's garden, so it was extra fun to paint them. And the nice thing about paint is that you can still use the pumpkins for cooking or baking (I stole one to make roasted pumpkin soup the next day).

Here are the pumpkins Adam and I carved. We used LED "candles" to light them this year - it's almost like we knew H would keep opening the jack o' lanterns and sticking her arm in to get the lights out.

Oh, and I followed this recipe to roast the seeds. So good!

This is costume I stayed up making for H on Thursday night. She never put it on. It was cute though, right?


Another day, another dog bed

We moved this large jute rug into our bedroom recently, and while I think it's finally found its forever home, the room felt a little too beige. I think I'd like to add a pretty, patterned rug to the foot of the bed, but in the meantime, I turned a cheery little rug we already owned into a new dog bed for Maddie.

I purchased the rug at HomeSense ages ago, for Hannah's room, but the colour is a pretty perfect match for our twice-painted nightstands. I already owned the large, down-filled pillow, and luckily the rug was just the right width.

The other side is just leftover white fabric (originally a $4 tablecloth), and I sewed an envelope cover so it would be super easy to remove and throw in the wash. For fun, I sewed a zig zag hem in pink thread (I know, I really know how to have a good time).

I'm trying to be better about re-purposing things we already own instead of buying new. This rug was too small for Hannah's room, but it makes a great floor pillow or dog bed. Of course, I could have just as easily turned it into a pair of Euro shams or a bright throw pillow. So much better than it taking up space in a closet, right?

Psst...I made these DIY tassel floor pillows for Maddie to sleep on downstairs.


DIY cardboard monsters

Now that Hannah is two, the holidays are that much more fun. We usually keep our Halloween decorations pretty simple (think: jack o'lanterns), but this idea was too good to resist. I drew the monsters freehand onto two large pieces of cardboard (leftover from our cork flooring project) and cut them out with a pair of scissors. Two coats of black paint, and some tissue paper for the eyes, and they were window-ready. 

I love them. But the best part was Hannah's response: "Wowwww, monsters!"

Just wait until we carve pumpkins :)


Slow and steady de-cluttering

The guest room is sporting some new wall hooks! The entry to our guest room is long and narrow, so, you know, lots of awkward, empty wall space. And since the large wall mirror is the star of the room (my opinion), I didn't want to add anything - like art - that might compete. Oh, and the closet is stuffed full of fabric, extra pillows, gift wrap and a few other odds and ends, so our guests needed a place to hang their stuff.

The hooks were left behind by the previous owners. They were cute enough, so I held onto them and eventually spray painted them black. I used wall anchors and screws to secure them, so they'll hold more than a cute, empty backpack, just saying :)

The guest room is officially more functional and I have one less item in my "I can probably use this someday" storage pile. In fact, lately I've been making some slow, but steady progress on the de-cluttering front. We took another car-full of "stuff" to Value Village (Hannah has been talking about their giant, inflatable Mummy ever since) and we finally re-installed our back door's trim (it had been sitting in the garage since we installed our new floors). 

We're hoping to insulate the garage in the next couple of weeks, which means it's time to pick up the de-cluttering pace!
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