Coping with Camping

Every summer we go camping with my in-laws. This summer we are trying out a longer stint. Six nights! (I’m going to try to negotiate it down to five). Camping with children is a mix of chaotic fun, tired shit fits, happy laughter, and anxiety attacks (on my part).

I have a wonderful time during the day splashing around the lake, reading stories at the campsite, and munching on cheesies at the beach. However, at nighttime a veil of anxiety begins to descend on me as it gets closer to bedtime. Firstly, anxiety about getting the kids to go to sleep; secondly, anxiety about waking them up when it is time for me to hit the hay; thirdly, anxiety about waking them up during the night when I have to get out of the tent to use the bathroom (I’ve had three kids, it’s inevitable that I get up many times per night).

This summer I began feeling anxious about our camping trip over a month in advance (it will be Anna’s first time in a tent. We slept in a hotel last summer). Anticipating the panic attacks I asked my doctor to prescribe me meds for acute anxiety because honestly, I’m not very pleasant to be around when I’m experiencing extreme anxiety.

The best, non medicated way, I can think of to cope with camping related anxiety is to glamp. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard of glamping (glam + camping), which is not actually camping according to my hubby. However, shock of shockers, I’ve been able to convince my husband that the solution to my annual anxiety fest is to buy a second-hand RV. The only condition is that I pay for it myself. For reference, he’s not being stingy, just practical. We need to start saving up our tax returns and any extras from his income for a van.

Thankfully, I have started making custom headboards again along with beginning my interior decorating business and have actually been making some money to put into our special new “Vacation” savings account. You can get a pretty “rad” 1970’s RV for under $6000 and I’m keen to rehab the interior myself after seeing some awesome RV renos (see below). It won’t be this summer but fingers crossed that next summer while the rest of my fam is roughing it in a tent I’ll be tucked away in an RV with a bathroom at my disposal! I see many happy vacations in our future!

 

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Airstream Before

Airstream Before

Airstream After

Airstream After

Airstream Before

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Death Plague and Passing it On

This past week I have been struck nearly dead with some death plague flu (yes nearly dead! and no, my daughter does not get her flair for dramatic exaggerations from me.)  Anna and I were the last of my family to be struck down and it has been a real treat. Three days after the start of this delightful bug I am still weak, nauseated, and achy. Thank you very much dear Gadd family for passing it along and don’t worry Di, I won’t be darkening your doorway this Friday!

Enough complaining and FYI Gadds, I would not have given up that vacation with you for a few days of good health. Moving on to passing something other than the flu along:

I love sewing and it is a skill that I hope to pass on to my children. I have even had day dreams of hiring my children, once teenagers,  to do some simple sewing for my interior decorating clients (minimum wage at least, no child labor in this house). I had a couple of pillows to sew up for my sundeck chairs this past weekend and since my littlest ones were sleeping I decided to chance a sewing lesson with my five-year-old.

I have often in the past given her pieces of scrap fabric to pin together (no blood shed yet) so she had a pre-existing interest in my sewing projects. When I first suggested that she try out my sewing machine she was hesitant but became enthusiastic after watching me and being given some simple instructions. Once she was at the helm of the sewing machine she was considerably less willing to listen to instruction. I definitely had some flash backs to my mom trying to help me with my piano playing and me being a snarky little jerk in return (sorry mom!). You home schooling moms out there…kudos! I don’t know how you do it!

Some pictures to catalogue my sewing adventure with Sofia:

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Sofia working on what turned out to be something like a small stuffy sleeping bag.

Sofia with her finished project: a "great big pillow". All sewing a la Sofia with some pinning help from mommy.

Sofia with her finished project, a “great big pillow”. All sewing a la Sofia with some pinning help from mommy. Thems some tired eyes there baby girl!

And, because Charlie can’t stand to miss a photo op:

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All dinosaurs, all the time at the LaRoy house.

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Can you feel the love tonight? I think he likes his t-rex grandma.

 

 

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Tweaking the Builder’s Basic Kitchen

Remember months ago when I couldn’t stop talking about kitchens and kept promising to show you pictures of my renovation? Well the time has come! Everything is finished and I finally had the time to do a little photo shoot. Hurray for hubby being on vacation!

I started working on my kitchen almost exactly a year ago when Anna was a mere three months old. I don’t know what induced me to take on re-finishing my cabinets at this stage, perhaps a fatigue induced mania, but the end result was well worth any stress it caused. Though, FYI, don’t paint your cabinets during a humid summer if you don’t have air conditioning, the paint won’t set properly and you’ll have to do it again!

Before:

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The white and grey cabinets and sleek new knobs were a vast improvement over the previous blonde wood cabinets and builder’s basic pulls. So much so that the beige counters and cheap ceramic back splash looked ten times worse. Here it is after just painting the cabinets (this shows the original lower cabinet colour. It was too purple so I painted them a second time with a more charcoal grey):

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Notice at the forefront of the picture the bar height portion of the island. It caused a visual disconnect between the kitchen and the play room and served as nothing more than a drop spot for junk (as seen!).

Thank goodness for tax returns! We were able to replace the back splash and counters this Spring and Voila! Here is how it looks now:

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The kids love that these Ikea stools can spin around! Hazardous for a baby who is still crawling and likes to be close to her siblings!

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Vase and Cutting board from Walmart. Hexagon Penny Tile tile from Ames Tile.

Forever ago I mentioned how I had planned a slightly innovative use of the empty space above the upper cabinets. For a mother’s day present I had my hubby build planter boxes so that we could grow herbs in our kitchen and make use of this otherwise annoying and useless gap between the cabinets and ceiling. Maintenance is not my strong suit so Steve also ordered grow lights and a watering system for the herb garden. Now if you walk by our home at night you will see a purple glow emitting from our kitchen windows. No, we do not have a grow op.  I love this idea and the aesthetics but even with the lights and watering system I have been killing a lot of herbs. I’m still hoping to figure out how to keep them from keeling over but I may end up replacing the herbs with something hardier

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Votive holder from Premium Olive Wood on Etsy.

 

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“Lord give me coffee to change the things I can change & wine to accept the things I can’t” Print from Twinkle Me Designs on Etsy; Picture frame from Michaels; Tray from Lowes; Crystal vase from Safeway.

 

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I added some cute herb prints from Beach House Gallery on Etsy to beautify the bulk head containing the vent above the stove. Picture frames from Ikea.

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The kitchen feels twice as big without the bar height counter and now I can actually watch the kids while they play (and see who hits who first!). We also use this space twice as much now that we have a place to sit at the counter. The kids eat their breakfast and lunch in the kitchen and love to colour or paint when I am cooking or cleaning. It sounds cliche but this renovation has truly enhanced the way we live our life as a family in this home.

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Anna thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate cake I made for staging purposes.

I adore the final look and those in my complex with the exact same kitchen can attest to what a difference a few well place tweaks have made to this builders basic kitchen. I have to admit though, this reno probably isn’t done.  I like the colour of the lower cabinets but it got banged up when the guys were installing the counters so they need to be touched up. So why not try a whole new colour? I’m considering navy blue. I’ll test it out on one door and see how I like it but not until after Christmas. I used monomal paint from Sherwin Williams to paint the cabinets and though it has been hardy enough for my bathroom cabinets, it is not standing up to the constant wear and tear the kitchen receives.  I’ve officially requested that my hubby buy me a proper furniture spray painting machine thingy for Christmas so that I can give the cabinets a proper finish.

The counters and back splash however…perfection! Thanks again to Daniela at Counters and Decor for sourcing materials and coordinating all the trades for this renovation. I couldn’t have got it done without your dedication and hard work!

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Good Weave

I love area rugs. I love them almost as much as I love fabric. The right rug can make all the statement a room needs. And an area rug with the Good Weave label. All the better.

Child labor is a concern with many, if not most imported products so it’s a relief to know that several talented rug designers have obtained the Good Weave label (see pictures below).

The Good Weave website states that “the GoodWeave label is the best assurance that no child labor was used in the making of your rug. In order to earn the GoodWeave label, rug exporters and importers must be licensed under the GoodWeave certification program and sign a legally binding contract to adhere to GoodWeave’s no-child-labor standard; allow unannounced random inspections by local inspectors; and pay a licensing fee that helps support GoodWeave’s monitoring, inspections and education programs.”

Not only do inspectors check for child workers, but if they find children working in these factories, they remove them from the situation and give them the opportunity to receive an education.

Are you thinking it? These must be some really expensive rugs right? Well, they aren’t inexpensive, I saw many starting at $1000 for a 4′ by 6′ rug, but you can end up paying that much at Ikea without the assurance that no child labor was involved. And the rugs of the designers featured below are gorgeous. Like artwork. Worth every penny with the bonus of peace of mind.

By Bev Hisey

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By Eeuwes

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By Soma Studio:

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Summer Ramblings and Computer Glitches

Summer is my favorite season. Sunny days equal lots of good outdoor fun with the kids and my desire to be inside doing things like blogging or cleaning is replaced by the desire to play hard until bedtime then retire to my pretty sundeck (to be shown soon!) with my husband and a glass of wine. I’m going to go with my gut instinct and back off a bit (not totally) from blogging this summer. And cleaning. Who needs a clean house? Ha ha. Just kidding. I’m a cleaning maniac but I’ve decided to hire a cleaner for the summer.

I am also working on the beginnings of starting my interior decorating business, “The Best Nest” and that has some of my normal blogging time booked up. It turns out that setting up a website, designing logos, filling out business forms, meeting with the bank, and getting to know my local resources whilst raising three children is busy making.

My husband recently moved my blog to a new web server (or something like that- obviously I don’t understand the technical aspect of this blog). And it appears that my website doesn’t want to behave enough to let me share pictures with you. Boo hiss. I’m sure it will be figured out soon and I’m looking forward to it because I have recently discovered the Good Weave label and I’m excited to show you some pictures of gorgeous rugs designed by various talented designers. In fact, I’m sure as soon as my husband reads this he will get ants in his pants about sorting out the whole media gallery business. Thank goodness for that man!

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Brewster’s at Inside Wallpaper

I have been feeling a bit low lately for no particular reason and have been having difficulty finding motivation to get life done. It’s possible that I just need a change of scenery (woot woot Price family vacation soon!). Currently I am having a really hard time restraining myself from opening up my hubby’s Father’s Day chocolate and demolishing it so I’ll blog instead to keep my hands busy.

Sometimes looking at beautiful pictures is a bit of a pick me up so it was timely that Inside Wallpaper snapped up my email address and sent me some propaganda (BTW, didn’t they change the laws that govern the internet so that companies “can’t” send you their news letters unless you sign up for it? Maybe that doesn’t count if you have a blog. No harm done anyhow). They must have known I have a weak spot for wallpaper. I would put wallpaper in every room in my house if I had the money.

I spent some time perusing their website and fell in love with a wallpaper company by the name of Brewster. Here are some of my favorites, which handily enough can all be found on Inside Wallpaper at very reasonable prices. If only labour wasn’t so expensive!

iwallpAurora Pink Geometric Wave by Brewster

Aurora Pink Geometric Wave

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Banyan Navy Tree

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Cadenza Grey Geometric

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Ebele white herbs

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Lissabon Grey Village Motif

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Sabella Grey Magnolia

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Sanctuary Aqua Marine Ombre Stripe

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Taupe Distressed Wood

I have to stop somewhere but those pictures at least give you an idea of Brewster’s stunning variety of wallpapers. Please do note that if you ever hire me as a decorator, I will try to convince you to incorporate wallpaper into your decor, if only for an accent wall. (Bruce, consider yourself warned).

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Oh Baby.

I wasn’t completely honest in my post yesterday. I do in fact know one of the reasons I am feeling low right now. My heart is heavy because I am not pregnant with a baby that I was actively trying not to have. Say what? Maybe it is hormones or maybe it is the pure sweetness Anna brings into my life (along with her siblings requests for another, smaller baby), but I am going through a bit of a “I want another baby, what’s a fourth, why not” kind of delirium right now.

I experienced something like this when Sofia was around six months old but held off getting kinda accidentally pregnant with Charlie until she was 13 months. I had no such whimsies after Charlie. He was the worst. Seriously. The. Worst. I love the little man he became but he basically cried for the first year of his life. He had, so I thought, cured me of ever wanting another baby. And, as you have heard, after the initial shock and dismay of finding out I was really, completely, not at all on purpose pregnant with Anna, I fell in love with her. What I may not have told you is that I have basically had baby fever since Anna was born. Ahem, I’m sure it had nothing to do with watching “Call the Midwife” when she was an infant.

How do people make these decisions? I know that many people struggle to get pregnant so this “how many babies should I have” question is replaced with the  heart wrenching question, “why can’t I please just have one?”. But for me, my husband seems to spontaneously impregnate me with a mere look so the questions is, when should we stop?

My husband is very good at dialoging with me about this question. Poor man has had a lot of practice in the past year.

H: Maybe we don’t have enough money to have a fourth?

S: Deciding to have a a baby shouldn’t have to do with finances.

H: Maybe we don’t have enough space in our small three bedroom for a fourth?

S: People have been fitting larger families into smaller spaces for thousands of years.

H: I think that some of our family would disapprove of the decision to have a fourth.

S: It’s not any of their business.

H: Maybe I would go insane?

S: That is a valid point.

H: But maybe we should get pregnant right now okay?

S: Maybe not just yet Heather.

So where are we at? Well, what Steve said, “maybe not just yet”. Or what I seem to be looking for with hopeful eyes on a monthly basis, another wonderful accident.

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Happy Father’s Day!

I’m not much of a card person. Partly because I’m cheap. I can’t tolerate the idea of spending $8 on a card that will be recycled in a month when I could spend it instead on a greater quantity of chocolate. The other part is that words come more easily to me like this, in front of a keyboard. So, my dearest Steve, consider this your very public card, because Father’s Day is the one day it is socially acceptable to brag about you to the world.

Going into marriage I was unsure of how Steve would make out as a dad. He had zip experience with children and had never so much as cared for a pet hamster. However, what I did know from early on in our dating relationship, was that he was a family man. I loved that about him then, before he was my family, and I love that about him ten fold more now as I see how lovingly faithful he is to our little family.

Steve is an extraordinary father. In Sofia’s words:

“Daddy is so good, so great, so strong. He’s the best at drawing pictures for me so I can colour them. He is good at building my loft. He takes care of me and gives me water and the best food. He is great at making food like hot dogs. He turns shows on for me. I love it when he reads to me best. Happy Father’s Day Daddy!”

In Charlie’s words when asked what his favorite thing about daddy is:

“Doggy” (I think he thought I was asking what his favorite thing was…namely, doggy.)

When asked about what activity he likes to do with daddy:

“Eat.” Followed by : “Let’s stop talking mommy. Are you going to put a show on mommy? Happy Father’s Day.”

In Anna’s Words:

“Da da da da da da da da.” (her first and favorite word).

Steve, you are all they said and more (ahem…but not a doggy). I would not be able to survive parenting without the hands on approach you takes to being a father. I am so thankful that you treat parenting as both a partnership and a privilege. There is no one else I could parent three children with or consider having a fourth with. Our life is chaotic and loud but you are constant, loving, and patient. Thank you for the uncomplaining and joyful care you take of our family.

Happy Father’s Day!

PS. Apologies for any punctuation or spelling errors. I couldn’t exactly get you to edit this one 🙂

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Charlies: Favorite thing to do with daddy is eat. “Let’s stop talking mommy.”

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Meet the Jetsons: The Home in 2016

As a child, one of my favorite shows, next to the Flinstones of course, was The Jetsons. I was fascinated by the instantaneous nature of their futuristic world. With the push of a few buttons you could wash, dry, and clothe your body. With another button your meal is provided. The dog makes a mess? Just call on Robo Nanny and your floor is spotless within seconds.

I appreciated the novelty of these gizmos and gadgets then, how much more so as a home owner, wife, and mother of three do I appreciate them now. I’m slightly disappointed that science has not come further in the last twenty years but I guess we haven’t reached 2062 quite yet. However, I entertained both myself and my children whilst looking into some of the time saving inventions that have been created for our homes. Here are some of my faves:

  1. Neorest 750
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Neorest 750 by Toto

Who wouldn’t appreciate a self cleaning toilet? Not only does this toilet apparently stay clean and germ free for a year (!?) but also opens when you approach, washes and drys your bottom for you, deodorizes immediately, and provides a nightlight. That’s pretty “Jetson-y” if you ask me.

2. The Litter Robot

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My other favorite, as a owner of two cats, has to be this self cleaning litter box, the “Litter Robot”. My children were greatly entertained by You-Tube videos of it (not because they were entertaining, but because my kids think anything to do with poop is hilarious).

4. The Roomba:

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I’m sure most of you have heard of this one. In terms of home cleaning robots the roomba is somewhat more practical price-wise (hundreds rather than thousands). Crumbs and cat hair are a constant battle in my house so having a robot vacuum would be magical. As an added bonus I could tell my children it would suck up their toys if they didn’t put them away after playing (I have found this to be a very effective threat with the regular vacuum cleaner).

6. Braava Jet 240 Mopping Robot

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This newer model of the Braava both cleans and mops the floor but only small spaces at a time. It is almost half the price of the Roomba, retailing for $299. The advantage of the roomba is that it tackles larger spaces and tackles carpets and rugs as well. Sounds like Braava and Roomba could be good household companions.

5. Vario Mirror TV

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A TV that disguises itself as a mirror? Sign me up. I hate seeing a big flatscreen above a beautiful fireplace and though I’ve been taught that  mirrors should only be placed where they reflect light and beauty, I rather see the reflection of a wall than I big black hole.

6. The Better Marriage Blanket

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The Jetsons didn’t foresee this one. A blanket that neutralizes the smell of flatulence with its active carbon fabric? According to this article this is the same material used to protect the military from chemical weapons. Everyone could use one of those after taco night. Thank you science.

7. Miele Built in Coffee Machine

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This machine does all the work and offers a fresher cup of Jo than those Nespresso cups of chemical coffee. The Miele built in machine grinds your beans right before making the coffee to ensure freshness and you can program the machine with your favorite drinks so that at the touch of button your perfect latte will be delivered (though you do need to click in some fresh milk).  You can have these machines attached to your plumbing so you don’t even have to deal with the inconvenience of refilling a water tank. The only problem with this machine is that I already treat coffee like water and I imagine the convenience could lead to some serious over-caffeinating.

Any cool household items that you want to add to the list? Leave a note in comments, I’d love to hear of more.

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Tuesday’s Top Ten: Summer Floral Fabric

Florals aren’t for everyone but I have always had a love for them, particularly flowing, large scale prints. I have used these types of prints previously as an accent on my couch and currently in my bedroom and children’s bathroom. From subtle and serene to bright and bold these prints all speak to me of summer days.

A style note: floral patterns can fit with modern, country or traditional decor, it all depends on colour and scale. A small to medium scale floral with soft colours is suited to a country setting; a medium to large scale print with a variety of colours (though jewel tones are common) works well in traditional; large to very large scale florals, in either high contrast colours or subtle tones, fits nicely into modern settings. But of course, we don’t always play by the rules and some of these prints can fit into one or two of these categories. Where I was able I showed the fabric in use (as a pillow, curtain, etc.) so that you can get an idea of scale. Enjoy!

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1. Tulipani in Linen by Designers Guild

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2. Rolling Meadow Chambray by Waverly (This one seems very country to me but is rather large in scale. C’est la vie, rules are meant to be broken).

 

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3. Morisette Amalfi by Kravet

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4. Sakura Blossom by Baremore

Roseto Indigo by Designers Guild

5. Roseto Indigo by Designers Guild (A large scale traditional print with saturated blues. With a matching wallpaper too!).

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6. Owlish Multi by Kate Spade New York

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7. Fleur, Summer by P/Kaufman (Here is an example of that subtle, large scale modern floral.)

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8. Katia Fiesta by Waverly

 

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9. Bermuda Bay Palm by Robert Allen (A high contrast, very large modern botanical.)

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10. Craft Stitch Summertime by Kravet

 

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