Category Archives: Beauty

Wild Dreams

tortoise kiss

Animal prints are one of those design statements that travel in and out of style with ease. Zebra prints particularly come to mind, perhaps because they tend to be more in style than out, and perhaps because I have a personal liking for them. Flipping through my daughter’s Kid’s National Geographic Magazine I was struck by a different kind of animal print: tortoise shells.

On a side note, as I recover from my first trimester of pregnancy I have been doing a lot of day dreaming. I’ve been too tired to get around to much actual DIY but my mind has been keeping busy with a variety of random notions. For example, I wrote an epic story in my mind and actually typed out twenty-two pages before I started reading the Hunger Games Series and realized my ability to translate my story from mind to paper is fully inadequate. I next became enamored with the idea of decorating my whole home for fall with a series of DIY projects invloving leaves, pumpkins, paint and glitter. I got as far as buying the glitter and letting my daughter make a mess of glue and glitter on paper. Finally, my mind has settled on tortoise shells.

My latest day dream is to develop a collection of home decor fabrics with patterns inspired by a variety of tortoise shells. Of note is the fact that I have little hands on artistic ability, no connections in the industry, and more generally, no idea how to make this dream a reality. But a girls gotta dream when she’s sitting at home with the kiddos.

Check out what I mean. I looked around for fabrics with the kinds of patterns exhibited on the shells below and didn’t find anything to compare. I love the the variation of light and dark neutrals, the texture and the lines. So beautiful. Could you imagine it on a pillow? a curtain? a rug even? I could.

One of my favorite patterns is on this African star tortoise.

One of my favorite patterns is on this African star tortoise.

A delicate but beautiful pattern on this African Helmeted Turtle.

A delicate but beautiful pattern on this African Helmeted Turtle.

This spider tortoise has a stunningly bold pattern.

This spider tortoise has a stunningly bold pattern. Look at the texture the ridges create.

The sulcuta tortoise.

The sulcuta tortoise.






























Most likely nothing will come of my wild dreams but it is beautiful to imagine. My sister directed me towards a website where you can create your own fabric. If I give it a go I’ll be sure to let you know.
















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A Bright and Beautiful Playroom

After going a week over schedule (these things happen, especially since we are all volunteers with jobs and/or kids), the playroom at the safe house is done. Okay, honestly, will still need to hide some cords, put up another picture behind the sofa and install a couple window coverings but almost! It is close enough that I want to share pictures.

When I call it bright and beautiful, I mean BRIGHT. I prefer to work with more toned down colours in my own home but it was a blast to go wild for this project and do something that I would not normally do. It stretched me out of my decorating comfort zone in the best of ways and taught me that I (with a fantastic team) can do something different and still have it turn out well, a valuable lesson if I want to decorate for other people. Another valuable lesson learned from this project was how to work with a team of decorators. As the team leader I acted as coordinator and often mediator between the strong personalities on our team, and though it was stressful at times it was great to see how everyone came together in the end to make it happen. Here it is!

Oh…but I must include some before pictures again to first emphasize how terrible it was:

Our first order of business was de-cluttering. There were so many toys stacked on top of one another that there was no room to play. Not to mention the fact that the toys they had were junk...

Our first order of business was de-cluttering. There were so many toys stacked on top of one another that there was no room to play.

The couches were in good shape so we decided to keep them due to our limited budget.

The couches were in good shape so we decided to keep them due to our limited budget.

And now…like a proud mama I’ll show you far too many pictures:

Yay for hidden storage! We jazzed up these ikea storage bins by sewing on leftover fabric from making the pillows.

Yay for hidden storage! We jazzed up these Ikea storage bins by sewing leftover pillow fabric onto the fronts.

We were donated this red beanbag chair so we decided to run with it and integrate red throughout the room.

We were donated this red beanbag chair so we decided to run with it and integrate red throughout the room. Above the sofa is where we still need another picture.

If you saw the subdued palate of my own home you might be surprised to know that I picked the paint colours and fabric for this room

A bummer...the powers that be won't move the tv down a foot so it looks better suited to the height of the bookcases. Still need to hide those cords though.

A bummer…the powers that be won’t move the tv down a foot so that it would  look better with the height of the bookcases.


I love the result and can’t wait to get my hands on another room in the house. Thank you to all the lovely ladies and the sweet kiddies who patiently waited while we took over your playroom!







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The Heart of the Home

You’ve heard it said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is no different at the safe house. The playroom that I have been working on is connected to the kitchen and I’ve observed how it is rarely empty. It is full of tasty smells, playful children, and social women. It is the hub of this busy home and therefore, in my view, in serious need of a makeover. Think poop brown laminate counters, worse for wear cabinets and dirty white walls. You can clearly see our fresh new playroom from the kitchen and it only amplifies the extreme ugliness of the kitchen.

I’ve noted my love for country music before and while listening to my favorite radio station recently I heard about a contest: JRFMs “You Say It, We Pay It”. Basically you tell them why you need the money and they will pay out up to $10,000. Of course it isn’t quite as easy as that. You need to hear your entry read, phone within 9 minutes and 37 seconds, then gain the most votes.

Can you guess what I want the money for? That’s right, a beautiful new kitchen for the house. We have been doing fundraising for our projects at the house but what we raise just barely pays for the materials. A full kitchen reno is way out of our financial scope. However, this contest has me dreaming of a happy, colourful kitchen for these ladies. We have chosen to decorate the other rooms in the house in blues, greens, and violets because in terms of colour psychology, those are the most soothing colours. My interior decorating teacher abhors white so I have been dreaming of kitchens in these cool colours. Here are some of the pics that have me inspired:

turquoise kitchen





As my teacher would say, colour me happy…and if you listen to JRFM, please vote for the new kitchen!





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About Time

This past weekend I had the rare opportunity to pretty up and go out to a movie with a couple of other moms (no kids!). I came into this evening in a seriously grumpy mood. Over the past week my son had been teething with a vengeance and my daughter had been acting very…well…twoish. Added to this was the frequent absence of my hubby as he enjoyed some amateur radio classes. I was feeling exhausted and acting less than loving and patient towards my family.

Thankfully, this movie night was refreshing in more ways than one. While adult conversation was desperately needed (my husband said by Friday night I was flinching at the sound of my daughter’s voice), I think that the underlying message of the movie was equally necessary for me. If you didn’t figure it out from the title of this post, the movie I saw was “About Time” and as they say: I laughed, I cried, it moved me.

I won’t go into the premise of the movie (I swear, it is much better than its description), but rather focus on the end message which is approximately this: take the time to enjoy each moment as it happens. Enjoy the subtle nuances of life. Look for the beauty in small, simple, everyday moments.

Had I been living life like this over the past, rather challenging, week with my children? Ummm…no. Maybe it would not have felt like such a shit show (excuse my language!) if I had. Like all good lessons I’m sure this one will eventually fade into the abyss of my mind but in the present I am trying to take to heart this kind of attitude: to let my heart swim with joy at the beaming smiles my son sends me between teething fits; to relish the light in my daughter’s eyes as we share a joke (even if it is about “stinky toots”); to store in my mind the looks of commiseration my husband and I pass over our children’s behavior, so that I can think back and laugh; to memorize the feel of his arm pressed against mine when we finally fall into bed, two tired heaps.

These are the everyday little moments that make my life beautiful.  If I choose to ignore their beauty I am basically choosing to give my emotions over to the shifting moods of my children. It is my reaction to their moods and behaviors which dictates the tone of our day. They are children, they have not developed full (if any) emotional regulation yet. It is my job to guide them through these fits and starts with patience and love. How will I find patience and love within myself when I am worn thin by their whining? A.) I will pray. B.) I will look for the simple, profound, moments of beauty which they bring to my life, even on the bad days. C.) I will let myself fill up with a thankfulness which spills out in the form of loving patience.

I can’t go back in time and change the times when I have been impatient and unloving towards my family, and lets be honest, that would get complicated. However, I can strive to love them better in the future by appreciating all the everyday beauty they bring into my life.


Filed under Beauty, From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family

Part 1: Beauty for the Ravaged Soul

Over the past six years my life has changed directions from heading towards foreign missions to staying in the Greater Vancouver Area. However, certain desires have not changed. Since Nursing school (or at least that far back) a desire to work with women and children living in difficult situations has been growing in my heart. However, I haven’t been sure of what that looks like for me in this area of the world.

It has been a  dream of mine over the past few years to buy a home with a suite so that I could house women and children in difficult life situations. Unfortunately, the real estate market in the Greater Vancouver Area excludes my family from owning such a property. As an alternative I have looked into different organizations but this and that (aka, babies and mental health crisis) have kept me busy on the home front.

This past Spring I again started looking into volunteer opportunities. A certain organization called Dixon Transitional Society stood out to me and I started the process to become a volunteer grocery shopper. However, I soon realized that my grumpy 6 month old was keeping me busy enough for the time being and I halted the process.

Dixon Transitional Society struck a chord with me because it does what I do not have the means to do, it houses and counsels women escaping abusive situations. This past Fall, when my decorating instructor mentioned wanting to donate our school’s time and decorating skills to a place in need, this society immediately flew to mind. My instructor quickly jumped on the suggestion and after a visit to the transition house discovered it was indeed in need of some beautifying.

This isn’t how I imagined being involved in the lives of women and children, nor how I imagined volunteering with Dixon Society, but I am thrilled. I’m greatly looking forward to the project starting in January. It’s a beautiful combination of two of my great passions: decorating and aiding women in need. When time permits I will be writing another post to share with you a bit more about what we will be doing and why I feel this project is so important.

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Filed under Beauty, From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family