Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Pre-Advent Declutter Challenge




My friend Brandi came up with a great way to help declutter our lives in advance of the Advent season, so that we can truly relax, enjoy, and prepare to welcome Christ once again. It’s way too easy to let the time leading up to Christmas become over-full with advance Christmas celebrations, shopping, preparing our homes, seeing all the people, and doing all the fun/cute/Pinterest activities (no, just me?). While enjoying the season in all of these ways is definitely not a bad thing, when they take over the season and take away from the focus of preparing for Christ’s birth and truly entering into Advent, it can be.

One way that Brandi decided she could more easily enjoy Advent was by preparing her home for it. She decided to start up a decluttering challenge in the days remaining before Advent and she invited her friends on Instagram to join along. She made her profile temporarily public while this challenge is going on so feel free to check out her stories @branadyga to learn a bit more about the challenge.

At first, I wasn’t going to join in. She started at the end of last week, and this week is my final week at work before baby. I figured I would be too busy to focus on any decluttering. But as I watched her stories and she emphasized how this isn’t some big, deep decluttering project, but more of a “some is good” project, I decided to join in.

The beauty of this challenge is that you can really join in whenever and make it as big (or as small) as you want. You devote as much time as you think you can to it, and there are no specific time or volume rules. It’s really about coming together for a little bit of accountability and fun seeing other people’s before and afters.

I started on November 23 with my side of the bedroom. After that, I came up with a list of things that I could do with my remaining days (minus this past Sunday), which I’ve shared below. I made sure everything fit with my schedule, and only planned to do something on the days where I wasn’t busy in the evening. I plan to share my progress on Instagram, so make sure you are following me @sweetspontaneity



One item on my list, my office, is an on-going process that I am approaching with a different mindset than I usually approach decluttering. Usually, I’m a dive in and get it done kind of person. I don’t leave the room and instead use a basket to collect anything that doesn’t belong there. After I am done the space, I then go take the items to their proper places. With my office, however, I was getting nowhere. I’ve had the space very tidy and quite organized (for some standards, very organized!) but it would continually get in bad shape again. The problem is, it’s kind of the place where I put things that I have not assigned a specific home to yet.  I have found that I would start sorting, make piles, have someone coming over, and shove everything back into the room and close the door. Only to start again a week or so later. A couple weeks ago, I made the decision to start with one item at a time and to put that item in it’s proper place before moving on. This often means that I am walking all over the house, back and forth, while decluttering. No, this isn’t efficient, but it’s helping me to make progress!

Do you have any decluttering projects that you would like to get to before Advent begins?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Five Experience Christmas Gift Ideas for Toddlers



There has been a bit of a surge in interest in the last few years about experience gifts versus physical gifts. With the popularization of minimalism, sustainability, and intentional living, experience gifts seem like a no-brainer. As a parent, I completely see the merits of limiting the “stuff” and avoiding overwhelm – not only for your children, but also for you as the parent keeping it all in order! I have been brainstorming what we could gift to Isabelle this year and came up with these ideas.

Weekly Activities/Clubs
If your child is involved in a regular, scheduled activity, or if there is something you were thinking of signing them up for, this makes a great gift! Dance, swimming, gymnastics, hockey, music – the possibilities are endless. As for what they can actually open on Christmas morning, you could purchase something they need for the class or activity. A bodysuit and tights for dance, a swimsuit for swimming lessons, skates for hockey, etc. Or, you could give them a small toy that emulates the activity, which you could use to help explain the activity if it is new to them or they are very young.

Visit to Local Attractions
You likely have a museum, children’s centre, or special local attraction available to you – why not get your child a pass to that? They will have fun spending time with you, and it would likely be educational, too.

Road Trip
This might not be for all children or families, especially if time in the car is more stressful than fun. But if you like short trips, consider a road trip to somewhere new or somewhere you have been before but could explore a little more.

Family Vacation
While a road trip could definitely be seen as a family vacation, this category is meant to be more of a larger vacation. Some families like to forgo presents to take a trip together instead. I am a huge fan of this idea, if your budget can accommodate it.

A Visit to the Bookstore or Library
Instead of purchasing your child books to open on Christmas Day, let them know that you will spend an afternoon together choosing a few books for them to enjoy. This can be at a bookstore or a library, but the key component is spending time together looking through all of the options and making the selection together.

I came up with plenty more ideas for older children, but it was a little bit harder to think of things that made sense for toddlers. What else would you add to the list?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Our Living Room & Fireplace Before and After


I cannot remember if I shared this information on the blog before, but in August 2017 my parents moved from Saskatoon to Regina and my husband and I moved into their home here in Saskatoon. We have been super happy with this arrangement – this is more house than we could even rent, nevermind buy; there is a huge backyard; there is a wonderful neighbour community; and I grew up here. When I look around at the different paint and design features, I see the hard work that my father put in to making our home beautiful and updated. There definitely is not anything that we needed to change or update, just a few things that could stand to become more our personal taste. We painted the living room from beige to a warm white within six months of moving in, and that is it. 



We have been taking our time with the whole house, but since the living room is the centre of the house and the first room you see when you enter, we wanted to focus our efforts here first. It took a while for us to decide to paint over the oak touches. While the tone of the wood was not really our style, we are not people that tend to jump right to painting over beautiful, great condition wood. We ultimately decided to go with white over the wood to brighten up the room, and then a blue on the walls (Soft Chinchilla - Benjamin Moore) as a contrast and statement.



Another large part of why we worked on this room first was the tiles on the hearth. The original ones were loose when we moved in (they had been on my dad's to-do list for years). When our daughter was starting to crawl, she discovered that she could loosen the grout. All of a sudden, the tiles were off and the little pieces of grout were finding their way into her pudgy little hands on their way to her mouth. We obviously did not want her to be eating the grout, so my husband removed everything that was loose or could possibly become loose soon. What was left was about half of the tiles and a half-naked hearth. My husband and I do not have similar styles when it comes to home decor, and we are still pretty new at this, so it took a very long time to come to a consensus and we lived with this sad hearth much longer than I would have liked to.


Once we were ready to go, though, my husband did a great job building the wooden sides to the hearth to match my vision. Instead of tiling the top and sides as it had previously been, we decided to tile the top but go with wooden sides with a curved wooden edge - this was my number one priority so that it was a bit more child-safe. We really struggled to agree on the look, and particularly the size, of the tiles to use, but we ultimately ended up with these marble-look subway tiles, and I could not be more happy with them,

This room does not have any exterior walls, so there are no direct windows to the outdoors (the windows flanking the fireplace go into the sunroom). There are pockets during the day, especially during the bright, reflective winter, that allow light into this room, but the majority of the day sees this room in darkness. As such, it is important to us to make design decisions that maximize the light and brighten the room when we can.

We still have plenty we want to do in this room, including changing out the baseboards and even the floor, but it will be a long, slow process. We haven't really styled or decorated the mantel yet, either. We tend to layer pieces over time, and I will be decorating for Christmas soon.

Another thing we did in the living room was remove the built-in, look-through shelves that separated the entrance from the living room. This still isn't totally complete, though, because we have some patching and painting to do, so I will share that update when it's fully finished.

What are some updates that you have done recently in your home, or that you hope to do soon?

Products used:
Benjamin Moore Regal Select Interior Eggshell - Soft Chinchilla (Wall)
Benjamin Moore Advance Interior Pearl - Distant Gray (Woodwork)
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