Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Pinteresting Table Top

Happy Halloween lovelies!

Hope everyone on the East Coast is safe and sound today and know that everyone affected is in my thoughts and prayers.

Today I am finally bringing some details on my new table, a project that many of you helped me with!

Although I had already spent $100 on materials on a first failed attempt, I gave it another go. I had seen  a pin on Pinterest where someone was able to build a new tabletop for $33, and that was my initial "Pinspiration". Despite living in a Canadian province where forestry and lumber is one of our main industries, apparently our wood at Home Depot is much more pricey than my magical friend's in Pinterestland. Again, the supplies (wood, filler, and brackets) cost over $100, but this time I had my handy father-in-law to help, so I was sure it was going to work out this time.

And it did!



I am so very in love with it. It doesn't have the "plank" look that I was going for the first time around, but I think the flush "butcher block" look of what we went for not only compliments the chrome base, but will also be easier to clean and maintain.




I will have to get back to you with the actual construction of the table top, because, unlike some of my superbuilder blogger friends, I am admittedly not a very good furniture builder.




What I did do, however, was go back to Pinterest to find a treatment I had seen back a few months ago. It was a process to created an aged, weathered wood stain for new wood using (mostly) household ingredients. I was happy to try it out knowing that if it didn't work, I could sand and stain or paint the table top without too much worry. I was also excited to take some sort of part in the completion of this table, albeit a small and easy task.

Although I had never purchased steel wool before, I found 000 steel wool in an aisle near the paint department in Walmart. I ripped it up into little pieces, put it in a mason jar, and covered with a whole litre of white vinegar. You're supposed to let is sit for 24 hours, so during this time, I did the first "coat", which is steeped, chilled tea.

 I used 2 cups water and 2 earl grey tea bags. Once cooled, I painted it on. It doesn't change the colourof the untreated wood much, but is a necessary step in creating the aged wood look.




Let the tea dry throroughly (which it will because you have to wait 24 hours for the steel wool/vinegar mixture), and then paint on a coat of that mixture. It's amazing how the reaction takes place before your eyes. The colour develops right away, and changes over the next day or two as it dries. I found that it went from a light grey, to a rich grey brown, to a lighter grey, and then settled on a light greyish brown.




I used this treatment on a wooden wine crate, however it was 5 days later so the "solution" had a lot of time to think and react. The wine crate turned DARK brown. Like espresso brown. It was not the look I was going for, but worth it to note that if you are looking for a deeper colour, just let your wool/vinegar solution sit a bit longer.



I was hoping for more grey, however I have warmed up to the warm colours in the wood. As my husband pointed out, we have a lot of "cool" in our home, and it's nice to juxtapose that with some warmth. I think, for once, he's right.


The next step was to sand it a couple of times and coat with water based polyurethane  which again changed the colour slightly. I will have to update with photos coming up because it's pretty gloomy out right now and I couldn't get any good photos.

This may have been a day late, but gratefully linking up to The Pinterest Challenge at YHL.


And make sure to check out KatieCarmel, and Sarah to see what they've tackled for their Pinterest challenge!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Healthy Home | How it All Vegan

Nope, not a typo.

I said the V word.

That naughty little word, that when muttered to my family, caused looks of complete and utter horror. They looked at me as if I had just said I was leaving my husband to become a nun.

Food is THAT big in my family.

I have been toying with idea of going vegan for sometime now. Every time I declared to my hubby that I was going to give it a go, he pointed out the existing dairy in my current (and nearly lifelong) vegetarian diet: skim milk in my morning latte, greek yogurt in my smoothie, egg whites and feta and tzatziki in my dinner. He was right...I couldn't possible live without dairy.

A couple of months passed and it still weighed on my mind. What if giving up dairy was the key to my health? I've been eating healthy, working out regularly, but I feel like I'm stuck. Maybe dairy was my roadblock?

I still didn't have the guts to give it a go (and I knew the reaction I was bound to get from my family), so I just went along with my dairy-filled life as happy as could be.

Cue a rainy September Sunday, when my good friend/co-worker filled me in on a few books she was reading that promoted plant-based diets. She was going to go vegan for 6 weeks, and I figured this was my cue. What better time to try it than with someone I spend 5 days a week with- someone whom I share more meals and snacks with than my husband! We both started the very next day, and had one another to root each other on, which certainly made it easier.

I committed myself to 30 days, and made it through with only one slip up that involved phyllo pastry, tomatoes, basil and cheese on day 28.

It has now been 5 weeks since I cut out all dairy and animal products (less the one night I cheated), and I am here to say, I'm going to stick with it for the long haul.

There are three factors that lead to this decision which I will thoroughly explore in another post (hope you don't mind if you have no interest in vegan, but maybe there will be some healthy tips and delicious recipes coming up you won't want to miss?), but for now I wanted to give some tips and ideas that helped me through (and continue to do so.)



If you are considering being vegan, these are merely just suggestions based on my own experiences (clearly, I'm not an expert after a month, but might help some "veginners"). Please consult a medical professional before changing your diet drastically!

1.) Milk Subs. If you like to drink milk cold, Rice Milk + Almond Milk = best tasting milk replacement for a cold glass of milk. If you drink lattes, I learned the hard way that it does not translate well into steamed milk. Yuck! Soy Milk is the only yummy milk for lattes I've tried so far, however I have yet to try hemp milk (coconut was not my fave).

2.) Even if you are not a fan of tofu, it can be used in many ways you never thought possible. Blend silken tofu for many baking recipes and you won't even know it's there. My favourite recipe I discovered my first week is what I now call Tofeta. Cube some extra firm tofu and toss in a marinade of red wine vinegar, olive oil, herbs and salt and let sit for at least an hour. The resulting taste is quite feta-ish and even the texture is close. Of course, it won't melt and it's not the exact same thing as feta, but it does trick your brain a little and beefs up your salads.

3.) Nutritional Yeast. I had never ever heard of this product before, but once I started my vegan kick I read a few blogs that mentioned it. When I spotted it in a bulk foods bin, I bought some and decided to try it with a roasted chickpea recipe. Oh. Em. Gee. Sooo yummy. I still don't know quite what it is, but it is tasty! Looks A LOT like flaked goldfish food. Don't let that deter you. You can also sprinkle on salads or popcorn, and there are quite a few "cheesy" sauce recipes out there that use nutritional yeast.


4.) 3 Ingredient Vegan Chocolate. My one vice is chocolate. I luuuurve it, especially around that time of the month. Most commercial chocolate contains milk solids. Most vegan chocolates are expensive. So, why not make your own? I LOVE Chocolate Covered Katie's blog, and when I found this recipe for making your own chocolate bars, I just had to try. How have I never known that you can make delicious dark chocolate bars at home for a fraction of the price with healthier, fewer ingredients? You can even cut them up after into chocolate chips, or melt it for a nice little fondue to dip your fruit in. Why oh why world did I not know this before? And thank you CCK for enlightening me!


4. ) This tip has helped me stick to  my vegan kick without much trouble. The trick is: fill up with oatmeal and smoothies! I find between my smoothie, my overnight oats, and my fruit and big salads, I am too full to actually crave anything else.




5.) Don't try to make everything taste un-vegan. My first day vegan, I went to a pizza party for my brother's birthday. I decided to try and make a vegan pizza, so I used tomato sauce on a whole grain tortilla topped with a few veg and vegan Daiya cheese. YUCK! Vegan cheese does not replicate dairy cheese. It melts, it's sort of orange, but it doesn't taste anything like real cheese. Was it the cheese's fault? Nope. It was mine. I tried to make something taste like something else. As I was eating it, all I could think is, if only I had loaded this with more veggies and only a sprinkle of the Daiya cheese, this would be so much more enjoyable. And it's the truth. I'd have rather just eaten a full on veggie pizza, sans cheese. So don't try to recreate, just make an altered version with anticipated different results.

6. Be creative. You will be amazed at the amount of foods out there that are actually vegan, but beyond that, the kinds of foods and treats you can make that are vegan. I had so much fun playing around with different recipes and ideas (perhaps a little too much fun!).


7. Beans beans, the magical fruit! Lol. I've been eating beans for so long, that the song DOES not end "that way" for me, fortunately! I did, however, kick up my bean intake a bunch. One thing I've learned through this whole vegan thing is to try and use as many sources as possible. Don't just eat carrots for your vegetables. Have a huge variety everyday, and same goes for beans. I like to have 3 different kinds on the go (eg. black beans, garbanzo beans, lima beans), and I can toss some in a salad, eat as a snack, purree as a spread/dip, or stir into a stew at a moments notice.


8. Make sure to supplement. Because I'm not a fully educated vegan, I didn't want to risk ruining my health by depelting my body of necessary nutrients (to be honest, I have been terrible taking vitamins as a vegetarian, but this has helped me get motivated to take a daily). I found one called Vita-Vim made specifically for veggies so that you get your recommended B12 and other essential nutrients you could be lacking if you aren't sure you're getting a well rounded plant-based diet. It's totally worth it.

9. Preparation is key. If you have nothing to snack on, or to pack for lunch in a pinch, you are likely to make poor choices based on pure hunger and lack of time. I use my days off (non-consecutive which works for this) to prep my food for the week. I usually make a big batch of stew or veggie chili for the week, and cook some dried beans and make a salad base. I also make my own salad dressing (one I love right now is just nuts, frozen mango chunks, basil, salt and pepper in my Nutribullet).



10. Educate yourself. If you're already considering going vegan, be it for a short while or forever, your interest is hopefully piqued by some cold hard facts and not just the fact that it seems to be a "fad". I will share more on this topic in the future, but to give you somewhere to start, please go and visit my newest online obsession (and virtual wannabe bff Dr. Greger) over at Nutrition Facts. NutritionFacts.org is a not for profit website bringing you the latest in nutrition data and research in short, easy to digest videos. I dare you to watch just one. I started watching and about 4 hours later, I decided I wish I had gone to school to be a nutritionist and not an economist (which I didn't end up becoming anyways), because it is just that fascinating. The more I learn about nutrition, the more I want to follow my vegan plan faithfully.

Anyone else vegan, or thinking about giving it a go? I would love to hear any tips or advice you would be willing to share!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Some soon to be more organized WINNERS!

It's time to announce the 2 lucky winners of our Organizing Giveaway!

Using a very advanced random generator (aka writing names on slips of paper and picking 2) from the combined blog and Facebook entries (next giveaway I'll be more specific to enter the comment on the blog, but no worries Facebook friends because I did include your entries!), the winners are..... drumroll.....


GRAND PRIZE: ThirtyOne Super Organizing Tote ($50 Value) goes to...

Linda Voigt Conlon

Congratulations Linda! Katie will be in touch with you to help personalize and order your tote!



RUNNER UP: $50 worth of CUSTOM Labels from The Paper Society goes to....


Congrats Lo! Send me an email at thepapersociety@gmail.com to go about getting me your list and selecting your label style!



And lastly, as a HUGE thanks to all of you who entered and those who read my random blog posts, well, I want to thank you with 20% off any item in my shop until November 15th.

Enter code SOCIALHOME at checkout for an instant 20% savings. Note, if you're buying labels, you don't have to get them customized immediately after buying- you can buy now and order later whenever you decide to send me your list! I can also do gift certificates if you want to give them as a gift!

And, while you're at it, get some other Christmas shopping crossed off your list and go visit Katie over at ThirtyOne. You still have a few more days to get in on the October special, which is 50% off one of 5 tote bags for every $31 you spend!

Katie's thirty one page: www.mythirtyone.com/ktbreynolds

Thanks again Katie for the awesome prize, and to everyone who entered!



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DIY Love: A little Canadian Genius and a Bench

You know I love me an easy, inexpensive DIY, and in particular, ones that result in  a funky bench.


This one takes the cake for me. Three Ikea chairs. Wood. Stain. Stencil. Voila!

If you aren't already a follower of the very popular Mini Manor blog, then you need to head over right NOW! Don't wait! Not only is Ashli a Martha Stewart -furniture building-recipe making genius, but she's also a fellow Canadian (more specially, British Columbian) blogger. And anyone who can make a bench like this deserves some love!

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Giveaway made in Organizing Heaven

I made mention of an awesome giveaway in my 500K post, and well, here it is! I think you'll be just as giddy about it as I am!



First things first, this giveaway is brought to you by one of you! That's right! One of my fabulous readers is teaming up with me and I think you're going to like her. Her name is Katie, and she is a Thirty One consultant. I had never heard of Thirty One before Katie let me in on the scoop. Let's just say this fantastic company of personalized organizing solutions is seriously after my own heart. Urm, organizing and personalization? That's ma JAM!

And although I've been to many a "home party", I've never actually hosted one, so I figured why not take this opportunity to host my very first one while we're at it!

Ok, ok, before I get you all the details, let's learn about the giveaway!


Katie is graciously offering up A SUPER DEE DUPER ORGANIZING TOTE (ok, it's actually called the Super Organizing Tote). It comes in 4 pattern-ways, and if you ask me, this is the PERFECT baby shower gift. Who doesn't have a baby shower to go to every month? I know it's not just me! Anyways, can you imagine personalizing this bag with the baby's name and then stuffing full of diapers and baby products? Let's just say you would win the best-ever-shower-present-giver award for a lifetime. Or just keep it for yourself, because there are about 1001 things you could use it for.

In addition to that, the runner up will receive $50 worth of customized labels* for whatever your little heart desires from my shop, The Paper Society. That's one heckuva lot of labels!

To enter, head on over and like Katie's Facebook pages via the links below



Really Reynolds Facebook Pag: www.facebook.com/reallyreynolds

And of course, make sure you're following moi on here and Facebook

And then leave a comment to say that you liked all 3 pages and let us know where you're from!

If you want to do some shopping for your own magical Thirty One pieces, shop my party HERE. Better yet, get your Christmas shopping out of the way! Brilliant idea and way less stress come December. For orders this October, for every $31 you spend, you can get a Retro Metro Bag, an Elite Retro Metro Bag, a Retro Metro Tote, and Organizing Utility Tote, or a Super Organizing Tote for 50% off. Woop woop!

Katie's thirty one page: www.mythirtyone.com/ktbreynolds

The fine print:
Unfortunately ThirtyOne only ships to the USA, so unless you're like me and live in a border town with a US postal address you can use, the Thirty One giveaway will only be open to US mailboxes. If you live in the lower mainland of BC, Canada, I can probably figure out a way to get the prize to you if you win and don't have a US mail box.

The $50 credit towards labels is open worldwide! Just make sure to email me if you win, and I'll send you the details regarding ordering your custom labels. *The $50 is only towards digital, custom labels and not printed labels or accessories.

Contest is open until next Friday, October 26th! The party is on for all of October!

Let me know if you have any questions!

GOOD LUCK chicas!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Guest Post: How to Make a Space Look Expensive Without Spending a Fortune


When Sara contacted me offering to write a guest post, I figured, hey, why not? I clearly have issues converting my photos and finished projects into blog posts in a timely enough manner, so I could certainly use the help! Plus, sometimes it's nice to hear someone else's voice other than my own, no?

Well, either way, I'm happy to have Sara here today to break down some useful tips! Many of these great ideas can be found on Pinterest, but I love how they are all summed up here in a nice, neat little package with a bow on top. I added in some of my favourite photos that nicely illustrate each one, some with links to tutorials so you can DIY. Hope you enjoy!


Deciding to take on a redecorating project can be overwhelming and costly if you aren’t careful, and it’s easy to end up spending much more than the budget you original allocate. Many people make the mistake of thinking that they need brand new, pricey pieces to make a room look and feel like it’s expensive. However you really just need some knowledge on how to reinvent different pieces and places in rooms to achieve a look of luxurious, posh taste at a fraction of the cost. To make a space look expensive without spending a fortune, use these seven tips:


1.     Shop garage sales and consignment stores. You would be amazed at how many quality pieces of furniture people sell at garage sales, in consignment stores, and on websites like Craigslist.com. It takes a little extra time to visit different shops and sales and browse through different listings, but finding the exact piece you wanted for a fraction of the price makes the extra time spent looking completely worth it.


2.     Repurpose old furniture. Sometimes old furniture just needs a little TLC to give it a brand new look. If you have an old wooden piece of furniture then try sanding it down and giving it a fresh coat of paint or distressing the wood to give it a fresh new look. 

3.     Choose a splurge piece. Try to include one splurge piece in each room to give the room a more expensive feel. The piece that you choose to splurge on should be something that you absolutely love and that is timeless. This way, you’re much more likely to keep the piece for years and years to come, making it worth the investment. 


 Reupholster chairs and couches. A lot of people think that they need new couches or chairs when really all they need is some new fabric to reupholster the pieces with. Buying a new set of couches or chairs is pricey, but recovering seat covers and pillows is a much cheaper option that will breathe new life into the pieces. 


5.     Add feet to couches. Adding feet to couches, ottomans, and other pieces that sit on the ground gives them a more expensive feel at a minimal cost, and can change the whole look of the furniture.



6.     Stain cabinets. Buying a whole new set of kitchen cabinets will set you back hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, and isn’t always practical or in the budget. Instead try painting or staining the cabinets a different color. The new color will completely change the feel and tone of the room, and is a much less labor and cost intensive process. 

7.     Replace knobs. Cheap knobs on furniture are immediately telling that a piece is of lower quality. By replacing the knobs on cabinets and drawers and the door knobs throughout the house with more expensive looking ones you can achieve the feel of luxury at a minimal cost.


Giving a room an expensive feel doesn’t have to mean spending a small fortune redecorating. Instead you need to choose pieces to splurge on and save on everything else by shopping sales, repurposing furniture, repainting cabinets, replacing knobs around the house, and adding expensive touches – like feet to furniture – instead of completely throwing everything out and starting from scratch.

Author Bio
Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of http://www.nannypro.com/


Friday, October 12, 2012

"Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You" | Social Media Link Partay




I heart linky parties.

Don't let the fact that I only submit to a couple every month make you think otherwise. I'm just a busy gal and sometimes it falls down to the bottom of my priority list.

I've always wanted to host one, and deciding whether to make it a free for all or a themed party got me all flustered and bothered.

Then, one day last week I decided it was about high time to share some of my social media handles. I need to get better with "The Twitter" and desperately could use some fun Instafriends to follow.

Out of this, my social media link party was born!

I want to know WHO you are, what your social media handles are, what you use the most, and last but not least, why not link up to your favourite blog post from your blog if you have one.

And, maybe give us a little blurb about yourself- where you're from, what kinds of things you tweet/instagram about, and then please feel free to follow all the other readers! That's what it's all about! (Hokey Pokey?)

I'll start the party off!

I'm Jen, although you may probably already know that. I'm from Vancouver (actually, South Surrey), British Columbia, Canada and I like labels, wiener dogs and easy DIY projects.



I joined Twitter a while back and although I tweet a few people sometimes, I'd love to be more active and interactive on it. You can follow me @thepapersociety and please leave your handle so I can follow you right back!




I am obsessed with Instagram. Love love love it. I mostly browse my friends photo and try out effects on my own, but don't post too often. When I do, it's usually pictures of my wieners, a new vegan recipe I've tried out, and some random house photos.



I don't have a facebook page for this blog yet, but I do link to new blog posts on my Paper Society facebook page and share some fun organizing links now and then and well as exclusive deals for my facebook friends! 

Do you think I need a separate page for The Social Home? Is it confusing that I go under both monikers (I sometimes wish I thought this through a bit before I started!)?


Pinterest. Need I say more?


If you haven't already, come on and visit me at Etsy. 


Well, you're reading this, which means you already know that I'm on blogger! But did you know that I FINALLY got a domain name? And actually, not just one, THREE! That's right. Now, in a pinch, you can find me by typing into your web bar:


and for my American friends who may not be as used to typing in .ca, I was able to get:


and then Go Daddy decided to give me www.thesocialhome.info for free, so I took that one too!


Alright friends, link away in the comments section (because I can't find a better system to link up multiple social media links etc.) 

I am really looking forward to following and getting to know you guys a bit better!

TGIF!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I am thankful for... FREE Thanksgiving Printables!

The beautiful Thanksgiving weekend had me enjoying family time, and the blog decided to take a little vacay. On the West coast of Canada, we had a pretty horrendous start to summer, but Mother Nature decided to make it up to us with a gloriously sunny October. Well, until yesterday at least. 

My in-laws came to town last minute on Thursday for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, and we had a fantastic time! Two Turkey (or in my case, Tofurkey) dinners, and lots of catch up time with my favourite people. And, my handy dandy father-in-law built my table top! I can't wait to finish it up and show you all. She's so lovely!


I have ALWAYS loved printable materials for table settings. Back in my wedding planning days, I made sure to stress the importance of tablescape printables. They provide the most return on investment in my opinion, upping the custom decor factor for little moolah.

I absolutely love menu or napkin bands - easy and cheap way to infuse decor into a table setting! I am also loving this printable chain. Quick, cheap, tasteful Thanksgiving decor makes my heart pitter patter.


So, I decided to pull inspiration from both and create some Thanksgiving napkin bands! So easy to print at home, cut and wrap around a napkin for each place setting. Your guests will think you spent ages creating the perfect table top (shhhh, don't tell them it took you less than 30 minutes and cost pennies!).

Get your free printables here!

And happy belated Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians! Next year I'll make sure to put the printables up BEFORE our Thanksgiving!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

One in (Half) a Million

Half a million. Holy cow. If I had a dollar for every single pageview, I could buy half of a house on my street!(if only...)
I don't know if that's a lot of pageviews in blogland. In fact, I'm sure it's not. I'm sure big blogs get that many visits in a week, not in a lifetime. But I don't blog to keep up with the Kardashians big wigs; I blog because it's a great community, and it keeps me on task and helps me finish projects when all I really want to do is hide them in the garage until next year (or until hubby forces me to do something with it before he tosses them to the dump).

Anywhooo, any way I slice it, 500,000 page views is a milestone for me. Although posts date back to early 2011, I feel like I've only "really" been blogging since the beginning of this year. In 2011, this blog was truly truly just my way of journalling my projects, and venting about my desire for white kitchen cabinets. I used it as a way to create memories, by posting photos of our first ever basement suite. I don't even know if I got a comment that year, and if I did it was totally random, and I was more like "Where on earth did you find my excuse for a blog and what are you doing here?".




Long story short, my feature on iHeart Organzing prompted me to blog a little better, mostly because I know that pantry post inspired a lot of people. And, a lot of commenters and pinners seem to think a pantry like mine is insane and unattainable, but if you've gotten to know me at all on this blog, you will know I do not undertake difficult projects. Almost everything I do is cheap and easy, and the pantry is no exception.

I wanted to inspire others to not be afraid to tackle their pantry monsters, and realize that organizing (and labels!) are your best friends forever! I also like to to talk a lot so talking to the internet helps keep me quiet during the day.

This is nothing compared to the awesome stats given by YHL, but for those of you whom are curious, let's break down some stats:
Winner: Maybe not a surprise here, but The Dollar Store Pantry wins by quite a landslide with 131,525 pageviews.

Runner Up: A surprising one. The Moustache Bash with 90,019 pageviews.


WinnerDollar Store Mom - I actually had no idea they featured me until I saw it in my Google stats.

Runners Up: iHeart Organizing, followed by Circle of Moms, and of course many many Pinterest pins


Winner: "Moustache": This would explain how it is my second most popular post. It is my biggest Google hit by a landslide with 24,986 search queries.

Runner Up: "Pantry Organization"


Audience Winner: The United States Of America with 343,768 pageviews

Audience Runners Up: Canada (47,651), UK, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Netherlands and Argentina.

And that's a wrap!

To celebrate, I've got a week of fun coming your way:

A MONSTER of a giveaway prize pack.

Some Thanksgiving FREEBIE labels (still yet to be designed, so tell me if you have a preference- gift tags, banners, printable art?).

A guest post.

My first ever link party.

And some other fun stuff! So stay tuned!

And truly, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for reading! I know I'm not a consistent, daily poster, but I really have fun with this blog and appreciate that you take the time to read it and provide feedback. It is so much fun to have a creative outlet like this, and you all make it worth while!

xo- Jen