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My first knitting project and a little bit of baby-hat link-love

Categories: Crafts,Crafty Stuff,LinkLove
June 25, 2010

First knitting project, knit hat, Natural knits for babies and moms

Here is my first knitting project, a hat for my lovely new niece Quinn.  I knitted it up with Paton’s Baby Bamboo yarn in purple with a pattern from the book Natural Knits for Babies and Moms (that my dear mother in law so sneakily lent me.)

I added the pom-pom using Bella Dia’s pom-pom tutorial, and I was so happy with it!  It was so cute and soft!  Too bad the hat is way to small for Quinn.  Oh well, maybe one day one of her doll’s will enjoy it 😉

Newbie Knitter lesson 1: Always do a gauge test and always use the needles and yarn weight listed on the pattern.

Anyway, here are a couple of free baby hat patterns that I sourced online for your knitterly enjoyment.

1. From Magpie Patterns, this one is very similar to the one in Natural Knits, except she has added a pom-pom on top (and hers turned out so much nicer than mine.)

2. From SockPixie, this one must be hard because it’s toooo cute to be easy!

3. This one is pretty little thing is from Natural Nursery Knits (requires Adobe Acrobat reader)

4. And last but not least, how could you resist this free pumpkin hat pattern from Sonnentaler.  I think this would look similar to the number 2 pattern by Sockpixie, but would be more do-able for a beginner, although I’d have to confirm that with my knitting expert MIL Karen.

Home tour Part 2: The rest of the condo

Categories: House & Home
June 24, 2010

Welcome to part 2 of our virtual home tour.  Part 1 was our living dining area.  The rest shouldn’t take too long, as I’ve said, our house is cozy, plus I’ve left out the Den for Men and the bathroom.


Our kitchen is purple.  Really purple.  You’d think it wouldn’t work, but it does.  We lightened things up with stainless steel accessories, and overall it’s a very chic look.  However, I was convinced that we needed to paint it some boring colour, like beige, in order to stage it.  Scott disagreed.  Our realtor sided with Scott and so the purple stayed, but if I had my way our little kitchen would look a lot like this one from Young House Love.

Let’s take it to a vote, what do you think.  Purple or Neutral?  Place your votes in the comments.

Condo staged kitchen


This is our pretty little bedroom.  Yes, there are a lot of windows.  When we list our condo we will advertise “Beautiful light filled bedroom with floor to ceiling windows” instead of “buy a sleep-mask now”.

Condo Bedroom staging

I even staged the closet.  You never know where nosy home-buyers will look.  Note to anyone selling their home, hide your…erm…discreet items carefully, people do look in your closets.  Well, we do anyway.

Closet staging

I can tell you, it will be a shame when we have double the clothes storage that we have now.  I don’t think I’ll know what to do with it.

As for decor, we kept it pretty simple and neutral in this room.  As you can see, the mirror is going back, but we’re on the look out for a mirror or some artwork to go above the dresser.

Condo bedroom staging

This view isn’t very exciting, but I wanted to show off my brother-in-law Daniel’s artwork to the left.

Condo staging bedroom

Front Hall

There isn’t much you can do with a front entryway that’s just a straight line.  For our wedding, my cousin (a teenage guy) gave us this beautiful print that says “Family, all because two people fell in love.”    We loved it, so we put it above the door.  Then, we put a goofy picture of ourselves in a gold frame on the door and called it a day.

Front hallway, Gold frame, Goofy Picture, Family all because two   people fell in love

And that’s all for now.  Thanks for stopping by.   Now you can share in our excitement of staging the condo, getting ready to sell, and (fingers crossed) buying a new home.   Then we can give you another tour and possibly even some tips for small space living (though on a slightly larger scale.)

Feel-good Wednesday: Young Me/Now Me

Categories: Feel-Good Wednesday
June 23, 2010

Have you ever seen the Young Me/Now Me contest?  It’s a big time giggle-fest and an excellent time-waster.  Folks post pictures of themselves from the past, then recreate the pictures of themselves now for very entertaining results.

Some are funny

Some are sweet

Some are uncanny

Some are, well…a little creepy

(Some things…like, say, burping in public or donning an underwear and combat boot ensemble, are only acceptable under the age of 3.)

But what I love about this site is how much fun these people must have had recreating images from their past.  It makes me want to do the same with some of my old pictures…if only my sister Tara (and long ago best friend Sara) will play along.

Home tour Part 1: the Living Dining Area

Categories: House & Home
June 22, 2010

As I mentioned yesterday, we cleaned up our place to stage it for selling. Now it looks pretty enough to be in a magazine (yes, I’m biased.) Feel free to take a peak and get an idea of how we thrive with small space living (with a storage unit of course).

Living/Dining area

Our living dining area is one of my favorite parts of the house.  It may look small, but we’ve had parties with around 35 people in this place (yes, it’s cozy).  The bookshelves are Ikea’s Liatorp system, and for small space living they have been the best $2500 we’ve ever spent.

Condo staging, IKEA Liatorp bookshelves, Living/dining area, bookshelves

This is our dining area.  You can see that we’ve added a small bar into our Liatorp bookshelves for mixing drinks.

Dining area, Tablecloth, Liatorp bookshelves, bar area, picture wall, picture arrangements

As for the picture wall, sometimes I just sit and stare at it, I love it so.  There are so many fond memories in family pictures and a picture wall is one of the best ways to showcase them.  I searched and searched online for ideas on making a ‘picture cloud’ style arrangement and found very little.  Maybe I’ll post a tutorial of my own one day.

Photo wall, photo arrangement, arranging pictures

This is just a view of the living area from another angle.  If you look closely on the left, you’ll notice the office area that we carved out of the bookcase for me.  And, no home should be without a handmade afghan from a Gramma.  This one was made for me by my Grandma Stewart.

Living room, afghan, bookshelves, staging

Continuing our tour to the left, this is the space that leads to the bedroom.  My mother made the mirror for Scott and I as a wedding gift.  It’s actually a window taken from the cottage that’s been in our family for ages.  She refinished it herself, she’s a handy woman.

Living dining area, condo staging

And so ends the tour of our living dining area.  Thanks for stopping by!  Come on back tomorrow for part 2, the rest of the condo.

Clutter Begone: What we learned from staging our condo

Categories: House & Home
June 21, 2010


In the past week, my husband and I have spent a considerable amount of time cleaning and decluttering our condo to get it ready for sale.  After we cleaned every inch of the place and we cleared away items for donation and storage, then we staged it.

We love our home, it’s cozy and well…homey, and it’s close to everything.  But for a long while now we’ve both subconciousely felt like we were drowning in our own stuff.  We live in a 645 sq. foot condo, and when you live somewhere this small, living space becomes storage space.  It’s just not pretty when, no matter how much you try to keep on top of things, the clutter just keeps creeping up on you.

Clutter creates so much stress…stress that we can’t even identify until we clear it away.  Once our space is clean, we can take a deep breath and feel the weight lift miraculousley from our shoulders.

I used to be fundamentally against storage units.  I figured, if you have so much stuff that you can’t even fit it in your house, then you have a problem…you have too much stuff!  You need to simplifiy!  But I was wrong, at least for the people living in teeny tiny condos in downtown Toronto (or anywhere, but I’m sticking with what I know.)  So, I won’t say that Scott and I have too much stuff and that we need to change our lifestyle to become drastic minimalists.  That just wouldn’t be true.  Neither of us have a lot of possessions, but in such a small space with so little storage, even the small amount we have that we use all the time can crowd us in.  Add to this our off-season clothing, holiday decorations, luggage, craft supplies, photo albums and books that we rarely look at but couldn’t part with, and of course Rockband, and we get feeling like we should be on the TV show Horders.

So, for the staging, we sent boxes and boxes of our non-daily-use items to temporary storage, and we both literally breathed a sigh of relief to see our ‘Secret Stress’ walk out the door.  Then the house purchase fell through, and the need to sell was pushed to an undetermined future date.  So, we made the decision to find a way to store our belongings permanently for the 4-6 months until we move into a bigger home.  The result is that we can more peacefully enjoy our living space, and that makes both of us happy.

And now I feel confident to show off a few pictures of our home before we a) clutter it up again, or b) move (hopefully the latter).  So, tomorrow I will be giving you a little tour of  our condo, which I very much hope you enjoy!


What I’ve been up to

Categories: About Me
June 18, 2010

Home staging bookshelves living room

A lot has been going on in our household in the past couple of weeks. You can probably guess that’s is why I haven’t posted, though I really have no excuse because there is always time in the day to pop in for a little hello.
Anyway, this is what I’ve been up to since my last post.

  • We put an offer on a house, and that took a lot of time away from being here.  This was the first time I’ve put an offer on a house and it was an exciting, scary, nerving experience.  We also lost the bid to a couple who didn’t put any conditions in their offer.  I feel an urge to tell the story of this experience and the lessons I learned, so more on that in a future post.
  • In hopes of buying the house, we had to get our condo ready to be sold.  This involved a lot of cleaning, de-cluttering, and staging.  The results were WOW!  Check out our beautiful ‘new’ bookshelves.
  • I finished my first knitting project!  A hat for my newest niece, Quinn, in a lovely violet-coloured bamboo cotton blend.  The problem?  I didn’t check my gauge beforehand and it’s way too small for her…in fact, it wouldn’t fit the head of a cat.   Lesson learned.
  • I’ve started my first sewing project in ages.  A sun cover up shirt by McCalls with this pattern.
  • We’ve been making plans to get away for the week before the G20.  We’re close to the security zone and we have no interest in being around for the disruption, protests, and potential violence in our own backyard.
  • I’ve finished a first draft of Veronica’s gifts.  Still don’t feel comfortable posting it, which is funny because this is a blog about writing, but there you have it.
  • I’m all but finished my blog redesign, you should see it up here in two weeks (this is accounting for the possibility that we’ll be away next week)
  • I’ve been working on some new dialog for Vicki-Lee Victoria, starring the hubby and I on our quest to find a house in our price-range in the city.

Thanks to my loyal readers for their patience since I’ve been away, and continuing patience for abandoning you again next week.

Until next time,


Feel-Good Wednesday: An elephant and a dog walk into a bar…

Categories: Feel-Good Wednesday
June 9, 2010

Ok, it’s no joke. Tara the elephant and Bella the dog bridge the species gap to form a loyal friendship.  If this video doesn’t make you go warm and fuzzy inside, I don’t know what will.

Vicki Lee-Victoria – Episode 6 Married Life

Categories: Vicki Lee - Victoria
June 8, 2010

Vicki Lee-Victoria Episode 6 Married Life

This episode may make it seem like married life is boring life.  Actually, Scott and I rarely watch TV together (except Tru Blood lately,) but I thought it was a funny situation to draw.  I posted this episode just a day after the third anniversary of our first date.  To celebrate we made sandwiches, bought potatoe salad, and went out to High Park for a picnic dinner.

Anniversary date picnicAnniversary date picnic

I can make fun because married life is far from boring.

Neat-Oh! Thursday: Creative food packaging

Categories: Neat-Oh! Thursday
June 3, 2010

Clever Food Packaging 'Stereotype' by Daizi Zheng

Stereotype by Daizi Zheng

UK Based designer Daizi Zheng did this project on food packaging to bring awareness to eating habits and how they are affected by slick marketing and design.

Her question: “Can design encourage people to rethink their relationship with healthy food to gain a balanced diet?”

Sometimes I wonder if I want that Kit Kat Crunch bar because of the taste, or because of the oh-so-inticing  crinkly red foil wrapper calling to me in the impulse purchase section by the cash register.  The taste usually doesn’t measure up to the marketing.  Would I reach for a pear instead if it was as conveniently located and wrapped in cellophane?  This reminds me of Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food admonishon to avoid any foods with health claims on the packaging because the healthiest foods, natural goodies like carrots and blueberries, don’t come with packaging.

I love when design makes you go hmmm.

Source: Daizi Zheng

Found in a roundabout-way via Penguin Blog

I can do ANYTHING good

Categories: Feel-Good Wednesday
June 2, 2010

Daily Affirmations video at Today’s Big Thing.

I looove this video…we can learn a lot from little ones.

Leave it to a child to be so unabashed with self-love, not to mention love for her family and grateful for all her blessings (including her hair, which no woman ever appreciates let’s be honest.)

As I was giggling my way through this video, I also found myself hoping…’please don’t let her loose this as she grows up.’

When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things.

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Hi, I'm Tori, and welcome to my open book. I'm a freelance writer and web designer. This site is my scratch pad for thoughts and ideas, experiences and inspiration. Go ahead, eavesdrop on my life a little bit, you know you want to...