Saturday, December 31, 2011


There are so many ways you can simplify your life for 2012, and forever. Here are just a few in point form - I'll elaborate in the new year on each point, and others if you have some to share too. You may like some and choose not to follow others, but if you commit to even just a few, you'll recognize the pleasure in living a simpler life.
  • reduce the clutter in your life
  • get rid of your lawn
  • stop buying clothes that need to be dry-cleaned or ironed
  • leave your shoes at the front door
  • run all your errands in one place
  • drive a simple car
  • move to a smaller home
  • change the way you shop
  • get rid of all but one of your credit cards
  • split a restaurant meal
  • do one thing at a time
  • just say no
  • forget nail polish
  • build a simple wardrobe
  • ...
 Create a low maintenance garden with no grass to mow...
 Instead of polish, buff your nails - it never chips and your hands will always look clean...
Take your boots off at the front door and only keep the pairs you are currently wearing there...

I hope in the new year you find simplicity in life, making you wonder why all the little changes you made weren't done long before.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011


This week when I was out shopping I came across what to me was a beautiful, and practical, apothecary jar for a mere $9.99. I knew when I saw it exactly what I was going to use it for - my cats' food. It would replace the old one so yes, I was going to recycle the old tin so as not to store another 'thing' in the house.

So practical was this to be - glass for easy cleaning and a screw top so that the odours stay nicely inside. And with it being so pretty, I could keep it on the counter, right near the cats' bowls so it would be easy to just reach in and take some out with the scoop at feeding times.

So what is the problem? My husband's hand doesn't fit very well into the jar mouth. He can still manage, but he's not happy, and for him, this is not more practical for this reason.

SO..., go back to the old or stick with the new? We are giving the new pretty one until the new year to give it a try. I have not as of yet gotten rid of the tired old tin the food used to be in, but once we decide...

I'll keep you posted, but my guess; I will win and the jar will stay.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


As long as there are 8 + 1 candles, you can arrange almost anything to make a Chanukiah to celebrate Chanukah. Here are some simple ideas for making your own if you don't happen to have one, or want to have more than one going at the same time. Such a nice tradition.
Use a row of mason jars - here are two examples - with fish tank rocks or without - do keep the middle one bigger, not smaller, to make it seem more 'real'.

I love this shot glass idea made with little glass beads. If you do this, be sure not to use plastic beads - they will melt when the candle burns down.
I love this one too, which is just lining up several single candlestick holders - note how the middle one should be taller than the other eight.

You can make use of so many things to use as a Chanukiah (Hannukiah). Consider drilling holes in a rock from outside - 8+1. Take your kids bead box and see if there are glass ones that will fit a small candle - line them up and glue two together for the middle one. Or simply take a plank of wood, drill holes, put some tin foil in each to look like a cup and you're ready.

Have any other suggestions? Would love to have them incorporated into this entry under comments.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


If you have pot-lights, like I do, you know how hard it can be to get those light bulbs replaced when they burn out! As mine burn out, I have chosen to replace them with LEDs. They are very costly but are said to last for up to 25 years! Now that would certainly make things easier for me! And with the new technology of them, they are now dim-able too!! Brilliant!
 There are so many to choose from, like this screw in kind, like the ones I personally have.
And ones with this type of connection, like I used to have in some of my track lighting. Plus, of course, many more, so there is now a bulb for virtually everything. And don't discard them if you hate fluorescent - there are many types of light emissions to choose from too.

The most important thing to remember is not how much you spend up front on these things, as they do cost exorbitantly more, but that they will save you money in the long run by saving energy. Not to mention that you won't have to constantly replace them!

Monday, December 19, 2011


Did you know you can use a walnut to rub out scuffs from wood? Go figure!
Did you drop something small on the floor like an earring? Put a stocking on the vacuum hose!
Yesterday I burnt my thumb - wish I had some of these in the freezer! That Aloe Vera gel you get in pharmacies? Freeze them in ice cubes then store in a baggy for soothing relief for any kind of burn. Especially handy in the summer beach months.
Brilliant - put the entire sheet set inside one of its pillow cases - neat and easy to find the whole set!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


It is really quite simple - get rid of all the luggage you have that you don't use anymore. Only keep the ones that are currently airport friendly. What does that mean? It means that no matter how full you make it, most carriers will accept its weight with no overcharges. If you think about those luggage sets that have the XL, medium and small pieces, get rid of the XL one. They will always go over in weight and you'll have to pay more, not to mention that you'll have to pull more too!

And while we're on the topic of luggage, don't forget that if you are travelling with someone else, put half of each of your clothes in each of your suitcases. That way if one luggage is lost at least you will both have some things you can change into until it is found.

So simple! Now just do it. The next time you put your things out for a charity to pick up, put it all into one of those luggage's you don't use anymore and tag it for removal. Done.

PS As in this photo, try rolling your clothes. It takes up way less space and if you only take that medium luggage, you'll need it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I always thought I was a purist when it came to reading and that I couldn't give up my books. I loved turning the pages, skimming ahead and behind for notes, quotes or turned down pages with inspirational notions... but then I got a Kindle. It was a mother's day gift from my family so I've had it for several months now. It all started after trying to read the biggest book I have ever taken to the tub with me, and it just didn't work! Epiphany - a kindle would solve that problem!

It took a while to get used to not turning pages and visually seeing the pages I read with pages to come at a glance. But alas, I was a convert. I loved that I could read with one hand to leave my other hand free for, ahem, a glass of wine. I loved taking it with me on holiday with more than one book in tow without the added weight. I love that no one ever knows what I'm reading, what page I'm on, or how far along in a book I am when I sit in the subway or while on holiday at the pool. And most of all, I love that my bookshelves are not getting more cluttered with books I tended to buy and not borrow.

I think I have simplified my life! With one easy button on the computer, I choose a book and a minute later I can start reading. That's simple! I don't have to worry about giving away, lending or getting back for re-reads a whole stack of books that tend to accumulate. That's simple! I love that if someone wants to buy me a book as a gift, they still can for my Kindle. That's simple! And with time, it will even pay itself off as the books tend to be slightly less expensive than paperbacks and I did tend to always buy.

I'm a happy Kindle owner. What are your thoughts on the Kindle or other e-Readers?

Friday, December 9, 2011


Yup, do nothing. Sounds odd and maybe even exhausting, but if you learn to do absolutely nothing you will hopefully realize how silly it is to be running all the time. Start with an hour, or even 10 minutes, and just sit. Don't read, don't watch TV, don't talk to friends, just do nothing. It's not meditation, it's simply being with your thoughts and learning to relax. How simple is that?

Work up to a longer periods of time and schedule it into your hectic lives - it really helps simplify your life and what could be more relaxing than that?

PS Learn from a cat - they do it best!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


It's a little thing but if you get rid of your call waiting, life can be simpler. If you still have a land line, like I do, and also a cell phone, like I do, then there really is no need for this nuisance of a feature. I really hate when I am on the phone with someone and in the middle of a thought they say 'oh excuse me, it's my other line'. It really makes me feel unimportant. And if you personally have this ridiculous feature, you are complicating your life by having the possibility of having to deal with two people at the same time.

If the second caller has something that important to say, they can leave a message or call your cell (and leave a message there too if need  be). And really, how often is something so important that one can't wait to be called back?

Simplify your life by getting rid of call waiting - trust me, it's so worth it. And you'll save the expense too!*

*I do get this feature for business, but not for your personal life.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


White dinnerware to me is always the perfect solution for your everyday basic set. I find the food you prepare always looks better on white dishes. And of course they are easy for stacking on open shelves as they always look neat since there is no pattern.

Boring? I like them layered with old dishes sets that you perhaps inherited or found at flea markets or garage sales for a once in a while lift. That's where you can have fun on the days you just don't feel like being too simple.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


On Wednesday my fridge broke... again! This time with no warranty left on it. So we decided it just wasn't worth it to save after so many years of problems (and it's only 7 years old!!). I found one, but until it is delivered we try to keep the fridge as cold as possible and have put the freezer stuff into the basement deep freeze.

So, it leaves me with stuff to use up in the fridge and I kind of like this feeling. It really makes me think creatively about what I have to use and to make it happen. Last night I used up a bunch of the cheeses, a zucchini that would not last another day without refrigeration, an opened bottle of pasta sauce and some leftover chicken from a couple of days prior... voila, a casserole was made. I added some spice, baked it for 40 minutes and it was a great meal that we all enjoyed. And it felt like it didn't cost a cent! I mean, it was all about to go bad anyway, right?

It's definitely something to think about when you want to clean out your fridge. How easy was that to make and  it made it so practical that I didn't have to throw as much out, (or order in - an expense we don't need after just running out to buy a new fridge!).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I often handed the chore of unloading the dishwasher off to the kids because, well I hate doing it. Turns out to be a good thing because by watching them I actually learned a lot. You see, kids are lazy. They think in advance of doing. What they did was stack all the dishes, cups, containers, etc. on the counter in piles so that the dishwasher is fully unloaded, save the cutlery, and then they would transfer everything to the appropriate shelves. No back and forth... Brilliant!

And since this discovery, I have since simplified my inventory too. All my containers are now glass and stack easily, with lids in a separate drawer, and the dishes I use on a daily basis are all the same so they stack and fit perfectly exactly where they are supposed to fit. If you're asking, yes, my dishes are white... it helps keep things simple.

As for storage of your simple dishes and glasses, try some open shelves for those things you use daily. They won't get dusty if you use them all the time, and if they all match each other, it will look neat and pretty in the open. No cupboard doors to open and close so one less step in unloading too! Hmm, I don't have open shelves... yet!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


My simplified Christmas shopping may only be useful for next year, but part of it may come in handy now. Start with a journal. Any kind really, but I like to suggest a pretty one that looks like a book that you can store on your shelves. Now mark down all the people you buy gifts for in list form. Then shop and write down what you buy.

OK, that's too simple. There's a trick to this and it's not about starting early.  It's about starting late. Yes, late. Go shopping for non perishables the year before - like right after Christmas when all the sales are on! The key is to write down what you buy for whom though (the real reason for this pretty journal), and of course to have a big box in a dry place that you can store it all safely. It's easy to refer to the journal any time of year as you find appropriate gifts for those on your list.

That's it, that's the trick. You can work on it all year if you like, but for those special Christmasy things, it's best right after Christmas. It's naturally more economical too!

Up to date electronics for the kids do have to wait until last minute of course - can you imagine a teenager looking at a new Apple product... from a year ago!? They would think it archaic! ;)

**You may prefer to 'journal' on your computer of course. I just like the idea of looking at the list from year to year in a journal form.


(Visit me here for more blog entries - Toronto Designers)

If you are in the market for a new small place and have started looking at floor plans, there are a few important things you should consider.

1. Most floor plans are flat and only 2D. I know, this is obvious, but if you really think about visualizing the space in 3D, it will feel very different.  For one, you have to imagine yourself walking through the front door.  Then imagine yourself going about your everyday activities in that space. You may think you can live small, but how small can you really live?  It's different for everyone.

Take the above small space - the square footage was not listed, but it's tiny, agree?  Now picture yourself coming in in the winter, let's say, with your boots and large puffy coat... you will be coming straight into the kitchen.  No foyer to speak of. Can you do this? Can you downsize your wardrobe enough to allow that one tiny closet to hold your winter coat as well as all your other clothes?  Where will you put your friend's coat when he or she comes over?
2. The above floor plan is a townhouse 2D floor plan. It looks nice and seems to fit everything you might need as they even show the ideal furniture placement (not sure where the inevitable TV goes mind you). But don't be fooled.  Floor plans are designed to entice you to buy and to look bigger than it is. Those furnishings they have drawn in may not be scaled properly to the space. The sofa, for example may not be a full sized sofa. And the master bedroom bed looks like a double, not even a queen. Is that what you have and want to incorporate? If so, it may be the place, but be mindful of these tactics.
3.  This kind of floor plan seems to give the best visuals. If the builder can't provide you with something like this, you can always go to a site such as this one to convert your 2D to 3D. But still be mindful of the furnishings and how it shows it all fits. Also remember to consider what you already own, the size of bed you prefer, and any other furnishings you hold dear and want to keep.

It's nice to buy new and have all the fun choices of finishes, but remember to really visualize not only how your furniture might fit, but how you like to live. Realize that the floor plans may not be scaled correctly, and if there are models to walk through, go there with your measuring tape - they often make the models slightly bigger than what they offer you.

If you remember to think carefully about your small space living, you won't be disappointed.  Just take note that some builders do use the above strategies and that you should be aware.

**Not all builders use the above tactics of course, but it's good to be mindful.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Ok, real mini cooper drivers will say this isn't really small, but compared to my last car, it is small.  And I love it!  I love that when I am out shopping for clients or even for myself at places like Costco, that there is a limit.  I can only load so much into the car.  That makes it easy to say no to things, and if you have to go back for it, well, chances are you won't.  To me this translates into less stuff, more creative thinking in what I buy, and less to unload and put away when I get home too.

Talk about an easy fix for simplifying your life!  Just get a smaller car!  Bonus:  It helps on gas bills and the environment too!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I think the best gifts are consumable gifts.  They are useful, pretty, thoughtful and environmentally friendly.  And it`s the kind of gift your recipient doesn't have to worry about displaying... you know, like that sculpture you have to take out when that person comes over... and then if you forget - yikes!  So inconvenient and wasteful!

With consumable gifts, consider what the person`s real tastes are.  Coffee and tea are great for most - spoil them with extra special tea bags and specialty coffees with gorgeous packaging that you know they will appreciate.  Cookies are always a treat for anyone and if they don`t like them, they simply share them with guests.  And soy or beeswax candles are a gorgeous treat for anyone.

There is nothing to make space for, just stuff to enjoy - simply and easily.  Consider that for your holiday giving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I love Chatelaine for their triple tested, super easy meal ideas.  Check out this hearty soup recipe from them here for one of my favourites!  I like to use fresh coriander instead of dried for a more flavourful and colourful soup.  And for spinach, if you have frozen cubes of it (from the freezer section by Arctic Gardens), that works amazing too.

A protein rich soup with a side salad is an amazing dinner idea that takes under 30 minutes to prepare.  And all the ingredients are easy to find.  This is my option for tonight!

Monday, November 14, 2011


That's me in the front at the age of about 4 - I think I was either sucking my thumb or picking my nose. LOL!  We had good times in our little abode.

Today I decided I wanted to share things other than just decor that I hold dear to me - everything simple and practical.  My goal with this blog will be to help you think smarter to achieve a simpler and more practical life.  I want to bring us back to an uncomplicated and easier way of living and thinking as I honestly believe it is the key to happiness.

I am continuing in this same blog that has many posts related to decor, but from now on it changes to all things practical, not just practical decorating.  For decor stuff, visit my other blog here.

This photo is from a time where we all seemed to live quite well.  By today's standards I wonder if we would still think so.  I grew up in an 800 sq. ft. home that housed three children and two parents.  There was one bathroom.  And we were lucky as we had a lovely backyard where we grew vegetables in the summer and had our back deck for extra space for those few short warm months in Montreal, Quebec.  I would say living that way was definitely simpler and more practical - there was less to clean, less to furnish, and way less space for 'stuff'.

Join me here for updates on everything practical from travelling to organizing and all things real and convenient.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

making a change in my blog...

I am switching over to a new blog and it is getting closer to being complete.  Exciting!

Please join me there for new updates on all things design to stay current. There is even an easy sign up button so that you don't miss out on new entries.

Hope to see you there!

Toronto Designers Blog

Saturday, July 16, 2011

planter boxes for your balcony

I love these planters from Lechuza.  There are so many sizes and options with a few colour choices as well.  They look great and are perfect for all those lifeless condo balconies out there, not to mention the privacy they can give you.  Have a look at their easy to order on-line website here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

the unfitted kitchen

The unfitted kitchen is not a look for everyone, but I love it! There is always character in an unfitted kitchen as there are unique pieces that act on their own while still relating to the overall effect. This kitchen has just that with it's chunky wood table acting as the island and only lower cabinets on the sink and stove side. And yes, there is a sink in the island with the pipes hidden by the basket - so clever!... did you notice that gorgeous wide winged chair in the forefront in sumptuous grey leather? Awesome!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

green living in your home

LED lighting

Recycled Glass Countertops

Hemp Fabrics

Living green... in colour too!

There are so many ways to live 'green', and I mean that literally also. Green, as a colour, is gorgeous.  It goes with everything and is always fresh... especially when paired with white.  And 'living green' gets easier all the time with so many products so easily available now.  Consider LED lighting for under your kitchen cabinets; recycled glass counters (move to the side please Granite); and organically grown hemp, cottons and linens for pillows, bedding and curtains.

Monday, July 4, 2011

summer centerpieces

Have fun with your summer centerpieces when you entertain and remember to keep it simple.  Here are a few ideas to steal: