Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Guest Blogger - Kristy Athens - Get Your Pitchfork On


In GYPO I write: “Hanging the laundry is one of those ridiculously simple economies that used to be ubiquitous and has now virtually disappeared from North America! No one questions buying an enormous machine and paying for gas or electricity to cook plastic sheets laced with toxic chemicals into their clothing, when there is fresh air right outside! While the invention of the washing machine saved people hours of hard labor in front of a steaming washtub, a dryer saves virtually no time or effort at all.”

Where we lived in the country, we had this great laundry line that was on a pulley system - I simply reeled it away from me.

Now that we’re back in the city, I am making do with a folding rack in the basement. Not the same delicious fresh smell in the clothes, but it does the trick! The rack takes up little room and folds to hide behind a door when not in use.

"I know this inspired me to consider a clothes line again for my backyard - it would be bringing back a lovely old tradition I grew up with in Montreal!" - Susan Abramson - Toronto Designers

Kristy Athens has written a no-nonsense guide to making the urban-to-rural move called Get Your Pitchfork On: The Real Dirt on Country Living. Even if you plan to stay right where you are in the city, a number of things she talks about are pertinent. For example, air-drying laundry. Check it out here!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


To simplify my life, I stopped using a Brita filer. I have beautiful vintage milk bottles that I fill with cold tap water instead of the not so pretty Brita container.

It had occurred to me that I had been consistently leaving water at the bottom of the Brita container for many days in a row, and probably not washing my container often enough to stave off bacteria. Not to mention that the filters are expensive and I already pay, through taxes, for an amazing filtration of our water here in Toronto, Ontario.

One less thing to buy and worry about. And I change my bottle daily for my 'clean and fresh bottle of the day'. It's a practical thing!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


When my aunt used plastic to 'slipcover' her sofa way back when, that was just oh so wrong. Today, however, there are so many amazing options that feel so good and look awesome!

I personally like leather sofas. They are easy to clean and seem to last so much longer than most fabrics. But that's not for everyone, and in a cold basement, sometimes leather feels, well, cold.

That's when a slipcover is best. It gives you the comfort of fabric with the ease of washing whenever you need.

You can have them custom made, or buy them that way from some great stores like Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Ikea and Montauk to name of few of my favourites.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Hiring a cleaning service to clean your house is not only great because if frees up your time to do other things you prefer, it also helps someone else out. The cleaning service/person has a job he or she otherwise wouldn't have, and you get a clean house! Win-Win! Even if you think you don't have the money for it, consider what you can accomplish in those 4 hours or so - work a little more at your job, volunteer, visit someone that could use your smiles, or start a hobby. Thinking about what you can do with the extra time may make it seem like you can't afford not to have a cleaning service.

Spread the wealth.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


It's easy to just buy the right size table, or the right colour table, or worse, the right priced table. But have you considered all the important things your kitchen table will be doing for you? I often sit at my kitchen table feeling so lucky that I chose what I did as it offers me all the things I need and want and what makes it practical for my everyday life.

Here are some things to consider so that you too can get the perfect table for you:

  • First and foremost, will it fit in your space? Consider 3' from table to wall/passage for the ultimate comfort, or a little less if your space is small.
  • If you have chairs you will be using, will they fit under the table comfortably? Will your legs cross under the skirt of the table if you like to do that?
  • Does it have the surface you like? Can you put a mug of hot tea down without a coaster? I love that I can with mine and it doesn't mark.
  • Does it have legs or a pedestal? Legs can get in the way of squeezing more chairs around it so I always say pedestal for the ultimate in leg space.
  • If you like to open up a newspaper and have a cup of coffee, is it spacious enough?
  • How many people will typically be sitting around the table? If more than just you, is there room for everyone and all their stuff? (iPads, magazines, drinks, condiments...)
If you are practical with your table and get the best quality you can afford, you will treasure it for years.

Friday, March 30, 2012


I love to make lists for my daily requirements. And I love to cross things off of it even more!

If you're like me and don't have a set schedule of where to go on a daily basis, i.e. a 9 - 5 office job, then making lists will keep you organized and up to date with all things important.

It's easy to just let the day go by meandering through your daily chores, trying to remember all the little things you have to do (empty the dryer, get to the bank, see client at 3:00...), but if you never acknowledge these little things, they don't seem to mean anything and at the end of the day you may not feel like you accomplished very much.

I like to start with the simple things and to include it all. That way if I do something small like - water the plants - I get to cross something off the list. This small task suddenly feels like I did something that got me through another piece of my day. I just love the feeling! And of course it really helps me stay on top of everything I need to because if it's on the list, well, I just have to do it, don't I?

I like to do my lists on paper and to use a pen to actually cross things off, but lists on computers and smart phones are pretty great too if that's your thing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Start with the front hall. It should be tidy and fresh (don't store all your smelly shoes right by the front door). It's nice to keep some fresh flowers or a plant on a small table, or even a bowl of pine cones with some natural lavender oil dabbed on. Something that says fresh, and smells fresh, is very welcoming. And not only for your guests, but for yourself too when returning home.

Open your windows as often as you can, even in winter. It helps clear out the stale air. Bonus - you will hear your neighbours outside which is hopefully comforting, and your neighbours will know you are home so may even pop in for some tea.

Make your house your home. Choose furnishings and fabrics that really say something about you. It shouldn't read like that magazine cover if that's not you. Select personal things, especially in small items and artwork, and  your home will help always feel welcoming to you. Your visitors will better understand who you are too.

Make sure you home is efficient - consider seating arrangements, space behind dining room chairs and comfortable beds, linens and towels for not only your guests, but you too.

It is these simple everyday little things in life that bring the most joy, so make sure yours is perfect for you.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Sometimes I cheat. I do my laundry during the day because, well, it's easier.

Electricity in Ontario is on smart metres. There are times when it is less expensive to throw in a load, or run the dishwasher than other times. It's quite a big difference in price so it's wise to stick with the off-peak hours for the major stuff. But sometimes I just don't care. Sometimes I just know that the few extra dollars will not make as big a difference in my life as the need to get something done at a specific time. And that just simplifies my life.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I can't believe there is a show on TV called Extreme Couponing! Thankfully this is not possible in Canada, and I say thankfully, because I find it such a waste of time and energy. You need a big house to store all the stuff - which means more to clean and heat, and you get stuff you don't really need. And wouldn't 50 containers of mustard go bad before your family could consume it all?

I tend to think of this as organized 'hoarding'. It is an addiction and it serves  no one any good to be buying things simply because there is a coupon. Not to mention so many of the things I see on this TV show being tossed into the carts is junk food.

I have personally chosen to not use coupons at all. I find it simplifies my life since I don't have to store, search and keep track of them. And most importantly, I just don't get coerced into buying things I may not really need. I might not save a few dollars a week, but I'm OK with that. I would rather take the extra time to make my own coffee at home and save the $2.00 I would spend at the coffee shop otherwise.

It's all a matter of choice. I choose to simplify when it comes to coupons. It makes me feel good, and isn't that what life's all about?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Why does this simplify? Because it allows a normal sized portion of food so that you are not overeating. This makes it easier to consider going out more often, which is a nice luxury. Whether it is because of cost or because of calories, splitting makes sense. The bonus of eating out, of course, is that you go home to a clean kitchen... that's always my favourite part!

Monday, January 16, 2012


I just picked up this book at Anthropologie, one of my favourite stores, and I love it! It is quite simple and basic, but it is written with such love and the ideas and photos are so perfectly me. It has 501 old-fashioned ideas to simplify your life. It touches on the home, the garden, clutter control, food and so much more. The book caught my eye as soon as I walked into the store as it had all the elements of me on it! Did you know I even collect milk bottles? How fitting!

Check it out on Amazon or at the amazing Anthropologie store. It will be a treat to just walk through the store for inspiration, and then you can open the pages of this book for a sneak peak.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Leaving your shoes at the front door is something a lot of people do here in Canada. It's simply because in the winter it is obvious to take off your boots, so it just spills over into the other seasons as well. But if you are the type that runs in with your shoes on in the summer, you may want to stop that habit. It will help you cut back on dirt, therefore less cleaning, and it will make your home feel just a little more special. There will be less stains, less wear and tear and it will feel just a little more like your own zen space, where shoes are just not allowed.
Do be sure to keep them nice and tidy at the front for a healthy visual... and in keeping with that overall zen thing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


The title seems obvious in order to simplify, right? Well it is. To make this transition, start at the store. Before you even try on any clothes for purchase, read the label. If you really want to stop having to go to the dry cleaners and ironing, then don't even try clothes on that require either because if it looks good on you, you may be tempted to buy it! So to stick to this plan of simplification, stop the cycle right at the store level.

For what you already own, just get rid of those things that you say you will iron or have dry-cleaned... you know you never will if this is a goal of yours. And once it is gone, you'll only have things in your wardrobe you can look at and just put on! How relaxing!

I do recognize the need for a fine suit for men and perhaps that perfect little black dress for women - both of which may require dry-cleaning, but this is an everyday lifestyle change I am referring to. This is something my husband and I have already taken to it's extreme. My husband's pants and shirts are all iron-free, so hanging after washing is all it takes. As for me, I have gotten rid of my crinkly iron shirts and my own little black dress is actually washable in the machine! 

Bonus - the chemicals used in dry-cleaning and electricity used in ironing are eliminated - eco-friendy too?... Check!

Friday, January 6, 2012


Cutting, fertilizing, edging, and weeding your lawn are time consuming. Unless you have little kids that like to run around on the grass with shoes off playing tag or ball, you don't need grass. Without it, it can make your life so much easier. Not to mention that it is more environmentally friendly to have more native ground cover than grass. Here are a few great examples of what you can have and enjoy without the worry of mowing a lawn. Heavenly, right?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Let's face it, we all have too much stuff. This is part of the reason we all seem to think we need bigger houses! But do we really need all that stuff? To simplify, ask yourself this question every time you pick something up - "do I love it; do I need it"? If you can't answer yes to either, get rid of it.

It really can be as simple as that as you go at your first drawer, then the closet, then the garage, then the basement...
Keeping only what you truly need and love in the kitchen is a great place to start. There are no doubt some relics in yours like that awful mug a co-worker gave you or the mis-matched dishes set that is all chipped. Unless you use these things often, you really don't need them and you can't tell me you love them. Take cue from this perfectly organized kitchen cupboard that seems to have everything you would really need - just the right amount of glasses, dishes, mixing bowls and prep bowls. Why have more?

Everyone has an area they call their office these days. Whether it is the corner of your dining room table where you put your laptop computer; or a full room dedicated to all your personal and/or business needs. This is an area that often gets neglected because of all the paperwork, paperclips, pens... This little office in a cupboard is a great solution! It contains your stuff so you can't grow 'more stuff'. It really makes you consider only the things you truly need (or love, like those little blue vases).
Your clothing cupboard can no doubt use an overhaul too. This cupboard shows a very minimalist wardrobe, but I bet if you took everything out of your closet and only put back what you wear regularly, yours would look like this too. If not, it's time to re-think the amount of black pants you have, or how many sweaters you need in the same colour. Choose the ones that make you feel best when you wear them, and only those. Getting dressed in the morning will be so simple once you only have stuff you really truly love.

Your linen closet should only have what you use. How many extra towels do you really need for guests or cleaning up? And if you have changed your colour scheme, get rid of the old towels you know will now clash in the new space. As for sheets, keeping your two favourite for each bed is best - give the rest away.
Lastly, don't forget the big jobs like your basement storage and garage. These places tend to have your cast-offs. It should be pretty easy to rid yourself of the things in those places, but because you don't see it it is forgotten. So get to that when you have a chance and find the easiest way you can rid yourself of the things that can truly clutter your mind when you see them.

To summarize simply - Only keep what you need. Your life will truly feel richer.