My Finished Kitchen Backsplash

One thing I really wanted to finish this month was my kitchen backsplash. For an apartment I have a fairly large kitchen with a decent amount of counter space but there was NO BACKSPLASH at all. The wall between the countertops and the bottom of the cabinets was always getting splattered with stuff and was so annoying to clean. I’d been planning on painting it (which had never been done in the 10+ years I’ve lived here) but in my heart I was wishing for tile. Of course I wasn’t about to shell out for actual tile in a rental apartment so I went with the next best thing: STICKERS.


We use this little mouse kitchen timer to limit Gwen’s screentime.

Is a faux tile peel & stick backsplash tacky? Probably, but it is 1000% better than what was there before, ie nothing. After doing some research I decided to go with tiles from Smart Tiles, which had the best reviews. They have a lot of different options but I wanted a) simple and b) cheap so I went with plain white subway tiles. The best price I found for them here in Canada was at Lowe’s, where a pack of six sheets of fake tiles (a little under a square foot each) is $47 (most other places here have them at 1 sheet for $9.99). They were actually cheaper ($43) when I bought them and I also waited to buy them on sale to save a little extra.

I am not going to pretend I’m like a super pro at installing these because I made a lot of mistakes. Good news though, you can learn from them! I have a few tips as to how you can make your faux tile installation as hassle-free as possible:

1. USE THE CALCULATOR ON THE SMART TILES SITE. Each product page has a calculator that will let you know how many of that type of tile sheet you need to cover your surface area. I didn’t realize this and initially ordered based on my own estimation and WOW it was wildly inaccurate. I only had enough sheets to do one wall and had to wait for them to go on sale again to order more and finish the job.
2. MEASURE YOUR CUTS ACCURATELY. Part of the reason I ran out of my first batch of tiles so quickly is because I kept messing up the cuts I needed to do. I ended up being able to use most of the flubbed sheets anyway (I did a narrow strip of wall from floor to ceiling which used a lot of scraps) but I def would have saved at least some money by not screwing up.
3. START WITH THE EASIEST WALL FIRST. For some reason I thought I should start with the wall behind my stove, which meant all sorts of tricky cuts AND the biggest surface area to fill. This is also why I messed up a lot, and I realized after I should have started with the easiest and smallest wall, between the fridge and the window, where the only cuts were just a couple straight edges and a cut out around an outlet.
4. USE TAPE WHEN MAKING CUTS. You can cut these tiles with just a box cutter, cork-backed metal ruler and a cutting mat, but it was easier for me to cut the straight edges with the tile taped to the mat so it wouldn’t slide around. When I had to make unusual cuts (around corners or outlets) I would put tape on the front of the tile in the general area I needed to cut and then draw my cutting lines on the tape (this worked better for me that drawing them on the back, which I messed up a lot). Painter’s tape left the least residue but scotch tape worked fine as well.


The Nespresso & Baby Brezza formula dispenser are both plugged in here and both have large and visible black plugs & cords. I used this outlet cover the disguise the plugs & somewhat wrangle the cords.

Thankfully, the look of these tiles is forgiving and hides a lot of mistakes, and even when I’ve challenged people to figure out my most egregious error that haven’t been able to figure it out (or they are just being nice, who can say). Overall I’m happy with the results and would definitely use this product again.

a fresh start

Happy Friday everyone! This week has been long and exhausting- we’ve had a couple room-sharing hiccups with Gwen & Nicky that have really interfered with me getting any sleep, including one night when Taylor forgot to put the hallway gate up when he went to work and Gwen snuck out and had herself a 3am juice & candy picnic. Several, actually. All over the house.

I’m heading into the weekend with 300 million projects on the go; my goal for this year is to reorganize, declutter and re/decorate the apartment, and I really dove into it this week. I got rid of the big shelf that held all the bins of daycare toys which opened up the dining room & playroom, however I don’t have any replacement storage yet so now there’s just a big pile of toy bins against the wall, oops. I did get myself a new desk, I was planning on waiting on that but then I found one I liked on sale so I scooped it up. The new desk is a lot smaller than my old one, and has less storage, so you would think it would make sense to clean out and organize everything on/in the old desk before setting up the new one, but NOPE. That is not what I did.


mom realness: the baby monitor parent unit hiding behind my calendar

The new desk arrived yesterday and I built it IMMEDIATELY, and just threw everything from my old desk in boxes and piled on windowsills. So now I need to sort out and organize everything! Since a lot of this stuff is probably going to end up in my craft closet I need to sort out and organize that as well, which is a super daunting task. I feel like I need to do a major de-stash but then I’m like… WHAT IF I NEED THIS STUFF IN A YEAR??? I have gotten rid of craft supplies before only to regret it later, but the closet is bursting so I think it’s really time.

I didn’t use a mousepad before but I need one for the new desk. I made my own by cutting a circle out of platinum leather, it’s a little creased right now but with some use it should smooth out & develop a nice patina. Another change to the office area is I took down the large canvases & corkboard that were hanging in the interior window above my desk, which had been there for probably close to 8 years? I’m not sure but they were SUPER dusty! Taking them down has LITERALLY opened up the space, but because it’s right opposite the front door Taylor says it’s very receptionist-y coming in when I’m at my computer, which I can see. I don’t want to fill it in too much but I feel like I should hang something else there now? I also decided to replace my somewhat janky Ikea-by-way-of-craigslist office chair with one of our dining room chairs, at least temporarily. We have four dining chairs but with Gwen using a junior chair we only really use three at any given time. I’ve ordered a chair cushion that I think will serve nicely for the time being.

baby diy: silicone & wooden bead teether


He’s like… Come on now, momma. Ok and I SWEAR I did not coordinate his cute narwhal pajamas with this project, this was just a crazy random happenstance.

I’d seen these beaded teethers & rattles show up in my instagram explore tab and thought they were so cute, so I tried my hand at making some for Nicky and quickly became obsessed. This diy is for a teether-slash-rattle that uses a variety of beads I’ll list below, but there are so many colours & styles & sizes of beads available it’s easy to customize them to your aesthetic. tbh this project is almost too easy to even require a diy but any excuse for pics of Nicky, right? Right.

I purchased all the supplies for this project (and all my other silicone bead projects) from Canadian DIY Supply <--click that link to get 10% off your order!
supplies:
2 x 1.75″ natural wood rings
2 x 17mm sapphire blue hexagon silicone beads
2 x 20mm navy blue round wooden crochet beads
4 x 15mm sapphire blue round silicone beads
4 x 14mm natural wood round beads
1 x 35″ midnight blue regular cord (I usually get some extra cord for if I mess up & need to restring on a new piece, which has happened more than once. The cord pictured is actually 60″ JUST IN CASE.)
not pictured:
embroidery scissors
tweezers (optional)
small bamboo skewer or round toothpick (optional)


Thread the beads onto the cord in the following pattern:
silicone round
wood round
silicone hexagon
wood round
silicone round
crochet round
Repeat this pattern until all your beads have been strung.

I’ve found that the crochet covering can sometimes become misaligned with the holes of the wooden bead; if this happens simply thread the skewer or toothpick through the bead and follow it with the cord. If necessary, use the tweezers to pull the cord through the far side of the crochet bead.

Once you have all the beads on the cord, thread the beaded cord through the wooden rings.

Tightly double-knot the ends of the cord together to form a loop, making sure there is a silicone bead on one side of the knot. Test that your knot is secure by pulling hard on the teether as if you are trying to break it. If your knot loosens or comes untied, re-knot and re-test until you are satisfied that it is secure. This is very important; please don’t skip testing!

Once you are confident that your knot is holding, slide the silicone bead over the knot. The hole of the silicone bead will stretch over the knot and then hold it tightly in place.

Using small, sharp embroidery scissors, trim the loose ends of the cord as close to the bead as possible. If necessary tuck the ends inside the bead with the knot. Test your teether’s knot by pulling again (DO NOT SKIP THIS TEST EITHER); if it comes untied you need to start over from the beginning with a new piece of cord, if it holds you’re done!

Here are all the different teethers & bracelets I’ve made…

clockwise from top left: forest green rounds & hexagons // round white marble in 3 sizes (a teether for Nicky AND a bracelet for me) // wooden rounds & rings with glacier grey rounds & isocahedrons and light grey crochet rounds // black, white & tangerine orange rounds (a bracelet for Gwen with a breakaway clasp) // the blue & wood teether from this diy (that I had to pry out of Nicky’s hand to photograph) // black & white rounds with glacier grey isocahedrons


It’s not a phone, guy.

DISCLAIMER: Loose beads are a choking hazard. Do not allow a child under the age of three to play with the loose beads. Never leave a child under the age of three unsupervised with these teethers. Always test your finished teethers to ensure the knots are safe and secure. Spot clean teethers as necessary. Do not soak in water or freeze any teethers with wood elements as it can cause the wood to crack, you can put teethers with only silicone beads in the freezer to chill them.

room sharing


I did not stage a clean room for this post, can you tell?

Since we brought him home from the hospital, Nicky has been sleeping in his bassinet in my and Taylor’s bedroom, but Gwen has been begging for us to start putting Nicky to bed in the crib in their shared room at night. Since he’s such a good sleeper I decided to give it a try last week and so far it’s going well! Gwen goes to bed at 7:30, and we just leave the door open a crack so we can easily sneak in and put Nicky down later (usually around 10 or 10:30). The first night was a bit chaotic as Gwen woke up at 3am, turned on all the lights, changed her outfit about three times and set up her train set all over the room before coming to wake me up. Thankfully Nicky slept through the whole thing and I was able to get Gwen back to bed as well. It’s so sweet seeing them both sleeping peacefully in there, and even more so seeing how much Gwen loves her baby brother and wants him around.

make the most of it: goals for 2017


notebook // pen // tablecloth

This year I really want to get shit done. I had a lot of things I wanted to accomplish in 2016 and well, I didn’t accomplish any of them. I think I had a pretty good excuse though, as I was kind of distracted by being pregnant all year, and all my self-care and nesting energy went into that.

Get into some sort of shape. I KNOW I KNOW A TOTAL CLICHE. But this isn’t actually a new-years-lose-weight resolution, this is actually a post-pregnancy lose weight resolution. It was just unfortunately postponed by my c-section recovery, and then the discovery that at some point in the last few years of being pregnant, being sick with an autoimmune disease and being pregnant again, I threw out all my workout clothes. When decluttering goes wrong, y’all. So I had to get all new stuff and by the time it arrived it was full holiday season and I couldn’t find the time to get started, and now it’s resolution season at the gym which makes me disinclined to go because it’s gonna be so busy! I’ve figured out that the only time I can possibly go to the gym is Monday and Friday mornings at like… 6:30. I am in NO WAY a morning person so my ACTUAL fitness goal is training my body to get out of bed at 6 so I can get to the gym, work out, get home & shower in time to start work at 8. Then the other days I can work out at home I guess? My idea is to set an alarm for an earlier time each week and slowly ease myself into it, so this week I have it set for 6:45. Tuesday I managed to get up that early, but Wednesday I stayed in bed and dozed off until my regular alarm went off at seven and today to my hame I snoozed it until like… 8. IN MY DEFENSE Gwen woke me up at 3 on Wednesday morning and I woke myself up at 5 today so I was extra tired! Honestly I feel like this is my life rn…

I can’t not work and I’m not willing to give up time with my family so I’m going to have to sacrifice some sleep if I want to make this happen. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Finish the half-done home decor projects around the house. The kitchen backsplash is half-tiled. The bathroom is half-painted. My side of the office is where unwanted furniture goes to die and the hallway has no storage so there are always bins and boxes piled in it.

Start some new home decor projects. I want to repaint the living room, dining room, hallway and half-bath. I should probably repaint the entryway (it’s the first room I painted in like… 2007? and it’s looking rough). I’ve never painted my bedroom at all in TEN YEARS and it looks just godawful, and I really want to get a headboard for my bed. I have windows that need curtains and closets I’ve taken the doors off that also need curtains.

Replace busted and/or janky furniture and appliances. Did you know I’ve never ever bought a desk for myself? It’s true. Before Taylor I shared a computer with Sym’s dad and he picked out & bought the desk. After we separated I had no desk for a while, and then had a hand-me-down desk from Sym’s room. The desk I have now I found in the trash (really). So yeah. A decent desk would be nice. We also need a new couch (ours has become basically unsittable) and the dishwasher hasn’t worked properly in years. YEARS.

Keep on top of like… basic housework. Fun fact: having a baby DRASTICALLY increases the amount AND frequency of laundry and dishes you have to do, and also cuts into the time you have to do them. It can quickly build up and spiral out of control, leaving me with even less time to do anything else. I’ve committed to getting back into using my to-do lists. I got out of the habit of making them last year but HONESTLY it help me a lot. I need to have a physical list to remind me of what I’m doing, the satisfaction of crossing things off as I complete them, and no option for things like “sit in front of Netflix for three hours while scrolling through instagram” :X I have a new notebook and pen and I’m doing monthly lists of large or irregular project as well as daily lists of everyday things. I also find it useful to break my most hated chores up into teeny-tiny daily increments; for example I don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to clean the whole of both bathrooms in one day, but cleaning one type of fixture a day is totally doable.

Reorganize & declutter. The kitchen cabinets. The bathroom cabinets & shelves. Almost every closet in the house but ESPECIALLY my craft closet. Our storage room! The entryway! It’s basically all a mess and needs serious looking into.

I know none of this follows the typical blogger new year goal list of mindfulness and personal growth (maybe that is the real cliche…), but after the total wash of last year I need to make practical choices. Maybe if I accomplish all this next year I will have goals that are more abstract (but probably not).

new year new year: free 2017 calendar download

I’ve been meaning to put together a 2017 calendar for weeks now but I was just too busy/keep forgetting to do it. Seeing as how it’s January 1st today I figured I should really get on that. I’m not like… 100% how this will look printed out because my printer ink is getting very very low. Mine looks a little bluer than it should, but hopefully yours will turn out! Because it’s already the new year and I’m not sure of the print I’m offering this calendar as a free download rather than selling it in my shop.

Each month features a different wood grain pattern with the months and days in white. Simply download your free calendar here, print on cardstock and cut out each month with a paper trimmer or exacto knife & metal-edged ruler. I display mine on a miniature easel but you could also put it in a small frame or just a large binder clip. If you print one out please share a pic with me on facebook or instagram!

The calendar pages are 10cm x 10cm. This calendar is free for personal use only; please do not sell this item.

one quarter of one year

At three months old Nicky is…

… Over binkies. I honestly can’t remember the last time he took one. He much prefers cramming his whole fist in his mouth and gnawing on that instead. In related news, he drools. A lot.

… Really into rolling from his back onto his side and just hanging out like that. He seems pretty close to a full roll onto his tummy but he still hates tummy time so I can’t imagine he’ll be thrilled about that accomplishment.

… A super sleeper. I would almost say he’s on a sleep schedule? The past few nights I’ve put him down in his bassinet fully awake at around 10pm and after wiggling and kicking his swaddle loose he falls asleep until 8 or 9am.

… The jolliest baby. The funniest thing to him right now is when I hold him by his hands and pull him up into a standing position, but almost any interaction will reward you with a huge gummy smile and giggles. Sometimes he snorts when he laughs.

… weighs 5.9kg… is 65cm long… has a head circumference of 41cm.

hard candy mini christmas

I’m having a little trouble getting into the holiday spirit this year. Usually I take two weeks off at Christmas so I have time before the holiday to really get into it and time after to relax, but this year I had to use half of my vacation to you know, HAVE A BABY so I can only take a week off. I chose the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I’m really really really looking forward to getting a little time off then, but I haven’t really been able to get as into Christmas as I normally do. Taylor has been off this week and has been a big help but working + looking after my own kids has left me exhausted and with no time to shower, let alone spread holiday frickin’ cheer.

Sym is spending Christmas with her dad this year so last weekend we had a little Mini Christmas celebration. On Friday night we opened our matching family Christmas pajamas and all the new holiday Lego sets. This year’s sets included a train and a couple small Santa-themed items, which we built that night. Saturday we had brunch and then that afternoon headed over to Enchant, the Christmas light maze. I’d bought the tickerts weeks in advance and was worried it would be raining, which it thankfully wasn’t, but unfortunately it was F R E E Z I N G instead, and Gwen was not dressed warmly enough which made her a little miserable. I ended up bailing out of the maze a little early so I could take Gwen and Nicky to the baby changing tent to hog the heater (and change the baby) while Taylor and Sym finished the maze. We all met back up for mini donuts and soft pretzels, which cheered Gwen up immensely, but when we got home she was still so chilled I ended up tucking her in on the couch with two blankets (faux fur AND wool) and a heating pad for her frozen little feet. I wasn’t planning on buying her a pair of winter snow boots this year (I figured her brown boots from the Gap and her Hunters would be enough) but after that experience I broke down and ordered her a pair after all.

Anyway. Today is my last day of work this year, THANK GOODNESS, so hopefully I can get myself out of this rut of grumpiness soon. Here are a few pics from our Mini Christmas night…

I couldn’t get a pic of all five of use together so you get a variety of groupings instead. This years pajamas are from Hanna Andersson, and while in the past I’ve said they are TOO UBIQUITOUS across the blogosphere I’m actually super impressed with them, and here’s why: I realized a few days AFTER these pictures were taken that Nicky’s sleeper has a huge printing flaw in the design. The fabric must have been folded or something during printing because there is a white wedge-shaped gap in the pattern about 15 inches long. It was obviously too late to replace them (even if they weren’t sold out, which they are), so I emailed asking if I could get a partial refund on the sleeper due to the flaw and they immediately responded, offering a FULL refund. Excellent customer service, so thank you Hanna Andersson! Oh also I know Taylor looks super not thrilled/long suffering in these pics but ACTUALLY he was the most adamant that we ALL had to match.

five faves

My friend Lindsay posted this braised chicken recipe on facebook and I was like… I NEED TO MAKE THIS. We had it the next day and it was *chef kissing fingers* I used a mix of baby kale, chard & spinach for the greens and substituted 1 dried Thai chile for the 4 dried chiles de árbol, only because I happened to have the Thai chili already. PRO TIP: always check the Scoville heat units before substituting types of chilis! I almost threw 4 Thai chilis in before I checked and saw they are TEN TIMES HOTTER than the chiles de árbol! That would have been… something else.

H&M has online shopping in Canada now, FINALLY geez. Unfortunately the site is a weird, hard-to-navigate mess (why can I only view all the t-shirts for men, women and kids all mixed up on one endless page???) so I wasn’t able to find my holy grail t-shirt to share with you all, but I did find this one which I obviously need to buy immediately.

I’m totally obsessed with this rattle/teether I made for Nicky this week, and want to make him one in every colour! It was so easy and affordable; I got everything I needed to make it for ~$10Cdn from Canadian DIY Supply ←←← use that link for 10% off your order!

It’s no secret I went a lil bonkers on AliExpress during the Global Shopping Festival, and now all my purchases are slowly trickling in. Other than Nicky’s shark sleeping bag, my fave item so far has been these cloud-shaped placemats. I got them in white and they have been great for reducing the amount of mealtime mess with both Gwen AND the daycare kids.

Amanda. Chantal. Bacon.

a lil proud

This week has been kiiiiind of difficult. Taylor is back at the office three days a week and so I’ve had my first nights alone with the kids. Nicky is actually sleeping through the night (I KNOW) but the hours he’s sleeping around exactly the right ones. The first two nights he fell asleep around 1am, which was Not Great as I had to get up early enough to walk the dogs before Sym left for school at 7:45. Last night he fell asleep at 10 which was SO GOOD… until he woke up at 5:30 this morning. Usually when he wakes up in the morning he just needs a change & a bottle and then falls right back to sleep, but today he stayed up until 5 minutes before my alarm went off. So like… just ideal, really.

Gwen also woke up at 5:30 today, and also didn’t go back to sleep. This was actually a big problem with her for a while, she’d wake up multiple times in the night and refuse to go back to bed until we let her look outside to see that it was still dark (this was a huge pain in the summer when it sometimes wasn’t dark but was too early to get up). We got her a clock that lights up green when she’s allowed to get up and it has been a huge help, but some days she still has a little trouble waiting. This morning she turned on the overhead light and I could hear her through the monitor dumping out about fifty bins of toys, but she wasn’t crying on banging on the door so I just let her play.

On Monday Gwen and I had a particularly tough day; neither of us was in a good mood and there was a lot of pushback from her when I asked her to do things (like cleaning up her toys) or not do things (like hitting the other kids). We had several big arguments and were both very frustrated. I felt bad about how rotten of a day we had so for the rest of this week I’ve tried to have more patience with her. Tuesday and Wednesday went a lot better, and yesterday we were walking home from the playground and I told her of how proud I was of her for being such a good listener and being helpful and patient, and she turned to me, holding her fingers thisclose together and said “You a lil bit proud a me?” Yes Gwen, a lil bit, and a big bit!

She is turning into such a big kid, in fact she told me on Tuesday that she is a big kid now, not a little kid anymore. We were on our way to the school to register her for kindergarten, which seems BONKERS. I just can’t believe that she’s going to be going to school next year! While we were at the front office a class came down to the library and she was SO EXCITED to seem them, she didn’t want to leave. In fact, she almost started to cry because she thought she’d get to start going to school right then! Since then she’s talked to me every day about going to school and asks if she can go “in two minute.” It is heartbreaking to tell her she can’t start for nine more months, but I for one am going to try to enjoy every day with my not-little but not-too-big girl.