Friday, September 28, 2012

GIveaway WINNER


It's time to announce the winner of the Carrerra bracelet!


Using good friend Random.Org....

And the winner is....  Brandie!!



Please send an email to thepapersociety@gmail.com with your details so I can ship you your bracelet!

Congrats girl!

And if you didn't win, stay tuned because I will have a MAYJAH prize pack coming your way in the next couple of weeks, so get excited!

Happy weekend!
xo J

Monday, September 24, 2012

Easy, Healthy Pumpkin Spice "Candied" Almonds

I have a case of the boo-hum-bugs. What is that, you say? Let's just say that if you called me the Scrooge of fall/Halloween decor, I wouldn't correct you (see my Easter thoughts here near the bottom of the post).

Don't get me wrong, I love fall. We get very distinct seasons where we live, and as much as I anxiously await summers arrival, fall is a close second for me.

Fall is...

Pumpkin spice lattes.




Scarves. Boots.



The change in the leaves.


Fall is just.... fabulous!

Despite my abundance of praise for fall, I just can't seem to get into autumnal decor. You won't see a hurricane vase of acorns or a runner made of faux leaves sewed together on this blog. I have absolutely nothing against seasonal decor of this variety, it's just not my jar of jam. My home is all whites and blues and greys, and fall decor just doesn't jive.

I prefer to put my creative fall energy into seasonal eats. That way, they aren't on display, I can share them with others, and they get eaten instead of sitting in a storage box until next fall (yay for less stuff!).

There are a lot of fall recipes I've wanted to try, but when my grandma gave me a huge bag of almonds (poor grammy has high potassium and can't eat them anymore), I decided to blend one of my favourite desserts with my favourite healthy snack. Pumpkin pie spiced almonds. Yummmy.


As is usually the case with my "original" ideas, I did some googling and of course, my idea isn't so original (is there such a thing anymore?). Go figure. Anyways, instead of reinventing the wheel, I used Robin's recipe tweaked just a bit (I added a little rum extract because I was short on vanilla, and it turned out yumm!).  Check out her blog for the exact recipe, but I'm talking easy ingredients here! Agave nectar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, pumpkin spice. Yup, that's it. Oh, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

I have never made "candied" nuts before, and I have no clue why. They are SO easy. I literally whipped these up during one commercial break. Throw the almonds in a bowl, toss in the coating ingredients (thankfully all of which I had on hand), stir, and then spread on a cookie sheet covered in parchment (DO NOT use foil- I did and ended up having to pick each almond off the foil, and sometimes it brought some foil with it, so that certainly wasted some time.)

Toss in the oven for 18- 20 minutes, and voila! Your home will smell heavenly, and you'll have some delicious, non-refined sugar candied almonds.

They still retain a bit of stickiness as the agave doesn't seem to caramelize like sugar would, but not super sticky. I would call it more tacky than sticky. It won't leave your fingers amuck, which is nice.

The sea salt on top is divine. I love that it blends sweet and salty, and the pumpkin spice isn't overwhelming in any way.


Since you don't want to eat these all to yourself, pack some up and hand out to friends and family.


My favourite packaging tip is to scour the stationery sections of Winners/TJMaxx/Ross etc for wedding favour boxes. I found this set of 24 for just $3.99 and I use them for everything (wrapping small jewelry gifts for friends, toys for my cousins, and now almonds!). Much cheaper than buying them from Michaels and they're nice to have on hand when you need them.


If you have some almonds lying around your kitchen, I definitely recommend giving this a go. Can be made into teeny tiny batches too so you aren't as tempted to eat a whole pan!

Enjoy!

xox Jen


Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's GIVEAWAY time! Win my FAVE bracelet

I am in major project mode. I feel like I have 4000 things on the go, and nothing is finished. My chairs, my table, our floors (well, just the walls and baseboards need to be patched and painted), my office, our guest room (post to come on that!) and the rest of my to do list are keeping me busy busy busy!

While I work away on crossing some things off my list, how about you toss the dice and enter to win a Carrera bracelet! And let's be honest here... your chances of winning are PRETTY high so what have you got to lose?

I don't have the time to design a ton of jewelry for the Paper Society, but I am head over heels in love with this bracelet and I'm sure you will be too! It goes with practically everything and is the perfect little amount of bling!


To enter:

1.) If you haven't already, make sure you're following this blog someway or another :)

2.) Pin something (anything!) from The Social Home.

3.) Comment on here and let me know that you did so!

Sorry worldwide friends, only open to residents of Canada and the US of A!

Winner picked next Friday, September 27, 2012.

And pssst- did you see the end of September sale I posted about on Facebook? Totally worth checking it out!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Healthy Home | Smoothie Love

I have a major soft spot for smoothies. I touched on it in this post about some of my healthy tips and tricks, but my love for smoothies is deserving of an entire post of itself.

Being a vegetarian almost my whole life, smoothies are not a new thing for me. In high school and university, I forced down many a protein shake (basically protein powder, banana, milk, ice) to try and get more protein into my diet. I had enough protein shakes to turn me off for life. Blech.

But smoothies are another story. They are a fantastical blend of many yummy things, that make for a wholesome, filling and nutritious breakfast or post-workout snack. Did I say they were filling? Yup, so so filling. The volume really gives you that satiated feeling, and staves off hunger until lunch time. It's also very refreshing in the summer because it's a cool and blended treat.


I mix up my smoothie ingredients from time to time, but this is my current go to smoothie recipe: 1 small banana, handful of frozen fruit, a couple frozen spinach/kale cubes OR handful fresh greens, a few coconut water ice cubes, green tea protein powder OR greek yogurt, and a mix of chia seeds, hemp hearts and buckwheat. I top with a little water, or brewed chilled green tea, and give her a good blend.


I had never heard of the Nutri Bullet nor seen the infomercials, but when my 7 year old Magic Bullet gave out, and this baby was on sale for $79.99, I thought I'd give it a whirl. It has 600W (or as I called it before being corrected by my husband, 600 horsepower) versus Magic Bullet's 250W. It makes a huge difference and really crushes through seeds and nuts like nothing I've ever tried (I'm sure the VitaMix is loads better, but I have yet to desire one because they are massively huge and clunky and I just don't want that in my kitchen. Oh, and they cost $500+ ;))


I start my day with a smoothie, and try to use fresh ingredients as often as possible, but since I'm the only one who uses them in my household, I find my produce goes wilty or overripe before I have time to finish it up. That's when I started making frozen cubes and using frozen fruit instead of always fresh. Coconut water is also something that only lasts a couple days, hence why I freeze it. I make up about 5 batches to freeze every week so that they are really easy to grab, and all I add is warm water (to help thaw all the frozen ingredients), my seed mixture and the protein of choice (I have been known to freeze greek yogurt and add to the mix as well!


I use mason jars to hold my baggies while I fill them, and then freeze.

Any great smoothie recipes you're loving right now? Would love to hear them!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Advice Time!

I really really need some input on this one! I am STUMPED!

I figure since we're overhauling our main floor with new floors and new dining chairs, we might as well upgrade the cheap dining table while we're at it.

Hmmmm. Dining table. Wait. Don't I have one in the garage?

Yup.


Well, half of a table at least.

I bought a chrome dining table base a year ago at that amazing wonderful heaven of an interior design warehouse sale. It was $75. Score!

It has no top though, and I am still really torn as to what I should do. I've already attempted one option. I bought a bunch of pine treated 2 by 6's, had them cut to size, and was ready to use the Pinterest technique to age the wood to make it look, well aged, or beached, until I was quickly taught that 2 by 6's are NOT 2 inches by 6 inches. ARGH. I spent close to $100 on my special wood, to come home and find my measurements were so wrong. Major fail.

So, a year later, my beautiful table base is still in the garage. I really want it to come inside and keep my new chairs company.

I've thought of a glass top, but if my side tables are any indication, glass tops scratch easily and look dirty quickly.

I would love white marble, but let's be honest, I'm not buying a white marble table top any day soon. Cha ching that I do not want to spend.

What other options can you guys think of? What would YOU do?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chair Painting Part I

Ya, painting wood chairs is old news.

Painting fabric? That's a whole notha ball game.

Sure, it's been done before. We've seen it on Pinterest.



We've maybe even tried the technique using fabric medium on pillows...



But SPRAY paint on fabric chairs?

You heard me.



I found this product online, and after doing some searching, I found this link to Johnny in a Dress. She spray painted her vinyl sofa using the Rustoleum Fabric and Vinyl Spay Paint and went from navy to white with fabulous results.



My chairs in question, however, are fabric. Almost velvety, but not quite. I wouldn't even know how to describe them. But they are certainly not vinyl.

I first had the idea to spray paint my six Louis chairs once I decided I didn't have much to lose. The camel fabric colour is not even close to workable in my home, but the light ostrich texture is nice. Before I rip the chairs apart, why not give it a go? The worst that can happen is that it doesn't work out, and then I reupholster. Plus, the double piping and upholstery job on them now is SO much nicer than I could ever do, so I'd prefer to keep that professional work in tact if possible.



Tuesday was test day 1. As you can see from the image of the can above, the "Vinyl" is bolded, the "Fabric" is teeny weeny. This is obviously deliberate. I think this product would work much better on vinyl than on fabric, unfortunate for me. I chose this product over other true fabric paints and fabric spray paints (and their DIY alternatives) because I was going from a darker colour to white. I need as much heavy duty coverage, so this seemed like the most promising.

I used 2 whole cans, about 8 light coats, and there still is a need for a little more coverage. It's scratchy to the touch (although doesn't sound crunchy like a regular spray paint might) and although I wouldn't call it an epic fail, it's not a hurrah quite yet.

I still have 5 other chairs and I think I might test out a couple other alternatives with them.

I will have a more in depth post about the process with before and after pictures coming, but for now, this is my 2-can (Toucan?) chair. I didn't tape off the legs because I'm going to be reinishing those (and couldn't find painters tape :P - I've told you before I'm not a by-the-book DIY-er, didn't I?)


This post is not affiliated nor promoted by Rustoleum by the way, I just happened to find this product while searching online :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One, Two, Three, Floor!

Most things we do involve weeks/months of forethought and planning and decision making. What we did this weekend did not. If you follow me on Instagram you may have gotten a sneak peak.



In less than a day, we ripped up our entire main floor, and started the process of installing a new laminate floor. No thanks to me, however, because I would have waited. The hubby, on the other hand,  knew that if we didn't get er done asap, we might never. Fair point well made.

What prompted us to rip up our 2.5 year old laminate floors to install new laminate floors? Well, we've never particularly liked the ones that came with our home. The colour was more of a reddish brown (not cherry, but like a warm brown) and they just weren't our style. The boards were the kind of laminate planks that look seamless, with one board "faking" the look of multiple planks. Long story short, smooth surface, no grooves, and very laminatey looking. No likey.

After our experience with these floors, however, we did know that any future upgrade would be laminate. There is certainly some sort of taboo associated with laminate, however with two dogs and a lot of furniture relocation, we've come to appreciate the durability of laminate flooring. Granted, water is NOT its friend (same goes for all wood type flooring, mind you), but nothing seems to stand against scratches like a laminate product.

Even with all that said, we would not have made the couple thousand dollar investment for new floors for a home that we might not be in for more than a couple more years, nor to change something that was purely a matter of preference and not something that needed to be done. But, when the flooring is free, and you spend $40 in supplies, how can you say no?

How did we get free flooring? I happen to have a pretty amazing job and am surrounded by some of the most stunning interior design in the city. I get to look at pretty homes on a daily basis, and sometimes, when they decide to change something, I luck out.

Recently, they decided to change out the colour schemes of the homes we sell, and so the floors, cabinets and countertops were ripped up and replaced. Nothing wrong with them, just a new colour scheme about to go in. A BUNCH of flooring was on its way to the trash, so something had to be done.

I decided to give them a new home, and after 3 trips of loading and unloading the vehicle, we had a garage floor of almost-new laminate planks. We had to take double the flooring that we needed (from two separate homes) because of the amount of breakage and wastage. Even then, we were ALMOST short (only two usable boards left at the end). Trying to sift through the piles for good boards was a task, and installing even more tedious. I'm sure had the boards been straight from the box, the install time would have been half what it was.

My rock star of a man put in a good 40 plus hours as he worked away, used a hand saw to cut all the detail pieces for around the edges, and totally kicked his own butt. He was, and still is, completely exhausted. Every bone in his body aches. His hands look like decrepit claws. I feel so bad for him.

But, after all is said and done, our floors look AMAZING! A massive improvement from what we had before. I had always wanted light grey flooring if we ever were to upgrade, but I must say, I'm really liking the moody dark brown.

We are STILL working on finishing up. Last night we put our wall unit back together, and this week we'll be putting the baseboards back on, and touching up the walls by the baseboards, and then we will be DUNZO!

I'm excited to share the before and after photos with you. I had no idea how much of a difference the new floors would make. Slowly but surely, this townhouse is starting to feel so much more like home.

Have you ever installed flooring before?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fancy Fridge Fail

If you haven't yet seen my first guest post as a contributor over at Modern Parents Messy Kids, go check it out now, because this post relates to it!



As much as I love sharing pretty spaces and frugal finds with you guys, I also like to consider myself fairly candid. I grumble about missing out on getting printed in a magazine, and about how difficult blogging can be sometimes. I've also written about my issues with healthy eating and how, like most things in life, you need to work hard to get where you want to be, whether that's pertaining to home, work, or life.

Well, here's another one to add to the list, because I figure you may learn as much from my failures as you will my accomplishments. Back to the top, you'll see that I had my first ever guest post on another blog. I was so honoured to be asked to contribute, and although I wasn't a reader of MPMK, it didn't take long for me to realize how incredible and widespread that it was. I knew I had to do something amazingly awesome.


I went to my list of "projects to do" that is ever growing. I had a good number to choose from, but decided that I would tackle fridge organization. I hoped it would appeal to parents as well as non-parents because, who doesn't want a pretty organized fridge?


And then I got a a little carried away.







There are certainly some parts to it that I think are useful. I used up-cycled Crystal Light containers to store veggie sticks. Free and fantastic.


And, of course, I found some great storage at the dollar store (Dollorama.)


I fell in love with this blue tote for my produce. It's great as it can go from farmers market to fridge.



And, I labeled everything. Obviously.


I even liked the new Dollorama jars I added to my collection to store dips and other things. Those work. I like them.


The bins have been there since my pantry makeover, and I must say, I LOVE them and find them very handy. That is something you should do.

But, after taking all the photos and writing up my post on fridge organization, I just sat and stared at it.

It didn't feel right. Not in the least bit. There's fridge organization, and then there's fridge craziness.

And in the spirit of candour, I don't decant my milk into carafes. I did at one point. I had these beautiful glass carafes that I would decant our 4 litre of milk into, but after a while it got annoying. My hubby didn't jump on the milk train, so I was always the one decanting, and then hand-washing the glass carafes, and then decanting again. We go through a lot of milk (almost 2 litres a day) so it just wasn't a time saver. And organization should achieve at the very least these two things in my opinion: it should save time, and look nice.

And, in the spirit of pretty fridge photos, there had to have been about 10 not-so-pretty food items sitting on my island while I took these pictures, because an empty fridge looks so much better than a full one.

So after hours of writing a post I didn't use, and trying to edit weirdly lit photos (man, fridge photography is a challenge), I threw in the towel. If I didn't buy it, why would anyone else?


I changed directions and focused on my dip jars with new labels, because I do think it's a useful and pretty project that anyone can do. My FREEBIES page has now been updates to include them if you want to download.


But the moral of this post is, it's ok to be real. It's ok to have ziploc bags and leftover containers and milk jugs. We all do.

With that said, even a small amount of organization can clean up a space and save time. So, do what you can. Do what you are comfortable with.

And never forget that organization is supposed to make things EASIER and more EFFICIENT. If you spend 4 hours organizing to save 2 hours, then you've just wasted 2 hours. Put the time into things that will pay off in the long run and that are easy to maintain. I can say with 100% truth, that my pantry looks just like it did in this post, because I designed it in such a way that I knew it would work for me, and I knew I could keep it that way.

The fridge, on the other hand? Not so much....

Linking up at: The Picket Fence, Serenity Now, House of Hepworths, 52 Mantels, Organize and Decorate, Savvy Southern Style

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guest Posting over at MPMK

Hope everyone had a fantastic Labor Day and long weekend! We got to enjoy a spectacular weekend with my in-laws who live about 8 hours away to celebrate my father-in-law's 60th birthday. There was a lot of lounging by the pool, margarita-making, and of course eating (hello Italian family!). My mother-in-law even treated us to a perfect end-of-summer pedicure. Ahhhh relaxation...


In other news, I am THRILLED to be the newest contributor over at Modern Parents Messy Kids. I may not be a real parent yet, but I do have two wieners, and they are quite messy.

And MPMK actually has loads of great posts for organizing and simplifying life, which in no way do you need to have popped out human beings to enjoy. Hallelujah!



This week I'm sharing my time-saving hostess tip for presentable dip storage and serving. Go on over and check out my very first guest post, and get some free printables while you're at it!