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Kitchen/Dining Room Update

Since we barely used our dining room, we did a spontaneous switch-a-roo with our living room last week. Truthfully, we had more meals in bed than at that harvest table. Our solution was to move it to the living space adjoining the kitchen.



I don’t have any photos of our original living area but it was very similar to the previous homeowner’s arrangement. Instead, we had our white couches and a large area rug. Ideal for post-meal naps. Too ideal.






We had family over this past weekend and loved seeing the table messy and seats filled with children. One of my favourite eating experiences is sitting cross-legged on the floor with family in Vietnam. We would surround a simple home-cooked spread lined with newspaper. I guess the only thing stopping us from adopting this practice now is, well, flexibility (womp womp).


Leftover highchairs from the wedding = perfect phone charger stand, and guest toddler accommodations.



What our DIY cat enclosure looks like from the inside.


Who’s that girl, na na na na na na



A peek at our outdated kitchen that we have major plans for. Hopefully these will soon become our “before” photos (on my next staycation).

  • Panton chairs – Kijiji ($300 for 6, retail $310 ea)
  • Custom-made 8′ harvest table and bench – Kijiji ($580 incl. delivery/setup)
  • Bellini chairs - Craigslist ($200 for 4, retail $175 ea)
  • Dansk Kobenstyle paella pan – Salvation Army Thrift Store ($5)
  • High chair – IKEA
  • Cat bed (cardboard box) – Loblaws? :)

You might also enjoy:

livingroom_makeover_thumbnail panton_chairs_thumbnail

bedroom_makeover_thumbnail office_paint_whiteboard_thumbnail

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Living/Dining Room Swap: Teal Walls

What happens when you book a month off work (the longest in 4 years)?

TRAVEL …would be the answer if I wasn’t the only one off for a month and we didn’t just get a new home. Aside from the social gatherings and house projects, I’m most looking forward to normal sleep, more home cooked meals and physical activity. Nursing burnout was a close chase behind and this is my recovery month. I’m inspired by these two articles on “not thinking” (thanks, MLPH!) and side projects (thanks, Abigail!).

On my to-do list was painting our living/dining room, which just so happened on my first day of vacation. The conversation was basically: “Hey, I was thinking about painting last night,” to which I responded, “Oh yeah? ME TOO!” We drove to Rona after dinner and painted into the night. We’re not the handiest people when it comes to fixing and power tools but spur-of-the-moment superficial face-lifts is our specialty.



The furniture swap was last-minute and I’m really happy with how it turned out. We NEVER use this dining room unless we’re hosting more than 4-5 people. It was essentially a pathway to the kitchen with the occasional cat-hair-tumbleweed floating past.







 All fun and games until someone gets hurt.


I’d love to get a new light fixture but installed round vanity bulbs for a more cost-effective modern look.



I’m still on the lookout for a rug and coffee table that fits under the chandelier better. The wood bench will probably be pushed to the side under the window.


  • Couches, basket, rug – IKEA
  • Reclaimed wood bench – Craigslist (set of 3 for $100!)
  • Pillow covers – fabric from somewhere on Queen W, sewed by my mom
  • TV stand – Canadian Tire
  • Light bulbs – Dollarama (4 for $2, we’ll see how long they last)
  • Paint – Venetian Green by Rona

I’ll be posting the new dining area tomorrow!

Other posts you might enjoy:

panton_chairs_thumbnail bedroom_makeover_thumbnail office_paint_whiteboard_thumbnail

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Blueberry Cashew Creamwiches

This recipe is based on Roost Blog’s Lemon & Vanilla Cream Sandwiches. Definitely check out their recipe and photos because mine is like monster version. I couldn’t find smaller ramekins at the time, okay?


First off, props to the Roost for this vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free cookie recipe alone. I don’t have any dietary restrictions but it’s perfect for when I’m hosting for someone who does. I left the baking time at 10 min to keep it soft with a touch of golden brown.

A few extra minutes would make these really nice and crunchy. I’m picturing it with tea, or an avocado-chocolate spread, topped with whipped cream and cherries. For another blog entry..





You guys, I love cashew cream. The texture is so smooth and reminiscent of all things I should stay away from. But cashews are an excellent source of copper (for antioxidants, energy production, bones and blood vessels) and a good source of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. I’ve also used it in this Strawberry Brownie Cake and Banana Cream Pie.


I made the following changes to the original recipe: maple syrup instead of honey, 2/3 cup of coconut milk instead of coconut oil and lemon juice, and about 1 cup of blueberries (some blended in cashew cream, some smashed for center filling).





And that’s all I could actually eat.

Just FYI, it’s a heavy dessert being almost completely nut-based (cut and serve in halves, or look for those tiny ramekins!). I also recommend making these on your day off as it is a bit time-consuming. Keep a stash in your freezer for those moments you get whispers of “ice cream” in your ear.

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DIY Cat Enclosure Under $100

If you hate cats, proceed no further.

I fantasized about Maude and Phyllis’s first experience outdoors for some time, as normal people do. These two are strictly indoor cats because: 1) we’re anxious parents and, 2) they’ve demonstrated their lack of street smarts. Phyllis has been known to roll on her back mid-yawn in response to a particularly malicious stray who likes to hiss and punch at our sliding glass doors.


We entertained the idea of leashes and harnesses but figured these two athletes would constantly get tangled. I came across the concept of cat enclosures through Habitat Haven and my mind was blown.

The only downside was cost. It would have been $700+ for the size I ended up making for under $100.



Here’s what you need:

  • Wire storage kits
  • Plastic multi-purpose ties
  • Work/garden gloves
  • Wire cutter pliers
  • Plastic drop sheet or tarp for rainy days
  • Accessories and outdoor rug if desired

I got everything from Dollarama (I think the wire storage kits were $3 ea for 5 squares):




  • Choose a well-shaded area, or plan to integrate an awning for sun protection.
  • Measure your space and calculate the number of squares needed. It may help to roughly sketch the design of your structure based on your estimates. My squares were 12×12 inches.
  • Purchase your supplies. I used 16 packages for 80 squares (5 squares/package) and 6-7 bags of plastic ties (50 ties/bag). You’ll be surprised by the number of plastic ties required! Mistakes are inevitable.
  • Put together each side of your enclosure separately, securing each connection with a plastic tie. I also secured the midpoint of all the adjacent sides (see arrows). Use gloves to prevent blisters. 



  • Clip the secured ties with your wire cutter as you go. Make sure your ties face outward as the clipped ends can be sharp.
  • Assemble and connect all the sides. Ask someone to help hold.

cat_enclosure_DIY6Turn the bottom connectors upward for a stable base.


  • Lay down outdoor material/carpet if preferred. You could build levels using the same squares within the enclosure if you’re ambitious, or sneak in a low cat tree or side table. A self-sustained cat hammock would also be spectacular. I set down rocks where the carpet material overlapped to discourage the cats from clawing at it.
  • Release your cats and enjoy! I recommend close supervision (you never know).
  • Cover with plastic sheet for rainy days.


cat_enclosure_DIY9Illustration by Alan Baker

The whole thing cost me $70, excluding what I already had (side table, rocks and carpet material).

By the way, I connected the enclosure to the inside so the cats could independently enter/exit. This was a little tricky to design around a sliding door and isn’t the most practical as I have to set up/take down with each use. My favourite use of downtime however, has been reading outside in the hammock alongside these guys.

Depending on your space, you could also create a full enclosure and integrate a 2×2 door. Cat and Caboodle shows you how to make a door and includes examples of other really neat set-ups.

Have a purr-fect day!