Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Steeped Tea

We're taking a short break from our Upside-Down House series to talk about tea parties! Yay!!

I'm sure I failed to mention this in light of my long absence from blogging, but I'm going to start selling Steeped Tea! Steeped is a loose-leaf tea company based in Ontario that operates using a home party business model.
Now, as you may know, I currently sell Pampered Chef, and while I love the products, the company and getting out once in a while to do a party, the reality is that I can't keep up with the one-show-a-month minimum, especially once I have a newborn. So I decided to take a break from Pampered Chef and go 'inactive' instead of just doing a poor job of it. But I really wanted to still sell something that I could do parties for, and be considered active and do a decent job!

Enter the tea world.

I stumbled across loose-leaf tea home parties back in the fall and I loved the idea! I love tea parties so much! And goodness knows we like our loose-leaf tea at home - we went through a phase where we had a $70 budget every three months just for loose-leaf tea. Matt actually commented that it would be fun if I sold tea and I knew that it would be, but I kept thinking it'd be crazy to step back from selling one thing to step into selling another. Well, that mentality only lasted until December, by which point I had resolved to take a break from Pampered Chef and I started looking seriously at selling tea. And then I met Steeped, which has no monthly sales minimums and consultants can get 40% off products. So basically I could have parties when I felt like it, take whole months off at a time, AND keep my house well stocked with tea for pretty cheap! The more I looked into it, the more I loved the idea, and I had a number of friends who loved the idea too - so I had a loyal customer base established a month before I officially decided to sell it.

Turns out, the way you get started as a consultant is by hosting a party that another consultant leads, and 45% of the show sales go towards paying for your consultant kit. That, or you can pay around $250 yourself for two mini-kits and get all the same stuff. So clearly the party is the way to go. So last night, I hosted my Steeped Tea Starter Party!

I invited everyone I could think of and crossed my fingers that at least some of them would show, and then prepped some pretentious little party foods that would go well with tea: mini Chocolate Pot de Cremes, White Wine Jelly and Grapes, Blueberry Brunch Cake and Single Bite servings of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. I usually entertain mixed groups and I feel like I can't serve tiny portions to big burly men (seriously, you should see how big some of these men are!) so I never get to serve anything in my verrine cups or on my hors d'eouvres spoons. But at a tea party? Perfect!
The Pot de Cremes are a favorite go-to of mine: melt chocolate and sugar in some whipping cream and bring it to a boil to thicken it, then pour it slowly into egg yolks. Portion, chill, garnish, serve. Easy! And incredibly delicious.
The Wine Jelly and Grapes are quicky becoming a favorite of mine to serve as well. It's an even simpler recipe than the Pot de Cremes: set a pack of gelatin with 2 tbsp of water. Dissolve sugar in wine in a sauce pan, remove from heat and whisk in the softened gelatin. Let cool and then pour over ramekins of small, fresh grapes. Chill, garnish, serve! Awesome, hey? And they taste incredibly fresh and light! I top them with a bit of whipping cream and they are just sweet enough to be called dessert, but by no means 'rich' or overpowering. Perfect in summer, fyi.

When my consultant showed up we got some tea ready (those brushed metal Henley pots keep things hot for 2 hours - not just warm, hot.) and then people started showing up. Actually, people kept showing up all evening! I was hoping for 7 people, but worried not even that many would come, but by 8:30 I had 12, not including Matt and I. We sampled a green tea called Hawa-ya-doin (pineapple, papaya, bamboo and coconut), a rooibos called Toffee Crunch which Matt adored, and a weird little one called Cinnamon Hearts Pu-erh (a black tea that is fermented underground) which smelled just like the candy hearts and tasted earthy and hearty. They were all great, and even my devout coffee-drinking friend who only came for moral support loved them! It was nice watching one show before I had to go do my own, too! I got a few really good ideas and saw what people typically ask for at a show.

When it was all said and done, Matt had picked out a number of teas that he is desperate for, and I had earned enough for my consultant kit in one evening! Plus, some of my friends wanted more tea than they could buy in one night so they've booked parties, and I'll have regular orders from them just to restock their tea shelves. I think the best part though was that last night was the most stressful part of all this, and it wasn't actually stressful. Sure I was nervous that no one would show, but my friends are awesome, and they came. And now all I have to do is order tea for Matt and I when we want it, and for my friends when they need it, and I'm a successful Steeped tea Consultant!

I'm really excited to get my starter kit now and try everything. They make tea soaps that range from stress relief, specialized ones for scrubbing after gardening and even facial bars. Plus, they have a line of jams and chutneys that I'm stoked to sample (especially their mango chutney and their Matcha Mousse). And Matt is a little desperate for his big bag of Toffee Crunch tea to come...

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How To Turn Your House Upside-Down part 3

For those who don't follow my blog regularly, you have caught us at part 3 of a look at how organizational projects can trash your house and cause a feeling of general insanity like nothing else.

We've covered the dining room/kitchen, and also the kids' rooms and toy storage. Now on to the one we meant to do from the beginning: the Master Bedroom.

When my husband and I bought this house 4 years ago we were happy with the fact that we'd be saving quite a bit of money because the carpet was out-dated and the wallpaper was no longer fashionable. Everything was in a good enough condition that we could move in right away without having to wait for renos and upgrades to be done, and we didn't shy away from the prospect of a few weekends spent painting and reflooring. Couple this with the fact that my husband is, by trade, a flooring installer, and you can see why the 1980s blue carpet didn't worry us.

Flash forward 4 years, 2 kids and 1 dog later - we've replaced about 80% of the flooring in the top two levels of our house, but our stairs, hallway and master bedroom still remain covered in that 'charming' 1980s blue carpet. Only now, the kids have had time to make their mark on it, as has the dog, not to mention a dog we pet-sat who decided to show his displeasure by getting sick all over our floors. Cleaning has stopped working. The floor is shedding because the fibers are so worn, it's crusty-beyond-improvement in some spots and I'm too afraid to think about just how much dust stays in the floor regardless of our vacuuming efforts.

We couldn't kid ourselves any longer - with one child recently diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease, and a new baby due at the end of March, we knew we'd have to get new flooring. And although we get a pretty decent discount on flooring, plus free installation courtesy of my husband, it was still going to make a nice dent in our bank account. So, we decided to make it our Christmas present to eachother (each year we rotate whether we're getting a joint Christmas present for eachother or if we spend the money separately and buy individual presents). That helped us swallow the cost a bit, but we knew we'd need to forego some luxuries for a while to help with the rest. But a couple of weeks ago, we finally felt like we could order the new carpet, which is set to arrive in the next couple of days. On top of our new flooring, we decided it would be wise to update the rest of the Master Bedroom while we were already going to be working in there with all of the furniture out. We had painted all of our bedrooms the same shade of green when we moved in, and while we lucked out and our eldest has decided that green takes the place of honor of being his 'favorite color', and the nursery will look great with a jungle theme, the shade is starting to wear on my poor hubby. He loves warm yellow tones, though he doesn't know necessarily how to describe them. Burnt orange is perhaps his favorite decorating color, with burnished reds in a close second. He also loves beige walls. I, on the other hand, am drawn to cold colors, like steely blues, icy greys and only the brightest hues of green and yellow to complement. Even my dark accents are cold feeling, since this seems to aide natural lighting instead of swallowing it up like warm tones would. Anyway, I wanted my husband to finally have a bedroom that he loved, instead of one he tolerated. He chose the carpet. I might have gently nudged him in certain directions (like away from the rusty orange color) but at the end we got what he wanted and something that he's really excited about. I lucked out and he acknowledged, entirely on his own, that the beige carpet with subtle grey streaks would work best with the general flow of our house. It was lucky on that count, but unluckily, it would not work with the paint colors we had chosen.

I had come across a color pallette on Pinterest, courtesy of Design-seeds.com, called 'Peppered Tones'. The greige walls would work for me, while giving the only conceivable combination in which 'burnt orange' would be an acceptable accent color in my mind. But the greige would look funny next to our 'Sea Otter' toned carpet. Not cool. And if I played with the pallette to move another color onto the walls instead of greige, the cold blues were going to win again, and then it would be my style in the room, not Matt's. Sigh. I abandoned hope of making 'Peppered Tones' work.

But how on earth could I decide on a new pallette? Our tastes are so much at odds that I was truly stumped.

Men also aren't typically the best at describing what 'feel' they would like a room to have. Mine got as far as 'warm' but then it kind of fell flat after that. So I tried to ask ony the most basic questions: "What color would you like the walls?" "Beige." Okay. I had a clear answer. I knew he wanted a yellow, orange or red accent, and of the three I was most inclined towards red.

My next pallette consideration involved a royal navy, dark walnut, light-sandy colored walls and bright red accents a la the sea. I was thinking something nautical. But I stopped myself. What if Matt wasn't thinking something nautical? Huh. This was hard.

My last resort before banging my head against the wall was putting together an imagery exercise for my man. I found pictures within the confines of a beigey pallette, but all with different secondary and accent colors. And all of the pictures drew from different imagery: mountains, farms, seas, rocks... Then I made it as easy as possible on my poor (very tolerant) husband: I told him to pick three pictures. For whatever reason. Just whatever three he liked.

To my great surprise, ALL of his pictures depicted a rural lifestyle: men riding horses, a barn viewed from across a wheat field, and an owl sitting on a fence in front of a barn on a cold day. I finally started to get what he wanted.

One picture that he liked (as his fourth choice) was a picture of a cowboy on a horse, kicking up dust onto his dark blue shirt. Less of a navy and more of a smokey blue. The background of the image was a massive dust cloud. I pointed it out to Matt and asked him what he thought about that as the accent wall in our room. His answer? "Perfect." Perfect? I've never got a perfect from him in my life! Cold beer and a plate of nachos after a day at work? "Awesome." An hour long back massage without any expectation of one in return? "Amazing." But Perfect? I knew that was what I was looking for.

And so it was decided that the picture of the cowboy was the perfect imagery for our Master Bedroom. We're getting C2 paints through Matt's work and so I went in to pick out swatches and found what I was looking for: "Scout", a light greige with a faint green hue will be the main color for our walls. Using a color wash technique, "alhambra" will be the secondary color we use on our accent wall to make a dust cloud appearance. "Espionage" is the smokey blue that we wanted for our curtains and possibly bedding, and "Torch" is the yellow accent that we'll work in through pillows and accent pieces. And they all work with "Sea Otter" flooring!

Things started falling into place: wondering where we could find fabric paint for our ancient vertical blinds in the master, and how we could find it in a suitable color, I started doubting whether "Espionage" was really going to happen. Then I was looking in our crawlspace for something and came across some cotton window panels from our old rental suite - they were a beautiful dark blue that wasn't quite as grey as Espionage, but looked fantastic in the pallette. With the wrought iron curtain rod that we had in storage as well, we'll hang the panels from full height to give our window a dramatic look, tying back from the top corners instead of the sides, and we'll have spent nothing more to getting that blue accent in our room.
I knew I didn't have any yellow things hiding in my house, waiting to be found - especially not a squashy yellow instead of a citrusy yellow. I was beginning to resign myself to buying a couple of throw pillows from HomeSense when I decided to pop in at FabricLand instead of HomeSense. At the bottom of a remnant bin I found this beautiful, golden curtain fabric for $4.50 for the 2 yard bolt end. I've got a load of stuffing in my basement, so making a bed-full of pillows will be as cheap as the remnant! And the color is perfect, while the sheen of the fabric will help class up the room. (I was worried about the cotton panels looking too drab, but this will really help)
Lastly, I needed a new headboard. Ours is low, and honey-oak colored, and very ugly and dated. Plus, it doesn't bolt onto the frame firmly, so we keep pillows stuffed behind it to keep it from hitting the wall every time you roll over. We talked about getting a full bedroom set, which was probably a year away from being an affordable idea. We talked about building our own headboard while Matt explained that getting wood that wasn't warped would be tricky, and expensive. Then I found a $50 headboard on kijiji that looked perfect! Solid oak, stained ebony, with a certain western feel by the spacing of the slats and the general design. We could do $50.

After a tea party I'm having at our house tomorrow night, the work on the bedroom will begin - first with clearing surfaces and filling holes, then stripping out the old carpet and using the plywood floor as a painting room for baseboards and doors, and finally painting our walls and installing the new floor.

All things considered, it might be the cheapest bedroom flip we ever do, and I'm sure Matt will like it!

But until then, my bed will be in the basement for a couple of weeks, so wish me luck!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to Turn Your House Upside-Down part 2

Boys and Their Toys

It is inevitable in our household, that every January we will need to sort through the masses of toys in our house.

My darling family loves to give gifts, particularly to children, so each year my boys get copious amounts of gifts from their great-grandma, great aunts and uncles and other extended family. And when I say 'copious' I mean 'we-can't-fit-all-of-these-packages-in-our-van-to-get-them-home'. Ergo, each January the local second-hand stores and thrift store charities get some rather generous donations from our household.

Now, this organizational project was not a surprise to begin with, but the extent of it soon took us by surprise. You see, I am expecting baby #3 at the end of March. Furthermore, I am expecting baby BOY #3. My house is going to get very noisy and very messy, very fast. While I was sorting through the toy bins in the room our two boys (3 years and 19 months) are going to be sharing when the baby comes, I realized that while the toy bins were a great place to put toys, they beckoned unfairly to my 19 month old. He is incapable of simply pulling a toy out; he needs to dump the bin. And then the next one. And then all of the bins. And then he typically pulls over the stand. And then he moves on to the bookcase... On average it takes him 5 minutes to completely destroy a clean room when so many toys are so easily accessible. As I fought him back with one arm while I tried desperately to finish sorting out our 'keeper' toys from our give-aways before he trashed the room, I realized that toy bins were not meant for kids like him. We needed a better solution.

The first step was finishing the Great Toy Purge of 2013. I whittled down our toys to be reasonably contained by room: the basement has the sports toys, blocks and kitchen toys, the main floor has remote control cars, mini hockey sticks and a car mat, as well as craft supplies, and the boys' room has cars, Little People sets, trains, tools, anything battery operated that makes noise and some toy sets. All of the old odds and ends toys got sent away unless they were 'favorites' (which Mommy played the biggest role in determining, because when you ask a three year old, all of his toys are his favorites). The give-away toys went into three boxes and a garbage bag which were donated to a thrift store. My oldest helped me look through the give-aways first, and even pleaded his case for some of them, and while I may have let him keep one or two cars that I had deemed unworthy, overall he agreed that he had too many toys, we needed to get rid of some, and these were all things that he could stand to part with because he liked his other toys better.

The next step was making a proper home for all of the toys, in a way that made sense to me, and to the kiddos. While previously we had a load of toys take up regular space on our main floor, I needed to put my foot down - partly because sometimes I wasn't able to since there were too many toys in the way! We changed how that worked. There are a selection of single-activity sets that the boys can play with in the living room (like the car mat or the hockey sticks) that all store in one side of our built-in bench seat when they are not in use. There are actually only three sets of toys in there, which makes the mess more contained already. There is a riding Radio Flyer car that stays permanently on the main floor (the only level with hard floors) and besides that, all toys that come to the main floor are taken here from another room and put away as soon as the kids tire of playing with them. I also wanted to incorporate a craft station for the kids, where crayons, coloring books and paper were within their reach, and playdough, paint, stickers and glue were on hand for Mommy to help with. We have a surplus of those little IKEA Lack coffee tables, one of which I painted the top with chalkboard paint a while back, so I moved it into an empty corner of the room and we mounted an unused corner shelf just above it, at a height that our three year old can reach with ease and our 19 month old can reach, but it requires a bit more ingenuity, which gives me more time to catch him. The shelf holds markers and stickers in a little galvanized steel bucket, boxes of crayons, pencil crayons and chalk, and the odd little Jellyfish in a Bottle that I made using a plastic bag and colored water, which the boys still love playing with. I needed somewhere to put the coloring books, other than just stacked in a pile on the little table. I dug out of the basement a mail organizer from IKEA that I had bought with the intent of using in our mini-office corner in the basement. Turns out, it was just an extra place to shove mail instead of putting it away properly, so I abandoned using it very early on. But placed on the wall by the boys' craft table, it houses the most basic coloring books on the bottom, my oldest's more special books one level up and my own cleaning binder and notebooks on the top where they are fully out of reach of little arms. Last Christmas we had bought one of those big tins of popcorn because the tin was a Cars one, and it was actually a great investment - the tin has long since housed our kid craft supplies like paints and the like. This sits neatly under the little craft table and is still too hard for my kids to open, so the paints are safe until Mommy comes to claim them. Not to mention it serves as an excellent chair for when the boys are coloring at the table.
In the basement we have a second set of bins for toys and these are permitted to stay since the kids never get to play unsupervised down there. We also have a kitchen set right next to the bins, and between the two storage areas, all of the basement toys are pretty well contained, and easy to clean up. That one was easy.

But then we came to the bedroom.

As I said before, the bins needed to go. But not the toys. We wanted them to be accessible enough for play, but not accessible enough for mess. We had long-time had an unused fabric closet organizer hanging in the closet in that room, and it turns out, the bins fit perfectly! So while my oldest will be able to get some of the lowest out, the rest will again be up to me to get, which I'm okay with since dealing with the mess is my bigger issue right now over dealing with time and availability. We also have my old hope chest stored in the boys' closet which now houses all the unbearably noisy toys that I didn't have the heart to take away. Again, these come out on Mommy's terms. As far as fully accessible toys, we're setting up wall stations in the room with toys that are safe for unsupervised play. On another IKEA Lack table we'll have a Thomas station set up, we're going to hang a peg board on the wall for a mini tool station, we're getting magnetic strips for the wall to put all of the little metal matchbox cars on, and the bookshelf has been cleared out and will now hold all the stuffed animals (the books are on our book case downstairs - I had to sacrifice my three 'decorative' shelves for this, but I'll be okay). So while the kids will still have enough ammo to make a good mess, it won't be nearly to mountain it has been, and everything will have a clear place where it can go away!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How to Turn Your House Upside-Down - part 1

Part 1 - Dining Room/Kitchen/Pantry

I am convinced that there is no easier way to make your house a total and complete disaster, than to embark on an organization project.

Let's face it - you can't reorganize a craft cupboard without pulling every bit of ribbon, paper and ink out of the cupboard first. And where does it all sit for the duration of the project? Anywhere you can find floor/table space! You'll have piles of pens, stamps, beads, glitter and glue, which may then be further reduced into color-coordinated piles. Then you'll have all of your dainty little containers set out to help you visualize your organization. Your husband will come home, and if it's a good day he'll smile sweetly and say, "Good job honey," all the while thinking, "Why does she have all of this in the first place? I don't think I've even seen her use glitter! You want to organize it? Let's organize it into a garbage pail! This is ridiculous that she's making such a mess and such a fuss about things that staid in one closet anyway when the supper dishes from last night still aren't done!" (Bear in mind, that's a good day. A bad day involves some of those things being said allowed with abundant eye rolling.)

Now, let's look at this large-scale. We're not just organizing a single craft cupboard, we're reorganizing a whole house.

Matt and I embarked on this little project after spending nearly a week completely confined to the house after serious bout of food poisoning (fortunately the boys didn't much feel like eating Chinese food that night, so they lucked out and missed it!) I think we were both experiencing a bit of cabin fever, and had become too accustomed to our surroundings. Since it was smack-dab in the middle of Christmas celebrations, we were constantly receiving new things into our house and realizing very quickly that our 900 sq. ft house was going to burst at the seams if we tried to keep everything. But I think the real tipping point was when Matt went foraging through the pantry for anything that looked desirable and every time he'd open the stupid thing, more items would fall out. Being sick, tired, and a little bit grumpy, he came at me with a scheme of grandeur: we'd rip out my gorgeous china cabinet that was inset to a converted broom closet, we'd shell out hundreds of dollars on a new sideboard, plus get a new corner china cabinet, and we'd then convert the old broom closet into a second, larger pantry. We looked online at used sideboards, and 45 minutes later Matt was frustrated that I hadn't already committed to buying one of the $300 units we saw, as he said, "At some point we're going to have to stop talking about it and actually do something to make this change work!" (Yep, within 45 minutes of the idea's inception).

I realized my darling husband was at a breaking point. He'd spent 5 days in a messy house that kept getting messier, and he needed something to change.

The next day while Matt was at work I schemed endlessly over how we could afford to make those changes that he wanted to see. The answer was: we couldn't. There just simply wasn't money in the budget for two new pieces of furniture. I was wondering how on earth I could display all my pretty things, and getting anxious over the fact that I'd need two separate pieces for sure, instead of just a large sideboard, to be able to fit everything in. I had to admit that if I wanted to keep everything, that I'd have to have a separate china cabinet and sideboard, but I also had to admit that we just wouldn't be able to afford that. It was at this point that I realized that I didn't actually need to keep everything! It was a bit of an epiphany in fact. Just because some of the things I had were pretty, and occassionally even functional, did not mean that I needed to keep them. I started to rethink what needed to stay in my house, and I started in my kitchen and china cabinet.

I love pretty glasses. And I have quite the collection: slim, tall water glasses, short, round tumblers, two styles of martini glasses, stemless wine glasses, brandy snifters, sherry glasses, espresso cups and saucers, mason jar mugs, and even creme de menthe glasses. Have I ever served creme de menthe in my house? No, but that didn't mean I should part with those glasses, right?! Wrong. And once I realized that it was easier for me to decide which pieces to keep. I resolved to keep sets of glasses. I looked at our entertaining habits and figured that while it was fun to have a four-set of coke mugs, getting rid of them and keeping our eight-set of POM glasses was a better idea. I only had four of one style of martini glass, and 8 of another, so I parted with the four and kept the larger set. I also realized that once we had a second pantry I'd no longer need my spices to occupy a cupboard above our coffee maker. I moved our 4 sets of mugs over there after I shuffled most of our spices into their makeshift home (a big box that's still sitting on one of our dining room chairs). It didn't take long for me to realize that by getting rid of a few partial sets and never-used glasses, I could empty nearly all of the contents of our china cabinet into our cupboards in the kitchen. The bottom portion of the china cabinet holds some serving dishes and small appliances which I realized could go in the cupboard of our kitchen cart, which currently houses my flour selection (oat, potato, whole wheat, stone ground whole wheat, bread, cake, etc). Since the flour would move to the new pantry as well, the cart would be open real estate.

Can you imagine what my house looked like at this point??? I had boxes of spices and cups sitting all over my dining room, and since I needed Matt's help to move some of the shelves in the cupboards, my kitchen was pretty torn apart while I waited. It was more organized than it had been in a long time, with a more efficient plan that it had ever housed before, but my kitchen was truly upside-down. What is it that can carry us through to the end of an organizational project other than the anticipation that once we're done it will be worth all the mess and all the temporary insanity? I was afraid to put anything away temporarily because that felt too much like a step back, ergo the box of spices still sitting on a chair.

In any event, we ploughed through to near-completion. My mom happened to have a spare antique sideboard kicking around (not many people can say that, hey?) that she is lending us for as long as we need it. I got a HomeSense gift card for Christmas that I used to buy a gorgeous metal fruit bowl with leather handles, panels for our living room window and a runner for the side board. Our large IKEA bookcase has been relocated downstairs (it was right behind our table in the dining room) and the sideboard now houses our tea and hot drinks collection, my Sophie Conran dishes, and all of our table cloths/napkins/placemats, while our Tassimo is set up on top, ready to go for anyone who pops by for a cup of coffee. This cleared up a lot of counter and cupboard space in our kitchen, which is very near perfect at this point. In the next couple of weeks we will embark on the pantry reno, which will be made to meet my every whim (pull-out shelves, hanging baskets, labeled jars? The possibilities are endless!) And when that is all done, I will have a general baking/cooking pantry in the kitchen right next to the stove that will house all of my base ingredients, and all canned goods, boxed goods and generally bulky pantry staples will be housed in our pantry closet which will live between the kitchen and the dining room.

Original anticipated cost of pantry/china cabinet reorganization: $700 (new sideboard, new china cabinet, custom pantry construction)
Cost to date: $40 HomeSense giftcard

Not bad, if I do say so myself! I'll post pictures when the job is done and my house is right-side-up again!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hello 2013!

I KNOW! It's been forever.

I apologize.

Our household got hit by a storm of craziness and we're just beginning to dig out now. Between pediatrician appointments, Christmas preparation, food poisoning, making 350 cupcakes plus 6 types of frosting for a wedding reception, respiratory infections and a massive re-organization undertaking, things have been a little psychotic.

But, the good news from all of that is that we now know what had caused our toddler to cough for 5 months straight, we now know what chinese restaurant we are never going to order from again, and our house is looking fantastic!

Admittedly, there was a time prior to Christmas where I could have been posting more regularly, but my issue was: What do I post about? It wasn't for lack of inspiring projects, but rather the fact that most of those inspiring projects were designated Christmas presents for people who could very well be reading this post! In our household, we do a 90% homemade Christmas. All of our neighbours, friends, family and loved ones get homemade gifts, with the exception of a few essentials for the boys (they got bubble bath and safety scissors this year!) and stockings between the hubby and I. And a crafter's best friend come Christmas time is undeniably Pinterest.

Yes, yes, I know you've all heard me fawn over the virtues of Pinterest before, but seriously! Amazing stuff!

So, since Christmas is finally over, I can finally post about all the cutesy things that I made! Yay! These ranged from handmade clay owl ornaments (I even made the clay from scratch), Coconut Oil and Rose body scrub, Stovetop Aroma packs and cute little snowman ornaments! Most everything was made using stuff I had around my house, minus perishables.

And now, without further ado, I give you the gallery of my handmade Christmas gifts!

Bear in mind, all of these fall under the category of, "If I can do this, anyone can."

I'll keep this post short and I promise to post detailed and lengthy updates on our home reorganization in the near future!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)