Making Getting Up In The Morning Easier

Oct 20, 2016

I am what you call a heavy sleeper. I can fall asleep with the lights on, in a moving car, on the sofa, with the TV blaring. You name it, I can sleep through it. The downside to all this is I find it super difficult to wake up. I am so not a morning person. The shorter days of fall are even more troublesome. Who wants to wake up to chilly mornings and dark skies? Not me.

The Philips team reached out recently to let me try the Philips Hue White Ambiance kit. I don't normally review products here but I was intrigued. Could this help me wake up more easily? Home automation is an ever increasing trend so I wanted to find out if these lights, controlled via a switch or by your smart devices, were something that made my home function better too.
The kit comes with two bulbs, a bridge, and a dimmer switch.  One thing that can make you hesitant to try devices like these is the cumbersome setup. That wasn't an issue with the Philips Hue. It had the easiest set up, no hard wiring, no tools required. All I had to do was switch out my lightbulbs for the ones provided, connect the bridge to my router, and install the app. It was that easy! Even the dimmer switch can be wall mounted using the adhesive backing.

The lights are very versatile. The app contains preset scenes, or you can program your own routines and preferences, or you can use the dimmer switch. You can even control the lights while you're away from home which is great if you're away from home but want it to appear that you're not.

I gave the lights a test run by putting the bulbs in the sconces in our bedroom. I wanted to see how they functioned for various situations - reading in bed, waking up slowly, relaxing, and providing a calm winding down at the end of the night.

I created a 'wake up' routine to have the lights come on slowly over 15 minutes in the morning. Now here's one personal finding: while I liked having the light to slowly nudge me awake, Sean did NOT. He is a very light sleeper and he instantly awoke as soon as the lights came on. I guess having compatible light preferences is important if you're using this in a bedroom!

Here's a quick video I made showing some of the settings. I went the super easy route and used Siri's voice recognition capability to activate the preset scenes. It saves me from having to go into the app and advance through the options to find the setting I want.

Overall, I was really impressed with the product and its features. It offered a wide range of light, from a soft warm light to a pure white light. It's also expandable and you can connect up to 50 bulbs to the bridge. I would see it being handy in rooms where you want to be able to change the ambiance, like a living room, dining room, or library. Being able to schedule routines is convenient and you can create different moods without having to think about it.

What do you think... are programmable lights something you'd try in your own home?


Disclosure: I was provided the Philips Hue White Ambiance. However, I was not asked to write a review or received additional compensation. All opinions and words, as always, are my own.

Building A Storage Shed - Part I: Assembly

Oct 18, 2016 +

Are you prepping your home for the colder weather? With fall upon us, we faced the sad reality that it was time for us to close up the cottage for the season. That meant finding a more permanent home for all of the things we've been storing temporarily under the cottage like our tools, beach chairs and cooler. It was time to build a shed.

building a storage shed assembly and instructions |

We headed to The Home Depot Canada to check out their sheds in person. We had three must-haves on our list: a shed with a small footprint, with a lean-to roof, in a style that would suit our cottage. The Ocoee Wood Shed fit our criteria except for the style but we had some ideas on how we could customize it to get the look we wanted.

building a storage shed assembly and instructions |

The shed came with everything we needed for the build including nails, door hardware, and trim. Shingles for the roof and paint were not included. Some of the parts were pre-assembled, like the pre-hung double doors, which made for a very large package. We had to rent a utility trailer to transport the shed so that's a cost to consider when you're shopping for a shed.

1. Lay A Foundation

The first step is to lay a foundation for the shed. Since the grade was level and we were dealing with a small structure, we went with inexpensive cement pavers as our foundation. Sean first levelled out the existing pea gravel surrounding the base of our cottage, then placed and levelled the pavers, and finally placed the preassembled base structure on top.

building a storage shed assembly and instructions |

2. Assembly

building a storage shed assembly and instructions |

The building of the shed was fairly easy (says the girl who went swimming at the pool with Chloe while Sean actually built the shed). Instructions were clear, including helpful tips like where to place braces. Sean assembled and built the shed on his own in about three hours.

building a storage shed assembly and instructions |

The structure itself felt strong and stable. Angles were square, doors lined up, and the semi-finished product looked quite good. We were very happy with the quality of this shed.

3. Customization

At this point, you have the option of painting your shed and adding on the trim that is included in the shed kit. We decided to add custom touches to help the shed blend in with our cottage. Our plan was to add siding on the sides of the shed and a trim detail on the front to give it a barn door feel.

building a storage shed, building a jig |

Sean has done enough DIY projects to know to look for ways to make the job go faster and easier. Since there was lots of siding to be installed and each piece needed to be equally spaced, Sean built a jig to help with this task. 
  • Step 1: Determine how much overlap you want between the pieces of siding. Take two scrap pieces of siding and overlap them by this amount (we used 1"). Ensure the overlap is level and glue the two pieces together to create a jig.
  • Step 2: Place this jig against the siding.
  • Step 3: Place your next piece of siding atop the jig. The siding now overlaps the bottom piece by your chosen amount.
  • Step 4: Nail the siding in place.
Forgotten step: wear safety glasses as you use your nail gun ;)

Sean managed to get a third of the siding installed before the end of the day. The next morning, he quickly finished installing the rest of the siding. He then added shingles to the roof (the shed used one bag of shingles). Finally, he used a paintable exterior sealant to fill in all the gaps and nail holes.

building a storage shed assembly and instructions |

4. Painting

building a Home Depot storage shed assembly and instructions |

We gave the shed two coats of the same exterior paint as our cottage. Next step was to figure out the door detail. We used some of our siding pieces to create these diagonal trim pieces as they didn't come with the kit. Once we had that decided, we painted all of the trim pieces before installing them. And in two days, we had this:

building a Home Depot storage shed assembly and instructions |

building a Home Depot storage shed assembly and instructions |

We were thrilled with how this project turned out. The shed looks like it has been there all along and it provides ample room to store our things. Now while this project might look finished, I do have some shed storage organization ideas to share with you soon. Sean is a bit fanatical about having an organized garage and this shed was no different. Can't wait to share our organization tips and tricks with you!


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by The Home Depot Canada. All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words.

The Love List

Oct 14, 2016 +

Sean Anderson just might be my new favourite designer. His style feels like a masculine version of Lauren Liess

I'm crazy over this plaid duvet cover

Blogger Erin Gates' new collection is lovely. Those throws!

Diana has crafted the cutest Kate Spade pumpkins

Splurge vs Save ideas for the kitchen

I like this clever mirror door makeover

These kid-friendly Halloween ideas are adorable

My home office needs this

This home is fall, personified

Patterned Rugs for a White Kitchen

Oct 13, 2016

As the weather turns colder, I start to think about projects and updates I can make indoors. At the top of the list is a refresh of our kitchen. It's been eight years (!!) since we renovated the kitchen and while I still love the cabinetry, I'd love to infuse the space with more colour. That means a new paint job, accessories, and a new runner.

Design by Natalie Myers; Photography by Amy Bartlam
Antique rugs in the kitchen have been trendy for a while and for good reason. They add colour and texture and their longevity attests to their durability. But you don't need to go the antique route. There are lots of rug options that can add personality to your white kitchen. Look for a rug heavy on pattern (to hide those inevitable spills), flatweave or a low pile, and even indoor/outdoor rugs that clean easily. 
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Bulgur & Quinoa Salad with Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette

Oct 12, 2016 +

Working from home, I sometimes forget to eat lunch. More times than I care to admit, I'll look up from my laptop and realize it's 1:30pm and I haven't eaten a thing. That leads to me standing in front of the fridge, eyeing whatever leftovers I can throw together for a quick meal or settling for an easy but hardly satisfying lunch of cheese and crackers and fruit.

bulgur quinoa salad with lemon balsamic vinaigrette

Which is why this recipe for Bulgur & Quinoa Salad with Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette is such a lifesaver. I can make it ahead and have it ready for those last-minute lunches. I enjoy it a side dish together with yesterday's rotisserie chicken or as a meal in itself. I can easily change it up day to day - feta cheese, nuts, or dried cranberries can be added on for variety.

1 box PC Blue Menu Bulgur & Quinoa Blend
1/2 cup tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/4 sweet onion
1/2 red pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
8 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt to taste

For the vinaigrette:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Prepare bulgur and quinoa according to package instructions
2. Transfer cooked bulgur and quinoa to a large bowl and fluff with a fork
3. Add the peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and chickpeas and toss to combine.
4. Add salt as needed

bulgur quinoa salad with lemon balsamic vinaigrette

5. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil
6. Add the vinaigrette to the salad. Toss to coat.
7. Salad can be refrigerated. Serve at room temperature

bulgur quinoa salad with lemon balsamic vinaigrette

I stumbled upon the PC Blue Menu Bulgur & Quinoa Blend at the grocery store and it's quickly become one of our food staples. Growing up in a Filipino household, I'd eat white rice almost every day. Now I substitute this bulgur and quinoa mix as a healthier alternative. Even Chloe likes it.

Have you tried any of the PC Blue Menu products? Do you have any favourites?

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