Tag Archive: DIY

Do It Yourself: Baby-to-Be Baskets

March 17, 2016

I’ve always been hands-on when it comes to gifts for little ones, and if I can make it myself, I prefer the personal touch. For a while after my first son was born, I went through a phase of creating custom scrapbook pages for fellow new parents. It was therapeutic and a great way to have a little time to myself, especially after spending most of the day (and night) with a newborn.

Later, I discovered the simple joy of putting together baby-to-be and new baby gift baskets. Using novelty items like teddy bears, weaved in with necessities like body and bath products, it was a great way to add a personal touch to gift giving.
Aveeno Baby-Soothing ReliefAlthough it’s been some time since I’ve created a baby basket, the principals remain the same! Pictured above, a “Welcome Baby” basket from The Basket Company.

If you’re creating your own baby-to-be or new baby basket, here’s what you need to do.

1. Select a theme. It can be as simple as girl or boy-themed, or a little more imaginative, like a “Baby Essentials” basket for new parents or perhaps a “Calming” basket to promote good sleep vibes. Choosing a theme for the basket will make it easier for you to decide on the contents and establish a spending budget.  (more…)

Keep Reading

I’m Part of a Squad. A Home Depot Blog Squad. Fabulous!

February 19, 2015

It’s no secret that I’m a little less DIY (“do it yourself”) and a little more DIFM (“do it for me”). And there’s no shame in that! I am happy to keep contractors gainfully employed, and with every home reno and small room makeover we complete, we get a little more confident… a little more creative… and a lot more willing to take on bigger projects.
B-OdvBqCMAAGpIDOf course, taking the time to complete a room facelift or renovation is 50% ability, and 50% inspiration! And as part of the very first Home Depot Blog Squad, I am thrilled to be in the company of some of the most inspiring design and decor bloggers in Canada.

Together, we’ll be tackling small reno projects – with products and advice from Home Depot Canada – and working to encourage YOU to take on some projects of your own. Let’s just say that you can do it, and we can help.

Today, I’d love to share some of the home decor and design projects that have been happening behind the scenes by the #HDBlogSquad.

Tim Lam of Design Maze
Shannon Acheson of AKA Design
Brittany Stager of My Daily Randomness
Jennifer Flores of Rambling Renovators

And… moi! Okay, so I don’t have my small reno project available *just yet*. Between our recent family vacation and a tiny (really, super tiny, like minuscule) plumbing fiasco, we are a bit behind schedule for a laundry room “facelift”.

(Can a laundry room be pretty? I’d like to think so! And trust me, I’m working to make the most of the tiny cell that has been zoned for laundry purposes on our second floor. You can look forward to my reno in the coming weeks!)

In the meantime, check out the DIY’s above, and be sure to follow the #HDBlogSquad hashtag on social to stay on top of our exploits.

Are you currently working on any home renos? Do tell!

Keep Reading

Your Next Kitchen!

January 29, 2015

It’s the heart of the home; the place everyone naturally gravitates towards to connect with one another. It reflects your personality and your flavour for life, and does much more than offer a place to create nourishing food – it nourishes your soul.

It’s your kitchen, of course.

For generations, kitchens have replaced living rooms as the nucleus of the home. Whether amongst family or entertaining for a crowd, people assemble in the kitchen to create lasting memories. Like stirring brownie batter with your mom… or watching your dad make Sunday morning pancakes. I can honestly attribute some of my happiest moments to time spent in this very special place.
panasonic_kitchen-whiteAnd today, kitchens need to be both functional and fashionable. They should reflect your personal style, take advantage of your space and incorporate appliances that fit your lifestyle. However, planning a kitchen renovation (or building a new kitchen) can be overwhelming.

What defines your style? How should you plan your layout? And most importantly, what are the top in-store appliance decision considerations?

Introducing Your Next Kitchen, developed by Panasonic in collaboration with industry experts to provide Canadians with the resources they need to create their best kitchen. It’s a one-stop-shop for everything from design inspiration to expert advice and product facts, and is a wonderful resource to guide you through your renovation journey.

CC132A04-650x450Designer Janette Ewen and Chef Craig Harding lend their expertise to assist Canadians with all their kitchen reno questions. From tips on How to Design to Ultimate Entertaining Kitchen to Designer Insights from Chef Craig Harding’s Home Kitchen, this is a website you’ll return to again and again for fresh inspiration and advice.  (more…)

Keep Reading

DIY: Quick Holiday Showpiece

December 16, 2014

When it comes to holiday decor, I’ve always been a believer that “more is more”.

Oh sure, simple and streamlined works for everyday life, but Christmas only comes once a year! Hence, I revel in the splendour of the season, and that includes holiday touches at every turn.

This year, I wanted to create a simple showpiece for the fireplace mantle that could double as a table centerpiece or side table decor. And thanks to my friends at The Home Depot, I was able to find everything I needed to make a stunning display. It’s not too late to find everything you need for the holidays in-store and online at www.homedepot.ca.

First, I hung up my brand new wreath – a Home Accents 32 inch Holiday Wreath With Silver Balls. I love that it’s incredibly large with a full, thick appearance. It fills the wall over my mantle in proportion to the allotted space, making it a great investment for corner fireplaces.
DSC_0052However, that’s not the DIY – just the inspiration behind it. You see, I’ve been playing around with mixed metals – wearing a gold watch with my platinum rings, coordinating a rosegold clutch with a bronze belt. And for the most part, I am loving the look. So it’s only natural that I channeled the same inspiration for my decor, and decided to a mashup of brown, copper, silver and gold.  (more…)

Keep Reading

DIY with Benjamin Moore

September 9, 2014

Normally, I don’t need a push to change things up. I am a serial re-decorator and proud of it! In fact, from year to year, we’ve changed at least one thing about our home at my insistence, whether it be re-painting the entire house, adding a backyard oasis, creating a live-in dining room or designing a man cave. It’s all me and it’s all because I thrive on change.

Think I’ve run out of ideas for my home? Ha! My husband wishes! I’ve got my eye on refinishing our second floor, cleaning out the laundry room, adding shelving to our walk-in closet and am strongly considering an enclosure for our front porch. And then, maybe I’ll give it a rest for a while.

Now the truth is, my fireplace was not on my list of things to overhaul. I mean, it’s just a fireplace, right? However, I recently came across a house listing where the living/dining area was described as having a “statement corner fireplace”. Wait a minute – I have a corner fireplace! But, it’s far from being a statement; painted in the same warm beige tone as the majority of my first floor, it actually blended into the wall with a decided lack of ambition. And that’s when I learned about Benjamin Moore’s new ben & ME promotion:

ben&ME BagFor a limited time (until October 5th, 2014), Benjamin Moore is offering exclusive ben & ME kits for just $109 (a $169 value)*. In the kit, you’ll receive:

• 2 gallons of premium paint with 1 quart for trim
• a sleeve roller, paintbrush, paint tray
• a drop cloth, paint can opener and green painters tape
How-To Guide and even a playlist to keep you on a roll!

Perspective: for just over a hundred bucks, you’ll have everything you need to add colour vibrancy, softness, glam or interest to a room you choose. And fall is the perfect season for change! To take advantage of the promo, pop into your local Benjamin Moore Signature store or visit the Ben & Me website to find your nearest participating dealer.

I’ll be honest – I’m living a charmed life, because my father-in-law is a professional painter! And, he just happens to be a Benjamin Moore enthusiast, trusting the brand for over 40 years for all his clients. To quote him, “you can’t find a better paint.” So, of course I asked for his expertise (and his perfected technique!) when painting something as finicky as a fireplace. Consulting the ben & ME How-To Guide, he asked that I share the 3 top tips that have served him well over the years:

1) Preparation, Preparation, Preparation. Prep your walls by sanding down any lumps or rough patches first. Then use a slightly dampened sponge to wipe all the dust away (don’t forget the trim). Clean walls ensure your tape will stick, and no dust will muck up your pretty paint job.

2) Protect Your Goods. You have stuff. Some of it may even be nice stuff. You don’t want paint on that stuff. So move it, cover it and you won’t have to worry about it. Don’t forget the floors too. Drop cloths are your friend.

3) Tape Trick. Here is a master taping secret: heat seal the tape’s edge (with friction!) by running a smooth tool like your finger, a spoon or a paint stick along the edge. Heating up the sticky stuff helps it form a stronger seal against paint seepage. You don’t want paint seepage.

Without further ado, here’s our statement-less fireplace, also known as the “before” photo:

ben & MEOkay, so we had a candy jar on the fireplace. And some haphazard candles. I know, I know! But the point is, the fireplace blended into the background, so there was no point in dressing it up. Our bad.  (more…)

Keep Reading

The Cars Dream Room

August 26, 2013

Eight days. Eight days until my little guy returns to school; eight days before another year of bagged lunches, squeaky running shoes and gooey hair gel.

However, the anxiety starts now.

You may remember an earlier post where I shared that Ryder, my sweet little 5-year old, has selective mutism – an anxiety disorder. To make a long story short, in social situations where Ryder does not feel comfortable, he simply does not speak. In fact, in his entire first year of school, he only spoke a couple of times.

We have coping techniques; ways to help draw him out of his shell. And for the most part, they’re helping. But we can’t control his anxiety, nor can we write it off as inconsequential. He has a real aversion to social situations and we have a really difficult time watching as he withdraws into what we call “the Ryder zone”.

So, with the onset of school just around the corner, things are changing. Ryder stops is his tracks when he hears “Back to School” commercials. He asks on a daily basis, “Is there school today?” And when I say “No, but soon…” he stares off into space, no doubt thinking of a gazillion ways to psyche himself out.

I wanted to do something special for him. Something positive that he could associate with back to school; something to give him comfort and reassurance. And I just knew that I wanted it to somehow involve Disney Cars – it’s no secret that both boys are obsessed with them, and for Ryder, they represent confidence and fearlessness.

Then it came to me – a bedroom makeover! Of course – what better way to start off the school year right than to recreate his bedroom – his safe place – into one that reflects his love of Cars and life in the (G-rated) fast lane?

And I knew just where to go to make it happen – Walmart, of course! They have absolutely everything you need for back to school, back to campus, and even back to sanity (which is what I’m looking forward to once the boys are separated for a few hours each day). Plus, they have a fantastic selection of Disney Cars merchandise for your little race fans.

Now, y’all know that I’m pretty obsessed with Walmart, and have been an avid Sunday morning shopper for oh, the last 15 years or so. And, like so many friends and family, I constantly fall victim to the “Walmart Rule of 60”; that is, you walk in to buy one thing,  and you end up spending $60. (Read: How to Spend $169.22 on Three Bags of Milk)

The good news? Being an avid shopper, and an avid supporter, has allowed me to build a fabulous relationship with the brand. Hence, when I politely requested a $200 Gift Card to makeover Ryder’s room, they happily obliged. (Thank you Walmart!)

And you know what? While I came very close to spending my budget, I definitely didn’t go over. So…. are you ready to see how you can take a room from cutesy to KA-CHOW! for less than two bills? It’s time for a good old fashioned before and after!


Ryder’s bedroom was last made over as part of my “Renocation” in 2011. With the exception of the toddler bed being swapped for a double bed, the room was essentially the same. So for all intents and purposes, here are the “before” pictures:


Keep Reading

DIY: Homemade Vapour Shower Disks

January 10, 2013

I’d personally like to thank Sarah of Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity for clearing my head (and sinuses) of cold and flu-related junk.

You see, it’s just one of those things that kept popping up on Pinterest (to the tune of 1,000+ re-pins); blogged by keen DIY’ers eager to share the recipe; and tweeted like mad from believers all over the continent. And then, “Sarah’s Homemade Vapour Shower Disk Thingies” were featured on a popular television morning show. Hence, I reasoned that it was time to try the darned things out. Having suffered from back-to-back colds, tension headaches and sinus pain for most of the winter season, I needed all the help I could get.

Now I’m a believer. Not a trace of doubt in my mind. I’m in love…

(Did you just sing that? I love The Monkees.)

Here’s the deal: Sarah came up with a recipe for Vapour Shower Disks – you know, little thingies that you place in your shower which will release essential oils with the steam created from hot water. I made the disks last week and have since had the best shower experiences since cold and flu season began. Eucalyptus, rosemary, and lavender oils help ease my congestion and clear my sinuses. The strength of the vapours is just strong enough to help soothe the airways without causing irritation. An unexpected bonus? The baking soda made my shower tiles gleaming white. I’m a Domestic Genius!

And… they couldn’t be simpler to make.

– Baking soda
– Water
– Pure Essential oils: Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Lavender
– Muffin tin
– Muffin liners (more…)

Keep Reading

5 Ways to Upcycle a Night of Binge Drinking

September 13, 2012

Anna is back! She’s the DIY guru over at Bargainmoose.ca, and she’s once again come up with some pretty nifty ways to use up leftover household items. This time, it’s all about wine corks! And since we all know that the amount of wine we consume is in direct relation to the age of our kids (and how many more reasons they give us to drink), I’d say you’ve got a few of these hanging around your kitchen :)

(Well deserved plug for Anna: Bargainmoose is a site for Canadian coupon codes, discounts and shopping deals. She has great “Exmoosive” deals that you’ll love!)

Without further ado, she gives us…

For those of us who like a little glass of grape juice in the evenings, we find that there might be quite a lot of leftover wine corks. Don’t trash them – save them up and get crafty! (more…)

Keep Reading

Today’s Feature: 8 Funky Gardening Ideas

May 8, 2012

Anna is back! I’ve got another article to share from Anna, owner of Bargainmoose.ca. Bargainmoose is a Canadian site about money-saving tips, deals, discounts and promo codes, which aims to help you save money on your everyday purchases. Today, Anna will be sharing some funky gardening ideas, trying to give you some creative inspiration for interesting focal points in your garden.

Take it away Anna!

8 Funky Gardening Ideas

On my last post for Lena (7 money-saving craft ideas), I mentioned that I’ve been looking at some excellent ideas over on Pinterest. I’ve seen on many occasions funky gardening ideas, DIY projects and crafts that you can undertake in the comfort of your own home. Here’s a roundup of 7 interesting ideas that I’ve spotted:

1. Mason Jar Herb Garden

Over on Camillestyles.com, they’ve created an interesting idea, using some mason jars as planters for growing herbs. The DIY project uses pipe clamps and some household items to display the herbs in a really pretty way, that can even be displayed indoors in your kitchen.


Keep Reading

Today’s Feature: 7 Money-Saving Crafty Ideas!

March 21, 2012

It’s a pleasure for me to introduce Anna, owner of Bargainmoose.ca. Bargainmoose is a very popular website for Canadian deals and discounts, where you can find the latest shopping bargains and coupon codes, helping Canadians save money every day. Today I welcome Anna as a guest blogger on Listen to Lena – she’ll be sharing seven crafty ideas that are easy to create and easy on the wallet!

7 Money-Saving Crafty Ideas

Hi! I’m Anna. I’ve been enjoying seeing all the amazing pictures and ideas over on Pinterest, and that led to an idea for this very post. There are quite a few ideas on there for various art and craft projects, and quite a lot of them could be considered frugal or potentially money saving. Here are some ideas that I spotted on there, which look cool and could save you money.

1. Make a Jewellery Rack from an old rake

Over on Little Lucy Lu, they show us how to make a cool jewellery rack from an old rake! Looks great, and a brilliant way to store your necklaces. It’s definitely something people would admire if they saw it on your bathroom wall.


Keep Reading

DeSerres: 25% off Regular Priced Items

May 25, 2011

For the peeps who have been loving the stick on decoration in Ryder’s room, now is the perfect time to grab a few adorable (or stylish) decals for your own mini projects! Until May 28th, save 25% off all regular priced items (in store only) from DeSerres.

Not in the mood for wall art? That’s okay, because you can also dabble in Fine Arts, Graphic Arts, Creative DIY, Scrapbooking, Framing, Jewellery Making, Furniture, Books, Card Making and more!

As a former avid scrapbooker, I’d literally spend hours combing the shelves for paper, stickers and accents. The selection in unreal.

Click here to find a DeSerres near you. Click here to print your 25% off coupon.

p.s. Want to be the first to know about all their fabulous sales and promotions? Follow DeSerres on Facebook and Twitter!

Keep Reading

What I’m Reading: Just a Little Rouge…

February 21, 2011

Months ago, one of my favourite readers NIrwin sent along the link to a fabulous little blog, Just a Little Rouge. The writer behind the scenes is Canadian design diva Suzanne, who offers tips and tricks to make your home fabulous for much less effort and expense than you’d assume.

“A barely controllable urge to organize, move furniture around and paint walls, along with a healthy addiction to HGTV is something my family and friends can attest to. After running out of rooms to design in my own home, I moved on to my friend’s spaces and design challenges to feed my passion. Finally, I decided it was time to make it official and began a staging and design program. Earning my accreditation in early 2009, I started “rouge.” — a small side-business offering staging & design services.”

Suzanne’s blog also showcases her DIY projects, and I’m loving her latest lamp makeover – taking a $5 yard sale lamp, she transforms it into a contemporary piece that has both personality and panache. Similar lamps have been spotted at high-end retailers for $200+!

And if you’re thinking of redecorating with colour, do check out her take on the hottest paint trends for 2011 – shades include lime green, smoke, fern green,  soft grey, lemon yellow and more. I’ve got two cans of fern green paint ready for my bedroom walls – looks like I’m en pointe with the trends!

Suzanne’s blog is a great reference and perfect for closet HGTV enthusiasts such as myself. Happy reading!

Click here to visit Just a Little Rouge…

Keep Reading

National Home Show… WIN Tickets Here!

February 6, 2011

It’s no secret that I love to decorate… and re-decorate… and re-decorate. Every 6 months or so.

The thing is, I’m constantly looking for inspiration, and somehow, seem to find it willingly. I love my new couch, duvet cover, kitchen table, etc… until a newer (more posh, more comfortable) model comes along. And then its days are numbered – say, 180 days. Or so.

Therefore it’s no surprise that I’m a fixture at the National Home Show. An unfailing source of expert tips, trends and invaluable advice, it’s quite simply the best way to gather design ideas and inspiration. And with over 700 home and garden specialists offering low prices on home improvement products and services, it’s definitely the place to be for home owners and home owners-to-be.

This year’s highlights include: Two incredible model homes, a man cave, the chance to meet and greet some of  the most sought-after celebrity designers (including a live appearance by the design diva herself – Debbie Travis), as well as the chance to have your burning questions answered with advice from GTA’s top contractors and builders at Destination Renovation by RenoMark/BILD.

The 2011 National Home Show runs from February 18th – 27th at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. And for the parents out there, I’d like to suggest the PERFECT way to spend Family Day (February 21st): presented by Rogers, it’s Family Day at the National Home Show!

“We’re open Family Day! Kids 17 and under are FREE courtesy of Rogers. Don’t miss the Bob the Builder Show produced by Kidomo (11am on the Main Stage), plus family focused stage presentations and complimentary daycare. Plus, one lucky family will win a trip for four to the Bahamas, courtesy of Our Lucaya Golf & Beach Resort and the Bahamas Tourist Board.”

There will also be face painting, a clown, sports mascots and local athletes present! The other stage presentations will also be family-oriented: Jackie Morra, Decorating 101; Wendy Russell, Refresh your Home; Karl Lohnes, Rules of Decorating; and Megan Telpner, Fuel Your Life (Nutrition).

The show is open from 10am to 9pm, and I am LOVING that kids 17 and under are free (regular child admission on other show days for ages 13-17 is $12 at the door). The complimentary daycare service, available for kids aged 2-10, is also only available on this day, supervised by The Network Childcare Services.

I’ll be there with my brood on Family Day – look for the gal chatting up the folks at Umbra!

For a complete schedule of events and show highlights, and to purchase advanced tickets and save $3, visit www.nationalhomeshow.com.

Marketplace Events is pleased to offer five (5) lucky Listen to Lena! readers the chance to win a pair of tickets to the show!

To enter, simply visit the website and then leave a comment here, telling us what you’re most excited about seeing/doing at the show.

You can also qualify for extra entries! Remember, you must leave a separate comment to claim your extra entry. You can:

(1) Follow my blog, Listen to Lena!
(2) Like Listen to Lena! on Facebook
(3) Like Home and Garden Events on Facebook
(4) Follow Toronto Home Shows on Twitter
(5) Tweet about this giveaway (tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/5vclb8g)
(6) You may Tweet daily.

I’ll draw for five winners on February 16th. Good luck everybody!

Keep Reading