Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We-Design-Day: Big Boy Room!

It's been a while since I wrote about working on a plan for my son's "Big Boy Room". For a while (ie over Christmas/holidays) I did not think about it (mostly) or worry about it (even thought my original goal was to get him transitioned to his room before/over Christmas). Now with the new year here, it's time to start thinking about it again and work towards getting the design completed and work on implementing it.

My ideas are all broad and conceptual, but I know I want the room to grow with him as he ages. The room needs to be functional (sleeping, relaxing and double as a "sometimes" guest room), inviting, mature with the ability to be youthful, energetic, edgy and "masculine" but not so much as to take away from the fact it's a child's bedroom.

Typically, when I do design work, I've got worksheets and interviews I conduct but the biggest tool I use is observation. I like to observe people and their things and learn more about them. I can give you magazine perfect, trendy design but if it isn't who the people are, they won't be happy with it and subsequently, neither will I. I know my son pretty well. I know what he likes, what he doesn't like and I kind of know his "style" (as much as a five year old can have a style).

This weekend, I dug out my paint kid and started reviewing my samples looking for greys. I had it in my head that grey tones were they way to go. Black furniture to ground the space and the use of industrial materials (diamond plate metal, various garage/shop accessories/furniture) would give me the look I wanted.

And in my head, it was fabulous, with a Capital "F".

The small swatches of colour looked great and I was in love with the three different combinations I'd put together - I had no idea how I was going to pick just one! Today I pulled out the paint chips and laid them all out.

And I quickly realized that they were in no way reflective of my son. At all.

The idea is concrete and is reflective of him and his likes, it was just my preoccupation with a neutral pallet that got in the way.

Can we agree to make red the new neutral?

Design Tip:

To thine own self be true.

HAHA! I've always wanted to use that on my blog and tada!

In all seriousness, it's very easy to fall in love with something trendy or something you see on TV or in a magazine but if it's not really indicative of your style, you're likely better off to admire the pages of the magazine and focus on figuring out what your style is.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The significance of September

It would appear everything I like doing, I stopped doing in September.

As my son and his friend sat down to play the Wii, I thought "What should I do?" Write! That was the obvious answer. I donned my earphones, turned on my music (do you have any idea how annoying the Mario games' music is?) and opened my story (you know the one, the one I wrote in six weeks?). It was then I noticed I hadn't touched the story since September 19 (2013)! WTH?! How did that happen?

I started dreaming about the story the other day and I knew I had to get back to it. I have a serious love for the characters in the story - I'm kind of sad, really, I should get a life. Maybe it's the writer's curse to be in love with your own hero and heroine?

None the less, yesterday's post about "new year, new book" may be the inspiration I was looking for. I mean, really, I have at least one other story idea sitting in my head (I wrote it down - I can't trust myself to remember my name these days) but I want (must, need) to finish up the first one before I dive into another.

Here I go, back in with Derek and Clare, see you on the other side!

(PS If/when I publish the book, I think "Derek" will have a different name. I used "Derek" initially as a place holder and it's not grown on me)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New year, blank book?

Someone I know (actually, I think it was three people) posted this clever little sign on their Facebook page about how the new year is like a blank book - you can write your own story. It finishes with the even more clever "write a good one".

Honestly, I love it. I love the saying and think it's fabulous.

And at it's core, it a great sentiment but it really isn't all that practical. I mean, really, who wouldn't want to start each year - any  day - with a blank slate. A chance to right our wrongs, a chance to paint a beautiful picture, an opportunity to make our lives exactly what we want them to be.

Except for bills. And money. And mortgages. And life.

My son is five (coming six) and his book is blank but even he's got school (2.75 hrs per day, 5 days per week - and piano on Tuesdays plus 20 minutes piano practice 5 days a week) and yanno, he's five so I make his bedtime and major life decisions for him.

I suppose if I don't take it too literally, I could see the benefits of looking at the new year as a blank slate. I can choose better and choose different. I can resolve to be kinder, think sweeter and to taking the high road more often.

But I'll think about that tomorrow. Welcome to 2014.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We-Design-Day: Project Start-Up (programming & planning)

 photo Nursery1.jpg
My son is five. We co-sleep. He has a "room" - it's the 6'x10' nursery I prepared for him before he was born. It's bright. light and airy and he's only ever slept in the space for a handful of hours since his birth.

The crib only fit in one way (as it's pictured) and to the left (out of the shot) is his dresser. There isn't room for anything else and there isn't a closet in the space. It won't fit a regular bed and has (more or less) become a 'crap storage area' and dressing room for the young sir since we gave away his crib some 3 years ago.

We are readying to move him into his own room - not this room but the 8'x10' room that's beside it. I've tossed around the idea of taking the wall down between the two but my husband is against it - so at this point, the nursery will become his "play room" and the 8'x10' room will become his bedroom.

My design style is 'real design for real people' - I adhere to what I know and I approach every project I undertake pretty methodically. My day job doesn't always allow me the luxury or the ability to program and plan the way I know, thankfully, in most cases, the planning department does this for me but I always (always) need to understand the problem I'm solving, other wise, I don't feel prepared to do my job.

Design Tip: Knowing the question and the answer before you start can be the key to a successful project.

When starting a project, I tend to revert to my process. I've worked on all kinds of projects with all kinds of budgets but my starting point is usually the same. I need to learn about and fully understand the problem (or goal) I'm trying to solve. Doing this allows me to define the answer and work on a solution. Understanding the question helps me evaluate, plan and start planning the solution. I can define the parameters and start scope development. Knowing the goal also helps me make changes "on the fly" too - sometimes, on paper, what looks great and functional, isn't and I need to be able to fully know the goal so I can make changes and adjustment where needed.

In the case of the new "big boy" bedroom, my goal is a flexible, adaptable bedroom space that will grow with my son and his life. There are also challenges - it's a small room, it is our 'spare' room where out of town guests stay and it has two exterior walls.

This week, I'm going to use my "interview sheet" to help me work out some details. It will help bring the goal into focus, allow me to evaluate, get my son's input and give me a 'working document' to launch into more detailed programming with.

Thanks for reading, as always, let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Get out and VOTE! Civic Elections 2013

I'm passionate about politics and especially passionate about my right to vote. I've done my "go vote" thing on Facebook and I'm further encouraging my friends and family by writing this!

Today is Civic Election Day across my province. I voted. In fact, I was the 10th person to vote at my polling station this morning. As we got ready to take TroubleMaker to school, I explained that we were voting after dropped him off - that's why were driving to school. Being the inquisitive kid he is, he asked why?

Which brought out my inner suffragette.

"Did you know that less than 100 years ago, Mommy wouldn't have been allowed to vote in any election?" I said, making grand gestures (I'm part French, we talk with our hands).  "Also, when my Grandma was your age, he Mom couldn't vote either!" I said again, swooping my arm for effect.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because women weren't considered 'persons'!"

"What does that mean?" he questioned.

"It means that women weren't considered to be people like you and your daddy are." I smiled.

I think he found this most perplexing - of course I'm a "person" like he is! Of course I should have the right to vote, like he can (or will, when he turns 18)! 

Want to know what is alarming? 

Edmonton, my city of residence, has about 619, 138 eligible voters across 12 wards (districts). In our last civic election, only 199, 359 people voted. That means only 33% of eligible voters exercised their right!

What!? Only one third of the people who could vote, did? How is that even possible? How could people be that apathetic? Especially women! 

Listen folks, I know about voter apathy. I don't like our member of parliament and every election since moving to this riding, I go out and vote. And every time, he gets reelected. By a landslide majority. My vote truly does not count. At all. But I vote - because I can, because the women who came before me who fought relentlessly so I had the right!

So what are you doing today? Did you vote? Do you vote - even if you know your vote won't "really" count towards the change you'd like to see? Do you believe that not voting speaks more loudly?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"We're going to end up on her blog!"

Today I had the play and coffee date with one of TroubleMaker's school mates. It went well. The Mom invited another friend over (because, as she said, "I've been telling her all about you!" so she thought we just had to meet) so it was a houseful and we had a very good visit.

At one point, the Mom asked what I did to stay sane. I said I wrote. Stories and blogging, mostly.

And that's when it got awkward.

Because they asked if I was a "big blogger" (meaning one that actually makes money from blogging - her husband knows someone who makes a small fortune blogging). Naturally, I lied and said "Why of course!" I don't think they believed me.

Haha - no, I'm just kidding. Of course I said I wasn't - I said I wrote mostly for myself and to impart my vast, unending knowledge (haha - I'm HILARIOUS).

Where was I?

Oh yes. It was awkward because they then implied everything they said/did, would end up on the blog.

Like when they gave the kids an entire box of Hallowe'en Oreos... Or let the kids go dance out front with a cell phone filled with an eclectic mix of music that ranged from Pink to gospel (she was worried about the Pink music with the "swear" bombs)...

It was a pretty awesome afternoon because they were my kind of people. Non-judgmental (because we always said "No judgment" before gossiping), coffee drinking, one too many pumpkin muffins eating, don't let the kid's eat stuff they find in the street, kind of parents.

I'm a little awkward when I first meet people so I hope I get invited back. I made kick-ass muffins and didn't swear too much and drank two big cups of coffee. I also brought cookies (pumpkin chocolate chip) because life is always better with chocolate.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Menu Plan Monday and Pumpkin! (Oct 12-18, 2013)

I've been planning, just not posting. :) Because life, you know?

Saturday: Take out
Sunday: Turkey dinner @ my parents
Monday: Pepperoni pizza macaroni and cheese (if you're a kid or have kids, this will be awesome - for the 'over 10' crowd, it's eatable)
Tuesday: Favourite Tuna Casserole
Wednesday: Hamburger soup and buns
Thursday: Chicken and mushroom linguine
Friday: Oven BBQ pork chops and oven roasted potatoes

Since school started, I've had the privilege of taking TroubleMaker each morning. This has afforded me the chance to meet some really nice Moms. One of which, I accidentally stalked a couple weeks ago. She was chatting, I was chatting, and she made mention that she lived "across from the toboggan hill". While picking TroubleMaker up from the sitter's one afternoon, I told him I figured out where his friend from school lived. He asked to drive past, we did.

Imagine my surprise when they were out in their front yard. I gave the awkward wave and stopped (because by that time, I was committed). We chatted for twenty minutes or so while the kids played. I admitted I was kind of stalking her and she told me she had tried to stalk me too. I realized then we'd be good friends.

Anyway, after several failed attempts to friend each other on Facebook (she couldn't remember my first name and there are 82 people with her name), we connected and I invited TroubleMaker and I over for a play date. That day is tomorrow.

Being the awesome person I am, I offered to bring muffins (pumpkin or carrot). She picked pumpkin and since my first attempt at p'muffins were awful, I decided to spring a new recipe from the vault. Being me, it also meant I had to try it before to make sure it was awesome and it also meant I'd do a bunch of stuff to make it more awesome and then I'd forget what I did.

Enter - "Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Muffins" by Dinner with Julie! They are really good and they cooked up beautifully!

I did not do the sugar topping nor did I do the cream cheese filling (it kind of squicked me out). I also skipped the pumpkin pie spice and opted for (approximately) the following:

3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch (small) allspice

Also, which I think made these a 'winner', I used brown sugar in place of the white. I did this because I ran out of white sugar while making brownies and because I thought it might be "more fall" to use brown sugar since it has a richer flavour. I also used a touch more oil (a tablespoon or two) because the batter struck me as being a bit dry. The end result is great - crisp on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. I hope they go over well! PS I had another one after my workout this morning and HOLY COW, I could eat the entire batch!

Sharing my menu with the Org Junkie at Menu Plan Monday!


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