The story behind the tree house starts at the beginning of a very long and hard day. Not a, "I spilled coffee on my shirt and someone cut in front of me in line" bad day. A different kind of bad day. The worst kind. We woke up on the morning of May 30th with heavy hearts. Stuart's sister had been in the hospital for a month now, and was seeming to get worse. We knew things weren't looking up from what we had heard from the doctors and Stuart's parents. That morning we were outside in our backyard with the kids getting ready to head to the city where Leah was in the hospital. Stuart and I had just cancelled our anniversary trip to Nashville the week before due to this family matter. I remember looking at Stuart wondering how the hell I could possibly help him. Stuart is a quiet and kind man. He never wants for anything, he never asks for anything and he certainly would do ANYTHING for anyone he loves. How could I help my husband through watching his sister endure so much, AGAIN.
We had always planned on building a tree house for the boys, but we never really knew when we would get around to it. An idea popped in to my head! A TREE HOUSE. Lets build a tree house with the money we had saved to go to Nashville. Stuarts eyes brightened with the idea of this project. That morning, he dug the posts in to the sand box floor.
I came in to Leah's life when I met Stuart in 2009, when Leah and I were both 19 years old. It wasn't until later that I realized how much she and her family had been through. The brain tumour that was found when she was little changed her, and it changed her families lives dramatically. Sometimes life isn't fair. Leah was the same age as me. Why do I get to do so many things Leah did not? Her life was still filled with so much love and light, despite her struggles. She had a caring, kind and grateful heart. She cared deeply about the people in her life, with such a child-like perspective(Which is the best perspective, wouldn't you agree?)
So much of who I am is because of my husband and his family. My sense of priorities, my perspective on life and my faith in God... I will always credit Leah for that.
One of my favourite Leah memories is the time Stuart had picked Leah up from a place she was staying in the city. She was coming to stay with us for the weekend, so I instructed Stuart to help her pack to make sure she didn't forget the essentials. At home that night, when I went to help her unpack I found some interesting things in her suit case. As it turns out, Stuart didn't help her pack. Her suit case contained: two tackle box containers full of different earrings, a board game, some lotion, and a Shania Twain CD. Ha ha! Still makes me giggle to think about it. She was so cute, in so many ways.
Leah had troubles with so many things that all of us find easy. Things were harder for her and it made her frustrated, but she always seemed to have a sense of humour through it all and she was able to laugh at herself. She loved to give gifts to people, she loved her family, holidays, playing board games and cards. She loved her siblings, and they loved her...deeply.
Here it is! Built with love, sweat and tears - Marshall & Ted's tree house.
For the finishing touch, a sign to always remind the boys of their sweet Aunty Leah. Leah always had Oreo's stashed in her purse along with many other goodies. Marshall would instantly know when he seen her that she had some for him. She even gained the nickname "Aunty Oreo." It's made to look like an Oreo cookie. Each of our boys hand prints are on either side. Marshall and Ted might not remember her because they are so young, but they will always be reminded of all the good times we shared with Leah.
This sign was designed by Heather Pittet at Emerald Custom Creations. http://emeraldcustomcreations.com
The tree house served as great therapy for us and it will be very well loved by our boys. Our summer DIY project turned out to be an unexpected one, but a very healing one as well. I'm betting Leah just loves it too!
When leah was a little girl, she told her Grandmother "When I get to heaven, Im just going to run!" It's so comforting to think of Leah running in heaven, free of all the struggles she had with her health here on earth.
I took Marshall and Ted to the hospital the last day she was able to speak. Leah's last words to me was that she loved me. She also told me she loved Marshall and Ted. How lucky am I? What a great gift that was to hear.
We miss you Leah, every minute of everyday. Until we meet again my sister.
I love you too.
Some details on this thrifty little palace.
We didn't originally have a tv in the upstairs room of our house, but when I started staying home with the kids I quickly realized I needed one in this space. Im not a huge fan of tv stands and I hate the look of electronic boxes out in the open. Here is the space move in day 2011! A girl I grew up with had done pallets on her walls and thats when I first fell in love with this look.
We gathered pallets from different business garbage areas, I think they are quite happy to have you take them away for them. The best places to find pallets would be behind paint & hardware stores. We ripped them apart (some are easier to rip apart that others) and sorted them in to piles according to their colour. Darkest to lightest. Within each colour pile we sorted them in to size. I know some people have said they sanded them or stained them, but these are just original straight off the pallet. The dirtier the better, we didn't even wash them. We started in the top right corner and just nailed them up in as in the most random colour pattern we could. Stuart would cut the one that reached the wall and use the other half of it to start on the the other side again. Try and keep a consistent thickness in your rows, to avoid gaps in your wall. As you can see the wall was painted a brown colour before so it hid a lot of the gaps that were exposed. If you have a lighter coloured wall or brighter colour, I suggest you paint it first or it will show through your finished product.
So here is where we got really creative. Where is our tv receiver?
Our bedroom closet is on the other side of this wall. We cut a unnoticeable slit in the dry wall between a few pallets, that was in line with the top shelf of our bedroom closet above the TV. All of the wires and boxes are all facing toward the living space on the top shelf of our bedroom closet. The remotes work perfectly! I love that the tv just looks like a hanging picture on the wall, with no other electronics showing.
We originally had hung floating shelves where the white Ikea drawers are now. The floating shelves worked for a while(pre-children). All of the sudden the space seemed to always be cluttered with a bunch of for a lack of a better word, junk. This is actually our front entry as well. (small house problems) We have a very small front entry closet so something had to change. I changed the shelves out for this shallow Ikea shoe rack. We use it for the kids mittens, remotes, and anything else that seems to pile up beside a front door/TV area. Its a super awesome piece for a small space.
Check it out here-->http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/60156121/
I love this wall! It adds a lot of interest and warmth in the space. How do you style your TV wall?
Let me tell you a story about a Great Great Uncle. I mean that in two ways. Great as in he was my dad's great uncle, and great as in he was the most wonderful man. My Uncle Ted was so wonderful that we gave our son his name.
When my brother Reid and I were little he was so much fun. Epic water gun fights with my brother was his specialty. Every time he would visit the water guns got bigger and bigger. My brother, Reid would always be prepared for him to come. Im not sure who ever won the battles but we will never forget those fun days in the sun. He crafted me a beautiful doll house when I was little, that I still have today. I have two little boys, so it serves the purpose of a parking garage for their toy cars.
My Uncle Ted loved the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Im not sure if he loved them as much as he loved the fact that we were Saskatchewan Roughrider fans and he could bug us about the teams rivalry. I think he just enjoyed teasing us so much, it made him become even more of a Blue Bomber fan.
He would find unique and creative ways to sneak a little blue and gold in to our lives. Our gifts always came wrapped in blue and gold, even our wedding gift had blue and gold streamers and beads hidden inside. He ALWAYS was prepared when we were around to be wearing his blue bomber colours, and we were always prepared in our rider gear! The image below is all of us at a family event. As you can see, we all LOVED this tradition - and we loved him.
He would always hide blue and gold somewhere when he would come, or find some way to trick us with a splash of some bomber pride. When my Uncle Ted passed away a couple years ago he did not want a funeral- but we still needed to give him a proper goodbye. On my parents 30th anniversary party, Stuart and I decided we would plant a tree in our backyard in honour of Ted. Does anyone else do this? Every single one of our trees on our property is in honour of someone we love. I went to the green house in hunt of a maple tree. He was an RCMP officer so It seemed fitting. I grabbed one of the two they had available. On the day of the anniversary party we said a few words and shed a few tears for Ted, and planted the maple tree together. On the bottom of the tree was a plastic wrapping that was advertising that the tree was a "shade tree." We took off the wrapping and placed the tree in the ground. Underneath that wrapping, was as clear as day - BLUE and GOLD. I don't know how he did it, but he managed to trick us, one last time.
The maple tree is in our back yard, so Stuart and I wanted my parents and my brother to also have a piece of the tree to have for themselves. For Christmas that year my husband made these frames out of pallet wood. Inside each frame is a few leaves I had pressed off the tree, laid on top of a picture of the tree with the words from "Just Breathe - Pearl Jam." I made lyric/tree pictures on www.picmonkey.com. If you want to know what song I am talking about you can take a listen by clicking here, its one of my favourites.
To make the frame Stuart pulled the pallets apart and cut each piece of the frame at a 45 degree angle. Notching the back of each piece with a table saw, to make a place for the glass and backing. We purchased the glass for the frames at the dollar store. We just bought frames and only used the glass. Then glue and nail the corners together and let them dry over night. The next day, put the glass and the pictures in. Use finishing nails, bend them over to hold the backing in place. He made three sets of three, so It did take a little while to complete these. If you were just making one they would be fairly quick.
These are the most meaningful and special decor in our house. Everytime I look at them, I think about that day we planted our maple tree and I think about Uncle Ted. He was a special man, and the most incredible Uncle to us. I'm so happy he got a chance to meet our Marshall, and I would guess that he is looking down from heaven VERY proud that there is a little Ted to carry on his name.
Miss you Uncle Ted! Until we meet again...
Below is move in day week! June 2011...
When we first got married, we went and bought this HUGE beautiful table. I loved this table so much! It was very exciting to finally have your first new piece of furniture in our new home together as a married couple. Well, being that our house is only 900 sq ft, we didn't really think about the size of the table. I don't even think we measured! Ha ha! We had a different layout to our kitchen before it was renovated. The U-shaped kitchen with the dinning room beside it(as seen above) This set up would have worked decently if we had went bought this HUGE gorgeous table.
When ever we had people sitting around the table, if someone had to get up to step away from the table, everyone would have to stand up and file out. - Super annoying. We also never used our bay doors. If you wanted to get to them you had to shuffle along the side of the kitchen peninsula and bump in to all the chairs along the way - Even more annoying.
During the design process of the kitchen I tried many different plans to try and make this large table work in this room. Everywhere I put it, I had to compromise something else I really needed in the new kitchen. Once I had made the decision to down-size our harvest table my dream kitchen became to take shape. I purchased one half the size of the original table. Luckily, my basically brand new solid wood table did find a great home. Anyone else get sentimentally attached to furniture like I do? ha ha!
I moved the table from the original dining location by the bay doors and added a large built-in buffet along the old dinning room wall. The table now sits in the middle area between my living room space and kitchen. When I would explain to people who would ask about the design of the kitchen while we were building it, they looked at me SO puzzled. How could the table go there?
With the new layout, anyone sitting around the table can get up and leave without everyone having to move for them. This new location is still super close to the kitchen, and its also serves as extra seating in the living room when we have company over. The change also opened up the possibility for so much storage on the old dinning area wall. We can now use the bay doors easily, and the windows let so much extra light in our home.
Buying the proper size furniture for your space is SO important. Luckily there are many stores that sell furniture specifically for smaller homes. Everything in my house serves a few different purposes. The dinning room table is not only where we eat daily, where we host our seasonal dinners, but it is also our office and play-doh factory area! When designing your kitchen and dining room space, open your mind to moving things in places you totally wouldn't normally assume they should go and you never know what possibilities will appear.
Hey guys, here is our gate when we first moved into our bungalow in 2011. Mojito, our black pup, would always seem to escape! It was useable but it just did nothing for the house.
When we first decided to build a new gate (three long years ago) at the side of our house, I instantly said to Stuart,"Round! like Bilbos house!" Are you guys with me here? Lord of the Rings fans? Anyway, he wasn't as thrilled about the idea as I was so we came up with something else!
I actually had some metal art work hanging in the basement that I was sick of, so I decided to use them in a cut out in the new gate. I purchased these at Hobby Lobby a few years back now, but I think the last time I was there they still had them in stock. I gave them a black spray paint just so they wouldn't rust outside. We also took them off their wood pieces they had been attached to at the top and bottom.
At the top on either side of the gate Stuey built two small flower boxes. This year I used a purple and lime green potato vine in each of the sides that I'm hoping vine down quite nicely. I purchased these at Keon's Garden Centre. I can't wait to see how these fill in, if I manage to keep them alive long enough!
The gate was built about three years ago and left unfinished with the two giant 4 x4's sticking straight up. I couldn't decide what to do with the top of it. Stuart had said to me, let me know when you figure it out and I'll finish it. Two puppies and two babies later the gate sat there unstained and unfinished. Totally my fault!
"Super Deck" stain was on sale at the paint store just the other day so I picked some up to re-stain our front porch. On my way out to stain the deck I passed by the gate and thought... for the love Shavonne, just finish this! I got it stained up in an hour, and Stuart had the finishings on it half hour later and it was done! Anyone else ever had that happen to them? Procrastinate on a job and when you finally do it, you think... SERIOUSLY, thats all it took!
In the picture above the metal brackets are shelf brackets, we found them at Rona.
I hope this inspires your garden gate! Or maybe just a job that you have been procrastinating for a long time!
Renovating your kitchen will change the way your entire home functions. Our kitchen before was dated, but the worst part about it was how poorly the design was and how horrible it functioned. We literally kept our pots and pans in the spare bedroom and random kitchen items could be found in spots all over the house. This HAD to be done.
This kitchen took us a lonnnnngggggg time to complete. We did everything ourselves(love you Stuey.) I know its easy to look at Pinterest and Instagram and think all these things happen over night. Well, unfortunately when you are on a budget and you are doing everything yourself, its a process. So you need to be patient! Even if you are hiring someone to do the work. Don't just slap something together, pick a new colour and call it a day or your kitchen will have the same problems it had before.
One of the biggest tips I can give you, if you are preparing for a kitchen Reno. Plan, plan, and plan some more. I can not stress this enough - Think your kitchen Reno through! For example, I knew where every single item in my kitchen was going to go, before I ordered the cabinets. Your kitchen is the most important room in your house, the heart of your home, so make it a gooder! This Reno took longer than we thought as most do, but I'm so glad we didn't rush it, because it is my dream kitchen. There isn't one thing I would change. To me it is perfect!
Above all, design your kitchen how you like it. Don't worry about what is in style or trending. The most important thing is that you love it and it works for you! My kitchen its filled with vintage trinkets from my childhood cabin and exposed brick just like Monica Gellers (insert heart eyed emoji here) Never second guess what makes your heart happy!
This wreath was super simple to make! This only took me about 30 minutes to make, not including the time where my two little boys, Marshall and Ted "helped." Anyone can make this, if you have a dollar store near by and about 20$.
Okay! So I needed a new spring wreath to jazz up my front door! I already have a bright red door so I didn't want something too loud and wild, but I wanted something unique and springy! Off to the dollar store I went with my two baby boys. We bought about 10-12 stems of green leaves, and 2 stems of white/light green pionies with buds. The spiller succulents we used we had from another arrangement in the house already, we just borrowed from that to make this project. I purchased those at Gale's Wholesale.
1. I began with my first two branches. I twisted the two of them together, not directly side by side, but about an inch offset from where the leaves start coming out of the branch. You should get something that looks like this...
2. Continue that pattern for the rest of your 10 branches of leaves. Twisting each branch in one by one around the rest of your twisted stems. Until you have used them all up, you should have something that looks like this...
3. Once you get to the end of all your 10-12 branches you have to connect it to make a circle. Simple wrap in the same motion you have be doing to form a circle and hide your wire branches in the back of the wreath.
4. Adjust your leaves and branches so they curve in the shape of a circle, you have to play around with it a bit to get a more circular look. I also adjusted the leaves so that some were turned forward, some backward and some on an angle so it looks more natural.
5. I then took the two spiller flowers and twisted them in where I wanted them to be, the longer one on the bottom and the shorter one on top.
6. Next for the flowers. take the heads off the stems of artificial flowers and play around with them first, set them in your wreath before gluing them so you know you are putting them exactly where you want them! Hot glue them where you think they look nice! I went with very few, I wanted this wreath to be mostly green and simple. Four flowers & two buds is what I ended up adding to my leafy wreath.
This wreath turned out beautiful! It was super cheap to make, and very quick! With two little boys to look after all day thats my kind of project! Easy, cheap and quick. Now that you know generally how to make a wreath out of dollar store foliage, get creative, change it up through out the seasons, why not! Add more flowers, less, make it your own. Don't have a nice front door that will work for a wreath? Try hanging it on a mirror or a picture inside your house, so you can enjoy your masterpiece all day long!
What are your favourite types of wreaths? and where are your favourite places to hang them? I'd love to hear!
Alright guys, here it goes.
I have been doing hair professionally now for almost 10 years. Some of you, have been with me since the beginning. When I look back, I realize I was just a kid when I started, which means many of you have seen me grow up. I started doing hair in 2007, after I graduated high school. Truth be told, I didn't know what I wanted to do. Does any of us at 17? I knew I wanted to create. What I wanted to create? I didn't know. I knew hair styling was a good option for me to make some money while I figured out who the heck I was.
After we had our first son Marshall, my hubby built me a beautiful salon. It was Best of both worlds. I was able to pursue my biggest dream of all by being a stay at home mom, while I also had a perfect little salon, where I got to style the hair for all my favourite people. When I was pregnant with our second son Ted, we redesigned our kitchen. I realized two things. 1. I absolutely love interior design and 2. I might actually be good at it. On my maternity leave with Ted, the texts (which I LOVED) started to roll in, "When are you coming back Shavo? My hair misses you" Isn't it a wonderful feeling to be missed and needed!? With each text I received the wheels inside my head turned more and more. I started asking myself questions like,
"What do I want to do with the rest of my life?"
Anyone with me on this one? If what you are doing in life doesn't bring you joy anymore it is time to go find your joy.
I was at a crossroad. I want to be at home with my boys while they are little. That will always be my first priority. I also want to learn more and be continually growing.
So one day, on a trip with our boys to the play park and a quick stop for ice cream we talked about all the different options I had. Stuart pointed out that since he met me I have always told him I wanted to go back to school. He also pointed out that everything I've been talking about was pointing me in the direction of being an interior designer. More questions began to pop into my head...
"Would this work for my family?" First question I asked myself. Questioning if I could handle going to school and still be a great mom to my boys.
I am going to miss seeing my hair clients SO freaking much. This wasn't a question. This was just fact. You guys are my family and my best friends. You have seen me at my highs and my lows. We know each others family and we know almost everything about each other! What a privilege its been getting to be such a big part of your lives. What an honour it has been for you to trust me with your hair. This was THEE hardest part of deciding to make a career change- How much I was going to miss all of you!
"Do I have something to offer this world?" Ahh! Such a scary question. Does anyone else ask themselves this at times? I love to design & decorate basically anything, but maybe I'm not as good as all of these designers I've followed for so long. I want to do achieve great things will all my heart, so I sure hope I have what it takes.
After talking it over and over with my Stuart, I finally decided that I have got to go for it!
I applied for Bachelor of Interior Design program.
I GOT IN! (yay!!! screams of joy!!!!!)
I am so excited about my new adventure! My whole life has been leading up to this moment, and I just can't wait to start. October, bring it on!