Tag Archives: decoration

New life, new desk!

Hi there! It’s been a while…

I’m at a turning point in my life. I just got back from a two month trip in South America (Chile, Argentina and Uruguay) and I’ve now officially started my life as a full time freelance writer and translator. Exciting stuff!

In order to get a nice start on this new life, I decided to build myself a standing desk. Of course, being broke and lacking the skills to build a piece of furniture, I decided to take the easier road: an IKEA hack.

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We just decided to get rid of our TV. The poor thing wasn’t getting the love it deserved. It hadn’t been turned on in over a year and was just sitting there gathering dust. Finally, we put an ad up on Kijiji and within hours, some happy couple came to get it.

Underneath the TV, there was a nice TV stand, still in great condition. I didn’t want to throw it out so I went to the hardware store and bought some wood, wood glue and 2 shelves. That’s it. I glued the pieces of wood onto the existing legs and let it dry for 1 day. Afterwards, I built the shelves and put everything up together. The last step was to paint the legs a nice shade of turquoise green. Done! A new desk! (If you’re wondering, yes, it’s very solid)

In life, turning points are always a bit scary but building this desk and having a designated work spot has made it a bit easier to face new challenges!

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Easy crafts for lazy people: Abstract bleach wall art and bandana

My second craft tutorial for lazy people will show you how to make a simple, abstract piece of bleach art and a matching bandana.

The story

I spent one bleach crazy day after being inspired by this tutorial by Stars For Streetlights. Bleach is a commonly used product that usually works wonders, but it can be quite a pain when you accidentally use too much of it or drop some onto your new black dress. The lightening effect is almost immediate and it is irreversible.

Basically, this means that you should only use it on fabric that you don’t mind possibly ruining.

I had an old dark blue skirt that I was just about to send to our local thrift store. Instead, I cut it up and made 2 bandanas and 1 piece of abstract art.

What you need:

– Scissors

– Fabric (dark blues and blacks work best for contrasting effects)

– Empty and clean spray bottle

– A canvas that is white or that you are looking to cover up

– A sturdy stapler and some staples

– A mask and some protective glasses (if you are doing this indoors and are sensitive to the smell of bleach, protect yourself)

– If you have cuts on your hands or sensitive skin, plastic gloves

Preparing the fabric: For the bandanas, if you already have some, take these as models for size by placing them on top of the new fabric and cutting around them. If not, find some measuring tape to measure the crown of your head, where the bandana will be resting. Then, creating a square form, measure a middle diagonal that is at least 5 inches longer than what you measured around your head, so you’ll have some fabric left to tie the bandana.

For the canvas, simply put the fabric against the canvas, leaving enough fabric on each side so you’ll be able  to fold it back and staple it into the sides of the canvas. Cut the extra fabric.

Bleaching it: This is best done either outdoors or in the bathroom (provided your bathroom has a window or some sort of ventilation system). In your spray bottle, mix 2/3 bleach with 1/3 water.

If you are doing this outdoors, place a piece of cardboard or something alike to protect both the fabric and the surface on which you are working.

In the bathroom, you can use clothes hangers and hang them over the bathtub so the bleach drops into it.

Once the setup is good, start the spraying. Go lightly first, so you can see the result. It takes a few minutes for the bleach to react completely.

Tip: Keep the fabric creased to create different lines and designs.

Wait for a few minutes to make sure the bleach has fully developed before throwing the pieces into the wash. Make sure to put it on ‘delicate’ because the bleach may have weakened the fabric by making it thinner.

After that, let them air dry.

The bandanas, are done, now you can set up your frame.

The following process seems a bit complex but is easy: simply put the fabric on top of the canvas and then turn it so it faces down (keeping the fabric straight). Fold some fabric from the top edge onto the back of the frame. Proceed to stapling. Do the whole top part, until you reach the corners. Fold over the fabric from the right side, covering the top corner that is already stapled. Thoroughly staple the full side, making sure that it is good and straight and that you don’t staple all the way down to the corner (fold the lower fabric over before stapling it).

The last side you staple is really important because this is where you have to make sure your garment is installed tightly enough that it won’t create folds on the canvas (though lazy me actually likes those folds provided they aren’t too obvious). Staple the final side and voila! It”s ready to hang!


The mural

It’s been a while since I’ve told an actual story about my home (the initial point of this blog). So here is one about the mural in my living room:

Ever since I was little, walls have been like blank canvases for me. They are just waiting to be drawn on. For most, it would be seen as improper or impolite to color outside the lines in that sense.

It’s never been like that for me. Hand me a paintbrush and I’ll cover every surface I possibly can!

I remember being 8 or 9, when my little brother and I closed the door to our shared room and gave it quite the makeover. Once our parents opened the door minutes later, we’d drawn all over the walls.

Most parents would’ve grounded their children for acting this way. Mine weren’t and I will be forever thankful for that. Those drawings and various quotes professing my love for the Backstreet boys stayed put until we moved out years later.

As a teen, I kept going with the self expression through murals. The poetry got deeper, the drawings more detailed. It didn’t always look nice but I sure did love writing punk song lyrics on my wall. I felt especially cool when I wrote the curse words.

After my teenage angst phase passed, I decided to go zen (white walls) and covered it all up for a while.

When I moved to Montreal 5 years ago, I had a room in a shared apartment with 2 other girls that I didn’t know beforehand. It only took a couple of months before we got comfortable with each other and became good friends. Once I felt more at ease, I got busy with the paint again. This time, I was exploring different shades and textures, more than anything concrete.

Now, that we own a place, I’m pretty much free to do what I want on the walls (my boyfriend can veto).

Though I have a lot of freedom and could do more if I wished, so far the only place in our house where I’ve drawn directly on the wall is in the living room. The back wall of the room is very wide and our ceilings are high, so it was a perfect spot for a unique mural.

At first I wanted to do a zany design, covering the whole wall à la Keith Haring, but I finally decided on a less intense drawing.

The initial outline came from an old design that I created a few years ago. As a visuals arts student in college, I always had a blank book at hand. Anytime I felt inspired, I’d take my Staedler pens out to doodle a bit.

I was inspired to draw this ensemble of buildings after reading a book about Austrian artist/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. In a way, he was to Austria what Antoni Gaudi was to Barcelona. He created colorful buildings that played along with the natural environment. Clearly, he wasn’t a fan of the straight line, which is both refreshing and rare for an architect.

I loved that, so I decided to create a fantasy city filled with such buildings. Wouldn’t life be a little bit more fun if more buildings really looked like this?

Hundertwasser designed this building that is located in Magdeburg, Germany. Source: Wikipedia

Since that is unlikely to happen any time soon, I decided to paint that colorful cityscape on my wall. It is my vision of a big city: twisted, funky, colorful, lively.

I love it. I think it makes for a fine mural that doesn’t make the room seem smaller, but that makes it all that much more colorful and fun.

To speed up the process in making it, I first drew the outlines with a pencil, then I went over them with a black paint pen. 

East village poster

Another travel story. Yep. What can I say, traveling is my life!

I love my city (Montreal). I’ll probably always come back here even if I do live around the world at times during my life.

However, life is short and I want to experience it to the fullest and to see how people live elsewhere.

Traveling can be many things at once: intense; fun; amazing; exhausting; scary; disappointing.

It can be all those things, but it is never boring and never a waste of time. I’m happy I found a guy who agrees with me on this!

That is why we surround ourselves in objects that remind us of travels past and future.

For example, this lovely poster was found and ordered on Etsy. (Shop now defunt, unfortunately)

It’s a print of a pen drawing done by graphic artist Lucy Kirkman, who recreated the gorgeous view she had looking out of a window in her East Village (NYC) apartment.

I chose this particular piece because it’s pretty, because it’s simple and because it’s New York.

Ever since I was little, I’ve had such a fascination with that city.

I’d dive into my dad’s books, like The best of Life, in which were reproduced legendary photos from the famed american magazine. The stories told and pictures shown amazed me. Sometimes, at the sight of a picture of the cityscape, for a reason that I cannot explain to this day, I became scared and had to close the page, out of breath and panicked. New York terrified me, but I felt so drawn to it.

Summer 2000 marked the first time I went to the city. It was such an exciting moment! My dad had just inherited a bit of money from his childless aunt, so he, my brother and I could actually live it up while there. We went to visit my cousin, who lives an hour away from the city, and then set off to spend some time in the Big apple, on our own as a family. Before we left my cousin’s place, we were introduced to a friend of his who worked at the Empire State building and could lend us her pass to get up to the top without waiting in line. We felt like rock stars. Since this was pre 9/11, security was fairly lax and completely chill with letting people through to the top so easily, even going as far as treating us like VIP. I still remember the look of confusion, envy and anger that we got from the people who had been standing in line for hours. They were obviously wondering (some out loud) why we had zipped our way past them and the guards were putting us in the elevator that should’ve been theirs to take.

A second trip was taken in 2004, this time with my mom, brother, step-brother and step-father. I had a taken the initiative of planning the whole trip myself, since there were so many things I wanted us to experience. I had almost as much fun planning the trip than taking part in it. In fact, I believe all those hours spent perusing through my guidebooks like they were bibles and thinking Brian Silverman was my God, were the starting point to my ambition in becoming a travel writer.

I’ve been back to New York twice since then. Once last year, just for one evening, to take the bus home as I had been visiting my aunt in Long Island.

The other time was in 2008.

I had been traveling a lot during the summers of 2006 and 2007. Come summer 2008, I was now a university student, having to pay rent, food and other costs, so I didn’t have enough money to go very far. My brother and I decided to go on a little trip just the two of us. It was nice being together. We had a blast.  There are definite stories to be told about that time we spent together but none that are blog appropriate for now, so I’ve decided to add a little travel guide for New York.

It’s not complete.

I’ll probably make it more detailed some day but for now it has all that you need to have a blast in NYC if you are spending a few days there.

Here is my little travel guide for the city:

Restaurants to try out:

Pasha–  Turkish cuisine that is refined and refreshing. The mantı are absolutely exquisite. Service is discrete and attentive and the setting is charming.
70 West 71st Street  New York, NY 10023, États-Unis (212) 579-8751

Bubby’s: For some tasty comfort food, there’s simply nothing better than a meal at Bubby’s. The menu is made up of traditional American dishes, which are skillfully prepared, in portions that are generous without being gargantuan. Don’t forget to save room to try a slice of one of their famous pies! Two branches: Brooklyn and Tribeca
120 Hudson Street  New York, NY 10013, États-Unis (212) 219-0666

Kuma Inn: This Filipino restaurant is small and the portions are too, but it more than makes up with a warm atmosphere and food that is full of flavor and prepared with deliciously fresh ingredients. The setting is so intimate you’ll feel as if you were in someone’s apartment! You’ll work hard to find the entrance but once you are in, you will be rewarded for your efforts!
120 Hudson Street  New York, NY 10013, États-Unis (212) 219-0666

Grimaldi’s Pizza: Some people say that they would be willing to run across the Brooklyn Bridge  just to enjoy the pizza in this small restaurant that is located in the trendy DUMBO neighborhood. The decor is typical Italian pizzeria style, with a wall covered in photos of celebrities like Sinatra or De Niro, and small square tables covered with red checkered tablecloths. The service is fast and the pizza is incredible, with its crispy, chewy crust and generous toppings. After a meal, why not make the return journey on foot across the Brooklyn Bridge? The view from the pedestrian walkway is absolutely worth the effort.  There are other branches of Grimaldi’s pizza in the city, but the Brooklyn joint is the best. 1 Front Street, New York, NY, États-Unis (718) 858-4300

Siggy’s good food –  Yet another good restaurant to try in Brooklyn. This restaurant will appeal to vegetarians and other people seeking healthier fare.  Among the dishes tried in our two visits, we especially enjoyed the Live Earth salad, the turkey burger and Eggplant lasagna. During the warm season, tables are set on the street. Sitting there, sipping tea and munching on some sweet snacks, you can spend hours observing the beautiful fauna crowding the streets of Brooklyn heights, a charming residential area of Brooklyn. 76 Henry Street, Brooklyn, NY, États-Unis (718)-237-3199 ‎

Hotels to stay at: 

Carlton Arms Hotel  : This hotel will appeal to those looking for accommodation that is less conventional. The rooms are comfortable, but don’t go to the Carlton Arms expecting a 5 star service. You’ll enjoy this place if you want to sleep in a very unique setting: each of the rooms, the lobby and the hallways were decorated by artists. For a modest price (for Manhattan), you will sleep in a place filled with unparalleled creative energy. The rooms have neither phone nor television but the hotel is well located so you would not need those anyway! 160 East 25th Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-679-0680 ‎

Chelsea star hotel : Like the Carlton Arms, the Chelsea star hotel is a bit unconventional. If you prefer, there are rooms here with a more classic décor. For something a little funkier, there are the specialty rooms, each having a theme (Cleopatra, Madame Butterfly, Salvador Dali). People with tighter budgets will also appreciate the dormitories that accommodate about ten people. Here, the rooms are equipped with AC and TV. Prices are very reasonable, considering the neighborhood (a few steps from Madison Square Garden, has less than 15 minutes walk from Times Square).

300 W 30th St, New York, États-Unis 212-560-9010 ‎

Things to do:

The Museum of Modern Art is a must-see for fans of contemporary art. Opened in 1929, the museum has recently undergone a facelift under the design direction of architects Yoshio Taniguchi and Kohn Pederson Fox. The collection includes approximately 150,000 works of art that are presented in an environment all dressed up in glass and granite. Temporary exhibits showcase the work of the most renowned artists from around the world. Among recent past exhibits, one would recognize the names of Diego Rivera, Cy Twombly and conceptual artist Marina Abramovic. 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-708-9400

Brooklyn bridge: If your stay in the Big Apple is short and you need to visit quickly, this place is not to be missed. Crossing on foot via the pedestrian walkway takes about thirty minutes. Take the subway to  Brooklyn, then walk back towards Manhattan. That way, you’ll get the best view.  Each time of day brings a completely different feel to this walk. Why not bring along a book of Walt Whitman poems, so you can read his ode : To Brooklyn Bridge whilst actually standing on it?!

Funky and fun shopping:

Here are a few addresses to note if you’d like to find unique objects and cute gifts to bring back  home to your loved ones :

FAO Schwarz : A store that can be equally fun at 7 or 77, and every age in between!

767 5th Avenue, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-644-9400

Eataly: Paradise for foodies. You’ll find a variety of restaurants, cafés, specialty foods, bakeries, butchers and famously great gelato, all under the same roof. Warning: it will be crowded.

767 5th Avenue, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-644-9400

Dylans candy bar: To satisfy your sweet tooth, they’ve got it all. You’ll even find candy themed clothing or house wares.

1011 3rd Avenue, New York, NY, États-Unis 1 646-735-0078

1095 6th Avenue, New York, NY, États-Unis 1 212-278-0747

Pylones : A gift shop selling colorful objects that are useful, decorative and sometimes both at the same time!

69 Spring Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-431-3244

61 Grove Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-727-2655

Kid Robot : Sophisticated toys (that are actually closer to being works of art)

118 Prince Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-966-6688 ‎

MOMA design store: A collection of design objects and beautiful books to set out on the coffee table.

44 West 53rd Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-708-9669 ‎

Screaming mimis : For fans of vintage clothing, you’ll find retro, hippie, hipster and punk styles in this cute little store that is located in the artsy Lower East side neighborhood.

382 Lafayette Street, New York, NY, États-Unis 212-677-6464

Dean & Deluca : This high end food store is a veritable mecca for epicurean new yorkers.

156 West 56th Street, New York, NY, États-Unis

235 West 46th Street, New York, NY, États-Unis

235 West 46th Street, New York, NY, États-Unis

560 Broadway New York, NY 10012, United States (316) 821-3201

Going to see a play on Broadway:

A luxury, one might think. However, it is possible to find reasonably priced tickets. One might even get lucky and find an incredible deal! The tickets can be purchased via the internet on sites like http://www.playbill.com/or www.broadwaybox.com.  Once you subscribe to one of those sites, you’ll be entitled to substantial discounts on certain shows. The matinees are cheaper than evenings, as most times the stand-in actors are filling in for the main stars. You can go to the TKTS booths (there are 3), where last minute tickets are sold.


The bedroom

We have a tiny little bedroom. Some people would say that it’s too tiny.

I don’t care; I’ve had tiny rooms all my life. Those that weren’t tiny, I shared.

I’m used to cramped spaces and my man doesn’t mind either. He just needs a bed and a bit of floor space to throw his clothes on.

Things that I love about this room:

–          It’s always full of light, but not too bright, so you can sleep in at morning.

–          The color scheme is girly and calm (white, green, wood, touches of fuchsia)

–          It’s comfy (the bed and the furry carpets)

–          The ceilings are tall (like everywhere else in this home, but here since the room is small, we will use this to install shelves to store things that we want to keep but rarely use).

There is still work to be done here; walls to be painted (a brighter shade of white); shelves to be set up; night tables to be tinted. However, this look is very close to what I wanted to achieve.

Over the next few days, I will be telling the tales of certain objects that can be found in my bedroom.

Stay tuned!