This story category covers design and home decor, home maintenance and easy organizing tips.

Kraft Paper Christmas Wrap

Make Your Own Kraft Paper Gift Wrap

Simple white kraft paper offers infinite wrapping possibilities. Here are three to get you started.

Kraft Paper Christmas WrapWhite kraft paper, the kind that comes in big rolls from art supply stores, is the perfect blank canvas to use for wrapping  gifts. I like it plain, dressed up with beautiful ribbon topped off with greenery such as sprigs of holly or bits of twig. I also like it decorated in the ways I’ve shown here. Read more

Clothes line with colourful pegs

Why You Need A Clothesline In Your Life

Save your clothes, cash and the environment with an indoor or outdoor clothesline.

Clothes line with colourful pegsWhat is it with us? We can’t wait to air our dirty laundry in public but scorn hanging clean laundry outdoors to dry. Years ago I lived in the heart of Montreal’s Latin Quarter yet had a clothesline running from my back balcony to a post on the lane—and so did everyone else. Here in Vancouver, I can’t remember the last time I saw laundry flapping in the wind. A 2007 StatsCan Environment Survey shows the percentage of B.C. residents drying clothes on a line or rack at just 54 percent; in P.E.I. it was 75 percent. Read more

Large Black Chalkboard - C. Phaisalakani

With Chalkboards, Bigger Is Almost Always Better

When it comes to having a blackboard in your life, it’s best to go big or go home.

Large Black Chalkboard - C. Phaisalakani

 

MONEY WELL SPENT | One of the best things we did the first time we renovated our house, when my now teenage son was small, was to put a gigantic black chalkboard on one wall in our dining area. We had to order it from a company in Ontario that supplies visual presentation products to schools because we couldn’t find anything locally that was the four-by-eight-foot size we wanted. The board was surprisingly inexpensive, but crating and shipping it nearly doubled the cost. And the cost doubled again when we ditched the anodized aluminum trim kit that can be purchased with the unit in favour of a custom-fitted natural wood picture frame we thought would look better with our hardwood floors and furniture. In the end, I think we paid around $800 for the whole thing, which isn’t dirt cheap but certainly less expensive than a framed artwork of comparable size. Read more

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Why Buy Perrier? Fizzy Water Is Easy To Make

If tapwater leaves you flat, home carbonation devices will add fizz to your drink and loonies to your pocket.

Bottled Tapwater - C. PhaisalakaniWASTE NOT | Last summer I had dinner at the home of a stylish and gracious friend whose table setting included a tall glass pitcher filled with tapwater, ice cubes and slices of lime. It was refreshing in every way: simple, elegant and thirst-quenching. For a more casual presentation, another friend recycles the rubber-stoppered bottles from French lemonade, filling them with tapwater that she keeps chilled in the fridge. You can buy similar stoppered bottles without the lemonade (Bella Vita in Park Royal has attractive ones in green or blue from Maxwell & Williams for $5.95).

The advantages of tapwater are well known—better regulated and better for you than bottled water, better for the environment, really really local—yet having imported bottled water on the table has become almost as essential as knowing what wine to serve. Perhaps it’s the bubbles. I’m not a fan of fizz myself, but many of those who are have been turning to home carbonation devices. Read more

Something In The Air

Paraffin candles emit pollution, but there are reasonable alternatives.

Beeswax tealightsEvery year on the last Saturday in March, people around the world observe Earth Hour by turning off unnecessary lights and appliances for an hour. The World Wildlife Fund, which founded Earth Hour in 2007, was hoping for a billion participants in 2010. Many of them probably lit candles—which, proving no good deed goes unpunished, can also create pollution. Read more

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Fired Up

Metal window screen shines with these easy to make votive candleholders.candle 600

 

CREATIVE SOLUTION | Regular hardware store metal window screening, with its nostalgic cottage connotations, has obvious uses-and some that are less apparent. Here it has been folded into holders for votive candles.

Start with a form and fold the screening around it. I used plastic nursery-style flowerpots because of their gentle tapering shape and the variety of available sizes.

Use utility scissors to cut out a square of screening big enough to wrap up and over all four sides of the flowerpot. Set the pot down in the centre of the square, making a sharp crease along the bottom. Fold the remaining sides, bringing the corners together as if you were wrapping a box. Pinch all folded edges firmly against the form. Trim the excess screening to about one centimetre above the top of the pot. Carefully remove the pot. Fold the top edge to make a tidy hem. Smooth and adjust the crimping with your fingers.

I used aluminum-coloured aquarium stones to surround my tea lights. They weigh down the base of the holders, keep the candles in place and make the entire product more stable.

These candleholders make an attractive gift for anyone with a cottage (or patio, for that matter). They are also a great project for family members on holiday suffering from rainy day cabin. — Brendan Power

You can find metal mesh window screen at hardware stores.