Easy-Peasy Curtain Valance

I always thought curtains were such a grown up thing when I was little.  Add a valance and I could swear I was headed to my Oma’s house. But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate curtains and how they can transform a space.

I bought curtains from Ikea ages ago (Vivan White Sheer curtains @ $15 for two panels) and have been meaning to hang them up in our bedroom.  I had washed and ironed the curtains and then they sat in a laundry basket in one of the spare rooms for three weeks (oops), until today.  I finally decided to hang them up.

I’d done a bit of research on how to make rooms look taller (our ceilings are about 8ft-9ft or so), and if you hang your curtains as high as possible, and a little larger than the actual window, it will make your room look bigger. Sidebar: the comforter on the bed is not our normal comforter, our new devout cover is being shipped!!!

Our bedroom window, all sad.

Our bedroom window, all sad.

Our window happens to be 61.5″ wide, so I went two inches out on each side to nail in the hangers (also from Ikea $3 for two).  I only tacked up the second hanger and put the rod between them and levelled it out.  The window instantly looked taller and I was pretty content for about 45 seconds…I hated the naked curtain rod. It was just taunting me in all of its ugliness.

Curtains are up, but I'm not happy with it.

Curtains are up, but I’m not happy with it.

I decided to make a valance to cover that puppy up and take care of some of the empty wall space.  I found this fantastic post from Bibbidi Bobbidi Beautiful about making a valance…from CARDBOARD! I kid you not. I happened to have some cardboard around  the house (aka, boxes I still have yet to unpack from moving in…I knew I was saving it for a good reason!).

Soon to be a valance!

Soon to be a valance!

(On a side note, when we moved, we did a scan tracking system, hence the bar code on the top of the box, so we would know if all of our boxes arrived and were unopened.)

I measured the width of the curtain rod and added 2″ to give more than enough clearance on both sides. I took the distance from the top of the curtain rod to what I wanted to cover up (roughly 12″), then measured from the front of the rod to the wall (6″).  I added a 5″ piece on the back of the valance to tack it to the wall.

Dimensions of the valance in inches

Dimensions of the valance in inches


Then I got to cutting.  I opened up the box so it was totally flat. I was able to use all of the pre-bent sections as they matched my measurements, so that was super simple.  I taped on the back piece to be in the middle of the valance, because I didn’t want to worry about the wall mounts.

Just doing a test fit to make sure everything is a-okay!

Just doing a test fit to make sure everything is a-okay!

Luckily I had a plain white sheet that I was able to use to cover the cardboard. I ironed it before I started working with it and then just moved it about until I got it where I wanted it on the valance. I used duck-tape on the backside, where it wouldn’t be seen, and hot glue to secure it! The front of the valance has three layers of fabric because at two you could still see through it.  I took the curtain rod down, centred the valance and tacked it up with six 2″ nails. It was super simple and is really light weight.  All in all, it took…1.5hrs to do? And for the entire window treatment it only cost me $20!

All done!

All done!

I think it makes a world of difference in our bedroom and the Mister was even impressed! Do you have any surprising uses for cardboard?


The Red Wall

Men used to own our house.  There is nothing wrong with this, however, their decorating choices were…well not to my taste.  Thankfully, some paint, curtains and pretty pink things wipe away that masculinity. ha.

There was a red wall in our front sitting room:

Pre-us moving in: Red wall & massive black couch.

Pre-us moving in: Red wall & massive black couch.

It was so dark and overpowering, plus with the big ol’ (working YAY!) fireplace, it was just too much. I hated it.  So I set to painting it. We went with Duo Inspirational White from CIS.  It has undertones of Grey in it, which works really well with the rest of the sitting room, which are a lovely (shockingly) light grey.  As the paint was a primer/paint in one, it only took two coats to cover that horrible red.   Painting the walls white made a drastic difference.

Already looking better!

Already looking better!

Woo! Both sides painted and painters tape removed!

Woo! Both sides painted and painters tape removed!

Then, we came to all this wasted space. We searched  long and hard: we looked for pre-made bookshelves, but they were all so deep (we are working with a 9″ wide area because of how the window is situated).  We then went to pre-made shelves, but they were too expensive for what they were offering.  After that we decided to DIY it.  We attempted this shelving unit thing…needless to say, we all have projects that take a total dive bomb and this was one of them.  The  shelving unit is now tucked away in the basement and I’m using it to store crafts on.

After hemming and yawing a little longer, we decided floating shelves were the way to go.  Thank goodness for Young, House, Love and Build it with Ana, we did not have to search long! Check out the fantastic post here!

Anywho, our space was 52″ on one side and 53″ on the other (from wall to wall), so we decided to make them 48″ and centre the shelves.  There might have been some math mis-calculations on my end, which the Mister had to adjust…twice. Oops.  Good thing he loves me! 🙂

Please ignore the mess:) The TV will eventually find another place, just haven't gotten there yet! :)

Please ignore the mess:) The TV will eventually find another place, just haven’t gotten there yet! 🙂

It’s a work in progress, but I think it looks a MILLION times better! What do you think?

Halloween Wreath

Halloween is upon us and we finally have a door to decorate! Woo-hello wreaths! I was at Michael’s and they had some Halloween wreaths that were on sale for $40 (normal $80), I nearly died.  They were okay, but not worth $40, let alone $80! They must have gotten into the candy a little earlier and were on a sugar high when they did that pricing.

I decided to make my own and looked at the foam wreaths at Michael’s again-for the size I wanted it was like $12. Come onnnn! For some foam? The thrift (cheap?) side of me did a little more research and found that people were using foam pipe insulation from Home Depot! This is in bulk (50 pieces), but I only bought one piece for around $2. I was able to cut it in half, so two wreath rings for $2-take that Michael’s! You just need to stick them together (take off the yellow stripping and stick it together!).  Then you’ll need to just duck-tape your two ends.  Anyway…

I headed over to the dollar store and picked up some Halloweenie things.  Two big spiders ($1 for both), some black streamer rolls ($1 for two rolls), little spiders and their webs (12 for $1) and some orange paint ($1)- a total of $4!

Onto the construction-sorry there are no pictures of the process, I was watching M15-Spooks (BBC show) with the Mister and totally forgot, oops! I wrapped the wreath in the streamer, I went around twice.  Then I pulled out the hot glue gun, stuck on one big spider and went crazy with the spider webs and itty-bitty spiders.  I used some cardboard I had around the house and cut out the word “BOO” and painted it orange; once dry I stuck the letters on the wreath.  I just used some more of the streamers to hang it up on the wreath hanger.

For $6 (with left over pipe and Halloweenie things), I think it turned out pretty well and I didn’t waste a fortune on it!

Halloween Wreath: Property of Lemon Delights

Side view of the Halloween Wreath: Property of Lemon Delights

Eh-oh Canada, go…finally!

Preface: This is an incredibly long post about our PR journey.  I do not claim to be an expert on this subject, but am simply sharing my experience of the process.

When I met the Mister in 2008, I never knew the difficulties we would face when trying to decide where we should live. This decision was particularly difficult because the Mister is Canadian and I’m American and our families live on opposite sides of the continent (West vs. East).  We first lived in Vancouver (2009-2011), then moved to Toronto (2011-2013), there was some NY time (Buffalo and Central NY too) tossed in 2012-2013 and now we find ourselves in Calgary.  I was able to work and live in Canada under open visas and a sponsorship through a job.  I knew visa’s would always be an issue, regardless of where we wanted to live…

While in Toronto, I studied at LSE (In the UK) and then landed a job in Buffalo, NY (2012) because my Visa had run out for Canada.   We knew that we needed to apply for my permanent residency for Canada. Now, we did this after much deliberation on where to live, we even toyed with buying a house in Buffalo, NY.  We went back and forth on the pros & cons of the two countries and finally came to the decision that Canada would be able to afford us the lifestyle we want right now.

Now, I’m not sure if anyone has gone through the process of PR (for any country), but it is the most emotionally draining experience we’ve ever been through.  We started our application in October 2012  as an out land sponsorship (because I wasn’t residing in Canada at the time) and it took two months to fill out all of the paper work, gather all of the documents and check (double, triple check!) all of the documents. We paid all of our fees up-front and I had my medical completed even before we sent in the application so there would be nothing to delay the process.

We finally got the documents in on December 4, 2012. And then we waited…the Mister heard that he was approved to sponsor me (support me and such) in January 2013, which is the first step. We were elated, we thought our case was trucking along, but then came April 2013, when the PAFSO went on strike (they are still on strike as of September 2013…) and everything came to a halt.  We waited and waited. We searched the internet for information, scoured over chats and forums, we attempted to get in touch with Ottawa (where our case was being processed) but they do not list their phone number online and don’t have to get back to you via e-mail.  So…we waited in limbo.

Life went on, as best it could, we had our wedding in June and I was able to visit the Mister in July.  Then July 11th, 2013 came: we received an e-mail from an immigration agent asking for more documents!!! They were documents we had already sent it, but we sent them again.  Then the Mister received a phone call from the agent who was processing our case on July 12 to verify some information (my birthday, where he was working etc.).  We couldn’t believe our case was FINALLY in progress.  Our E-case (online tool to follow the progress of your case) was updated on July 15,  2013 to decision made!!! We were so incredibly happy, we might have cried.

You know how I mentioned we surfed chats and forums for information? Well, while they offer some fantastic advice, they can also turn you into a raving nut! Once a decision is made your e-case doesn’t actually inform you if you’ve been approved or not…so you have to wait…and wait…and wait.

I checked the mail every day for nearly a month straight.  I cannot describe how it felt to be let down everyday, to have so little control over the situation and to not know when you’d be out of limbo: it was truly depressing.  I was fortunate enough to have my wonderful family to support me through all of it and make me smile daily.

Finally on August 17, 2013 my Conformation of permanent Residency (COPR) arrived in the mail.  I was out shopping when my Mom phoned: I did a dance in the mall, I was so, so, so happy I nearly cried. Yet, there were still so many unanswered questions-which is why I am writing this post.

Inside of the envelope, there were a couple of sheets of paper: two copies of my COPR and some standard letters with basic information.  Luckily I had been on the forums (oh love/hate relationship) and knew I had to fill out a B4 form (to claim anything I was bringing over) and that I had to write a detailed list of everything I owned and assign a value to it all.  Depending on how you are immigrating into Canada, there are limitations on what you can bring: because I was entering as a new resident of Canada, I was able to bring over a bit (any one item over $10,000 would be taxed, and all items, unless wedding presents etc. had to be used: i.e. you couldn’t buy a brand new computer just to bring it over kinda thing, and all items had to be meant for personal use and not re-sale).  I also imported my car into Canada.  You need to have an official title of the car, in your name, and fax that over to the border crossing you plan on going over AT LEAST 72 hours before you cross. Make sure you actually export the car once you get to the crossing.  We (brother and I) missed the lane for this and had to go through immigration on the Canadian side, just to turn around and go back to the US…to export the car…to enter into Canada.  The reason you need to export the car is because if you don’t and then you want to go back into the US with said car, you can pay heavy fines.  Once you land in Canada you need to pay your fee (roughly $200) to the RIV and have your car federally inspected.  You have 45 days from when you land to do this.  To do this, you go to a Canadian Tire and bring all of your documents and receipt along with you.  Make sure you phone the Canadian Tire to see when they are actually doing the inspections, just so they don’t turn you away.  You’ll have to pay an additional tax on the tires ($4/tire, including your spare, if it is a full one).  After you get your go-ahead from Cad Tire, you’ll need to bring in your documents to a Registration office to file the paper work.  That’s another $10.  Cad tire failed to write down the weight of our car (awesome…), so I had to take a photo and e-mail it over to RIV.  After your file is complete, they apparently mail you a sticker to put on your car to stat it has been properly imported.  Depending on the province you are calling home, registering the car will be different.  We’re in Alberta, so when I filed the RIV paperwork, they handed me the import for out of province inspection paperwork.  Apparently there is no deadline on when you need to have this done, however, when you DO get it done, you only have  14 days to file that paperwork, along with your insurance and change over your driver’s licence.  I am sure there will be more fees behind that too.

Once landed in Canada, you must keep track of the days you are outside of Canada, as you need to be in the country for so many days out of the year.  Also, if you’re aiming to eventually become a Canadian citizen, you need to be in the country for 3 out of 4 years, so it’s imperative to keep track of the time you spend away from Canada.  I’m using my google calendar to keep track of the days here/outside of Canada.  Before you can leave Canada, it is recommended that you wait till you get your actual PR card-this takes up to 90 days.  Now, you can request that they expedite your PR card, but you must have a pretty good reason why.

Anyway, applying for PR status has been the most arduous journey and you only do it either because you truly love someone or because you truly love (need to leave your old country) the new country. I’m still trying to find my footing as a PR of Canada (which is all a bit strange to me…!), but keep my American roots.  I’ll keep you posted on when my PR comes and how the process for eventually applying for citizenship goes! 🙂

To all of you who are applying for your PR status, keep your head it…it will happen. Also, if you have any questions, do feel free to drop me a note and I’ll try to help you, based on my experiences 🙂