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My Saskatoon Blog

License to Spill

posted by Elle    |   October 16, 2014 13:20

I learned the hard way what happens to laminate flooring when it gets wet. Flashback to a couple of months ago when, in preparation to sell my condo, a new dishwasher DIY led to a major leak. To make a long story short, it was not a brilliant idea, and ALL of the laminate in my kitchen/living area had to be ripped up and replaced.

Major dishwasher disasters aside, most wood flooring, or flooring that is imitating wood, is not durable when it comes to even a small amount of liquid. How practical is this, really? In what household, even without children or pets, is it easy to maintain a pristine floor that is unmarked by an accidental spill? Enter a cat that knocks over a vase or a child whose drink topples over and more often than not, that beautiful flooring is marred beyond repair. 

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be like this. If you want the look of wood without having to worry about durability, vinyl plank flooring might be the answer. It isn’t damaged by moisture- at all. You can soak it in the bathtub, and it will not swell or buckle. Not only does it look incredibly beautiful installed, texture technology creates the feel of wood grain, knots, and distresses like the rustic characteristics of aged barn boards (so hot right now!). It’s also very durable against tough scratches and scuffs. The image below is of a few of the gorgeous vinyl plank options now available at Carpet Superstores Saskatoon.

As much as I love the look of wood floors, I definitely have an appreciation for soft carpet to lay around on after Thanksgiving dinner. Particularly in a home with children, the ability to crawl around on the floor comfortably is key. I don’t have kids yet, but I think that when I do I will opt for carpet in bedrooms and play areas for this reason. Unfortunately, the same risk of spills applies to carpet, and people are often reluctant to choose lighter colours for fear of that inevitable pet accident or red wine mishap.

There’s gotta be a better way! And there is. Stainmaster Carpet has released its PetProtectTM carpet and cushion system, which keeps spills and accidents from soaking into the cushion and subfloor, and is the easiest carpet to clean. In Saskatoon, PetProtect is only found at Braid Flooring, and until the end of November you can purchase it at up to 40% off. Not to mention that a portion of money from every yard sold will go to New Hope Dog Rescue! Below is a snap of one of the patterned styles at Braid. 

You don't have to settle for flooring that looks good but is in danger of being scratched, warped, or stained. Accidents around the house are a part of life, and I am so happy to learn that in my next home I won't have to deal with another wet flooring disaster. I was so pleased when I came across these products, and I hope you are too. And its a bonus that they can be found at two awesome locally owned Saskatoon businesses! 

A Hidden Gem in Saskatoon

posted by My Saskatoon    |   October 15, 2014 14:34

Tucked away in the lower level of the Drinkle No. 3 Building is one of Saskatoon's hidden gems. With an abundance of glamour and charm, Back Then & Again Vintage Jewelry Boutique provides a shopping experience that is unlike any other in our city. Owners Sherry and Harvey Neufeld are passionate about vintage jewelry and old movies, and it shows! From the massive vintage chandeliers to the antique furniture displays and Old Hollywood artwork, stepping into Back Then & Again is a bit like a journey through time.

What started as Sherry's own collection has grown to nearly 10,000 pieces of jewelry, ranging in price from $0.25 to $700. With pieces dating as far back as the 1800's through to today, there is so much to see (and try on!). We think the best way to take it all in is to carve out a nice chunk of time to spend perusing the entire shop (at least twice) before selecting your favourite pieces. The boutique is filled with unique displays organized by style or time period, making the hunt easy if you are looking for something specific.

Harvey and Sherry are more than happy to provide guidance and suggestions, and to chat about the history of a piece. The best word to describe the experience at Back Then & Again is welcoming. Harvey and Sherry are very encouraging when it comes to opening display cases and trying pieces on, and they have even set up a little antique dressing table for children to play at, with pieces that are "Free For Little Girls & Boys". Your little one can choose their own baubles to take home for dress up. For the comfort of any companions who aren't jewelry wearers, they've got plush seating and old movies playing.  

Back Then & Again also offers minor jewelry repairs, and if you've got a piece in your own collection that you would like reworked in some way, bring it by for Harvey and Sherry to look at. A bride once brought in her Grandmother's aurora borealis necklace, and Sherry turned it into a beautiful headpiece for her. The endless unique options found in vintage jewelry certainly outdo the mass produced stuff we see so often these days. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find at Back Then & Again. 

New pieces come in on a weekly basis, so stay connected with Back Then & Again on Facebook for the latest. 

Warm & Art

posted by My Saskatoon    |   October 8, 2014 15:09

Warm & Art is a new home decor and furniture store, found in one of Saskatoon's most recent neighborhood developments, Willowgrove Square. We recently paid a visit to this unique shop, and discovered a style of home furnishings unlike any other in our city. 

Walking into the shop, our eyes were immediately drawn to the wide array of vibrant art lining the walls. With bold strokes and rich colours, much of the artwork has an impressionist style featuring mostly animals and landscapes. With all original pieces in a variety of canvas sizes, Warm & Art is a great destination for someone looking to add a dynamic focal point to a living room, bedroom, or hall. 

Aside from great art, what makes Warm & Art so unique is its selection of beautiful hand painted furniture. Intricate designs in vibrant colours mark the individuality of each piece. From tallboys to dressers, to an armoire that is a jewelry collector's dream, each piece is stunning and luxurious to touch. Beautiful vases and glossy, modern statues can also be found at Warm & Art. One of our favourite pieces in the store was a black rhino statue that would be a great addition for someone seeking a touch of edgy glamour for their home. 

Amidst the gorgeous furniture and artwork, we didn't even notice the electric fireplaces situated throughout the space until the shop owner, Ying, began bringing them to life with a remote. A sleek electric fireplace can add a functional design element to any room, and many of them have a music feature. Simply plug in your iPhone or iPod, and enjoy the ambience of your favourite relaxing playlist. Warm & Art has several different styles of fireplaces to choose from.

Located next to Herbal Time Tea House, Warm & Art provides a unique shopping opportunity that fits perfectly after a hot cup of tea on a brisk fall afternoon. If you're in need of a fun decor piece to liven up your home, or are looking to add warmth to a chilly room, Warm & Art is your spot. 

For more information and to view an image gallery, check out Warm & Art's Spotlight Profile. 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

posted by My Saskatoon    |   September 12, 2014 11:49

J&S Picture Frame Warehouse, locally owned and operated since 1978, offers unique, specialty services in framing, photo restoration, and printing. Sherry Morris, owner and principal designer, brings many years of experience to framing almost anything. She is an expert in the preservation and beautiful presentation of photography, artwork, and memorabilia.

We visited Sherry at her shop in Sutherland, where she shared with us the history of J&S, her evolving industry, and the unique products and services she and her staff provide.

 

You've been in business for over 30 years! Looking back, how have things changed in your industry?

I moved back to Saskatoon from Toronto in 1978, and at that time in Saskatoon, the framing industry was very basic. No one out here was using acid-free materials or doing the archival framing that I had experience with in Toronto. Because I came from a bigger centre and had worked with different artists there, I knew about these innovations. Still, the colours and options were so limited then. The industry, like everything else in our society, has progressed. We now have much better products than we had before, and it’s wonderful! In this industry, you have to keep up with that.

In what ways has your business evolved over the years?

When we started we just did picture framing. In those days, we had the biggest selection of stock frames west of Toronto. People came from all over. We now offer all types of framing. We specialize in memorabilia, and the restoration of old things. We do every kind of framing out there, and now have thousands of framing options. Very often we put more than one frame together for a different look, so the options are endless. We also now do large format printing, canvas printing, photography printing, and giclée printing for artists. We use only UV ink in our printers. You can bring a piece of artwork in, and we can reproduce it on any substrate you choose.

Why is high quality framing so important?

Preservation is the most important thing, in my opinion. If a piece is not framed correctly, with a chemical-free frame, ten years down the road, it will be ruined. If you have an MDF or plastic frame, they are made with chemicals. Those chemicals off-gas into your artwork or whatever it is that is framed. The materials we use do not contain those harmful chemicals. We see things coming in that have been poorly framed, and we see how the artwork or photograph has deteriorated. It is amazing to see what a poor or cheaply made frame can do to a beautiful piece. I’ve trained my staff to be very very diligent about showing the customer what can be done to prevent this, and why it should be done.

Read on to learn more about how Sherry creates a unique piece for each and every customer, her recent award for ethics and integrity, and her chosen local charity. 

An Innovative Home Upgrade

posted by My Saskatoon    |   August 26, 2014 11:09

Locally owned in Saskatoon, Granite Transformations is exceeding customer expectations with its innovative products and a streamlined process that has revolutionized the granite counter top industry. With expertise in cabinet refacing as well, Granite Transformations is a one stop shop for kitchen and bath upgrades and remodels. 

The owners of Granite Transformations, Colin, Rob, and Derek shared with us some little known facts about their extraordinary products, their unique way of doing things, and their heart for our community. 

 

What inspired you to start your business? 

We wanted to provide Saskatoon residents with a unique opportunity. We felt that Granite Transformations meets a need that was not yet being addressed here. Saskatoon has a booming real estate market, both in new builds and in the buying and selling of existing homes. This is also the number one under-served market, especially in the renovation field. We believed there were home renovations that weren’t done, simply because people didn’t know they had the option to do what we do. We knew there would be home owners that would love our product, people who wouldn't have been able to get the solution they were looking for any other way.

What makes your product innovative?

Our granite is compressed and bonded together to make a slab, using a polymer resin. It is the same type of resin used in aircraft manufacturing. This keeps the product thin and lightweight, yet very very strong. It is also what seals the stone. A typical slab is porous, traps bacteria, and emits radon gas. With our stone, nothing goes in, and nothing comes out. We are the only granite surface in the world that never requires maintenance or sealing. 

Does your product look similar to a traditional granite counter top?

Our product comes in 10 foot slabs, much like traditional granite, but the slabs are not thick, bulky, porous, or heavy. They are still slabs of stone, though. Because the product is thin, it is installed right over top of an existing counter top. Installed, it looks very similar to a typical stone counter top. 

Are your products as durable as typical granite?

While our slabs are thinner, since they are no longer porous, when tested they are actually 2.5 times stronger versus impact than thicker porous slabs. Our quartz and glass products are also incredibly durable. 

Your products are tested radon-safe. What is radon, and are there other comparable products out there that people have in their homes that are unsafe?

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that can be harmful to one’s health. Traditional granite slabs emit varying amounts of radon, which is why you will never see slab granite in a hospital, school, or the prep area of any restaurant. Our products are approved for use in all three. 

We also asked the team at Granite Transformations about their eco-friendly products, the non-profit organization they are committed to, and their favourite things about Saskatoon. View the full article here

Why Stand Up Paddle Boarding is the Perfect Summer Activity

posted by Elle    |   July 4, 2014 16:30

If you haven't tried stand up paddle boarding yet, this could be your year! Its becoming more and more popular in our province, and it is one of my favourite summer activities for several reasons. There are a lot of variables when it comes to outdoorsy stuff in the hot Saskatchewan summer. I find that stand up paddle boarding strikes the perfect balance, enabling you to do all of the following things at once!

Photo Credit: Fitness Solutions

Enjoy Your Surroundings

Summer in Saskatchewan doesn't seem to happen very often, so its nice to have opportunities to really soak up the nature that surrounds us in the warm months. Stand up paddle boarding gives you a nice view of your surroundings, as you have the ability to see right down into the water, and the freedom to enjoy the wildlife and other elements of nature as you paddle along. Because your vessel is not motorized, you can enjoy the sounds of nature to the fullest. Soak up that sun and breathe in that fresh summer air! 

Enjoy Your Company

Spending time in nature with the people you love is summer bliss! Stand up paddle boarding gives you the ability to set your pace, so you can enjoy conversation with your companions as you paddle. You can also paddle directly alongside your comrades, which makes conversation easier than in some other crafts like canoes and two-seater kayaks where you are stuck looking at your friend's back. Because the paddle board doesn't produce sound, you don't have to strain to carry on a conversation as you do with motorized water sports. 

Stay Cool

I find stand up paddle boarding to be the perfect intensity level for a hot day out in the sun. I don't know about you, but many other outdoor activities are just too labour intensive for me in the heat of a summer day! I of course love being active in the summertime, preferring activities that I can perform at a leisurely pace so as not to overheat. There is also often a nice breeze out on the water that can take the edge off even the hottest of days. 

Stay Dry

Not everyone loves getting wet, and not every body of water in Saskatchewan is appropriate for a dip. Fortunately, the width of the paddle board board makes it very easy to maintain your balance and not fall in the water. I have only ever fallen in against my will once, and it was because I wasn't paying attention. If you are intending to stay on your board, you will. That being said, a life jacket is a good idea as a precaution. 

Get a Full Body Workout

The upright position of your body while paddle boarding provides a full body workout. As your muscles work to maintain your balance on the board, your core is activated and your abdominal muscles are engaged. Your legs and even your feet and toes work to grip the board, and your arms and back muscles propel you along as you paddle. 

Photo Credit: Swim Guide

I've seen people paddling on the river, but according to this advisory from the Water Security Agency, that is maybe not such a good plan at this time (as of July 4, 2014). However, Pike Lake and Blackstrap are great spots nearby to try it out. If I've got you convinced, check out Fitness Solutions for stand up paddle board rental rates and information! They offer rental packages, and you can also buy top quality boards from them. They are a great local company and you will love their boards!

Enjoy your time outdoors this summer!

The End of Shampoo?

posted by Elle    |   June 26, 2014 14:39

I recently became fixated on finding a substitute for shampoo. I'm sure you've heard the buzz about the "no poo" method, but if you've missed this trending topic, I'll give you the gist. Your scalp naturally produces oils that are intended to keep your hair healthy. Frequent washing, especially with shampoo containing chemicals, strips away those oils and harms your scalp and hair. The result is overproduction of oil, and as we are all familiar with, the oil builds up. This happens because our scalp over-produces oil when our hair is dry- dried out by shampoo! Its a vicious cycle that is hard to break, but trust me, its worth it! When I first heard about this, I was very interested in saving my hair, while also saving money spent on expensive shampoos and conditioners. 

There are several different "no poo" methods, to use when transitioning away from typical shampoos and conditioners. The most popular is a combination of apple cider vinegar and baking soda. When I used this method, I would add a little bit of water to baking soda to form a paste, massage this into my scalp and hair, and rinse. I would soak the ends of my hair for a few minutes in a tall glass of water with 2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar, followed by pouring the glass over my entire head. I'd then rinse my hair and dry it. You might think that the potency of apple cider vinegar would leave a strong smell in your locks, but I found that once it dried, the scent dissipated. While this method did seem to clean my hair pretty well, it would often start to look a bit greasy toward the end of the day. I assumed this was just my hair and scalp transitioning to the change. Its something I figured I just had to push through with.

In the midst of my "push through" phase, I happened upon Uncle Mike's All Natural Products at the Saskatoon Farmer's Market. I mentioned my quest for a natural shampoo product that works, and Mike showed me his shampoo bar. The bar is pH balanced, with apple cider vinegar (I must have been on to something) which he said seals the follicle and rinses clean. Mike told me that the shampoo bar is moisturizing as well, so I wouldn't require a conditioner. Great news! I'm all about simplicity. I purchased a bar, as well as a few bars of soap and a body butter, which are all fantastic. I would definitely repurchase the body products. 

 

As for the shampoo, well, I absolutely love it! It did take a few washes for my hair to get used it- I had the slightly greasy end-of-day look for a few more days. But after a few washes with Uncle Mike's shampoo bar, my hair experienced a breakthrough. It now dries soft and clean, is easier to comb through when wet, and I can make it through the whole day with it looking great! Its a lot easier to use than the baking soda/apple cider vinegar combo, as there's no pouring or mixing required, and it smells much better. I now really enjoy the simplicity of just rubbing the bar of soap on my head (that was something to get used to at first), and it lathers nicely so you can distribute it throughout your hair. Trust me, it is MUCH nicer to use the shampoo bar than to rub the gritty baking soda paste on my head, and the results are much better. Because it comes in bar form, there is minimal packaging required, so the environmental impact is much lower than with buying plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles. But what I like most about this product is that it is locally made right here in Saskatoon! 

You can find Uncle Mike's All Natural Products at Green Ark Collected Home, The Better Good, and of course, the Saskatoon Farmers' Market! Visit Uncle Mike's online, for a more extensive list of local retailers, to read his story, and to check out his many other great products.

Choosing a Tree for Your Front Yard

posted by David    |   June 20, 2014 09:46

Saskatoon is experiencing a time of unprecedented growth. It is estimated that around 300 new homes will be built every month this summer. My wife and I were recently in the market for one of these new homes, and it became apparent quite early that if we didn't make a quick decision, someone else would take the house we had our eye on. So, we did our research and made an offer on the spot, the first time we walked into the home we currently own. Getting that house with the features you want, in the area you like, can wind up being a rushed decision in the competitive Saskatoon real estate market.

Once the deal is sealed, though, its time to make that new property of yours the best it can be with some landscaping (particularly if you have purchased a home in an undeveloped area like my wife and I did). The decision-making pressure should be lighter when you get to the point of choosing landscaping options for your new yard, but because our warm season is obviously so short in Saskatoon, its best to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later. 

The type of tree you plant in your front yard is a huge decision that is often underestimated, and should not be taken lightly as this choice can affect your home's value in the long term. If you're planning to stay in your home for many years to come, you'll want to be happy with your decision down the road. Once the tree you have chosen reaches maturity in your yard, it could take a massive project to rid yourself of it. So, its best to do your research prior to deciding on the type of tree you're going to plant. 

When making a decision on a tree, there are five things that should be considered:

Hardiness

Can the tree survive the Saskatoon winter?

Buying local is the best way to avoid a tree that will die due to harsh weather. Saskatoon nurseries would go out of business if they sold trees that didn't match their environment. This is great first step, because it narrows the choices significantly. There's no point in finding a tree you love if it can't survive in your yard.

Space

How much room do you have to work with? Will the tree block the sun?

The next logical step is eliminating very large trees from the list. If sunlight is important to you, choose a tree that will not completely shade your house. 

Root Systems

Will the tree's roots create plumbing or foundation problems in the future?

In the house I grew up in, I constantly had a tree root pushing up the floor of my bedroom. It was expensive to fix, and we had to do it more than once. Tree roots are also known to destroy underground plumbing and cause cracks in driveways. Best to ere on the side of caution and choose a tree with non-invasive roots.

Growing Habits

Does the tree shed? How much maintenance is required?

Is the tree susceptible to infestations of aphids (tiny, pear shape insects that suck plant sap)? How much maintenance will be required to keep the tree healthy and to clean up after it? How much work are you willing to do to have this tree in your yard? These are all good questions to ask. 

Visually Pleasing

Will the tree look nice in your yard?

Finally, do you like the way the tree looks? The tree may pass all the other requirements, but if you don't love it, its best to look elsewhere. Choose a tree that will add to the beauty of your yard, as you'll be looking at it every day for many years to come. 

My front yard is quite small, so that was definitely something I had to consider when doing my research. Through exploring the types of trees that are suitable for small yards, one tree in particular continually topped the list. This tree boasts amazing fall colours that range from orange, scarlet and burgundy, and in summer is a pretty red colour. It is fairly low maintenance. It will grow to a height of only 20 feet, and will spread 20 feet in width, making it a great choice as a mature tree for a small area. This tree, available at Dutch Growers in many different varieties, is the Amur Maple. In my mind, it is the clear winner for "Best Tree for a Small Front Yard" in Saskatoon. 

Inspiration for Documenting Baby's First Year

posted by Noël    |   June 16, 2014 13:38

It's hard to believe that in three short weeks I will have completed 9 months of being pregnant! It truly is unbelievable how quickly the time goes by and how much your body can change is such a short period of time. I've been taking selfies every other month, but haven't been as diligent as some ladies I know.  It's too bad really, but the thought of documenting my ever-expanding body wasn't super high on my priority list.  With that being said, I do want to make it a priority to document the first year of my little one's life.  After browsing for hours on Pinterest, here are a few of my favourite "baby's first year" photo collages.  They are in no particular order, but my favourites are the ones with mommy and baby. 

Mommy & Baby  

 

Personal Message & Image

 

For the Artist

 

Favourite Stuffed Animal

 

The Ultimate Combination

I can't wait to get creative with documenting my little one's first year! I think there are endless opportunities to make a project like this personal and unique to you and your baby. If you've seen or done a unique photo collage, share it with me in the comments :)

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8 Tips for a Greener Home

posted by Elle    |   June 10, 2014 16:08

You don't have to pay a bunch of money for new green technology or products. Going back to the basics and using traditional methods can make a huge difference in the health of your home! Looking for a new hobby? Try something that will benefit your household, save you money, and decrease negative impact on the environment. Implementing a few small changes will take a little bit of effort to start, but is so rewarding in the long run. And its easier than you think! 

 

Hang Your Laundry

 

 

This can be done year round, even in the harsh Saskatoon winter. In the summer, take advantage of the fresh scent your clothes and towels will take on when they are dried in the sun using a traditional clothes line. In the winter, use the dry heat provided by your furnace, and indoor hanging racks to allow your stuff to dry over night. You'll see a big difference in your power bill, and will be doing a lot of good for the environment!

 

Make Canning Your New Hobby

 

Stock up at the Saskatoon Farmers' Market, harvest from your own garden, or visit your favourite local producer, pick up some glass canning jars, and ask your Grandma for a tutorial. Or, get more information here. There's nothing better than local food, preserved in environmentally friendly containers! Glass jars are an awesome reusable food storage container for a variety of things. I even take them with me to the grocery store when buying dry goods that come in bulk, instead of using a bag. I think they look so pretty, too!

 

Pare Down Your Cleaning Products

 

This is a great opportunity to get back to the basics! Detoxify your home with simple ingredients that are super inexpensive and easy to come by! Baking soda, vinegar, and lemon can be used to create excellent multi-purpose, natural cleaners. For a more comprehensive look at the importance of ditching harsh chemicals, check out my previous blog post. It includes information on making your own cleaners, and also presents some great local Saskatoon options for purchasing pre-made natural products. 

 

Pick Up Knitting or Sewing

 

 
 

Having the ability to patch a hole, replace a button, switch up a hem, or make yourself a scarf is great for saving money and prolonging the life of your clothing. The less waste, the better, so extending the number of wears you get out of your jeans is a plus for a lot of reasons. Do you have a pair of bootcut jeans that are out of style? Take the legs in a bit for a more straight-leg or skinny look (tutorial here). Once the chilly months come back around, cozy handmade winter apparel can be customized to exactly the colour and style you want, gives you a lovely feeling of accomplishment, and makes a thoughtful gift! Its also a way to make sitting down in front of the TV feel more productive. 

 

Use The Ends of the Fridge

 

 

Don't throw away those random ingredients you have left before your next grocery run. If you are unsure what to make of those last bits, a frittata is an excellent, easy way to go. You can mix in any last meat, veggies, cheese, and herbs together with a dozen eggs in a deep frying pan, cover and let sit until cooked through. Super easy and super tasty! My favourite combination for a fritatta is finely chopped brussels sprouts, mushrooms, italian sausage, lots of rosemary and thyme, with a nice dose of feta on top. 

 

Grow Your Own Veggies

 

 

Depending on your resources and where you live, this can be as large or small a project as you choose. If you're a condo or apartment dweller, little pots of herbs or one tomato plant in a pot makes a difference and will bring you delight, I promise! Consider your time commitment and the space available, and you may find that a full-fledged garden out back is the way to go. Either way, you won't regret supplementing your diet with home grown fare.

 

Collect Rain Water

 

 

Keep your beautiful veggies hydrated and save money in the process! Utilize water run-off and set up a rain barrel. The water it collects is great for watering your garden, tending to your potted plants, or other outdoor projects. It can also be brought in to flush toilets if you're really into saving water!

 

Use Dishtowels and Rags

 

 
If you're trying to reduce household waste, refraining from using paper towel is a great place to start. Use a cloth alternative, toss it in the wash, and hang it to dry! Twisted Goods usually has cute cloth options! Evaluate your old clothes and towels for rag potential, and check out some tips here

If you have some other tried and true, simple methods of making your home more environmentally-friendly, let me know in the comments! I am always looking for new ideas, tips, and tricks.  

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