Little Bath Reno – Part 1

Our home is as old as I am. Unfortunately, she doesn’t show her age as well as I do. She’s a little more grey-haired and creaky-boned than a gal her age should be! She’s practical – ever practical – and does a fantastic job of keeping the elements off our heads (usually), but she seems to need a makeover rather desperately. She’s holding on to some elements of the 80s and she’s been reluctant to give them up (and not the good parts of the 80s like Cabbage Patch Kids or Sesame Street or side ponytails or neon leggings and bodysuits with leg warmers and headbands!) I really need to invest in some good wallpaper stripper – those borders and painted ceilings make me cringe.

When we moved into our home in late 2011/early 2012 we knew we would have some work cut out for us. We had grandiose plans of methodically taking our time and renovating the home on a shoestring budget, transforming the wrinkles and age spots into a comfortable modern, rustic nest. Unfortunately, the budget went to unplanned expenses and methodically became slowly became stalled. We’ve put paint on a few of the walls and my husband started to demo the second bathroom when we were at risk of falling through the floor due to the water damage caused by 30+ years of slow leakage. We’ve replaced hot water tanks, appliances, and our HVAC units. We’ve dealt with failing sump pumps, lawnmower expenses, and budget roof repairs. The house was livable, but not a thing like we envisioned.

After a year of my nagging, I believe Kevin got tired of the pressure regarding the bathroom. Before Christmas, he hired a contractor we know to come in and do the job for us. I am convinced this was a wise decision as the washroom was in worse shape than we realised when we started knocking tiles off the wall. Even though my wallet cries a little every time we make another decision, the overall project will be fabulous when it’s done!

I don’t think the bathroom will have quite the rustic charm I was initially hoping for, but every time I pop my head in to answer a question, I’m blown away by the transformation! No more mould-stained, crumbling and decrepit shower. No more cracked and stained vanity sink. No more ugly lighting. It will be a bright and clean usable space.

Source List:

*Funny story about the paint, I wanted to use the 2019 colour of the year – Blueprint – but I was vetoed. It doesn’t happen often when it comes to the design of a project, but he was having none of it. So I looked at a bunch of swatches in store and didn’t buy a sample can and made my selection. I hemmed and hawed over a ton of paint chips and, wanting to avoid “just grey” again, narrowed it down to two choices – Oceanic Climate or Half Sea Fog. I chose Oceanic Climate – just a shade lighter than Half Sea Fog – on the same sample strip. Then somehow we’re paying at the cash and I notice that it says Half Sea Fog on the can, but can’t remember what I asked for! (Was it my fault? Was it his fault? Did I pass the chip the wrong way? Am I going crazy? Regardless, I am living with the mistake… but not loving it.)

Overall, we’re thrilled with the change in the room. The shower is bigger and brighter (no more dark-tiled hole in the corner) and the finishes are more modern as well. The floors have been grouted today and the plumber is coming on Friday. The finishing touches are going into place this week. Soon it will be THE nicest room in our house and we’ll have two toilets again – which is great because one bathroom was getting rough!

Eco-Crushin’

I am the first to admit that we are not the eco-friendliest family on the planet.  Convenience will often win in the battle against conscience.  I’m notoriously bad at remembering my reusable straws.  My kids still grab paper towel way more often than a rag or napkin.  Guilt aside, we have made little changes to improve our footprints.  This is a (very) short list of some of the eco-happy products that I’m crushing on – they were small swaps that hopefully have an impact for the greater good.

1.  Beeswax Wraps {sub for plastic wrap}

A friend first told me about these a few years ago and I was reluctant to get on board.  Last year, I finally bit the bullet and invested in a sample pack from Mind Your Bees Wraps, based in Hamilton.  Her patterns were pretty (it shouldn’t make a difference, but I’m vain, okay?!)  I fell in love. 

At a vendor event I help organize every November, we invited an even more local maker, The Tacky Bee, who also uses salvaged materials as her wrap base – even better!  I bought a few of her sample packs as well and gifted many of them away.


From Mind Your Bees Wraps

In my recent basement purge, I found some cotton fabrics I will never use for sewing (because sewing is not one of my skill sets.) We’ll be stopping at our honey producing friends in Cookstown this weekend, Dickey Bee Honey, to pick up some beeswax and I have grand plans to make my own set – I need a bigger one for casserole dishes and the like.   There are a ton of tutorials available online if you want to attempt to DIY.   These are an easy swap for saran and I found half a grapefruit lost to the No Man’s Land at the back of the fridge the other day – it had to have been in there a few weeks and was as juicy and delicious as the day it went it.  Even J has started to reach for the wraps when he’s helping in the kitchen.

Easy to clean without harsh chemicals, no plastic waste, biodegradable when it’s life-cycle is done, and pretty enough to Insta… why wouldn’t you make the switch?

Shop Local:  Mind Your BeesThe Tacky Bee, Dickey Bee Honey

2.  Cloth Menstrual Pads {sub for tampons and/or disposable pads and pantyliners}

Women have been padding their panties with strips of cloth since the age of dinosaurs.  Our grandmas and great-grandmas are all familiar with bulky, eco-friendly options for dealing with Aunt Flo when she shows up with a vengeance.   Disposable pads were created back in the 1880s, but the industry grew by leaps and bounds in the 1980s – much to the sorrow of our landfills – and our bodies.

There are many alternatives to disposable pads and (oft-bemoaned) tampons.  My first switch to a planet-happy solution was actually a cup – and I hated it. I didn’t make any more leaps until someone suggested I might have less feminine issues if I trashed the synthetic disposables.  I found some organic, natural, biodegradable options on Well.ca and they were fine.  I didn’t love them, but yes, my period was a bit happier.


5 Small Pads from HannahPad

Finally, I bit the bullet and invested in a set of reusable cloth pads from HannahPad.  Once I got over the ick-factor, I loved them.  I mean… women have been doing this for centuries, but these are so comfortable and better for the planet.   (I mean, as comfortable as having to wear any kind of pad, amiright?)

I also found a local supplier at a vendor event who sews her own.  Garden of Eden is a Canadian company (yay!) with cute print options and her pads (and nursing pads) are very well constructed.  She’s also very comfortable with discussing periods with total strangers.

I’ve been thrilled with both suppliers.  During each cycle, after use I rinse the pads and then soak until wash day.  I use some probiotic soap to help with stubborn stains, and then just wash as usual.  The dryer is not recommended, but I buck convention and throw them in for convenience sake.  For panty liners, I just wash with my usual laundry. 

It’s a big upfront cost if you’re comparing it to a single cycle supply of pads or tampons – think about investing in one or two at a time – and make sure your happy with the brand you’re using!

Shop Local:  Garden of Eden Reusables, HannahPad

3.  Mesh Produce Bags {Sub for plastic produce bags}

I have an endless supply of reusable shopping totes.  It’s a little ridiculous.  I could probably hand them out to people in line at the grocery store and still have enough bags left for my own haul.   My problem is that I forget to bring them, but I feel guilty using plastic, so I end up buying more.  I’m hanging my head in shame.     The workaround to this is to empty them and leave them by my keys or shoes or purse… and store them in the car for next time around. 

I have some favourite bags.  I bought them online years ago when this was starting to be strongly encouraged.  They’re foldable to tuck into your purse,  they’re lightweight, they wash amazing, and they are so amazingly strong.   If I could find more of this particular brand, I would donate all the rest and use them forever.

So I’ve cultivated a good shopping habit… but the produce department bothered me.   I found some President’s Choice mesh bags inexpensively on Amazon and as long as I remember to tuck them away (or not away as the case may be), I’m golden for picking the plumpest produce and not having to pay for extra weight.  These are so light and much like their above-mentioned cousins, easy to wash.  Super convenient without another plastic bag to worry about.   Even better, more and more makers are providing local options to source your own!   If you’re anywhere near me, Fresh Off The Line has some cute ones!  Now if only we could regularly find cucumber not surrounded in shrink wrap…

Shop Local:  Fresh Off the Line

What are the little substitutes you’ve embraced that make your home a little more eco-friendly?  We’ve also subbed harsh scented candles (i.e. BBW) for locally made, naturally fragranced ones.  We reuse. We recycle.  I shop second hand first, especially for the boys.  Are you crushing on any earth-friendly, eco-happy changes or products?  Feel free to share!