Quality If you attach the word ‘quality’ to something, what does that really mean?  It may be of limited quantity, it is probably more expensive than other similar items, and it is considered ‘better’ than the other items. It may be made of rare components, it may be made following a patented formula, and it probably isn’t easy to replicate exactly. All of which may well be true, but it gets murky when we try to define quality without being subjective. Even saying it is more expensive than other similar items carries an element of subjective decision-making. What is expensive to me may not be expensive to you. Knowing your personal definition of quality will help you save money when you are purchasing for your home. Or shopping for a new car, or getting a dress hemmed, or buying a backpack, or a sewing machine. The money saved will not necessarily be READ MORE

Blue ribbon for the best

What is ‘BEST’, anyway?

What is BEST anyway? If you have a question about almost anything, you can ask ‘Quora’. It’s an online platform for just that, asking questions. Someone will answer it. Probably. I’m one of the people who do the answering, my answers have been read 142,500 times. Which is pretty mindboggling…  One of the most frequent questions I see is ‘What is the best______ ( fill in the blanks)’. From sheets, to paint, to erasers, to hotel mattresses, to spoons, to places to stay in Katmandu, to — well you name, it. There is an unquenchable thirst for knowing what is the best.  I answer some of these. Not many because I get so tired of repeating myself.  But the other day someone in my circle asked me what the best something was and I had to stop. I explained it to her, and she went away. Not happy, particularly, but READ MORE

busy woman at A DESK

Instant Expert

Like most professions, mine has advances and “new” things come along every once in a while.  I try to keep up; I do fairly well, but I don’t think there have been ground-breaking discoveries in my profession in quite a while. When IKEA first came out, I was working in the design business in Calgary at a pretty high-end firm. IKEA flat-packs were almost laughed off the stage. A few years ago, one of the rooms in the biggest and best designer showcase in the U.S.  included a lot of IKEA. Instant expert = get rich quick? But with advances comes the ‘get rich quick’ schemes.  Not just in my field, either, — ‘Learn to be a six-figure life coach by spending a bunch of money here’. ‘Learn to be a gem identifier and make thousands of dollars a month, all for 6.99’. ‘Learn to be a __you-fill-in-the-blanks __ MASTER’ READ MORE

c to f convert

Heat, from under the heat dome, July 2021

How to beat the heat take 2. Well, who expected THAT little heat burst?  Every year I look forward to that ONE day where it gets to 40. I love it. And then the next day it goes down to ‘reasonable’. I can handle a lot of heat, but I saw so many people really struggling this time who obviously couldn’t handle it. I thought I’d add some to last column about heat and how to beat it. In particular, how to dress for it. ( I’d love to write a column about the dangers of living in air conditioning all summer, and how it really impedes our ability to stand even a little bit of heat… but that’s another day.) We all know how to dress for the cold. It’s time we all got smart about dressing in the heat. We’ve never had to before. Let’s take some education READ MORE

Hints for keeping cool, summer 2021

5 ways to feel cooler.  If I told you that the shirt you are wearing makes the temperature against your skin about 20 degrees higher than the already super-warm air around you, and was increasing your heart rate, and I could give you a shirt to wear that would decrease this temperature sensation, would you be interested? Or that a simple film would reduce the temperature in your room 20 degrees, would you be interested? .  1. Wear fabrics that are made of woven, not knit cloth. Sweaters are the most common knit and one of the reasons sweaters are so warm is because the knitting producing thick fabric of several layers. Thicker threads make a thicker sweater, fine threads make a thinner sweater. But it’s still a ‘sweater’. Your T-shirt is a sweater. Yes, it’s a thin one, but it’s still a sweater. This is the first, most effective READ MORE

stop being a student

Are you a student, or just avoiding doing the job?

For a while, early in my Decorating career, even though I’d taken and quite successfully passed a two-year course on decorating, I was convinced I had to take just one more course before I could call myself a full-service decorator. Invariably, during that course, I’d realize that another of my skills wasn’t top-notch, so I’d take a course in that. Or someone else’s method was slightly different, or newer, so I’d go after that… During which I’d realize that another of my skills……. You get the picture.  I was the best student. I bought the courses, the books, the online training seminars. I attended most of them, and I admit I actually finished few of them. Or if I did finish, I rarely used everything in the course. Ever.     I was being busy just so I could be busy. One day I stopped being a student and starting practicing my READ MORE

hobby mind map

You’re never too old for a hobby.

Did your mom ever say, “Well, if you’re bored, I’ll find something for you to do’? And the ‘something’ turned out to be folding laundry or looking after your brother, or the WORST one ever, weeding the garden? My mom did that, and I had to move quickly to get out from her laser-vision, but I found a solution early on. I had a ‘hobby’. If I was bored, or was just moping around, or was home sick for the day, I knew that my saving grace was to go dig out my hobby stuff. My hobby was sewing clothes for my Barbie dolls. I could spend hours designing them, finding fabric bits, going through the trial and error of making the creations. I could do it alone or with my best pal Darcea Robinson. If I was working on my hobby or reading, I was off-limits for the Mom-delegated READ MORE


Noise. Period

I have a neighbour with a wind chime. It’s so loud it wakes me up in the night. I mentioned it to a friend the other day, and she said, ‘Oh, you’ll get used to it’. I wondered about that, and I also wondered why I should have to get used to it. But that’s another issue.  In all the discussions I’ve read lately about wellness living, I don’t think I’ve read once about noise and the effect it has on wellness. So I started to do some digging.   First of all, let’s define noise. I think it’s rather like weeds. Weeds are plants growing where you don’t want them to grow. Noise, to me, is sound where it’s not wanted.  Snoring is noise. I think most of us agree on that. And loud trucks are noise. And thunderous bass in a car stereo driving by is noise to most READ MORE

floor plan

Floor plan — first step to a wellness-centered home.

 A floor plan will help you set up your space, so you are best served by it so that it supports you and your family. If you are fighting your home, if you are constantly in a state of upheaval, or clutter, or finding that you are ‘just tidying up a bit’ more than once a week, your home is not working FOR you. You are trying to fit your home, rather than have it fit YOU. This means that you may be using your home, or spaces within your home in ways that just don’t make sense in your lifestyle, in ways that don’t support you. Huh? Yup, supports YOU.  Supports You If your home is not your support system, if it doesn’t give you comfort, peace, and a place for healing, a place to regroup, and if it’s not a place of inspiration, you are not using your READ MORE

rolled duvet

Duvets: silk, bamboo and wool.

I’ve written two columns on down duvets. (Duvets 101 and Down) which are still valid today with respect to how fill is measured, the advantages of down, pricing, cleaning… all that good stuff. But in the last few years, other fillers have become more available which are giving down a real run for the money in comparison to warmth and loft. So, it’s time for some new info. In case, like me, you found yourself looking at a wall of duvets and didn’t know what was up with  bamboo, silk or wool. I’m not going to go into synthetics. That’s an entirely different column. Maybe next month. A bit about the stitching of the duvets. Most duvets we have are stitched through from the top to the bottom, in both directions, across the duvet. You know this is where you first see that fill is clumping and lumping up in READ MORE