Tag Archives: Cathy James Freelance Writer

Our Living Room Reveal

25 Oct

It’s been a while since I displayed our living room! You know, ever since I became a crazy makeover wife.

It all started in the summer when I wanted a change of scenery in our home. Our white walls were enough to make anyone feel like they had been admitted. As opposed to switching around our decorations to accommodate the white walls, a friend suggested painting the walls. So we did.

I don’t have an actual ‘before’ photo as my camera decided to erase all contents from its memory card.

But you’ll remember how we decided on a colour:

Benjamin Moore Boardwalk:

Once we completed our paint job, it was time to put the room back together again.

Jamally has this beloved reclining chair that, although great, doesn’t match our room. I tried to put it in the corner:



But Jamally told me: “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”

Following a coffee table re-finishing job, new window treatments, and purchasing a rug that didn’t smell like the dog (for now), here’s our final product:



I do find the carpet a little matchy-matchy, but I think if a few accessories that ‘pop’ are brought into the room it will complement one another well.

New window treatments include Bamboo blinds and white curtains:


And for the corner, a vase with ‘sticks’ as Jamally likes to call it:


And a few personal touches, too. The coasters with a card written by my late aunt:



As well as a framed photo of our family’s old barn in Westport. The frame is made of actually wood from the barn. A present from our uncle.



And of course, the coffee table:


It has wheels on it and has worked out well considering we eat every meal in the living room. I just need to purchase new handles.

I know this isn’t a designer’s dream living room, but I’m proud that it’s now a warm, welcoming room. Also, we did this, which is also satisfying.

I’m sure come springtime I’ll be jonesing for another room makeover. But for now, I’ll enjoy my dinner on the couch.


30 Things to do When you Turn 30

24 Oct

A Grade 3 reading competition left me in second place behind a notorious book worm. We had to log the books  we read, and while I tried my best to crack open a book at all opportune times, I just couldn’t keep up with the leading quota.

More than 20 years later, my family knows my love for reading continues, and it was evident at last night’s birthday celebration for me.



My aunt got me the book, “30 Things to do When you Turn 30”. It’s a collection of essays from well-known contributors including Paige Davis, Timothy Ferriss and Amy Powell.

I’m really excited to crack open this book, and see what insight is provided.

Here are some chapter titles:

  • Create a Screw-Up Fund
  • Go Hug Somebody
  • Go Outside your Comfort Zone
  • Kick the Caffeine Habit (pardon?)

And yes, that’s a “Simply Thai” recipe book in the background! I also got a Church Cookbook and have been told to make the Tuna Casserole dish. Apparently turning 30 makes me a cooking machine. And I can’t wait to test out some new dishes.

Today’s Question: What advice would you give to someone turning 30?

Real Simple. Squash.

18 Oct

As a young(ish) married couple, you’d think our Saturday nights would consist of late nights out and plenty of socializing. Not exactly.

Last Saturday night we decided to hang out at home and Jamally headed to the store to run some errands. He returned home with the best present in the world.

Real Simple Magazine.

From filing junk drawers to 30 dinner recipes to a how-to on cutting squash, I was in love. I shrieked with glee each time I turned the page.

Cutting and preparing squash has always intimidated me, so when I read up on it, I decided to make it part of Monday night’s dinner.

Real Simple Magazine Recipe

I learned to cut, peel and pull out the squash’s membranes as well as roast it properly. And it’s cheap, too.

The menu included:

-Maple Pork Tenderloin

– White Bean Mashed Potatoes (drain full can of white beans; put it in bowl and microwave for three minutes; mashed it with fork until smooth; add two tbsp cottage cheese and 1 tbsp butter; mash; add 1-2 garlic cloves for taste).

– Butternut squash salad with mixed greens, blue cheese, red onion and homemade dressing.

It was amazing and I was proud of overcoming my squash fears.

Today’s Question: What food preparation fears do you have? Which ones have you overcome?

Geeks and Freaks–and Coffee Table Reveal

30 Aug

While sitting in front of the computer this morning, Jamally started to sing. Then he got up and did a little dance.

“I’m a nerd, and I love it,” he sang.

He proudly walked up to me in the kitchen to show me he’d downloaded a new podcast. It’s a podcast discussing the release of Madden 12.

Yes, a podcast about a football video game. For reals.

“They are saying the grass looks grassier in this version!” Jamally exclaimed.

“This is the crap you’re shutting me out with your headphones?” I remarked.

“I’m a nerd, and I love it,” he sing-songed back to me.

I rolled my eyes, sighed and then looked down.

I realized I couldn’t say much. I am, after all, sporting these today:


What’s that? You spotted our refinished coffee table?

You’re correct!

After 454, 645, 656 hours re-finishing the thing, it’s finally done. Except for the hardware.

Here’s the before:


Here’s the After:




I sanded down the wood, followed by using Minwax in Mahogany, followed by two coats of polyurethane. And many hours of drying time.

Is it the most original project in the world? No.

But I’m proud that I came up with an idea, followed through and was satisfied with the outcome.

Even better, I can now hide Jamally’s iPod inside the trunk. And maybe my socks, too.

Re-finishing Furniture Report

18 Aug

When I started to re-finish our blanket chest, I was sure it would take only a day. Perhaps two.

One week later, it’s still sitting in the kitchen, laughing at me each time I walk by.

It required cleaning, sanding, cleaning again, staining, drying, pulling off stuck on dog hair, top coating, drying, top coating again and drying.

Now I have to spray paint the hardware.

Then I’ll have to have a drink.

I spoke with my former boss at a function last night who shared his re-finishing story. He wanted to strip his patio of the old paint job, and figured he’d be done in a day. Four hours later, he had only completed the top railing.

I often visit the website, Better After (Warning: It’s addictive!), and was inspired by the re-finished hutches, lamps and bedrooms.

And then I worked on the blanket chest.

Re-finishing furniture is like a bad infomercial – it’s misleading. It’s not an easy job, and many times I figured the money I put into the products, plus my time, would have gotten us a brand new table. So hopefully the end result will be worth it, and my labour of love (and anger) will pay off. *Fake Smiles*

I hope to post its completion tomorrow.

Our Wedding Proposal Anniversary

21 Jul

Two years ago yesterday, Jamally asked me a life-changing question.

He asked me where he left his car keys.

No, wait, that was today.

On May 26, 2009, Tuxedo was born (he’s really taking over this blog, isn’t he?). Jamally’s co-worker’s dogs had pups, so we took them up on their offer to take one. We went to their place, and with four black dogs and two whites ones, we picked one of the black ones.

Cuddlers, unite!

Those next few weeks, we were excited about getting him and came up with the name associated with his colouring layout – Tuxedo. We were to get him the end of July.

On Monday, July 20, 2009, I walked home from work. I spotted a bouquet of flowers on the table. “Weird,” I thought. “Jamally made an effort, and on a Monday!”

Jamally poked his head around the corner, with a ridiculously huge smile on his face.

As per usual, I got suspicious with such a greeting. He came out from around the corner, holding Tux.

Tux was wearing a red ribbon around his neck.

The red ribbon was holding a ring.

Who Needs Pigeons as Messengers?

Jamally asked a question, and you can probably predict my answer.

He later joked he knew I couldn’t say no with a puppy in his hands.

Dogs with Jobs

He may be right, but it worked.

Today’s Question: What is the most romantic thing your partner has done for you?

Four Hour Body Diet Results

20 Jul

Well, we did it! We’re done the four-hour body diet.

And our results?

Jamally’s results were wild. In just under four weeks, he lost a total of eight inches around his chest, waist and hips.

He also lost 11.5 lb.

We did a “Before and After” shot of Jamally, and you can really notice a difference.

He wasn’t entirely convinced posting his shirtless photos on the blog was up his alley.

So I did the next best thing:


As I previously stated, my intent was not to lose weight, but to determine whether my headaches were caused by a food intolerance.

In my first week I really noticed a difference with my headaches, but the following three weeks was about normal for my headache frequency. The good news is I obviously don’t have any allergies to dairy or gluten: bring on the pancakes!

After four weeks of stuffing our faces with beans, meat, eggs and veggies, I know one thing:  I don’t want omelets with black beans for a while.

Though the diet was bland, here’s what we learned:

  • We had a starch addiction
  • You will survive a potluck dinner
  • Your stomach does feel better when you don’t stuff it with cheese and bread (sic: pizza)
  • You don’t need carbs, but rather protein to fill you up. Cooking up a couple of eggs will do much more for hunger than putting a couple of pieces of bread in the toaster.
  • I learned how to make a lot of new dishes and an amazing smoothie
  • That I do really love Ketchup Chips, and I missed them a lot.

Today’s Question: How have you changed your diet over time?