Thoughts on blog monetization in Canada

My mind is still working away from last Saturday and the conversation of monetizing blogs. It's a hot topic and there are a lot of varying opinions out there. For the evening read, here are two posts I really like that I think pose two unique views:  Is your Blog the Show or the Commercial and On Privilege and "Selling Out".

At BlogPodium Nicole's keynote talk was perfect - it gave a great insight into the different ways that a blogger can make some money from blogging. What I really loved was that Nicole shared that she too was struggling to find a balance with sponsored posts - asking the audience what they felt the appropriate number of sponsored posts in a month was. After Nicole we had the panel of Canadian contributors (myself included) that offered insight into the Canadian Blogging world and monetization.

Although I think the panel touched on a lot info for the new bloggers (like getting product in kind, what bloggers charge for advertising) I'm not sure the insights from the panel were deep enough well established bloggers who really want to hear how to make a living from their blogging. For that, I've written some thoughts.

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kitchen progress

Aubrey took down the upper cabinets! We posted the cabinets on Craigslist and found someone that just wanted to buy the uppers. So much better than seeing them go to the dump. Baby steps!

Tivoli Audio

One thing I'm really looking forward to is "accessorizing" the new kitchen. One thing that is on my wish list  is a Tivoli radio that I heard about from Lesley (@smidgeboxdesign). Do you have a radio in your kitchen? I think it may be quite nice to put some classical on very softly at night, or listen to conversations on the CBC. Anyhow, just a little product love. xo Lindsay

lost in a sea of boxes + selling my art

Excuse the radio silence today. I'm lost in a sea of boxes as we pack up the kitchen to prepare for demo. I'm also lost in a sea of laundry as I pack to move into my Mom's house with Oscar. (While Aubrey stays here to renovate) I've closed my shop for a few weeks which has relieved some of the pressure. I hate closing my shop but I just needed to unplug for a bit.

As I'm running around like a crazy person, I've forgotten to mention that I'm thinking of selling the huge piece of art that painted for our living room. It's 40" x 40" and although I'm slightly attached to it, it's huge, and I would love it to be in a home where someone loves it and can enjoy. I just have a really hard time staring at my own artwork. Shoot me an e-mail to lindsaystephenson[at] if you're interested. Sadly, I can't ship this lovely so either pick up from my house in Toronto or I could have it couriered outside of the city. xo Linds

Update: Ok, I got a crazy amount of e-mails. I'm not sure why I didn't just post the price in the post. Nothing secretive about it ... I'm selling it for $500 which I appreciate is out of budget for some but based on the size I think it's pretty fairly priced. xo

Thirty Before 30 progress

I thought it would be fun to share the progress I've made on my Thirty Before 30 list since I posted it in mid-March:

#1 - This may be the one I'm most proud of, which tells you just how much of a disaster our garage had become! It still gets messy - especially with all the saw-related work we've been doing in there lately - but I consider it a success that we know where things are and can actually reach them :)

#19 - I joined Heather and Carol's blogger book club and participated in the first book review at the end of April. And I recently finished the second book, which Carol will be reviewing on her blog next week. One of the reasons I wanted to join  a book club was to get back into reading for pleasure and I'm happy to say that's exactly what's happened (plus, it's always interesting to hear what other people think of a book you've just read). It even prompted me to finally get a library card (I'm currently reading Bernhard Schlink's The Reader) and I'm looking forward to starting the next book club selection after Carol's review.

#11 - The ceilings in all three upstairs bedrooms drove me crazy. The former owners went gaga for ceiling hooks, so there were holes, hooks (including a large, red one directly above my side of the bed) and just your general marks on the ceilings in all three rooms. Adam patched and painted each one before we installed new flooring and it's amazing how much it freshens things up!

#5 - We finished the closet in the nursery last week (there was a hole in the original floor that we needed to repair before we could install new stuff), which means the hardwood floors in all three bedrooms are officially done! We still need to tackle the hallway, but we're waiting to reno the stairs first (a definite post-baby project). The plan is to replace part of the stairs and widen a doorway, which will make the upstairs hallway visible from downstairs. In other words, it's more important for the flooring in the hallway to match the flooring downstairs (which we also plan to replace) than in the bedrooms (though obviously we want it to all be cohesive).

Fingers crossed, #9 and #22 should happen in a couple of weeks, and I'm making progress on #8, #14 and #26 (and technically #15, too). I'm doing pretty well with #12, but I definitely need to revisit #20 and #4 (this has been a lifelong battle, especially because I've yet to be punished for my laziness with cavities, knock on wood). And I can't wait to tackle #18 when the weather warms up - I already have a colour in mind :)

My First Love

So, today, this post has absolutely nothing to do with furniture or thrifting or my latest find. It has nothing to do with the newest trend or painting technique. 

This post, today, has EVERYTHING to do with my HEART and my PASSION for life and why I started sharing it with you. Right here. 

You see, over four years ago I started simply painting furniture. That was it. Just painting. Nothing more, nothing less. I found out that "just painting" was more than that for me. It was an outlet. It was a way to express my creative passion and give meaning to everything I felt inside.

I remember the first time. The first time I put paintbrush to wood. It was like heaven. There were literally fireworks going off inside my brain. An explosion of thoughts, ideas and joy began to overwhelm me and I felt a newness. I felt a wholeness I hadn't felt in a while. 

You see, while painting and using my creative talents was great, the part that thrilled me the most was that I literally felt a new connection with my Creator, God. 

I know it may sound corny or weird but it is my testimony for my business. I truly know that my creative talents are a gift from Him. In the beginning of the business my life, personal and spiritual, was in turmoil. Down. Right. Crazy. Quite honestly. 

At that time, RHI was Me & My House (inspired by Joshua 24:15). For me, it was a declaration that each and every part of our lives, including my business, would serve God. No matter what life looked like. No matter the circumstance. 

When I had the idea to start turning trash into treasure and refinishing vintage and antique pieces of furniture I looked forward to it with fervor. Not only was it fulfilling to see the finished product but the process was all the more exciting. Each night I would 'sneak' out to our garage, turn on my worship music, sing, pray and spend some precious time with the Lord. It was absolutely amazing. And while I thought that I was the one doing the work, it was indeed God who was doing a "work" in me. 

It took me a few months to realize it but I soon noticed a change in my life and my heart in so many areas. I continued to look forward to my times in the garage and began receiving requests for custom work and participation in shows. My relationship with my Father and my understanding for who He created me to be had reached new levels and my business was growing. Life was fresh again. 

In the middle of it all I changed the name of my biz from Me & My House to Restoration House Interiors. Why? I really felt as though, just as I was restoring furniture, God had and continues to restore ME. He is my breath. My life. My beginning. My end. My love. I can honestly say today (and I SO wasn't here a few years ago) that I LOVE Him more than ever before and that I LOVE ME more than ever before.  I love who He created me to be and all the wonderful gifts I have to be a blessing to those who come into my life for a lifetime or a season. 

I know all of that sounds amazing but there was one problem I had in all of that. I began to focus more on the PRODUCT than the PROCESS.

I focused more on the next big show more than the next life I could bless. I focused more on the money I could make than the money I could give.  I needed to get back to my first love. 

Thankfully, I have. And while every now and then I am reminded why I started all of this anyhow, I absolutely love what I do and what God has done for me and through me via Restoration House Interiors. 

What have I learned so far? 

Never lose focus. 

Never move your priorities to suit someone else's.

 Always listen to the small voice in your heart (God put it there, He's called the Holy Spirit).

Never let the PRODUCT overshadow the PROCESS.

Loving this life, (it is the only one I've got after all!)

Picking Handles

We're back to picking elements for the kitchen as we get closer to the demo date. We're now deciding on cabinetry hardware.

I think hardware is a huge factor in determining the style of your kitchen.  Because of how much I think it affects the look of the room, and how much touching it gets - it is one of the areas that I would consider splurging on. The thing is - once you've drilled those holes for the hardware, you're not going to do it over again, so I wanted to make sure that we picked the right handles. I'm staying away from Ikea accessories so that our kitchen doesn't look like it came out of a catalogue. In fact the only Ikea thing in our kitchen will be the cabinetry.

I've realized there is a lot of choice whe picking hardware. Finish. Size. Style. The first thing I did was I studied what my Mom had, because I really love her kitchen. (See the pictures above that I snapped when visiting last) Nothing wrong from studying what others have done. ;)

The first decision was the style of handle we would go with. My Mom has the exact same handles on the uppers as the lower cabinetry - which I love. Many people go for "knobs" on the uppers but I find them too small. So I knew right away that I wanted handles.

I'm gravitating to the finish of "polished nickle" as there is a beautiful warmth to the finish compared to chrome that feels a bit too cold and modern for me. This finish is a bit harder to find in a big box store so I headed to Upper Canada Hardware here in Toronto. Although many of you recommended buying online, I really need to hold something in my hand to see how it feels, to see the finish. So off to the specialty shop I went.

Instantly I fell for the Studio line Hickory Hardware that I've shown above. Isn't it gorgeous? I ordered samples and when they arrived I placed it on the Ikea cabinet door I carry around with me....

Sold. LOVE it!!! Isn't it gorgeous? It totally makes the cabinet door look like it's custom. We've decided to go for this line, next up is figuring out how many handles we need and what sizes. :-) Prices for the hardware varies but is approximately $8 -$14 as the size goes up. For my USA readers I've seen the prices as low as $6.50 but in Canada we're a bit more expensive.

Happy Birthday, Oscar

Two years ago, I became a Mom -  today is Oscar's second birthday. Although there are a lot of memories and emotions that could be documented, one of my favourite memories was seeing Aubrey with Oscar minutes after his birth.

A few days before Oscar's arrival Aubrey had casually said in passing that he had never changed a diaper. Perhaps he was nervous, or just commenting that he'd have to learn. But minutes after his birth I watched Aubrey from across the room putting a diaper on our little boy. I knew right there that we'd just figure it out. And since that moment Aub and I have been figuring things out together.  So today I will be celebrating my sweet little boy that made Aubrey and I parents. xo Linds

What do you think of knock offs?

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend - especially if it was a long one! I'm logging more hours than usual at my day job this week (and it's only Tuesday!), but I wanted to share a couple of purchases I made for the nursery over the weekend.

I can't wait to show you the vintage globe I found - it's so cute!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to purchase an Eames-style rocker rather than the real thing. For me, it was a matter of cost, since my husband and I don't see eye-to-eye on the value of style (he's more of a function kind of guy).

Almost immediately after placing my order, I came across this article about the real cost of replicas. My husband is a musician, so we understand first-hand the importance of paying for original, authentic work, whether it be music, art, literature or furnishings. I agree that authentic designs are investment pieces, and if I'm prepared to spend $500 on an iPad, why wouldn't I spend $500 on a chair that will last much, much longer?

But let's be honest, I don't actually have $1,000 to spend on an iPad and a chair (at least not $1,000 that wouldn't arguably be better spent in a variety of other ways), and I'm not sure that I want or need all my furniture to last for generations. The article calls it a "disposable attitude", but I'd argue that people's tastes and needs also change over time. Knock offs and replicas are one way to enjoy an athestic without committing to it for the longhaul. Is that always a bad thing?

And, is buying a knock-off Eames (the original designers passed away decades ago) the same thing as buying a replica of a piece designed by someone who's still in business? I have a feeling I don't know enough about how the design industry works to answer this question and my experience with small business tells me that people's perceptions are often very different from reality (in other words, just because a business sells an expensive product, it doesn't mean the business owner is swimming in profits).

I can argue in circles with myself on the issue, but I think what really rubbed me the wrong way about this article was the message that if you can't afford the original, you should go without (they advocate buying original designs in your price range instead). Which implies that some styles and asthetics should only be enjoyed by certain economic classes. Regardless of whether you'd prefer an original, knock offs and replicas make high style accessible. Could it be that's exactly what some people don't like about them?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Where do you stand on the knock off debate?


If you were at BlogPodium, you'll know I'm pretty open with sharing information about my blog, what I charge, how I monetize, whether you should always charge (I don't think you should) and so on. I don't really talk about it much on my blog because I don't know if you want to know that kind of stuff. If you do have questions, let me know. For example, how do companies find me to do product sponsorship? A lot of the time I'm reaching out to them. So there is a lot of work that goes into the brand + blogger connection. Anyhow, just throwing it out there that if you have any questions that didn't get addressed at the panel, let me know! (Either by commenting below, or you can shoot me an e-mail)  xo Linds

Photo via Mango Studios

BlogPodium wrap up....

For the past five months Jen and I have been planning our second BlogPodium and Saturday was the big day. :) This event was twice the size of our first event, and quadruple the amount of planning. The topic of this event was "The Business of Blogging" There was a panel discussion, keynote speech from Nicole from Making it Lovely, and a Vendor Meet & Greet after the event.

This time I was actually on the panel. Being on the panel was a bit funny for me as I'm by no means an expert on blogging - I actually profit very little from my blog, and I actually don't intend on making my blog my business. However I do profit enough to make my blogging worthwhile and I see huge value in having a blog. I think where I come into the discussion is that I'm also a business owner, and I know that when my product is featured on the right blog, it directly affects sales. So I know the connection of blogger + brands is a poweful relationship.

I've been enjoying reading through the twitter feed to see how people liked the event. (Which made me smile) Here are some photos from the event but you can see more on the BlogPodium Flickr site or check out Mango Studios for all of the AWESOME photobooth shots!! They are so hilarious!

And now, Aubrey and I gear up for the kitchen demo that starts this week. Because we're crazy like that.

xo Lindsay

what didn't get blogged about...

Here is what didn't get blogged about this week!
  • Last weekend was the busiest weekend in Penny Paper Co. history. Photos of Aubrey and Oscar helping me out above.
  • BlogPodium is tomorrow! Follow along on twitter as people tweet from the event #BlogPodium
  • This was a nice interview with Jennifer over on Style at Home's blog.
  • I'm going for dinner with Nicole, Jen and out of town bloggers tonight.
  • I tried this last night and my face feels wonderful. I love home made beauty products. Do you have any favourites?
  • Some items arrived for the kitchen that I'm SO EXCITED about. Like I may have squealed in delight when I got them. They were also gifts, so I felt really, really special this week. I'll share more soon!
I'm going to crash after Saturday. Like full out, face plant into my bed, and not wake up for a few days.
Have a lovely, lovely weekend. xo Linds

Trim it out

Thanks for all your answers to my empty frame question - it's nice to know I'm not alone! I actually ordered a few photos yesterday, so those frames won't be empty for long.

To close out the week, I thought I'd share one more project from our master bedroom. Remember the bedside tables I bought at a yard sale last year?

I painted them and replaced the hardware and they lived in our bedroom like this until last week.

{painted with new hardware}
I had always planned to "finish" the nightstands by trimming out the bottom, but never got around to it. So when we ripped our bedroom apart to install the new flooring and baseboard, it seemed like the perfect time to tackle the nightstands too (what's one more project, right?).

The "gap" I wanted to cover was about 2" high. Unfortunately I couldn't find any matching trim, so we bought a piece of chair rail and trimmed off the excess (about 1/8") with our table saw. Then we used our miter saw to cut three pieces to length (two pieces for the sides and one for the front), making angled cuts for the corners. I used finish nails to attach the pieces to the nightstand, then caulked the seams and painted everything to finish it off. 

{with new trim}

{don't mind the gap: old house = uneven floors}

MUCH better, no? While I'm loving the new trim, I'm thinking about switching up the hardware. I spotted some ceramic knobs in a gorgeous coral colour that I can't stop thinking about, so I'm not calling this an "after" yet.

I hope everyone has a great weekend - and a great Memorial Day Weekend if you're in the US!

New Love & Time Management

Hi there...just a quick (well, at least extremely efficient) post to let you know that I am not dead but yet ALIVE and well over here. 

I am learning a lot about business and how I want to run mine. The past few weeks have been fast and furious! My family's personal life and schedule seem to be calming down and I finally feel like I am getting a handle on things in relation to managing house, home (family) and Restoration House. 

It's crazy...sometimes. This is my life. I am so blessed to have a supportive hubby, friends and all of you to support me, motivate me , and send encouraging words along the way. 

I've been working my bottom off to prep more pieces for my space at The Modern Cottage Company Vintage Market and a couple of shows coming up in the future. It's time to start stock piling (sounds so much like HOARDING but we all know it's not if it's furniture, right?)

I always find myself in a hard spot when trying to decide on a specific theme or design concept when putting my spaces together either for the store or for shows. I just love so many different styles, colors, textures, eras...

So, this week I am focusing on writing a bit more. I'll be sharing a tutorial-ish with you all next week and sharing more photos of my space at The Modern Cottage.

Until then, enjoy the great (extreme sarcasm) photos below. Forgive me for the poor quality. I was in such a rush to get down to the shoppe last night that I forgot my real camera and well, you guessed it....only had my phone. Sooo, the handy dandy camera phone wasn't SO DANDY.

I attempted to doctor the photos up in Photobucket (PB)...kinda falling in love with PB, BTW. 

Union Jack Coffee Table with accessories...still merchandising this spot but think it's coming together nicely. 

In case you were wondering what my NEW LOVE's this lady. Down there...I'll post more pics of her details in a couple of days.

New the detail on the drawers and the handles are to die for. Finished this in a sky blue and detailed in AS Old White.

 Until next time, 

Linking up with:
Miss Mustard Seed
Shabby Creek Cottage
French Country Cottage
Chic on a Shoestring

Bathroom Redo for Under $50!

Do you ever notice those billboards with the beautiful juicy looking steak with perfect grill marks on them, yet when you get to the restaurant the item on your plate resembles a chewed up, flattened hamburger patty that an anorexic dog wouldn't touch?

I get these visions of projects to do in my head sometime.
Perfect grill marks.
Them we dive in and hope we'll have a juicy steak at the end...

I love it when your steak comes out perfect.
Maybe even better than expected.

All thanks to Derek on this one.
I told him my vision and he made it happen.

We were able to do about 75% off the planks with the leftover cuts from our living room redo.
The wood on the shelf was from the dumpster when my sisters house was built.

The paint was also from the living room redo.
It's Alabaster (color from sw) in Behr paint from HD.

The corbels are from HD.
They were our biggest expense.
Bringing our total redo cost to around $35-$40 buckaroos.

I'm cool with redo prices like that.
That's my idea of doing it cheaper;-)

The shower curtain is a drop cloth.
I decided to raise the shower curtain bar and that was the only fabric I had that was long enough to do the job.
I'm kinda diggn' it.

Now if only we could actually keep the bathroom door open to enjoy the view.
That must wait until our 1 year old learns that the toilet is not his own oversize sippy cup.


peaceful room

Happy Thursday. Just a scene from the house today. Dust sparkles on the mirror, fresh cut lilacs, my glasses that I'm wearing a lot these days because my eyes are feeling very tiered. It's a bit chaotic around here, but my bedroom always feels peaceful. I think the bedroom should have little clutter. As a teenager that wasn't the case - I could fall asleep with piles of laundry around me. Funny how we change over time. Anyways, we're gearing up for a busy weekend, so just some small, short posts for now. xoxo Linds

Ps., It's an IKEA week over in our house. Ikea posted a link to our Ikea Rast hack over on the their Facebook page. Thank you for the love.

a roundup of my favourite projects....

Awhile back I redesigned my blog layout ever so slightly. I'm still not 100% content with the look, but I've come to realize that I don't think I ever will be. As a creative I get a little nutty when it comes to "tweaking" things. In my old blog design I had a sidebar feature that linked to some of my favourite posts. That list keeps on growing, so I've decided to create a new page. Visit the page and click on any of the images to visit that project.

I hope these inspire you! xo Linds

Would you hang an empty frame?

Thank you so much for all your sweet comments about our master bedroom yesterday!

I couldn't resist making a few tweaks to the room last night - the empty wall above my bedside table was driving me crazy and I have a pile of picture frames in the nursery that I need to deal with before we can install baseboard in there. So I picked out a few frames, cut templates out of some old flyers and played around with the arrangement until I found something I liked.

After spraypainting all three frames black, up they went.

{step 1: hang the frames, step 2: fill them}
The round frame has some really pretty raised texture that I meant to capture in a close-up - oops. I'm also planning to add another, smaller silver frame to the bedside table. When I asked Adam what he thought, he said the round frame looked weird (apparently he didn't notice the frame below it was also empty). I explained that both frames will eventually have photos in them and he seemed happy enough. I already have a few photos in mind, and I'm hoping the empty frames on the wall will be the kick in the butt I need to actually have them printed.

Have you put up an empty frame before, or do you wait until you have something to fill it with?

Sponsored: Ikea in the palm of your hand

Ikea contacted me to let me know about their new Ikea app and asked if I would be interested in trying it. As my Dad would have said "Do Pigs like Mud?" (We have weird sayings in our family)  99% of my DIY projects around here use Ikea - my Ikea Rast Hack, Ikea Kitchen bench projectDIY Desk that uses Ikea cabinets, my Sarah Richardson inspired frame project and my easy keepsake art trick that I do with their frames. And recently, Aubrey and I are in an out of Ikea a lot lately as we're ordering our kitchen cabinets through Ikea.

Before I get into the app - I'm not sure about you, but I shop at Ikea in 2 ways. There is the "Let's go and browse" visit, when you want to take your time, be inspired and even just linger in the market place seeing what is new. And then there is the "I'm on a mission" shopping trip - where being prepared and organized is key in making it a successful trip.

Read more about how this changes my shopping after the jump.
Read more »

Living Room Re-dressing

I used to snicker covertly into my balled up fist when I heard that someone had redecorated again.

I am eating my snickers in the same manner as some eat crow.

(As any normal person tends to do when they refuse to believe they might have a problem....)
I do have a good excuse!

I am addicted to moving stuff around.
I paint furniture and resell it.
I paint signs and sell them.

It's only natural that they make their way into my living room for a brief time.
Like a year or two.
They must acclimate themselves to a normal family lifestyle you know.
One can't send an inanimate object off into the wild unknown with no training.

So I train them.
I display them.
I change things.
With no guilt whatsoever.
It's wonderful.
Snicker and snort all you want.

Please excuse the messy writing on the chalkboard.
 I needed that reminder too and didn't waste time making it pretty.

The Christ Is sign was all for me though and won't be going anywhere.
Some reminders need to stay put.

I'm painting.
Would you care to see the reveal?

weekend photos

This past weekend was really lovely. It was a long weekend here in Canada, which meant for cottages, BBQ's and parties. I had some time away from the computer that I think I desperately needed - and now I'm craving it a little but more. :) Anyhow, here are some photos from the weekend:

[Photo 1]. Neighbours hosted a laneway party/bbq and had a bouncy castle. Oscar's face says it all.

[Photo 3-4] We drove up to the cottage to get the docks into the water. It takes a lot of muscle to do it - thankfully my brother and Aubrey rallied together to get it done. It was a hard weekend as Dad was absent but seeing the joy of the cottage through Oscar's eyes made me realize we have a lot of happy memories to come.

[Photo 2] At night Aubrey and I curled up on the couch at the cottage and snuck some bowls of ice cream, , read books, (Aubrey on his Kobo) and listening to the loons on the water.

Just a lot of happy memories this weekend, seeing excitement and new things through Oscar's eyes. xo Linds

Master bedroom update

I hope all my Canadian readers had a great long weekend! We couldn't have asked for better weather here (any Maritimer will tell you that four solid days of sunshine and hot weather in May is a pretty special treat) and we took full advantage, getting in some yard work (we even picked up a couple of new shrubs yesterday), plenty of walks with the dog, and a daily dose of ice cream (my one, constant pregnancy craving so far).

Unfortunately we had to spend some time indoors; on Sunday we installed baseboard and quarter round in our master bedroom and yesterday I painted the new trim and we put our bedroom back together. Before I get to the progress pics, let's take a moment to remember what the room looked like when we first moved in:

Believe it or not, the camera is being overly kind here - this room was all textured walls, beaten up trim and gross carpet. We painstakingly removed the texture, painted the walls, windows, trim and ceiling, refurbished the closet doors (which we found in the garage) with paint and new glass knobs, bought a new, solid pine door that we stained and fitted with an ORB doorknob, ripped up the carpet and installed new hardwood, and installed new baseboard and plinth blocks (check out the bottoms of the door frames).

There are still lots of decorating changes I'd like to make - more art on the walls, bringing in new/different accessories, new bedding, maybe adding a headboard? - but let's get to the photos shall we?

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