31 October 2011

All Hallows Eve Spooktacular!

Mwah - Ha - Ha - Ha - Ha !!!!

Yeah, that's my best evil laugh.  Gives you chills, doesn't it?

With Hallowe'en nearly here, I've been totally grooving the season and getting my Hannibal Lecter on.  Not, obviously, in a fava-bean-and-a-nice-chiati kind of way; more just the spirit of creepy and spooky and scary.  It's my favourite time of year for the Dusk channel and horror movies, which I ordinarily avoid like the plague.

Time-out for some honesty: I am a huge chicken.  HUGE.  Scary movies sometimes give me indigestion and always give me nightmares, and have been known to make me cry occassionally.  So no, I don't know why I like them but there it is: October makes me love them.

But my favourite, favourite part of the Hallowe'en season is by far creativity and dramatic talents of my neighbours and in my community at large.  On many streets around town there exists a game of good-natured one-up-manship, where each house competes with the next for the most elaborate, creative, detailed and often scary decorations.  It's really quite amazing, and as we stop at each house (because of course, the kids insist on trick-or-treating those streets specifically) I often marvel at the lengths to which people go for a holiday house.  More than any other special occassion - even Christmas! - Hallowe'en seems to bring out the kid in everybody.

It makes me wonder where people get their inspiration, so naturally I turned to ye olde internet to see what sort of creativity I could
scare up.  What a plethora of choice!  Here are some of my favourites:

I love how busy and homey this Hallowe'en terrace is.  It's very much "countrified," sure, and may not work for every home, but the detail is incredible.  Who wouldn't want to have coffee on a crisp October morning on this porch?
~ image via here ~
Simple, pretty, and minus the scarecrow, perfect to celebrate all-fall-season long
~ image via here ~
So terrifying.  Love it!
~ image via here ~
A little tame on the scariness scale but a perfect way to celebrate the season with little ones
~ image via here ~
This is exactly the type of house I would avoid when I was little (too scary!) but I'm all grown up now, and
I love and appreciate every frightening detail
~ image via here ~
Maybe not the most sophisticated display overall but anything that lights up is OK in my book
~ image via here ~
halloween house 1 11 Craziest Halloween Decorated Homes
Oh my gosh ... can you imagine?
~ image via here ~
Halloween Decorated House
It might not be the most gory house, but playing into the naturally creepy feel of an old Victorian works like a charm!
~ image via here ~

I hope this put you in an All Hallow's Eve mood right along with me!  If you're on the streets tonight with little ones I wish you safe trekking and a great haul for the kids.  If you're shelling out, enjoy the costumes of those little door-knockers!  I'll be walking around tonight with our little vampire and carrying her treat bag when it gets too heavy, and taking snaps of the local houses to share with you tomorrow. 

Happy Hallowe'en!


26 October 2011

Strike ONE for the 'Homestead Avenger'!

Yes, that's right.  I've given myself a superhero name.  I was so freaked out by the task list I posted yesterday (it sent me into a mini emotional meltdown) that I decided the only way to come out the other side of this list as a winner was to morph into superhero mode.  And good superheroes, as we all know, need good names.  I'm not 100% on the 'Homestead Avenger' (it's no Wolverine or Daredevil or Green Arrow) but it's enough to get me jazzed about some of these projects ... jazzed enough to actually get them done!

The length of yesterday's list galvanized me into action, and I've been working steadily the last couple of nights on straightening up the hallway / storage area in the basement.  It might seem like an unusual place to begin, but I'm of the opinion that life is a trickle-down effect: if I get our storage space whipped into shape, it means I can relocate a lot of items currently taking up much needed real estate on the main level and creating loads of visual (and actual!) chaos.  Without a clean slate in storage, adding more stuff would just be piling junk on junk, and I think we all know how that turns out (have I hinted before at the state of the "wreck" room? this was our experiment in piling-up, and it
hasn't worked out for us).

So even though it landed thirteenth on the list it's number one on my priority list, and I've been chipping away at it since Monday night.  Results are in, and we are 100% satisfied with the work!!  Here's what it looked like before:

Full Disclosure: I had already started cleaning before I remembered to take the
"before" photo, so this is actually an  improvement!

And here's what it looks like now:

ahhhhhhhhh ......

Let's see that again.  Then:

"Storagium Horribilius"

And now:

"Shelvus Beautificus"

Amazing, right?!  We cut our storage items by nearly three-quarters in the initial editing phase: since we now tend to cook from fresh, we delivered a green bin full of pantry items to a local food bank, as well as stocking up the Goodwill in town with books, empty picture frames, casserole dishes, assorted glass and barware and some decorative candle holders.  We also found around 400 plastic cups still in their packaging that will come in most handily at our upcoming Hallowe'en party this Friday.  Most of it, however, was just plain garbage, stuff I can't even imagine why at one point we felt was important enough to keep.  A plastic lid from a Lego building block box?  A broken microwave?  Nine thousand swizzle sticks?  It's all a mystery.

Now the family momentos and photo albums, of which I am currently keeper, are neatly lined up on the shelf, dust-free and protected from any accidental water damage; previously they were on the lowest shelf nearest the floor which, if there's ever a sewer back-up or leak in the house, would be the first to get wet.  Now they're safe and sound, as they should be.

The pantry items we did keep are lined up in ranks like good little canned and boxed soldiers, with all their labels facing outward and in the same direction.  I love it when things are orderly!  Magazines that were crowding our bookshelves upstairs have migrated downstairs (and antique books collecting dust in the basement are now on proud display in the office ~ a very fair swap), and look both organized and attractive.  And best of all, there's still room to add more!  Banner day all around.

A note to the paint color: I'm sure some of you must think I'm crazy, to have such a loud, arguably garish colour on my shelves, and you might be right.  It is bright: like,
super-bright.  The hue is Tropic Tide by Dulux, and to me it looks almost exactly like Tiffany's box blue.

The quintissential blues ..

The thing is, it does make me feel a bit like I'm in the tropics; it's so vibrant and fun and in-your-face that it's hard not to like and feel better about having just walked past it.  It makes the trip to the laundry room a little bit nicer, so that's what counts I think.  It's not for everyone, but it's definitely for me.

Also, we finally got all the light fixtures mounted and functional.

Two of three (I just couldn't get the other one in the shot!)

We purchased these adorable little hallway lights from the Home Depot (I think) to replace some pretty fugly round, marine-type flourescent fixtures, and I couldn't be happier.  We had some challenges with installation, of course.  My math skills being what they are (which is, sad and pathetic) I initially mismeasured the height from the box to the ceiling, which meant that when I brought these babies home and we tried to install them, they wouldn't fit.  Classic me.  I was reluctant to return them and continue the search since it had taken me ages to find anything I was pleased with, so we brainstormed for a full five minutes before it finally hit me: hang them upside down!!

So that's what we did, folks.  Those bad boys are completely reversed, and I think they look super cute ~ I couldn't be happier with the simple, clean-lined, borderline-hotel-chic look they give the hallway.  Score another one for ingenuity on the fly!

Yup, upside-down and rightside-awesome

And for those of you keeping track, here's where we at with the hallway / storage area to-do list:
  • edit ruthlessly
  • paint shelves
  • reorganize
  • complete light fixture installation
  • paint door trim
  • hang artwork
Not a bad start, if I do say so myself!  Hope your week is going as well as mine is :)


25 October 2011

Time to Face the Music

It wasn't so long ago that I drafted a horrifyingly long list of tasks I needed to tackle in the house, and posted them here on the blog for everyone to see.  Do you remember?  And do you remember when I said they'd be done by the end of August?  Right, so it turns out I lied: they didn't get done.  Not: some of them didn't get done.  No, in actual fact I didn't complete any of them.  None.  Not a one.

I could lay the blame on this tragic turn of (non-)events on the car accident, on our hectic schedules, on life in general ... but I'll be honest: the blame game doesn't get my house painted.  It isn't productive.  And besides, I read a ton of blogs written by women who are much busier than me running after toddlers and pre-schoolers and/or working full-time jobs, and their houses are impeccable.  Gorgeous.  Neat and tidy.  And, most importantly, largely finished.

I am in awe of these women and also shamed by them.  If they can muster the energy and drive on a daily basis to not only finger paint, race Tonka trucks, clean, decorate, DIY, blog, work, work and more work, AND keep a beautiful house, surely I can scrape up a few minutes each day to beautify the homestead and starting ticking off those To-Do items?  Yes, surely indeed.

And being an organizer and a list-maker at heart, where better to start than by revisiting my task lists?  This is going to be a bumpy ride for the next few minutes (mostly for me since it's up to me to scratch these off one by one, but maybe for you too when it dawns on you how awfully, terribly, horrifyingly long the list truly is) but stick with me ... you're being "in" on the list will keep me honest in the long run.

Broken down by room, starting at the front of the house:

Foyer -
  • install wallpaper
  • mirror closet doors
  • paint inside of closet and ceiling
  • install organizers / edit and reorganize closet
  • remove vinyl flooring and lay tile
  • replace light fixture
  • (so, you know ... everything)

Dining Room -
  • paint stripes on the walls
  • sand and stain dining chair legs
  • dye chair slipcovers
  • hang curtains
  • paint crown molding ceiling and chandelier medallion
  • mirror (or paint, or varish ... decide on a finish) back of wall unit
  • steam clean carpet (a light carpet in the dining room ... what was I thinking???)
  • mount rope lighting under curtain valance
  • accessorize
"Office" -
  • edit our crap
  • organize our crap
  • hang artwork
  • steam clean carpet (same problem as the dining room!)
  • paint crown molding and ceiling
  • install rope lighting under valance
Family Room -
  • paint trim
  • install and paint chair rail
  • install tray ceiling and paint
  • replace ceiling fans
  • sell the treadmill
  • add plants or some greener or something
Kitchen -
  • paint cabinetry
  • reorganize cupboards
  • edit, edit, edit
  • replace hardware
  • replace countertop
  • paint window trim
  • install new light fixture
  • remove vinyl floor and lay tile
  • build in the dishwasher (it's portable now, and what a pain in the arse!)
  • paint walls and ceiling
Bathroom -
  • paint door (this is how bad it is over here, folks: this door has been waiting for paint for over a year ... it's just sad)
  • frame and hang artwork (I finally found some! Thank you, Christie Antique Show, September 2011)
  • change shower curtain for the winter season
  • install door hooks
Hallway -
  • install new ceiling lights
  • paint
Master Bedroom -
  • paint walls, ceiling, closet and trim
  • install chandelier
  • create / mount headboard
  • have glass cut for D's side table
  • hang artwork
  • have curtains made; hang them
A's Room -
  • dip-dye chandelier shades
  • hang new curtains
  • mount hooks
  • spray paint and mount mirror
  • organize her closet (!!)
J's Room -
  • finish painting his closet (poor kid - it's been years)
  • install rope lighting inside his closet
  • frame and hang artwork
  • repaint dresser
  • change hardware
  • replace curtains
  • recover chair
Stairwell -
  • paint
  • install new ceiling fixture
  • rip out carpet on stairs and replace with tile
"Wreck Room" -
  • burn everything in it and start from scratch
  • 'nuff said
Hallway / Storage -
  • edit ruthlessly
  • paint shelves
  • reorganize
  • complete light fixture installation
  • paint door trim
  • hang artwork
Laundry Room -
  • rearrange washer / dryer (basically, we're thinking of shifting the whole layout, but how and to where isn't clear just yet)
  • paint
  • install cabinetry and storage
  • tile a backsplash (above the cabinetry)
  • mount or install a drying rack
  • new light fixture!! (I hate Hate HATE flourescent lighting)
  • dazzle it up a bit with art and accessories

So my heart is actually hurting in my chest right now: I think I'm having a slight panic attack!!  I've had all this in my head for the longest time, but there's really nothing like putting it all down on paper to realize just how far behind you really, and how much you really have to do!  UGH.

But that's OK, because my enthusiasm (and commitment) is renewed!  I've already started on the process in advance of this post (updates to come, of course) but giving you the list (again) is step one along the path to completion.

Aaaaaand ... we're off!


19 October 2011

You Know What They Say: If It's Hot in the Kitchen ....

... grab yourself a spoon and dig in!

OK, so "they" don't really say that and no, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever.  And
yes, I'm just making sh*t up for a good segue into today's topic.  So sue me!  But in what other fashion (replete with folksy, adorable charm) could I introduce a fantastic soup recipe without it being a total snore?  Exactly.

Anyhoodle, as I've already mentioned a few times, I'm becoming a bit of a stickler about the nutritional content of the grub I'm stuffing into my family's mouths.  As many of you may already know, however, eating healthily does not always go hand-in-hand with eating deliciously.  Or enjoyably.  These things can be - and often are - mutually exclusive.  So when I stumble upon recipes that are both super healthy AND super tasty, I get
super excited.  Like, over-the-top, balloons-and-streamers, call-everyone-on-my-long-distance-plan excited (I mentioned that I don't get out much these days, right?)

Tonight was just such a night, when the earth tilted a little bit on its axis and the stars aligned and in my kitchen, I cooked one heck of a gosh-darn delicious soup.  This soup is so flavorful, in fact, that my teenager was willing to overlook its inherent health benefits AND the fact that it's vegetarian, and helped himself to a huge bowl of it ... without me having to force him!  Oh yeah, it's all good.  Check it out:

Can't you almost smell it through your computer screen??

And since it would be terribly rude of me to go on and on and on about what a terrific soup it is and not post the recipe, here it is:

Preparation: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Serves 8

  • 500g dried cannellini beans
    (otherwise known as white kidney beans, for those of you who - if you're like me - maybe aren't as hip to the dried legume lingo as we could be)
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced*
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely minced**
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste***
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and diced
  • 1.7L (59 fl oz) vegetable stock****
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 30g (1 oz) chopped flat-leaf parsley
     Cooking Directions:
  1. Put the beans in a large bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. When ready to prepare the soup, score a cross in the base of each tomato.  Put in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water.  Leave for 30 seconds, then transfer to cold water and peel the skin away from the cross.  Roughly chop the tomato flesh.
  3. Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.  Heat the oil in a large soup pot.  Add the onion, reduce the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the beans, chopped tomato, tomato paste, carrot, celery, stock and bay leaves; stir well to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 45-60 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and season to taste.  Stir in some of the parsley and use the rest as garnish.
Here are some of the changes I made to the recipe, to personalize it a little bit.  They all worked beautifully so it's entirely up to you if you prefer "by the books" or "a bit renegade":

* I used one red and one Spanish onion, which may or may not have affected the flavour, but sure looks pretty.

** I minced my garlic, and doubled the amount.

*** I omitted the tomato paste as I often find it gives soups a bit of a bitter edge.  I let the fresh tomatoes do all the work, and it turned out just fine.

**** I'm not a huge fan of stock, per se, and much prefer to use bouillon cubes (sure, it might be cheating, but I like the flavour better.  It packs more of a punch).  I used two vegetable bouillon cubes and one chicken, which made it a bit more robust (but less vegan, obviously).

FINAL CHANGE: In some bowls, I left out the lemon and added freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano.  It definitely gave the soup a more Tuscan look and feel, and added another bit of heartiness that went beautifully with the beans.  I actually prefer it with the cheese than not.

So there you have it: my rich, warm, hearty dinner can now be yours!  Happy cooking, everyone!


18 October 2011

Pajama Party

Even though it's been nearly three months since I left my job to come home, relaunch my scholastic career and take care of my family full-time, it still feels awfully strange to not have anywhere to go or anything to do specifically throughout the day.

I'm used to being more than busy: I'm used to being frenzied in my schedule.  I've worked in downtown Toronto for more than a decade and have been commuting for seven years, which means on top of a work-day that sometimes lasted nine, ten, eleven hours, I tacked on two hours a day in transit.  Generally, I worked hard both at the office and, when necessary, at home (I say generally because sure, there were lapses in my attention and interest ... who doesn't go through down-swings?)  Add to that the on-going demands of family life: kids need to go here, they have lessons there, dog needs walking, meals need cooking .... all the good stuff that is the real fabric of my life made an already full schedule just that much crazier.  That, of course, doesn't take into account anything extra curricular for me, or for hubby, and forget about cleaning the house!

Obviously the benefits of full-time employment meant we could indulge in some perks: a professional dog-walker took care of the pooch while we were out during the day; a cleaning service gave us a helping hand every few weeks when our house was teetering on the brink of collapse around us.  And meals, well ... all I can say is thank goodness for the Prepared Foods aisle at Loblaws.  It wasn't ideal, but it was functional.

Ain't no cookin' like mama's the President's home cookin'!
image via here

Fast forward to now and there are a thousand things I love about being home.  I take great pleasure in making my kid's lunches every morning, and chatting with them while they get ready for school.  I am SO on top of their school work it's ridiculous; I might as well work at the school now!  We are spending less - marginally, but still less - on food every month now that we eat strictly homemade meals, and I'm pretty chuffed about the variety and nutritional value of what I'm putting in my family's mouths every night.  I love school - love, love, love it! - and am excited every day when I head out to campus.  My brain gets buzzing with all the new information I receive on a nightly basis, and I can feel my neurons crackling with activity.  I sometimes imagine that in the dark, my brain is literally glowing.  My kids, especially my little one, are much more settled in these past two months than I've seen them in years, and their moods are vastly improved by our new circumstances.  Life is coming up roses.

So where I am going with this?  At the risk of sounding negative or ungrateful (which I most emphatically am NOT), and in the immortal words of Axl Rose (thank you, G'n'R),
every rose has its thorn.  Very true, yes?  And my thorns are just digging a little deeply right now, is all.  Living on one salary and fully half our former budget?  Very tough, particularly when the expenses are not reducing themselves to keep pace with the newly restricted income.  Hi there, two-thousand-dollar-car-repair-we-weren't-antipating.  Hello, grade-8-school-trip-that-we-can't-possibly-deny-our-offspring.  Welcome, yoga-membership-for-my-hubby-and-little-one-to-keep-them-in-great-shape-physically-and-spiritually.  Come in, rep-volleyball-fees-plus-some-extra-tournaments-this-year.  Please, show yourselves in and have at my bank account, and good luck to you all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not resentful about any of these costs (well, maybe about the car but that's about it).  We knew volleyball loomed in our future and I hadn't realized the school trip would be so expensive, but it'll be worth it.  And yoga ... well.  It's all worth it, really.  It's all part of keeping the family on the emotional straight-and-narrow.  It's just pricey.  And as for those other fun things that keep me occupied in the house, I'm getting surprisingly tired surprisingly quickly of cleaning the kitchen every five minutes.  The dog glares at me reproachfully because some days I lose track of time and she doesn't get her walk.  She's bored and she blames me, and she's absolutely right.  I feel guilty a lot.  And laundry!  Don't even get me started on laundry, the never-ending battle ...

Pfft ... ironing.  As if.
image via here
My very own holy grail ...
image via here

Those are not even my biggest worries, though.  They all drive me a wee bit crazy (the budget more than anything), but what I really worry about most is that my brain is turning to mush.  Yes, the old noodle gets all snappy and happy when I'm in class or doing homework or, as is the case now, writing a blog posting.  In general, though, I'm finding that not being constantly over-scheduled means I'm hardly scheduled at all, and I don't think my brain is cut out for a life of mental leisure.  I forget appointments all the time and if I do remember them, I'm usually late.  I get the kids to school on time, but sometimes it's in recycled socks or sweaters because I've forgotten to wash just that specific load.  My ability to estimate time - in terms of the time it takes to drive somewhere, cook something or call someone - is virtually non-existent, and I've just this second realized as I sit here typing that I've completely forgotten to prepare tonight's dinner ... that takes four hours to cook in the crockpot!  Apparently it's hotdogs for the kids tonight!

Worst of all, though, and I tell you this purely in the interest of full disclosure, is the fact that I wear my pajamas.  Everywhere. 

Not my real legs, but definitely my real "style"
image via here

Seriously.  With the exception of class (where yes, I do change into jeans and a hoody, or at the very least, yoga pants) I wear my pj's everywhere and to do everything.  Since I barely leave the house anymore (hello, hermit? it's shut-in calling ...) and when I do, it's only to grocery shop or to pick up a kid from school, what do I need to dress up for?  Who do I need to impress?

The trouble might be that there is a distinct difference between getting dressed up and just getting dressed.  Maybe I'm just still in the throes of relaxation that comes with being a stay-at-home mum?  Maybe it's a bit of backlash to the years of wearing button-down blouses and slacks to work?  My pajamas have always been my favourite clothes, I just didn't have as much time to spend in them historically as I do now.  Maybe I'm just trying to make up for lost time?  Whatever the reason and for good or for bad, it's a fact that right now, me and my pajama pants are like Bert and Ernie: inseparable.

Bosom Buddies
image via here

What I want to know is, am I the only one?  I know a lot of my fellow bloggers are stay-at-home or mostly-stay-at-home parents, many of you with wee toddlers and babies (and not the pseudo- and full-on-teenage monstrosities that my kids are).  Do YOU wear normal pants during the day?  Are you more stylish than red plaid flannel and if so, how do you drum up the motivation - or the discipline - to dress like a real person?  Am I just overreacting, or should my family stage an intervention post haste?  Hit me up in the comments, bloggers.  This little piggy needs some reassurance that it's not all sweatpants and slippers from here on out!


17 October 2011

Inspiration Gallery #9 | Retail Therapy

As mentioned last week, my creative juices are starting to burble away on a low simmer but I still feel like they need a shot in the arm.  Something to really push them to a rolling boil.  What's better, then, than a little online "window" shopping?  Here are just some of the things that are whetting my design appetite this week:
~ Line Drawings ~
I assume it's due to the influence of class, but I've taken a recent shine to line drawings of all types. I love the marriage of simplicity and complexity - with no color to distract you, all you see is the image. It's very honest, and I'm a big fan.
image via Etsy: Malobi
Owl Measuring Cups

Modern Santa Cookie Jar   
~ Kitschy Kitchen Accessories ~
I honestly can't say exactly how functional these pieces are since I can't get them past Daryn and into the house (ditto any dishware stencilled with farm animals, and gold flatware).  I have deep suspicions, however, that these are just the ticket to making a perfect kitchen: like the cherry on top finishes the ice cream sundae!
Owl Measuring Cups and Santa Cookie Jar via West Elm
~ Stripy Socks ~
If you weren't skeptical of my tastes (and sanity) after the owl measuring cups, I'm sure by now I've lost all credibility with striped socks but I gotta tell you: I have three pairs of these bad boys and I LOVE them.  I wear them everywhere, including to the office when I worked at the bank!  They're quirky, whimsical, inexpensive and comfortable.
What's not to love?
image via Sock Dreams
~ Vintage Union Jack Flags ~
At my favourite Christie Antique Show in September, I scored an amazing mint-condition antique Union Jack flag for an equally amazing hundred bucks!!  It's huge ... like, ginormous: I haven't measured but I'm guessing 6'x8'.  The plan (if all goes well) is to hang it in "wreck" room when eventually we get down there.  For now it's sitting folded in our office, waiting (with about four thousand other items) for a time when budget and time breed together to equal installation.
image via The Girl In The Brick House
~ Stylish Storage ~
In an on-going effort to feed my family more healthily and economically (hello! sabbatical without salary!), I've embraced some previously ignored options like dried legumes and alternative grains.  Trouble is, they clutter up our already messy pantry and are both unhygenic and, let's face it, fugly.  I'm on a mission to find attractive and functional pantry storage to pretty up our cupboards.  I'll keep you posted!
image via Elements at Home 
Chunky Hand-Knit Throw
~ Cozy Throw Blankets ~
These chunky cable knit beauties are from Pottery Barn, but I'm pretty much loving any sort of throw these days.  My biggest fantasy these days is curling up in the corner of the couch in my pajamas with a blanket tucked around me, sipping a hot chocolate and reading a book, and these babies would be just perfect.  Better yet, they're on sale!
image via Pottery Barn

I usually obsess about big-ticket items but it seems that with the changing of the weather, I'm getting down and dirty with the details.  'Tis the season, I suppose.  Now if I can just squeeze some extra coins from the budget to treat myself to a little something new ....

Hope everything is well in your world!


14 October 2011

Do You Run Hot or Cold?

Being four weeks into my coursework now has made one thing abundantly clear: the material we cover each week in class is helpful, useful and truly "back to basics".  Initially I thought I had a relatively decent handle on this whole design thing.  I have a long history with shelter magazines, online resources and home redecoration and renovation, not to mention what comes naturally: a deep-seated and long-standing interest in the subject matter.  Given what I considered to be a fairly substantial foundation, I expected my coursework would just support and build on what I already knew, because I was already a considerable way along the road to decorator success, right?
W. R. O. N. G.

Let me clarify that all these things I just mentioned have their place, and are very functional in and of themselves.  And they DO give me a terrific foundation ... to understand the fundamentals of the program.  The course work, which really is "back to basics," at least in these early days, is giving me the building blocks to concretely understand all the elements of design that I instrinsically appreciated and replicated until now.  It is, in a word, awesome.  I can't get enough of it.

For example, one of our recent assignments in Colour Theory is to trip through some shelter mags and identify two examples each of warm rooms and cool rooms.  Which started me thinking: what sorts of rooms do I personally respond to?  Am I more responsive to warm tones; do I like being stimulated and excited by my surroundings?  Or am I a rest-and-relaxation sort of girl who prefers cooler, more soothing palettes?  Huh.

Well, I can honestly say I'm not sure, but as always the internet was a fabulous source of inspiration.  Here are a few that caught my fancy:

Bedouin living room | Living Rooms | PHOTO GALLERY | Livingetc
image via here
I pretty much love everything Tommy Smythe does, and his kitchen is no exception - image via here
image via here
image via here
image via here
image via here

Interesting exercise.  Here's what I learned:
  1. I like white rooms.  I mean, I knew this already: most of my house is white.  But I didn't realize I was quite so obsessed until I looked back at the photos.  With the exception of the grey bedroom, everything is white.  So apparently I not only like white, I love it.  It might actually be a bona fide sickness.
  2. I prefer a bohemian sort of look, except when I don't.  I thought I was much more mid-century modern, but evidently this is either a) untrue or b) my design repertoire is expanding.  Or contracting??
  3. Interior design is the only area in my life in which I appear to be "middle of the road."  Generally I'm a one-side-of-the-spectrum-or-the-other kind of girl, but looking back on my selections - those that made the cut to this posting and those that didn't, but were in the running - I seem to go for a sort of temperature-neutral.  White is an inherently cool colour: if you want to lower the temperature of a colour, you add white.  But I tend to pair white with warm accents: reds and yellows, wood and other natural materials, touchable textures; the combination of these elements make the rooms neutral overall.  Yep, that's right, I'm tepid ... lukewarm ... room temperature, if you will.  Some might say balanced or composed, but really, it all boils down to the same thing, right? 
So what about you: where do you fall on the temperature scale?  Are you a warm and cozy sort of person, or do you prefer your spaces to be cooler and more refreshing?  Am I the only one whose tastes (and rooms, apparently) run to room temperature?