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


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



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


Aging New Mason Jars and Lids

I have a few of the old blue mason jars with the zinc lids and love the look of them.  I've tried painting new canning jars with the Vitrea paint and heating them in the oven.  That worked well, but the Vitrea paint is somewhat expensive, even with a coupon.  I then found Suzanne's post on her blog Chickens in the Road about using Mod Podge, food coloring and water. 

I started with:
2 tablespoons Mod Podge
1 tablespoon Water
4 drops of Blue Food Coloring
1 drop of Green Food Coloring

I mixed those in a bowl, then played with the food coloring to make it more blue, although it stayed somewhat green... 

I poured some of the mixture in the clear canning jar and swirled it around until everything was covered.  I tried to let any excess drip out.

You will only be putting the color on the inside and please be aware that because it's Mod Podge, you cannot add water to these.  The color will come off.  I would not put food in them either.

Suzanne recommended using parchment paper, then foil on a cookie sheet.  I put those down and set the jars upside down on the parchment paper.  It continued to drip out, so I moved the jars around so they wouldn't have a pool of the mixture at the bottom.

I then put them in the oven at 200 degrees.  After a few minutes, I pulled them out and using a hot pad to hold the jar, carefully wiped off the excess with a paper towel.  (Even though I did this,  there was still a lot of excess even at the end of the process...) 

I put them in the oven for about 35 minutes total.

It's funny how different the colors look here, but once they were done, I couldn't tell them apart.

After the 35 minutes, I pulled them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes.  I didn't get a picture of this step, but there was a fair amount of goop that had pooled at the lip of each jar.  I used plain steel wool and wetted it with a little water to remove the goop.  I had to be careful not to rub the steel wool too hard into the jar, only on the lip where there was a lot of excess.

Now that I had bluish-greenish jars, I decided to see if I could make zinc looking lids.

I found some Dophin Grey paint and mixed it with Black Antiquing Gel.  I only used the antiquing gel because I couldn't find a bottle of regular black paint...

I used a 1" foam brush and dabbed it on until it looked rough enough.

I let it dry and kept adding a little more paint and texture until it looked right.  

I really like the way they turned out. 

I like the look of sand and shells in them too.

Thanks for your visit!


I've been nominated for Best Innovative Blog at Palatin Remodeling.  I'd love it if you would vote for me.

I am linking to the following parties:

>Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating


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


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

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.
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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


Kitchen Cabinets: Choosing Your Door Style

If you’re considering new kitchen cabinets, it can helpful to learn some of the terms you’ll see when reading about cabinet options. Kitchen cabinet doors can be mounted in different ways which is what creates the distinct look of certain cabinet collections. The face frame is the cabinet foundation. Overlay describes how much of the face frame is visible, while the covered portion is referred to as the reveal.

Full overlay raised panel
  • Partial overlay is the most common door style option. This is where the doors are mounted on the face frame, leaving one inch of reveal.
  • A full overlay is designed to have the doors almost entirely cover the reveal. This is more common in frame- less or “European” kitchen cabinets but it can also be seen in framed cabinet units. With a full overlay, hinges are concealed and less than an eighth of an inch is left between doors.
  • Another option for your cabinets is the flush inset. This is where the doors are attached within the rails and stiles, and lie even with the front portion of the cabinet box. If you choose this option you should be aware that a common problem with a flush inset this is that humidity and changes in temperature can cause rubbing between the stiles and the door.
Full overlay slab door/drawers
Choosing your new cabinet doors can be a   challenge. There are many styles and of panels and finishes you can choose. The following list will help you select your door style:

  • Slab displays clean lines and simplicity.
  • A recessed panel door has a picture-         frame look with a flat panel fixed within           a mounting constructed with mortise and tenon joints.
  • The raised panel door has panels that measure between ½ and ¾ inch in height, which creates a bulging quality to the doors. This is then made more dramatic by a routed edge profile that gives the door a distinct elegance.
  • Curved panel doors have decorative raised panels that loop upward in gentle arches.
  • The cathedral panel can either be raised or recessed, with a cathedral-type arch crowning the door.
  • A bead board panel is typically found in recessed panels and makes use of routed beaded details which gives a casual country look.
Flush inset flat recessed panelshaker panel
Your kitchen design and d├ęcor should be chosen to compli- ment the architectural style of your home. There are contemporary cabinets for the more modern  house as well as designs that can be used for a variety of architectures from traditional, cottage, transitional or modern kitchens like Shakerand Missiondoor styles.                                 
If you are planning on a kitchen remodel, call Kruse Home Improvement at 860-584-8784 for more information. We can help you design your dream kitchen.

best gift for new parents....

Do you have a favourite gift that you give to new parents? Or maybe as a new parent, was there something that stood out to you, as pretty awesome? I was going through old photos and came across this.

One of the most helpful gifts came from Aubrey's Aunt Gail in Edmonton (watch her on CityTV here). She had Whole Foods deliver a bag of the most delicious pre made food. I remember being so excited to have a healthy, fresh meal. I hadn't realized how little we were eating until after this arrived. It was really one of the most appreciated gifts.

That gift changed how I give gifts to certain people now. Although it's not always appropriate to give food - if it is appropriate (like you know them well, or are a neighbour) I try to bring muffins or something easy for the parents to grab.

What about you? Did you have a favourite gift that you were given, or did someone do something memorable for you?

Update: I am banging my head on my desk. I tried ordering something similar for friends and it was the most frustrating experience. Ugh. The food is awesome but heck, I need to find somewhere else to order food from.


What didn't get blogged about....

Happy Friday. This week was spent with me trying to find a fabricator for our kitchen counter, finalizing our cabinetry order, getting trades lined up. We're also checking to see if Habitat for Humanity Re-Store has any interest in our cabinets. It's worth seeing if they could be donated, vs. going to the dump. Here are a few things that didn't get blogged about this week:

1. Oscar and I went to Knead Bakery yesterday and shared a cookie outside. I love our little dates. While buying our cookie (and a coffee for myself) I spotted these small cakes. They were so cute. I love neighbourhood bakeries.

2. We sat on the porch and just watched the trucks pass by. It made me think of this song by John Lennon -  "I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round"

3. Oscar and his friends went for walk to get a Popsicle one night this week. We're lucky to live in a neighbourhood that has a LOT of families, and, really nice ones too. :)

4. I'm trying to get down to the boardwalk a few nights a week to get a walk in, by myself. It helps clear my head. Aub's pretty awesome at getting me to do that. Usually he's handing me my running shoes telling me to get out of the house. I always feel like there is work to do, so I need that push.

Have a lovely weekend.

xo Lindsay


buy 1 get 1 free on art prints

I'm going to have to close down my shop when the kitchen reno is happening so I thought I'd do a little sale before having to close.  This is one of my most popular sales that happens only really twice a year. Buy 1, Get 1 Free on ALL Art Prints. So if you buy a 13x19 Art Print at $35.99, you get a second $35.99 print (any style) free. Same thing goes for the 8x10 Prints ($15.99) Click here for the details. Sale ends Sunday. xo Lindsay


design regret, front hall

When we bought the house 3.5 years ago, we had 1 month to do significant renovations. Usually under that kind of pressure, especially for first time renovators, mistakes in design decisions are bound to happen. I can honestly say that I am happy with 99% of the choices we made.

So what is the one mistake that I think we did? When we were installing the new hardwood throughout the first floor, I had new hardwood laid right up to the front door. What I should have done was installed stone in the entryway. Canadian winters are snowy and wet. Not great for hardwood.

Right now we have a lovely Dash & Albert rug that protects the entry way but truthfully it's not great during the winter.

For the kitchen renovation, we've decided to install the same same hardwood in the kitchen. When our flooring guy was in quoting I casually asked if he could take out an area of hardwood in the front. He can, for only a few hundred dollars. So I think we're going to do it. Where the rug is above, we're going to take out that hardwood, and replace it with a stone or ceramic of some sort. Just adding to my list of design decisions. (Banging head on desk) But having the flooring guy here, it makes sense to do it now. Just need to find the right tile now.