Tag Archives: resolutions

Design Resolutions for 2013

Image from betype.com

Happy New Year everyone! 2013 is finally here, and with each new year begins the tradition for most of us known as resolution-making. I don’t usually make a serious list, but I thought I’d take the time this year to think about a few things I want to accomplish in my design life.

Read More Books

Image from blog.jennibick.com

Books gave me my first subconscious experience of design, in the form of illustrations and book cover designs. I still have a great affinity for traditional paper books, even as e-books have gained popularity in the last few years. The physical book to me is a sensory, intimate experience, and reading more of them can be enriching mentally and visually as well.

Image from fontsinuse.com

Read more about the best book covers of 2012 as compiled by the New York Times here.

Enter a Design Competition

Image from homemadedessert.com

Graduating from graduate school and moving into the workforce was a smooth transition for me, but I sometimes miss the flexibility and ability to conceptualize design ideas with an “unlimited” budget. Entering a competition will give me this opportunity, as well as allow me to be exposed to other designers’ ideas.

Work on a personal design project

Image from For Print Only

I’ve always admired designers who have clever personal logos and interesting portfolios. Most of the time I’ve designed my personal materials such as my portfolio, resume, and logo on the fly, and never really took the time to sit down and conceptualize a solid visual identity for myself.

Attend more design events

Image from Howdesignlive.com

As is typical with most professions today, developing a good professional network is important for any designer to keep up with contemporary culture in design today. Although I don’t really fear talking to total strangers, I still get a little intimidated when I attend networking events. While I don’t plan on attending a design conference every month, I think aiming to attend one design-related event every other month might be good for professional development.

I suppose I could make an infinite number of plans I can attempt to accomplish this year, but I think for now this seems like an achievable list. Have you all thought about creative resolutions for the new year?

Whatever your plans are for the next twelve months, here’s hoping your new year is filled with lots of creative energy!

Posted in Design | Tagged , ,

Putting Your House in Order in 2013

Happy New Year!

To get an early start on my resolutions, I spent the last few days of 2012 tidying my apartment before school starts. As a reward for my hard work, I tuned into a marathon of House Hunters International. Having lived abroad, it always makes me laugh to watch North Americans bemoan the lack of storage in the typically smaller homes found in Asia other parts of the world.

But we can learn from these tiny spaces, especially as condo prices rise and square footage shrinks in cities like Toronto.  I love to tour model units for design inspiration but I always wonder if I could find room for all my stuff. After all, I have the luxury of splitting it between my permanent home and my apartment at school!

Image: mi casa via homedit

But I am trying to pare down in both locations. When we downsized from a spacious three-bedroom house to a cozy two-bedroom condo almost 10 years ago, I packed up several boxes that went straight to storage and were forgotten. When I opened them several years later, I couldn’t imagine why I had kept any of the items inside. One of my resolutions is to edit every few months.  For each Christmas present that I received, I am looking for something that I no longer use to donate, sell, or throw out depending on its condition.  I apply the same system for clothes that I don’t wear for an entire season.

Image: I love my apartment on tumblr

We have slowly replaced our hand-me-down furniture with new purchases and always try to pick pieces that have built-in storage, like our bed frame with large drawers or the chest that holds our board games and serves as our coffee table.

Image: Greentea Design via Facebook

Multi-functional furniture has been our godsend, allowing us to keep our open-plan first floor a lot less cluttered. I am coveting the wheeled bench in Greentea Design’s soon-to-be-released collection. I can see it in the front hall with a bin on each end for hats and gloves, or wheeled into the living room for extra seating at parties, or even an impromptu sideboard at holiday feasts.

Image: Wayfair

Perhaps the most important thing I have been doing over the last few months is spending a few minutes at the end of each day putting everything back in its place. Of course, that means that everything we own needs a place. Sometimes this takes a little creativity but the vast array of organizational products out there really helps to maximize nooks and crannies. I have a few seasonal knickknacks that I swap out from time to time but I try to keep this to a box or two.

Image: Dear College Student

There are still a few wayward items that I need to deal with but at least I feel like this might be one resolution that gets accomplished, at least until I have to consolidate my two homes!

Taking Stock in 2012

Did you make New Year’s resolutions last week? How are they working out so far? Not to put a damper on your plans but statistics say that nearly half of all North Americans make a list each year, while fewer than 10 percent are successful in completing their goals.

(Photo: msnbc.com)

I definitely fall into both of those categories and yet, year after year, I sit down after the holidays and dutifully jot down my standard list of vows: lose weight, exercise more, spend less money, etc. This year was the final straw; in packing for my move last week I found my 2003 list and it was an exact match to the resolutions that I had planned for 2012, right down to the order they were listed on the page. Had I really made NO personal progress in a decade? I felt like an even bigger failure than I do every February when the enthusiasm for self-improvement starts to wear off and I revert to my former bad habits.

(Photo: A Field Journal)

But then I realized that the inherent problem with resolutions is that they focus on the seemingly negative aspects of ourselves that we feel compelled to change. About the same time I came to this conclusion, I read Happy 12 Things Happy People Do Differently by Jacob Sokol on Marc and Angel Hack Life.

(Photo: Mixed Tapes and Cupcakes)

The major difference between this list and typical resolutions is that instead of focusing on perceived personal flaws, Sokol concentrates on our interactions with others, including expressing gratitude, practicing acts of kindness, and nurturing social relationships. Moreover, Sokol’s inclusions that focus on the self provide a positive spin. Doesn’t “take care of your body” sound more nurturing than “lose weight”?

(Photo: Pinterest)

Sokol’s actions can be accomplished every day and in a myriad of ways. But when trying to think how I could combine them, I decided that this year cooking will be the main medium in which I reconnect with loved ones and let them know that I care. After all, is there a better way to spend some quality time than around the dinner table with good food and good friends?

(Photo: The Kitchn)

In order to do this, I am planning to have regular, informal weekend suppers that will allow me to catch up with my friends and thank them for all they have done for me by serving them comforting meals. This will also allow me to indulge my passion for cooking, something I often abandon when living alone, and experiment with new healthy recipes.

(Photo: Vegan Yum Yum)

To express my gratitude to our readers, I’m giving you my recipe for vegetable stock. It’s an inexpensive, low fat flavour-booster that can be made with little effort when you have a quiet afternoon and some leftover vegetables. If you keep a batch in the freezer you will always have a quick, savory base for soups, stews, and other dishes without the additives and sodium that commercial stocks contain. I hope that you will be able to use it to nurture yourself and your loved ones throughout the year.

Vegetable Stock (makes 10-12 cups), adapted from Vegan Yum Yum

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

5 carrots, cleaned but unpeeled, chopped

1 bunch of celery, chopped

1 cup of mushrooms, chopped

Any other chopped vegetables or vegetable peels (get creative: root vegetables, peppers, zucchini, greens, etc.)- save them up in a container in the fridge as you prepare vegetables for other dishes

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tbsp. tomato paste (or you can add a chopped tomato)

1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley (you can also add a small handful of herbs if you like; rosemary, thyme, and chives work well)

2 bay leaves

6 whole black peppercorns

4 whole cloves

¼ cup low sodium tamari (you can substitute soy sauce but it lacks the rich flavor of tamari; if you do, reduce to 1/8 cup and add more to taste)

16 cups (2 liters or 1 gallon) of water


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot.
  2. Add the chopped vegetables and peels, except for the garlic. Stir over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add garlic in the last few minutes to prevent burning.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about an hour and a half.
  5. Strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.
  6. Stock can be kept in the refrigerator for a week or poured into ice cube trays and frozen.

Posted in Culture | Tagged , ,

From Vices to Virtues

It’s Resolution Week at The Design Tree.

It is the time of year when we are more optimistic and eager to wage war with our favorite vices.

For those of us who have won battles with certain bad habits, looking back on our victories may provide us with some of that can-do attitude to sustain us in our struggle to become better versions of ourselves—whether these be in the fight against fat or in the skirmish with sloth.

In the olden days, warriors might have taken a piece of the defeated enemy’s scalp to show off to the villagers, but if smoking, boozing, and uncontrolled spending are the fallen foes, a different kind of trophy may be required to encapsulate our feelings of love and repulsion for them.



A hookah for display only

Just because you don’t smoke ‘em doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own these beautiful contraptions

Ah, tobacco, how I and countless others loved thee, especially in the form of cigarettes—the ol’ reliable nicotine delivery system. I’m pretty sure the creators of the artwork below channeled their old cravings to make these objects that speak loud volumes, using cigarette butts.

US flag made of cigarette butts

Smoke-free” by John Salvest

Stitched scene

It's Not The End of The World (Remember Me) by Sarah Lucas was exhibited at the MoMA.

by Tom Deininger

Cigarette Boxes by Julianne Ahn

“armchair, cigarette, lamp” by csali.deviantart.com


For those who have put their boozing days behind them, here are some great ideas for those empty bottles.


Most of us know what it’s like to have a love-hate relationship with credit cards. It can be pretty burdensome. That’s why getting out of debt is an occasion for celebration—a prudent one! So relish that new-found sense of freedom, break out in song, whip out a guitar solo using these picks cut out from credit cards.

They had you in shackles, now it’s your turn to chain these now-ineffectual plastics to your wrist.

Posted in Culture, Design | Tagged , ,

Turning the Tables in 2011 – Spending time with friends and family

It’s Resolution Week at The Design Tree

Spending time with family and friends is always a popular New Year’s Resolution.   Here’s how your tables are your home’s social epicentre to some good old fashioned family fun.

Wood dining table

Greentea Design’s Ebony Dining Table completes the perfect dining space for the big social dinner

Between work schedules and the family’s extracurriculars some days it feels like an impossible task to have a proper sit down dinner with the family, let alone entertain guests.  But as social creatures dining together is one of life’s simple pleasures.  Research indicates that sharing a meal is good for us too.  It needn’t be complicated.  Check out Canadian Living’s one pot meals, most of which require less than 30 minutes of prep time and bring on the mid-week dinner parties!

The Coffee Table

Maru table

The Maru Coffee Table is a nice sized coffee table. Throw down some comfy floor cushions to create the perfect place for family board games night

As a recent convert to the world of cheesey boardgames,  I know how dumb they look to outsiders, but they really are good old fashioned fun!   Whether it’s Cranium with the kids or a more adult game of cards, crowding around the coffee table for some unplugged fun will leave everyone feeling recharged and reconnected.

The Kitchen Island

Greentea Design's kitchen island

The kitchen island is the new heart of the home, where meal prep, homework, catching up, and neighbourly visits happen

We recently moved into a place where the big kitchen is central to the open concept living area.  Whoa!  What a difference that made to entertaining!  No longer being sequestered in the kitchen!  Visitors help with food prep, taking the stress out of preparing things according to a strict schedule!  Plus the island just invites people to crowd around, share some stories and the battles of the day.  If you’re planning a kitchen reno, I couldn’t recommend this addition more.  If you’ve got one, you know what I mean….