The “T” Family

I’ve had the honour to photograph this family since the oldest was just a baby. They’ve become a family I deeply admire and enjoy time with, whenever I can. They love the Lord and are authentic – an amazing combination. I just love them! We recently took a walk through the trees at sunset and captured them once again. Beautiful family hey?! Presenting, the Thulien Family, 2015.

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Herb and dried flower hanger

A while back Troy and I were watching a cooking show on the Food Network where it featured 5-star chefs from around the world. One word – inspiring. One of the restaurants (likely European), had dried flowers and herbs of every color and size and texture hanging from old wood beams throughout the entire restaurant. My heart melted and I was in awe of how rustic AND pretty it was at the same time!

Something about it inspires me…bringing nature inside, enjoying something just a little bit longer. Well, in our home, I’ve had quite a time keeping plants alive. I think we need more sunlight (that’s what I blame it on 😉 ).

Herb hanger

Since I have a husband who can make anything, and a garage full of all kinds of wood, a while back we made this herb and flower hanger that hangs over the mirror in our front entrance. A friend had given us the knobs she found at a boutique, as a housewarming gift. ‘Ergo, we had a new project to create!

Tip: Mirrors are great in small spaces or a narrow entrance so as it makes it seem larger.

The plank is made of cedar I believe (or fir. Honey?). We sanded it down, stained it, and added the knobs. This size is 20″ long by 5″high. For now I have some fresh and dried rosemary, lavender, and dried hydrangeas. Can you smell it?! At Christmas, you can guarantee something festive will be hanging 😉

It’s a simple way to bring nature in, especially in an area of a house that is hard to keep plants alive! Seriously, you could get a plank of wood and some knobs at Home Depot and do this project for less than $20 (depending on what kind of knobs you get!)


Happy herbing and planting 🙂

How we, as newlyweds, decorated our home on a budget

A few weeks back, Troy and I were sitting at our dining room table, looking around our home, listing all the things we fixed, refurbished, painted or created ourselves. Since January, when we moved in, we figure we have saved about $5000 by either Troy building it, us finding a used version on kijiji or elsewhere, me painting it, and just shopping around, rather than buying new. You could say it pays to DIY or shop around, but really it SAVES!

Troy and I had both walked with debt in our lives before we met, where we swiped the credit card because we just really wanted something. It weighs on you. So we agreed from the start that unless we have cash or can pay for it within that month with a cheque we KNOW is coming in, we will say no to said item. I know that sometimes life happens, like an appliance or vehicle breaks down. I mean items to beautify your home or for enjoyment, and how we have decided to structure our finances. And oh boy sometimes it is hard! But, worth it. So worth it.

So, I wanted to share a little peak into some of the things we have created or found for our home, where we found it, and some tips and tricks for doing it yourself. This is a little out of the ordinary for my normal blogging, but I sure am grateful for our home, and can’t help but share! There are definite spots where décor will continue to change as I discover more of my style and add as our budget allows, but here we are, five months into our first home together.

Enjoy our home journey thus far…
(I don’t have a wide angle lens, so most of these are close up! Details for each photo are below)

_MG_2166Our bedroom (Just one shot!)
Well, when you get married you get these wonderful things called GIFT CARDS! Oh my goodness, we had fun with those. We got a grey bedspread as a gift, and then used a Bay gift card to get a white duvet/sheet set for summer. The shams I had before we met. I’d still like to find a navy stripe long pillow, but that takes budget and finding the right one. I’m trying this thing where I don’t buy just to fill a void, but buy because I actually love it. What a concept hey?

The lovely headboard is a recent creation of Troy’s, made from an old door we found for free. Through our new company, Lion & Light, we make these and have an order for one we are working on as we speak. I painted it with Annie Sloan‘s chalk paint (old ochre). The T&L were from Crate & Barrel for $15 each (Christmas gift from Troy!).

Tip: Pick one or two large or statement pieces per room. This helps you minimize what other decor you need and brings a focal point. And if you can find or build them on the cheap, then even better 😉

_MG_2144Front entrance
We live in a bungalow duplex. Our front entrance is narrow with a really long wall leading to the kitchen. I wasn’t sure what to do here, and I’m still not certain I love it!  I love the pieces, just not sure they all go in this space!

I found this coat rack/shelf at Homesense for $40. The only thing I bought, in this photo, since we got married was that green ball, also from Homesense for I think $8.  You can also place it on a large plant holder or vase. The radiator here was another pickin’ find 😉

Tip: Layer and texture with your decor. Here I have some ceramic, metal, leafy green and a glass item. Gather in odd numbers. 3, 5, 7. I don’t know why, that’s just what the designers say and I tend to agree!


Troy and I made this arrow, and then I painted it. The door photos are from my travels, with the matted frames  from Ikea for $9 each.


The room when you first enter our home, to the left, is a den/office area.  Though you can’t quite see it, our desk is made of an old washroom door that we painted black (door was a freebie!). Troy built a leg for one side, and the other side of the door is resting on his old filing cabinet, which we also painted black. Now, we have a 5′ desk – plenty of space for me to write! This chair in the foreground is a recent find at an antique shop in our community. It’s quarter sawn oak on castors – very industrial. We scored it for $80.


Troy built a library around the window, which actually makes the room look much taller. I love it. It’s my daily sanctuary! This light fixture was one that a client of Troy’s gave him, as they were replacing it. So, free!



This old secretary desk is one I just refinished in the last week. It belonged to me great aunt, who has passed. It’s a very light and soft wood. I spent about six hours sanding (oh. so. much. sanding), and then applied a dark walnut stain. The knobs I splurged on – $60 for 8 at a local home shop. I figured since everything else was free, this piece would allow for some extra love 😉

Tip: Choose 2-3 colors to anchor a room. For this one, the black pendant light, black desk and black/cream rug have set the tone. The comfy chair in the room is a seafoam green (my favourite). Add in some wood and plants and you have my color scheme – black, cream, wood, seafoam (and you’ll find yellow and fuchsia throughout the house).

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This tv cabinet/hutch was a score we found on kijiji for $50. Made of solid wood, we hauled this baby home and I spent a weekend painting it. I tried a new chalkpaint called Heirloom, that I found at a local shop. I wasn’t happy with the paint as I had to apply nearly an extra coat to everything, in comparison to what I would’ve used with Annie Sloan. This was probably the most frustrating thing I’ve ever painted 🙂 The decor on top is evolving, again, as I find things I really like that add to, rather than ‘fill’ a space.

The chevrons on the wall you see below are another of Lion & Light creations.  The old books were, I believe, from my Grandpa’s stash, and the tray is a piece from Lion & Light (Troy!). The ladder in the corner was one I found in my old townhouse when we cleared it out recently for new renters. Paint, and score!

And the lovely coffee table was a set (with end table) that we found on kijiji for $125. The lady told us they came from Mexico. They were a pine color, and neither of us are a fan of pine. We were originally going to sand and stain both pieces in like a dark walnut, but when we first put the stain on, the wood took it red. I am learning that wood has a mind of its own when it comes to stain! So we decided to paint the bottom half cream, and love the end result!


_MG_2157This gallery wall is an ongoing evolution for me, and one that will likely continue as I find new pieces for it. Does anyone else hone in on their ‘style’ AS they decorate? Right now, I do love what is up there, again, just not sure it all goes together!  The brown sofa was a kijiji find for $200 🙂


This mirror was oak when I found it at a garage sale for $10. With some Heirloom chalk paint (okay for small projects), and a bit of sanding, it gave a pop of color and depth to an otherwise relatively small livingroom! As soon as I hung it there I was amazed what an impact it did. It’s staying 😉  The vase that’s holding the pussy willows I found at a local store for $10 (and actually added some chalk paint to antique it a bit).

Tip: For me, a livingroom should make you smile. It’s often a gathering place, and for us, you can see it from our kitchen. So whatever makes you smile, this is a good room to bring it into. Be it photos, a book, candles, or your favourite throw – this is the room!


1798595_10155252030825601_2936964651417823078_nJust a couple from our kitchen…I love it all, and am slowly finding antiques to add to above the cabinets.


Dining area
This beautiful buffet was a wedding gift from my in-laws. Absolutely stunning! The big mirror above is a mirror Troy got, again, free form another project. So he built a frame, I painted, and voila… something proportionate for yet another large wall. The decor on the buffet is a work in progress. Right now I like the simplicity of it and don’t want to add to it unless it’s something I love 🙂

The flowery metal detail above the mirror is a piece I got at, yes, Homesense, for $15. I painted it to match the mirror (as my interior designer friend suggested!)

Tip:  Proportion. We had another mirror up here for the longest time, and I had a heck of a time figuring out how to decorate it. It was beautiful, just not proportionate with the buffet. So when Troy built this bigger mirror, it was ‘voila’ for me. Again, I find having 1-2 items that anchor a room are a great foundation for decor. Now, I feel like I can slowly add to the decor on top of the buffet as I find it.



Our kitchen table was a kijiji find – two leaves, six chairs – for $350. Troy refinished the top, in walnut, and myself and my mom-in-law painted the chairs and pedestal using Annie Sloan chalk paint and dark wax. Don’t look too closely on the wax job, it was my first time 😉

I am so incredibly thankful for a husband who can build and create with me! I hope you got inspired on how you can make a lovely space as you find your own deals and treasures 🙂 Thanks for popping by!



Lois Hole Profile: Royalty and Rubber Galoshes

This was a piece that’s just been published in the Spring 2015 edition of Hope magazine; a publication of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women. I don’t believe they have an online circulation, as it was distributed through the Edmonton Journal. But here is a story I wrote of an incredible lady, our former Lt Governor, among many other things. Enjoy!


by Lani Lupul: as published in Hope magazine, by Venture Publishing

lois_holeShe met the Queen of England once, and she was royalty herself, kind of. People called Lois Hole the Queen of Hugs. A woman who carried multiple titles in her lifetime, Lois Hole was like none other.

A wife, a mother, professional gardener, author, businesswoman, farmer, Chancellor, and in her final years, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Lois brought a grace and warmth to each role. That grace and warmth now live on in the legacy of the Lois Hole Hospital for Women.

Born in rural Buchanan, Saskatchewan on January 30, 1929, Lois Elsa Veregin was twin to brother Ray, and older sister to brother, Lorne. Their father was a cattle buyer and their mother a housewife who had an avid interest in gardening. Lois grew up with a feverish intrigue for music, books and learning, and had a natural gift for speaking. At one particular Sunday morning church service in her early teens, the senior minister was delayed and the congregation sat fidgeting in their seats as they waited. Lois took note of the crowd’s need for leadership and rose to the pulpit. She shared a little about Jesus here and there, though she wasn’t religious, and inspired her fellow parishioners. There was just something about young Lois, even from an early age, that set people at ease.

It was a time when Saskatchewan had no universal health care. Lois’ aunt, her mother’s twin sister, nearly died of a burst appendix, and she never forgot that moment and how important it is to have health care for all.

At 19 years old, Lois’ family moved to Edmonton for more opportunity in the cattle business, and Lois worked towards her Grade 10 level in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music. But it was really when she met Ted Hole in her early 20s that the future Mrs. Lois Hole really began to blossom.

In her book, I’ll Never Marry a Farmer, Lois credited her parents for giving her the good sense to know when the right man came along.

“Ted turned out to be a pretty handsome guy – I thought he looked like Charlton Heston. I could tell right away how sincere he was. He spoke with such passion that I found myself being caught up in the romantic notion of marrying a handsome farmer – despite my childhood vow,” she wrote.

i-ll-never-marry-a-farmer-free-delivery-4_large.jpg-v=1383170853Ted and Lois married in 1952 and bought 200 acres east of St. Albert. Ted had an insatiable love for the earth, but with little concrete knowledge of how to actually run a farm, they had some lean and educational first few years. They tried everything from pigs, chickens, turkeys and cattle, with mixed success. When nothing seemed to work and the bank account looked grim, they’d wander over to Lois’ folks’ house for supper.

Not bound by convention, or stressed by any ideals of how things had to be done, Ted and Lois were able to experiment and navigate farm life. As their family grew, so did their garden. Jim and Bill were born in 1955 and 1956, and became young students under their parents’ tutelage. From learning to debate around the kitchen table with visitors and mastering how to grow colorful marigolds, the Holes cultivated open minds in their family.

The future changed for the Holes when one hot summer day some passersby stopped to admire their cucumbers. The visitors offered to purchase some of their garden produce, and Ted and Lois realized they might just have something good going.

“She was always prepared to take on new challenges,” Jim says. “Her and Dad said they didn’t know a lot about ‘this business of growing vegetables’, so they didn’t have any preconceived ideas, and that gave them a lot of freedom to try new things. They were unencumbered by some of the so-called conventional wisdom of growing.”

The Holes decided to start a market garden at their farm, selling produce under the trees by the garden. Incorporated in 1979 as Hole’s Greenhouse and Gardens Ltd, the market garden eventually took over their barn. Learning and experimentation was always part of the business and family life at the Hole house. So was fun. Lois could transform from a farming housewife to a citified woman when she and Ted set out to the opera or a movie.

“She didn’t worry about material stuff,” Jim says, “but when she did get dressed up, she looked like a million bucks.”

Lois served several terms as trustee on the Sturgeon School Division. Her natural way with the public caught politicians’ eyes on more than once, but despite their urgings Lois was never interested in running for office.

In 1991, as urban development expanded to their property fence line, the Holes decided it was time to leave farming and focus on just one thing – building the garden market in town. They opened up a retail greenhouse and garden centre in St. Albert – Hole’s Greenhouse – that has since grown into one of the largest retail greenhouse operations in Western Canada. Albertans know it as the Enjoy Centre, which opened in 2011.

With her vast knowledge of gardening, Lois became a regular guest columnist on CBC radio, the Globe and Mail, the Edmonton Sun and the Edmonton Journal. She began to write, and her first book, Lois Hole’s Vegetable Favourites, was published in 1993, soon followed by five more books in “Favourites” series. This series now has sold more than a million copies and continues to be among the top-selling gardening books in Canada.

“Lois Hole” became a household name among Albertans, and even Canadians. With her warmth in her public speeches, she’d make people feel like they were in her living room as she weaved in stories of family and gardening. In 1998, Lois became Chancellor at the University of Alberta – widening her influence once again.

The role of Chancellor would eventually open the door to her final post, as Lieutenant Governor in February 2000; she was the second woman in Alberta’s history to carry this honour. The Government of Alberta was rebuilding in the aftermath of economic uncertainties of the 1990s. Lois saw it as an opportunity to again lend her voice to change, and if need be add some humour.

She was first and foremost a people person,” Jim says. “That was her thing. She had an incredible ability to relate to anybody. I have yet to see anybody that could match that.”

109_Hon Lois HoleEven as lieutenant governor, Lois made it a priority to get home to the farm and join her boys at lunchtime. With three family houses on the property, the Holes would gather, in tradition, around Lois’ kitchen table – something that was always very precious to her.

“She was still worried, in the back of her mind, that we wouldn’t feed ourselves,” chuckles Jim.

Unfortunately, during her term in office, Ted died of cancer in 2003. Lois herself had already been diagnosed with abdominal cancer, and began treatment that same year. Any opportunity she had, Lois still spoke of her passion for education and health care.

Sandy Kereliuk was Lois’s private secretary for the last year of her life as lieutenant governor. “Those passions came out in most everything she did,” Kereliuk says.

When Sandy first began working with Lois, she noticed the way she never said no to anyone and with her busy schedule, that didn’t seem right. Her initial goal was to help Lois to learn ‘no’, graciously. One such instance was when Sandy was running to meet Lois at the greenhouse, and there she came upon Lois clad in green galoshes and her heavy work coat, looking like one of the workers. As Lois and Kereliuk walked by a payphone, the customer using it immediately recognized Lois and hailed her, asking if she’d speak to the woman’s sister – a big fan – on the phone. Lois obliged happily, speaking to the stranger at length while Kereliuk waited.

In various meetings, even with declining health, it was Lois’ way with people – her listening ear and how that left them feeling heard and seen – that Sandy eventually realized she was the one who had been ‘taught’.

“That’s was when I realized that I wasn’t going to teach her anything. Rather than me teaching her the importance of saying no, she taught me the importance of saying yes. She was extremely kind, compassionate and caring. She was also an extremely strong woman, even when she was going through the illness and death of her husband. There were only two times I ever saw tears in her eyes.”

One of those times was when Dale Sheard, chair of A Campaign About Caring, showed up with two other board members to discuss the future extension of the Royal Alex Hospital.

“We decided that we would rather give it the name Lois Hole Hospital for Women because people in the community would respond better to that,” Dale says. “We thought we could raise more money excellence in health care by having her name attached to the hospital. Also, we wanted to create an image for the hospital right off the bat. We knew of Lois Hole’s reputation and we knew if we could apply that image to the new women’s hospital that would be incredible support for the hospital and the patients.”

The campaign team felt it important to tell Lois first hand of their desire to name the hospital wing in her honour. When the moment came to ask Lois’ permission, she was already in hospital due to her cancer. The team gathered in her hospital room in August 2004, everyone in the room, including Lois, was moved to tears. She said yes right away.

In Dale’s memory, Lois responded with, “If any hospital had asked me to do this it would’ve been an honour. But the Royal Alex was where I had my babies, where my husband went, and where I’ve been treated. I’m just so thrilled to do this. I can’t wait to get home and tell my boys about this!”

Due to her declining health the team moved the formal announcement to November. Lois insisted on exuding strength once again on behalf of Alberta, and rose to the podium to make her speech – a speech of hope.

“So my hope is that when people come to this new hospital and see my name, they’re going to have a little extra hope – that real, uplifting hope – that things will turn out OK.”

hopeIt was her last public appearance, and two months later, Lois died in hospital on January 6, 2005.

Isabelle Burgess, caretaker for every admission Lois had in the hospital says, “She was an exceptional one-of-a-kind lady. She treated everybody exactly the same from the housekeeper to the CEO of the hospital. It made no difference to Lois where you went in life or what kind of person you were. She was certainly called the Queen of Hugs for a reason.  I definitely felt honoured that I had come into her life at that time when she needed the support.”

Lois was well-known by all in the hospital, as she insisted on giving everyone a hug as she passed through the halls.

As she lay in her hospital bed in those final days, Lois looked out her window towards the future Lois Hole Hospital for Women. As friends and family came, all she could say in her humble manner was, “Did you know they’re going to build a hospital out there and put my name on it? Isn’t that unbelievable?”

Whether it was her bright marigolds and juicy tomatoes, her husband and sons, the guests who ate and debated around her kitchen table, or every parent she eased with her personal campaign for education – Lois Hole was invested in life to the very end.

(Photos taken from Google images)