Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I am so fickle

Just two months ago, I couldn't look at anything that wasn't somehow related to bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, gardens. Decor, decor, decor filled my every spare thought. I riffled through inspiring blog posts and photos at an alarming rate, saving image after image of spaces I find beautiful that somehow also fit in with the paradigm of our home.


I scoured the web for ideas I didn't put into action, spent hours dreaming about spaces I will likely never own, imagining rooms that take so much time and care to curate, both of which I seem to lack. I hold no illusions about my identity as a decorator: I have not the knowledge nor the determination to create these spaces. 


I love my home, but I have no illusions about my own talents to keep it. Even if I could curate such a beautiful space, I could never keep looking so beautiful and serene. I'm a clutterer, an avoider of housework, a leave-the-dishes-until-I-can't-find-the-counter-er. 


All of this is evidence of our priorities: we'd much rather spend the evening cooking, getting a little exercise, and snuggling up on the couch with a good movie than hanging curtain rods and rearranging our furniture. We'd much rather spend our money on dinner out or squirreled away in our bank accounts than on new rugs, art, and bedspreads. But sometimes, I wish I could just change those priorities overnight. I wish I could wake up one morning with boundless amounts of energy as one of those super-women who work all day, hit the gym for an hour, make a delicious meal for their perfect families, and then spend the whole evening hanging art on gallery walls, reupholstering a club chair within a decent amount of time, and scrubbing every inch of their home from top to bottom before going to bed at night. 


Yeah, not gonna happen. The more I realize this, the less interest I have in all the pretty pictures and unattainable spaces. We have a comfortable home, a space that makes me happy, a space filled with love, puppy cuddles, and kitty kisses, a space that welcomes friends and opens the door to family. What more is needed?

Is this waxing and waning of interests a common thing? I'm sure I'm not the only one who dives headlong into something intensely for months and then drifts off to something new. And, I'm sure I'm not done with this whole home decor thing: I still have so many projects I want to do, after all! But, for now, I'm not going to worry to much that my interests are a little adrift.

And this blog? Don't worry -- I'm still here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yet Another Curtain Post

Before I jump into this post, just a quick Pekoe update: he hates his cone, he loves all the wet cat food he's getting, doesn't even notice the antibiotics, and hasn't been so snuggly in years. My kitty is a-ok, and I still think all that money and stress was worth it to make sure he sticks around a little longer.

This weekend, we spent some time with the Husband's family, enjoying good food, conversation, and plenty of laughter with my five nephews. We don't get together as a whole family often, but when we do, I always enjoy it. Not only do I get to enjoy the company, I get to peek around my sister-in-law's house. As an interior decorator for their family business - a home building company - she actually knows what she's doing. I am always both inspired and reminded about my own lack of talent and knowledge when we visit.

Both of my sister-in-laws read this blog. (Hi guys!) (Whenever I hang out with people I know in real life, I am reminded of the importance of sharing our blog on Facebook.) That means my interior-decorating sister-in-law read at least a few of my posts about curtains and even saw the afghan we'd hung in the window of our living room when I shared my Ikea hack a couple weeks ago. Yup, this one:


For some reason, she didn't think hanging an afghan in the window instead of a curtain was a particularly smart design choice.

Can't imagine why not.

(In case you missed it... that was sarcasm.)

Fortunately, I don't mind providing people with a little chuckle. Especially when the chuckle leads to the question:

"Do you still need curtains?"

Out of her closet came four panels of beautiful heavy curtains, curtains she has recently replaced. After reassuring me that they'd just be sitting in their closet, we packed them up in bags and added them to our pile of Christmas gifts from my mother-in-law. I was thrilled!

So thrilled, I couldn't wait to put them up when we got home last night, despite being tired from the activities of the weekend. And then, the new curtains inspired me even further to make a few changes to our sitting area at the front of the house.


I love the curtains. They're the perfect weight and the perfect contrast to the walls. With the white curtains we had here before, there was just too much white and the whole space was just a little washed out. With the contrast, I find the colours we've added elsewhere - the pillow, the afghan, my crochet project - actually pop a little more. Is that possible?


The stereo got tucked away, which freed up the top of the bookshelf for a little display. Eventually we'll get a plant or two or a painting, perhaps, for right above the bookshelf. For now, this is all much better.

Thanks S! We love the curtains.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Three Things This Thursday

It's been a rough week.

In fact, it's been a rough day. It's only lunch time and already I feel like I've run a mile trying to fix a series of little mistakes. Already I feel just a little bit like a failure.

The fiasco of the morning aside, what have I been thinking about this week?

One


Pekoe. Obviously. He's still not home. When I took him in to the vet on Tuesday they suggested an overnight stay before they drained his abscess to ensure he had fasted properly before they put him under. When they called the Husband last night, they said it was still draining and making a big mess, so they suggested a second stay, just so we didn't have to deal with the mess.

The Riverdale Animal Hospital has been good, really; these overnight stays have been completely free of charge, which is somewhat unusual for vet clinics, according to my coworkers. I'm grateful, but really, I just want my Pekoe back.


In the same vein, I've been thinking about how my relationship with vets and, in even more ways, our pets, has changed. Growing up on the farm, visits from the vet were frequent. He came by to check out the pregnant cows, treat downed cows, pull stubborn calves, etc. etc. Our pets received some health care on the side; we even made sure to deworm and deflea our barn cats. But never, never had the vet bill for our pet care come anywhere close to the $900 I dropped for the abscess on Pekoe's back.

The money's not the big change though. Rather, it's the difference in the way city people view our pets and us, as pet owners. In many ways, I feel like an irresponsible pet owner when I tell the vet that, yes, Pekoe goes outside, oh, and, by the way, he has no front claws. No, despite your suggestion, I'm not going to confine him indoors in our 600 square feet of space when I know how much he loves frolicking in our backyard. And no, I don't want that blood work; I love him, but he's a cat - if he's going to die of a blood disease that could have been caught through some blood work and then treated with expensive procedures and medications, so be it.

Does the fact that we view our cat as a cat and not a baby make us irresponsible pet owners?

Two and Three


In reality, Pekoe is pretty much the only thing I've thought about all week. Making up a Two and a Three would just be a big lie.

So, go give your kitties and your puppies, and your birds, and your goldfish a great big kiss (or a hug if you're squeamish about kissing your pets), tell them they're your favourite pets, and love on them while you can.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Laundry Day Musings

Our washer/dryer set is in our living room.

(My grandmother keeps her washer/dryer in her living room/dining room as well. I'm not sure if this is a thing or if it's something that's handed down from a grandmother to a granddaughter. Perhaps we are the only two people in this whole wide country that have their washers/dryers in the living room.)

(I doubt it.)

It's not exactly pretty.


No amount of staging could have made this photo any better.

Eventually, we have a big plan of boxing in a closet and snaking a set of stairs up that wall into the attic. Right now, neither of those things have happened. At the rate we're going, they're unlikely to happen until next May, perhaps later. Perhaps never!

A few weeks ago, I had this brilliant idea for a temporary solution, but no time to pull it off. Curtains!

Laundry Closet eclectic closet

I'm not entirely certain how to pull this off for two reasons:

  1. Any curtains I hang would have to wrap around our units. That means your basic curtain rod doesn't exactly work. I may have to resort to a few hooks and my twine curtain rod method on this.
  2. Since this is a temporary solution, I don't want to spend a lot of money on appropriate curtains. They need to be heavy to block out the sound and there needs to be enough of them to hide the units while looking luxurious. Heavy curtains + many curtains generally means money.

    We do have a curtain that's the perfect weight for the job (gifted to us by some members of Mark's family and readers of this blog!) but not long enough. I've thought about attempting to hack them into working for the situation, but that idea, in itself, means the job isn't getting done.
For now, we watch TV with our washer/dryer. Once the rush of Christmas activities is over, perhaps I'll be able to figure something out. Until then, any ideas for me? Where do you buy cheap (but heavy!) curtains?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Worry worry worry

My kitty is sick.


Well. Not really sick.

But, he's developed an abscess on his back. I've been keeping the wound clean and open in the hopes that it would drain itself and not cause an expensive visit to the vet. No such luck. And, I'm a chronic self-diagnoser (I know, I know! Self-diagnosing is a bad idea.) so I was driving myself nuts with a worry that was given power by all the online know-it-alls who insist a cat with an abscess must be immediately run to a vet or it will die.

So, 5 days after I discovered the lump, I'm running him immediately to the vet.

At 4 pm.

He's still eating. He's still playing with the dog. He's still romping around outside. He's still acting like his usual happy self.

And purring. A lot. And being all snuggly. Which may actually be a sign of bad things.


But this has me all worried about how we're going to do things going forward. Back in university, the kitty was having some issues: peeing in inappropriate places, vomiting - the symptoms of a bladder infection and hairballs. I took him to a vet who gave me a tube of crap both Pekoe and I hated for the hairballs and diagnosed the inappropriate urination as, not a bladder infection, but a behavioural issue due to being stuck inside all the time. His personality and energy levels do not lend well to being an indoor cat. So, he said, let him free!

And I did. I was amazed at the change. He would wander all day or all night and sleep and snuggle and purr. He became such a happy, contented cat. I won't take that away from him.

(Besides that, I truly love not having a litter box.)

But how will I prevent this abscess thing going forward? He's going to come across other cats, he's going to get in scrapes. And, he's got this amazing thick fur that hides scratches so well.

I guess we'll just take it as it comes and see what happens.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Canister Story

(In the form of a letter to our dear neighbours)

Dear Neighbours in the apartment buildings behind us,

I'll admit, we didn't start off on a great foot. When we first moved in, I wasn't very happy about all the garbage you had thrown in the backyard over the year in which our house was vacant. The old toilet seats and sleeping bags were especially disgusting. But we cut you a little slack. After all, our house had been vacant. Perhaps you were acting out against the previous owner's neglect? We cleaned up your mess and moved on.

But then, when you didn't stop throwing your garbage, I got a little more perturbed. I'll admit, we let our backyard get a little wild, especially the last 5 feet or so. We liked the wild flowers, while you saw them as a great place to hide your watermelon rinds, yoga mats, and picture frames you didn't want anymore. I could handle most of it, but the broken glass? That went a little far.



We thought that you'd be done once we cleared away all the weeds. We worked hard to turn the soil back there. We lined it with a little fence and mulched the ground. We're planning a garden for that space in the summer. And yet... you didn't stop! Still, bags of compost somehow ended up in the middle of our muddy garden. Our dog is grateful: she especially loves the chicken bones. Did you know that dogs can choke very easily on chicken bones? The bones splinter and get caught in their throat.

True, besides cleaning up and taking care of our back yard, we haven't done much to act against you. Twitter friends have encouraged us to call the police. I know I should at least call the city on you. But how are we supposed to know from which window you're throwing the garbage? We know which building you live in, but we don't know the apartment number. Even calling your management company would probably just illicit a loud guffaw of laughter.

And, then. Then. I found these in the backyard (along with your mixed tape from the 90s):


Yesterday, just a few hours after I hit post on my Three Things This Thursday post. I let the dog out and saw something that wasn't garbage, nor broken, sitting on it's side in our garden. Odd. There were four of them. They'd been there a few days - which tells you how often we've been in our back yard now that it's gotten chilly - and were muddy, but intact. Even the seals were still strong. 



I was a little suspicious. Were you trying to get rid of us once and for all? Did you line the seals with a vapourous poison that would release every time we opened the jars? 

I like to think the best of people. So, I gratefully accept your beautiful gift and hereby forgive you of all the garbage throwing you've been doing. The Husband has washed these up and now they sit prettily on my window sill, waiting to be filled with chocolate chips, coffee, white sugar, and flour. 

(The white one came from Ikea, not our backyard.)

But please. Please stop throwing your garbage in our backyard.

Okthanksbye.

Nette

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three Things This Thursday

One


Chicken Soup.



The Husband is sick. This is slightly odd in that I am not. This is how it usually works:


  1. The Husband gets sick. He has the sniffles for one day, creates a mound of kleenex, is miserable. The next morning, he wakes up chipper as can be, not a sniffle or sore throat in sight.
  2. Two days later, I wake up with a sore throat. It's killer. I suffer for two days.
  3. The sore throat moves to my nose. I struggle with sinus headaches, stuffiness and sniffles for a week.
  4. The sniffles move to my lungs. I cough for a month. I start taking sleeping pills just so I can get enough sleep to get better because Buckleys tastes awful and doesn't work and Robitussin lasts half an hour and prevents sleep.
I know. It's not fair. But this time, the Husband has been sick for three days. I think this might be a record.  

He's miserable. So I'm going to make his some chicken soup. 

Two

Gingerbread houses. On the weekend, one of the activities for the kids at our family Christmas was decorating simple gingerbread houses. They seemed to have so much fun and the creations they came up with were pretty impressive, all encrusted in candy. 



This coming Monday, I'm doing a repeat of this activity with my youth group kids. Perhaps I'll be able to come up with a pretty creation like the one Lindsay shared a couple weeks ago.


I am amazed how pretty these things can be.

Three

Canisters.


I need some so I can stop running my huge bag of flour back and forth from pantry cupboard in the back entrance, to kitchen, and back. Turns out this wish has been, oddly, answered. Come back tomorrow to find out how!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kullen Dresser Ikea Hack: How To

As promised, today, I bring you step by step instructions for taking a dresser from meh-functional:


To oooh-cute!



What you need


A dresser. This could be any old dresser as long as the drawers have flat faces. Mine is an Ikea Kullen dresser.
Pretty fabric of your choice.
Thin trim
Miter saw
Sandpaper
Paint for the dresser body.
Paint for the trim.
A foam roller
A paint brush
A staple gun and staples - the smaller the better
Tiny nails - I used brads, which were the perfect size
Hammer
Nail punch
Wood filler

What you do


Take the drawers out of the dresser and, if possible, remove the drawer face. Sand all surfaces that you plan to paint. For my dresser, this was everything that was on the outside of the dresser. I didn't bother painting the inside.


When your done, it should look properly scuffed up. Like this:


This would be a good point to figure out the size of your trim. Of course, I learned this later, after I nearly mucked up my newly painted and slightly tacky drawer front by measuring trim on it. I cut my trim using a miter saw so it was approximately 1.5 inches away from the edge on all sides. 

With your foam roller and your paint brush, slap the first coat of paint on the body and drawer fronts of the dresser.


While you're waiting for it to dry, carefully make your cuts of trim, making sure you cut it on a 45 in such a way that all the pieces line up to create a rectangle. Don't cut off any fingers and move the saw fluidly, and not too fast or you'll make your trim snap and splinter slightly. 

(It may or may not have been my first time using a miter saw. It may or may not have freaked me out a little bit. I may or may not be awesome at it now.)

Slap on the second coat of paint on the body and drawer fronts of the dresser. 

While you're waiting for it to dry, paint your trim pieces white. They'll need at least two coats.

Put one more coat of paint on the body and drawer fronts of the dresser if you deem it necessary. I decided to skip this step, mostly because I was sick of painting.

Now, another fun part. Take your fabric and cut rectangles just slightly smaller than the dimensions you've set with your trim pieces. Take that piece of fabric and iron it. (I kinda missed this step. And you can see the fact that I missed this step in the pictures. I should probably steam the fabric...) Lay it in place on your door face and pull out your staple gun. Staple as close to the edges of the fabric as you can without causing it to fray.


Et, voila. Fabric on the door face.


This next part takes a little fandangling. (Yup. It's a word.)

Take your trim pieces and arrange them along the edge of the fabric. If your fabric ends up sticking out a touch, you may be able to trim it slightly. Do so before you nail the trim down. If you're like me, measure and remeasure, and then measure again about 5 times before you're satisfied with the positioning of the trim.



Take a brad or a small nail, hold your first trim piece down tightly and hammer the nail in lightly to secure. Hard part, over!

I put 3 nails in the long pieces of trim and 2 in the short. They're purely decorative, so they don't need alot: just enough to hold them there.  


Since there's no way your hammer could (or should) get the brads in far enough, take your nail punch and use it to punch the nail heads well into the trim. You don't want to be able to see them on the finished product!


Almost done!



Repeat this process for all three doors.

Add a dab of wood filler to each nail hole and smooth it out with your finger or lightly sand it away. Do the same for the cracks you may be left with at the edge where the trim pieces meet. Touch up with your trim paint. Once it's dry, put the drawer fronts back on the drawer and return to the dresser body.

Done!


Of course, there's one more step you could do, if you'd like, and a step I plan to do once I figure out the best look: door pulls!

(One in the middle or two evenly spaced? Glass, metal, or wood, painted the same colour as the dresser body? A simple pull or an ornate handle?)

They are simply a matter of drilling a hole or two where you'd like the pulls to be and adding them in. It's probably best to cut a small hole in the fabric where the pull will go before you start drilling. 

Did I miss anything in these instructions? Have you ever redone a dresser like this? I'd love to see your projects!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Before and After: Ikea Hack!

Two weekends ago, we got our kitchen cabinet hardware on (finally), but as exciting as that was, it wasn't the big project of the weekend, nor was it the biggest accomplishment. I'm pretty excited to finally share this project.

In our old apartment, we had two dressers, one for each of us. The closet was very simply designed and we needed more of a solution. A trip to Ikea brought a couple of these into our lives:


This is a Kullen dresser. Nope, not the ever popular Malm or even the ridiculously affordable and hackable Rast. The Malm was a touch more money than we wanted to spend and the Rast? Well... we weren't entirely in touch with the hackability of it at the time.

These dressers served us well for about a year. And then the bottoms of the drawers started to warp and pop out of their tracks, making it impossible to easily open them. When we moved, they were banished to the garage.

But I've been itching for some creativity lately. Perhaps it's the impending winter? I want to craft and create in a way I haven't wanted to in a long time. The itch of renovation, of change, has set in and I can't shake it. So last weekend, I dragged one of the Kullen dressers into our messy living room and went to work.

Eight hours later, and some new experience with some power tools, I had this:




Much prettier. True, the drawer bottoms are still warped. We're contemplating plywood to fix that, but for now, I've flipped them around so the bubble is up and out of the way rather than down and preventing smooth sliding. Either way, my knitting has found a home, all our random cords are tucked away, and there's still a little storage space in the bottom drawer, waiting to be used. 

There will be a tutorial coming tomorrow. In the meantime, what do you think? Should I do the same thing to the second dresser? Or something different?

(Feel free to note that yes, we do need another set of curtains. And yes, that is an afghan in the window, pretending to be a curtain. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

A little frost on the water

We woke up Saturday morning to the most crisp frost I've ever experienced. I walked out across my in-law's lawn to the creek at the bottom of the hill and stood with my thin shoes freezing to the stones on the edge of the water. A delicate, cold lace covered the world.

This is fall, 4 weeks late.





I spent the weekend with my camera in hand at our first family Christmas of the season. It was a busy weekend with plenty of catching up, good food, laughter, family. But, from the whole day, these photos are my favourite, containing the memory of a stolen quiet moment of contentment and the promise of a winter to come.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just a few to sparkle

We're not so good with Christmas trees. Yes, we have one. We pulled it out a couple weeks ago while cleaning out the garage and kind of half-heartedly set it up. With a dog and a cat who love to work together to ruin all our pretty things, the collection of ornaments we purchased last year was lucky to make it through their first Christmas. Most are missing their hooks, the sparkle has been ripped off, teeth have punctured the cheap plastic of a few.

Last week, the husband threw a tennis ball for Mocha right through one of the ornaments. Another red one bites the dust. Our tree already looks sickly, pathetic. I fail at decorating.

I can, however, do a bowl of barely survived bulbs.




It's December. Starting tomorrow, we have a different Christmas every weekend. Christmases of friends and family, of love and laughter, of good food and warm drink.

And a few sparkly ornaments, here and there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Three Things This Thursday

One

Chandeliers.

Last night, the Husband and I were lying in bed and I looked up at the light hanging above us. It looks something like this:


We've been to Home Depot a number of times to look for lights and, surprise, surprise! We can't find a thing we like. We've even stopped by Rona and Lowes. On this particular thing, the box stores have failed us. 

So, what do we want? I'm leaning toward something like this:

(image from here and somewhere hidden within the ElleDecor archives)

Something with a little drama, but not too much. Our room is, after all, small. I think this choice is going to take a little longer yet, to research, search for, and find the perfect chandelier.

Two

This skillet cookie:


From this blog.

Does that not look unbelievably tasty? However, I have neither a cast-iron skillet in my house, nor a stick of butter. Or any butter. Really. It's a sad state of affairs. I couldn't even help our tenants out when they were making pumpkin pie and realized they had no butter either!

Yes, I need to buy butter.

And a cast-iron skillet.

Three

My unorganized kitchen cabinets. Oh, they're terrible. Terrible, terrible. Nothing at all like this:



I need some of those canisters. I need a proper spice rack. I need a big tub for all our tupperware, so they can stop taking up space scattered all over. I need a system. I need to not forget that I stuck some tortilla wraps inside one of the cabinets I rarely open. I need to use the cabinets I rarely open. I need to finish installing all the shelves in the cabinets I rarely open so that I can actually properly use them.

I probably need some help and a good kick in the butt.