Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Swaaag!

(Yesterday, my bathroom was featured on Curbly next to 9 other gorgeous small bathrooms. So honoured! Check the post out here!)

Why, yes, I did mention a swag bag! Amazing sponsors meant an amazing swag bag. This thing was full of so many goodies.

*

There were the green goodies from Aya Kitchens and Bath: the swag bag itself, a beautiful green travel mug, and a design book, full of custom-kitchen eye candy.

*

The little pile from IKEA included a super deep muffin tin, cupcake liners, and a blanket, which I unrolled and snuggled under all Sunday afternoon.

*

From Cottonelle, there was the adorable toilet paper container with a roll of Cottonelle toilet paper. The Jonathan Adler book is also from them, considering their designs for the containers came from him.

*

There's a copy of House and Home magazine. Can you believe that I don't have a single subscription to any magazine or newspaper? I was kind of excited to get this, and definitely wish I'd won the subscription itself.

*

There was an assortment of coupons and postcards from the meetup's various other sponsors such as Kravat, Gluckstein Home, and CB2.

(Hilarious moment: Andrea from Ikea won the throw pillow from CB2 in the giveaway! And such a cute pillow it was, too!)

*

The husband's favourite item from the swag bag? The paint chips from CIL and Gluckstein Home/Benjamin Moore. I've already started planning what colour to paint our living room, now that I can do it all from the comfort of my own home.

*

Sometimes, I'm still a little blown away by how seriously brands take bloggers. A huge thank you to all the sponsors and, of course, the organizers of the even, Vie and Daniella!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Canadian Design Bloggers Meetup

Saturday afternoon, I sat on the 510 King street car feeling a little bit like I was going to puke. I was headed here:


For this:


And I was terrified.

I had never been to a blogging event. And, while you might not know it if you met me, I'm not the most naturally outgoing person in the world. I have a history of forcing myself into the middle of a group of strangers (just ask my husband about that one), but while I think meeting new people is important, I don't find it easy.

The meetup wasn't easy.

But it was wonderful.

After I collected my name tag and dropped a scrap of paper with my name on it into the draw basket (yup, I was one of those without a business card. Definitely something to remedy for the next one!) I bee-lined it to the bar and grabbed a glass of wine. Just something to keep my hands busy. To calm my nerves. To give me purpose. I stepped away from the bar and made my way through the crowd of women, the crowd that was chattering so happily away, so easily, so naturally. For a moment, I stood by myself on the edge of the crowd and breathed.

This is crazy. I can't do this. 


But I can't just stand here either. That's even worse. 


So, I stepped forward, wiggled my way into the nearest group, introduced myself, asked questions, met a new blogger or two, gathered a business card or two, drank a glass of wine or two (or three), ate a mini burger and an oyster or two, had a fudge stick thing, listened to some speakers or four, waited for my name to be drawn for a prize (it wasn't), shifted from foot to foot in my brand new super-high heels, forced myself to step into a circle or two, introduced myself to some of my favourite fellow Canadian bloggers, met some superbly talented women (and a few men), grabbed a swag bag and left feeling much more relaxed, much more confident.

With Amanda and Justyna from Aya Kitchens and Kim from Restoration House


Did I enjoy it?

That's a hard question to answer. It's like asking me if I enjoy going to the gym that first time after not being to the gym in 6 months. It's hard. But I know that, while I'm there, I'll remember or learn why I enjoy it and I know that every time I go to another event, it will get easier as I get to know more and more of my blogging friends. I love that I got to meet each of the bloggers I came across there. I love the new conversations that the face-to-face nature of the meetup allowed us to start.

I'll certainly be at the next one with a little more confidence and the perfect business card.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Taking Care of Me

This morning, I thought I must be nuts.

The alarm went off at 5:45. I fumbled for my glasses, hit the clock a couple times until it fell silent and flopped back onto the bed. Mocha snuggled up against my legs.

This is the fifth morning of this early wake-up call. Believe it or not, it doesn't get any easier. But, by the time I leave the gym an hour later, I've decided it's worth it.

Moving my workout time from the evening to the morning was supposed to mean more time to work on projects. It was supposed to mean that maybe I would get another piece of fabric on my reupholstery project. It was supposed to mean actually folding the clean laundry instead of just hiding it in the closet. It was supposed to mean making the bed and taking the dog for proper walks.

None of that has happened.

So, what has happened? Fresh soup every night has happened. Lingering over our bowls at the kitchen table and chattering incessantly about our days has happened. Making cookies has happened. Snuggling into a movie with a crochet hook has happened. Cuddling the puppy and the kitty, occassionally both at the same time has happened. Making more dreams and more plans has happened. Being together has happened.

Thank goodness for the Husband beside me, to nudge me out of bed on the mornings I don't think I can make it.


Hopefully, Monday will come with renewed energy and enthusiasm. And, perhaps, a little house progress?

Have a grand weekend, friends. I'll be headed to the Canadian Design Blogger Meetup Saturday evening. I'm so excited to meet some of you and, perhaps, more than a little nervous!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

True to my word from a couple weeks ago, I've been making a lot of soup.

False to my word, I have yet to make another soup from the Joy of Cooking. Part of the problem with following a recipe is that a recipe assumes a specific set of ingredients. When I haven't been grocery shopping for nearly 3 weeks, assuming that those ingredients will be found in my cupboard is a recipe for take-out. I flipped through the soup section more than once, trying to find one that fit my pantry.

I psyched myself out.

So, on Sunday, I made my go-to soup instead!


Soup is a huge part of my heritage. All four of my grandparents moved here from the Netherlands after World War II. My parents, 1st generation Dutch immigrants, found each other in a profession of faith class when they went off to university. My husband and I, both 2nd generation Dutch immigrants found each other at a still-predominantly-Dutch church in the city in which we went to university.

Guess what the Dutch like?

Soup and sandwiches!

Especially op Sondag - on Sunday.

And this soup? Sure, it's close to the chicken noodle soup found in the Joy of Cooking. But it's also close to the soup you'll find at any church potluck or simmering on the wood stove in the old farmhouse.

Chicken Noodle Soup
From my head.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic
2 ribs celery, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 or 3 carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces
Whatever chicken you have, cooked and chopped into bite sized pieces. I used 3 thighs. You could use 2 breasts. *
Approximately 4 cups water
1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix, or other instant stock mix/bouillon
Whatever spices you wish. I generally use some combination of basil, oregano, parsley, bay, rosemary, and/or thyme.
A handful of dry spaghetti, spaghettini, vermicelli, or other noodle of your choice, broken in pieces if long.

* When my mom made these soups, she would use whatever meat she had on hand, more often ground beef or stewing meat than chicken. She would cook her meat in the Dutch oven or soup pot with half an inch or so of water in the bottom of the pot, and then build the soup over top. It's easy, and cuts down on dishes.

In a Dutch oven, combine your olive oil and veggies. Allow to cook until the onion is soft. Add the chicken (though, of course, if you've used my method in the parathesis above, you've already done this.) and pour the water over the whole thing. Mix in the soup mix or bouillon and all the spices. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes to half an hour, or longer for even better flavour. Add more water as necessary - it will steam away - and taste on a regular basis to ensure there's enough flavour. If not, add a little more stock mix or salt and pepper.

About 10 minutes before serving, add the broken up spaghetti. When it's cooked, the soup is done!

Eat with plenty of bread or, if you're trying to be really Dutch, a bun with egg salad or tuna or a bit of butter and roast beef (and call it a sandwich).


Mmm... bread.

I'm sure soup is part of most traditions. What's your go-to soup? Have you had any foods handed down to you through generations?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Chair Booty Time!

This post is, in a way, a huge thank you.

A few days ago, I posted about our search for a specific style of stool. So many of you had such good suggestions as to where to look. And, thanks to your suggestions, we are now no longer stool-less!

Oh, happy day.


The day after I wrote the post last week, and as all your suggestions were coming in, the Canadian Tire flyer landed on our front porch. Usually, I leave it there. If you leave one sitting on your front porch, they won't add to the pile next week. I'll admit it: I hate flyers. They come in, we might read them, might not, and then they just hang around.

I'd rather they hang around on the front porch.

On Friday, they made it inside. The husband flipped through, pointed out the item of interest and, on Sunday, we stopped by Canadian Tire and picked up three of these 'shinto' stools in espresso.


I ate breakfast sitting on one this morning. 

It was divine.

At least, as divine sitting on a stool can possible be.

I may yet paint them, or refinish them in some way, but I'm very pleased with how dark they are. They match the floor nearly perfectly and don't seem out of place or in any way imperfect. 

The sweetest part of all this? We won the budget game! Remember, we were willing to spend around $50, and that seemed to be the lowest going rate per chair for this style of stool. These stools? $29.99 before tax each! We walked out of Canadian Tire with 3 stools (and a little tupperware bin) for just over $100.

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions on where to find these for cheap! Your helpfulness and feedback is exactly why I love to blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

(Yup, I know, I have one more set of booties to make! For now, we don't sit on that middle chair... in fact, it's sitting on the rug right now. I don't trust it's sharp edges anywhere near our already-scuffed bamboo floor!)

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Psalm Project

Have you ever heard of the Genevan Psalms? They're an ancient part of my denominational tradition, a part that is slowly being left behind as the church changes and music styles modernize. But, this weekend, I sat in the sanctuary of one of those too-huge-for-comfort churches and found a new appreciation for old music. 

The Psalm Project is a group of musicians from the Netherlands who are rearranging the old Genevan tunes to find a place for them in the 21st century. My church's worship director met the whole group last year at the Worship Symposium and, over the past six months or so, has been working with them to arrange a Toronto leg of their tour. Saturday, the Husband and I picked up one lone interested kid from the youth group and headed to Mississauga for the show. 

And were promptly blown away. 

I've known about the project for a while, and have been listening to their CD for a number of months now, but even so, I don't think I was prepared for the strength of the music. It was so intricate, so full, so peaceful, so simple and melodic. 

  
If you're in around the Ancaster, London, Grand Rapids, or Chicago areas, I would definitely recommend checking these guys out when they come 'round to your city. There's no prerequisite of belief or denomination: we can all enjoy beautiful music, right? The show is free (though they do request a free-will offering - the 9 musicians do have to eat, after all!) and it's an hour and half of pure, musical bliss.

(No one has paid me to promote this group and my opinion is my own, but I will admit that I am on the committee that organized the Toronto/Mississauga part of their tour. Not that I did much. Or anything for that matter. Or even met them after the shows. Yes, shows! After the Saturday show, they came to our church to help lead worship. I've been overloaded with beautiful music this weekend.)

Mmm... good weekend.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Sentimental Friday

I grew up on a dairy farm.

I'm sure I've idealized it, but the home in which I grew up was the most beautiful home I've ever seen.


Of course, this photo was taken at least 30 (50? 70?) years before my parents ever laid eyes on the place. By the time we lived there, the large tree on the left was gone and the pear tree on the right was huge. Both ornate front porches had rotted away. Halfway through my childhood, my parents replaced the porch off the kitchen on the left and, 5 years or so before we sold the farm, my dad began the laborious project of restoring the original front porch. Since we've left, the new owners have made their own changes. (But we don't even like to drive past to see them.)

Sometimes, I still miss this house with its wide hallways, thick, dark banister and warm honey blond, original, uneven hardwood floors.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Perfect Bar Stool

The other day, in a brief hour-long visit to the house to let Mocha and the cat out for a bit before I joined the Husband and some friends for a movie night, I grabbed a fork from the drawer and popped the lid off the Husband's birthday cake. I opened up my Kobo on the counter and settled in comfortably... leaning against the bar.

I only got down two bites of the tasty cake before I gave up and moved into the living room. And not just because there were cookies in there.

(Yes, I have a sweet tooth and a lack of self-control. There's a reason we don't buy sweet things often.)

It's not the first time we've noticed the clear lack of bar stools.


Sure, we've got a beautiful table. But sometimes, you don't want to go through the formality of pulling out a chair, moving your food or your flyer or your book or your laptop to the table, and sitting down. Sometimes, you just want to slide effortlessly onto a stool.

One like this:

House in the Hamptons traditional kitchen

(I know, it's a beautiful kitchen. But look at the stools!)

The problem? This is a popular style, but it's surprisingly difficult to find. Kijiji and Craigslist have failed me. (Doesn't anyone actually in the city ever sell their bar stools?) We found a tolerable version at Home Sense, but they were bar height and their legs seemed a little thin to the Husband. We found another on sale at Canadian Tire, but the leather top threw us off. We don't want a leather seat. We tried Sears. We tried the Brick. American Walmarts carry them. Canadian ones? Not according to their website. We can get them from Home Depot... online. Which is fine, I suppose. But I'm an immediate gratification kind of person - if I think I can get them in stores, I will. 

So, help? Where can we find this style of bar stool for a reasonable amount, say $50 a stool?

And if we spend $150 on 3 stools, is it crazy to then paint them?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Censoring the Internet

Is there any part of the world's population that's on board with this?

Next week, the government of our neighbours to the south will be voting on two acts. It is my understanding that PIPA and SOPA are great in theory - protect copyright, yay! - but restrictive and crippling in practice. There's plenty to learn about it here. I encourage you to read up on it a bit. Part of protest is spreading awareness, right?

What do you guys think of this bill? In order to support the protest of Wikipedia, Wordpress, etc., in lieu of a post about bar stools, I'd love to get a conversation going about it for greater understanding of the issues, the consequences, the positives, the negatives.

Should we, as bloggers, even care?

(Wordpress thinks so.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's a closet!

Our house had one closet in it when we bought it. That it even had one is a lucky surprise: most old homes were built without. From a design perspective, I can understand how this makes sense. No closets allows the owner of the space to get creative with a gorgeous armoire and heavily detailed dressers. No closets, however, limits organization. 

When you live in a small space, organization is absolutely crucial. 

So, our house had one closet in it. This is what it looked like:


I know. Awkward.

This closet is in our back entryway. If you were to really stretch the definition, you could almost call this a 'walk-in' closet. It consisted of one rod, running from back to front with a shelf above it that turns to run along the back wall over some hooks. Because the stairs for the basement run beneath it, the floor is only flat for about 3/4 of a foot and then angles up at the same pitch of the stairs.

Did I mention awkward?

Also, did I mention the mess? Or, can you see that?

At my request, the Husband and a friend made the whole thing over. 


They ripped out the awkward wall that held the rod up and installed a row of shelves instead. Since we lost the rod, they re-attached the hooks to the wall. Eventually, they'll patch the hole from the old light switch and paint the shelves. 

But for now, I'm enjoying some semblance of organization, even if it's not yet complete.


It's a mudroom closet. It doesn't have to be pretty, right?

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Happy Birthday Post

(Warning: Sentimental thoughts and a little sap ahead.)

Today, the Husband turns 25. 

A whole quarter of a century old. 


I know that I am the writer of this blog, but it likely wouldn't exist without this man. In fact, without this man, I would not be living in this house, own this dog, have these dreams, or face the future with such wide open, happy eyes. 

Without this man, I would not be the woman I have become over the past few years. 


That's not to say that I wouldn't have found such contented happiness on my own. I likely would have. It would have involved a tiny, messy apartment, a little more expendable money, a larger wardrobe, shoes, a lot of reading, and a little more adventurous cooking. 

A little different.


I am grateful for this man and every one of his 25 years, but most of all for the 3 he's spent with me. He's my warm hug on a cold, hard day. He's my mirror when I need one, my muscle when my own fail. He's my financial advisor, my guidance councillor, my therapist, my carpenter, my plumber, my electrician, my masseuse, my dog walker, my spiritual advisor, my mentor, my mentee, my driver, my handyman.

And, most importantly, my love, my best friend. 

Happy birthday, Husband! 

(Come back tomorrow for a sap-less post about closets!)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Let's Rearrange Something

I moved a few things, including my brass mirror. I rather like where it ended up.


My Ikea dresser, candles, cacti, a brass mirror. 

Have a delightful weekend, friends. We have plans with friends and food. How about you?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three Things This Thursday

One


So many of you noticed my chair booties on Monday and Tuesday when I shared my 'new' kitchen table.


These protect our floors beautifully, far better than the felt pads that would occasionally fall off. Of course, these aren't perfect either. They draw little puppy teeth every so often and the string doesn't hold them up quite as well as I'd like - elastic would work a lot better. But when these little things are on my chairs, I have no qualms whatsoever about sliding them all over our bamboo floors.

Want to make them? I made a tutorial a few months back. You can find it here.

Two


Last week, Kobos were on sale! And, guess what... I bought one!





Believe it or not, spending the $140 for this little piece of technology and a pretty (coral) cover for it is actually going save me money. See, I'm great at borrowing books from the library because I don't like to spend money on them. However, I'm terrible at returning them. My library account has been frozen more than once due to fines I forget to pay. I love libraries and I don't mind supporting them through those fines, but I'd much rather keep my free service free. On top of all that, I love the convenience of having a shelf of books always available to me, even on the deadest part of the subway system.

So, I have lots of reading to do! What do you recommend?

Three 

Remember our brass mirror?


I've been moving it around a bit, trying to find the best possible place for it. It's kind of fun trying it on different walls, matched with different bits of furniture and different extras. It will probably move a few more times before it finds its permanent place. If you owned this mirror, where would you put it? What would you match it with?


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lentil Soup and Fresh Oatmeal Bread


In order to celebrate the new table, I made soup.

And bread. (Which was, of course, the best part.)

It was a pretty tasty soup. But, I tend to think that soup is pretty much always tasty.

(Unless it's just hot water mascarading as soup. Then it's not tasty, nor soup at all.)

So, I was taking pictures of my lentil soup and thinking about how much I like soup when I thought:

I should learn how to make more soups.


This particular soup came out of the Joy of Cooking. If you don't know what the Joy of Cooking is, you should probably go out, spend the big money ($40, regular price), and buy it. Unless your kitchen is a show kitchen. In which case, keep your money. If you cook, however, the Joy of Cooking is the number one reference cook book in existence.

(No one has paid me to say it.)

To summarize, I was thinking about how I should learn how to make more soups and The Joy of Cooking, which could totally teach me how to make more soups.

So, call this a new years resolution if you like. This winter, it is my goal to cook through Irma's section on soups. This means I'm actually going to make my own broths, I'm going to teach myself a consomme and, from there... well, onward. Wish me luck!

Is it possible that I like soup a little too much?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How to make a table shiny

Yesterday, you saw our 'new' table and now you're eyeing your own wooden dining room table, right? I know a few of you are. Good news! Copying us is not hard! It just takes a little time, a little dedication, a little muscle and a little patience.

The patience is for the mess of sawdust that will soon coat your floors.

Unless you wait for warmer weather and take the whole project outside. Come to think of it, that's a really good idea.


This project was, really, the Husband's project. He was quite willing to allow me to pick his brain a little in order to get the details on exactly how he did it.

Refinishing a basic wood table

Materials

Basic wood table

(We believe ours is pine. The wood is kind of soft. However, it shouldn't matter what kind of wood. Something with a strong grain is best. However, this likely won't work on a particle-board-and-veneer table. If you're not sure what yours is, look at the bottom of the table top. If it's wood, you're dealing with a wood table!)

80 grit sandpaper
120 grit sandpaper
150-180 grit sandpaper
220 grit sandpaper

Dark stain of your choice
Clear drying wood finish. (We used Varathane Diamond Wood Finish for the hardest possible finish. As I said, the wood of our table is kind of soft.)

White paint of your choice. (A cream or another contrasting colour would also work. I've seen a table finished like this with turquoise legs. We're not quite that daring, but it was fabulous! We used Wedding White by CIL, leftover from our dresser make-over and originally bought for a project we never got to and which has now been completely forgotten.)

Pure bristle paint brushes (One for paint, three for the finish)
Rags

Step One - Sanding!

This is the most tedious, least rewarding step. The goal of sanding is to sand until the table has moved from smooth, to beyond smooth, to silky smooth. Hence, 4 sandings.


Start with the 80 grit. In reality, the Husband used 23 grit on the first sanding, but he found it left behind scratches that were deep enough, we can see them in the finished product, even after 3 more sandings. Of course, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you want a slightly rougher finished product, use a coarser grit. A little distressing isn't a bad thing! However, if you want a nice, smooth and uniform looking finished product, start with around an 80 grit sandpaper. In this step, you're taking off the previous finish, so it will be the hardest bit of sanding you'll do. Sand the top and the legs with the 80 grit. Go with the grain. You'll damage the table a bit if you sand against it.

Don't worry about getting all the varnish off the legs. You'll be painting them, so you just want to rough them up so that the paint will bond properly to the wood.

Once all the previous varnish has been removed from the top of the table, move to the 120 grit sandpaper and give the whole thing another rub down. Again, you're only roughing up the legs to allow the paint to bond, so don't worry about doing a perfect job.

The 150 and 220 grit sandpapers only need to be used on the top. By using these two grits of sandpaper, you'll get such a beautiful silky smooth finish, you'll be tempted to stop there. Don't. Trust me.

Sanding is done! Go clean up. It may take about 10 sweepings before you get all the sawdust off your nice dark bamboo floors and you'll never get it out of the cracks. Don't bother trying.

Step Two - Staining!

Stain your table top. Using a rag (Make sure it's completely free of lint! Well used cleaning rags work best.), rub the stain into the table top. Wipe off any excess with another rag. Work in manageable portions so the stain doesn't dry to much before you wipe it off. Rub, wipe, rub, wipe, until the whole table top is stained your beautiful, dark stain.


If it's not quite dark enough for you, or there a few blotchy spots to fix, do it again once it has dried, either to the whole table, or just to the blotches.

To avoid blotches even more, there is a conditioner you can apply to your wood that will even the stain out a bit more. Check out your local home improvement store for that.

Step Three - Painting!

This is probably the easiest step and most straight forward. Grab your paint brush and your white paint. Paint the legs. Two or three coats is sufficient.


Allow the table to dry really well.

Step Four - Varnishing

The Husband put 3 coats of varnish on the table top. We wanted a nice hard surface. It is, after all, our main table, and could get nicely beaten up over the years we plan to keep it. Just slap the varnish on there. It's liquidy stuff, so watch out on your corners and your table legs - it drips really easily.

Use a good bristle brush for this. Ours may have been a little lower than necessary on quality. There may or may not be a bristle stuck in the varnish.

We did discover that, while we bought clear drying Varathane, it did, in fact, dry kind of yellow on the legs. We don't mind this - our white dining room chairs have some (very fake) yellowish distressing on their legs, so it makes the whole set seem more cohesive. If this would bother you, make sure you apply very thin coats of the Varathane to the legs. A thinner coat will dry clearer. And you'll avoid drips all the more easily.

The Varathane takes about 3 hours to dry, so it is possible to get 2 coats on in a night. After the final coat, allow it to cure for about 24 hours. Don't forget to tell your friends that they shouldn't use it either, even if it seems rude... we had a very near disaster involving a stack of flyers and the flimsy inked bag the flyers come in the first night after we declared it finished.

The result of about two weeks of hard work?

Beautiful.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The story of a table: A lot of sanding, a little paint, a touch of stain

The idea was mine, but this one was all the Husband's project. I had not a hand in it. I didn't even help with a single rub with sandpaper or swipe with the paint brush. This one is all him.

Except for the idea. I can lay claim to that. To say what I was inspired by is difficult. Did I encounter this style at some point in my childhood? Is it the memory of my sister-in-law's table resurfacing? Did I absorb the style from the hours and hours I've spent wandering 'round the maze of Pinterest? Or is it just one of those common-knowledge things?

Either way, under my direction, the Husband pulled this off.


Beautiful, isn't it?

Of course, you need a refresher. This is what our dining table used to look like.


Simple, natural, pale wood. When we first saw it at the Sears outlet, I envisioned exactly what the Husband turned it into. Gorgeous dark wood, contrasted sharply by the white legs that allow the detailing to shine.


He chose the perfect stain - Chocolate, I believe it was called - that doesn't quite match the seats of our white chairs. They're a little redder. But, surprisingly, together, the difference is negligible, hardly noticeably. In fact, I think the greyer tone of the table top makes the chairs appear a touch less red. 

I couldn't resist setting the table, even though we had no reason to. Our white dishes look beautiful against the natural grain of the wood. 

Of course, we're not quite done, but the Husband is already well on his way to getting another part of this project out of the way.


The smaller set of chairs needs to match. The Husband is grateful that we're painting the spindles instead of staining them, but none-the-less, this step in the project will be a big one. Last night, as we 'watched' (ie, listened, since we were both so absorbed in our individual projects) Predator and Team America, he pulled out the sand paper and started at it.

Our home feels good with the 'new' table. Warmer, more tied together, I think.


Our favourite part of the table? The Husband and I would likely agree... we love the shine! Varathane is an amazing thing. 


Who wants a tutorial? Anyone can do this, to any table, believe me! I'm sure I can pull a how-to out of my sleeve and my Husband's mind. Come back tomorrow to see how he pulled this off.


Pin It

This post has been linked up!

HookingupwithHoH

Friday, January 6, 2012

Blogging News! This Dusty House Dot Com

This Dusty House has made the jump!

If you've visited us at any time since about... 3:00 yesterday afternoon, there are a couple things you may have noticed.

The blog looks a little different.




But not too much. Not yet. We're working on that but I, stubbornly, don't want to hire a proper blog designer, especially since I'm far from a professional blogger and don't feel like I can justify spending money on something that could be a free hobby.

Unfortunately, my skills may not be up to a beautiful redesign. But for now, I'm enjoying the slightly more streamlined look.

We've got a domain!


I know I just said that I can't justify spending money on the blog, but when it's $10 for a whole year, combined with a little free hosting from a generous techy brother... I can accept it. So, from now on, our blog has a new home here, at www.thisdustyhouse.com. Once we stopped trying to fight with moving to Wordpress, I'm amazed how easy the move went.

You shouldn't see any change. If you go to the old address, you probably won't even notice when you're redirected here. If you link here, you might want to update the link, but there's no crucial need. So, really, all in all, there's no change... I'm just super excited about it!

I hope you all have a delightful weekend. Come back on Monday -- I hope to have a gorgeous reveal of a project we've been secretly working on for the past two weeks.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Three Things This Thursday

Tomorrow is Friday, which means I have very nearly survived my first week back at work after my delightful 10 day vacation. I'm all back in the working groove, which mostly means I'm just really looking forward to the weekend and a chance to sleep in again.

One

I have to admit, I don't get stuffed peppers. A couple girlfriends and I had a conversation about them over tea in a supercute tea shop on Queen Street last weekend. Even the shop owner weighed in with his two cents: "Stuffed peppers are awesome." Inspired and intrigued - since I'd never actually consumed stuffed peppers myself - and excited to break out the brand new freakishly sharp knife the husband gave me for Christmas, I popped the top off a couple orange peppers and stuffed them full of quinoa-and-ground-turkey goodness.


And, here's the the thing: I loved it, but I could really have done without the pepper.

Don't get me wrong. I love peppers. But in the end, it just got in the way of the delicious stuffing inside. Does this mean I am denied good cook status? Thankfully, stuffed mushrooms have already stolen a safe place in my heart, so I haven't dismissed the the concept of stuffing veggies itself. Perhaps I'll try tomatoes.

But you won't likely find me stuffing a pepper again.

(If you want to, you can find the recipe I used here @ Dinner or Desserts!)

Two


I never would have thought I'd say this, but I love country kitchens. That's probably how we ended up with an all white kitchen. Come back tomorrow, I think, and you'll find out why, exactly, I'm loving this inspiration photo right now. We've been busy!

(Hint: I may have gotten a little high from the varathane fumes in our house last night.)

Three

I'm sure you noticed in my last post that our duvet is all wrong for our room. There's a few other things that are wrong, but at the moment, this is the most easily changed.


However, we have a little problem.


She's fuzzy. She's cute. She'll lick your face and wiggle her butt in joy at you. Her favourite things are long walks, the dog park, her blue squeaky toy, cardboard, and fabric.

Yup. Fabric.

We don't have a single sheet, a single afghan, a single sleeping bag without a hole in it. She's started pulling the stuffing out of our duvet. We spent $25 on sheets at the Home Show a couple months ago, slept delightfully in them for 2 days, and then woke up on the third morning to her teeth gnawing away on the smooth grey fabric.

She's a tyrant.

How can we justify buying a new duvet cover when her method of welcoming it home involves teeth and the biggest hole she can manage before we stop her?

We can't.

I know that some of my readers are dog people. Do you have this problem? How do you save your stuff from the non-human creature you love the most?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Serendipity is a pretty chandelier

One of our tasks last week involved an oil change and a tire switch on our 2001 Ford Focus. We don't have a preferred mechanic and no time or desire to research and find one, so guess where we go?

Good old Canadian Tire.

We dropped our car off and were informed of the 3-4 hour wait. No problem. Ikea is just down the street. We had planned this strategically: live in an Ikea living room for a little while, pick up a few necessary things, order a couple things for our kitchen, wait in the pick-up line from the warehouse, eat a couple cheap hot dogs, wander back to the big CT and pick up our car. All that should easily have killed 3 hours.

When the car wasn't ready after 3 hours, we shrugged and figured we could kill another hour yet. We dropped in at the next door Mark Work Warehouse, failed at finding affordable yoga pants or business casual pants that didn't look like they belonged on a 75 year old woman, and bought the husband some socks. Half an hour later, no phone call. We start wandering the aisles of Canadian Tire.

And stumbled into the lighting section.

For some reason, we forgot that Canadian Tire even has a lighting section. We've had no luck finding anything we like at Home Depot, Lowes, or Rona. We'd essentially given up and come to terms with the wires hanging out of our living room and the single bulb hanging over our bed. But, there we stood beneath the lights of Canadian Tire and spotted three in quick succession that would more than do the job. The prices, unfortunately, weren't quite so pleasant. Our cheapness caught up to us.

That is, until the husband spotted the perfect chandelier tucked on a back wall, not on sale, but perfectly within our price range. It had just the right amount of glamour with a touch of sophistication. We couldn't have found a better option for our bedroom.

2 more hours later, after I nearly gave the guys at the autodesk a proper tongue-lashing for keeping us there 2 hours after their outside estimation, we took the chandelier and a few other things home. Hanging it... another nightmare, though much less frustrating than hanging out in a garage waiting room for two hours. Up and down, up and down it went as the husband's chandelier-hanging learning curve made it's slow and steady climb. And now, here it is, hanging beautifully in our bedroom, with only half the lightbulbs in (and dim ones, at that...) but looking oh so pretty.


This room is clearly in transition as it shifts and defines itself, as our purchases come to terms with our gifted items and our previous possessions, as I find a direction in which to push it. The wood tone of the bed isn't quite right, the brass of the mirror blends into the wall too much and our old duvet cover and beige pillows work better than our dark red ones, but do nothing to stand out against the simple white trim, white curtains, black radiator, mauve walls and silver, black and glass chandelier.


There's plenty to tweak and play with here, art work to find, throw pillows to decorate. Looking at this room, I truly appreciate the time and effort it takes to develop a style and bring it all together. One day, perhaps, I'll feel like I have finished with it.

And then, I'll probably start all over.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012, Day 2

This past week saw us lounging in bed until 8:30 in the morning, drinking coffee and nibbling on breakfast (French toast, among my Christmas gifts to the Husband) until 10:30, putting our feet up until noon, snuggling on the couch with movies until dinner time, and collapsing into bed nice and early after a hard day of relaxation.

None of that is actually true. What is true is that I took an unofficial break from blogging and the blogging world in general. If you didn't notice from my last post, I desperately needed it. So, while we didn't necessarily just spend 10 days with our feet up, the blog certainly did.


And now, here we find ourselves out of the old year and into a new one. 2011 was a bit of a crazy year. One year ago this weekend, we found a realtor and started house hunting. Four months later, we turned the key in our very own little white bungalow and started ripping it apart. 

At least it's mostly together again, even if it's not going to stay that way. We have big plans for our house in 2012 and, in a way, even bigger plans for 2013. But, that's getting a little ahead of ourselves. 

I know this is the time I'm supposed to make a list of all my goals for 2012 so that I can come back to it in 2013 and check off what I did and what I didn't. To be honest, I'm not sure I feel the need for goals right now. Instead, I'm going to make one single promise: to embrace life as it comes, embrace the small victories as I achieve them, embrace change if necessary or stay the course as required.

That's it. 

If I never lose the 5 extra pounds I'd love to get rid of, so be it.

If I never finish the scarf I started over Christmas, maybe I'll finish it in 2013. 

If our reno plans completely fall through, we'll patch things up and move on. 

If I fail as a wife, as a friend, as a daughter, as a blogger, as a writer, as a youth leader, I'll not berate myself and slide into a state of self-pity and disappointment, but pick myself up and fix it, even if fixing it just means soldiering on.


I promise to not be so hard on myself.

I hope you all had a happy Christmas and an adventurous-within-reason New Year. It's time to face 2012 with optimism and just enough excitement for another bright year.