Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunday Leisure

My Sunday afternoon was spent in the garden. I know that it's still a bit too early to plant much - though there's a few things that appreciate going in the soil a couple weeks before the last frost - but my leeks, onions, and chives were looking pitiful in their peat pots. Either they were too crowded for the growing tray, or their water and sun had been stolen by the peppers and tomato plants for too long. Finally, they were giving up.

So, I figured, they'd at least have a better chance of survival in the ground, especially since allums tend to be cold weather plants anyway and, according to my recent reading, should really have been planted in the fall of last year.

I marked off a few squares and got planting.

It felt good to get digging. And now. Now I'm just hoping they'll rebound, that their stems will strengthen, that they'll straighten up and grow. Was I too late? Have I killed them? I hope not...

In the kitchen, I'm talking about wild leeks today. Also, soup.

Friday, April 27, 2012


I feel a little bit like someone took my brain and drove over it a few times. As such, I can't quite believe how much I'm looking forward to this weekend.

There will be plenty of sleeping.

image via the Pottery Barn

Followed by lots and lots of flopping back into bed. By which I actually mean testing out mattresses. 

'Cause we need a new one.

And our second year anniversary is fast approaching.

So, we shall lie on a whole bunch of different mattresses, then put a blindfold on, spin around and point. And that shall be the one we take.

(Especially if it comes with that gorgeous bed frame.)

Happy weekend.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fish Tank

One of the things we saved from among the pile of our old things at my parents place was a fish tank. It was one of the few things of the Husband's that found its way into our old barn storage two years ago. As he dug it out of a dark corner, I had visions of bright little tropical fish, fish with funny looking faces, fish, fish, fish.

Ours won't look quite as good as these, but I'm hoping the introduction of a little water in our home will add an extra bit of texture, a little memorization.

Hopefully not too much algae scum.

Mark Dutka contemporary family room
LA JOLLA CONDO- DINING ROOM contemporary dining room

Oh. Pretty.

It's surprisingly difficult to find decor inspiration that incorporates a fish tank, especially decor that complements my somewhat more traditional taste. Do you have a fish tank? Where do you keep it?

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Weekend, According to My Phone

Our weekend purpose was this pile of old things destined for a garage sale, now waiting to be cleaned, sorted, and tagged:

But even better was being surrounded by space, old barns, fires of paper garbage:

Even better was how happy this little dog was to get so dirty:

And these beignets from my mother's kitchen:

Even better was how a romp in the woods led to finding huge patches of wild leeks:

I love being home with my parents.

(In case you hadn't noticed, I have gladly jumped on the Instagram bandwagon now that they've finally released their app for Android.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sorting Through

When the Husband and I got married and moved in together, my parents though that, finally, finally, they could get rid of the pile of my stuff that was living at their house.

And then, they helped us move into our 580 square foot condo on the 30th floor of a four year old building in North York. All dreams of turning my bedroom into a proper guest room disappeared. In fact, home they trundled half the stuff that had lived in my student house - a wobbly table, a large bookshelf, a microwave and stand, half a hundred books, various boxes of random knick knacks and, well, crap.

They were even so gracious as to store a bunch of the Husband's things. A fish tank, a hockey bag, golf clubs, a bike.

When we bought our house, they got all excited thinking that finally, finally, they could give it all back and, once and for all, be done with all of their 24-year-old daughter's stuff. And then, they came and helped paint our 600 square foot basement as we prepped the unit for tenants. There was a bit of a sigh, a shrug, and an acknowledgement that they were still stuck with a mountain of old odds and ends.

Everything has lived in their storage barn (Yes, barn. Not a working barn, mind you, though it was once.) since, two years of languishing in the dark. This week, I got a friendly email from my mom reminding me about the upcoming town wide yard sale and her plans to put it all on the chopping block if I didn't come sort through it first.

(That's not how the email was phrased, but I'm sure if I just left it all there long enough, that's how it would end up.)

So, just to be nice, and to save my canister set from the pile, we're headed home for an evening, a visit, a chatter. I'm not a huge fan of the drive, but I'm looking forward to seeing these people.

I'm also looking forward to seeing this dog:

(We affectionately call her my little sister.)

Where have you left piles of stuff, momentoes of your past that should really just be yard saled?

Happy Friday! I hope your weekend is relaxing and re-energizing, filled with awesomeness.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Three Things for Thursday

One: BlogPodium

BlogPodium is a one day workshop for design bloggers on the topic of blogging. And networking. Oh, networking. That thing everyone says is important. That thing I kind of loath with a passion. But guess what? I'm kinda going.
I've known about BlogPodium for months, since before the Design Bloggers Meetup. I've hemmed and hawed over purchasing a ticket, acknowledging the benefits (Meeting new people! Seeing old blogging friends! Cocktails! Swag bag! Making connections!) and cringing at the potential for awkwardness (The what-am-I-going-to-wear part, those first few moments part, the putting myself out there part, the chatting with brands about partnerships part, the uh-oh-no-one-knows-what-to-say-to-each-other-this-pause-of-silence-has-lasted-too-long part). I figured I would continue to comfortably hem and haw until the purchase deadline passed or it sold out.

And then Jen emailed me. I am powerless to a personal invitation.

So. I set aside all my personal insecurities. I pulled out my low-limit credit card. My name, This Dusty House's name is on the list. I'm going. I'm focusing on the benefits, allowing for the awkwardness. It's all part of the fun, right?

Canadian blogging friends, look out for me! I hope to meet as many of you as possible there. Also, a question: where do you get your business cards printed?

(This is now a sold out event! However, you can sign up for the waiting list and if you follow @BlogPodium on Twitter, you might get a chance to snag a ticket from someone who is no longer able to go.)

Two: Canning

Last week was gardening week, so you already know that I have all sorts of gardening plans. I've also been thinking about how we're ever going to eat all the produce I hope my garden grows. I mean... there are plans to plant 12 different tomato plants. We are only two people!

Clearly I'm going to have to learn how to can some stuff.

I have many months of debating the methods, whether I should pressure can or stick to canning more acidic stuff, of finding recipes for red pepper jelly, salsa, sweet pickles, and relish. Any suggestions, tips, and tutorials are more than welcome!

Three: Butterfly Bedroom

Earlier this week, Lindsay shared these shots of a bedroom from Gossip Girl. I think I streamed the pilot of that show once, but I'm more or less completely unfamiliar with it so this was the very first time I've seen this space. I was immediately drawn to the wall behind the bed.

Butterflies! Dozens of them, in a scattered circular pattern.

The Husband and I still have no art in our bedroom. Or, well, in most of the house. I'm pretty certain I have neither the skill nor the patience to pull something like this off, but isn't it pretty? Inspiring, even.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pergola, pergola

While our first focus is going to remain on the front of the house, putting our best face forward in a literal sense of the phrase, we don't want to neglect the back yard this summer. In fact, in some ways, the improvements we want to bring to our back patio will be even more welcome than those we plan for our front porch and lawn. We love our barbecue, we love our garden, and our summer plans are full of lazy evenings with burgers around a patio table.

Unfortunately, at the moment, our patio is far from being a relaxing space. 

Admittedly, this is a very old picture that doesn't actually give you the best sense of what the space looks like at the moment. There may or may not be an old door stuck over the window, an available scrap used to board it up when we decided to leave it out of our bathroom plans. There's a few cheap patio chairs scattered around and scraps of wood and renovation mess against the garage. It's just... not pretty. 

Thankfully, we have vision. 

We'd love to do away with the patio stones and lay down some beautiful interlocking brick. We'd love a proper fence to cut our view off from the side of our neighbour's badly chipped garage wall. (This will involve bringing in a surveyor to remove any confusion about where his property line ends and ours begins.) Most importantly, we'd love to fill the space between our garage and the edge of our property with outdoor living space. Specifically,

Ana Williamson Architect traditional patio

In the process of my research, I've learned that these overhead trellises of vines are called pergolas. So, it's official. We want a pergola stretched over our patio space. Preferably, we will fill the space beneath it with a nice long dining table, or maybe an outdoor sofa or two. It will be a comfortable place, perfect for relaxing in dappled sunshine, watching the garden grow, nibbling on fresh greens and juicy burgers. 

image via My Paradissi via Mirabeau

There is a possibility that I am highly idealistic. 

Strike that.

I am highly idealistic. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Summer Plans

Last year at this time, we were knee deep in some major renovations. We're not done, per se, and plans and ideas keep wandering through our daily conversation. But, for now, for now we've decided to take a bit of a break. If you can call it a break. This summer is not going to be full of some glorious remodel, there will be no addition out the back come September and for once, we're not going to spend every weekend inhaling drywall dust and paint fumes.


There will be no sitting around twiddling thumbs. Oh no. We've still got plans, even if they aren't particularly big.

A little back story. When we pulled up in front of our little house for the very first time, I have to admit: I hated it. It was weird, ugly. There was no grassy, just concrete out front. A satellite perched precariously from the roof. The exhaust poked its way out of boarded up windows from the basement level, right out infront. The front porch was chipped and ugly and for goodness sake, why did the previous owners tile it with smooth, slippery, interior tile?

image via screen capture of Google Street View

Curb appeal? Whatever was there was not working on me.

Over a year later, I love our little house. I think it's cute rather than ugly. Its odd boxiness has grown on me and I've learned to see its unique face as quietly unimposing and welcoming. But I remember that first reaction to it and I know we have to do something to make sure such a reaction doesn't match with that of friends, family, or worse, potential future buyers.

We haven't done much with it yet. We've been focused on the interior and then, well, we hibernated for the winter. But I'm not sure if you've noticed... it's not winter anymore! So, what are we going to do?

A list!

  • Rip up the concrete pad on the right. It is not driveway, cannot be used for parking and is terrible for drainage and well, prettiness.
  • Pull up the brick, re-level our parking space and re-lay the brick. It has started to dip where tires tend to sit. 
  • Board up the basement windows properly and brick or stone a facade over them. 
  • Run the exhaust line to the side of the house instead of straight out the front. (Newish readers: you must check out this story from way back when we first bought the house. Our neighbours thought we were on fire!)
  • Rebuild the porch, including ripping up the tile, building new stairs and railing.
Now that I write it all out, it looks like a lot more than I think it is. But really, the whole focus of this project is the porch. Oh, it needs help. The Husband, being a very visual person, immediately pulled out a sketch pad of graph paper and set to drawing once we seriously started to talk about what we're going to do this summer.

Isn't it going to be pretty? Wide, wrap-around stairs, a brick pathway and just a little strip of perfectly maintained grass along our property line. What do you think?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Morning

Monday mornings never go well for me. This morning, I spent an extra half hour wandering the house in search of my (very very dead) phone. I did not find it. Then, I realized my Metropass was still in the pocket of my husband's coat, the husband that had left for work 20 minutes earlier. To top off the trifecta of missing things, my keys were no where to be found until I realized I'd left them on the console of the car. The car that had left with the husband 30 minutes earlier.

(Some days, I'm really thankful that we have two extra people living in the basement of our house. I locked up the front and went out the back entrance instead, knowing they'll lock up when they leave for the day.)

Today doesn't feel like it's working out at all. However, my day turned far better when I opened up my Google Reader and found this post. Amanda and I had coffee a couple weeks ago (yes, blogging friends turning into real live friends!) and I was super excited to find out that she was close to finished the map of Roncesvalles she's been working on for the past few months.

This morning, she revealed it, all finished.
She is an incredibly talented illustrator. I mean, look at that detail! Every window, every tree, even the cars in the parking lot and the alleyway.

It's so Toronto.

And I want to hang it on my wall. Especially since the Husband and I don't expect to stay in the city forever. One day, we hope to get back to the country, back to living and working in small town, rural Ontario. Back to small, close-knit communities, small town fairs, and the two fingered wave from behind steering wheels. But, when (if?) that happens, I know I'm going to want to take a piece of Toronto with me. We might not live in Roncesvalles, but I'd love to have any piece of Toronto hanging on my wall.

And, guess what!

Amanda is selling prints of this illustration!

She has them in her brand new Etsy shop. Or, if you'd like a little more Toronto experience, you can drop in to Gurts on Roncesvalles Avenue and pick up your very own with a bit of frozen yogurt on the side.

(Amanda did not reimburse me in anyway for telling you about her amazingly talented drawing skills. Unless friendship and a coffee date counts. I just think she's awesome.)

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Garden Plan: Always In Flux

This garden is a joint effort between us and our downstairs friends, the sweetest tenants we could ever have hoped to end up with. While it's a collaborative effort, we did decide to separate our beds. I think this decision has freed us both up to look at our little beds as 'ours' to do with what we will, to create our own plans, to lean on each other for support, suggestions, and knowledge, but to take our learning experience into our own hands. We'll still share the labour, the costs, and some of the produce, of course, and it's my hope that the garden gives us a chance to spend plenty of time together and get to know them even better.

So, this is our plan! I tried to follow the rules of companion planting as much as possible, so fingers crossed that my onions and carrots will help each other. Of course, it may need to change a bit and get shuffled around and coordinated as we figure out light patterns and tall plants versus short plants, but for now, this is the plan:

Bed One

This is my tomato and pepper bed! There are three different types of tomatoes (beefsteak, cherry, and roma) and three different types of peppers (rainbow, green, and jalepeno). I put all these together hoping that, since they grow relatively tall, neither will block the sun from the other. Also, apparently peppers require nice high humidity for the vegetable to grow, and tomatoes around them will help to provide that within the leafy foliage of it all. 

Bed Two

 Spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, and green beans. The greens bed! When I asked the Husband what he wanted us to grow he had only two requests: cucumbers and green beans. So, plenty of cucumbers, plenty of green beans!

Bed Three

This bed is a bit of a hodgepodge of things. Originally, it was going to be a simple bed: onions, carrots, parsnips, and leaks. But really. Do you realized how many onions you can plant in one square foot? I may yet decide to devote two square feet to them yet, but here, you only see one, rather than the six I had original planned. There's also chives, two types of squash, dill, carrots (lots!), parsnips (lots!), leeks (just a few - I don't even know if I like leeks!), watermelon, and two types of potatoes, regular and sweet. These I plan to grow in a potato box to make the most of my single square foot.

I know some of you are experienced gardeners and have already been giving me plenty of advice. So, tell me: how have I done with this garden plan? Is there anything I should know that I haven't yet learned about any of these plants?

(These plans were created using this wonderful square foot gardening tool.)

Just in case you missed one of them, check out the other posts from This Dusty House's gardening week"

This post has been linked up to these link parties:


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Raised Beds Tutorial

In a way, this is a tutorial, though I believe you would be able to figure this out on your own. The Husband and I followed our own intuition as we built them. I know you all have a similar intuition, so, instead of a tutorial, consider this the story of how we built our raised beds.

And how you could too.

Step One

Plot out where your boxes will go.

Originally, for aesthetic purposes, I wanted one box at the front of the garden running east west and the back two running north-south. There was no real reason for this - purely looks. But, our spacing just wasn't working out very well. So, this is what we ended up with:

  • 2 foot paths between boxes. 
  • 3 foot path down the centre (which will appear more like the centre once the other three boxes join it).
  • 6x4 foot boxes. 
  • 2 foot strip along the fence line
We marked everything out with our very precise heel against the dirt. Then, we grabbed our shovels and hoes.

Step Two

Work your soil up.

You'll be surprised how much it appears to be once it's no longer hard backed into the earth. We also dig up and smooth out our path, just by a few inches. We added this dirt to our pile for the garden bed. The process somehow involved getting dirt in my hair and all the way down my back. I may or may not have ended up with dirt in some very inconvenient places. A shower is recommended once finished.

Highly recommended.

Step Three


Very important.

Step Four

Build your boxes!

For us, that meant cutting our wood to 4 feet and 6 feet and simply screwing them together. Screws are important! Because the dirt is going to put some pressure on the sides of the boxes, nails will just pull out over time. Screws will too, but it will take much longer.

Step Five

Place your boxes in your garden and reinforce with stakes.

At this point, you'll notice that we're not quite finished this step. We used four stakes to reinforce the sides, but we'll need another four to reinforce the other side. There should be two stakes at each corner to help the wood with the pressure of holding in the dirt.

Step Six

This is a step we did not do, but wouldn't be a bad idea if you want to build a 'proper' raised bed. Often, when people build raise beds, they do it to prevent weed growth, or because their own soil is not so good. So, a barrier between the good and bad soil is required. This can simply by cardboard, a thick layer of mulch, or some landscaping fabric, anything that is going to prevent the weeds from popping up through.

We skipped this step because we think our Toronto soil is awesome, nutrient-rich and perfect for growing veggies. We might have a bit of a soil-ego.

Step Seven

Smooth out your dirt and push it right into the corners of the bed.

Ours are ridiculously full, even after a night or two of settling, being rained on, etc. etc. After this step, I've announced them ready to plant!

Exciting, right?

Tomorrow: the garden plan!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Raised Bed Love

We have a garden!

When we started planning our garden with our Downstairs Friends, J suggested that we build raised beds. At first, I was very cool to the idea. After all, raised beds meant the kind of work that, around here, seems like a great idea, but never actually gets done. Besides that, I was seeing dollar signs. Raised beds need to be filled, right? So... pay? For dirt? When we have perfectly good, rich, Toronto soil, and lots of it, in our backyard?

And then, my BFF gifted me a gardening magazine for my birthday and I learned all sorts of things. Most specifically, I learned that you don't actually have to bring any new dirt into your garden, unless, of course, the dirt you do have is more like sand anyway. Rather, you build up your beds by turning the dirt, working dirt out of your pathways and, if necessary, supplementing a little with a bag or two of soil or compost. So, I did a complete 180* on the idea. They would be prettier. Weeding would be more comfortable, what with not having to bend quite so far. Square foot gardening will be easier to plan out and plant. And, with any luck, the dog will stick to the paths instead of tromping all over our parsnips. Lesson learned: I have a lot to learn about gardening.

On Saturday, instead of running around and visiting all sorts of far-away family for Easter, (Sorry Mom...) The Husband and I took a trip to our favourite orange box and sifted through our wood choices.

Guys. Wood is expensive!

In the end, for the sake of our bank account, we settled on simple 2x4s. They wouldn't make very deep raised beds, but at least they'd be squared out. We got home with the boards around 10, threw together a quick brunch, and set to planning our space.

(Mocha's favourite blogging task is modeling the garden.)

Four hours later, after one hour of mulling, designing, and redesigning, one hour of back-strengthening exercise with a hoe and a shovel, and two hours of building, placing, adjusting, and staking, we had three beautiful raised beds. These shots make them look especially good I think. I took on an early morning, (determined to be able to share them with you, but always missing out on the sunlight at the end of the day). The freshly turned dirt is wet, looking especially rich against the sides of the bed.

We managed to churn out three on Saturday. Another three will follow soon. I also want to raise the long beds along the fence, but the jury is still out on that one. These will be perfected with a few screws through the stakes to hold them and, perhaps, a finished pathway of patio stones between each bed to help prevent the spread of weeds. (Also, simply because we have them.)

And then, we will fill them with plants!

A simple tutorial on how to build these and prep your garden will follow tomorrow. And then, maybe I'll share my planting plans too! It's definitely garden week here...

If you haven't already, pop over to yesterday's post and share your gardening posts in my link party! There are no requirements for playing along... I just want to get in touch with as many gardening bloggers as possible!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Spring! But It's Not. Gardening Link Up Party!

This spring has been kind of hard. The weather is gorgeous, warm, sunny. Our grass is growing and everything, everywhere seems to be budding. And I'm getting antsy. The longer I wait, the more green things turn, the less it looks like winter and the more it looks like summer, the less I'm able to resist the call of our garden.

Quick refresher: last year, we threw a few seeds in the ground and I was shocked when they grew and provided us with carrots and cauliflower consistently for three months. This year, I want to be a Serious Gardener, so I started my own seeds.

And they grew. 

Because I was over eager and already having trouble with the waiting thing, I started these seeds at the end of February. Even the little seed packets said I shouldn't try to start them until - at the very earliest - the beginning of March. I'm such a rebel. 

What my overzealous seed planting means is that my tomato plants are begging - begging - to be put in the ground. And I was gonna do it too! This past weekend, probably. And then, as we settled in beside a friend at church for the Good Friday service, his mom - an experienced gardener - leaned over and said quietly, "No matter what the weather is doing, it's not spring yet. You can't plant your garden until May."

However, she said, those poor tomato plants certainly need some help. They've fallen over and started growing sideways with the weight of their heads. I'm sure I've done something wrong to cause them to do this, but their green and smell delightfully of tomato plants, so I'm happy and certain they'll bear fruit. But yes. Yes, they need help.

So, following J's advice, on Saturday, I stopped by the gardening section of our local Home Depot and picked up a couple sets of peat pots, big enough that I could place the little grow-pellet directly in the pot to avoid hurting the little root balls as much as possible. I sprinkled a little dirt in the bottom of each peat pot, lifted the tomato plant into the pot and sprinkled more dirt over it. 

And then, the important step. I - wait for it - staked them! I know, right? Genius. No one in the world has ever thought of staking their tomato plants before. Ha.

Now, my 12 tomato plants are looking far happier in their bigger pots with little twigs holding them up straighter. The stakes and the bigger pots will give them a few more weeks of solid growth and then, I'll pop them in the ground, and rig an even larger stake to help them grow taller and taller and bear much fruit.

Since I've seriously got gardening on the brain, I need friends who can join me in the fun. So, please tell me! Which of you are growing gardens this year, big or small, veggie or flower? In fact, let's try something new... link up your gardening posts, either from this year or last so that everyone can follow along!

Even if you don't have a blog, leave a comment and let me know about your own gardening experience! I really, truly can't get enough right now.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Remember This? Reupholstering Update

I started this project ages ago. Remember this montage of funny faces and a headband slipping further and further back on my head?

After telling you all about the chair and sharing the journey of ripping it apart, I wanted to appear awesome and come back with a full reveal of a finished chair, say, a month after I started it. Considering I started this in October, I'm pretty certain that full reveal might not be coming until, oh, 2013.

That does not mean, however, that my chair is still in a down-to-the-batting state. In fact, it's in a perfectly usable, and therefore, even-less-likely-to-be-finished state. I might as well share how far I've gotten, right?

After your help, I chose the Varenna, Stone fabric from Tonic Living to reupholster it in. It's been amazing to work with, not to mention beautifully soft in pattern and colour. I couldn't have picked better.

It's so close to finished, I know. So, where am I stuck?

  1. I want to finish the edges along the back with nail head trim so I didn't have to figure out that other kind made with stiff, fabric covered twine. However, it's proving more difficult to acquire than expected. I'm assuming Fabricland will cover me, but getting there has been neither easy nor convenient. One of these days, I'll make a specific trip and eliminate this particularly excuse.
  2. That cushion. At the moment, it's simply wrapped in a light blanket. Unfortunately, this works a little too well because it's preventing me from actually figuring out the whole cushion thing. I keep balking at doing what I know I think I have to do with it because it looks hard
  3. At the same time, I'm not sure if I'm thrilled with my plan anymore. I was simply going to upholster the cushion in the same fabric as the rest of it. But, I like the way it looks with the solid cushion colour. In fact, Jen of Rambling Renovators had suggested, way back when I was looking for fabric choice help, that I consider a two-toned approach. Now, I wish I'd actually followed her suggestion from the beginning.

So, I have a little ways to go with this yet. It's been a learning process for sure and I'm glad I did it. It might not look professionally upholstered when it's done, but I think it will look passably finished. Occasionally, I wonder if I would do it again. Would I be crazy if I said yes, halfway through and 6 months in to this project?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Housiversary Celebration Four: What's Next

Today is Good Friday. I'll be spending the day at church and with family to acknowledge the sacrifice of Christ. That means this post was written yesterday! I know, crazy. I am sending happy Easter thoughts your way this weekend! I hope it is a long weekend full of blessings and rest for you, whether you celebrate or not.

Our future plans are always changing. How much more should we do with this house? Perhaps it will soon be time to move on to the next. Or is a new large project in order? An addition out the back? Something stacked above us? What about the basement? Could it, in some way, be improved?

Believe it or not, while every single one of these thoughts is on our mind, for once, we're taking a step back and settling in instead of leaping into another big project. That is not to say, however, that we don't have plans for this summer and this year.

The Back Patio

Because of the whole renovating thing, our back patio has never looked particularly clean, let along particularly nice. It's merely a stretch of square patio stones that cover the space between our back door and our garage and between our garage and our neighbour's shed. More often then not, there's a pile of scrap wood, empty paint cans, or other random bits of detritus lying in corners and along garage walls and fences. I tried to plant a few flowers in the flower bed by the gate last year, but failed to pay any attention to them.

All in all, it's time for a make-over.

The Back Yard

Beyond the back patio lies a stretch of open grass. Patchy, patchy grass. And beyond that, an empty space that is anticipating a garden. This one is going to be all fun, a combination of seeding, cutting, planting, digging, hoeing, weeding.

The Front Porch

This is a big one. The front porch, all in all, sucks.

It was poured poorly, tiled with a smooth, slippery tile, and let go to peel, become wobbly and start to kill our house's curb appeal. Not to mention the exhaust pipes that stick out the front of our house beneath the porch.

When we first saw this house during house hunt, the porch fully turned me off. The basement apartment totally won me back, but those first few moments of looking at a house can be crucial for a buyer's impression of a home. Now? I love our little house and think it's adorable. But that porch? Originally, it made me thing the whole thing was absolutely hideous.

The Front Yard

Our little patch of concrete jungle didn't help matters when it came to my first impression. See this?

Instead of grass for a front lawn, we have concrete. Not so nice. Also, not that easy to fix. It will be a labour intensive mess which, to be honest, we're not quite sure we're ready for. So, what is the plan? The plan is to figure out a plan.

I know. Such a solid plan, right?

Living Room

Most of our plans for this year are focused on outside which means that a number of months of the year are going to be devoid of big projects. After all, it's pretty hard to rebuild a front porch or dig up patio stones while the ground is frozen and covered in a layer of snow. So, we have one indoor plan. Just one for this coming year.

The plan? To play!

Our living room, our 'original' room, has been largely untouched and plans for future big possibilities dictate that it stay mainly untouched. However, that doesn't mean I can't pull a mini makeover on this room with some paint, some carefully selected artwork and some creativity with the furniture! Plans here are vague as well, but I hope to make some progress with this space.

That's it! When I write it all out, especially as I've just taken a journey back through our renovations of the past year, it doesn't seem like much. But, in some ways, I'm looking forward to being able to take this summer a little slower, to have time to pause and dig my fingers into this dirt of ours, to take the time to sit on the porch with the Husband, the pooch, and a beer, to take the time for friends and family.

Bring on the year.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Housiversary Celebration Part Three: The Befores and Afters

As promised, today I'm going to show you just exactly the amount of change we've experienced over the past year of living in This Dusty House. I love looking back at our before pictures. They give me the opportunity to marvel at what we've done, two ordinary people with a little bit of a know-how, plenty of help, and a good dollop of determination.

Let's just get right to it, shall we?

Front Room

This room was originally intended to house a living room and the first couple months of living here, we bowed to the pressure of following the rules. But the flow of the room from kitchen to couch and around the coffee table to our two Ikea chairs just felt off. The whole space was crowded and cramped. So, we bought a kitchen table, removed our couch, refinished the table to make it something more to our taste and dubbed the space a dining room. 

Also, I made some chair booties to keep our floors nice and protected. Everyone seems to love the chair booties, which is kind of odd because it's an idea I got from my grandmother. Grandma knows best I guess, right?


As I mentioned yesterday, if I were to take a proper before and after of this space, I'd have to show you the kitchen before and the bathroom after. We switched around their location and rebuilt both crucial aspects of our home from scratch. So. Liberating. 

I've talked so much about our kitchen lately, I hardly feel like there's more to say. You already know that, for space reasons, we decided to go with a wall of pantry cabinets, rather than traditional uppers. You know we found our appliances for cheap at a scratch and dent place here in the city. You know how I built the shelves for the window. You know about my open shelving solution for our dishes. What more would you like to know?


Again. Because of our floor plan changes, the proper "before" to go with these after shots is really the kitchen. Of course, it's a much smaller space (6 feet by 5 feet!). This bathroom resides where the fridge and, perhaps, half the sink did before. Because it's such a small space, we had to be a little creative and keep it incredibly simple at the same time. We installed a pocket door to avoid the wiggle and dance around a too-large door, and we struggled for a while finding a vanity that was the right depth for the narrow space. But, I truly love this room with its dark marble floor and the mosaic tile we accented the shower with.

The Bedroom

The bedroom has a long way to go yet in terms of decor. Some of the time, I find it difficult to look at the afters and see the work we've done as opposed to the work we have yet to do. But, we have done quite a bit in this room and I know it's important to remind myself of that every so often. We took out the drop ceiling and redid the broken drywall above. We built a large, full wall closet. We laid the bamboo flooring that is found throughout the main floor of the house. We painted the radiator black to add a little drama by the window. It's a lot, and definitely worth a little celebration, despite the lack of art on the walls, my dissatisfaction with both of our bed sheet sets, and all the unfinished plans I have.

Room Number Four/Living Room

This room is technically the second bedroom of our two bedroom house, but we use it for the living room. When I give a house tour of all the work we've done over the years, I like to save it for last. This room is all original. We've done a few things, like installed a washer and dryer in the corner (beside the couch, just out of view) and hung some shelves for some art and knick knack storage. But the floors are the original hardwood floors, still in rough shape. The walls haven't even been touched up, let alone painted. The ceiling light remains the square, glass number from the 70s (80s?). It's our messy room, our flop room, our room to throw our bags and shoes in when company is coming and we don't want them to know how messy we truly are. 

In many ways, I love this room the most. It's a reminder of the work we've done in the rest of the house, but it's also a reminder that we're not done, our adventure is not yet over. In fact, it's a reminder that there will always be something else to do, another project just waiting for us. And, it's a reminder of what we can accomplish when we set our minds to it.

Tomorrow, to finish off our housiversary celebration, we have to talk about future plans. What is one year accomplished without another year's worth of ideas? And there are ideas. Oh, indeed. There are ideas.