Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three Things for Thursday


I have a doctor's appointment today. I kind of hate doctor's appointments, so I'm having a very hard time with this whole Thursday thing.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets super nervous any time a medical appointment comes around?


Gabrielle of Savvy Home (one of the BlogPodium bloggers I've discovered after the fact) shared this beautiful living room on her blog yesterday and I immediately fell in love with the couch in a I-know-I-could-never-take-such-a-risk-ask-that-but-oh-my-goodness-I-love-it kind of way.

And then, I got thinking a little more.

We have a black, faux-leather sofa. We bought it two years ago, just after we got married and, for the most part, we still like it. It was inexpensive, but a simple, basic piece that did the trick if I couldn't have the gorgeous, white, linen, $2500 couch from Pottery Barn.

But. (Of course there's a 'But'...) Have you ever sat on a leather or faux-leather couch in the summer time? They get sticky. They make you feel hotter than you really are. They make you sweat. It's not pleasant. So, I've been contemplating slipcovering the whole thing for the summer in a lighter covered fabric.

Perhaps a fabric with a bold pattern on it. 

See where I'm going with this?


I want to paint something turquoise.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo

So, I have these two chairs, one half upholstered, the other still covered in a dusty pink suede. Admittedly, I haven't thought too much beyond the excitement of the find. But I do have a basic outline of an idea for these two beauties. Or, well, a couple basic outlines of ideas.

Re-upholster both chairs in the exact same way. The fabric I chose for the first chair is called Varenna, a beautiful pattern from Tonic Living. Of course, I still need to finish covering the cushion - right now it's wrapped up in a thin Ikea blanket which works just fine but doesn't quite do the long-term job.

They'll be pretty, matching, but complementary in their different styles. A decent option.

Finish re-upholstering Chair Number One in Varenna, but pick a completely different fabric for Chair Number Two. Go with something along the lines of a patterned neutral, or a bright solid that is completely different than Varenna. Embrace their differences and highlight it.

In all honesty, I can't imagine how this option would actually come together. Everything I imagine seems clashing and wrong.

Find a solid fabric that is as close in colour to the grey or perhaps the blue in the Varenna pattern. Finish re-upholstering the cushion of Chair Number One in the solid. Re-upholster the body of Chair Number Two in the solid, and finish the cushion in Varenna.

Matching still, but complementary and contrasting.

Thoughts? What would you do?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No Longer Alone

I found this little guy all alone in a Value Village last fall.

And I know... it's been a long and slow process fixing it up. I'm almost finished, really, truly. I'm just not quite there yet. But, I've always had a vision for this chair. From the moment I found it, I knew I wanted two complementing club chairs to replace our Ikea chairs.

These chairs may still look ok in the pictures, but trust me: the pillow and the dog are hiding a major mess. The white is moving closer and closer to a grungy yellow, pushed closer and closer with every muddy-puppy snooze-fest. It is not a pretty sight. Besides that, I've always found these chairs too tall for this particular space. They sit above the window sill, looking awkward.

By nice, low profile club chairs? They would do the trick. All of this went through my head as I began the reupholstery project on my little green chair. Eight months ago. I've never been known to move quickly in terms of design and decor. As I was working on the reupholstery project, I knew I'd need a second club chair. After all, a club chair and an Ikea chair? I'm not so sure the look would be quite right...

Walking home from dinner on Friday night, I noticed the garage sale flier. Someone on our street would be filling up their driveway with their clutter for sale the following morning. I made a mental note to make sure I took a wander up and down the street to find it after I got up and before BlogPodium. The next morning, I made my coffee, opened the curtains and there, right across the street, it sat, buried underneath a picture frame, a decorative box and a headboard.

I crossed the street to chat with G and examine the rest of her wares, but I knew there was really only one thing I'd be walking away with. $15 later, this pretty girl was in my possession:

I couldn't wait: I did the rearrange and placed both club chairs by the window. One Ikea chair was booted to the front porch, the other squeezed into the TV room. Obviously, I'm going to need to improve my reupholstery skills pretty fast for this one: it has ribbing that my first one didn't have. But, I'm excited for this second project, even if the first is not quite finished. We'll get there eventually, right?

For now, I don't mind that they don't match, that they're both a little rough around the edges. It's all symbolic of the change our house has already gone through, the half finished, but oh-so-comfortable state it currently exists in. They match in potential; they're a celebration of how far we've come. Sure, there's more to do - a line of nail heads, a whole second project to tackle - but what we'll get there eventually.

Monday, May 28, 2012

BlogPodium Recap!

Did you know the subway was closed from Bloor to Union Stations on Saturday? Yeah, I did too. 

But I forgot.

So, when I got off the subway at Bloor and discovered the platform closed off, I cursed my footwear choice, and then chose the wrong alternate route. I arrived at BlogPodium five minutes late with no less than five blisters. Despite the mess of my commute south to the beautiful Arcadian Lofts, and thanks to Michelle from The 236 watching out for me on Twitter, I ended up in one of the best seats in the house: right at the front, with a prime view of everything.

(You may remember: my first blogging experience was all sorts of terrifying. I am living proof that it gets remarkably easier, remarkably quickly.)

I was blown away by the venue. So beautiful, so tastefully and simply decorated. The topic - The Business of Blogging - is one I've been interested in for a long time. If I'm quite honest, it's a topic I've been interested in since before I started This Dusty House. That is not to say that I started this blog with the intent of making money on it. I'm pretty sure most bloggers know by now that, if that's the only goal, you'll be facing burnout and frustration before the end of your first week. But I've long known about the potential and enviously watched bloggers who have found success, endlessly analyzing their blogs, gobbling up every little tidbit of information I can come across.

All the while, reminding myself that I'm a blogger whether I ever hit it big or not.

Saturday was an opportunity to hear first hand from a few of those successful bloggers and absorb even more knowledge about blog monetization and turning the whole blogging operation into a business. I'm not sure I can  say that I learned a lot that I didn't already know. In general, bloggers are open people, willing and ready to share vasts amount information. I've read about much of what the speaker - Nicole Balch from Making It Lovely - and the panelists talked about. It was good to hear again from new perspectives, with new spins, and new little tidbits, and hearing from the brands themselves was even more valuable. I won't go into details since so many others are doing a better job with that than I could ever do. I mean, can you get any more detailed than Brittany did?

So, if I didn't learn much new, what did I take away? About six bags full of encouragement, reassurance, confidence, reminders, inspiration, and support. Six bags full of new approaches, practical suggestions, and sound bites to turn into mantras. Six bags full of business cards and new connections. 

(The swag was pretty awesome too.) 

I left full. Renewed. Energized. Inspired. Hopeful. If nothing else, being in a room full of like-minded people, a quarter of which I already consider friends despite having never met, served to remind me that this little blog is worth all the work I've put into it, all the hours spent writing, all the effort put into projects, all the frustrations I've struggled through with photography, blog design, and on and on. A little money would be nice, but ultimately, those women (and a few men) make every moment valuable.

In the SmileBooth with Brittany, Brittany, and Emily-Jane.

I'd love this whole post to be a huge thank you. Thank you to the organizers, Jennifer of Rambling Renovators and Lindsay of Little House Blog for all your dedication and passion for all things blogging. Your support for us 'little guys' blows me away. Thank you to We Create Hoopla, who made the beautiful centerpieces, one of which I snagged on my way out. Thank you to everyone who came, for being open to new friendships and new connections. I had an amazing time and was so glad to see and meet each and every one of you. 

(All photos - except for the last of my flowers - were taken by Mango Studios. You can see more here and here and here.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

House Guest!

Liia has come to visit once again. It seems that about once a year, my 'little sister' comes to stay for a little while while our parentals go gallivanting around the country or around the world. Last year, it was a three week walk on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. Paul) in Spain.

This year, they pulled up in front of our house with a very excited dog in the back seat and this in the back of their truck:

Let's get a closer look, shall we?

Yup. It's a tandem. And a bike trailer.

This is their plan: they're driving to my in-laws, parking their truck in the driveway, then biking this thing all the way out to Montreal through Ottawa. From there, they'll do a bit of a loop, come back into Ontario, ride through Kingston and arrive back, probably exhausted, in Belleville.

I'm proud of my parents.

But I kind of think they're crazy.

In the meantime, we're taking care of this bear:

Yes, she actually does sit with her legs crossed like that most of the time. The house feels smaller with her in it. She's such a sharp contrast to Mocha. Her tail hits the dishes as she walks by our shelves and she can't fit her whole self in the bathroom to take a drink. (Yes... this dog drinks from the toilet. Always has, always will.)

Both my parents blog, so I'm sure their adventure this year will show up shared. Care to follow along? My mom. My dad.

Meanwhile, we'll have a fun week and a half with my 'little sister'.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Three Things This Thursday

It's been awhile since I've talked about the things I've been thinking about lately, hasn't it?


Bodyrock! Ever since high school and my first job at the local gym, I've been a bit of a fitness enthusiast. Ever since grade 12, I've considered myself a runner and focused any sort of training I might do around going farther, longer, faster.

(I will point out, however, that consistency in this training has never exactly been stellar. But that's besides the point.)

Recently, I discovered and learned what it meant to have my ass kicked by a workout. Seriously, if you're even remotely interested in fitness, check out the website. But, before you do, just a warning: there is a bit of overload on the tall, slender, scantily clad women with abs like crazy...


Blogpodium is this Saturday! And, believe it or not... I have business cards! I was so excited when these came in the mail about three days before I expected them. Seeing my name on my own business cards next to the name of my blog was a priceless moment. What do you think?


I'm over the hutch. I really am. As the Husband and I took a long walk last night, we talked about it and I realized it's not necessarily that I wanted that hutch so bad. I wanted the deal. And I didn't want the neighbour to just get the piece for free. It just didn't seem right! Once I figured that out, it was pretty clear that the whole huff I was in yesterday had nothing to do with a hutch that I really don't need.

On the other hand, if it had been a buffet or dresser, something like this:

It would have been a whole different story. I'm on the hunt for something to replace our Ikea Lack TV stand, which has been inflicted with a huge gaping hole in an inconvenient spot due to a falling mantle clock that broke the particle board inward, then bounced onto my baby toe and left me with a permanent scar. (Scars are sexy, right? Also, that clock is a tank and inflicted no damage upon itself in its mad suicide jump.) I'm on the hunt for an old dresser with plenty of doors and drawers to fix up just like Michelle did a couple years ago. Image all the stuff I could hide in there!

Tomorrow is Friday! The weekend is nearly here!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The one that got away

Or, how we almost bought a beautiful hutch but were stupid enough to sit on our heels until it was too late.

This post is almost painful to write. Would you believe I actually nearly lost sleep over this? I lay in bed last night, mentally kicking myself and then mentally kicking myself for mentally kicking myself. Come on, let it go: there will be other hutches.

But this one? This hutch was perfect! Two glassed display cupboards on top with a space for three wine glasses in between. An open surface beneath - one of my requirements. Three pull out drawers and three lower cabinets. There was some decorative detailing, but not too much and I could easily envision it in a bright turquoise or a bold orange. Or, maybe, perhaps yellow, or a calm cream.

The cherry on top? $50, and only 4 houses down from ours at a neighbour's garage sale. I spotted it as we headed out for our long walk to the beach on Saturday. We stopped, looked at it, chatted with the owners for a bit. But, we had no money on us and we really wanted to get to the beach. We were meeting a friend. We didn't have time to go to the bank, come back, exchange money and goods, then lug the probably-heavy thing home. Besides, we couldn't be certain that it would actually fit in the space I want it for. This space, where the bookcase currently stands:

We gathered up the dog, took two steps away from the hutch and told the owners that, if, by the end of the day, it didn't sell, we'd be interested in it. We'd drop by tomorrow or the next day with $50 in hand. We walked away. I assured myself that no, I wouldn't be disappointed if it sold. We don't really need the hutch. Our bookshelf is doing just fine for dishes.

And then, we talked about it. Even if it didn't fit, we reasoned, we could buy it for the $50, I could work some kind of magic on it, and we could sell it as refurbished for $80! Score, right? It would be fun and, in the end, I knew it would likely be perfect for the space.

Homeward that night, it became clear that no, they didn't sell it. The hutch still sat in all its glassed, spindled glory on their front porch. I got kind of excited. We went to the bank. We watched the house. Our neighbours, however, never seemed to be home. Finally, come Tuesday evening, the Husband and I walked down the street, money and a sticky note with my phone number on it in hand and rang the doorbell. No answer. Rang the doorbell again. The neighbour's dogs started to bark. Still no answer. So, I pulled out the sticky note, stuck it to their door, admired the hutch for a brief moment and headed back for home.

As we walked to the gym that night, I got a phone call. Excited, I answered it.

It was their neighbour.

"They said I could have whatever is left on the porch," she said. "I just wanted to save you the trip back."

I thanked her, hung up and seethed a little. How did this happen? I had offered to pay for it! And she gets it for free? And what right did she have to go take my sticky off their door? The rest of the night, I thought way to much about the things I should have said, asserted my right to buy that piece of furniture off her neighbours or, if all else failed, off her!

But I didn't.

And now, I am hutchless.

I know. It's a sad story.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday is the new Monday

Could this past Victoria Day weekend have been any more perfect? Sun, warmth, all three days perfect for relaxing, getting a few things done around the house, visiting the beach, taking long walks, watering the garden, making fresh food, sitting on the front porch watching the world go by.

Every weekend should be a three day weekend.

In the kitchen, I'm sharing a delicious tilapia taco recipe. So delicious, so fresh, so quick!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's in the eyes.

This is a story about Kramer.

Yup, that Kramer.

This portrait of the 'loathsome offensive brute' lived in the Husband's old student house. He and his 4 roommates loved it. Loved it a little too much, perhaps. I don't like to think of myself as being overly controlling of the decor choices in our home. In fact, I make very few choices without input from the Husband. But Kramer? Nuh uh. No way. No matter how much the Husband might like the print. 

I suggested he hang it in our bedroom. At the back of his side of the closet.

(Seriously. Those eyes. They follow you everywhere.)

When we moved into the house, Kramer moved into the garage along with our overflow of stuff that didn't fit in the house: crates of books, camping gear, Christmas decorations, etc. etc. It was all a mess, taking over. There was no space to walk, let alone pile any more stuff. I guess the Husband must have felt bad about the treatment Kramer was getting. On the weekend, he pulled everything out, piled it all in organized piles on the back patio, sorted everything into keep, garbage, recycle, and use categories and then put most of it back in. 

Suddenly, our garage has space!

Tools are accessible, the work benches on both sides is usable and there's still stacking space at the very back. I got a gardening bench, organized and ready to use:

And finally, as the day and the task began to end, the Husband picked up poor, neglected Cosmo Kramer, now liberated from the piles of unworthy junk, and hammered him to the wall in a place of honour.

Or something like that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I have never slept so well

At 9:20 on Wednesday night, our brand new bed finally arrived, 20 minutes late and packaged in the thickest plastic I've ever seen. The delivery men dumped it in the middle of our living room - we'd been hesitant to remove our old mattress from the bedroom, lacking the confidence that the delivery would actually go smoothly and that we would actually be sleeping on a new mattress that night. But there it was in all its glory, smelling of brand new.

Five sleeps later, it still smells brand new.

Unfortunately, we discovered that our old bedframe was about 4 inches too small, so as bed time ticked nearer, we lugged the old mattress out, dismantled the frame, found a corner for the small pile of things that had been hidden beneath the bed, swept, and lowered the box spring and mattress to the floor. (This does mean, though, that now I get to explore all manner of DIY headboards. Send me your ideas!)

And then we slept. And it was glorious.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two years

Our story is so typical, it's almost boring.

Girl introduces herself to boy during coffee time after church. Girl chats up boy on Facebook for two weeks. Boy asks Girl for coffee. Girl says yes. Eight months later, Boy asks Girl to marry him. Girl says yes. Eight months later, Boy and Girl make big promises to each other, move to the big city, start new jobs, get an adorable puppy, buy a little run-down house, start a little blog, and become all grown up together.

Or something like that.

Two years later, occasionally, I still have to pause and remind myself that this is all real, this life we've created together, that it's not just some happy dream.

We have a long way to go in life, the two of us. We are so young, niave, perhaps. I know it's not always going to be easy. Perhaps we won't always be this happy. We can't know what tragedies and struggles lie ahead for us. Maybe we'll discover the truth that our long married friends keep telling us, that marriage is hard, an effort.   

I'm ok with that.

We aren't in this marriage alone. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

Song of Songs 8:6-7

Monday, May 7, 2012

What garden plan?

Remember how I had thoughtfully created a specific plan for our three raised beds, carefully arranging plants using the rules of companion planting as much as possible, considering the way the shade will fall and the foods we definitely wanted to eat for the next few months? And how I've been growing peppers and tomatoes inside, itching to put them in the ground?

I kind of forgot to factor something important into my plan.

I forgot to factor in the generosity of our neighbours.

Last year, when we first moved in and put in our little square of a first garden, our neighbour gave us a few cauliflower plants. He passed away a few short months later but his daughter and her cousin seem to have kept up with the tradition. A few days ago, a flat of plants showed up beside our back gate at the end of the driveway we share with them. We didn't think much of them since our downstairs friends could have bought them for their half of the garden, or the plants could have just been slightly misplaced and meant for their own garden.

Then, as we came home from walking the dog Friday night, she popped out on her front porch and let us know that they were, indeed, for us. Her cousin had dropped into a farmers market, picked up a whole bunch of flats and scattered them out among friends and neighbours, requesting nothing in return. These are amazing people.

Unfortunately, this meant I had to find a place for the eggplants I wasn't planning on planting (do I even like eggplant?), the 8 more peppers and tomatoes that will now join the 12 of each I've been growing, the pak choi that I'm kind of excited about. I've planned all winter, but I am completely willing to throw the whole square-foot-by-square-foot plan out in order to accept a gift from generous, wonderful neighbours.

I spent Saturday digging, squaring off, planning, revamping, planting, and watering.

Then, I did the same thing on Sunday.

By the end of the weekend, I had about half the plants in the ground, with plenty leftover. The leftovers are safe inside, at the ready just in case I happen to kill everything I planted by putting them out too early.

Sitting back and surveying our handiwork, the husband and I could hardly believe it was the same garden. I mean, just a year ago, this is what our backyard looked like, overgrown, used for far too long as overflow for the dumpster on the other side of the wooden fence:

One year later, we're proud of the work we've done to get it to look like this.

Over the next few months, our weekend projects indoors may end up neglected as I spend more and more time here among these plants, weeding, watering, sowing second crops and coaxing tomatoes and green beans around trellises. I am more than willing to lose myself in this place, in these tasks, in this bonding to home. And I can't wait to eat these veggies.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dreaming of clouds and comforters: Or, how we went bed shopping and survived. I think.

Our second year anniversary is fast approaching (next week, w00t w00t!). For a brief moment, we thought about booking ourselves into a hotel downtown - the Royal York, perhaps - and spending a romantic evening inside the buzz of the city. We thought about it, and the idea appealed to us, but in the end, a different anniversary gift won out. Instead, we bought a bed!

Our old bed is the 15-20 year old cheap mattress the Husband lugged around with him from home to home during university. There's a dip in the middle that we both end up falling into. The springs are prominent enough to be lumpy. It's still a relief to fall into, but it's teetering very close to its last legs.

In hindsight, we should have made the investment during the traditional time, a week or so after our wedding, but the purchase hardly felt necessary at the time. Not that it really does now. But now, now it would just be nice.

So, on Saturday, we went mattress shopping.

Friends. I hate mattress shopping.

In the afternoon spent running around to mattress and furniture stores, I also developed a strong dislike of mattress salespeople. Not that I assume these people are terrible, unlikable people. But, as they stood over me in their sellsellsell role, they just rubbed me the wrong way. We came as educated, well-researched consumers and they treated us like we knew nothing, like we didn't know what we were looking for, like we didn't know what's best for us.

Of the four salespeople we dealt with in our shopping around, only one actually listened to what we were looking for, sincerely answered our questions, gave us honest opinions, and treated us like we were more than a commission. So, we bought a bed from her!

What did we get? This one:
The Simmons Beautyrest Napa Valley II, on special for more than 50% off. Pillow top, 1080 coils. This thing is going to change the whole feel of our bedroom. We ordered a low-profile boxspring, but even with it, this bed is going to sit way higher than our current bed. I'm going to have to learn how to climb, hop, leap into bed. And, we're slightly concerned how the height will affect the already tiny room. Will it make it feel even smaller? Will we suddenly feel crowded? 

Also, now I really have to buy a nice new duvet cover, and perhaps even a new duvet. How can we have a beautiful comfy bed covered with a ratty, dog-chewed duvet? First things first, right?