Friday, August 31, 2012

An Indigo inspired office wish list

As I've mentioned here before, my company has recently moved locations. Yesterday was the official move day, though I've been installed in my new office for the past week. We've moved out of an open concept style office and into one broken up into tiny offices, so, for the first time in 2 years, since I 'entered the workforce' as a bright faced young new graduate, I have my own four walls and a door. 

So, I went on a little shopping spree. It was only virtual, and I'm unlikely to spend this much money on my little workspace. But, Chapters Indigo and Polyvore worked together to help me figure out a feel for my office, and slowly, I'll start to gather similar items in order to make my space feel a little less like a blank slate and more like a cozy, practical space.

Office

  • Wesley Alarm Clock: $60. A perfect little bit of old-time touch.
  • Letters Lamp: $60. How perfect is a letters theme for the company's only writer?
  • Grey Pedestal Soup Bowl: $12. My work provides dishes, but as I was 'shopping' I realized how much I would prefer to have my own little set, something pretty that I can make sure is always cleaned and ready for my own personal use. Obviously, the fact that it would look great on my office shelves played a huge role in this addition.
  • Black Text Pencil Cup: $9.50. More letters! 
  • Semikolon Business Card Box Ciel: $25. Admittedly, I don't collect that many business cards. But, I have half a dozen or so and they just... float. I don't have a proper place for them, so, more often then not, they just end up getting tossed.
  • Zen Grey Tea Pot: $24. It's just pretty.
  • Sweater-Weave Basket: $40. This is a crucial one. I'm sure a lot of you have the same experience... my office is cold! If it were a comfortable temperature for me, others would find it uncomfortable warm. I solve this problem with sweaters and blankets. I spend my days at my desk wrapped up tight in an afghan, especially during the winter. Obviously, I need someplace pretty to put my sweaters and afghans. So, a basket!
Have you decorated your office at work? How much time and effort do you put into the space that you spend 8-10 hours a day in?

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fabric Stash Decor

I used to do a bunch of sewing. I would save any and every little bit of fabric with a plan to do something with it. I would search thrift stores for bits of ugly fabric people had donated. Walmart's $1.99/yard bin was my heaven. As I'm sure you can imagine, my fabric stash was pretty large. It was also pretty ugly. Weird fleecy fabrics that you could do anything with. Stretchy t-shirting in a blue-grey that looked like sweatpants (in fact, I made a pair with it!). Bright blue stretch satin, cheap and shimmery.

So, I got rid of it. All of it. Now, my fabric stash is down to this*:


Two bits.

The black and white gingham came from a closing sale of a Fabricland location. It was 60% off and I was disappointed that I wasn't finding any pretty cotton prints, so I went for the next best thing in this slightly shimmery satin. I have no idea what I'm going to make with it.

The blue on the bottom was a gift to me from my brother after he made a trip to India a couple years back. It's even more complicated than the gingham since, as a gift, and consider the trek it to the other side of the world, I'm nervous about letting my scissors anywhere near it. 


So, instead of being turned into beautiful things, both of these fabrics live in my dining room, on a set of shelves with a bunch of other tchotchkes. I think they're kind of pretty there, sitting underneath a little box from the Chapters Indigo Home collection, where I keep my crochet hooks and sewing needles. When I put them there, I was intent on simply tucking them away, but it wasn't long before I realized I appreciated the charm of the little vignette.


And you? Do you have a fabric stash? Big or small? And where do you keep it: on display, or tucked away?

What would you turn this fabric into?

* Full truth: there are also scraps of fabric left in my stash from my dresser makeover and my chair makeover. I still have a problem with hoarding fabric...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Black and Gold: Design Ideas

This morning, I slipped on my favourite bangles as I was getting ready for work. They're a gold bangle with little black and white circles set into the band. I love the little bit of drama they add to my arm, the gold, the tinkling clatter they make as I move.

These bangles have been making me think of other places I could bring in a black and gold motif. Turns out, I don't just like it on my arm: I love the drama the bold palette brings to a room too.


One: A Black and Gold Bathroom


I love the bold contrast of the vanity. Statement-making. Combined with the metallic, gold-leaf wall, it's a space that works because it embraces being dramatic to the fullest. 


Two: A Gold Clutch


I guess this runs along the same lines as my bangles. I love gold and black together in fashion. An understated black outfit combined with a flashy gold clutch seems utterly perfect to me.

Three: A Black and Gold Stove


Oh. My goodness. How's that for a bit of unexpected drama? 

Admittedly, I'm not sure the stove works as well in this space as it could. The backsplash seems too busy, too much like it's competing with the stove. When you have a stove like that, everything around it can be simple and understated.


If I'm being completely honest, while I love these two spaces, they're not exactly... me. I'm not a black-and-gold, give-me-drama-or-go-home kind of person. Does that mean it doesn't fit in anywhere in my personality except in my jewelry?

Of course not!


Four: Black and Gold Pendants


It's so subtle, but it's just enough. The gold painted inside the black pendant lights provides the drama of the black and gold without going over the top, without committing fully to such a bold colour palette.


Five: A Gold Bar Cart


Oh, I wish! Where can I find one of these? It's beautiful, a little splash of gold placed against the dramatic dark background of a small black wall. It's just the perfect amount, I think, of each. 


And, my favourite:

Six: A Black Desk


I think I may have stumbled across the official inspiration for my home office whenever I happen to get one. The black, high shine desk. The gold chair, and all the gold accessories. Oh, oh... I love it.


How do you feel about black and gold? I'm eyeing my brass mirror right now, wondering if there's anything black I can pair it with to increase it's dramatic flare. What do you think?


Monday, August 27, 2012

Keeping Puppies Safe: Dog Tags

Happy Monday! I've had one of those unusual weekends that involved almost nothing. I got some new tech on Saturday, then visited with some amazing friends. I spent the whole afternoon on Sunday cooking, using somethings up, and stocking up my freezer. I love productive weekends, but I can't say I like them more than weekends like this that involve plenty of relaxing and no self-imposed deadlines for accomplishments.

One of the things we did accomplish, however, was kind of important for my own piece of mind. 



See, last week, on one of our many evening walks, a gorgeous black lab came bounding out of the dark to meet Mocha. A quick glance around proved that this pup was on his own, no laid-back owner in sight. I knocked on a nearby door, but the woman who answered had never seen the dog before. 
His collar named him Madison, but with no owner information, we were at a loss. When Madison took off into the dark back yards of the East York neighbourhood, we moved on, planning to swing by and see if he was still hanging about on our way home from our walk. 

All we needed was a phone number, and I would have been much happier knowing that Madison was not still wandering the streets. Imagining the same thing happening to my own dogs, on Saturday, we bought them each personalized name tags, outfitted with their name, our name, phone number, and address. 


I think they like them. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Photo Friday: Hot Peppers


My hot peppers have been doing remarkably well. Perhaps too well. I have an overabundance of jalapenos and the number of red chili peppers dangling from the plant has me kind of alarmed. On top of those two plants, I have a mystery pepper plant, one that claimed to be habaneros, but is growing straight up and pointy, green, then turning brown and rotten. I don't know what they are or, therefore, when to pick them.


I've made spicy chipotle sauce that ended up so spicy, a single tablespoon provides enough heat to a pot of tomato sauce. I've made jalapeno bread. I've made a delicious, tomatoey shepherd's pie of sorts.

I'm happy with my peppers. Even if we don't eat too many spicy foods, I'm glad they're doing so well. If only I could say the same thing about my falling over bushy mess of tomato plants.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Three Things for Thursday: On Blogging

This week's Three Things are about blogging because it's what I've been thinking about this week. I know that this is completely uninteresting for those of you who don't blog, but please bear with me! I have a few questions about blogs and Facebook for you at the bottom of the post!

One: Blog Design


Over the past week or two, I've been slowly chipping away at my blog, trying to bring it out of the basic-Blogger-template world and into something I can call my own, something that is a little more 'me', a little more 'us'.



As I've slowly been teaching myself to play around with a little HTML, I've begun to develop a new appreciation for those of you who design these things. The whole process makes my head spin just a little. But, I've proud of what I've managed to accomplish, of the work-arounds I've figured out, whether it's legitimate design or not. I'm no web designer and I will never claim to be, but I'm feeling far more satisfied with the look of this space than before.

Two: Social Media Icons


These are what I'm the most proud of, I think. Here's a hint for any bloggers who may want their own social media icons: they're simply a circle cut out of one of my favourite photographs, with a letter stuck in them, slightly offset from the flower. 


Three: Facebook


This Dusty House is on Facebook! Obviously. I wouldn't have created a social media icon for it if I wasn't. Over the past few weeks, I've been trying to add more content there, trying to make it something worthwhile to go with this blog. In some ways, I'm not entirely convinced. So, I have a few questions for you: 

Do you follow blogs through Facebook? Do you feel like it allows for a greater level of interaction? And, for my blogging readers; do you have a Facebook page for your blog? Why? How do you view the purpose of your Facebook page? 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An Indoor Herb Garden: Update

Way back in February, I planted some herb seeds. As they were growing, I built some shelves into my kitchen window frame, intent on creating a little herbal oasis in the middle of the house. And then, I forgot to update you. And forgot, and forgot.

I'm sorry.

But today, I have an update! That window herb garden that I began? It grew. Parts of it. And parts of it didn't. Parts of it got a little wild, and spread over the window sill and then were scorched by the sun despite are almost daily watering. And, today, I'm left with the bits that survived.


There's my basil plants, two of them, which I love, and are turning into little trees. 

Then, there's my parsley plants, again, two of them, which struggle, fall over and wilt, but always provide a fresh little shoot to give me hope that, if I trim it back, it will flourish and thrive.

And, there's our aloe plant, which, when we received it as a gift from our neighbours, began to rot from an over abundance of water, making its death seem certain. Now, it's developed three little baby aloes, growing around it like a little aloe family. 

One single row of them on the sill.


What have I learned?

One. If you're going to have a window garden, make sure you space your shelves out to give the herbs enough space to grow. My pots could barely fit on the two rows up, let alone provide room for the plants to grow. In the end, I had two rows, one on the sill and one on the counter. It wasn't a bad spot, but if and when I replant, I think I'll remove one shelf to allow for more pots.

Two. It's important to only plant herbs you will use and enjoy. I use my basil all the time. But, the cilantro grew like crazy, fell over and went to seed because we learned that neither of us were huge fans of the unique taste. Next time, I'll opt for rosemary instead, which has become one of my favourite herbs.

Three. Keep your watering can handy. The reason some of these have done so well is because they get plenty of water and plenty of sun. But, since our watering can, the pretty brass one that sits beside them, is kept so close, it's not hard to water on a nearly daily basis. Also, basil is really good at telling you when it needs water and perking back up within an hour of getting some.



I like having them here, but I can't say that I use them all the time. The basil, regularly. But the rest? Perhaps this is why I let my oregano wither and my thyme scorch. When I plant more, I'll look a little more carefully at the plants I actually want to grow here and go from there. Who knows. Maybe they won't be herbs at all!

Do you grow plants indoors? Herbs? Or otherwise?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Named


Naming a puppy is hard. We searched through lists, created our own lists, crossed off names, added new ones. We asked people for advice and tossed around ideas as we walked, drove, bought chew toys (oh, goodness, we need chew toys), watched TV, made supper. This puppy is going to have this name for the next 10-18 years. It had better be good. It had better fit.

He was almost a Cooper. Almost a Zeus. Almost a Whiskey. Our friends would have named him Latte or Cappuccino to go with the drinks theme we had going that we never meant to start. (Ok, Pekoe was purposefully named after the tea. Mocha, though, we just liked!) We easily dismissed names like Max and Charlie (sorry guys...) because they seem far too common, far too ordinary, for a puppy who doesn't seem at all ordinary to me.

He could have been the world's most adorable Tippy. (My grandparents have always named their dogs Tippy. Every single one of them. I guess it makes the naming process pretty easy.)

While discussing puppy names with our neighbours over the fence, the 12 year old started talking about her friend, Kingsley, whose teddy bear had a long name because he couldn't decide what to name it, so he just named it all the names he liked. Her suggestion wasn't bad (Oscar), but the name she inadvertently suggested seemed to fit perfectly.

World, meet Kingsley.

Monday, August 20, 2012

How To Paint Stripes

As I'm sure you can imagine, we didn't really get much done this weekend. There were far too many puppy kisses and snuggles to worry about. A good chunk of our weekend was spent redirecting attention away from our computer cords, away from the legs of our chairs, away from our fingers and feet, and onto more appropriate toys. There has been a good deal of running around in the backyard and a good deal of cooing over a tired, sleepy puppy.

There hasn't been a lot of painting, or re-organizing, or building. But, I did want to revisit last week's projects and share more fully the one I had the most fun with.


Before I made these, I had never painted stripes on anything. Turns out, it's remarkably easy, and remarkably rewarding, but ridiculously time consuming.

Also, addicting. I started with these hooks and, in the end, turned my stripe hungry eyes on our steps as well.


So, how?

Easy.


Step 1: Sanding

These were for our mudroom, so I didn't worry too much about this step, but if you're planning on putting your piece somewhere that requires a little more polish, make sure you start with a smooth board or you will see the texture.

Step 2: Prep your holes


I didn't want to have to mark out my holes after I had finished painting so, with the nice smooth board, I attached my hooks, then removed them. That way, I would know exactly where the hooks would be screwed in once I was done because the hole was already there.

Step 2: Painting the base colour



Obviously, I used white. I painted the boards in multiple coats of a basic white paint. (In fact, in all honesty, I used ceiling paint because all of our other white paint - 4 cans of varying fullness - had gone funny in the time they had been stored.) Once I was happy with the level of coverage - there were some knots to make disappear - I allowed them to dry for a good long time.

Step 3: Taping



This is the most time consuming step. Using painters tape, tape down the area that will remain white. I made each of my yellow stripes 2 inches so, after I had the first one down at an angle I liked, I used the ruler to mark out 2 inches in two spots and ran the next piece of tape along those two marks. It's time consuming, but definitely worth it to get perfectly spaced stripes.

Originally, I had wanted to a chevron on the hooks, but decided that, ultimately, it was just too much for me. I didn't want to give up quite so easily though, so I had another stab at it with the back of the steps. To tape out the chevron, find the centre of the board and draw a line. Now, measure out equal distances from both sides of that line along the edge of your board and put a little pencil mark. Measure down the line the same distance and add a pencil mark. Line up your tape with the mark on the outside of the board and the mark on the centre line. Do the same with the other side. Trim your tape to form a nice crisp corner.


Measure as you did with the stripes from there, always making sure that your corners are nice crisp 90 degree squares.

Step 4: Paint the stripes


Easy peasy. Paint the visible white! 

Step 5: Remove the tape


The most rewarding step of this project. As soon as you have finished painting remove the tape. You want the paint to still be wet when you pull it off. Otherwise, you may end up with the tape pulling your carefully painted stripes off with it.

You will end up with a messy pile of tape. Embrace it.


Step 5.5: Touch-up your stripes


When you pull up your tape, there's a good chance there will be a few spots that will have leaked through. I've heard mixed reports that this is diminished with higher quality painter's tape. Mixed. If you're like me and don't think the possibility is worth the extra moolah, these smudgy spots are easily topped off with a little paint brush and some extra white paint.


Problem solved.

Step 6: Allow to dry


Watch a movie. Or back-to-back episodes of My Name is Earl.

Step 7: Varnish



For durability and prettiness, this is an important step. I wanted a high shine on my hooks, so I was excited for this step. Just slap it on there. When it comes to lacquer, the more the better. The thicker coat you do, the more the brush strokes will settle out and the more awesome it will look.

Step 8: Allow to dry


Again. Watch another movie. Or more episodes of My Name is Earl. Or, better yet, take your dog for a nice long walk.

Step 9: Screw on your hooks and hang


If that is indeed what you're painting your stripes for. After you hang, you may need to attack a couple holes with some wood filler, light sanding and touch-ups with a paint brush. It will still look amazing when you're all done and it's up on the wall. 

Voila!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Introducing...

It's a little hard to introduce something with no name.

It took us three days to name Mocha. How long do you think it will take us to name this little guy?


Here's the story:

We've been talking about a second dog for a long time.We always kind of knew that, as soon as we felt Mocha was ready, and as soon as we were in a situation that would allow for a second dog, we would go for it. Every few months or so, we've been checking Craigslist and Kijiji, keeping our eye out for breeds and prices. We started checking out CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) registered breeders. And, then, the shelters in the area.

Why were shelters our last choice? Especially over online classifieds, which are notorious for advertising breeders and puppy mills and skeptical treatment of animals? For some reason, I got it in my head that humane societies were just as expensive and required an extensive application process involving home visits and multiple interviews, etc. etc. But more importantly, I'm realistic. The Husband and I can raise a puppy - we've done it once, we can do it again! - but dealing with the behavioural issues that many dogs come into shelters with is beyond me. I wish this wasn't true. I believe every dog deserves a happy, comfortable, responsible, and supportive home and walking through the shelter the past few days, I've wished I could provide that home to each and every one. But, I didn't think we could handle the requirements of a shelter dog. Perhaps I'm not giving myself or the dogs enough credit.


This week, though, the Husband checked out the Toronto Humane Society website and saw a litter of four puppies, labeled as rottweiler/wiemaraner crosses. We met on Wednesday evening to check them out and they were as adorable as we expected. Unfortunately, we missed the application deadline for the day by a measly 10 minutes, but were assured that we likely wouldn't miss out on the puppies if we waited a day or so.

We made plans to return Friday, when we would have more time.

Thursday night, we popped on the website. All the puppies were gone. We went to bed with extreme disappointment, and woke up still feeling the ache of the loss of what could have been. At the end of our workdays, we went anyway. There was another litter advertised and, despite our disappointment, we figured we should give them a chance.


So, yesterday, we visited, submitted an application and interviewed for a puppy. Our interviewer sent us home to think about it for the night and to honestly ask ourselves if we can handle the puppy's schedule what with our full-time work schedules. We spent the night asking each other how much we really wanted this and arranging puppy visits and dog sitters for the next few months until the puppy is old enough to handle the time by himself.

This morning, with plans in place, and all questions answered and uncertainties laid to rest, we loaded Mocha into the car and took one last trip to the humane society. Home he came.


He's adorable. He's smaller than Mocha, but nowhere near as small as she was when she was a puppy and, the shelter staff think that he'll grow to be around 40 pounds, double the weight of Mocha. He's a Schnauzer Terrier cross, and was born in the shelter after his mom was admitted.

Speaking of Mocha?


She's managing. She's not so sure yet about this thing that has invaded her space and won't leave. But, she's getting there. They've had some friendly moments and some less than friendly moments. It will take time and patience, but I think she'll come around.

She's still my puppy girl, my sweetheart.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Photo Friday: Queen Anne's Lace

I don't have much to say today.


There are some things brewing. Things that will either lead to some excitement and change around here or things that will lead to extreme disappointment for a few days while I mope.

I guess it's just one of those days.

Did you know that Queen Anne's Lace is classified as a noxious weed? I don't know why. I think they're pretty in an understated way.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three Things For Thursday

One: An Office

My company - the one which pays me to write stuff for them - is in the process of a big move. I'm looking forward to it. The new location knocks about 10 minutes off my hour and twenty minute commute and allows for smoother subway to train connections. The other reason I'm looking forward to it? I get my own office! With a door. And walls. Walls I could, perhaps, decorate.
How much of yourself do you put into your at-work office? All out? Nothing at all?

Two: Artwork

A couple days ago, I stumbled across this painting by artist Barbara Hester and I fell in love.

Three: Bathroom Storage

I've been thinking a lot about organizing lately. There's good reason for this. Without getting into any details, we will soon have to become far better housekeepers than we are. We aren't terrible. But organization is one of our downfalls, which leads to a house that gets messy awfully fast. 

Our bathroom is one of those spaces that could definitely benefit from a lot more organization. It's tiny. And it works, with the help of enough baskets to corral my make-up and hair products and cleaning supplies and extra toilet paper. But I feel like I would probably enjoy the space a lot more if the vanity did end up covered in my crap all the time.


And this is just really cute. I know precisely what mine would look like and precisely where it would go. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Tile Decision

As you have already been able to gather, we did not put down the tile I posted about last week in the mudroom. I still think it's gorgeous tile. I still love it. I do wish we could have worked it in. But, one of our readers, one of our very wise readers, pointed out a few things I did not know:
A few comments on these tiles from someone who's gotten more experience putting in and tearing out tile than I wanted ... first, I can't tell who made that tile [...] but they look like Emser Strands. Many cheaper 12x24 tiles are difficult to impossible to lay flat because they are bowed in the middle. That may be one of the reasons you can get them so cheaply -- experienced tilesetters skipped them on purpose because your tile will end up with more lippage than Mick Jagger. Second, it's difficult to find a tile saw that will rip a 24" long tile if you don't already have one or have access to one. Third, you didn't say how you were going to prep the surface. I can't tell what the surface material is, but it looks to be painted concrete. Is it level? Are the landings square? Is it indeed concrete, or is it wood? If it's concrete but it's not level, you're going to have problems because of the large format of the tiles. (Plus, they look best with a 1/16' grout line, which is difficult in the first place and extremely difficult if not square...) If it's concrete, make sure you strip it thoroughly, then was with trisodium phosphate, then precut everything, then use a modified rapid-set modified thinset because you're on stairs that you likely want to use and large tiles like this have a problem with the thinset not curing underneath them quickly enough. If it's wood ... well, good luck, but there's a good chance you're going to see these large tiles crack horribly within weeks. Either way, if you do choose to use this large of a tile, make sure you have something like the LASH system (available at HD cheap, but hard on the thumbs) or the Tuscan Leveling System (good for pros or large jobs) to help you keep these tiles close to one another and flat.
By the time I had finished reading Karl's comment, my head was spinning and there was a sinking feeling in my stomach. I read the comment out loud to the Husband from my phone and the sinking feeling intensified as I saw him nod all the way through.

Karl is right.

It was good to get his thoughts on the larger size of tile. After all, we had no experience with them, so would have discovered the bowing only when we started to lay them. But, more importantly, I hadn't even thought about the problem of laying tile on wood.


These are the landings onto which tile was going. One is a wood platform. The lower landing is poured concrete. While the concrete wouldn't have been a problem, the wood is a different story. Wood moves. It contracts and expands with humidity and cold. It gives with the weight of bodies and shifts under the pressure of heavy objects. 

Tiles don't give. Tiles crack. 

So, what did we do?


It looks like tile. It's even been grouted. But it's not ceramic. Or slate. Or marble. 

It's vinyl. 

I say vinyl and I have images of the layers of old linoleum we pulled up from the kitchen floor or the yellowed  kitchen floor in my grandmother's house. Cheap and peeling. Not the feel I want for my mudroom. But, I'm happy with these. They mimic ceramic tile and were groutable to make the illusion complete. But the don't crack, won't crack. I can step on them and feel the wood beneath them move without worrying that those flexible tiles will crack and break.

And, I love the way they look, the way they immediately make the space feel that much closer to finished. I know we've taken a bit of a risk. After all, they may peel. They may shift and begin to look worn and old well before their time. But I think I'm will to accept that risk. We'll see how long they last.


Have you ever used groutable peel and stick vinyl tiles for anything? Have you been happy with them or ultimately disappointed?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Remade Mudroom (Almost)

Why did I leave you hanging yesterday? Why didn't I just get right to the details, since that's really what you're interested in anyway?

Well. I'll admit it. I wasn't finished yet. There were touch-ups to do.

Granted, there are still touch-ups to do. But, well before breakfast this morning, I pulled out my cans of white and yellow paint and covered over the wood fill in the screw holes, just so I could share the progress on this project with you guys.

Don't forget what the mudroom looked like, way back in the beginning.


It was a little dingy. A little cramped. And perhaps it still is a little cramped, but I don't think you could call most of it dingy anymore. We're getting there.


Lack of one side of trim aside, what did we get up to this weekend? 
  • We tiled!
  • We built some steps.
  • We hung some hooks. 

When I make a list like that, it doesn't actually seem like much. But just wait! Let me show you the parts I'm the most proud of.


The tile, details of which are coming soon - no, we didn't use the gorgeous, 12x24 inch tile I had talked about last week - goes a long way to making the space feel polished, finished. This was precisely our goal with this project, to extend the renovated feel of the house back here to our mudroom. Accomplished!


There are now matching sets of hooks on each side of the room. Yellow stripes, and high contrast black hooks. Creating these hook boards was my creative outlet for the weekend. I loved it and it was surprisingly simple. Time consuming, but definitely simply. I'll be sharing how I accomplished it in a few days.

And finally, what might be my favourite part of the whole room:


In keeping with the striped theme I started with the hooks, I painted the backs of our new steps - which are stained with the darkest stain we could find to match our dark bamboo - in stripes of yellow. Originally, I was going to do them all vertical. And then I realized just how difficult that would be, making sure each line was lined up perfectly with the step below. A solution that ended up far more interesting anyway? Make them all different! I even managed to pull off a chevron!

I'm sure you can tell there's a lot yet to do here. That's a list for another day. But I'm pleased with our progress! Pleased with how far it's come.

What do you think? Have you painted lines on anything recently? Is it not one of the most satisfying DIY projects out there?

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Monday Update

This past weekend was one of the first we've had in a long while that didn't involve tents or weddings or other summer activities. With this in mind, as Saturday approached, I began to plan. I wanted to do something this weekend, something creative, but something I could finish.

I eyeballed my TV stand dresser, even made a plan to visit Anthropologie for some whimsical drawer hardware. I reviewed my pins. Found a few more to add to my pinboards.


Unconvinced that I'm not still in love with the old, distressed look of the wood, however, I turned my thoughts to a couple beside tables.


These are basic Ikea dressers that we've had since we moved to Toronto two years ago. They work fine. They still look pretty good. But are they maybe a little boring? A little ho-hum? 

The Husband disagreed. Frowned when I told him I was going to paint them on Saturday. Said, "Maybe you should wait." But couldn't give me a reason why. 

Sometimes, being a partnership and respecting another person's wish kinda blows. I moved on. My thoughts perused to this:


Another bit of Ikea, tucked away in a corner. Once I mentioned it though, and the Husband had no reason to shoot it down, it seemed the real reason for his reluctance about my furniture make-over plans came out. He wanted to make plans too. He didn't want to be lounging around watching hour after hour of Netflix and getting more and more bored while I took apart furniture, sanded, painted, and varnished. His plans, however, were focusing on another part of the house, one that maybe took a little more priority.


The mudroom! So much got done this weekend. I'm a little proud of our productivity and what we're slowly turning the space into. Come back tomorrow and the next day for a run-down of the projects we finished, the ones we almost finished, and a mini reveal of our progress!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Photo Friday: A door


This is an unused door on the side of my parents' barn. The barn is empty and has been for decades. This door will never be painted again. Someday, when it rots away fully, it might be ripped out and replaced with more cinderblocks or concrete.

And yet, it's charming.

When the Husband and I got married, we stood in front of this door to have our picture taken. Our photographer had seen the charm too. When we dropped by for a short visit a few weeks ago, it looked amazingly different. There was grass and weeds and flowers growing up around the barn where in May of 2010, the grass was barely grown, chopped down by my father on a lawnmower, mud in the field, nothing really.


It's a far cry from the bramble that's there today.

I'm thinking of framing this shot of the door. Perhaps it needs a little tweaking with some photo editing software first, but I think it would look good on my gallery wall, a little reminder of our wedding day.

I hope you're all enjoying the rain today! I know I am.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three Things for Thursday: Skinny Jeans

One: My Closet and Priorities


My company gave me a gift card to the mall for being awesome or something like that. (It's an employee of the month thing.) I don't go shopping much and, when I do, I always talk myself out of buying anything. I'm penny-pinching, miserly, tightfisted, even when we don't have to be. We made a choice: buying the house and paying it off aggressively has taken far more priority than our closets.

But, admittedly, I sometimes wish my closet took more priority. I like clothes! I like looking well put together. I wish it contained more quality and less cheap junk. One day, I'll get there. Just not right now.

Two: Skinny Jeans


So, I took my mall gift card to the Eaton's Centre on the weekend and bought a pair of skinny jeans.

Red skinny jeans, in fact.


And I love them. I've tried on my fair share of skinnies and have always been a little hesitant. Let's face it: skinny jeans don't look good on everyone. I would argue that there are some women who really shouldn't ever wear skinny jeans. I was worried that one of those people was, well... me. I'm short. Most jeans are way too long for me. Take super-tight jeans, add on about 5 inches of too much pant and suddenly, the whole look is gone. 

Perhaps I've been getting used to how they look since so many people are wearing them these days. Perhaps the makers of skinny jeans have gotten wise to the plight of those of us who stand under 5'5". Whatever the case may be, I tried on a pair of red skinny jeans on Sunday and pretty much fell in love. 

I finally feel almost on trend. 

Three: Sizing


I bought a size 24 skinny jean. 

I am not a size 24.

Later, in American Eagle, I bought a size 2 boot cut jean (for 17.50! Whoot!). Since when I have I been a size 2? 

I started thinking about it later. 24 was the smallest size in the skinnies. Size 2? There was a size 0, but that's it. I am not the smallest of the small. What do girls who are smaller than me do? Why are we penalizing them for the sake of vanity?

I still have about half of my gift card left. What else should I be adding to my wardrobe? What are your must-haves, can't-live-withouts?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

RONA, Ceramic Tiles, and Returning to the Mudroom





Happy Tuesday! I hope all my Canadian readers enjoyed their long weekend! Do friends south of the border get a 'Civic Holiday' too?

Today, I'm switching gears and taking you back to a long-time, unfinished project. Remember our mudroom? It hasn't changed much since my last installment of updates, and there's a lot yet to be done.

We have already ripped out the existing pantry and rebuilt a new one, extended the bamboo flooring out onto our landing, and painted. When I put it that way, I feel like we've hardly done anything at all.


Admittedly, we ran out of steam, partially because this particular project had such low priority. But now, since Project Lift-the-Roof is still so far off, I'm starting to feel the itch for more progress, yet again.

So, what's the next step? 

Tiles! 


The plan has always been that we would cover these two landings - the wood one right in front of the back door and the landing to the basement - in tiles. The tiles would be far more durable than our gorgeous bamboo, and far more likely to be able to handle the massive salt deposits and dirt tracked in on boots and shoes. Besides that, a little while ago, I found these beautiful ceramic tiles at RONA*.


I'm not sure why, but even for this small space, the idea of huge 12 by 24 ceramic tiles appeals to me. Having fewer seams in this space just seems right. This one seems to be the perfect bit of modernity, sleek, but textured. 

Am I off? Would I be completely disappointed with the huge tiles or would it be just right? And, perhaps the more pertinent question... will we ever get around to picking up the ceramic tiles at RONA and actually getting around to this? 

* This is no surprise. For some reason, we seem to have our best luck with tiles at RONA. Our bathroom floor - a gorgeous black marble that I still love - and our shower tile - the metro style ceramic tiles - came from there. Our kitchen backsplash tile too! It was heavily marked down, a gorgeous mosaic of glass and ceramic tiles.