Friday, May 30, 2014

Picking Paint Colours

Choosing the colours for our walls is not my strong suit. It's not the Husband's either. Every time I pick up a paint brush to add a fresh coat to our home, I end up disappointed. Four years ago, I started off the trend by painting our basement apartment a peachy pink, when I had intended to find a more or less neutral beige. I played it safe upstairs when it came time to paint our living room and kitchen walls, and ended up bored by the colourlessness of our walls all too quickly. Our bathroom came out more yellow than I wanted. And our back mudroom - I had intended grey, but somehow, I got purple instead.

Now, it's time to paint again. We have a whole attic that's primed, waiting for a couple coats of colour. And, our main floor desperately needs repainting, now that we ripped down a dividing wall between the dining room and living room. In the past couple years of not painting anything, I've learned a little more about what I actually like on the walls, but my poor colour history haunts me. We've now lived with paint blotches on our walls, little test patches, for over a month, so easy to ignore, especially since an irrational fear stops me from buying those gallons of paint and picking up a roller.

I also have a couple dilemmas to figure out yet, which certainly doesn't help my hesitation. It's just paint, right? I can always change it; I can always repaint!

(Yeah, right. Maybe in another 3 years...)

Cho's apartment, attic, 32 weeks 036

Upstairs, we're looking at cool greys. Darker or lighter? The Husband and I are also stuck in a bit of a disagreement about what should be painted up here. Just the verticals walls, or the sloped ceiling too? I've heard we can make the ceiling height seem higher by painting everything the same colour. He's not convinced and thinks the ceiling should be painted like a ceiling: in other words, white. I've been tempted to just paint the whole space white and remove the argument altogether.

IMG_7205

Downstairs, which you admittedly don't get a great shot of, I'm leaning towards a blue-green. I'm more or less happy with the colour we found, but am once again stuck wondering exactly what should be painted. The whole space, from dining room, to living room, to kitchen to back hallway? Or, should we pick a contrasting colour of some type to break up the colour, maybe do the laundry closet wall something different from everything else?

And then, of course, there's the wall going up the stairs. Yes, you see a black test splotch there. We've already pretty much nixed the idea of the black, but I'm at a complete loss for other options. Because the grey of the upstairs and the turquoise of the downstairs are almost too close in colour type, we don't seem to have a lot of options. Black seemed like a bold neutral that could really stand out and make a bit of a statement, but with it on the walls, I wonder if it's just too dark. We've considered a patterned wallpaper of some kind, but when I'm already uncertain about paint, wallpaper seems like too much of a commitment.

One way or another, I'd really like to get some paint on the walls soon. We're so close to being finished our renovations for the forseeable future - I almost can't believe I can actually say that! - and paint is one of the final hurdles to get past.

Unfortunately, it's also one of the easiest to ignore, especially after 3 years of getting really good at ignoring things.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Garden 2014: Planting Despite Uncertainty

(The garden, looking it's best two years ago.)

I had no idea if we were going to get a garden planted this year. I wasn't convinced that planting a garden would even be a good idea. After all, with Baby V coming in the middle of June, was I going to have the motivation, time, and energy to take care of it? On one hand, maybe Baby V would love spending time in the back yard over the summer and give me lots of opportunity weed and water while laying out on a blanket in the shade, or snuggling close against me in a baby carrier. On the other hand, maybe not.

But, yesterday, on the holiday Monday, it was just so beautiful, I couldn't resist. A couple weeks ago, the Husband had borrowed a neighbour's rotor tiller and prepped the soil. It was so soft, dark, and rich as Toronto soil is. I found a mitt full of leftover seeds from previous years in the garage and went to work.

I dialed my gardening hopes and dreams back significantly this year, however. I planted only 3 beds, with plans for a fourth, giving things lots of space to grow.

Bed 1

garden1

Pole beans: We had excellent success with these last year. I still need to install a trellis in order to give them something to climb, and I need to remember to pick pick pick as they come ripe this year so they don't over-ripen and toughen. But, I have a good feeling that they'll grow just fine.

Lettuces: Two different kinds - a head lettuce and a leaf lettuce. I planted them in the shadow of the pole beans, hoping the shade will be significant enough to slow their tendency to bolt. We've never had good luck with lettuce plants, largely because the sun makes them bitter, and our neglect means they don't grow nice and thick, like lettuce is supposed to be.

Spinach: See notes for lettuce. We've had the same problem with spinach. But, if I've got the seeds, I might as well try again, right? Third time's the charm!

Bed 2

garden2

Snap peas: I grew these last year for the first time and the few that the plants produced were delicious. However, I didn't get a proper trellis up in time last year, so I think they choked themselves out, as well as being overcome by a viney weed that popped up last year. Perhaps with a little less neglect, they'll thrive at least a little.

Tomatoes: Over the past three years of gardening, I have learned something very important: I don't like tomatoes. More often than not, my tomatoes rot on the vine, victims of my own disinterest. However, I don't want to give up on them entirely. I do, after all, like eating cherry tomatoes right from the vine. So, we're going to do just a couple plants - a huge difference from the 16 I grew the first year of the garden - a cherry tomato and a roma tomato maybe, something good for salads and hamburgers.

Bed 3

garden3

Onions: Onions are perennials. We've already get a ton of a Spanish onions - which, I'll be honest, probably won't get eaten before they go to seed - and the bulb onions we planted lasted year are doing well. I'm always nervous about harvesting perennials like the bulb onions though, because I want the patch to get well established so it is self-sustaining. When will I harvest? Maybe never. I probably need to do a little more research into onions.

Parsnips: I tried parsnips for the first time last year. They failed miserably. The bed I put them in wasn't particularly well-established, and, being completely inexperienced with parsnips, I had no idea what the seedlings looked like. I tried to weed, but in the end, I'm fairly certain I just managed to weed out all the parsnips. This year, I put them in my old tomato bed, which has been well under control in the past, so I'm hoping they'll have a bit of a better chance.

Carrots: Carrots were my first gardening success. The first year we planted them, the summer we moved in, we just threw a couple rows of carrots into what was pretty much the middle of our very very rough back lawn. They grew, well and plentiful. When we moved the garden to its current location, they got relegated to the back of the garden. There was not enough sun and too many little white spiders feasting on the little orange roots that did grow. This year, we're bringing them back to front and centre, the sunniest part of the garden. I have high hopes - I love carrots.

Bed 4

garden4

Peppers: Yup, a full bed, devoted to peppers. Granted, not many. I've had great luck with jalapenos and, since I love them rather a lot, I want at least a few plants. And, I figured if I'm planting some hot peppers, I might as well give some bell peppers another go. We've never had good luck with bell peppers either. One year, I mistakenly planted baby bell peppers and spent the whole summer confused as to why they seemed to grow beautifully, but tiny, and then rot off the plant without getting to what I saw as any kind of edible size.

And that's it! I guess it's still quite a bit and I fully acknowledge the possibility that everything will get choked out by weeds or dried up from a lack of water by the end of July. Or, maybe this year we'll have the best garden ever. Our summer and fall are so full of unknowns and new experiences, but it seemed a shame to let planting season pass by assuming I'd be unable to keep up with it all.

Check out our garden plans from previous years:

Garden 2013
Garden 2012
Garden 2011

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

8 Months Pregnant and a Biker Babe

This past weekend, we did something completely unexpected for a young couple expecting their first baby. We bought a motorcycle.


Nope, not kidding. This motor on two wheels belongs to us. Well, the Husband to be specific. The title of this post is a little misleading... My name will never grace the ownership and my butt will probably never touch the driver's seat while moving. The little seat behind the driver though... perhaps one day I'll screw up enough courage to swing my legs over that seat.

Why on earth did we decide that now, with only a month (give or take a week) before we welcome our first child into this world, would be a good time to buy a vehicle that is designed for only one, maybe two people to ride? Where is the car seat going to go?

Believe it or not, the decision does make some sense. We had two reasons:

  1. The Husband has wanted to have his own bike for years. He got his motorcycle license at the same time as his driver's license on the day he turned 16 and has loved motorbikes since. He would probably own one by now, but for the first couple years of our marriage, since we were under 25, living in a large city, with driving records that weren't exactly shiny, the insurance on a bike would have been astronomical. Now, 4 years later, we've both past that 25 year mark, and waited out the driving infractions of our youth. Financially, there's no longer a reason to wait. 
  2. We're a one vehicle family. This has consistently worked pretty well for us. We only have one parking spot since a car can't actually fit down our driveway, so getting a second car would require a monthly street parking permit. No matter. I take transit on a daily basis, and the Husband drives. I like taking transit. His office is not located nicely for transit. So, our arrangement works. But, with this baby on the way? I'll be the first to admit that it will be nice to have access to a car over the warm weather months, even if I don't use it often. Most of my friends live in other cities or on the outskirts where transit is spotty at best and I'll be the first to admit to being a little nervous about lugging a huge stroller onto the subway. Having the car sitting in the driveway after the Husband has roared off on his motorcycle to work, even if I don't get in it to go visiting, or use it for grocery shopping, etc. etc., I hope will keep the potential for the isolation of motherhood at bay.

So, we bought the Husband a bike! 

It's a 1985 Yamaha Maxim 750, purchased from a very sweet elderly man who was only selling it because he couldn't pass the written motorcycle test when it was time to renew his license. It's showing it's age a bit, and needs a really good polishing, but the price was amazing and, since we were willing to drive a ways out in order to see it, the competition for it was less fierce than bikes being sold within city limits. It runs well, and should be a decent summer commuting bike for the Husband. This week, we're working on arranging our insurance, completing the safety testing, and changing over the ownership. And, by next week the Husband should be riding the bike he's been waiting so patiently for.

Do they make leather bubble wrap bodysuits for motorcyclists? I think I'd really like to buy him one.

(Kidding. Kind of.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Four Years


Four years ago today, the Husband and I got married. It was cold, windy, and snowing hard, tiny pellets of snowflakes. The power in my hometown went out at about 11am. My groom was late for the ceremony due to fallen trees on the road to the church. But, nothing could dampen our spirits. We were young, so trusting of our love for each other, so full of hope for the future, so ready to barrel headlong into the unknown together.

Four years later, and nothing has changed, except that I've started to go grey in earnest. There are still a lot of unknowns ahead of us: career changes, big moves, perhaps, and, of course, the biggest unknown of all - parenthood. But, we've made it through these first four years with that trust intact, stronger even. I can no longer imagine myself without him. 

It's a beautiful thing. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Attic of Awesome: A Little Functionality

There is not much left to do in the attic. We've been living comfortably under those sloping ceilings for approximately 4 months, working away as time allows on the little projects left on the list. A couple weekends ago, after about 3.5 months of living with our clothes in the closet of the main floor bedroom, we finally turned our attention to making our low master suite closets functional.


The doors had, thankfully, been hung for a while, so we haven't been staring into empty closets for too long. We, luckily, discovered that standard sized bi-fold doors, cut before the bottom panel were the perfect size for our closet openings. Inside the closets, however, we faced a myriad of challenges.

  • Height: We had approximately 41" to work with at the back of the slopey closet. Not a lot. 
  • Depth: In order to maximize closet space as much as possible, we made the closets a little deeper than your standard closet. We wanted to make sure we made use of every little space in the closet as possible.
  • Price: With our dimension challenges, nothing standard was going to work. How much was a custom closet going to cost us?
We went to Home Depot more than once and hemmed and hawed over our options. We liked the idea of using rails on the wall to come up with a custom solution, but none of the rails seemed to be the right length for our wall, and the few that we thought could make work didn't come with pieces that we liked to mix and match. As minutes in the organizing aisle became dangerously close to hours, we were both getting frustrated. 

Let's keep it simple, we said to each other. All this other stuff is far too complicated. Here, some rods for hanging clothes. A few cubby shelves for clothes. Do we need anything more? I spent that Saturday afternoon putting together flat packed furniture, and finished up on Sunday with the Husband's help, to get the rods put up. 


Simple it is. We bought 2 six cubicle shelves and 2 nine cubicle shelves, all made by Martha Stewart, and all cheap. I spaced them out through the closet, then attached the rods to the sides of those shelves to span the full, long length of the closet. The configuration can yet change a bit: I may claim more rod space for the Husband and I, taking it from the baby's section, since how many outfits that need to be hung does one baby need? But, for now, I'm pretty happy with it. And, pretty happy that I longer have my clothes scattered all over the house, some in the attic, some in the main floor bedroom, some in the laundry closet... 


Obviously, these aren't all my clothes. Most of them have been packed up into a ginormous rubber bin, waiting for the day I can respectably fit into them again.