Kitchen reno: the final chapter

The final chapter unless you count all of the little things we still need to do like painting a bit a trim, a bit of caulking etc…

Not much to say. I’ll let the photos do the talking. Enjoy!IMG_4328


Yeah, so I left a few things on the counter.  I’m no stager.


What I see when I walk in the front door.  Makes me smile.


The new bank of drawers.


The hidden spice rack.  Just brilliant.

The drawer butcher block is a find I’ll treasure forever.  Available here.


Look at the curve on the moulding.  Tim Soper is an artist.  The cupboards were inspired by pinterest pics: Here and here.


I love the metal grating for the vents and how they tie the cupboard fronts together.

Huge amounts of storage and a clever broom closet, another Tim Soper invention.

IMG_4342 2IMG_4341IMG_4327IMG_4347

IMG_4361 2

The flour drawer.  One of Tim Soper’s genius inventions.

and that pretty much completes our tour.  Now look at me…





Look back….

the awkward stoveLook again!  Yep. I can’t believe it either.IMG_4336



Kitchen Reno: the final stretch

Not the prettiest series of posts I’ve ever written but I’m just wanting to get this process down as promised.  Not my best writing but hopefully the outcome is worth it!

I think I forgot to mention in the last instalment that I painted the hideous backsplash white just after our cupboards were painted.  It was actually a great solution that lasted a long time. Although they are not close ups, when you look at the before and after photos you can see the amazing difference:

In the next steps in the reno we knew we wanted to keep the original cupboards.  Jamie’s paint job was fantastic and had really held up.  I couldn’t justify getting rid of them.  So we were left with the question of how to approach the backsplash and the counter.  The backsplash had been on there for 60 years or so and the wall behind is plaster.  I studied the topic online and the basic conclusion was that this was going to be messy and could potentially damage the wall significantly.  We thought of covering it up, adding tiles that matched….nothing would work and we knew it.  With no time and lack of confidence in our skill we hired Mike from Pro2call and we were set.

We also needed a new counter desperately.  You can see in the above picture the odd corner bit of counter.  It had a weird seam where the two side pieces met an oddly shaped middle piece.  We couldn’t afford a stone counter, I wasn’t sure we could do concrete justice, I knew I’d ruin wood…so what could we do?

We searched and searched for a solution.  When Tim and John came into the picture they commented on my centre island.  I had painted the old wood IKEA island pictured above with chalk paint (you knew I’d get it in there somewhere) and attached a cracked ice formica tabletop I’d found when out thrifting.  The edging was vintage metal.  I loved it and it worked well enough (see photo below).  John wondered if we could source the metal edging and have them custom create a counter.

So off I went googling vintage counters and discovered that counters were often made of linoleum edged with metal.  Then I read this kitchen reno with these exact products. So off I went to Living Rooms, and eco friendly building store to see what they had in the way of Marmoleum, an eco friendly version.  I fell in love with the Lemon Zest colour!  Tim then sourced the metal edging and we were set.

See? It was messy. Only one wall was really damaged.  Mike repaired it no problem an dee painted over it.  Mike tiled with white subway tile from Home Depot and we decided to take it all the way up the wall behind the stove.  It is one of my favourite features.


Life went on during this reno…baking cookies when I had the kitchen all to myself.

IMG_20150604_161156Tim raised the counter height and installed the Marmoleum masterpiece that now had NO SEAMS!!!!  They reused our original sink and faucet after cleaning it up a bit and replacing the draining baskets. We changed out the pulls on the old drawers and I love the difference they made.

What else can I show you before I reveal the final product?  Well, as per the design pictures I shared in the last post, we needed more drawer space and so Tim built us a new bank of drawers on the other side of the stove.  This is where we were finally able to put in a true butcher block countertop.  I LOVE IT!!  And the drawers are slow close, something our vintage drawers are not.  The pulls allowed us to tie in with the old drawers.butcherblockwithhandlesOn the other side of the stove we had a weird gap.  This bit took a lot of thought.  Tim and John are geniuses though and they cut into the old cupboards and added a spice rack with a front that closely resembled the original “flat with round edges” look.  All pieces were painted in the same colour Jamie had used years ago.spicerackThe piece de resistance though is the unit they created around the fridge.  So much to show you there but I need to take pictures first.  For now, you’ll have to be content with these:

I think that’s as far as I can take it given I have no more pics to share.  I’ll take some soon so you can see it in all its glory.  Until then.

Kitchen Reno: the years in between

Facebook reminded me today that I had intended to document my disaster of a kitchen and our renos as they happened.  Years have passed since this post and this one. We covered the outdated colours and wallpaper, the awkwardly placed and aging appliances, how I managed to save the original hinges on the doors and finally, the discovery of the yellow formica under the contact paper.  When I left off, the next step was to have our friend Jamie come over and paint the cupboards.  We painted the walls and then did this:

plasticJamie took the doors to his workshop but the rest of the cupboards needed to be sprayed on site.  We had to move out for a bit but the new colour on the walls and the paint on the cupboards made the whole kitchen brighter and more enjoyable so it was worth it.  The pictures aren’t much but you get the idea:

kitchen cupboardsAway went the awkward cupboard.  The stove was still awkward and the oddly grouped appliance corner remained the same:

applianceRemember, these two corners looked like this:

fridge and dishwasher

the awkward stoveNot bad I’d say.  And there the reno stayed from quite a while.  I did manage a table and shelves near the back door and the next picture is the only one I have…Years passed and the roll-y dishwasher started to cut into the floor which was in terrible condition to begin with and we realized it was time to move forward.  But the awkward layout still posed challenges so, we tried different layouts:

layoutI was convince that this layout, proposed by our close friend, Chris, would never work.  I just couldn’t see it with the stove shoved in front of the door.  Maybe it was the state of the kitchen?  The bagels were delicious : ).  You can see how bad the flooring was though…


flooringAnd this is where I think we made our only mistake with the reno.  We put on peel and stick flooring.  It only took a few hours and it looked/looks great.

flooring type

flooringjoshWho knew vinyl tile could be grouted!  It still looks good, I just wish we could have afforded a better floor because we’ll have to deal with it eventually.  It’ll be a pain now that we have built in cupboards…but I’m getting ahead of myself…

behindstoveFirst we decided to follow Chris’s design advice and we took out the backdoor.  Thanks to our handy father-in-law, we were able to install our new to us stove (thanks Andrew and Jonathan) and vent a range hood.

behind stove 2Its fuzzy but you get the picture.  Oh and we bought a new fridge.

stoveAnd with the stove is a better spot we were able to install a dishwasher in the cupboard that was previously hidden.

dishwasherAnd that is where it was left once again for a good long time.  Until we met Tom and John and they saw the possibilities I was missing.  I’ll leave you with these drawings and then, soon, I’ll take pictures of their brilliance and share it with all of you.



My cookies look pretty today and other notes from home

pretty plate of cookiesThey do don’t they?  Look pretty I mean.  Somedays I find my pleasure in a plate of cookies.  My thrifted plate is pretty too if I do say so myself…vintage apron with flowersSo is my great-grandma’s apron.  Actually I think it is beautiful not just pretty.  I love simple stitches and the butter yellow ribbon on the pocket and neckline.  I wonder how many trays of cookies she made while wearing it?  I love putting it on even though doing so makes it clear that I am much taller than she was…I dream of ways of modifying it but never do.  I think I’ll base a pattern off of it and leave it preserved as is…

my great grandmaThis picture of her has a place of honour over my stove.  Look how cool!  Her posture, the tea…effortlessly holding that cigarette…I think she’d like my cookies…IMG_2684

Sigh…what was the title of this post again?  Ah yes, pretty cookies and other news…So to the other news then.  In addition to some back issues, children with illness etc, we’ve had something pretty special happening at our place…

throughthefrenchdoorCan you guess?hardwood floor before refinishingLet’s start with a confession.  This was my floor in my dining room.  I actually thought it wasn’t in too bad of shape…well, I knew it needed refinishing but it wasn’t until the refinishing started that it hit me how bad it really was…

sanding hardwood floorI think you can start to see what I mean (excuse the cellphone quality photo)…sanding hardwood floor in bungalowWith the help of this brilliant woman, our floors now look like this…hardwood floor refinished with Vermont Natural Floor FinishHow?!  Why did we wait so long?  Answer: finances but I digress.  Ashley prepped and sanded the floors and then used Vermont Natural Floor Finish.  We skipped the stain as I wanted a more Scandinavian look and we weren’t sure how these floors would take the stain.  We were so pleased to find a “green” product and we are grateful to our friend Jill from The Happy Space Project and her husband Jamie for the product info.  Do you like it?

We are now reinstalling the quarter round and touching up the baseboards.  In a few days we’ll move the furniture back into place.  For now we live with this colourful mess piled in our back room:furniture piled upCookies, new floors…life is good.  Can’t wait until we can afford to do the upstairs : ).

What made you happy today?

PS Feel free to contact me if you need more info on the floor finish or if you are looking for someone to redo your floors for you…we highly recommend Ashley!

Keepin’ warm

Hope you all have been keeping warm what with that Polar Vortex and all.  Seriously?  Polar Vortex?  How is it I’ve lived in Canada my entire life and have never heard of such a thing. It sounds so glamorous and sexy…and maybe a bit terrifying.  To be honest having ice everywhere hasn’t been very fun and has made getting outside a bit of a challenge.  So the kids are stacking ice instead of making snowmen.  Our efforts to walk more and drive less are still being met at least partially since J has a pair of yaktrax.  I’m gonna need a pair if things don’t change soon.  The rest of the time you can find us in the backyard, away from the ice damaged tree branches doing things like this:playhousedrivethroughI think this means we can officially give the hideout a designation of a ‘drive-thru’.  Just ski up and get a cup of hot chocolate.  Devine!

IMG_2253The hideout kitchen is always hoping.  Apparently these kids are messy cooks though…oh well, not my house.  I should point out as well that the solar lights are working out really well in case anyone was considering them for their own outdoor sheds, playhouses and what-not.  In this picture we have one of these solar lights turned on and you can see how well the place is lit.

IMG_2254And of course the place looks so cute lit up on the outside as well.  The Missus has been using it as a home base when she skis around the yard.  She always checks in with “Coach” aka her dad regarding her form and speed.  It is just about as adorable as you can get.

IMG_2264See?  Adorable.  And warm and cozy.  Despite all this Polar Vortex nonsense.

What are you doing to stay warm and keep your winter spirits up?

Goodbye Christmas…

It is always bittersweet taking down all the decorations, the garlands, the tree.  This year it was particularly hard as I was quite in love with some of my handmades…

I took some pictures so I could remember and thought you might enjoy them too.

Solstice StockingsI’m particularly sad to see these babies packed away.  I’ve been wanting to make them for a while and finally got around to it this year.  I started in July and got sidetracked. I embroidered two of them while at a conference in November and of course I finished the last one two days before the holidays.  The pattern can be found in my favourite craft book of all time:

Scandinavian NeedlecraftYou can find other projects I’ve made from this book here (don’t worry I fixed it) and here.

Scandinavian Heart embroidery

Scandinavian Snowflake Embroidery

Scandinavian Snowflake Embroidery Christmas StockingWell, you can see why I love them can’t you?  They are so beautiful!  (as a side note, I had a good laugh while editing these photos.  Take a good look at some of the titles on the bookshelf…I hung this stocking in front of “All Family’s are Psychotic” LOL…that might tie in with some holiday celebrations non?).

pinecone garland

Pinecone garlandAnd I couldn’t resist taking this photo in the morning light (no editing I swear) of my favourite handmade holiday decoration.  I make one every year.  I collect the pinecones in the fall at my in law’s place. I also took a fallen branch or two from their forest and used them around the house and on the porch in the form of garlands and evergreen swags.  The pinecones I keep in a paper bag in the basement until December and they usually have opened nicely by then.  The orange slices I dehydrate in the oven the same day I make the garland using jute twine.   This year I hung it along a pine branch that I secured to the curtain rod in my front window.  I love how the light shines through the oranges like stained glass.

cedar wreaths with red ribbonMy second favourite decoration this year are these cedar wreaths I made using cedar branches I trimmed from our cedar shrubs in the front yard.  I really hated taking them down.  I love the way they looked and with them gone I can’t decide what to put in their place.  Any ideas?

cedar wreaths and juniper boughsI tucked some Juniper boughs into a basket my friend’s mom made me as a wedding gift.  Santa had a kind of Scandinavian look and I picked him up from my local VV.  The red wooden bead garland? VV.  The reindeer candle holders were also a find at VV and now that I am typing this, I can’t decide if they are my second favourite or not…no.  They are my third favourite for sure.  Mostly because it was a nightmare trying to put the candles in place without splitting them.  So they get third place…

Solstice mantle

IMG_2082Here is what they look like lit up.  So pretty.  The chalkboard (from HomeSense) did boast a chalk christmas tree but I erased it before I thought of taking any pictures.cedar wreaths in windowAnd finally, one of my very favourite handmades this year, cedar branches hot glued onto embroidery hoops hung with red ribbon at my kitchen window.  I loved waking up to this bright and cheery window every wintry morning.  It made me candle holderAnd this sat on my window sill.  I made a few of these apple candle holders and used them to light our Solstice dinner table.  I love the red of the apples…and the fact that most of my decorations will now find themselves in the compost heap and not the land fill. In fact I now only have one box of Christmas decorations to store.  Mostly ornaments and lights.

So while it was hard to take them down, I do like to start the new year with fresh walls and less clutter.

Here is to fresh starts!  Happy 2014 everyone!!

A winter’s day photoessay

I think every family who lives in this area has hundreds of pictures of the kids feeding chickadees.  It is such an endearing activity that it is quite a popular thing to do when one has family or friends visiting.  And so we ventured out on this warm winter’s day, hiked into the forest and waited…

hiking into the woods

We didn’t have to wait long…

chickadee in a tree

chickadee feeding from hand

feeding the chickadeesThe kids were oh so patient…

bird seed on headAnd they tried new tricks to entice the birds…including putting bird seed on your head.

bird callAnd trying out a bird call or two…

bird seed on headApparently putting bird seed on your head works.  But those birds are quick.  Too quick for my camera.

childhood wonderThe experience didn’t disappoint…

using binocularsWho can resist an opportunity to try out the binoculars your aunt and uncle sent you?

IMG_2297The watching and waiting pays off…

child in winterWe hike back…

bullrushes in winterTake in the scenery…

IMG_2312And meet new friends…

running and jumping in winterRun and jump…

ice on picnic tableAnd find new ways to make ice exciting…

ice playCrack it…

stacking iceAnd stack it…

running in winterAnd have a WONDERFUL time.

Hope your winter break has been relaxing and refreshing.  Wishing you all the best in the New Year!

…the fire is burning…

…the fire is burning
the long night draws near
all who need comfort
are welcome by here…


The girls and I spent this evening building snowball lanterns in preparation for Solstice on December 21st

…we’ll dance ‘neath the stars
and toast the past year
for the spirit of solstice
is still living here…


The fire pit now has outdoor lighting. We’ll be dusting off the log stumps for friends to gather round the bonfire to hold back the night.

…we’ll count all our blessings
while the Mother lays down
with snow as her blanket
covering the ground…

We are fortunate enough to have a gorgeous yew tree in the backyard. We'll be decorating this living tree with popcorn strings, pine cone bird feeders and apple ornaments as gifts to our animal friends.

We are fortunate enough to have a gorgeous yew tree in the backyard. We’ll be decorating this living tree with popcorn strings, pine cone bird feeders and apple ornaments as gifts to our animal friends.

…thanks to the Mother
for the life that she brings
she’ll waken to warm us
again in the spring

the poor and the hungry
the sick and the lost
these are our children
no matter the cost…


Every year we make lanterns. This year it is snowball lanterns to line our walk way and welcome our guests. In years past we’ve used glass jars hung from sticks with wire to take with us on our lantern walk.  This year we’ll take apple candle holders with us while we go carolling.



Our decorations are all taken from nature. The snow lanterns require only a tea light and the right kind of snow. We’ve brought fresh greenery, birch bark and berries indoors to decorate our table and mantle.

…come by the fire
the harvest to share

for the spirit of solstice
is still living there

the fire is burning
the long night draws near
all who need comfort
are welcome by here…


Part of the fun of planning which crafts we’ll do and how we’ll decorate is watching the girls add their own bit of magic to our celebration. Our connections are strengthened to the earth and in our community. I love how the girls look forward to Solstice as part of our holiday celebrations.

…we’ll dance ‘neath the stars
and toast the past year

for the spirit of solstice
is still living here
for the spirit of solstice
is still living here…

~ Lyrics to “A Solstice Carole” by the Wyrd Sisters

Snow Day Fun


Yay!  Winter is upon us!  When the snow flies the girls fly out the door.  I have the easiest time on these snowy winter mornings.  They can’t dress and eat breakfast fast enough.  A quick ski around the yard or jumping on the toboggan:

toboggan1But it can’t all be fun when there is work to be done.  Winter blew right into our lovely little playhouse and the girls had some cleaning up to do.

toboggansnowinsideWhich can be fun too!



snowinside3The Missus took care of the porch.

tobogganisweepingDoes this mean we can call the playhouse a four season fort?

toboggangirls inwindow

It was a great morning and we decided afterward that the pictures would be perfect for our annual “Cool Yule” card.  Happy Holidays to all!

Cool Yule 2013

Liebster Awards 2013: Thousand Islands Mama has been nominated!!

I had the most incredible gift in my inbox the other day – a nomination for a Liebster Award from Joan at Nicer Than New.  I am so excited!  Help me thank Joan by visiting her fantastic website.  Thank you Joan, this honour made my day!

What is a Liebster Award?  Good question.  It is basically a fun way to highlight some of the newer/smaller blogs out there.  It helps bloggers find readers and readers find great content.  Here is how it works – fun and simple:

Award Rules

  1. Thank the blogger who presented you with the Liebster Award, and link back to his or her blog.
  2. Answer the questions from the nominator; list 11 random facts about yourself, and create 11 questions for your nominees.
  3. Present the Liebster Award to several other bloggers, who have blogs with 200 followers or less, whom you feel deserve to be noticed. Leave a comment on the blogs letting the owners know they have been chosen.
  4. Upload the Liebster Award image to your blog.

Here is what Joan wanted to know:

  1. Why did you decide to start blogging? I started blogging when I was living in a gorgeous forest near the shores of a beautiful river…amazing but isolating.  I knew there were others in my region craving connection and so I started blogging about what my family was doing locally.  I made great connections locally and then to my amazement in the bigger world as well.  I rediscovered my love of writing and creating, a part of myself I had long ignored and so I continued.
  2. What is your most memorable vacation destination?  Hands down, Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland.  This past summer we travelled and explored the amazing Newfoundland landscape by car, ferry, and on foot.  Incredible vistas, whales, puffins, moose and the cutest little vole.  The people – so friendly!  The food – scrumptious!  The kids ask to go back almost weekly.  Here are my favourite NFLD pics :

    Caribou and Fjords. The entrance to Western Brook Pond

    Amazing beaches; the kids could run forever!

    Amazing beaches; the kids could run forever!

    It felt like we had the place all to ourselves.  Shallow Bay Beach.

    It felt like we had the place all to ourselves. Shallow Bay Beach.

    No wonder they want to go back

    No wonder they want to go back

  3. What is your favourite quick go-to recipe?  Oh that’s easy.  Sharon’s Chocolate Cake of course!  I am not at liberty to share this recipe however.  It is a carefully guarded secret.
  4. Choose a movie or record album you like and tell us why?  Hmmm, that is a hard one…I have really varied tastes.  I’m listening to a lot of Sarah Slean lately.  Mostly because my daughter is an aspiring singer/songwriter and she loves listening to the piano and lyrics in Sarah’s songs.  This one is favourite:
  5. What is your favourite blog post you have completed to date?  This one.  I am an avid thrifter and crafter.  I would describe my decor style as “found style”.  This $16 shelving unit redo is one of my best finds.
  6. If you were dropped off on a deserted island and you could only have three items with you what would they be and why?  A water purifier, a super warm blanket and an “Edible Berries” guide.  I guess I’m more practical than I thought.
  7. What is your most prized possession?  My great-grandmother’s apron.  It is clearly handmade and the colours inspired my kitchen reno (post to come).
  8. If you were reborn as an animal, what would it be and why?  A black bear.  They get to spend their days in the forest, running through the trees, splashing in the streams…plus they love getting cozy in the winter.  Oh and no one messes with them.  I think I might actually BE a bear now that I think about it…
  9. What is the best book you have read in the past 5 years and why?  Ugh, I have to pick one?!  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time.  Seeing the world through the eyes of the main character, a 15 year-old boy with autism was incredible.  I found the book fascinating.
  10. If weight was a non issue, what’s one thing you would eat every day?   Soulemama’s Peppermint Bark.  I made this last Christmas and I could eat it all day long.
  11. What are your future plans or goals for blogging?  My life and career is full of extremely busy times and slow, quiet times…the problem is it is never consistent.  My blog reflects that, posts come in fits and bursts when I have the time.  My goal for 2014 is to write often when I have the chance and parcel the posts out in a more consistent timeframe for readers.  My second goal is to chronicle my family’s commitment to sustainable urban living.  We are giving up the car and biking and walk as much as we can (yes, even in the winter).  Reaching out to others doing the same in the blogosphere helps create community which makes these kind of goals more achievable.

The required “random things about me”:

1. I didn’t eat cheese unless it was melted or fake (think cheese whiz, Velveeta – bleh!) until I was 20 years old.
2. I hate coconut with an unnatural passion. Until recently I had a hard time understanding people who liked coconut…not the milk or real stuff, just the dried horribleness that feels like toe nails in your mouth – that stuff!
3. I love old 80s shows. I have watched all seasons of Dallas. I am currently watching season one of Remmington Steele.
4.. I was once on MTV sports when I was into ice climbing.
5. I used to want to be an astronaut and made a presentation to my parents to let me go to Space Camp in Huntsville Alabama when I was 11…I delivered A LOT of flyers to pay for that one.
6. The first birth I attended brought me to my knees it was so incredible.
7. I am one of those truly fortunate people who love what they do and wouldn’t quit it if I won the lottery.
8. Toys that require batteries are not allowed in my house (okay maybe one or two slipped in).
9. In high school I was voted most likely to be on SNL.
10. I miss my grandmother terribly and still tear up instantly when I think of her.

Some blogs I think you should check out!!

La Gang A Nat
North Story
The Happy Space Project
Sketchy Styles
Heart Heather
If People Mattered
Love on Sunday
The Uncommon Common Law

Oh right and some questions for the new nominees to answer:

  1. Why did you start blogging and what keeps you going?
  2. If you could meet up with a blogging celebrity, who would it be?
  3. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
  4. What are you passionate about?
  5. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
  6. What are you blogging goals for 2014?
  7. Where do you find inspiration?
  8. Do you have a favourite food blog?  I’m asking because I want to find a great food blog.  Totally selfish.
  9. What is your favourite blog post you’ve completed to date?
  10. Stealing this one from Joan cuz I love it so much:  If you were reborn as an animal, which animal would you be?

Ah….that feels good.  I hope you enjoy the blogs I’ve highlighted as much as I do.  Gotta love getting and giving some bloglovin’.  Don’t forget to check out Nicer than New!