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!

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 smile.apple 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!!

…the fire is burning…

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

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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…

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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…

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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.

 

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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…

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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

Making a house a home…

They say the heart of a home is the kitchen.  The Missus loves cooking and helping in our real kitchen and then spends much of the rest of her time pretending to be cooking or baking as well.   So it made sense that the hideout/playhouse needed a play kitchen.  It is a total hack which is either a really good thing proving that anyone can do this using materials that are cheap and easily attainable or it is a bad thing and totally proves Martha Stewart‘s point.  Either way, I wanted to share this with those who have generously donated materials for this build and perhaps it will serve as inspiration for those wanting to do the same for their children.  And so, without further ado:

I started with an upper cupboard I found for $10 at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore.  I chose it because it was fairly skinny in its profile and the doors were the old-fashioned kind.  On most modern cupboards the doors cover the entire front of the opening and that would have been problem in terms of opening and closing.  So I put the cupboard upside down on the floor (so that the pulls on the doors were at the top) and secured it in place with screws.
IMG_1880Then I got out the last piece of that seemingly endless board from the garage (that we’ve used for projects in the kitchen and living room already) to make a countertop.  I was so excited about doing this project that I didn’t care that I didn’t have the right tools for the job.  I happily got out what power tools I had on hand and started working.

IMG_1881Yeah,  you should always use the proper tools.  By the end I was a sweaty mess trying to wrestle the wood into place.  I made mistakes.  But don’t worry I fixed ’em and who cares it is a playhouse right? Right.  So not prefect but still “super cool” according to the Missus.

IMG_1883Do not dwell on the jagged edges of the hole that I created for the sink…like I said I fixed them.  I used the drill to drill circles big enough to fit the $5 taps I found at Value Village.  I also used the drill to poor effect in making the hole for the sink in the top of the cupboard and the reclaimed board for the countertop (and I used the skill saw and a hammer and I swore…a lot).  Oh and also don’t trouble yourself about the unfinished wall behind the cupboards…I’ll get to that later.

IMG_1891See?  The wall is (almost) finished now.  I used an old metal bowl for sink and a piece of 2×4 to fix the gap at the end of the counter.  I’ll be drawing on some stove top elements with permanent marker at some point and painting the fridge (an old store from the MOD shop a few years ago).  Oh and painting the wall…and finishing around the windows…was it me that said she didn’t want to see this project end?  Surely not.

kids kitchen in playhouseWe have plans for kitchen curtains and matching tea towels as well but I’m not sure how they will fare through the winter in such an unprotected playhouse.  So we may leave that project for the spring and summer.

So that is our most recent update.  What do you think so far?

************UPDATE**************

I found a use for one of the three medicine cabinets from our bathroom upstairs as a nice upper cabinet for the play kitchen.

playhouse kitchen

Oh “deery” my! Woodland Felt Animal Masks and Tutorial

Oh deery my indeed!  This little woodland creature couldn’t get any cuter.  And this blog post couldn’t come any later.  We are in solid birthday mode around here and this post features what I created for LAST year’s birthday party.  I’m not ashamed.  Besides I think these adorable masks were worth the wait.deermask

The theme for the Missus’ birthday was “Woodland Animals” (this year she continues the animal theme only this year it is “party animals”…you can see the difference).  We had planned to take the kids to the park to play, drink apple cider and have cake.  The weather thought that was a bad idea and so we transformed our living room into…a living room that now allowed woodland animals to play in it.

foxesandowlsandbearsohmyInstead of sending our creature friends home with bags of candy, I embroidered and sewed these adorable felt masks to give to each guest.  The fox is my favourite.  When I finished the first fox mask I had the most incredible crafter high!  We kept the animals local and added some skunks, bears, owls, deer and a chipmunk to the mix.

bearmask

It all started with this prototype.  The bear.  I based it on this paper mask that I bought at Michael’s.

paper bear maskI simply traced the outline onto some freezer paper, ironed that onto some felt and away we went.  Oh, and I altered the shape of the eyes from oval to round.  Don’t do that.  The result is still cute (see below) but….

felt bear mask

But the kids…they can’t see that well when they are like that.

bear mask

Fun to wear but hard to attack.  So oval eye holes it was from then on…

So here is what you’re gonna need to make a cute creature yourself:

Supplies:

  • A template.  Get one like the one above or free hand your own.  There are also many template available for free online (google “felt masks”…you’ll see).
  • Heat n’ Bond.  I purchased mine at Fabricland:

heat n' bond

  • Freezer Paper.  I couldn’t find any in Canada at the time (although I’ve heard others have had luck).  This may be one item I am willing to cross boarder shop for and I buy a few rolls at a time when I’m in the states.

freezer paper

  • Sharp scissors
  • A marker for tracing the pattern onto the freezer paper and heat n’ bond
  • Some embroidery thread in a variety of colours (it is really up to you)
  • 1/2 inch elastic
  • Felt in various colours (grey, black and beige for the racoon)
  • A sewing machine with a needle that can handle layers of felt
  • Thread for sewing machine
  • An iron and an ironing board

Now, let’s get started!

howtomakeafeltanimalmask

1. First make a template.  I traced the bear mask onto a piece of paper with marker.  Then I modified it free-hand to make the different animals.  Below is the start of the racoon mask:IMG_9182

freezer paper2.  Now that you have your new mask design just the way you want it, it is time to get out your freezer paper.  Lay it over your paper animal and trace.  For a racoon you need to trace and cut out a few separate pieces:  (1. and 2.)  the outside shape of the mask (3.)  the racoon mask (4.)the snout (5. and 6.) two triangle shapes for inside the ears and (7.) the nose.

IMG_91873.  Lay the two mask outlines onto a piece of felt with the shiny side of the freezer paper down.  Use your iron to set them in place.IMG_91884.  With the freezer paper now “stuck” to the felt, cut out both pieces.  Peel the freezer paper off the felt and set aside (you can reuse this several times for other masks).  Set the felt aside as well.

IMG_91985.  Next lay the freezer paper cut outs for the racoon mask, the ear triangles and the nose on to the black felt, iron and cut them out.  Peel the freezer paper off and set pieces aside.

IMG_91926.  Repeat the process with the snout piece and a beige scrap of felt.

IMG_92417.  Next take out your Heat N’ Bond.  Lay it over your original paper design and trace out all of the same pieces that you did with the freezer paper.  The Heat N’ Bond is similar to freezer paper in that it has a shiny side.  Lay the shiny side down onto the corresponding piece of felt and iron.  IMG_9202When you peel the Heat N’ Bond off you will see the shiny bit has transferred to the felt (sorry only good pic of this is from the fox mask in the making):

IMG_92608.  Now you can start ironing your pieces into place on one of the grey pieces of felt.  I placed the racoon mask on first, shiny side down and ironed it in place.  Then the snout, the nose and the ears.  I placed the nose midway down the snout instead of up near the mask to give it a 3D effect.

IMG_9204

IMG_9205

IMG_92069.  Next I used my sewing machine to sew around the mask, the ears and the snout securing them in place.  This is probably not necessary if you want to keep it simple.  It will add to the longevity of the mask though.

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9.  I used black embroidery thread to outline and hold the nose in place (three layers would be too thick for most sewing machines).  Then, using a running stitch,  I embroidered a line from the nose to the chin.  I think it adds a touch of whimsy to the masks.

snoutandnose

10.  Now, remember how I told you I did this project last year?  Yes, well, that means I don’t have a picture of the next step.  Sorry!  It is pretty simple though…take your elastic and cut a length that is sized to fit your child’s head.  Pin one end to the back of the mask on each side and sew into place:

clearracoonmask

11.  Once you have the elastic in place, set the whole piece aside.  Iron Heat N’ Bond onto the second grey piece of felt.  Peel it off.  Lay this piece of felt shiny side up on the ironing board.  Lay the top piece of the mask with the elastic attached on top.  Take care to ensure the elastic is not between the layers at all.  Iron until the two pieces are fused together.IMG_9238

irononracoonmask12.  The last step is to sew around the entire outline of the mask and your done!  Or if you’re like me, you’ve only just begun!  It was super fun “inventing” each animal mask and adding details here and there.

felt woodland animal masks

Have fun!

The hideout: an update

IMG_1838The hideout turned playhouse is coming along.  The walls boards are up and we’re starting on the finishing touches.  I admit the inherently slow pace of an upcycle project like this one has its downsides but we’ve enjoyed the challenge.

IMG_1841You know, the challenge of finding one more fence board that fits that wonky spot.  Or the challenge of almost finishing a wall and then running out of that kind of tongue in groove wood of that particular width and MacGyvering something that will do.  Finding enough similar looking shingles was interesting…

IMG_1852It turns out we didn’t know enough people with old fence panels and old wall sections to finish the back wall.  So we used the left over pieces of chipboard that went on the roof.  Definitely NOT as pretty as the other rustic looking sections.  So we decided to paint the interior.  It was amazingly easy to find old paint.  White was a no brainer given that we could mix our donations and paint can finds together to cover it all.   We found an almost full can of (OLD) white primer in our garage and we had a number of white tester samples to mix.  The rest came from neighbours and we’ve been told our local Restore carries paints as well.

IMG_1844The girls had a blast and worked hard to finish before sunset.  It is getting darker earlier and earlier though and we’ll have to finish another day.  This seems to be a theme with this space…each time we are working on it we think of some other amazing detail to add…another day.  It keeps us thinking.  It has us researching.  We’re thinking of this, and this and a slide like this.

IMG_1866And so we dream up big possibilities and have fun working together until we’re tired.  And then we have fun taking breaks and making more plans.

IMG_1860Ultimately we’re learning that if we really want to stick to our budget and committment to use used wood and materials then we must be patient.  So far our biggest gift is learning how generous and resourceful our friends and neighbours are. Heck we’ve met so many new people and we have on occasion come home to gifts of shelves, baskets, markers (for future art work of course) not to mention the lumber, roofing paper, shingles and nails we already received.  This is certainly a labour of love.  And I’m not sure I actually want it to ever be finished.

The Backyard Part 1: Natural Playscapes for kids

We have a lovely, large backyard.   The woman who lived here before us was a champion gardener and a member of the horticultural society and there are incredible flowerbeds…everywhere.  I am not complaining, afterall, that is quite a gift (even if I have my work more than cut out for me trying to keep them up).  But while flowers are pretty we needed some areas that the kids could play in and explore.  And we needed to do it on a budget.  Natural playscapes appealed to us and we were intrigued by living willow structures and had even found a Canadian source for willow cuttings.  But again, we had that budget…

So, we started last fall by transporting some tree stumps and cedar logs from J’s parents place in the forest to our urban backyard.  These were instant hits with the girls:

Hideoutbackyardstumps

Hideoutbalancebeam

Who knew jumping on stumps was such fun?  Or that cedar logs made such great balance beams?  Amazing, natural and cheap.  We loved it.

Next we starting making a “hut” like structure out of tall, skinny tree branches (again from J’s parents place):

Hideoutbackyardbefore

We used jute twine to tie the branches together forming a dome.  We added a door shape and a few windows on each side.  In the winter we cut up our evergreen tree (and a few of our friends) and wove the boughs through to give the structure form and privacy.

Hideoutbeforewith firepit

Here is what is looked like this summer.  We had placed the stumps in a semi-circle and moved out fire pit to the centre.  It has been a great spot for roasting marshmallows!  You can see the “finished” structure in the background after we had removed the old and dried out christmas branches and other yard waste the kids had woven in.  Next we removed the sod/grass in a circle around the play structure, added soil and planted beans with the idea being that they would grow over the branches and give cover that way.  Unfortunately, there was a heat wave while we were away for vacation this year and the beans didn’t really take.  We came home to a sad little wooden dome that was not much more than a bunch of dried out sticks.  Which is just as well since it was meant to be temporary (although we had hoped it would last through this season.  Since then the girls have hatched another plan anyways.  A bigger and more involved plan – a hideout!!

The have drawn designs, discussed various fort “must-haves” such as a lookout and a trap door.  The area behind the temporary dome seemed like a great space and so we went straight to work.  I can’t wait to show you the progress we are making on the much larger and more involved play structure in Part 2 of this series.  But for now you can ask friends and relatives for stumps and branches to get you started on building a natural playground for your kids…

Mama’s got a brand new…door.

The first day of Spring found us still under a blanket of snow outside.  So what is a mama to do but add some colour inside?  We are slowly making progress on the kitchen.  The wallpaper is down, walls scrubbed, repaired and painted (Benjamin Moore Woodlawn blue if you are wondering).  We decided to use the same colour in the hall, up the stairs and into the hall upstairs.  The tile backsplash will be painted and so far with only one coat of primer it is looking fantastic.  Jamie of The Painted Pear is coming next week to prep and spray lacquer our tired, old cabinets – I am so excited about this part!!

Before I play show and tell with a few pics of the kitchen in progress and my “new” front door, I have to show you this new trick I learned!!

paintedhingesSee this?  This is what the hardware in my kitchen looks like right now.  They been painted over multiple times and they are not so pretty to look at.  What to do, what to do.  I have found an amazing and easy solution!

crock pot magicFirst I went to VV and bought a crock pot for $5.  Then I added water, Nellie’s Washing Soda (which I buy locally at Go Green Baby) and my painted hinges.  I covered it with the lid and left them for 1/2 an hour.  When I came back the paint slid right off!  Amazing.  They are still not the prettiest hinges ever but I’m keeping with my “make it do” mantra so they stay.

shinynewhingesThey are so very shiny and new looking now after all.  This method of cleaning old hardware got me to thinking about all the old and paint splattered doorknobs and hinges around here.  So I took the hardware off my front door too and cleaned those too…

innerdoorhandle

The inside knob…

doorknoboutsideThe outside knob…

They cleaned up okay using this method but they still needed some scrubbing with a toothbrush and some brass cleaner.  And since I had the hardware off I should probably paint the door finally with some Chalk Paint in Emperor’s Silk Red (of course I should)…

door prep

The before…

finisheddoor

door and jacketsThe afters…see the gleaming “new” hardware???  Can you even believe it was THAT dirty?  Sort of embarrassing really…and now (also embarrassingly) I need to touch up the trim which the painters tape ripped off : (.

picture

I love my entryway now!  This is a Sarah Jane print that stays up all year (so I’ll always have a little bit of winter nearby)…

hooksI found these adorable hooks a few years ago at Kilborn’s my favourite store to get lost in…

There are still a few finishes that need to happen in this front hall, namely taking the old worn out linoleum floor (which has old asbestos backed linoleum underneath which means getting some professionals in here) and thrifting a table for the bottom of the stairs.  Good thing yard sale season is starting soon!

kitchen colourHere is a peek at the colour in the kitchen.  You can see the sorry cupboards in the corner waiting for their turn to be transformed.  In this pick the hallway is still the old taupe/pink/brown colour that I’ve hated since we moved in.  The colour has made such a difference already.  The kitchen is brighter and the white appliances looks so much better.

yellowshelfsurpriseI found a surprise under some old contact paper on the corner shelves…bright yellow, old school formica.  I love it!

So cupboards, flooring, and painting trim still to do…but it is all coming along.  I can’t wait until Jamie works his magic next week.  I promise to get the finished photos up as soon as it is finished.

What do you think so far?

the make it do or do without kitchen un-reno

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

When I find myself getting caught up in the societal trend to buy things, renovate or endlessly redecorate, I repeat these words.  It is a great litmus test to determine if something is truly a need or is simply a want.  Which category does a kitchen makeover fall into?  Probably a want.  Okay, for sure it is a want.  I could leave my kitchen the way it is and we’d all be fine.  And indeed I’ve left it the way I found it when we moved in and we’ve all survived.  If I am being very honest I left it alone because 1. the to-do list was long when we moved in 2. money was short 3. having experienced wallpaper removal of epic proportions in the old house I wasn’t up for it after the move to the new house 4. this kitchen has…er, ‘quirks’ and I thought I should live in the space before making any adjustments…

Fast forward a year and I’ve started to experience intense itching upon entering my kitchen.  I’d look at the handyman special of a cabinet beside my awkwardly placed stove and feel my face twitch.  I swallowed hard when I had to reach for my dinner plates, stored not in the upper cabinets (because they are too narrow to fit plates), but in the lower, afore-mentioned handy man special of a cabinet.  My eyes would protest when they looked upon the brown wallpaper with orange flowers and the brown “dead leaf” pattern on my ceramic backsplash…tension was building.

It seems everyone around me has recently renovated  their kitchen or they have plans to.  I have found myself dreaming of a complete gut job after letting my hands spend too much time fondling someone else’s brand new faucet, or offering to cut up the vegetables just to find an excuse to get closer to the rustic yet modern butcher block counter top, or complaining of thirst so that I could procure myself a glass of water at the elegantly appointed apron front sink…must resist!

“This backsplash is perfectly functional” I’d tell myself.  “These cupboards have been here since this house was built.  You don’t get that kind of quality anymore” I’d say.  “No one has noticed that you hung your pictures up on the random nails and hooks that were already in the wall” I’d lie.  Blarghhhhh!!!!!!!!

The truth is I kind of like my kitchen.  I want to give it a new life without buying more stuff or sending perfectly good cupboards to the landfill.  I like the idea of putting my money towards other things my family would enjoy.  There are bigger problems in this world than an outdated kitchen.  But I don’t want to be ridiculous either.  There is work to be done.  And I have some ideas.  If you want to hear about them keep reading.  If you think you might have some awkward space solutions, take a look at my photos and suggest away!  The placement of appliances is the hardest bit and solutions might be possible but will likely have to wait for a more serious reno with more cash behind it, but I’m open to and welcome all input.

And so without further ado, I give you…my kitchen…

the awkward stove

We’ll start the tour with the view from the doorway to the dining room.  Here you will notice the previously mentioned “awkwardly placed stove” ($200 on kijiji BTW).  It has been “joined” to the rest of the cabinets by a homemade cupboard with a tiled top.  This cabinet is in front of the real face of the original cabinets.  When you get real close you can see the drawer and the cabinet door that it is in front of – not exactly a seamless placement.   This is now to be known as “conundrum #1”.  If I remove it the original cabinets will look the way they were intended to look, but then there would be a stove in front of them…still awkwardly placed.  It can’t be worse than having this cabinet there though can it?

What else can we see?  Hmmmm, the terrible state of the flooring (conundrum #2).  Its okay I’m aware.  It is tired and worn and oozing nothing close to vintage cool.  There is the wallpaper I mentioned and the backsplash (#3 and #4).  I’ve kept quiet up until now about the hideous colour of my cupboards but, well, there it is (#5).

fridge and dishwasherFollowing along, we can now reveal the ill placed pictures that I hung on the already existing wall nails.  The fridge was not located here when we moved in, it was beside the door to the backyard all by itself (see next photo).  It is better here but it does look like a happy gathering of all appliances in one cramped corner don’t you think?  The dishwasher is the rolling, hook it up to the sink kind (which we are forever grateful for Karen and Jason!!!!).  I’d love a built-in, but where to put it?  Also, in the future  an above the fridge cabinet would be nice…yes?  no?  I need your thoughts.

the cornerMoving right along, we have come to “the corner”.  This is where the fridge used to be.  I have big plans for this corner.  One day I’d love a metal door with a long window in it to let in light.  For now I’ll get rid of the thread bare curtains with holes in them and maybe paint the door.  I’ve already removed the wallpaper.  I’m searching for a table, maybe an enamel topped one (if I can find one small enough) with tall skinny legs so I can put our rubber boots or “house shoes” under it so trips out to the garden are made easy.  I’ll need some hooks for our aprons (and a sweater or two to grab on the way out to the garden I think).  We’ve found a lovely piece of board in the garage to make into open shelves to display our dinner plates (remember they won’t fit anywhere else), small plates, bowls and glasses. Conundrum #7 is finding acceptable brackets…so far all searching has yielded decidedly uncool hardware.  I think I’ll need a receptacle for my herb scissors and garden twine…maybe a wire herb drying rack hanging from the ceiling….yes, I think I’ll like this space eventually…it looks better already.  It used to look like this:

rubbermaid pantry

You can understand now can’t you.  Who could resist pulling down the wallpaper with those seams and edges pleading to be pulled!!  The rubbermaid pantry is already gone.  Thanks Kijiji!  Getting rid of it meant making the other cupboards really work.  After we reorganized things a bit we realized that we probably never needed this pantry to begin with and when you have more space you just end up with more stuff.

hideous wallpaper

And here is a good look at the hideousness that was the wallpaper.  Wanna know what is worse?

dirty wallpaperThis.  Look. At. How. Dirty.  Just look at it.  Oh dear.  Why didn’t I take this down when I moved in again?  Right, I had been scarred by wallpaper removal in the old place.  Turns out this stuff had been on so long there really wasn’t anything holding it on anymore so removal (with water and vinegar) was a breeze.  And an equally unappealing mushroom colour paint job was revealed.  Fun thing is the paint under that paint is probably the colour I’ll paint the walls…I know right?  Wait long enough and anything will come back into fashion.

So there is it.  Hit me with your suggestions.  I already have an idea of where I am going with this but all help is welcome.  Taking down the wallpaper was kind of nice actually.  I kept thinking of Flora, the woman who lived in this house since it was built and raised her family here…she likely pick the wallpaper and had someone make the handyman cabinet to solve the problem of the awkward stove issue.  Under the wall paper I found other nail holes that made me wonder how this room might have been arranged before…might a calendar have hung in that spot? Was there a breakfast table here?  Kitchens are the heart of the home after all.  We spend enough time here and I can’t wait to give it new life and make it our own.

I’ll add updates here as we go!

When Handmade goes wrong

I quite like making things to give as gifts.  It is always a delicate art.  First you must be sure you want to invest the time and that the final product will turn out well.  Second you must think carefully about who you are giving it to.  There is nothing more awkward than getting the feeling that the recipient doesn’t actually like the gift because a solid drawback to handmade is that you can’t return it.

This is a story about a handmade gift that the recipient, my father-in-law, liked just fine.  The problem was, I had made a really big mistake when putting this gift together.  Let’s see if you can spot it:

log carrier

What is it you ask?  Why it is a log carrier of course!  An absolutely chic log carrier if I do say so myself.

the embroideryThis embroidery took FOREVER!  In the end I just couldn’t do it on my machine and off I went to my friend Rebecca’s for help.  Man did it turn out great or what?  I was ever so pleased.

cute tag

Then there are the little details like this cute tag.  I was in love with this present and I couldn’t wait to give it.  Have you spotted my error yet?  Keep looking.

recycledjeans

And just why did I love this thing so much?  Well I thought it looked pretty great and it was made out of recycled materials.  In the picture above you can see that it is lined with denim from an old pair of jeans.  The cream coloured fabric on the front was left over from a couch slipcover I had made.  The thread was leftover from my bridesmaids dresses (13 years ago!!).  And finally the twill tape for the handles was from a grab bag at Value Village.  I was in recycled gift heaven.

folded

Can you tell now what is wrong?  Yep.  As beautiful as it turned out, it was utterly useless for carrying wood.  I had made it long and skinny.  It would likely only fit one or two logs (super long ones at that).  Sigh.  It was supposed to be folded the other way so that it was deeper and shorter.  I was entirely horrified and with no time left before the family gift exchange to fix it, I did what I had to do…I gave it to him and then took it right back offering promises to “fix it soon”.

oh dear

This is the way it was supposed to go.  Which means the embroidery is going the wrong way and so are the straps.  Not such as easy fix after all.   And do you know what is worse?  I still haven’t fixed it.  I’m going to do it tonight and give it to him again before Christmas so at least I don’t have to say it took me a year to fix it.  Wish me luck!

book

Oh and by the way, I found this project in this book.  I’ve now made a number of the projects in here and all of them have turned out so wonderfully!  I’ll share a few in the coming days.

What are some of your DYI disasters?