Friday, July 24, 2009

Culinary Therapy, Camping edition.

(Our home away from home for the next week. It is sufficiently decrepit that I can still proudly call myself a camper. Ahem. Yes, I have to sew a patch onto it tomorrow.)

We will have a firepit.

We will have a camp stove, fueled by portable propane bottles. (Yay. I love cooking on a gas stove!)

I will have two pots and one frying pan and two bowls.

Meat and fresh food will be purchased every day. (No point trying to manage a cooler at the desired temperature when we have to lug it around in the back of the vehicle all day. Can't leave it at the tent site in Bear Country!)

Breakfasts will be a choice of eggs, omeletes, oatmeal or pancakes. (Made with pre-mixed whole wheat flour mix from home). Sausage.

Lunches will be sandwiches: egg, ham and cheese and fruit, cut up veggies, granola bars. We like to hike while we're on vacation, so lunch will always be a squished sandwich.

Arrival night, Sunday:
Spaghetti sauce (1/2 a jar) with pre-cooked ground beef from home.
Spaghetti and Bannock

Chili. (Use up the other half of the jar of spaghetti sauce). Bought corn muffins.

Balsamic Chicken Breasts, roast potatoes, broccoli, bannock.

Sausage, Brown Beans and biscuits.

Burritos, Bannock, Spinach Salad.

Chicken Pepper skillet.

Saturday: leftovers, if any, or pizza from town.

We will be home Sunday night.

NB: The cook reserves the right to cancel dinner at any time in case of heavy rain or extreme fatigue. In such cases, refer to Saturday's plans.


I have been busy.

We bought our replacement vehicle on the weekend. That seemed to take a lot of energy and time, somehow. The living room remained in limbo until yesterday when we finally took out the old thermostat. In the interests of documenting history here it is.

(The Canadian Government introduced the Metric system one unit at a time. They started with temperatures in 1975. Notice the dusty mercury bulb. We made a trip to our local hazardous waste site with it.)

That of course, left us with this which took the entire day and much ingenuity to fill. I really didn't mind.

Our annual heat wave has hit. It feels downright silly to complain about temperatures hovering around the 30 degree mark, but honest-to-goodness it's, it's difficult.

Aurelia and I taped and washed the walls and I did the first round of cutting in before bed last night. Then I got up at 7:30 this morning, before the heat hit too hard and spent about two hours applying the first coat. The paint is thick and uncooperative.

I took this to show you the difference in the colour. I feel like I have stripped the room of depth and character. That oak trim, hiding under the green tape, sticks out. It's no longer integrated into the scheme and looks like a marital dispute. (Which it is.)

The upper bit, above the trim and below the stuccoed popcorn ceiling, thus, needs to be a miracle worker. It must provide a bit of colour and intergrate the wood trim without making the room top heavy. Any suggestions?

We're still on track to leave for the mountains on Sunday. (I think. We got the tent trailer out of storage last night and one of the tires is flat and needs repair.)

I wish we'd already left.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Organizing, Cleaning and Decorating.

Three separate things.

One does have to be a tad organized in order to begin to clean: and one does have to have a fairly clean and tidied space in order to decorate. But once you have decorated, it is perfectly possible never to wash the floor or vacuum the furniture. Nor will you suddenly acquire mail management skills and enthusiasm for the laundry. So, these activities are separate. For a long time I have thought that if the room were "nice" I'd be motivated to keep it clean. Well, it certainly is pleasant when a nicely decorated room is kept clean and tidy: but it isn't a sufficient motivation to overcome my innate--what? laziness? perfectionism? depression? inertia?

In an effort lately to address my housekeeping deficiencies, I have been searching the web for help. I came across "The Organizing Junkie." It's a frightening place, really. In November, 2007, the OJ set a 30-day organizing challenge for individuals to tackle a whole room (or a small space). The participants were encouraged to post before and after pictures when the challenge was done. They provided direct access to these blog posts via Mr. Linky.

First of all, "organizing" was an all encompassing term for de-cluttering, containerizing and tidying. Cleaning the space wasn't mentioned too often (though I'm sure that once the surfaces were bare it likely occurred) and there was no noticeable decorating. Which wasn't the point. but, to me, overall, looking at their spaces, it is oddly dissatisfying and disheartening. Perhaps because although beauty is orderly: mere orderliness is not beautiful. But their posts certainly are motivating!

And I too wonder if these posts and web activities reinvent the old "coffee klatch" Wende referred to in her comments in the last post. Sort of. I'm more of a voyeur than a visitor when I "drop in" on these women, but I'm sure at the time of the challenge the women who participated felt connected and were socializing--as far as the web allows. It reminds me of the fun I had doing AT with lots of like-minded individuals.

I don't know. And I don't know if my difficulties will ever disappear. I believe I know everything there is to know about keeping up with the house. My problem isn't a lack of knowledge. No, it is most likely a lack of good habits. That's all. I just don't have the habit (or routine) of getting up off my duff and doing something I may not be remotely interested in doing for ten minutes or 1/2 an hour.

Speaking of which.....

Friday, July 17, 2009


It's no secret that I struggle with "keeping" my home. In early January/late December I came across an e-book of housekeeping assignments. Called Motivated Moms, it's a page per week schedule for doing housework. It's available as a download, with or without scripture, in two formats for $8. The woman who thought of it was brilliant, I think.

On the list for Wednesday, among other things, were these:
  • Wash windows - master bedroom

  • Clean blinds/curtains - master bedroom

  • and a little further down the list,

  • Dust master bedroom

  • Well!
    How could I resist?

    I had started cleaning up back in June. My mother loves to give gifts. And she loves to shop Value Village. Every time she comes to visit (and in May and June it was nearly every day) she would have a few items of clothing, either for the kids or me. It was overwhelming. When she found out I planned to lose weight, she started bringing clothes which were too small! "Motivation," she called it.

    On June 22, I started tackling it--and took these before pictures.

    Last Wednesday, I felt ready to tackle my MM tasks. I took down the curtains, washed, dried, ironed and hung them back up--all on the same day. That was kind of amazing to me all by itself!

    Then I washed the windows, the surfaces of the dressers, dusted the walls, pictures and bookshelves. I dry swiffered the floor. I vacuumed the window screen, the lampshades, the couch and the dust bunnies (more the size of small cats. Why do they call them dust bunnies, anyway.? As if they are cute and cuddly. They're not. They're nasty feeding grounds for vermin.) behind the couch, dresser and at the head of the bed. Wow, did that feel good! And the next morning, I took these. Just for you.

    I'm getting antsy to finish the living room. I hadn't thought I'd be living with the dining/computer room looking like this:

    It's been like this almost a week!

    And wouldn't you know it-- on my MM list for today is:

  • dust dining/breakfast room(s). (Yesterday was "dust office!")
  • Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Quick Question about files

    Specifically, Auto Insurance files.

    As I was putting away our paperwork on the Jeep, it occured to me to throw out some of our past insurance documents, accident reports, etc.... But then I started to wonder--should I?

    We no longer even have the vehicles, now. But I'm not sure if we'll need it all some day or not.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Damage Control

    The living room continues. I was taping away and about to wash when it occurred to me that we probably wanted to fill the crack in the wall.

    Oh and patch a few water damaged spots. (It's fixed. Water had been seeping through cracks in the Stucco outside. More importantly it has stayed fixed through the last two winters!)

    And that it wouldn't make any sense to wash the walls today and then have to do it all over again in a few days, so it's Hubby's territory and domain now and things will progress, albeit slowly, as they ought. (That crack is very deep in spots, unfortunately and will take several applications of whatever to be filled in properly.)

    In other news, the jeep left us today.

    I took one last picture of the damage it took saving the lives of my son and husband. I cannot believe my son was sitting right there--right behind that dangling visor, right next to that caved in and bent windshield.

    I will be forever grateful to this big hunk of metal. Thank you. So long.

    (We're getting another, the 2009 model, thanks to our Insurance policy.)

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    A Little Snag

    Well, actually, there are a lot of them when it comes to this particular piece of furniture.

    I started cleaning it using the upholstery attachment on my Mom's rug cleaner last night. Mom had "Pet stain and odour" cleaner loaded up for me because she had been out of upholstery and carpet cleaning soap. So, after doing the arm and one cushion I judged I needed the proper stuff and went out and purchased it. (Man, is it expensive!).

    But this morning, I couldn't get the upholstery attachment to work. And Mom couldn't get it to work when she came over this afternoon. So, she has taken it back home and tomorrow I will get on with the washing of the walls and taping of the wood-which-must-not-be-painted. Sigh.

    I had really wanted to give you an "After."

    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    First Coat Complete.

    The first coat on the window trim, that is. I always forget how much time it takes to wash, rinse and tape. The painting is the least of it, really.

    The lighter colour scheme really should open this room up, don't you think? I know the current trend is to make small dark rooms smaller and darker, to "blur the boundaries" so to speak, but I just don't like it.

    The kids are off to their 1/2 day VBS tomorrow morning. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to it!

    Saturday, July 11, 2009


    The lampshade on the left, I think.

    Remember I said I had a zero budget? Well, it turns out that's very nearly true. We can either build a little bit of deck in the back this week--or I can buy a can of paint. We decided I can get the paint!
    So, I will use paint we have left over for the trim and ceiling--and I will be using the same colour as what is in the dining room already. It's a lovely warm "French Vanilla." For drapes, the brown ones I had will be fine for winter: but for summer I'm going to use the plain off-white tab top cotton ones I already have from Ikea. I have two sets which is what I need to get all the way acoss that window.
    It'a pain and not what I want, but it will acheive my goals which are quite modest.
    1) change things,
    and 2) to lighten it up.
    I'm going to reserve the area above the wood trim and below the ceiling for an "accent colour" which I haven't yet decided upon. I do have some yellow paint but it is too clear to go with the "caramel" tone in the French Vanilla and the wood-which-must-not-be-painted. Oh well. I hope to wash the window trim and tape today. I may even get the first coat on before bed. My mom is taking us to Ikea later to pick up another one of those lamps (and appropriate shade) above.
    Tomorrow I want to steam clean the sofa and finish/start the window trim.
    Sunday, wash walls and tape.
    Monday, buy the wall paint and begin! (The kids go to Vacation Bible School every morning next week, thus the painting spree!)
    (We do have the wood to finish that area above the fireplace. Hopefully, hubby's new saw is up to the task!)

    Thursday, July 9, 2009

    Now I remember, (part 2)

    I went Windows (TM) shopping last night. I loved Anne's breakdown of neutral walls, pattern in the draperies and colour in the lamps and pillows and so on.


    Patterned draperies (or curtains) are nearly impossible to find. And whenever I did find some, I worried they were too "bedroomy."

    Coloured lamps? and lampshades? Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Sorry, that's a snarky laugh, not a happy one. Sears has coloured lamp bases and shades (pink, blue and purple) from a line by Mary-Kate and Ashley (not bad, actually, but 127.00 each). The best I can do is the Skimra lampshades at Ikea. Which, fortunately at least, we can afford.

    I have long been in love with this fabric for curtains.

    It's from Susan Sargent--and "special order" draperies from the fabric are now available. My window is 8 feet long. I've hung the pole at a ridiculous height of 88." According to these dimensions, I should get 4 pinch pleat panels (at 25" x 84", $180.00 each). In the rod pocket style, I could possibly get away with two (at 50"x 84" though, they'd look skimpy). These are $150.00 each. Utterly ridiculous.

    I find it interesting to note, however, that I fell in love with this colour scheme of yellow, orange and green eons ago. I remember being in despair that I couldn't find anything. Now, even Ikea has orange Kassett boxes! Orange is on its way "out" I guess.

    It's just all too depressing, really.
    I went to Value Village last night to see what I could find in the way of draperies, artwork and so on. It wasn't pretty.

    I guess the thing that really gets me is that when I first moved in, we fixed up the living room really nicely. Or so I thought.

    We did a faux treatment on the walls I just loved. It was rag rolled by my husband and my mother and looked fantastic. I had a lovely multi-object display on the wall above the couch--plates and pictures laid out a la Martha Stewart (and everywhere, now, I've noticed). I sewed triple pinch pleated from a beautiful (but busy!) fabric for that ridiculous window. The fabric cost $200.00 and it took my mother and I a few months to sew them. When they were done, the two panels were different lengths! (Mom has them in her den, now).

    Guess what?
    You're in for a treat. Yep, I rounded up some pictures of that time, just for you. Unfortunately, the rag rolled faux treatment dows not show up in the pictures, ever.
    These were taken in 2001.

    (Look at the drapery fabric, not the sweeties in the chair.)

    Here's another showing the arrangement of the wall over the couch. Funny how things seem much better in memory!

    And then I had the couch professionally re-covered in a fabric that is hard to clean and shows every little thing. And it is green. (Much too green) I thought I was "restoring" the couch to some historically accurate past or something. I discovered much later I was simply repeating the colour scheme of the woman who had handed it down to us. A woman, mind you, we did not like. I hated that couch colour from the minute it came through the door in all its green majesty. It was a $2,000 mistake.

    At that time, I thought "redecorating" the living room was the way to go. Too much HGTV made me decide upon "dark and elegant." Actually I never quite pulled off the "elegant" part--though dark definitely happened! (Oddly enough, the living room is at its darkest in the summer when the light bounces off brown or green grass and not the hghly reflective snow of winter.)

    And so, we have lived in "the cave" ever since. Furniture has come and gone from this room. (Thankfully, mostly gone!).

    Here's the lamented living room all tidied up.

    You, know, I think I really can do better. This has been good. I've no need to mourn, anymore.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    To answer Lorijo's Question:

    This was taken with a flash, so the current living room colour in the foreground is a bit washed out. It is the same saturation as the yellow-green in the hallway (Front door to the right). I can paint this, too, without too much trouble or outlay of cash. The room beyond is the dining room. It's painted a beautiful colour called French Vanilla by Benjamin Moore. I love it.

    I love the fact that I have this tiny enfilade. (I think that's what it's called.)
    (If there are any more questions, I'll just add on to this post by way of an answer.)

    Oh, Now I Remember...

    Honestly, I think I'm just waking up from a long, long coma.

    Finishing the faux fireplace facelift has sparked the decorating passion again. And as always, I'm coming up against a zero budget, though I have the 'go ahead' from the hubby to paint the living room. At first, I was in despair--but as I re-discovered and hunkered in with my favourite design sources I realised all will be ok. I may, just may be able to figure this out. But I'll need some help.

    At first I was like a nubile teenager--in love with any heart throb the magazines and blogs threw my way. It settled into three sorts of looks.

    1) super saturated colour like at Daisy Cottage.

    Frankly, though I love this, I'm scared of it, truth be told. I think I may find it irritating after a while. There's just so much visual noise, I may be easily overstimulated. (Though it might snap me out of the doldrums I seem prey to as well.) And it reminds me of my super red dining room. I got tired of it after about five years. And, I'm not sure that my aesthetic is focused enough to pull it off--though if we had decently priced second hand stores around here, all I'd reall need to invest in is paint. But that's an awful lot of decisions: and lots of opportunities for things to go wrong.

    2) neutral with loads of texture.

    I'm sorry to say that at the end of the day, this is too expensive for us. Sigh. It depends upon fabulous materials and a lot of cleaning. Both of which take time and money--and in the end, I may risk being bored.

    and then, 3) this.

    Somthing in the middle, maybe?

    (Please click to embiggen).

    I'm not sure what to call this. There's lots of colour--but not so much that I'll find it overstimulating, nor tiresome in a year or so. I might be bored and want to change it up: but if I do it right, that should be doable on a low budget. I think. Maybe I'm just delusional.

    Can you help me analyse this and tell me what you think is going on?
    I'd really appreciate some feedback.

    Silly, but...

    A while ago, I took on the challenge to do my dishes every night before bed in order to have clear and empty counters greet me cheerfully every morning. I took a picture every night before bed with the intention of posting the pics at the end of the week as witness of my "progress."

    But, it was too depressing. When I couldn't get to it (and even when someone else did it for me) I was confronting those dirty dishes and that less than perfect counter not just when I got up in the morning: but when I took the picture before bed, when I uploaded the picture to the computer (along with several other days' worth), when I manipulated the images for posting, and then, again, in the post. I was discouraged, may we say heartily discouraged, and I decided to let it go for a bit.

    Yesterday was an awful day. I was crabby, the kids were bickering, and the husband is all tense and worried about his union's stupidity and their penchant for being agressive. He's afraid of a strike vote. It would be ridiculous if it wasn't so scary. Unlike 6 months ago--there's no manpower shortage.

    I did my monthly shop--I cleaned the fridge before I went shopping and portioned and bagged all the meat for the freezer afterwards--and I, somehow, kept up with the dishes. So much so that the dishes in the dish rack here, though done at midnight--represent our snack plates and popcorn bowls--not the dinner dishes (as is usually the case).

    I have to say, it's a great way to start the day!

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    The Faux Fireplace Facelift.

    June 2007 to July 2009. 25 months. That's how long it took to get this project done.

    The actual beginnings of this project have been lost in the mists of memory. Prior to finding Apartment Therapy, I hung out at a website affiliated with the Canadian magazine House and Home. I was bemoaning the state of the "country" fireplace and longing for something more Arts and Crafts-like when a poster of impeccable taste and ahead-of the curve photoshop skills posted this mock-up of one of my own pictures:

    At that time I stored my huge speakers in the fireplace cavity--thus the lovely screen she "made" for me.

    Nothing was done for a long time, however. Here's a photo of the way things were during my first Cure in the fall of 2006.

    (Wow. Funny how I thought that was "decluttered.")

    The next known installment of the story comes in the summer of 2007. I remember reading about a woman at AT (Shelter Alex) who did amazing things to her apartment with only a few power tools and I resolved then and there to so something about the fireplace. I got a crowbar and removed the dentil molding that joined the mantel edge with the face front. (I finally got rid of that bit when I cleaned out the basement last year.) I got out my paint scraper--and just started ripping away at the plaster/faux rock. I took some paint remover and tried to see if there was any decent wood on the mantel. (There might have been. There was a strip of veneer which may have been passable if some bozos hadn't painted it Hunter Green without priming first.)

    And then I sanded it.
    And sanded it.
    It was absolutely horrible. And then I gave up.
    I left it. (Yes, this photo is pre-digital. That's how long ago this was!)

    In the Spring of 2008 I asked for opinions on two schemes for the facade. I couldn't make up my mind: and the quest for curb appeal started consuming all my energy.

    Then, the saw konked out. Hubby replaced it a few months ago and we started to rev back up. He bought the wood for the project. Most importantly, he bought into the project. Here it is with all the wood attatched:

    It's all screwed together with toggle bolts in the plaster. He sunk the screws and then cut doweling as "plugs" to fill the holes. Then, he filled in all the cracks and sanded. I got to paint it!

    So, from this:

    to this:

    25 months.
    A baby elephant.

    Sunday, July 5, 2009


    You may remember my accidental drastic pruning of our anemic rose "bush" last year. Just in case you have trouble visualizing a minimalist rose bush: this should help.

    All of you who knew about such things reassured me that it would be all right. I'm happy to say: you were absolutely right!

    Here it is, as of today:

    It needs to be weeded and staked, but I'm afraid to do it.
    Unfortunately, the rose has reverted back to its root stock and Dr. Huey is a nasty, horribly thorny breed.

    On the bright side, it may be a really good reason to put some trellis in front of that downspout.

    And you'll be happy to know I disturbed three bees to get these pictures, Anne.

    Saturday, July 4, 2009

    No One was Hurt

    I know that I have presumed upon your readership for a long time--far too long especially as it seems I'm not getting around to reciprocating. I think about all of you from time to time: I just seemed to want to be incommunicado.

    Last week, though, this happened:

    My husband and my son were on their way home from Tae Kwon Do-- my son was being presented with his next belt, so they had the camera. They were going through the intersection when they were hit on the passenger's side (where my son was sitting. Thank God for side air bags) by a mini-van. The driver of that car was cited for running a red light. There were no skid marks from his vehicle anywhere. Our jeep is not only upside down, but turned 180 degrees from the direction in which it was heading.

    The insurance company is replacing the entire vehicle plus the hitch, mud flaps and roof rack crossbars (all installed after we purchased it). It had just turned over 10,000 Km and was due in a few days for its first tire rotation and its second oil change.

    Thankfully, all we're mourning is the loss of the jeep. My son had a few minor cuts--nothing that even needed a bandaid.

    I am going to make an effort to get "back in the game" as it were. I'm going to try and come out of this imposed shell and visit you all at your blogs again. And I'm doing some projects--both inside and out--so I should have something pleasant to blog about again.
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