Monday, November 30, 2009

Menus for December

In the Spirit of Christmas, I offer you this odd photo I took with my film camera right after we'd put up the lights earlier this month. It has snowed afresh today and everything looks as it ought. I wish I could show you that!*

It was quite the week. No headboard, but I did get almost all of our Christmas shopping done (husband had the week off and so we went shopping!), all the Christmas cards mailed (with accompanying photo of the kids and newsletter), and I've got the baking planned. According to my calculations, we'll need just over three pounds of butter and nearly 8 cups of sugar. Yeah, I'm not on any sort of reducing diet this month, that's for sure!

I've been scrapping up a storm, too. I've got most of the calendar for 2010 finished. And I decided to put together an album of past calendar pages for my Mom as a surprise Christmas present. The pages are all different sizes--so I had to figure out how to get them all into one format. Pictures from 2004 and 2008 have had to be scrapped up from scratch, as I didn't do a calendar for those years' pictures. I've got Volume 1 completed-- 2003, 2004, and 2005. We'll see how far we can get with Volume 2 (2006, 2007, and 2008).

Oh--and I've done the menus for dinner in December.

Here's the proof.

Big shop tomorrow!

*The digital camera is still in another city being repaired. I'm pining for it.

Living Room Rug

My digital is still dead and still in the shop, unfortunately.

However, I took a couple of photos when I put down the 8x10 rug to get an idea of what it looked like with the ten feet running lengthwise. Then, I decided to turn the carpet around to see what it looked like with the eight feet running lengthwise and realised it didn't look right. That's also when I realised I had FILM in my camera and wouldn't be able to post any pictures for your input until long after I needed to make the decision!

So, the film is finally developed, the pictures scanned into the computer. Here's a picture of the way I decided it should go--positioned with the ten feet running lengthwise--the eight feet running from under the couch to the chairs by the window. It mimics the shape of the room and makes sense. I took a shot from far away and at a bit of a low angle, just so Anne could see how far under the couch it goes.

I never would have imagined how much a rug "completes" the room. I've since added the couch cushions back to the couch, purchased some very nice pillows (in orange) and put up my "winter" brown drapes. There's a red Poinsettia on the ottoman too. It's quite cheery. I wish I could show you that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bedroom Week: One Project. Just One. I Promise.

(picture from the Covent Garden Hotel in England)

The Headboard.

It is time.

I went looking for "bedroom posts" on the blog today to see what I had posted for inspiration in the past. I discovered I had already posted almost exactly the pictures I was thinking of posting today.

And then I noticed the date on that post: October 1997.
In it, I mention I've been thinking about a headboard "for a year."

There is something very sad inside me as a result of learning that I can carry around an idea of something I want for so long without any action whatsoever. I'm not sure what it is. It isn't forgetfulness. A headboard has been on my mind almost continuously for the last three years. It isn't patience, either, though it would be nice to claim it. Nope: it's something like procrastination plus a recognition that the time, somehow, isn't right. (And do I say that because it is true or only for the small bit of solace it offers?)

It is time, now, though.

How do I know? I've called a place and got a quote for foam. I called another and got a quote for plywood. I've been to websites seeking directions. (Here's one from designspongeI need to look at further.) I've discussed how we should mount it to the wall with the husband.

Ive got some brown wrapping paper in the basement and tomorrow I am going to take it and make a rough template of the size I want. Then, I'll call for more precise quotes. If I place my order with the Foam place by Monday, they'll have it ready cut for me by Thursday. How great is that?

Here is the area I'm working with, for those who haven't seen it (or have forgotten).

In other Cure News:

I have my brown drapes back from the dry cleaners and ready to hang--however, I've decided to lift the curtain rod an inch so they don't drag on the floor. (Yes, it is much easier and quicker to do this than to hem them. Each panel has thirteen triple pleats and they are lined. And no, I lived with them "dragging" for two years. No matter how much I tried to like it, (that whole ridiculous "puddling" thing) I couldn't. They picked up all sorts of dog hair and dust. Shudder. They also cost close to $100.00 to clean--and that was a steal. I want them to stay clean for a long, long time.)

I have painted the inside of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom downstairs. Two coats.

I just finished scraping up all the paint spots on the basin.

I had my husband remove the brackets in the kitchen which used to hold the top shelf over the stove.

I got him to get me the caulking (and gun) and explain to me how to use it, so I can handle that repair tomorrow.

And I asked him fish all the paint brushes and rollers from our freezer and wash them out. Two of four are salvageable. And that's great because I've four IKEA chairs I want to paint white as well as some of the furniture in my daughter's room.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Since this week is not just about bathrooms, but about lighting too, I thought I'd share a nutty thing I did to keep track of the various kinds of light bulbs I need for my various kinds of fixtures.

I was going crazy keeping track of it all--and I never seemed to have what I needed whenever we blew a bulb. For example, I need those teeny tiny stem bulbs--but some fixtures can only take 40 watts while others can handle 60. I'd remember to buy the bulbs: but forget precisely which wattage.

So, I took photos of all my light fixtures and inserted them into a word document detailing the wattage of the bulb I needed as well as the quantity. I guess you could call it a "Light bulb Inventory" except I have another sheet of paper I keep in the closet called "Light bulb Inventory." I'm not posting the latter though, since I don't use it much--not now that I'm in the habit of just buying a package (or three) of whatever light bulb I happened to replace that week.

Making up these sheets was helpful, though, not only in determining what I needed but also in figuring out what could be switched over to Compact Fluorescent--as indeed some of these have been.

Ready for my own brand of household management nuttiness?
Here they are. (I hope you can see them properly: I just scanned in the pages).

P.S. On the bathroom front, I worked in the downstairs bathroom today. I took down the shower curtain, the shower curtain liner and the window curtain and washed them all. I even ironed the window curtain and put it back up: all before bath time tonight! I also washed the open shelves over the toilet and emptied and washed out the medicine cabinet. I threw out some cough syrup that had actually crystallized on the bottom and some Neo-Citron dated to expire in 2007.

Then, using my step ladder I washed all the walls (and door) from the ceiling down--as well as the blue ceiling over the tub/shower. I have yet to wash the tub, the walls from standing height down, the baseboards, and the floor. I'm also have to deal with the caulking yet. I'm also going to re-paint the inside of the medicine cabinet and the back of the mirrored door tomorrow morning. I just realised today, after living here for ten plus years, that the back of the door is actually blue--and not white as I had always thought.

January Complete

and I am underwhelmed.

I'm making a calendar for my Mom, my M-I-L and my own Grandmother as a Christmas present. I do it every year (except last year). My mother gets the original pages and the others get copies done up at Staples.

Essentially, what I create are 8x8 scrapbook pages which I affix to a pre-made 8x8 coiled calendar. This year, to keep things simple, I decided to print the pictures 5x7 and stick to one design scheme: a quote, a piece of patterned paper and an embellishment. This year, all the quotes have to do with education (since I had already collected a number of them for a Home school planner I'm making.)

This is what I came up with for January, last night. I'm not sure what to think.

(The picture was taken in January of 2009. That's my nephew in the middle).
Bah Humbug.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Bathrooms.

My least favourite week, ever.

I'm sorry I can't give you a tour. There are a few pictures, though. Nonetheless, this is really no more than a ramble and a To-Do list.

The Ramble.

I have some great "fishy" tile at the back of the sink in my downstairs bathroom. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I bought and installed it, but fortunately, I still like it. It just makes the room hard to change into any other sort of "style" --which as it isn't that expensive to do, is unfortunate.

However, the colours I have to work with are yellow-orange, orange, navy, and green. (I allow all sorts of blues with the navy, though.) The last time I did up this room, I went with the brights: an orange curtain, yellow and orange towels, a Toftbo shower curtain. (See this post from 2007 if you want visuals).

This time, I want things more subdued, more relaxing. I also have to fix this:
(gross alert):

My husband thinks it's caused by the hot water tap and water coming from the surface of the sink deck. Looking at it now, I wonder if it isn't the plastic "frame" around the tile capturing the water from the sink deck and channeling it over and down. It's rotted the baseboard underneath it, too.

Does anyone have any ideas? I can scrape and re-caulk--but that's not a long term solution.

The To Do List:

Clean shelves
Declutter, and clean medicine cabinet shelves and mirror
Replace towels with blue ones (done)
Wash walls
Wash tub and tub surround (It really should be replaced).
Wash floor
Wash drain pipes
Wash toilet, inside and out.

I did manage to take a few pictures of my upstairs bathroom before the camera died. But I really cannot show you. This bathroom embarrasses me greatly. It is tiny. I measured it so we can buy new flooring: it is 52" wide--and 52" long. I will show you the shelves over the toilet, though, just so you can see the challenge of putting up anything for storage.

(That's not dirt on the toilet tank: it's actually metal. I believe the toilet bowl and tank are original--and the tank is painted metal. The paint has peeled away and the tank top has rusted in many places. It's quite the eye sore.)

For this room:
Repeat above list (except for washing the tub and tub surround as we haven't any in the upstairs bathroom)
Re-think the storage
Buy new toilet
Buy and install new flooring
Put up a curtain (It's a casement window. But so what? I rarely open it as it is dangerous to the head of anyone who sits on the throne.)
Decide a colour scheme and style. This all-white business is depressing.


Monday, November 16, 2009

The Camera has died.

Somehow, the lens got "stuck," fully extended. No matter what I do, it won't retract.

I have to send it to another city for servicing, too. (This is quite common in Canada. The entire country has fewer people than one major U.S. city, or something like that, right?).

I am at a loss.

I am just flitting from one thing to another, all organization and all sensible plans gone.

The husband says that if it's going to "cost too much" then it may be time to "upgrade." And although I've been wanting a proper digital SLR, the idea of getting one under these circumstances is distressing. I need to research. I need to figure it all out, first.

And, really, all I wanted to do was take pictures of the living room with the rug today for you. And the shiny clean office. And the bathrooms.


(PS--In a pinch, I can still take pictures with my film based SLR. The lens is really lousy, though.)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Boom Da Da Boom

In past Cures, whenever I felt like I needed a boost, I would post a few of my accomplishments.

There really haven't been that many so far, this cure: and most of these my husband did for me. But it all counts.

#1. The biggest, by far, has been turning our sleeping schedules around and getting back to school. Last Saturday, I stayed up until it was time to take my husband to work--about 5 or 5:30 am. Then, when we got home, I went straight to bed. At that point, that was actually going to bed "early" for me. The day before I'd been up until 8:30, 9:00am and felt completely out of control. The kids were following my lead, of course, so they were almost as topsy turvey as I was.

Nonetheless, I had about a hundred dollars worth of returns to make that Saturday: so I made sure I was up at noon and out the door by 1pm. We did our errands, picked up my husband from work, ate and all of us were in bed early. The next day, after a really troubled night, I was up at 7:30 am. Except for yesterday, I've been up before 9am every morning this week--and doing a ton of planning until the kids get up. I love this new saner schedule.

#2. The image on the left, below, represents the half assed way we kept our clever beagle from opening the gate. (No, it was not enough to make sure the gate swung outwards. He would use his paws and bring it towards himself and open it.) We had to latch it closed. A loop of string on the banister holder and a loop through the gate. Connect the two with an "s" hook and we were in business.


Somehow, the clever beagle managed to break the thin string with his paws. Somehow. More than once. And so we needed a more solid solution more. After much consultation and discussion in the aisles of the hardware store, we came up with this. You may recognize it.

What can I say?
It works.
(So far.)

#3. As expected, the metal sheet holding the swanky new spice jars fell off the wall. Apparently, it fell at something like One In The Morning. (I slept through it.) I had bought mirror clips as back up: but designed to hold a mirror 1/4" thick) they turned out not to work. As well, my husband discovered that we didn't have a drill bit sharp enough to go through whatever it is which is lining that chimney flue. So, we were restricted in the depth of the screws we could use.

The solution?


#4. Washers are useful for many things. They feature in our next project, too.
Simply put, we replaced the string pull for the light fixture in the basement (which kept breaking) with a chain pull--and used washers for "handles."

#5. I purchased and put a new ironing board cover on the ironing board. Sometimes, it really is the little things!

#6. The next is more decorative.

Yes. I settled on the piece to hang in this space. Until Christmas decorations go up, of course.

Speaking of which....

In Christmas related planning I have:
--purchased the Gingerbread house complex for the kids to decorate. (You'll see what I mean when I post it).
--made sure we have enough Christmas cards
--updated and transferred Christmas Card address list to computer
--looked up and recorded mailing dates
--purchased paper for our newsletter
--jotted down a few ideas about what to cover in the newsletter (Huge. I hate writing it, actually)
--collected photographs from the hard drive to print for the annual calendar
--collected photographs I should have used in last year's calendar.
--dug out the lights, tested the strands and purchased replacement bulbs
--purchased scrap book paper for the calendar
--purchased scrap book paper to make paper ornaments
--planned our first two "Christmasy" events (one is this afternoon!)
--started Christmas gift list
--purchased several presents for my husband
--and MOST of ALL--I feel like I have a handle on what's going to happen when. It involved designing and printing my own planning sheets, of course, but I'm on my way. (whew)

boom dada boom!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Officially overwhelmed

And I thought it was bad, yesterday!

To my right:

To my left:

It's not just a spatial problem--but a temporal one as well.

Everything is from the past. A past I'm not sure is even relevant to my present, let alone my future. I'd like to think the kids will be as interested in the Descartes, Hume, Plato and Wittgenstein as I was--but it's doubtful. I will make them read some of it--Aristotle and Plato for sure--but I can't think it all through right now. And, I feel I need to, of course, in order to decide what stays and what goes.

I have been muttering, "Space represents the future. There's no room for the future unless we make room for it. We must have space!" But that's not entirely true, is it? A lot of the future is already with us: that's why it's hard to let go.

Sorry for the rant. I think I need to go look at some Scandinavian Home blogs.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dining/Office In Progress and a little bit of Christmas

It always gets worse before it gets better.
And that's a good thing, right?
I forget.

This is why I am taking every item off of every shelf and washing it down.

The table is a mess--but look how nicely that Expedit is cleaning up! Can you believe I actually went back to flickr to see how it looked the first time I got it loaded? There was room to breathe back then!

The kitchen table, thankfully, is clear, though. This greeted me this morning.

(My son wants you to know he has since added the missing "T")

I think it's in response to this lovely little fellow I brought home last night. (I've noticed that Pink Loves Brown has hers out and I was smitten when I saw this black beauty.)

It just seems so Canadian, somehow.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 5: The Office, Intro.

I have decided that I'm not going to "wrap up" the Living room until I've got my brown drapes back from the dry cleaners. Unfortunately, that may be in two weeks. Yesterday, the husband and I went out to Home Despot and scouted their rug selection. Lo and behold, they had plain coloured 8x10s for $99.00. We put a hold on a gold coloured one and will be bringing it home this afternoon to see how it goes. I know that buying a "cheap" place-holder rug goes against all of AT's principles but I've excellent reasons for it (as in not having had a place holder for the last seven years has just about completely ruined our floor).

So, on to the office/dining room. Actually, this room is only a dining room about four or five times a year, the rest of the time I sit here and peck away at the keyboard.

These pictures were taken last week. I've tidied up a bit since then, but the visual clutter of this room hasn't gone away. For that to happen, I would have to be willing to part with an awful lot of what's on the shelves: and I'm not willing to do that in any significant way. We'll see what I can do, just don't expect much improvement, that's all.

To Do

(unless a trip to the second hand bookstore becomes necessary to sell a few books)
Well, OK, I probably should invest in a more comfortable office-type chair, but I think the non-existent Cure budget is already blown.

deal with File Pile
declutter shelves

wash/dust all shelves
file papers
clear off desk
create an action pile--and take action on at least one item

Friday, November 6, 2009

Christmas Crafts--Links

I spent about an hour or so early this morning looking for things for the kids and I to do to make Christmas somewhat "homemade." I focused primarily on making ornaments for our tree.

A few of my classmates at Simplify 101 expressed interest in what I'd found, so I'm going to publish this list, as is, now. I had been going to wait and post it with pictures after we had chosen what to do (and done it!)--but hey, I can do that later, too!

So, I apologize for a (mostly) pictureless post--there are pictures at each link. (You will notice I went off on a rabbit trail chasing snowflakes. Those will be fun to do as a home school "lesson.")

Paper Chains.
Remember those? The easiest garlands, ever.
You can make them out of any sort of paper: shiny paper is nice.

Martha Stewart has a twist: make them out of ribbon instead. (Pictured above.)

The staff at Martha Stewart are truly creative. Here are a few more of their ideas which appeal to me:

Button Wreath Ornament

Fabric covered balls

Jingle Bell wreath:

For our first Christmas as a "family," (our son was three months old), I made what was probably the world's longest popcorn garland. AT MS, it's been transformed into a wreath. Adorable.


Hanging paper ornaments (double sided scrapbook paper would be best for this. As well, instructions forgot to include cutting two strips 12" long):

Pie plate ornaments:

Felt monogram ornaments:

Felt Gingerbread man ornament:

Lots of ideas to choose from at Kaboose:

Specifically, Polka Dot Glass ornaments:

More clever ideas with clear glass ornaments:
Using paint: Same idea but with easy to follow pictures for the visual learners among us:

Stuff with interesting stuff:

3-D Paper ornaments.
(Use cardboard and cookie cutters for templates. Paint, decorate.)

String and Ribbon Ornaments:

Bread Dough Ornaments.
For older children or adults, I think.

6 sided snowflakes

How to fold:
PDF File:

The Science Lesson to go with:

Hope that was helpful.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Planning for the Holidays

Thank you all so very much for your feedback on the living room and the ottoman, especially. Tonight, when the hubby asked me for my final decision, I was able to say, without hesitation, that I was keeping it. I even quoted some of your comments.

I am content.

Earlier this week, I signed up for a course called Organizing for the Holidays at Simplify 101. Last year I was in such a funk, I nearly missed Christmas altogether. It was sad. The happiest Christmas I remember was when I followed Flylady's Christmas plan, many years ago. I didn't want to return to Flylady: but I feel I need something to keep me on track and moving forward.

This course is structured very differently from what Marla Cilley would do, but it also offers a gallery and message board to help keep each other moving forward which will be helpful to me, I think.

There are lessons: a pre-lesson, 3 proper before Christmas, and 2 after. Our first (pre-lesson) assignment was to create a Holiday Planning Binder with an optional decorated front. I did mine tonight and I'm pleased with it. I'm even more pleased that I was able to put my hands on all the various scrap booking supplies needed to assemble this, even though I haven't scrapped a thing for about two years, now.

That's it up there. (Very 2007, but that's what I had on hand!)

The next assignment is to come up with an "inspirational guiding statement" to bring us through the holidays. I'm working on it!

In Progress

I went out last night and indulged in some retail therapy. You'll see three of the things I bought yesterday in this photo, taken in the depths of the night, early this morning.

There's the brown lampshade (being returned for something lighter), the brown ottoman (haven't made up my mind. I've been looking for this piece for 5+ years--and now that it is finally available at my price point, it is passe. So, I'm not sure what to think. The trunk has never been a) big enough, and b) stable enough.

I want to focus in on the rug. It is 6x9--and a $40.00 Wally World Wonder. It is going back. My instinct was for an 8x10 in this room and alas and alack, that instinct is correct. The rug is turned so the 9 feet is across the room--and under the couch. The width is 6 feet is across--and the furniture is just too close to the edges to be aesthetic pleasing. (A foot on either side would be terrific: I guess what I really need, then is an 8x8 or 9x9). Trying it the other way--nine feet across in front of the couch squished the chairs to close to the ottoman, as you can imagine.

Still, I wanted to see how the room would look "pulled together" by a rug--and it is indisputable. I think I am going to "ask" for this as my one and only Christmas present this year.

(I have read that one can get broadloom cut and bound to a specific size--and that it is "cheaper" than area rugs of the same size. I may investigate that.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week 4: The Living Room: Intro

My living room is never to my satisfaction. I got close, very close, during the Spring Cure of 2008, but in less than a month the dog chewed his way through everything that could be chewed.

And I wanted a rug.

The goal this year was to lighten everything up. We finally finished the faux fireplace face-lift and painted the walls. There are no pillows, no blankets, no artwork on the walls, and the brown drapes need their annual dry cleaning.

(The unflinching, extremely embarrassing before:)

And I still want a rug.

To do list:

Buy shade for "new" lamp base
Take broken mirror sconce in for fixing
Take Brown Drapes in for cleaning

Commit to either a warm or cool colour scheme
Decide on artwork/mirror for Mantel
Declutter books and videos

Steam clean couch

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Entryway Wrap Up

I like the rhythm of the Cure. One week for the projects is perfect. I got bogged down this week and didn't get as much done as I wanted: but there's been a major improvement just from the decluttering alone. I like the accountability, too. I really pushed to get everything done yesterday so I could post this in a timely fashion.


To Do List:
Ta Da's (done) in blue.

1a. Get new rug for front door.
1. Clean out cleaning closet
2. Clean out coat closet
3. Clean out dresser drawers
4. Clear off dresser top

5. Paint dresser top or replace dresser
6. Replace artwork in both parts of the hallway

(I'm thinking this is too small for the space, but I am enjoying looking at it after having it stored away for many, many years)


7. Solve mitten/hat/scarf storage problem
8. Fix boot storage problem (if possible)
9. Paint up closet door trim
10. Clear stairs.
Also done:

Removed wax blobs from floor
Washed walls and baseboards
Sorted old mail, pitched and filed all sorts of paper clutter.
Painted little alcove.

Bought and installed new knobs on cabinet.

Monday, November 2, 2009

First Repair.

It wasn't on the list.

I was quite happy about it, actually. Since the day we attached the original wood seat, I hated the brass fittings. What a mess!

So, yesterday, I spent a little extra and got a white wooden seat (I hadn't known you could get wood in something other than natural) with chrome fittings. My taps now match my toilet seat. Looking down at them while I wash my hands makes me smile.

Health update:
My daughter's fine, my husband has been diagnosed with Bronchitis--he took one sick day and then worked both of his days off this week for the over time, and my son is feeling miserable. We've misplaced the thermometer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Week 2: Fall Back.

Taking Aurelia (not her real name) to the hospital Monday night messed with my already messed up circadian rhythms. I am now going to bed at 5 or 6 am and getting up at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Then, I make supper and we sit down and watch about 3 hours of House in the evening. And then, I get on the computer. We've one more season to go before we can't go any further and then, perhaps, life will calm down.

This is where things stand right now:

I did get this done:

It doesn't look quite "done," somehow. Any other ideas for this little space? It is a former "phone alcove" and it's right in the entryway. I'd like it to make me smile.

I am going to do my best to push through this afternoon and see what I can accomplish.

re comments: keep them coming! I like the idea of covering the metal spice "rack" with a lightweight paper, just to take the hard metal edge off the whole thing. Similiarly, I like the idea of putting down a cloth, or fabric, or again, paper on top of this dresser and then placing a piece of glass over it. I'll know whether it's feasible as soon as I price out a bit of glass. Thanks for the suggestions!
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