Monday, March 28, 2011

Mondays in March

When I started this, I expected to see dramatic changes from week to week. I expected the snow to melt.

It hasn't. Not much. It has simply been a cold miserable month--and without any sunshine to speak of.

So, here's where we're at today:

Not much of an improvement from February 28th:

But, it doesn't quite look as cold, does it? That's a plus.

Today: Right now, it is minus 1 C--well below the seasonal norm of about 6 degrees. We've been below seasonal norms all month, if not all year. We've certainly seen more snow than usual. I really do think that this is the result of too much CO2 in the atmosphere: I read that the hydology cycle is already screwed up--and it certainly could be. That's why I blame the new super-mini-micro photo chip I just bought for the Earthquakes we've had recently in the Pacific.

Sorry. I'll get off my soapbox, now.


Cloudy. Becoming cloudy periods near midnight. Fog patches developing near midnight. Low minus 5.

This week is looking good. Plus temperatures all week, at last.

I'm putting together a plan for Spring Cleaning and decluttering for April. Do you have any Spring Cleaning plans?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Garden Planning

Sorry to have been incommunicado. I had an allergic reaction to something last Thursday night and I'm only just getting back on my feet.

In honour of spring, I thought I would let you know what I've got planned for the garden. It will be a while before I can actually get outside and do anything about these plans, however. (I haven't set things up to start seeds indoors.)

Here's what the garden looked like this afternoon:

Not a whole lot to work with, yet!

Here's a photo from last fall when we finally got all four planter boxes built:

I didn't plant anything in the two front boxes. Those are weeds.

This is looking east. North is to the left of the picture.

Last year, I planted just two of these four foot by four foot boxes. This year, I have plans to plant all of them. I hope I'm not being too ambitious.

Box A: (NE Corner, upper left): onions, potatoes and nasturtiums.

Box B: (SE corner, next to the playhouse): spinach, beets, carrots and parsley.

Box C: (NW corner, bottom left): 2 zucchini plants and peas.

Box D: (SW corner, bottom right): 2 tomato plants and marigolds.

Like this:

I've had to juggle start dates like mad for our Zone 3 garden, but it looks as though I should be able to sow everything but the spinach, the marigolds, tomatoes and onions after our first frost free date which is in mid-May. (In fact, the May long weekend celebrating Queen Victoria's Birthday is known as the "Garden weekend" here.)

I'll purchase the marigolds, onions and tomatoes already started and plant them in mid to late April. Apparently, that would be a good time to sow the spinach seeds, too.

It's hard to be patient!

Any thoughts from experienced gardeners out there? Have I got too much in the SE box? Have I got some crops paired up which shouldn't be? Help and advice appreciated!

Added: I'm unable to comment, again. (sigh). I don't know what's going on. Building the planter boxes was easy: I had my husband read the instructions at the Pioneer Woman's Website which I've found again, here: Build your own raised beds..

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Kitchen

This is the third stop on the Prairie Home tour: the kitchen. The living room is here, the dining room/home office here. You can navigate easily from the Prairie Home Tour page above, too.

The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest. –Thomas Moore

I had been wondering whether I had any pictures of the kitchen the way my husband had painted it before I'd moved in. It had been grey--years ahead of its time!

And, a few days ago, as I was cleaning up, I found this.

That's my husband and our then eleven month old son. He's now 13!

I'm so glad I painted out that grey!

The room is awkward and poorly designed. I had always thought that if we had the money, we would renovate. Now, I'd rather take the family to Europe.

The room is about 10 x 10. It has three doors: one is perpendicular to the other in the corner where the kitchen meets the dining room (where the bookcase is) and back hallway (the extreme yellow-green bit by the archway).

Please don't mind the bag holder hanging in the middle of the doorways. I tried taking it down and putting it somewhere else, but no one could get used to its new location, so there it stays.

There are two doors on the wall flanking the stove. On the left: access to the back hallway, on the right, access to the basement and the back door. The stairs, both up and down, are behind this wall.

I was about to make supper when I remembered I'd decided I wanted a fresh set of photos for this entry. We had Chicken Corn Chowder.

I love the changes we made here more and more. I will move the microwave up when my daughter gets taller!

All the kitchen design books say that putting a a traffic corridor in front of a major appliance is a bad move and they're right. When the kids were younger it was particularly harrowing to carry hot pots of pasta across the room to the sink to be drained.

This is the original location for the stove, however. See this "paper plate" (as my kids call it)? It is actually a piece of tin over a hole in the chimney flue.

That is where the stove exhaust would have been; something like this:

The sink is directly across from the stove.

Odd isn't it how the area above the sink and to the left of it was left bare? It makes things look quite lopsided--I've never actually noticed that before. I usually take the picture to show the corner, like this:

Yeah, that fridge sticks out way too far. That's a home made blackboard on the freezer door. I'm over the stencil I did on the soffit eleven years ago, but my daughter has begged me to let it stay.

The counters are original "gold flecked" smooth finish laminate. Note the squared off corners. The backsplash is the same laminate carried up onto the wall and finished with a chrome edging.

as always, click to enlarge

I quite like it but it has lost whatever stain resistance it used to have. I have to bleach the counters periodically (about 2x a year, now) to keep them looking good. It erodes them further, so it really isn't a good solution.

As you can see, we don't have a lot of counter space, and until recently, even fewer cabinets. The kitchen has one redeeming feature--and believe me, it's a biggie--it has lots of light through out the day. One window each on the south and west walls mean it's bright--and I do my best to keep it cheerful.

Here's the most recent change--and the best ever, I think--the round kitchen table.

Looking at these pictures today, I've decided that I'm going to keep the mirror here and look for another one for the front hallway. I think I'll paint it (not sure what colour yet) and lower it a bit.

I'd like to make a few other changes in here this summer. I want to put some plates back on the walls. I want to paint the upper cabinets and the window trim white. New curtains. I need to paint the walls--not sure if I'll try and match the paint (from Martha Stewart's old line, Everyday Paint Colors) or choose something different.

Hope you enjoyed your tour of the kitchen.

Just Visiting: Bohemian Waxwings

This is just a pit stop for them.

click to enlarge

As far as I can tell, they have no migration pattern, they simply roam (as their name suggests) throughout the sub-Arctic regions, in and around boreal forest habitat, all year long, in every part of the world.

In this part of the world, we see them usually in February and March.

Sorry I don't have a telephoto lens. I so rarely need one!

They travel in groups of 100 or more and they swoop and swarm all over the neighbourhood. They move fast, too. Today my daughter and I watched them swoop from tree to roof to sidewalk, dozens of them at a time, in a blink of an eye.

And so noisey! Because they aren't territorial, they have no "song" but boy, they do talk!

How many do you see in the tree?

I loved seeing and hearing them today.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mondays in March

This photo was taken today, I swear! I know it looks exactly the same as last week. Things just haven't been melting much, lately.

But I think that's about to change.

Today's weather:

+3 degrees Celcius
Clear. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light early this evening. Low minus 6.

Things are warming up, though, finally. These temperatures are closer to seasonal norm than we've seen for a while!

It seems the city is anticipating the warmer weather, too. These green flags and pink x's are on nearly every corner:

(Yep, that's our place from the front.)

We figure they're marking the location of our storm sewers for clearing out.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Powder Room Reveal

Ta Da!

This is our upstairs bathroom. It's not a full bath: that's downstairs. I finally decided to get to it and get it done so I could include it in the home tour series.

This has been a long time coming.

I lived with this bathroom, in this state, for years:

Then, in August, two things came together--and change became possible:

1) I found out about spray paint.
I'd always known about spray paint, of course, but I'd always thought it was for outdoor things, and I thought it only came in bright primary and neon colours. My eyes were forever opened when I came across a CSI project using spray paint.

2) A CSI project itself. It was called "create something inspired by pottery barn" or something to that effect.

That's all it took. Suddenly, I knew change was possible, and I had a direction.

I made a mood board from images in the Pottery Barn bath catalog.

The back of the toilet is metal. We sanded it.

We eventually sanded off the rust, too.

It took several coats of spray paint: but it worked!

Things came together quite quickly. I chose the paint colour based on the collaboration between Pottery Barn and Benjamin Moore. That story here

I sewed a PB inspired curtain for my tiny casement window. Tutorial here

Individual pieces were transformed with spray paint. Lots of detailed before and after shots here

And then things stalled. I wanted to put the shelves back up over the toilet: yet I loved the openess without them. Plus, I wanted new boards.

I finally got them up. I don't love them. But, the room is now fully functional--which is a good thing.

So, here we are, at long last:

Looking in through the door from the hall way.

Spray painted toilet tank top, bought new seat, made and installed new shelves, sewed new curtains, painted the walls, bought a rug.

The east wall, to the left of the toilet.

Purchased new towels, bought and installed new toilet roll holder, spray painted basket, bought new washcloths, made new art work and purchased a new frame which I painted and distressed.

To the right of the toilet: the sink area.

Spray painted old Ikea metal spice shelves, added hooks, replaced wood shelf with glass, replaced old cracked mirror with new, installed new light switch and plate.

I also spray painted the ceiling light fixture. (not shown)

And there we have it.

Linking to the 112th Met Monday.

and to Wow Us Wednesdays #6 at Savvy Southern Living.

Thanks for coming to see my "new" bathroom.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flowers and Finds on Friday

(There's the glorious happy sun pouring in from the east at 8:45 am! I'm going to have to wait another month to see it again once we switch to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday. Grrrr.)

They're just the thing for my new round table.

I don't know what they're called, though.

The plain glass vase was looking, well, a bit plain, so I put these plates I found at Value Village this week underneath them.

Two plates, two separate shopping trips, two different stores.

One price: 99 cents each. I would have preferred just the smaller one, but I found the big one first. I'm not complaining, though.

The back, in case you're curious:

I trimmed the flowers and put the "remainders"--you know, the bits at the side which don't quite reach to the top, in a glass and set it on my desk.

The lego sculpture showed up yesterday to keep it company. I don't know: they look like they're friends, don't you think?

I found these sweet needlepoint ducks, too, this week.

I need to re-frame them--something simpler. Though I kind of like the importance these fancy frames give the humble art.

I should probably paint those goldy frames white--right? At least tone them down a bit. Strangely, they seem to be growing on me. (My mind's eye is still impressed with the power of brass and grey (or gray.))

My last find is this lamp base. I had thought I would spray paint the black bits white.

It's just the thing for my desk. I'd like a cylindrical shade for it: I don't know if I'll be able to find it.

Linking up to these parties, today. Such kind women at these events--please check out their stuff, too. Thanks for stopping by!

Home Sweet Home #5 at The Charm of Home

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Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

and Junkin' Finds Friday #19 at A La Carte.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

7 Ways to Keep It Real in the Dining Room/Home Office

This is the second in a series of a tour of my home. Here is the living room.

If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace. –Gaston Bachelard

During the Fall Cure of 2007, I completely redid this room and nearly had a nervous breakdown in the process. (Wow, has it really been four years?) A post about that is here.

I have been happy with this room ever since. More or less.

The dining room is just to the right when you come in the front door. It is 10 x10 feet (or so) and the window is on the North wall. The oak floors are original and beginning to show some wear.

I spend more time in this room than any other and I admit, it is a challenge to keep the clutter under control. Nonetheless, the room is the place for my dreams-- mostly because the computer is here and my books, the family scrapbooks. and the sewing machine. It is the place where I create: and before creation comes dreaming. So, this room is the least fussy of all.

So, (somewhat tongue in cheek) this post is all about how NOT to decorate your home office/dining room.

1) Don't paint the knotty pine door.

(This shows you the pretty new grey I painted the foyer. BM: Edgecomb Grey with BM Cloud White for trim. And yes, the baseboards are not the same on either side of the door.)

Previous owners installed and verathaned it. I look at it and think how elegant it would be painted white. If it weren't for the fact that I cower in the face of all those mullions, I probably would have risked my husband's ire by now and painted it.

2) Don't organize the books by colour.

It kind of hits you in the face when you enter, doesn't it? This is my much coveted Expedit. It holds scrapbook supplies, school books, painting and decorating samples, projects and my scrapbooks. I may never colour code my books, but, I think this does need a bit of attention. Funny how photographs make you notice things your eyes just slide over in the room itself.

3) Don't lengthen the curtains.

Yeah. Let them hang there, absurdly short. I won't bore you with my excuses, but fabric selection stinks here. (And I foolishly returned a second set of panels because they were from a different lot and the colour was slightly off.)

4) Don't paint the walnut breakfront.
(and for heavens sake, just stuff things in there. Don't fuss with arranging it. Yeesh.)

This was a gift from my Mom.

5) Don't style the shelves.
6) Don't beef up the shelving with molding, either.

Yep. This is a Billy bookcase from way back. It's only 9 1/4" deep (23.5cm) so it fits perfectly here. This houses a lot of Bibles, dictionaries, and our homeschooling binders. The basket, on the bottom left, houses library books I'm about to read--an idea I got from one of Aby Garvey's workshops.

Continuing to the right, we have the door to the kitchen: and the wall o' desk. When we use this room as a dining room (Easter, Thanksgiving, some birthdays and Christmas) the "desk" becomes my sideboard and I hide the ugly office chair--which brings us to our last bit of (non-decorating) advice:

7) Don't slipcover the ugly office chair.

I think I'd just call more attention to it, if I did. It would also be just one more thing to clean.

And so, there you have it.

Truly? It is the room of dreams--even if it isn't exactly, well, you know, dreamy.
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