Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Master Bedroom Reveal

It only took about a month longer and tons more work than I thought it would ... but it's done!  Let me show you around our new and improved bedroom.  

We'll start here as this is what greets you when you enter the room.  

I wanted something round to go above the bed to echo the roundness of the headboard. I found this carving at HomeSense - and it was even carved in India (a place I have a particular fondness for after visiting last summer).

The darker gray accent wall (although it is a subtle difference and probably not worth the trouble) was painted several years ago and I painted the other three walls last month.  I did a happy dance when that was done - not only because the chaos that happens when you paint was over, but also because the grubby builder's paint was finally gone.

The furniture was rearranged - the two bookshelves were split up and put on either side of the window and the trunk was put under the window.  I thought it would kinda sorta look like built-in bookshelves and a window seat - both things I adore, but we weren't willing to put the time or money into building them into a house we may be leaving soon.

I re-hung the drapes above the arched window so that all the windows were covered by the curtains. Since the curtains are now much higher than they were before, I had to take down the hem and add more material along the bottom. Fortunately I had bought an extra set of curtains at the time I bought the original ones so I had fabric that matched. I covered the seam with gray ribbon and added another row of ribbon to make it look like it was all meant to be.  It actually took me quite awhile to do all of those steps since I had to think through the solution to each problem as it presented itself.

I sorted and edited the books so the bookshelves would look tidy.  On top of one bookshelf I put a shadow box with my husband's fossils. The back of the box used to be Barbie pink, which is great if you are putting Barbies in the box, but not so good if you are putting fossils in.  I painted it white and it looks much better and actually means you can see the fossils now since it is much brighter inside the box.  I know the box still looks a little pink in the photos, but that is just a reflection of the red shirt I was wearing when I took the photos.

And on top of the other bookshelf I put some of my dolls.  I'm not really a doll kind of person, but these are special to me as they were mostly collected when we traveled through Europe when I was a child and a few were given to me by my Grandmother from her travels.  I had all my dolls out before and it just looked cluttered, so I've decided to only display three at a time and have the rest in a little vintage suitcase nearby so I can change them up when the mood strikes me.

I centred the tall dresser on the wall across from the bed and put my favourite painting done by my Grandmother on it.

The ceiling light was dreadful and had to be replaced.  We toyed around with a number of options and in the end chose our second favourite.  We didn't go with our first choice because it was only available at a store in downtown Toronto and it cost almost $80 more than this one.  It was also a capiz shell light that looked very similar to the one we chose, but was cream-coloured rather than gray.  We figured that since the walls were gray the gray capiz shells would look fine and they do.  

The ceiling light doesn't cast much light so I also bought another light to go on the dresser near our bed.  I chose a silver mercury glass lamp from HomeSense to add some sparkle.

Do you love Queen Anne's Lace like I do - I think it is such a pretty flower/weed so I put some on the dresser.

Let's see the before and after photos - they are always fun!

And after ...

I had to show you all the details, because it took so long to do that I wanted to share everything with you.  If you want to see more details about how the bedroom looked before you can read this post.  All the effort was totally worth it as we are enjoying the new room!

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Linked to WOW Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style,
The Creative Spark at Clean & Scentsible,
Tutorials, Tips, and Tidbits at Stone Gable,
Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence,
DIY Link Party at Funky Junk Interiors,
Before and After Party at Thrifty Decor Chick,
Tutorials & Tips Link Party at Home Stories A to Z

Monday, July 30, 2012

Let's Discuss our Bedroom Problems

Now that I'm getting close to finishing our bedroom (yeah I know, slow or what) I'm going to show you the "before" photos and what needed to be done to get this bedroom to start acting like the calm peaceful organized retreat it is supposed to be.  It is a little embarrassing to show you these photos as the bedroom was a hot mess. I had already started to take one of the bookshelves out of the bedroom when I took the photo below so some of the things had already been moved around, but to be honest it wasn't really a very organized place at the best of times.

So let's have a look at the problem areas and discuss:

1. The eyebrow window - aka the bane of my existence.  There is a streetlight outside of our bedroom window and we aren't the best sleepers so we needed to have good light coverage on the windows and the eyebrow window made it very difficult to figure out a good arrangement.  I had cut some foam-core boards to fit the arched window and that blocked out the light. My original plan was to cover the foam-core board in material to match the drapes, but in the end we came up with a better plan - a much, much better plan.

2.  The drapes - I thought going wide would be good, but instead it always just looked like a wall of material, the drapes were hard to slide because they were hung using the tabs along the top, and the curtain rod anchors were coming out of the wall.  Yikes.

3.  The bookcases - There were two bookcases side-by-side that you can see a tiny bit of on the left side of the photo above.  I will spare you any other pictures of them, but they were crammed with books and the top was piled with boxes and family photos.  In a word - they were messy.

4.  The bed - We have a rather strange bedframe that means the mattress is lower than usual and as you can see it was slightly lower than the trunk we had at the foot of the bed.

5.  Too much furniture and stuff in one room - Enough said!

6.  The messy dresser - It was usually a mess because anything on it (like my jewelry boxes) got moved aside whenever Jonathan needed to use his laptop as that was the only place he had found to get internet access.  

7.  The walls - The darker gray accent wall had been painted about five years ago when I first started work on this room, but life got in the way and then I got onto decorating other rooms so I never finished painting the other walls.  They still had the original thin white (now grubby) builder's paint on them.

8.  The ceiling light - The overhead light (which you can see in the photo above) is a cheapo installed by the builder and needed to be replaced.

So there you have it -  the terrible, no good, horrible disaster of a room.  I'm finishing the last few things on the bedroom today and hope to show you photos tomorrow.  I tell you I'm liking the change.

Update:  See this post if you want to see how the bedroom looks now!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm in Love With my Spice Cupboard

I've been on a mason jar buying binge recently. I bought several boxes full for the mason jar picnic (which you can see here) and when we were home and had everything cleaned up I realized that I should put all of these different size jars to good use.  So I did!  Not before buying some more that is.

One of the things that has been bothering me for quite awhile was our spice cupboard - it was a hot mess!  I couldn't seem to figure out what kind of jars I wanted to store all the spices in.  Since I needed quite a few jars, I felt that it was a big commitment and I could never decide if I wanted IKEA jars or dollar store jars or mason jars or something else.  Well I looked at the counter crowded with mason jars and my decision was made.

I took everything down, wiped down the shelves, threw out old spices, recycled containers, filled containers, and wrote the name of the spices on the lids.  I was a whirling dervish - and finished everything in about an hour. 

And then I was in love.  I made everyone admire the cupboard - several times - and I couldn't stop admiring its gorgeousness. Why didn't I do it years ago?  I know lots of people have used mason jars to store their spices ... but not in my kitchen.  Until now that is!

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Linked to Home Decor and Organizing Link Party at Organize and Decorate Everything

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WISH Wednesday #41

Doesn't this cottage style kitchen just seem perfect for a summer WISH Wednesday.  I love the windows on two walls letting lots of light in.  I love the white plank walls and the shelves (especially the inset ones).  I love the vintage-look light, and the cup handle pulls on the lower cabinets. I love how there is such a good balance of form and function in this kitchen.  

This looks like such a happy kitchen to me - it just makes me want to do some serious cooking.  What makes a happy kitchen for you?

C designs
p.s.  Thanks to Katy at Mom and Her Drill for featuring this kitchen just when I needed a cottagey room for WISH Wednesday.  If you haven't visited her blog, you really need to have a look and be humbled.  This woman is a single mom with enormous DIY skills and a big heart (check out what she is doing for a neighbour-in-need).

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Things to Do In and Around Toronto

For me summer means travelling and exploring new places. Every summer I like to plan on doing a few new things or visiting some place I haven't been to before.  Some summers we have grand trips - like last summer - and some summers we stick closer to home.  When we aren't going on a big vacation, I like to be a tourist in my own city and go on day trips to see local attractions. If you are traveling this summer and your travel plans happen to include Toronto - or even if you live in Toronto and are planning a staycation this year, then I have a few suggestions of fun things to do and places to visit. I've written many blog posts over the past couple of years highlighting trips in and around Toronto so I thought it would be fun to pull them together into one post.  

I'll start my list with things to do and see in Toronto itself and then I'll share some places and activities that make good day trips from Toronto. I have put a link back to my original post (you can find the link by clicking on the titles) as well as the official website so you can find more information.

1. Chinatown - Toronto, being very ethnically diverse, has become a city of neighbourhoods. In the area around Dundas Street West and Spadina there is a high concentration of Chinese residents, businesses, and restaurants.  It is always fun to wander through the shops looking at the interesting food and bargain items and naturally there is fantastic Chinese food to be had.  

2.  Kensington Market - This is one of the oldest and most ethnically diverse areas of Toronto and has been declared a National Historic Site. It is a great area to browse through some unusual shops and walk around admiring the historic, the beautiful, and the quirky - all within feet of each other.  Kensington Market is located at Spadina and College and is a short walk from Chinatown so the two can easily be seen in a single day. (Kensington Market website)

3.  Distillery District - The historic buildings and the cobblestone streets of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery are the setting for boutique shops, independent art galleries, cafes, and festivals. The Distillery District is located at Parliament and Front Street. (Distillery District website)

4.  Evergreen Brick Works - This is an environmentally-focused community and cultural centre located on the site of the former Don Valley Brick Works. There are walking trails, art installations, workshops, and an organic restaurant among other things. In 2010 National Geographic named Evergreen Brick Works one of the top ten geotourism destinations in the world. (Evergreen Brick Works website)

5. Fort York - Being the bicentennial of the War of 1812 it is a good year to visit Fort York and find out more about our history.  You can discover how soldiers lived 200 years ago and watch a demonstration of muskets and cannons being fired.  Fort York is located at Bathurst Street and Fort York Boulevard. (Fort York website)

5.  McMichael Gallery - The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is located about 45 minutes north of Toronto in the quaint little town of Kleinburg.  Not only is the gallery packed full of Canadian art treasures, but the building is a massive gorgeous log cabin built on the edge of a ravine. (McMichael website)

6.  Royal Botanical Gardens - The Royal Botanical Gardens are about an hour's drive west of Toronto along Lake Ontario. The gardens are located over several sites each with their own charm and attractions depending on the time of year you visit. (Royal Botanical Gardens website)

7.  Dundurn Castle - This beautiful grand regency style house built in 1835 is located in the city of Hamilton (about an hour's drive west of Toronto and just minutes from the Royal Botanical Gardens).  There are over forty rooms on display along with a kitchen garden and a military museum. (Dundurn Castle website)

8.  Crawford Lake - This reconstructed 15th Century Huron village is one of my favourite places to take visitors to see. Not only is the village interesting and you learn a lot about how native people lived, but there are also some pretty hiking trails around Crawford Lake and through the forest so it makes for a fun day's outing.  Crawford Lake is about an hour's drive west from Toronto. (Crawford Lake website)

9.  St. Jacobs - About an hour and a half west of Toronto is an area where many old order Mennonites live.  St. Jacobs is a small community that serves as the shopping and market centre for many of the Mennonites in the area.  It is a charming area to visit and you can often see horses and buggies, quilts for sale, and homemade kielbasa, breads, and pickles at the market. (St Jacobs website)

10. Niagara Falls - Niagara Falls is a spectacular place to visit at any time of the year (and yes, the snow and ice can only be seen in the winter). There are several ways to experience the falls from different points of view. You can go down a tunnel called Journey Behind the Falls and feel and hear the roar of water as it thunders past you. You can take a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist and see the falls from the base. Or you can go up to the top of the Skylon tower and see the falls from the air. They are all fun, but our personal favourite is Journey Behind the Falls. Niagara Falls is about a two hour drive from Toronto, west around the end of Lake Ontario. (Niagara Falls website)

11. Niagara-on-the-Lake - everyone knows about and loves visiting Niagara Falls, but downriver is a gem of a historic town with lots of quaint shops, restaurants, the Shaw Festival Theatre, and Fort George.  In addition there are many wineries in the area offering tours and wine tastings.  Niagara-on-the-Lake is about a thirty minute drive from Niagara Falls along the scenic Niagara Parkway. (Niagara-on-the-Lake website)

12. Stratford - About two hour's drive west from Toronto is the pretty town of Stratford.  Not only is Stratford loaded with gorgeous Victorian homes, but there are pleasant parks, great antique shops, fantastic restaurants, and more particularly the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.  If you like world-class theatre then this is the place to go.  Every year the Stratford Shakespeare Festival puts on several Shakespearean plays as well as other more contemporary plays to appeal to a wider audience. (Stratford Shakespeare Festival website)

There are so many places to visit and things to do in and around Toronto that I have only begun the list.  I plan to continue adding as I visit new places.  Do you like to play tourist in your own city?  

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Linked to Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming,
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Mason Jar Picnic

Doesn't everything look better when it's put in a mason jar?  I have been reading about people making mason jar meals (which you can read about here and here) and I loved the idea.  I just knew salads and berries could be taken to a whole new level if they were put in mason jars. Last week I was taking Kate and her friend to Wasaga Beach for the day and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to have a mason jar picnic.

I bought two different sizes of mason jars and got some groceries to make the following: a salad; berries; blueberries with yogurt; guacamole with tortilla chips; banana chocolate chip muffins; juice; and water with ice.  

We loaded everything in the cooler and headed off to the beach. 

We set the table with pretty tablecloths and matching paper napkins.  I chose a red and yellow colour scheme as I thought it looked very summery - and I happened to have tablecloths in those colours that seemed a good size for a picnic table. Tablecloths are my favourite thing to thrift and both of these came from thrift stores a few years ago. 

We laid out our feast and dug in - well not before snapping a few photos.

I made bean salad to use in the mason jar salad meal.  It included the following:
1 can wax beans, drained
1 can green beans, drained
1 can chick peas, drained
1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar 
salt and pepper

The trick to mason jar salad meals is to put the dressing at the bottom of the jar and then add vegetables into the dressing that are firm and hardy and can benefit from marinating.  Then layer the more delicate vegetables - like lettuce and spinach - at the top so they are not in contact with the dressing and not getting squished by the heavier vegetables.  Shake the salad just before eating to mix the dressing with the rest of the salad.  The mason jar meals can last several days in the refrigerator and some people have been making a bunch of them to use for lunches all week long.

To make our mason jar salads I put some of the bean salad at the bottom of the jar along with two tablespoons of the oil/vinegar mix that the bean salad was marinating in.   Then I added the following (in order going up):
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
chopped carrots
sliced cucumber
chopped red peppers

When I tried the salad at home I added a sliced egg on top, but I had run out of room in the jar on the day of the picnic so I just brought whole hard-boiled eggs along to eat with the salad.  

We also ate blueberries and yogurt for lunch.  Later in the afternoon we ate the berries, the muffins, and had the guacamole and tortilla chips.

We had juice and iced water to drink.  The ice also helped keep everything cool.

I had no idea that playing in the waves for several hours could be so exhausting.  There are no photos of the beach as it was very windy ... and wind is good for waves, but bad for cameras since there was sand in the air.  

The combination of a great picnic lunch and swimming in wild waves made it a perfect summer's day.

Have you ever made a mason jar meal?  Do tell.  I'm dying to try some other ones.

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Linked to Summer Link Party at Ginger Snap Crafts,
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Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming,
WOW us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style,
Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense