Friday, 30 November 2012

Dining room ceiling - day two

So today is day two of the work on the dining room ceiling, which means day two of my confinement upstairs! To pass the time I snapped some photos of some of my recent (and not so recent) thrift shop finds. It is official, I have a problem! But I assure myself (and everyone around me) there are far worse problems one could have! I mean, I am buying useful items, the price is always right and I like that I am buying things for our new house from somewhere other than a big box store*!

All of the Pyrex was found at three different thrift shops (all within about 10 miles of each other) and all within a week! Yes that means I went to at least 3 thrift shops within the span of a week...that is what classifies this as a "problem"!

Because it was pretty.

Again, because it was pretty!

More Christmas decorations, the prettiest so far!

4+ yards of fabric, no plans for it yet, but I couldn't pass it up!

Only about 1.5 yards of this fabric, but it is really nice and thick, perfect for reupholstering a stool for the cat.

I can never pass up a pretty scarf...I just need to start using them rather than gathering them in a basket.

*That is not to say there isn't a time and a place to shop at a chain or big-box store - it sucks, but it's true. There are just some things you cannot rely on finding at thrift shops. I don't know how some people do it, finding the perfect couch or armchair second hand?! So far I have not been able to find anything that has been remotely decent that is not outrageously priced or that doesn't need more time and money poured into it.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Work in progress - dining room day one

So as previously mentioned, today is the day the ceiling in the dining room gets fixed. So far things seem to be going well - the plaster guy is super nice and lives just around the corner. I have been hanging out upstairs trying to keep busy, but went down to grab a couple of photos and lunch!

There was one very major and noticeable crack in the ceiling, with a lot of smaller ones scattered around. The ceiling texture just looked all around lumpy and it looked like there were pieces of plaster ready to break away. As of now a lot of the loose plaster has been taken down and the cracks are being filled and tapped. Plastering the ceiling is scheduled for today and sanding/priming/painting is tomorrow.

As I mentioned before, the dining room (and I am sure other areas of the house) has seen its fair share of paint and plaster over the years. This is what was coming down off the ceiling. Its probably hard to tell from the photo just how thick this is and how many layers are to it, but look at that colour! I don't know if that is a paint colour from years back or if it is something else that was applied to the ceiling? Whatever it is, I like it, the colour that is, but on the ceiling? That may be a bit much! The dining room is a bit on the dark side, since there is only one window and it has all dark wood trim (and dark wood floors), I think light colours will do best!

PS Buster cat was terrified this morning, he was confined to the bedroom and was shaking under the duvet. When the plasterer left for lunch I let Buster out to stretch and all of a sudden he got real brave! He took off for the dining room to investigate, getting right into the middle of things. He then refused to go back upstairs! Since our guy is back to work from lunch, Buster has returned to cowering under the covers!

Real mail!

Remember what is was like to get real mail? Mail of the paper variety (none of that electronic garbage!). I'm talking about something that is hand written, addressed to you, that comes delivered to your mail box and is NOT a bill?!

Well over the past week and a half I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of mail - real mail of the postcard variety! My best friend, who is a firm believer in REAL mail, is out on the west coast (Tofino, Vancouver Island to be specific) for work. In between doing workie things in the most ridiculously gorgeous setting on earth, she has sent me postcard after postcard! Even though we can easily talk on the phone, text or email, there is something so much more fun about receiving a little card with baby caribou on one side and a note about a marine supply store (and the hunky employees!) on the other! Let's get back to sending real mail people!!!

Things are getting done today!

Things are getting done today - actually, that should be thing, just one thing...the dining room ceiling! Today is the day a local plaster/painter is coming around to repair the ceiling in the dining room. The ceiling in the art room, well, that is still up to me, but the latest progress is looking good (finally!). Because of the work going on in the dining room I am limited to the upstairs portion of the house and I can't really work on some of the things I wanted to. So for today (and most likely some of tomorrow) I am taking a break form the house work. I am going to keep the cat company and get some knitting done (Buster really does not take well to "outsiders" coming in the house, I am sure he is going to hate today/tomorrow!).

Through the dining room you can sneak a peek at the kitchen - it's a closet! The kitchen is an extension off the back of the house, built about 25-30 years ago. Besides cleaning I have done nothing to the space - the goal is to do a complete kitchen reno/extension in the next few years! I will do my best to live with it for now.
I'm working on painting up a tiny china cabinet-type thing that will live in this corner.
Door on the left leads to the dungeon!
Let there be NO light!!!
Sorry for the bad picture quality, my camera isn't so great at taking photos indoors. I just grabbed a few shots of the empty dining room before the work started. The room is (thankfully) now rid of the ceiling fan/light combo - it was truly horrible! It weighed a ton (I know because this morning at 7:15 we finished taking it down - it was dirty, like seriously thick with dirt!). By tomorrow the ceiling should be done and primed, ready for a final coat of paint, then I can work away on the walls. Because the trim in this room is wood, it just needs a clean, no painting! Unfortunately the baseboards aren't in the best shape, over the years someone has done a terrible job of everything in this house! But for real, there are portions of baseboard 3+ feet long that are held in place with one nail! And there is a mixture of decent stained wood baseboards and badly stained crap wood baseboards that don't match. One day I hope to get it fixed so it is consistent throughout the room.

Within the next few days the room will be ready for painting, and fingers crossed that it shouldn't take too long (please no more unexpected problems!). It will be nice to have the dining room painted, it should look cleaner and brighter and feel more like home rather than the dumping ground it is right now. The wall colour was pretty drab and depressing when we moved in - I can't even really describe the colour, just think a dirty grey-ish putty?! Funny thing, after sanding a few areas in the dining room, I unearthed about 12 different paint colours from the past! Although the current colour is pretty bad, I am thinking it may be better than the dusty rose, minty-blue and army green that the room has been in the past! A clean white ceiling and creamy yellow walls (side note: we are basically painting the walls the same creamy yellow they were about 8 layers of paint ago!) should make a huge difference! If all goes well, the room should be done in time for Christmas - after photos will come shortly!

*Still on the hunt for a new dining table, unfortunately it hasn't been easy finding something we like! Any suggestions are welcome!

Friday, 23 November 2012

An update on that ceiling!

I won't go into too much detail about that troubled ceiling I have on my hands because A) its boring and B) I am sick to death of thinking about it! I had been working away on it, thinking I had the perfect solution. Things had been going well until I hit the ceiling with its final coat of paint and BAM! the peeling and flaking started again! I had a slight breakdown (only slight!) and had to face facts: I am not going to be able to solve this issue on my own!

I spent the next few days looking up plaster/painters in the area and found someone working on an equally old house just around the corner. He came around to have a look and was able to give me some pointers and suggestions on what I could do myself. I had been on the right track, but was missing a few crucial steps and was using a not-so-great ceiling paint, which is why the problem kept coming back. I am going to follow his advice and give the ceiling one last go (seriously if it doesn't work then I am just going to call it a day and go with the flaky-ceiling look!). I also had the expert look at the dining room, the ceiling is in rough shape and because of this I have not moved forward with work in that room - seriously, I wouldn't dream of touching that ceiling! I suppose the ceiling didn't scare him as much as it scares me, because he is going to take it on! Late next week he should be by to do a repair job on the ceiling, once complete I can move ahead with painting the room! Once the room is painted, it will pretty well be done, with the exception of drapes, possibly an area rug or mat and a new dining table and chairs - its not easy finding a nice looking table out there that will fit the room!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thrift shop Christmas!

As this is the first Christmas in our own home, we are basically starting from scratch when it comes to decorations. We just grabbed a Christmas tree last night (artificial) along with a wreath for the front door (only 10 12 more wreathes and we will be even with the neighbors - had to count twice and each day they add more!). Now we need decorations for the tree!

Since mid-October I have kept my eye out for decorations, mostly at thrift shops. I figured it may be too early for some people to start shopping, so I would see what I could scoop up. I had a great find that I didn't think I could beat, 35 glass ball ornaments (only one broken in the lot). They are assorted colours and sizes, a few bell shaped ones in there, and quite a few pink ones (not a colour I normally look for at Christmas!). The whole lot cost about $8, surely I couldn't beat that?!

Well this past weekend I hit my favorite thrift shop, hoping to find something good. I didn't initially go in looking for ornaments but the front half of the store was nothing but CHRISTMAS, so I had a look. It was Jeremiah who spotted the ornaments (glass balls - I don't really like the plastic ones, although with a cat plastic would be a safer bet!) and began grabbing them up! When his hands were full he directed me to more ornaments and TOLD me to "get them all"! I did as he said and grabbed up all the boxes and bags of ornaments and piled them into his arms, all the while oblivious to an on-looker who had a pleading look in her eyes that said "dear god don't take them all". I didn't notice her, otherwise I probably would have felt bad and split the ornaments with her, she was only about 2 minutes behind us entering the store, but the man - he was ruthless! He saw the pained look on her face but was not going to give up! Once he has his mind set on something (especially Christmas-related) he doesn't give up! He is a good one to take to flea markets and thrift stores...our tastes are pretty similar, but he doesn't always share the same appreciation for beautiful (albeit useless) things like I do! Oh, that last haul yielded 71 ornaments (mostly gold) for $10! Nothing broken (so far!).

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

What did I buy?!

Another trip to a thrift shop (it helps take my mind off the ongoing saga of the ceiling in the future studio room) and another strange find. I grabbed a goblet-like glass (hey, it was cheap and pretty!) and a little dish I am sure to find the perfect use for. But I also grabbed something else...what is it?  You tell me! There are no names or labels to be found on this thing, there isn't even a "made in" sticker or stamp! From my inter-netting, the closest thing I can find to this monster is a food warmer or a bun warmer (gotta keep those buns warm!). I haven't been able to find this exact one and it has 9 pieces to it! About 5 more pieces than all of the others out there on eBay and Etsy (more pieces means its worth more, right?!).

So why did I buy it? Because it was green...and pretty...and in pretty darn good condition for whatever it is! It also matches a green fondue pot I have (just the pot, no stand or accessories). If anyone out there has any clue about this thing, please let me know!

*I have tried to assemble it, but since I don't know exactly what it is, it's hard to put it together! Someone stop me from going back out to another thrift shop until I have this thing figured out!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

My very own garden!

One of the perks of moving to this house is that I now have my very own garden! I was pretty excited at the prospect of having my own outdoor green space, but so far I have not been able to do much to it. The priority has, of course, been the inside of the house - I need to be able to live inside before I can focus my time and energy outside! This means that other than the basic upkeep of mowing the lawn and raking the leaves, nothing has been done to the garden, both front and back.

Who plants a tree that close to a fence?

That thing covered in lattice is the neighbors shed - it is an eyesore and right now it is being oh so cleverly camouflaged with weeds and a few flowers. My goal is to salvage the flowers and do something to hide the hideousness!

Being an old neighborhood, property divisions are a bit wonky and there are portions of the yard that are fenced, and other portions where neighboring sheds/garages act as a fence. In fact our garage is what separates us from one neighbor and if you peek through one of the garage windows you are practically staring into their back door!

Behind our little shed is a mess of crap knows what that haunts me in my sleep, but there is a fence separating us from the neighbors (more like protecting the neighbors from whatever is living back there!)
Window at the back of the garage. The garage was covered in beautiful ivy, and I believe that ivy was actually helping to keep the garage together - it was certainly sheltering the busted window. Then one day some crazy person (not me, the other one) decided to rip it down...that was not a good day! Fingers crossed it will grow back - and that nothing has decided to take up residence in the garage (hey, the broken window is like an open invitation!)

As you can see from these photos, there is work that needs to be done, but the cold and frost is sucking the life out of the garden. I will have all winter to make up my game plan for the spring!

Friday, 16 November 2012

A beautiful fall afternoon...for baking cookies!

It's Friday afternoon, a beautiful fall day - the sun is shining...and I have decided to stay in a bake some cookies!

These aren't just any old cookies, no, they are garam masala spice cookies, prefect for a chilly autumn day. I have made these cookies many times in the past, because they are super quick and easy and I always have the ingredients on hand...well ALMOST always! I was aiming to bake the cookies in time for a visit from my mum this afternoon, but discovered I had no baking soda...mum to the rescue! I got everything together to bake and she brought over the baking soda so I could finish the job. The result:

Yummy chewy-crunchy cookies!

I do like chewy cookies the best, and these cookies can have a slight chew if you don't leave them in the oven for too long, and eat them while they are still warm. I find once they cool the crunch takes over, but are perfect with a cup of coffee (tea would probably work too...but I am not a drinker of tea!).

For someone like myself who struggles to follow recipes*, this is an easy one, so don't despair. I did add an extra dash of cinnamon to the dough and sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on the tops before baking. Check out Everybody Likes Sandwiches for the cookie recipe, and so many more quick, easy and yummy food ideas!

*I am a lover of food and enjoy cooking much, but have a hard time actually finding a recipe I like, getting the exact ingredients and taking that recipe with me into the kitchen to follow step-by-step. I am more of a throw-everything-in-a-pot and hope for the best kinda person!

What's been happening this past week...

So what's been happening this past week? Here is a bit of the goings on around here:

The week started off looking bright! The little man finally perched his bum on the big red stool! A gathering of starlings took place on the front lawn, a blue jay was chillin' on the front veranda and there was even some sort of tiny woodpecker hopping around the trees out front! The best view came from the stool and Buster realized that - he was in fatty/squatty hunter mode, there was some serious tail twitching and even a bit of clicking! Unfortunately this was short lived - as soon as the birds took off, so did little dude, since then he has refused to go near the stool again...when will he understand the stool was put there for him?!

I went grocery shopping and bought a load of vegetables, including an acorn squash. I used it to make this veggie curry. It may not look like much (taking nice photos of food is hard!), but it tasted pretty good! Overall I am trying to cook more food from scratch and eat healthier, so I have cut out the junk food and am upping the amount of veggies I am eating - it's really not that difficult and I already feel better for it!

 Still working away on the ceiling of the future studio space. So far things are holding together, but I don't want to speak too soon. The ceiling still needs at least one, if not two more coats of good ceiling paint (using a roller of course). The paint/roller combo was what set off the ceiling before, so I am nervous. If all goes well, the room should be done in less than a week, complete with blinds and a new light fixture (you can see the remnants of the nasty old ceiling fan are still clinging on!).

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Fingers crossed for that ceiling!

All week I have been working away on that dodgy ceiling in the soon to be art room/studio. Last week I scraped off as much loose, flaking paint as I could, sanded like a mad man, then began the repair process. As per suggestions I found online, I used a vinyl based drywall filler, rather than the water based I had been using (water based anything seems to make the ceiling angry!). There was a huge area to patch, so it took me a couple of days of patching, letting things dry thoroughly, then sanding. Next came the oil based primer (again, no water!). So far I had not used any oil based paints in this house and forgot just how horrible they smell! Luckily there were a couple of milder days so I could leave the windows open. Yesterday I took a chance and began painting the patches with a brush and the good ceiling paint. I wanted to get a coat or two on there before the roller hits it. Tomorrow I am making the move to use the roller for a final coat. I am keeping my fingers crossed that things go well, at this point I don't think I can handle anymore peeling ceiling in that room! Once the ceiling is done, there are just a few bits of trim to touch up, then up goes my new light fixture and the room will pretty well be done.

Check back for the after photos soon...if all goes well!

Monday, 12 November 2012

A few more thrift shop treasures

Here are a few more of my thrift shop finds from the recent past. I have so many odd ornaments and bits and pieces, but no place to display them. At my last apartment I had a huge shelf with more than enough space to display or tuck away these things. That shelf has now been replaced with an amazing teak sideboard/cabinet that unfortunately doesn't have the same capacity. I do however, have a few pieces of furniture I am refinishing/painting, I need to hurry up and get them done so I can get these pieces out there!

 Found each of these flower pots on two separate visits to my favorite thrift shop in Elmira. They are both Churchill, made in England and both were less than a dollar! Unfortunately these pots are plant-less, my thumb is not so green and Buster has this thing where he HAS to taste any plants I have (repeatedly)!

This was just an interesting Value Village find. It is part of a set (the Beefeater Steak and Grill Set), but this was the only piece they had in the store. It's English Ironstone Pottery.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

So many unfinished knitting projects

There are currently three unfinished projects in my knitting pile. There are also about a hundred more knitting projects I would love to tackle! I took a break from the knitting when my neck/back/shoulder pain situation started up. I hate to think that knitting (of all things) is behind the back pain, but whether it is or not, it hasn't made things any better. I will give it a few more weeks, then I will slowly get back to it.

Nothing fancy here, just a super long and soft scarf and a couple of blankets for the cat (actually blankets to protect the furniture from the cat). Knowing the little man he will not touch them!

Friday, 9 November 2012

The leaves are gone, the house is naked

For me, one of the things that makes this house are the two huge maple trees out front. Yes, they take up the entire front yard and make it pretty hard for anything else to grow. Yes, they mean a lot of leaves to be raked in the fall...and YES I have visions of a freak tornado tearing through the area and sending the trees crashing down onto the house. But otherwise, they are amazing and bring some life to the place! I think the yard would look odd without them.

But now it is November 9th, the leaves are long gone and the trees are naked! The house feels naked - but it allows more light in - which is a good thing, since the house has a tendency of being a bit dark (there are windows in every room, but not huge windows, and the front porch does block out some light).

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Lovely day for a walk!

For those of you who are not familiar with the area we live in, you may be interested to learn that this is just a ten minute walk down the road:

Let me introduce you to the Grand River and the Speed River...actually, the Speed joins the Grand River in the second photo. Cambridge and the surrounding area are lucky to have these rivers and possibly some of the best walking and biking trails in the region. Although there are breaks along the trails in some areas, you can essentially take trails all the way from Cambridge to Paris. I don't think enough people know about the trails or use them (I hardly ever see anyone else out there!). Today was a great day for a walk, but I was kicking myself for not getting on the trails with my camera a few weeks back when the leaves were changing!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Thrift store finds and other amazingly weird stuff

For some time I have had a thing for hitting antique stores and thrift shops. I am not a big shopper, in fact I hate clothes shopping, but I have a serious love for accessories, nick knacks, collectibles, materials of all kinds and old weird stuff. Over the past few months I have been collecting the odd bits and pieces to decorate the house with. Here are a few of my finds:

The yellow lamp - one of my first finds, picked up at a thrift shop in Elmira for $3. Still has the original price tag from Stedman's on the bottom ($24.99). Fully functioning but could use a new shade.

Clothes rack coasters - do I need to explain the awesomeness?!

Bird with bob hairdo aka "Susan Goldfeather" - I couldn't NOT buy this! It's ridiculous! It's actually a Goebel figure and part of a series of bird characters with amazing hairdo's. Unfortunately I have tried to do some research into the series but can't seem to find much information (at least not in English). If anyone out there knows more (or speaks German), please let me know!

Ye olde gold vinyl footstool - the plan was to give the cat something to perch on to look out the window. Took him a while to come around, but he finally realized his butt fit on the stool much more comfortably than the window sill.

Needle point artwork - I don't know why this started, but over the past 6 months I have collected a number of framed needle point pictures. There are two recent additions not yet up on wall, and I may welcome a couple more home if I find any worthy of holding their own next to the deer family!

Wall tiles - I came across these tiles about a month ago, the images had me sold! They are part of a calendar series designed by Bjorn Wiinbald for Nymolle Denmark. There is one for each month, but I have only found January, February, May, July and September... if anyone comes across the others out there let me know!