Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dinosaurs for Halle

It's been very quiet around here. I can't even tell you how many times I have sat down to start a post and I just never finish. We've done a lot around here, including the creation of our vegetable garden out back. We're still working on the bench (a few other things have been higher priorities recently), I'm getting ready to paint the downstairs rec room and we're on the hunt for Halle's big girl bed (she still LOVES her crib, but I think we're ready to move her to a big girl bed). So, hopefully things will start to happen and this blog will see a bit more action soon.

For now, I had to pop in quickly and share Halle's 3rd Birthday Party, which happened on Sunday. She asked for Pink Dinosaurs and I did my best to deliver. The day was overcast and it drizzled a bit, but our birthday girl and her little friends had a great day. What could be more important?


Halle Turns 3

I made the banner myself, using last year's as a template. I traced each of the shapes and the letters (except for the "R" in Three, which I had to freehand), and then painted everything in. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Halle Turns 3Halle Turns 3

The cupcake liners & cupcake stand I found at HomeSense. Those little pink dinosaurs on top of the cupcakes were made from Salt Water Taffy (also purchased at HomeSense). I had found instructions in Chatelaine on how to make them, and B put them together on Saturday evening while I was baking the cake. He did a great job!

Halle Turns 3

Halle had asked for a "Sprinkle" cake, so I used this recipe that I found on Pinterest to make the cake & the whipped vanilla buttercream frosting. Both were awesome and will stay in my recipe book for future use!

Halle Turns 3Halle Turns 3

Halle Turns 3

Halle Turns 3Halle Turns 3

Halle Turns 3

The kids were happy just playing together, but I did have a few activities for them. I had photocopied some dinosaur colouring pages that B's Mom gave Halle, and B also buried some dinosaur sand moulds in Halle's sandbox for the kids to dig for. They loved the latter one, and also loved playing with some little dino's I tossed in there for fun.

I honestly think Halle's favourite part of the whole party was having people sing "Happy Birthday" to her. She just loves it...

Halle Turns 3Halle Turns 3

Halle Turns 3

I can't believe she will "officially" turn 3 tomorrow! These past three years have just flown by... and it's been an absolute pleasure being her Mama. Planning her exactly what she wanted for her birthday was the least I could do! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

I've Been Benched

First off, I need to thank everyone for their input on my last post. There were some really great suggestions, including one that has really started to evolve in my head... so we'll see where that goes!

Now, for an update on the pew. The last I showed you, our bench was looking like this...


Dining Room Pew - Stripping

Well, I've been a busy bee, taking every opportunity that I can to get out there and strip it clean of the two layers of paint. 

Church Pew

Church Pew

After some stripping and then letting it dry out, B went at it with a random orbital sander and a belt sander to get rid of some of the leftover paint.

Church PewChurch Pew

Church Pew

What did we discover when B hit some of the parts of the pew that had not been touched by the stripper? The paint would've come straight off really easily had we just sanded it from the start and skipped stripping completely. Yeaaaa.... so had we done that, we would've saved some money AND probably have all of the paint sanded off by now. However, as it currently sands, we still have some work ahead of us to get the rest of the paint off...

Church Pew

I am frustrated knowing that we could be in the refinishing stage already if we (read: I!) had just attempted sanding before stripping.

While sanding B also discovered that the back of our pretty pew is solid cedar - a very nice cedar, and he's intent on staining it. I on the other hand, am not completely convinced. After reading Jen's comment on my last post, I'm pretty sure I'd like to do something two toned (pulling colours from our end chairs at the dining table). Something along the lines of this pew, or this one. B and I will continue to discuss this.

So, with the progress we have made so far I am still hoping to have this project (as well as a few others I have started), completed before our house guests arrive later this month! I also believe that now that we've been in our West Coast home for over a year, I owe you some updated pictures of our spaces! Hope to start snapping some photos one space at a time once I get them cleaned up. 

Have you been working on any projects recently that seem never ending? Maybe you've had a frustrating experience with something you are trying to tackle? 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How I Got My Blog Groove Back

Well... it's been far too long since I've been around these parts. I've just been busy being a Mom, keeping home, doing fun things with the family and small projects around the house. Nothing has really given me that spark recently to write... even when B began building Halle's playhouse in the backyard, or started working on tiered vegetable garden (all of which there will be photos of.... soon). Then, the other week, I was doing my usual craiglist creep when I struck gold!


Dining Room Pew - Before

That my friends is an 11 foot church pew... which I paid $100 for. Yes... ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS! I was thrilled that I was able to score this (and so thankful to our wonderful friend who helped me out and loaded it into the pack of his pickup truck and moved it to our place while B was away). It's going to be the perfect addition for seating at our 12 foot dining table...


First Time Fancy Dining Room - DIY Dining Table & Light Fixture

The pew will go on the far side of the table where the two blue chairs are. However, I'm still stuck on what to do with the pew. I'm in the middle of stripping the paint off...

Dining Room Pew - Stripping

I've made some more progress since this photo was taken, but I still have a lot left to do. The wood seems to be in okay condition, but I'm not sure I want to stain it. Even if we use the same stain as we used on the table and light fixture, it would come out a different colour (just like the table and light fixture did). I'm concerned that it will be too many types of woods and tones competing in the space (especially since we also have our wine rack and a new little wood table that I scored at the Salvation Army. 

So, I guess I'm looking for a little input. While I strip and sand this big old pew down, I want to know - What would you do? What do you think I should do? Stain it? Paint it? I'm thinking maybe a cream colour, similar to the light part of the plaid on our head chairs at the table. At this point, I'm leaning towards painting (which would save me a lot of stripping down the line)... so give it to me! What should I do?

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Little Closet Update

Here I am! Still kicking, though my drive to blog seems to have faded drastically. I think a lot of it has to do with my 2014 motto to simplify life. I've been enjoying the little moments with Halle these days. We finished her first round of swimming lessons together, we visit the library weekly, go for long walks with friends and the other day even enjoyed a nice lunch picnic! I've also focused a lot on sorting and organizing our home, and preparing much healthier meals for us.... and I even bake our own bread now! It's so nice and I've been feeling much happier and far more relaxed.

I am, however, hoping to get back on here and share what we'll be up to in the next little while - including our back garden plans and hopefully the built-ins in our dining room (we've been on the hunt for the right cabinets recently). In the meantime, I want to share a quick change we made in Halle's room recently.

I just felt like Halle's closet wasn't providing great storage for us. It had a lot of hanging space, but that big blank floor invited things to just get thrown down there, and the top shelf just collected items that were idly thrown down and then forgotten about. I knew we needed a better solution...


First Time Fancy Toddler Closet Organization

When I took that first photo I had already cleared out the floor space, so next I emptied that shelf and removed all of Halle's clothes. With everything out, it was as simple as B removing that wire shelf (that I was happy to say good-bye too... they seem to dominate our storage spaces in this house, and this is my first step to rid our home of them!).

First Time Fancy Toddler Closet Organization

Though I had originally hoped to find an IKEA Expedit for cheap to center in the closet, we found something even better. The open Hemnes Bookshelf from our old entertainment unit had found a home in our front hall a while ago, and was just collecting items that didn't have a proper home. The other week I realized it would be the perfect solution to add some extra storage to Halle's room. Along with some brackets (to anchor the bookshelf to the wall) and some closet rods from Home Depot, Halle's closet now has some better storage than before...

First Time Fancy Toddler Closet Organization

Overall, we haven't gained more hanging space, but I wasn't looking to add hanging space (we had more than enough). What this new configuration allows us, is an easier way to organize her hanging clothes, plus find better homes for the items that had previously just been tossed into the closet. We are working on potty training at the moment, so I expect that we should free up another shelf and a half soon and it will be a good spot for some extra toys, shoes, etc.

The top shelves currently home some special books that I don't want her touching without our supervision (like my Beatrix Potter books), and some special teddy bears that are also not every day toys, but my parents had gifted to me when I was younger.

First Time Fancy Toddler Closet Organization

We never did paint the interior of her closet, but down the line we are positive the carpet in here will be ripped out - so we could always paint the closet at the same time. 

This was a nice little project to get us moving again! Our biggest upcoming project will surely be our back garden. Halle helped B to plant all of the seeds in started trays and we have a number of sprouts coming up for our tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers! We're excited to see how this progresses!

What projects have you been working on recently? Or what do you need to get moving on now that spring has sprung? (Well, it's sprung out west at least!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Back in Action

Talk about a break from blogging! I don't really have a reason for you as to why it happened, except for maybe I've really been embracing my 2014 motto of "Simplify". After completing our kitchen cabinet transformation project, we took a little break to just enjoy the start of the new year as a family. We've been getting out and enjoying being together (especially since we haven't been slammed with snow and ice like our families back east), and I've also been doing a lot of cleaning and organizing. I've been able to sell some things we don't use as well as donate a few things, and it was nice to purge a little. 

BUT, with B's sister arriving on Friday and a little dinner party planned for Saturday, we needed to whip our dining room into shape for some hosting. We've been busy bee's the last couple of weeks. The last photo I shared on here of our dining room was just after B had finished our dining table...


Our DIY Dining Table

In the last few weeks we've accomplished quite a bit. Here's what our dining room currently looks like...

First Time Fancy Dining Room - DIY Dining Table & Light Fixture

We are getting there! On the far wall we have hung a mirror that B has had since before we even started dating (it sat on the mantel in our home in Toronto). It may not be the forever solution, but for now it fills the wall and really bounces more light around in the space. We like it.

You'll notice I've also started to address our seating issue. Those four green chairs I grabbed at HomeSense for a great deal. I'd been eyeing them since November, but couldn't pull the trigger on them for $99.99 a piece. At the end of January I popped back in and was checking the clearance section, only to discover four were left at $36 each! Of course they had to come home and they are perfect. The two blue chairs on the opposite side of the table will be painted the same green colour in time. 

First Time Fancy Dining Room - DIY Dining Table & Light Fixture

By far, the biggest and best addition is the light fixture that B put together for us. Of course this style is all over Pinterest, but I wasn't in love with the idea until we went to Scotland and saw a huge light fixture made from Mason jars at the Super Dry store in Glasgow. So when we got back and needed a big idea for over the dining table, this seemed the best and most affordable solution. The whole thing cost us under $300 - not bad considering the impact it makes. 

First Time Fancy Dining Room - DIY Dining Table & Light Fixture

We bought the pine and the wiring and junction boxes from The Home Depot, using a gift card my parents gave us for Christmas. For the stain, we used leftover stain from the table. The woods are different (pine for the light fixture and douglas fir for the table), so the stain appears slightly different. I like that they don't match exactly, but have the same tone! 

The jars I bought off of someone local for $8 (for all 12), which was a great snag. We bought the fabric covered wire and sockets from a Massachusetts based company called Sundial Wire - definitely recommend them if you are looking to do something like this! Finally, the amber coloured filament bulbs top off the whole project. We bought 16 for $5/each from Restoration Hardware when they were having their lighting sale in early January.

First Time Fancy Dining Room - DIY Dining Table & Light Fixture

I feel like it makes the most impact when it's all lit up at night. The amber lights were the perfect choice, and we're happy with how much light 12, 30W bulbs give off. The perfect ambiance for dining!

First Time Fancy DIY Dining Room Light Fixture

First Time Fancy DIY Dining Room Light Fixture

There's still much to be done around here. B and I have agreed the next big thing will be the built-in in that nook currently occupied by the far too small bookcase. The good thing about the built-in is we will be able to build it slowly. Start with a lower cabinet and had uppers afterwards. Just something to add some extra storage and character to this slowly evolving room. 

I'm just thrilled with how quickly we've been checking things off of our to-do list so far. The bedroom has had some progress as well, and I hope that today I can finally finish getting paint on our walls. It's a much slower process now that I have a two-year old underfoot at all times! She is one busy and curious little girl!

What have you been doing to keep yourselves busy? Anyone been hibernating inside and making big changes to their homes?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Knox Carpentry

If you are a regular reader of Style at Home magazine, you may have recently spotted a feature on The Little White House & Co that is located in Fort Langley, BC. If it doesn't ring a bell to you, this picture may help you remember...


SC_2879

Okay, so it's not a photo from the magazine shoot, but it is from one of the stunning rooms in the cafe. I had seen the above photo long before the magazine shared the beautiful interior, as a friend of ours is behind this lovely room! I actually gasped when I saw his work within the pages of Style at Home... and then immediately sent a text to his wife. So today, what I want to share with you, is where this room started out, before our friend Craig of Knox Carpentry worked his magic on it!

Originally, this quaint little dining room started out as a sweet little garden porch for guests to dine on.


Attachment-1

Craig framed in the whole porch and used old reclaimed barn board for the interior of the room. The rustic wood looks beautiful against the painted furniture in the space! Also beautiful is the reclaimed wood mirror that Craig crafted himself.

SC_2883

SC_2829

Craig has been working away on a few new mirrors to sell. At the moment, Knox Carpentry has one up for a giveaway over on their Facebook page! Why not head over, give them a like and show this family run business some love for the beautiful work they do? I count myself lucky to call such a talented Carpenter our friend! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Our Kitchen's Dark Side

From the first time that we saw our house, we knew that the kitchen here was not exactly our style, but it sure had a lot of potential in there.

IMG_1413

IMG_1414

One of my biggest issues was the colour of those cabinets. It wasn't awful by any means, just not what we wanted. So, when the people over the The Home Depot got in touch and asked if we would be interested in renovating our kitchen quickly and on our own, we jumped right on board! A few weeks later this big bin of fun arrived on our front door step, with everything we would need to take our kitchen to the next level.

Kitchen Reno In A Box

It took us a little longer than anticipated to get started due to both B and I getting sick, but by the time Black Friday hit (yup, it was that long ago that this started) I was ready to get moving! (Just as a foot note, we had to break the rules a little. Our kitchen is quite large and the weather was a little cool, so we had to do half of our kitchen first and then jump to the other half afterwards). I began by sketching out the cabinets we were removing and numbering them all. 

Kitchen Cupboard Transformation

I then used some blue painters tape to put the coordinating numbers of each of our cupboard doors. This part ended up being a little silly. We ended up losing the tape while working on the doors since the tape had to come off and things got a little mixed up. Good thing all of the doors are different sizes, so matching them back to their proper spots was not an issue at all for us! 

Kitchen Cabinet Transformation

Next, B removed all of the doors and I wiped them all down with a green multi-purpose cleaner before bringing them out to the garage for the de-glossing phase. B helped with this. I did the de-glossing and he followed along behind me to wipe off all of the de-glosser. It was a little slow going, but much quicker having two sets of hands (as I would later learn). It was really important here to have lint-free cloths, so I highly recommend you make sure you have those on hand for this project.

Kitchen Cabinet Transformation

Kitchen Cabinet Transformation

Before we de-glossed, B also filled any holes (mostly on the drawers where the new pulls would fit completely different), and drilled all of the holes for our new hardware. We decided to change them all since the knobs were far too small for many of our oversized cabinet doors. They just weren't balanced, and the new chrome pulls we have really help to update the look of the kitchen.

So, with all of our cabinets spread out in the garage, new holes drilled and de-glossed, I got to work on the tinted bond coat (don't mind our garage mess).

Kitchen Cabinet Transformation

Kitchen Cabinet Transformation

Kitchen Cabinet Transformation
{After the first coat of colour}

One important thing I learned during the process was to make sure you invest in some really good quality synthetic brushes. The one's we had kept loosing bristles into this coat, so I spent a lot of time trying to carefully lift them out. Sadly, a few got stuck and are still on our doors, but aren't that visible with the darker colour.

Getting the tinted bond coat was quite a tedious process. Each door needs two coats front and back, and you can't forget the edges of the doors either. I had a hard time getting around the small edge of our recessed panel doors, so even after two coats I still had to go back and do some touch-ups before the next step. Honestly, this part would have gone a lot faster if I had an extra set of hands, but it was always me going solo since B needed to watch Halle. It also meant not accomplishing much during the days while B was off at work. This meant the project stretched on much longer than it would normally take if two people were able to give their full attention to it!

Once all of the doors had two coats on each side, we approached the decorative glaze step. At first, B and I were convinced we needed to do this in order to get a more professional look. So, when I headed out to the garage to attempt this coat I started by putting a bit of the glaze on the back of one of the drawers and seeing how it turned out. Just as the instructions stated, it was subtle... VERY subtle. Actually, so subtle that neither B or I could see a huge difference on our dark cupboard doors. With the amount of time required for this step and the subtle change, we opted to skip the decorative glaze and move right onto the protective top coat.

The doors and cupboards only required one application of the top coat which was nice, but at this stage of the game it's the drying process that takes the most time. You need two hours for each coat to properly dry, but they recommend waiting 72 hours before using your cupboards regularly! The waiting game was long but by the end we had a good rhythm and I was lucky to have B taping off the cupboards since he was a lot more precise than I would be. It all took longer than we anticipated (again, because I did the majority of it on my own during the Christmas season), but it was very much worth all of the extra effort!

Here's the side by side of our kitchen on our second walk through and how it looks now:

IMG_1410

Refinished Cabinets - January 2014

IMG_1413

Refinished Cabinets - January 2014


IMG_1414

Refinished Cabinets - January 2014

Refinished Cabinets - January 2014

Refinished Cabinets - January 2014

Refinished Cabinets - January 2014

Refinished Cabinets - January 2014


Here are my top tips for a successful kitchen transformation with the Cabinet Transformation Kit:

1. Measure! PLEASE Measure! We had one kit to start and after B took all of the measurements (as per the kit instructions), it said we would need two kits. This is important because you need to mix all of your tinted base coat together to ensure a consistent colour on all of your cabinets! We're glad we got the second kit because although we didn't use a lot from it, we did need it! We also have some leftover now that we can use when we put in a seating bench in our dining nook!

2. Make sure you have two people who can devout their full attention to this project! If you can do that and give yourself a few days to do EVERYTHING at once (not broken up like we did), you can have this project done really quickly!

3. Invest in GOOD brushes and make sure you have lint free cloths! These will ensure that your cabinets look their best!

4. Be very careful when applying the topcoat. Make sure you aren't stingy when applying the top coat to the door fronts, but also be careful on the edges of your doors. I missed a few spots where the top coat dripped and collected and we had some bubbled edges we needed to sand down and touch up! Not pretty and very annoying. To go along with that, I found it worked best when I applied the top coat to the backs of the doors first and once those dried, I did the front of the doors and edges of the doors at the same time! At least if it dripped a little, it wasn't on the front (and most visible) part of the doors!

5. BE PATIENT! The project can feel tedious at times, doing the same thing over and over, but it's well worth it in the end.

Yup, it took us much longer than we expected BUT the best part was we never lost of the use of our kitchen! Yeah, the doors were off for a while leaving us with our "behind the cupboard door mess" visible to all of our house guests, but it could've been much worse! We never had to pack anything into boxes or not have use of the sink or stove! We could still cook at home and wash our dishes no problem! We could not thank the kind folks over at The Home Depot enough for giving us the chance to try this kit out - and we hope our experience encourages you to try it out as well! It was nice that this update cost us nothing (thanks to The Home Depot, and a friend who gifted us those nice new pulls), but even if we had paid for the kits and supplies ourselves, it wouldn't have cost us much more than $350!

Have you been making any big changes in your home? Anyone else thinking of trying out the Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformation Kit?
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