Welcome to My Parlour

Some of my friends have been asking to see photos of my house. For most of the winter, the timing never seemed right to take pictures--not only because I was suffering from "my-house-is-never-clean-enough" syndrome, but also because the daylight hours are so limited in the winter months, and when the sun does shine in, it is thin, direct, and harsh--most unflattering.

Well, the world is tipping back into summer, and the sun has taken on a golden, glowy tone that has me cleaning out corners and doing odd fix-it jobs, dreaming of seeds and landscaping ideas, and eying up the can of paint destined for the bathroom walls in a way that is making it nervous. Also, it has enabled me to take some photos of my home that partly convey the way I feel about it. It is my "happy place."

So far, I have only photographed the kitchen and the living room, but it's a start--not to mention, where we spend most of our day (excluding my office, which is just off the kitchen in the addition/entrance.)

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One of our first renovations (which I'm pretty sure I mentioned last summer) was to remove a peninsula that divided the kitchen from the dining room. We had originally intended to put it back once we solved the leakage issue causing the mold we found on it, but liked how open the space was without it so much that we left it off.

The only unfortunate thing is that the flooring in the kitchen/dining area was very new, and now needs to be replaced because of the big L-shaped hole in it where the peninsula used to be. Hopefully, we will be able to do that this summer.

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While we have "made do" with a lot of free or re-purposed items, I love seeing how we can make them work and look beautiful together. I also love how almost everything has a story or some meaning to me. The table was a gift from my mom and step-dad. The "Faith" sign was a gift from our church family in Mena. The apron hanging below it was my Grandma H's. The spice racks on top of the stove were hers, also. The photo of the little girl beside the apron was a gift from my Aunty Lin. I made the angel cross-stitch while I was in India with Jason, before we even started dating. The cat-tails on the shelf were gifts from the kids from our dugout. And the shelf itself was a gift from my friend Candace, which she had her uncle hand-make for me. (Tucked into the "Faith" sign is a silk rose that Jason gave me while we were courting, but it's hard to see in this photo.)

Even the dishwasher was re-gifted to us from a couple at our church that was redoing their kitchen. She didn't want the dishwasher to go to waste--she loved it more than their new one, but had replaced it because it didn't match the new appliances! And she's right--it's 19 years old, and still works great, despite a year or two out in our shed! (So what if our appliances are now three different colours? Four, if you count the stainless-steel toaster!)

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Jason made this shelf out of a couple of weathered pallets to fill in the space left behind by the removed peninsula. I LOVE IT!! (He even re-used some rusty nails to complete the "rustic" look.) The little doll was made for me by my Grandma M. when I was a child. "Twinky" is made of muslin and yarn (for the hair), with a hand-embroidered face and moveable arms and legs. She is too special to leave in a box in the dark somewhere--and nice and handy when little Norah comes for a visit. The lava-rock mortar-and-pestle does get used in my kitchen. I am pretty sure that also was a gift from one of my grandmothers, but I don't remember for certain. And those two kids in the photograph are my brother and me as teenagers. Don't ask me how long ago that was... I'll never tell! :-)

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When we moved in, the kitchen cupboards (which are resin doors on wood-veneer particle-board boxes) had a wood-grain look to them, and a significant amount of wear-and-tear. The upper cupboards next to the range hood, in particular, had seen their better days. I loved the look of black and red cupboards, so I decided to paint them. I LOVE the results! Instant face-lift! Also, after about twenty minutes on YouTube, I decided that glazing them would not be beyond my ken, either, so off to the paint store I went. The red ones are glazed with black and the black ones are glazed with red. (The black also had a layer of red underneath, and the black was thinly applied to let it show through.) I just added the knobs to the drawers on Friday (the day these photos were taken), and liked it so much that I bought knobs for all the cupboard doors yesterday, too.

The red display cupboards originally had some etched glass fronts, which the previous owners had replaced with smoked mirror tiles. I am not quite sure what I am going to put in there--eventually, I think I'll put some glass or bead board, but for now, they are dust-catching zones.

There are a few "stories" in this photo, too--the little yellow "happy-face" mug was made for me when I was a child by my great-aunt Myrtle, who did ceramics as a hobby. (It actually says "Talena" up the side, spelled right, and everything!) Amanda recently gave me the matching tea-cup pictures as a thank-you for helping out with the cooking on her "India Night" Jolica show in January. My friend Renée took the photo of Noah in the bucket. And the cross on the wall was a gift from our Peace River church family when we moved away in 2008.

Just to the right of these red cupboards is the door into the addition, above which is this sign, scored on Etsy at Bedlam Country Crafts:

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As I tell my guests when they notice it and laugh, "I look at the sign, and I laugh a little, and then I realize that it's not all that bad... and my children get to survive another day." (You can also see the trim piece above that still needs to be painted, which is why the piece that broke off on the left has not been replaced.)

The living room is directly adjacent to the dining room. In fact, that is where I was standing when I took the long shot of the dining room and kitchen, above top. The colour of the feature wall was directly inspired by Jason's and my love of chocolate. :-)

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You can kind of see the little pony wall (brown in the left foreground, covered in pipe-cleaner crafts) that separates the two rooms. On the other side is a built-in bookshelf. That, combined with the tall shelf you can see here, is the sum total of space we have for our "library" right now. Sad, I know. And the top shelf is all cookbooks! We have totes-full of books in storage in the Sea Can, which I have dreams will have a room of their own someday--or at least, a room they can share with guests and the children's games someday, but that will at least allow them to be able to breathe fresh air again! (Right now, I try to rotate them out about once a year to keep our selection fresh and age-appropriate.)

The armoire hides our television and other electronics when not in use (a score off of our local Freecycle network). The kids like to play educational games on their laptop (right where I can keep an eye on them!) when they are finished with their school work. I like that the projector screen rolls up to reveal our lovely Stephen Lyman print when not in use, just like a flat-screen T.V. wouldn't.

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The front window looks out across the yard, the garden, the trees, the field... it's awesome.

The curtain rods were new last week. The curtains are old, but perfect--I scored them at my friend Larrissa's garage sale last summer. There were two more than we needed for the living room, so those ones went into the master bedroom.

I have plans to replace this futon with a big, overstuffed leather chair--just as soon as we can get that aforementioned guest/family room to put it into. Other than the spare bunk in Jude's room, this is our only "guest bed" at the moment, which irks me. Also, there really isn't room for it in the living room, and it's kinda ugly, but you do what you gotta do. The couch, which is extremely comfy to sit on, is extremely un-comfy to sleep on, so the futon stays. But someday, we'll have a big chair, and room for real side-tables! Someday!

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We'll finish the tour of the living room with the "school station", which consists of the small bookshelf behind this blue chair, and the dresser beside it. (There is also the whiteboard which is visible in the dining room in the very first photo, and several bulletin boards on display in our hallway.) Not your typical living room furniture, but a definite part of our current lifestyle. This blue chair is easily transportable on the laminate floor, and I often put it in front of our "library" shelves to face the room for visiting, or for enjoying the scenery through the windows. Also, the blue chair and the school dresser are both from my Grandpa and Grandma H's estate. The small book shelf is from my other grandparents. And the couch and cushion are from Jason's Uncle Dale--a gift he made sure would go to us before he died.

I painted the small yellow terra-cotta pot that I use to keep my garlic (sitting on the turn-table spice rack on the kitchen counter) with the verse "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me" from Psalm 23. Surrounded by so many mementos of family, and friends, and those who love us, I hardly needed that reminder... but it does seem to sum up the atmosphere of our home perfectly.

That, and the phrase, "Guests are welcome here."

... So when are you coming for tea?

Suddenly Busy Part 3

Well, in order to make this post about the last two weeks seem somewhat shorter and less dry to the casual reader (since anyone not directly involved in them may care a lot less than I do), I am going to put the highlights in bullet form.
  • After returning from our weekend in Sylvan Lake on Tuesday, Aug. 2, we knew we had our work cut out for us. The first stop for me was the paint store. For Jason, it was the hardware store--his trips there became almost daily. I'm sure he now knows all the employees by first name. Fortunately, he was just beginning his scheduled holidays, so had plenty of time with helping to get our new house ready! His main accomplishments that week were getting the trailer levelled with the help of our friend Brian, getting the pressure pump moved over from the other trailer and getting that and the septic hooked up, and getting the electrician here by Friday so we could bathe again. Yay!
  • By Saturday morning, we were cheering because Jude came back into the holiday trailer from his bathroom break to report that there was hot water. The celebration was short-lived, however. After only three quick showers, Jabin's bath-water came out cold. I waited four hours before trying to have my shower, and within five minutes the water was cold. Hmmph. Guess we'll need to change out the water heater.
  • We are now referring to our three homes as the "new trailer", the "holiday trailer" or "camper", and the "old trailer", or, more affectionately, the "parts trailer".
  • The first part to come in from the "parts trailer" was our other water heater. Jason changed it out by himself on Sunday, which was quite the job. I continued painting.
  • Upon removing the first baseboard from the dining room to start painting, I discovered (horrors!) mould behind it. And the same behind the second board, which came from the peninsula adjoining it. Further inspection (by removing the peninsula and lifting up the wall panel) revealed the bottom part of the wall frame to be damp, but there to be no rot or damage in the wall or behind the poly. We concluded it was from a leak from either the dishwasher or the sink, but since we had no running water at the time, had to wait a week to confirm it. In the meantime, we let the wall dry out and discovered we liked the kitchen better without the peninsula in it. Bonus!
  • Turns out it was a leak from the faucet, which is a really old unilever-style. When you lift it to the hot side, water pours out around the base. Changing out the kitchen faucet from the "parts trailer" is pretty high on Jason's "to-do" list right now (but really low on his "things-I-enjoy-doing" list! We had just put the other one in last winter, and it is much nicer, anyway--although, a real pain-in-the-you-know-what to deal with, apparently.)
  • Painting jobs completed: Living room; kitchen; Jude's room; alcove in our bedroom. Still to do: hallway; bathroom; dining room; kitchen cabinets.
  • While revamping the peninsula design, Jason built me a "weathered-wood"-look set of display shelves at the end of my cupboards from some old pallets. He does not really enjoy carpentry work, and I am so proud of him. He did a great job, and I absolutely love them! (I can't post photos right now, due to computer issues. I will be posting the "grand photo tour" once we are done renovating, anyway.)
  • We spent our first night in our new home on Wednesday, which happened to be my 34th birthday. My friend Laurie C. commented on my Facebook update about this, "Lucky girl! Not everybody gets a new house for her birthday!" She's right! :-D
  • Jabin's sock (see yesterday's post) has been successfully frogged and is well on it's way to complete recovery. I finally got over my grumpiness about my mistake. I'm not sure if that could be called an "adventure in knitting", but hopefully the "inconvenience" did teach me to inspect my heels carefully before moving past them from now on!
And that's about it!... so far.

Humble Abode

I have been spending most of my time at the trailer lately--we have even slept there almost every night this week. Sure, there's no running water, no power, and it was only yesterday that we started to be able to put gray water down our sink to the septic tank--but that's part of the fun! It's summer! Why not live a little?

I've been busy cleaning, painting, and unpacking. Jason has been working on getting the skirting put on the trailer, and bucking up firewood for the wood stove we will be putting in the addition. Most of our clothes, etc., are still at Magnusson's, as well as our beds, but hopefully we will get most of our stuff moved this weekend.

So, a few photos, for those of you who have been asking:

Not exactly a beauty, but it's four walls, and that's all that matters.

Jabin making a funny face for the photo. The boys are having a snack on the floor in front of a built-in hutch in the dining room. I have not re-painted those oh-so-attractive doors yet--it's kind of low on the priority list. I'm thinking of sanding off what's there (it's that textured spray-on paint) and doing it distressed blue with bits of red showing through. What do you think?

We've been setting healthy records with our diet lately. Hot dogs 4 times a week! Whee!! (Can't wait for the power!)

Gotta go pack some more. I'll post more photos of the inside once I get my "afters" taken on the paint job!

Happy Friday!

Down the hall, First door on the left

At least, those are the directions I would give you, if it had a door!

However, if privacy isn't a concern of yours, our main bathroom is finally open for business! (In other words, to anyone four and under. Or if all you need to do is wash your hands.)

The floor fish at the entrance. It's so pretty, and because it is different than the rest of the floor, I catch myself subconsciously stepping over it instead of onto it. Kind of like when I was a kid and would purposely avoid stepping on sidewalk cracks, not because I am superstitious, but because it became a popular game while I was in elementary school (accompanied by the sing-song "Can't step on a crack or you'll break your mother's back.) It became habit. To this day, if I am walking down a cast cement sidewalk, I avoid the cracks, if possible. This fish has too many cracks. I have to step over onto a safe 13"x13" tile, where there is plenty of room for my foot.

See the blue "dot" tiles? I actually wanted to do a whole row of a contrasting colour like this, but guess what? This was the only box the flooring store had. And they'd been discontinued. I couldn't even order more of a different colour--I can't remember why. The whole product had been discontinued. So I took their one box at a discounted price, remembering that the free tile stash we used on the rest of the walls included little 2"x2" tiles of a non-contrasting colour, and decided to make it work. And voilà, you see the little repeated pattern in the photograph. I even had 3 blue tiles left over. Another creative solution to an otherwise perplexing problem.

The paint on the door is drying--hopefully, we will be hanging it by the end of the weekend. Yippee!

Hope your Saturday was happy, friends!

Speaking of Finishing...

Jason has decided that this is the weekend to finally finish the tiling in our bathroom. It has been in a near-completed state since, um, well, since July. The end of July. Or the beginning of August. Since then, it has been in renovation stasis--that place that renos go to sleep until the insanity of life goes away for a weekend.

Due to the over-abundance of bathrooms in our house, finishing it hasn't exactly been high priority, although it may have been more convenient to use, since it is our main bathroom. However, I haven't been complaining that all I've had to clean is ONE bathtub (in our master bath) instead of two, and THREE toilets instead of five. (The basement bathroom is also in stasis--but a much sleepier one. It's the one with tree root issues and black mold, remember? Scarier and pricier to fix, therefore lower on the priority list.)

Anyway, Jason did a row of tile on Saturday night, forgetting about the other one that needed to be done, which I completed on Sunday afternoon. This evening, Jason has been doing the grouting...

...which he just finished. (Mostly. I think he may have to wash a little more off the tiles in a few minutes.)

Do you like my fish? (The grout is still wet.)

The fish was inspired by creative necessity--one of the black tiles for the floor was broken, leaving us not enough to cover the entire floor--so I decided to make a broken tile mosaic!

We should be using the bathroom again before next weekend, if all goes well!

Cute Kid Moment:

The kids are getting ready for bed, and I just overheard Jude singing "Jacob and Sons" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah...


84,000 is Jude's "number of choice" whenever he's trying to get across the concept of "a lot."

"How long until Daddy gets home?"

"A few more hours."


"How far is it to Papa's house?"

"It's a really long drive, remember? It takes us all day."


Or, when I comment, "You're getting really tall, buddy!"

"Yeah! I'm 84,000 tall!"

I don't know where he picked this number up from--one of his friends, probably. The funniest thing is, he really has no concept of any number over 10, and has no clue about units of measurement for time, height, distance, or anything else. Jason just playing along and saying "yep" probably isn't helping, either.

This week it seems we have accomplished 84,000 renovation projects, but in reality we are only at varying stages through three or four. Remember Max's room in Where the Wild Things Are? Remember how the carpet turned to grass and the trees grew up to the ceiling and it turned into a forest by the sea? That is, apparently, what is going on in our basement bathroom. When we lifted the linoleum down there to prep it for new flooring, we discovered a small lake that was harbouring a rather largish colony of black mold. And, lovingly wrapped around the base of our toilet was--I kid you not--a tree root. We diffused Young Living's Thieves blend of oil for a day in there to kill the mold, and the air is much clearer-smelling. Now I just have to go down there and clean up the mess. (Apparently, using chlorine bleach actually just drives the mold spores into the air where you can breathe them in, and the Thieves actually kills 99.96% of the spores.)

There's something more than a little unsettling about discovering that nature has invaded your domain so passive-aggressively. Most of the "something" has to do with the dollar signs adding up in your head to fix the problem--the little voice that is whispering in your head is fairly certain it will be somewhere in the area of $84,000.

I have heard that there is a magical, terrible moment that sometimes happens to people with very long, straight hair, when it suddenly develops a mind of it's own and instantaneously snarls so badly that almost the only way to solve the mess is to cut it all off.

That is what happened to my back last night, inconveniently right before our date. I was going along fine, minding my own business; I had just put the paintbrush away to get ready for the date--wrapping it carefully in a plastic bag so that later, I could easily pick up where I left off--when BAM! out of no where I could barely lift my arms. Somewhere in the middle of my back the muscles had snarled beyond recognition. Hopefully, complete amputation won't be necessary--just a massage from my honey should give a good jump-start on the healing process. (I suspect that my sexy new chocolate brown bra is the culprit, unfortunately. Sigh.)

This morning, unfortunately, it still hurts 84,000.

Happy Weekend, friends. Tell me something interesting about your week...

New Depths of Disorder

Right now, "disarray" does not even begin to describe my house.

My fridge is in my living room.

My dining table is in my living room.

My countertops are covered in mugs, glasses, tea, and pantry items.

My desk is sporting the decorations that usually go on top of the hutch.

The hutch is in the hallway.

The toilet is in the bathtub.


The bathroom floors and walls are sporting yet-to-be-grouted tile.


After today, I will get to enjoy the new vinyl flooring in my erstwhile plush-carpeted dining room. As well as new flooring in my entrance, kitchen, and down the stairs.

Renovation is a pain. But oh-so-worth-it.

What I did over Christmas Break.

Well, after ten days of having my honey around, he's back at work. *sigh* I miss him already. It's the first time he's had more than a weekend off in a year--and I'm not even sure we should say it was that recently, since last year we were moving at Christmas, making the 8-hour drive between Sylvan Lake and Peace River 3 times in a week, and packing and unpacking plenty of boxes and furniture on either end.

After that very long introductory sentence, I just don't know where I can take this post from here.

Just kidding. While Jason was home, we managed to get lots of "around-the-house" stuff done, as well as plenty of visiting, too. By the way, if anyone was wondering, Amanda had a baby boy on December 22nd, named Oakley Leo. He was a whopping 10 lbs. 3 oz! Good thing he was 2 weeks early! Yikes! Both he and Mommy (and the rest of the family, too) are doing well.

We got to enjoy a brief visit with my father and brother, as they came up in Dad's cool new pick-me-up truck on Christmas Eve, and left around noon on Boxing Day. (For the un-Canadianized, that would be the 26th.) There were a lot of X-Box, turkey, movies, and various and sundry card games enjoyed during their whirlwind trip, along with some good visitin', too. We wished it could have been longer, but! I am totally excited that my brother is going to be moving back to ye olde Alberta in February sometime. After six years in Seattle area, this will be a total blessing to know that we can see him even more often, and that the gag gifts will be cheaper to send in the mail.

After they left, Jason got busy cleaning out/organizing our storage room, so we can actually call it "useful space" now. All of the items we didn't know what to do with as we unpacked, or as Jabin outgrew his baby items, were just kind of thrown haphazardly in there with any tools from various renovation projects. Yay! for organized space.

The guest room is almost finished being repainted--I have to get down there after this and finish up the last bit of the walls. When Jason gets home in half an hour I'm going to run down to the hardware store and buy new trim. I'm thinking that the room hasn't been painted in at least a decade, and the walls sure showed it. Not only that, the last person to paint it also decided the ceiling tiles should be the same colour as the walls, but instead of removing the tiles, they just painted them as-is--right over the metal frame, and everything. It looks terrible. Now we are trying to decide if we should replace them all, or just keep on with what the last person did and re-paint them into a fresher, brighter colour.

The room already looks WAY better than it did when we started. Best part--I didn't even have to go buy paint, as I am just using up paint I over-purchased when we painted the office a year ago.

So. That is one more renovation project we will soon be able to check off our "to-do" list.

I didn't get nearly as much done on the holiday break as I thought I would, but I always have a tendency to over-estimate my capabilities. I think I still work on the "if I didn't have kids" time-table, forgetting how much of my day is required just to look after them. They don't really "get it" if you decide to skip making lunch because you just want to do one more coat. What's with that, anyway? (You'd think that by now, it wouldn't be so easy to forget that. I guess I'm a slow learner. Or an eternal optimist.)

Oh, and if any of you thought we were ignoring your calls, we just weren't answering because the phone line went whacko on Thursday morning, and the Telus guy couldn't get here to fix it until today. So, if you call now, we promise to answer.

Anyhoo, I better go see if I can get anything done downstairs before I have to head downtown. Sorry for the boring post--I'm just getting back in the swing. Hope you all had a very wonderful New Year!

What did you do on your break?