Thursday, 29 November 2012

Dining room progress

Before the reno our dining room was the front room of the house. This room would originally have been the living room as it has the fireplace in it. We used the "middle" room as the living room as it has a large, south facing bay window that provides a tonne of light. We're really lucky as the house next door is a detached house set back from the street about 50 feet, so the windows on the side of our house get full sun exposure.

The front room was small and dim, and had several reincarnations over the years. When we first moved in we used it as a "sub" living room, with an extra couch in it. Then when the kids were small we set it up as a toy room. That didn't last very long as I hated walking in the front door and being assaulted by that mess everyday.

When we decided to make a formal dining room, I bought an antique buffet, a small Duncan Phyfe table and four chairs. That's all that would fit in the dining room, and was even a bit of a squeeze when the table leaves were extended.

Now that the main floor is opened up, we decided to move the dining room adjacent to the kitchen, where it was meant to be.

Note the bare-bulb-hanging-from-a-wire fixture in the middle of the room. Very avant-garde.

The buffet fits in perfectly along the stairway wall.....

Please ignore the unpainted and banged-up stairway. We haven't got there yet.... 

.... and the bay window is the perfect size for a love seat that can be used as extra table seating. I bought the love seat at an antique store with thoughts of refinishing it for this space. I hate the old-lady fabric that it's covered in now.

We had more than enough room to move the china cabinet from the kitchen out into the dining room. It's an antique from France, and while very lovely with all of the inlaid wood, is not very strong. The wood is old and brittle, and there are no shelves in the bottom enclosed section. So it's not practical for storing much. And I have a bit of a thing for dishes...

We're using the new dining room every day now. We used to eat at the table in the kitchen, but the dining room is so nice and bright in the afternoon (or at least it was when it was still light out when we got home) that it's more pleasant to eat in. And since we don't eat in the kitchen anymore, we brought down the table and only two chairs, which gives us more room to move around in there.

The dining room is still bare and cold feeling and needs some work. The next steps for this room: art for the walls, blinds for the windows, a new light fixture, and an area rug for the floor. The tops of the table and buffet need to be refinished. The chairs and (especially) the love seat need to be recovered. Did I mention that I hate that old-lady covering on the love seat??? 

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Frozen Apple

We spent the weekend in the Big Apple so we could see Alex play the Frozen Apple at Madison Square Garden.

The game was sold out - 22,000 screaming hockey fans. We had a lot of fun, and I'm sure that it was really exciting for Alex (even though he doesn't look especially thrilled in the picture above!). We might have had more fun if Michigan beat Cornell, but such is life.

Troy arranged for us to get a suite at the Gardens, and it was fabulous! The food was amazing,

the company rowdy

and the seats top-notch!

I have more pictures to post, but we're on our way out to do some touristy things with the boys. We're braving FAO Schwarz and the big Times Square Toys 'R Us. Wish us luck!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Cal wins

This past weekend when I was arranging items on Cal's new dresser I thought that I had convinced him that less is more.

But this is what I walked in on this morning.

Clearly he falls into the "more is more" camp.

He had chosen carefully from all of the assorted crap he has squirreled away in his room (as evidenced by the mess on the floor from dumping out drawers and boxes looking for things). And he very carefully and artfully arranged them on the top of the dresser.

I guess I should be happy that the boy has some style. Perhaps not my style, but style nonetheless.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Daer tooth fary [sic]

Of all the jobs of parenthood, pulling teeth is one of my least favourite. I'd rather deal with scraped knees, vomit, or even bleeding scalp wounds than a wiggly, bloody, pulpy, messy loose tooth. Loose teeth give me the willies.

And of course, Cal loses all his teeth while Alan is traveling. Well, I guess that's a bit of an exaggeration as he's only lost three so far. But two of them were while Alan was out of town.

This morning he came downstairs in a tizzy as he was fiddling with a loose tooth up in bed, and managed to get it turned around backwards. It was hurting and he couldn't figure out how to turn it back. Sooo disgusting.

I had no choice. It had to be pulled.

 He was pretty darn happy once it was out and the bleeding had stopped. And he's looking pretty cute with his gap-toothed smile.

When it was time to climb into bed tonight he didn't want to put the tooth under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy since he wanted to show his dad. So I got him some paper and he wrote her a note.

It was a little more sophisticated than the note he wrote back in April. You know, the last time I had to handle a tooth extraction on my own.

So the good news is, we're one tooth closer to me not having to deal with the wiggly messes. The bad news is that when we were at the dentist last month the hygienist told us that he has five wigglers that will likely fall out within the next six months. Give me strength!!!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The lady in red

Remember this old girl that my neighbour was tossing to the curb?

Well, she's all spiffed up now.

Cal is delighted that I agreed to put the monster knobs from his old dresser onto the new one. I would have preferred more traditional pulls - but it's not my bedroom. I still need to get a couple more wooden knobs to paint and monster-ate as his old dresser only had three drawers.

I had Cal help me pick out a few things to put on top of his dresser. We decided we had to use the new butterfly poster. And then it all went to hell. He started dragging out a million assorted tchotchkes that he just had to have displayed. After a lot of wheedling and bargaining, I finally whittled him down to this

Like Matthew, he has the requisite microscope in his room. There's nothing like the power of subconscious conditioning in helping your children choose a career path!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Instant art

Today was a P.D. day for the kids, so I stayed home from work with them. Since it was such a beautiful, sunny day we decided to take Tessa for a walk over to the off-leash area of our local park (a.k.a. the Doggy Bowl). I had a couple of errands I wanted to run along the way, so the four of us set off with the promise of hot chocolate if I didn't hear any complaints.

One of the stops that I wanted to make was at The Paper Place down on Queen West. I could poke around in that store for hours. I'm planning to make the kids some shelves to house their trophies using old wooden drawers that I found on one of my morning runs.  Like these ones.

Right now mine look like this

I know it's hard to imagine looking at this picture, but they have good bones. They're solid wood, and are really clean inside. I plan to stain and varathane the sides and bottom, and paint the drawer faces. Probably red for Cal and blue for Matthew.

So the trip to The Paper Place was to find some paper to line what will be the back of the shelves. We found some amazing sheets of nice, thick wrapping paper that would work. The kids each picked out a map of the world, and I chose one that had a bunch of butterflies as they were colourful and interesting.

On the way home I remembered that I had some Ikea frames hanging around in a corner in our bedroom.

I think I bought them for Matthew's "new" room when Cal was born (almost 7 years ago!). They've been kicking around unused for so long - it's a miracle that I hadn't tossed them out at some point. I rediscovered them while clearing out the third floor bedroom when we moved back into the house in September, and have been keeping an eye out for posters or other art to put in them. They're a bit of an unusual size, and I hadn't been able to find a poster to fit.

When we got home I decided to try them out for fun and see if they were close to fitting the frames. They fit perfectly, without any trimming. 

I love the butterflies. The colours in the maps are a little subdued, but the kids are really happy with them.

I feel like I accomplished a couple of things today. I got rid of some junk that was hanging around next to my dresser getting in the way, and the kids have some new art for their walls. And the best part of all is that the paper was only $5 per sheet. A little pricey for wrapping, but really cheap for art. And if they get tired of the maps or I find something that I like more, I'll just recycle it by wrapping a present!

I guess I'll have to trot back down to The Paper Place again tomorrow to get something so that I can do the shelves for their rooms. I think something with a small pattern will work the best. I'll go sans children next time as they poo-poo'd the choices that I thought would look best for the shelves. I think that I'll make the executive decision and then just put them in their rooms. I'm not running a democracy here!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Front hall progress

I realized after posting the pictures of the closet doors that I should have posted some before pictures to show the big changes in the front hallway.

I'm so excited to finally have a closet on the main floor. A huge problem with these old houses is the dearth of closet space. I was so tired of having messy looking coat hooks on the wall in the entryway. They were functional, but ugly.

Before the reno, when you entered the house the view was directly up the stairs to the second floor, and all the way through to the kitchen on the main floor. A door frame closed off the small front vestibule in the winter - you can see the wood door on the left side of the picture below. The door took up a lot of floor space, but was absolutely necessary as the old outer entry door leaked so much cold air. Hopefully that problem has been solved by the installation of the new front door.

Here's a view of the inner part of the entryway from the dining room. You can see the big, bulky vestibule door, as well as the ugliness of the coats hanging on the wall behind it. We also had a small Ikea cabinet to hold shoes, mitts, hats, dog leashes, etc. It was a perpetual mess, and always coming off the wall as the kids would hang onto it for balance when they put their shoes on.

It was that shoe cabinet that fell over on poor Tessa the day that she panicked and tried to claw her way out of the house through the front door.

When you stepped into the larger inner part of the entryway you were faced with a view of the long, narrow hallway that ran along the length of the living room. It was such a waste of space.

Gaining a closet in the front hallway was really important to me, so we decided to reconfigure the stairs to make a 90 degree turn at the bottom of the run. Since we were taking out the wall that ran along the hallway, this change allowed the stairs to exit right into the old living room (which we're now using as a dining room).

I loved the details in the hallway - the cove ceiling and the demilune with the corbels were original to the house and I didn't want to lose them so we planned and built the closet around them.

I painted the inside of the closet with blue paint left over from Matthew's room. Just for fun.

I installed a shelf up high to hold baskets for hats, gloves, umbrellas, etc., and one down low for shoes. I left a fairly large space below the bottom shelf to make sure that our boots could be tucked in under it.

And to in increase the chances of the kids actually hanging their coats up, I took one of the old coat racks, cut it down, and hung it on the wall on one end of the closet.

Genius, if I do say so myself! They've been hanging up their coats every day, often without a reminder, and anything that makes me have to nag a little less is a big success in my books!

There's still a fair amount of work to do in the entryway. We need to paint the front door, the walls and trim, and choose tiles for the floor.  I've been toying with the idea of installing wainscot on the walls, but haven't been able to commit to a style. I think that I may paint the hallway as it is now and leave the wainscot idea in the long-term plans book.

Monday, 12 November 2012

First steps to reclaiming my living room

When we moved back into the house we put our old living room furniture down in the basement along with the couch from the sunroom. This left us with no furniture for the living room. If you recall, it's been functioning as my workspace and looked like this

I can't stand it anymore!

It actually doesn't look quite as bad as that now. The old white shelves are gone, the chair is refinished and ensconced down in the basement bathroom, the picture is hung by the basement stairs, and the hall closet doors are in place. We're tripping over the ladder in the front hall now, but hopefully I'll manage to finish painting out there this week and then we can put that away, too. Along with all those cans of paint.

So the last big hurdle to reclaiming my living room is this dresser that I got from a neighbour who was throwing it out.

 It's solid wood inside and out. It's in pretty rough shape, but there's nothing wrong with it that a little elbow grease can't fix.

It has beautiful details on the bottom of the front and the legs.

This weekend I put in a couple of hours sanding it down. Since I planned to paint it, I didn't have to get through all the stain, but it needed a fair amount of elbow grease to remove all of the flaky finish. After I finished sanding I gave it a coat of primer. I always use Para SuperStick because it's heavy duty and works for oil to latex conversion. For some insane reason, when we moved into the house we painted through with all oil-based paint.

It's amazing how even a coat of white primer is enough to bring out the detail on the bottom of the dresser that was overlooked when it was a dingy wood finish.

Then it was on to a coat of paint. At Christmas time last year I redid Cal's room, and painted his current dresser (which this one will replace) and desk bright red. I love how cheery it makes his room look, so I decided to paint this the same colour.

 Two more coats to go, and then the dresser can be moved up into Cal's room. I repainted the pulls on his old dresser like the ones found in this Etsy shop, so I'll swap those for the ones that used to be on this dresser. I have a bit of work to do on them as they got banged around when we had all the furniture stacked in his room this summer.

I can hardly wait to get this dresser done, and my living room cleared of all the construction debris. We planned to order new furniture right away, but we've been so busy with work, house, and kids that we haven't had a chance to shop. And since both of us are submitting grants in March, it's unlikely that we'll have much time before then. So the old furniture will be brought up from the basement and we'll live with it a little longer. It's sure going to beat what I've been living with for the past two months!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Cooking with Cal - Pepperoni rolls

Our furnace conked out yesterday, and the furnace guy was supposed to come after he finished the job he was on. Unfortunately, he didn't finish until 1:30 in the morning. So things are a little chilly around here this morning.

What's a girl to do? Turn on the oven and start baking, of course!

Whenever I start to bake, my little kitchen buddy joins me. This boy loves to eat, but he loves to help cook too.

We decided to make pepperoni rolls. We first had these in West Virginia, where they're the state specialty. There's a whole website dedicated to them here. I chose a recipe and we got to work.

And the finished product was, how shall I put it? A little like a brick? They're tasty enough, but you could use them to bludgeon someone to death. Not that I have that on my mind....

We also whipped up some brownies and I have two loaves of whole wheat bread ready to go in the oven. The kitchen is nice and cozy now, even without the furnace.

I hope the furnace gets fixed today. It's not supposed to be terribly cold this weekend, but I'm not sure how much of this my waistline can take!

Post edited to add that the bread was by far the best whole wheat that I've ever made. The recipe can be found here.
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