Friday, 26 September 2014

Go Sens!!!

With two boys and a husband who (to my great surprise) has revealed himself to be a hockey nut, a lot of our life revolves around the game. Never with as much excitement as Wednesday night, though. It even far surpassed the great Flying Puckheads victory of 2013

Alex suited up with the Ottawa Senators for an exhibition game agains the Leafs!!! We played hooky and headed off to Ottawa to see him play in his first NHL game. Surely that's a good enough reason to miss a bit of school... 

For the non-hockey fans, that's him in red. It was amazing to see him play out his dreams and to see the effect that it had on our boys. Suddenly anything was possible if you worked hard enough for it. 

During the game Cal solemnly announced that he decided that when he grows up he is going to play for the Senators, because he's just like his cousin. Poor lamb doesn't realize that neither Alan nor I have the energy to ever get him there, even if he had the talent. 

In the end I can't really decide who was the most fun to watch. Alex, the boys, or Uncle Stew, who I feared might have a stroke before the game even got underway! 

To add to the excitement, Ryan managed to get us into the Canadian Tire box so we had comfy seats right behind the Leafs goal. 

Let's not forget that it takes a whole family to raise a hockey star. 

It was a long, hard road, but he's finally arrived. Congratulations, Alex! 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Truly nerdy art...

... or how to repurpose random crap from around your house into art for your husband's office!  

It's September, and I've been struck once again by fall clean-out syndrome. I don't know why it happens, but every year when school starts I'm struck by how many home improvement projects I have on the go and how much junk we have that I'd like to get rid of. 

So earlier this week I made a "gentle" suggestion to Alan that he might want to go through his clothes and perhaps get rid of several hundred old t-shirts. He really likes t-shirts, and has a bigger collection than anyone I've ever met. The majority of which he never has on his back - they just take up space in our closet and drive me little batty. 

Anyway, he dug out these beauties that we get at our departmental retreat every fall that he never, ever wears. 

He felt kind of bad throwing them out (hence the squirrelling them away in the closet), but it's unlikely that he'll ever wear them. So I chopped them up and stapled them to some 12"x16" canvases that I had hanging around in the craft room (he's not the only squirreller - I think that I bought the canvases when Cal was an infant for some big art project that never materialized...). So this actually killed two squirrels birds with one stone. 

They turned out pretty well. Amazingly, the canvases I had were the perfect size to stretch the front of the t-shirt around. I have a couple more to do, but I need more canvases to mount them on. They're going to look good in Alan's office; it's in the interior of the  building, with cinder block walls and no windows, so some bright stuff hanging on the wall will make a world of difference. 

Now to see how long it takes him to actually get them up... 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Queen West Art Crawl

Yesterday my mom came into town and we ventured off to the Queen West Art Crawl. Well, we took in the Trinity-Bellwoods portion of it - we had both Cal and Tessa in tow, so we were lucky to see most of the displays in the park before things started to fall apart.

I was really impressed with how many incredibly talented artists were there. It was similar the One of a Kind show, but better because it was outside on a beautiful fall afternoon and there was live entertainment that could be heard throughout the park while we were browsing. It'll definitely be on my calendar next year, but my mom and I will be smarter and trade in the boy and the dog for my sister/SIL/nieces, who would add greatly to the fun.

While I wasn't looking for anything in particular, I did end up making a couple of purchases. First was a new addition to the boys' skull collection.

I picked out the one on the right for Matthew, and Cal chose the one in the baseball cap for himself. Matthew was thrilled with it when I brought it home, but when I mentioned putting it in his bedroom he flatly refused.  He said he didn't want it watching him sleep at night. Can't say I blame him (imagine waking to that staring at you from your wall), so I think that they'll be relegated to the basement playroom where they can scare the hell out of the neighbourhood children.

I also treated myself to a new painting for the kitchen. I had three black and white photographs that we bought years ago in NYC hanging on the wall above the breakfast table. I was never happy with them - they were hanging too high and they were too small and insignificant looking in the space.

They've now been replaced by a beautiful still life painted in oil on watercolour paper.

It's a perfect fit for the wall space above the bench. I may replace the thin metal frame with something more substantial in the future; I'm not crazy about that style of frame, but it's not bad with the stainless steel appliances. We'll see if it grows on me.

Kind of like this guy.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The magical bench

The deck is almost finished now. There's just a little work still to be done on the doors that close in the lower side where we put the garbage and recycling bins and we're waiting for the glass railing to be installed, but we've been using it a lot this week. With summer finally arriving and all. In fact, I'm sitting on it right now enjoying the warm sun and my morning coffee. 

I'm soooo happy that I happened to see the idea for putting a bench seat along the side to cover the garbage bins. It's like it was fate. It not only puts our bins in a really convenient spot, it also makes great seating in what might otherwise be a dead space along the side by the door. 

We continued the horizontal rough cedar along the front edge of the bench. We thought about using the decking and running it vertically to match the floor, but I decided that I'd rather have the stair walls wrap along in one continuous line. 

We used the smooth decking material for the top of the benches, and have three hinged lids, each of which perfectly fits two garbage/recycling bins. This weekend I rigged it up so that the lids of the bins are attached so that when we lift the seat we don't have to bend in to lift them. It was pretty simple to do using a few eye hooks and some chandelier chain that we had down in the basement. 

I attached the large eye hooks to the lid of the recycling bins. Luckily, the bins come with a hole in the centre of the front of the lid, so I didn't have to bother with any drilling. The holes were a little large, so I used a couple of washers to keep the eye hooks in place. Then I screwed a small eye hook into the bottom of the bench seat and attached a length of chain to it. 

My original plan was to use S-hooks to attach the chain to the eye hook in the bin, but then I realized that I could just bend the last link on the chain and fashion a hook that would be permanently attached. 

These ends hook onto the lid of the cans and pull the tops of the bins open when the seat is lifted. Like magic. (...or physics). 

The hooks seem to stay attached to the bins after repeated lifting and lowering of the seat. We haven't tried unhooking them from the side yet, but I think that there should be plenty of length to manoeuvre them into a position where you can easily unhook them. 

Next up is deciding what to do for the bench. I originally thought that I would have seat cushions along the length, but I think I've changed my mind about that. The bench is just under 12 feet long - that's a lot of cushions to store when it rains and over the winter. Plus the height of the bench feels perfect to me now and I think that extra height might be less comfortable. The seats are very deep though, and the rough cut lumber kind of sticks to your clothes when you lean back, so I think that I might make some cushions for the back. I tried out the ones from our outdoor sofa and they were just about perfect. 

I think I'll wait and see if we really want cushions here though; I'm afraid that they might be more of a pain than they're worth. It's going to be a struggle to find space to store the ones we have now over the winter, and can't imagine almost doubling the amount of space we need. And since winter is all-too-quickly approaching, this is a decision that can easily be put off until next spring! 
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