Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bought Cheap...cheap bite.

I like to think I am fairly easy to please. From playing scrabble with my good friend on a Friday night to going on a "dump date" with my husband...I'm pretty sure I am not high maintenance!
I have always loved playing board games, but have never run across anyone who shares my passsion. So, I am very glad to say I have recently found a scrabble partner and we steal a chance to play when our daughters have a play date. A cup of coffee and some healthy Scrabble competition...it's all good.
I had a great "date" the other day with my husband. We started with a "dump run" to get rid of the left-overs from tidying up our garage and back yard. On the way in to the "dumping grounds", I spotted a really old baby carriage that I immediately wanted to pile onto the truck. This was the only glitch in our day. My husband has the firm belief that a dump run is meant to unload junk...not bring some home. I, on the other hand, wildly scan the heaps for hidden treasures...and he is never amused by it. We quarrelled back and forth as he unloaded the junk off the back of the truck. We both dug our heels in; and as he was uttering the words, "If you stop to look at that carriage, you'll be pushing it home...", I spied another baby buggy...this one meant for dolls. It was perfect: no smelly fabric like the other one, and made of metal that could be painted a pretty colour for a project I have in mind. As I didn't take too kindly to his threats of abandonment, I think he knew he had better backpedal and butter me up a bit. Soooo, he reluctantly piled the little buggy onto the truck.photo: Baby Goes Vintage
Well, you'd think he just bought me the earth. I was so happy to have that little treasure on board and my mind was spinning with the image of it all prettied up and serving its purpose. Even my yard-saling hating hubby couldn't deny how happy he'd made me, and he simply remarked that he'd make a mental note not to bring me to the dump again...!

After a quick lunch break at McDonalds...his choice...where we sat on the pleather chairs near the gas fireplace (when did McDonalds decor get so trendy?) and ate our chicken wraps, we headed off to our his/her doctor's appointments. My husband, who can't seem to sit still for more than thirty mintes, was content to simply hang out with me...it was a perfect date in my books.

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So, to prove how easy it is to make my husband happy (and to get him to start on my most recent project), I made his all-time favourite meal: my famous meatloaf! This meal is certain to make him putty in my hands! If you, too, have something you want your hubby to do for you, then make this meatloaf - served up hot with mashed potatoes, turnip, carrots, peas, and gravy. He'll be forever at your mercy...at least as long as it takes to digest it anyway! Just as I predicted, after dinner he headed outside to get started on our project...


Here goes...now use this information wisely:


Linda's "putty in your hands" meatloaf:

2lbs ground beef

2 beaten eggs

1 pkg of Club House meatloaf seasoning

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

some generous dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup milk

one small, chopped onion

Mix all together, dump into a loaf pan,

cook for one hour at 350 degrees... and, hearing my mum's voice, "Don't forget to drain the drippings (fat) off!" Then, sit back and reap the rewards!!

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Hmmm...this little one has to do decidedly less to make her daddy putty in her hands...!!!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Hiding some bloomers!

Continuing on with my desire to do cheap and easy projects, I decided to address a privacy issue I had. Because we live on a fairly small lot, we are within spitting distance from the neighbouring homes. This was the view from my bedroom piano window:



I was pretty sure it was too high up to offer a bird's eye view into our window, but still I wondered. So, after purchasing some Wallpaper For Windows, I decided to apply it all by myself...!

As I was cleaning the window beforehand, I got a good giggle at this new addition to some nearby landscaping:

Oyyy...they still make those?? Oh well, with my new window wallpaper, neither they nor I will be getting that view!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Let there be light (and lots of fabric etc!)


I have been asked by many of you if I would share some photos of the studio we work from. Well, it isn't usually very tidy and we're often knee-deep in vintage stock and textiles, but I had a tidy up the other day (don't peek at the sleepdeck!!) and managed to make a couple of presentable corners. The above photograph is scarily devoid of any colour - but the ceiling is the only part of the Clock House which is this empty!! The light fitting above was a lucky find at our local 'antiques emporium' - changing a bulb is fun!

Here's fabric corner - the trunk was supposed to be ample enough to store our working fabrics - hence we are now on the lookout for a tall cupboard!!

Here's where we grab five minutes with a cuppa (if the cat hasn't beaten us to it first!!)

I couldn't resist showing you this 1940s rug - I was so tempted to keep it as it looks absolutely lovely in front of the doors - but I have been very strong and added it to the shop before I could change my mind!

When I have tidied the other areas of the Clock House, I will share some more photos with you!

Friday, April 25, 2008

In through the Out door...

photo: House to Home
A while ago I wrote about grand front entries, and I must confess, I can't really say I have ever had one. Some of you live in grand homes that naturally possess foyers that make your guests know right away that they have entered into an elegant home - one that prides itself on being character-rich and exuding an air of quality and grandeur. While that is admirable, my homes have all been more along the lines of attainable, relaxed and casual.

I have never managed to wander over to the other side; basically because I am a very informal person. I could care less whether you serve me wine in a glass meant for red or white wine; taking out my good silverware seems like too much trouble (seeing as it requires hand washing); and I prefer a big old mug to a delicate tea cup. I like to wrap my hands around my mug of tea, as opposed to carefully balancing a china cup between my clumsy fingers. When I sit on my sofa, I want to fling my legs up on it, and the thought of formal rooms meant to be admired from afar makes me cringe inwardly. Needless to say, when you enter my home, you inevitably find proof that we live in our home...cats run in and out, children's shoes have been casually kicked aside, and mail inevitably lands on my piano - along with the odd gum wrapper, chapstick, and whatever the more messy occupants of my home toss on it. While I tidy often, I am no match for four comfortably messy people.

photo: House to Home

In my heart of hearts, I love crossing the threshold of someone's home and immediately feeling that people come and go there. Perhaps I see skipping ropes tossed across the arm of a rustic wooden bench, or a pocketful of "special" rocks placed in the purposefully placed bowl meant for keys only. I love the look of vintage hooks with a little boy's jean jacket hanging from it, a pretty pair of rubber boots lined up neatly waiting for a rainy day, a unique vessel to store umbrellas...from Strawberry Shortcake to a great Burberry-inspired plaid. The stuff of life...


Although I grumble when my kids and husband come in my front door instead of my mudroom, I understand the draw. Whether it is the convenience of popping one's head in to ask what's for dinner, or holler in a request for car keys, the cordless phone, or a drink of water on a hot day... sometimes the occasion just calls for it! I call it coming in through the out door. You're really not supposed to do it, but sometimes it is sooo much more convenient. I am learning to relax and realize that I shouldn't be the only one to be able to bend the rules (I always use the front door). Despite my desperate campaign to bar most everyone from using this entry, I have found myself adding a wooden screen door to my list of wants for the summer. Somehow, the sound of a child racing out the door to catch the bus, or join his/her friends... coupled with the inevitable squeak and slam of the wooden screen door...conjures up images of country for me. The sound is familiar, and if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can almost smell apple pie baking, hear the sound of little girls singing skipping rhymes, and bicycles skidding to a stop on gravel.
photo: Landstil.com

If you live in a home where everyone comes in the out door, take a deep breath, close your eyes and go to my "happy place". Because someday that door will be quiet, and the skipping ropes and rubber boots will all go away...and perfection will seem like a sorry alternative to the happy sounds of a family at play.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Second Chances...

Today we send up thanks for being allowed to continue on with the journey of raising this child...and we quietly reflect on this day, three years ago, and celebrate second chances that we are so grateful for. We make a fuss of our youngest son on this day ever since his accident. This year, he said that it was no big deal to him. The innocence of youth...We simply explained that it is special to us because April 24th could have meant something very grim to us had things gone differently that day. Instead, it means that we get to go forward with our lives as a family of five...with healthy children. I simply pray that this fortune continues and that my children live long, happy lives. Isn't that the prayer of every parent?

Monday, April 21, 2008

A one-room schoolhouse...under the stairs!!

I either have a future fashion stylist, business woman, or teacher on my hands. My little girl seems to flip flop between the three career choices...so being a being a good mama, I try to "support" her in each of the roles. She loves clothes, jewellry, and most of all shoes, so to humour her in that regard, I dutifully buy her pretty clothes, take her to ladies shoe stores to try on "grown-up" shoes, and most of all smile at her attempts to be more stylish than me, which isn't difficult given the lack of trendy style choices in my wardrobe.

She has also recently taken a shine to the white marker board in our office and will often entertain herself while her daddy is working, by drawing pictures and doing sums on the board. The other day, my husband announced that we should bring this board upstairs in order for her to have easier access to it. I casually agreed and thought no more of it until later that day.
I was spring cleaning our finished basement which includes the family room, boys' bedrooms, and bathroom. It also includes, however, a little "room under the stairs" which we had, up until then. simply filled with an overflow of toys and blankets. As I mucked it out, a lightbulb went off and I realized that it would be the perfect spot for a school room/office to foster her teaching/business skills! We had outfitted the space with a wall light and fully finished it with carpet and paint, so it was literally a blank canvas awaiting inspiration.

In my previous homes, we have always finished the space underneath the main stairs as a playhouse for the kids. We simply dry-walled the nook, after framing a child-sized doorway and window (no glass) for it. We always added a covered light, carpeted the area, and furnished it with either their toy work bench or kitchen and a mini chair or two. It also provided the perfect spot for hide-and-seek, puppet shows, or simply a cozy place to snuggle up and "read" a book. In this house, we kept it simpler; and decided to either create built-in shelving or store things like our vacuum or fold-up cot for little overnight friends. Up until Friday, however, it was simply a dumping ground for the miscellany of our lives!
Keeping with my decorating for free theme, I poked around in our basement storage area and found some things to use to create the little school room: I hung up her beloved whiteboard, added a little table to hold her collection of stamps, stamp pads, envelopes, calculator and other teacher/office needs. I hauled in the school desk that was cluttering up her brother's room, and threw a yellow sheet over the box that holds my wedding dress - creating the perfect ledge for an abacus, basket of funky coloured pencils, and the like. I tacked up some of her artwork, and hung a curtain on a shower rod to allow her "privacy" and to hide the space when needed. I surprised her with the little room after school and with delight, she hurriedly invited a little friend over to be her pupil. Simple... easy... and it used up some "junk" that had been cluttering up our basement - junk that we weren't quite ready to get rid of just yet.

What about you? Do you have a little nook you can repurpose to inspire creativity in your little ones?


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disclaimer: I actually don't give a hoot what my sweet daughter does when she grows up, providing she lives a happy life, is in a role that fulfills her, and...as long as she lives near me!!


Friday, April 18, 2008

Good things...


I probably love too many colours to do an all white (in its various shades) decor scheme in my own home. I do, however, appreciate white done right...and thanks to my Australian friend, Jennifer of Whiteport, those who decorate on the lighter side have a wonderful new source from which to add to their own collections. From the beautiful bedding, towels, dishware, rattan, to the lovely candles and storage solutions, Whiteport is a serene place to peruse and shop. Check them out!!


According to their website: Whiteport was founded by Jennifer McCabe in 2007. A Sydney girl who lived in London for six years, Jennifer returned home to find an overwhelming absence of quality Australian homewares stores offering online shopping. "While Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to online shopping, there were few options here that offered beautiful homewares, delivered to your door, hassle free,” says Jennifer. “We’re all busy working and raising families, so why not make buying gifts and homewares easier?”
So she started Whiteport, an online store offering an extensive range of home decor, gifts and accessories, themed around a stylish white palette. Why white? Because Jennifer feels the Australian landscape lends itself perfectly to white’s simplicity and purity. “Our products look equally good in a city loft apartment or a sprawling beach house,” she says. "White products are simple, timeless and complement any colour scheme.”


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On another note...Julie at Equus Villa is having an amazing give-away. It requires a certain talent (drawing, or perhaps graphic design?), and if you are in possession of these skills, you could win $100. Pop on over and check out what is required to win!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Decorating for free...!!

I think most of us, who share a love of making a house a home, love a good deal. In fact, the better the bargain, the happier I am. I have always loved achieving a great look for less, and it doesn't come any cheaper than using that which we already have! So, in that mindset, I decided to go poking through boxes in my basement and garage, and sifting though the stacks of linen in my linen closet. I discovered happily that I have a veritable treasure trove, albeit modest, already in my possession...just waiting to be pulled out of storage!

I have shown you my apron collection before, and lamented that I really don't have a proper spot to display them. Although I picked up a great wooden rake that is just calling out for me to hang them there, I don't have a great spot for the rake (which probably means I shouldn't have bought it, but it was such a good deal!!). So, my poor aprons have been languishing in my linen closet, and I longingly take them out and hold them up to admire from time to time...


Well, today I decided I would add some spring colour to my home, as the weather is so nice, and I am putting off raking the rest of my grass. I decided to wrap the aprons around the frame of my dining chairs for a cheap and easy slipcover of sorts! They look so pretty, but do clash a bit with the rest of the room...so I may only leave them there for a while. I will, however, start looking for gauzy white aprons that would look so much more fitting. ***by the way, if anyone knows where I can purchase some, please let me know...keeping in mind, I live in rural Nova Scotia, Canada!***



I also made a checker board and a few tic-tac-toe sets to share. I used a leftover floor tile for the checkerboard, made the grid using permanent marker and a crown stamp, and used some pretty blue rocks and miniature sand dollars I bought last week (in a bag of 100) for $10 as the pieces. I want the games for outside, as my kids love to play while they sit around the outdoor table. The XO'S game is played on another left-over tile, that I cut into four equal boards. The tiles were backed in mesh, so I simply used scissors to do the cutting.

Sometimes you can find things to decorate in the funniest of places. This glass jar of old marbles was hidden behind the cafe curtain in my bathroom. I think I stuck it there a while back, while cleaning, and I just rediscovered it while I was spring cleaning. The marbles became mine when they were left behind in the little old house we renovated a few years back.

Now for some incredible artwork!! This painting was done by my daughter. She painted it last year, and I found it inside the piano bench. When I showed it to her, she exclaimed, "My little robin bird!" Needless to say, I wrote that on the back of the painting and framed it using a cheap, but effective, plastic frame from Walmart. I perched it on the piano, and it makes me smile at the sweetness of it.
The top of this little armoire was very bare after I took away the Easter decorations. The other day, while walking with a friend, I picked these pussy willows and stuck them in a vase. Pussy willows always bring me back to my childhood, when I'd pick them alongside the road and rub the bud between my fingers, pretending it was a lucky rabbit's foot (which I'd never touch anyway!). Again, free and easy ...and readily available in ditches near you!
As promised, here are the tiles I bought from Joy. These frames I already had hanging in my bathroom. While they could be prettier, sticking to my motto, they were free and readily available for immediate use. I simply put a pretty scrapbook paper behind the glass, and mounted the tiles directly to the front of the glass using double-sided tape. That way, I can change the frames when I see some I like, and also remove the tiles when I find my "forever home" and then permanently attach them amongst some pretty tile in my kitchen or bathroom.
Now, aren't you inspired to go "shopping" in your own home??

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

For no reason...


I think the best kinds of gifts are for no reason...given to us just because, when we are least expecting it, and when we have zero expectations. One of my favourite childhood memories stems from just such a gift. As I have mentioned before, I come from a large family (six children) and, as is often the case in large families, hand-me-downs abounded - and new clothes, bicycles, and the like were few and far between. We were by no stretch spoiled, and grew up treasuring our things and taking considerably good care of them. That trait has remained with me and, in fact, I hate to lose something...anything...and am very careful to give a final glance around when I go anywhere with the kids... making sure we are all "packed up". It is funny what we carry with us from our childhoods, and an appreciation for belongings is one of my "quirks"...one that I seem to have passed onto my children (at least most of the time...).
Well, like I said, one of my favourite memories involves a gift, and not just any gift. I think I was six years old or so, and my sister was ten. We lived in a wonderful round-about subdivision, where we could call on friend after friend and ride our bicycles with considerable freedom.

As my father needed our car to travel to work each day, our mother would often walk about a mile to the nearby K-mart to run errands. One day, as my sister and I were playing outside, we could see our mum walking down the long hill towards us carrying a K-mart bag, in addition to her usual grocery bags. We ran off to greet her; and to our surprise, as we reached our driveway, she announced that she had "gotten us something" at K-mart. She was grinning rather mischieviously, and we bounced up and down begging her to show us.
Not expecting what she would pull from the bag, we gasped as she pulled out a beautiful new outfit for each of us!! Now, you see, we were used to getting new clothes only at Christmastime, and would get one new outfit each to begin the school year with. My young mind began straining to think if there was a holiday I had missed, and coming up with nothing, I cried, "But Mummy, why did you get us these??" My mother shrugged, and said, "No reason...they were marked down in price and I thought they'd be pretty on you girls." Still stunned by our good fortune, I breathed..."For no reason?"

I couldn't believe our good luck, and to this day I vividly remember those outfits. Mine was pink: pink polyester gauchos and a swirly pink peasant top...the kind that had an elasticised neckline that would sit on your shoulders, but pop back up once you moved your arms. My sister's was nearly the same, but in pale blue. While hers was very pretty, mine was PINK, and I squeezed my mum's waist with a huge hug for knowing my favourite colour. I don't know if she ever knew how much that pretty gift meant to me, but I think that for once, I felt like one of those "spoiled girls" who often got things for "no reason". Looking back, I am glad that I wasn't though, as I think it has left me with an appreciation for that which I have, and a respect for the dog-eared and tattered that need a little help to reach their full potential. I firmly believe that just because better is out there, it doesn't mean that I need it...or necessarily even always want it. The frugal side of me will never leave, even though it sometimes scatters on a shopping trip. Still, the things I buy now "for no reason" are pretty minor in the scheme of things...

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I recently got some beautiful gifts in the mail from some very kind ladies. The first, this pretty basket filled with bath needs and chocolate (which is long gone) was from Angela @Cottage Magpie: In my mind, this gift definitely qualified as given "for no reason", although Angela claims she gave it to me as a thank you for being supportive of her and her beautiful site. Indeed, Angela has encouraged me in my endeavours...and I so appreciate her great advice.
I also received this fun gift from Lanny @ Simply Me as I recently won her blog give-away. I don't know about you, but give-aways are one of the greatest things "invented"...and certainly qualify as a gift for no reason! Lanny made these beautiful letters, customized for me using gorgeous paper (another great use for scrapbooking papers) to match my kitchen. She also sent me a big bag of Jelly Bellies, which my kids are gobbling up as quickly as they can. I think they are taking the EAT sign at face value...Thank you Lanny, for going to such trouble and work for a fun give-away!



I also received four tiles from Joy,

...and although I purchased them through her online shop, she wrapped the package so beautifully and also threw in a lovely vintage label for me. I immediately adhered it to a glass jar of glitter that I had, and I will think of Joy's kindness each time I look at it. I will also show you soon what I did with three of the tiles I bought from her. Basically, all of these gifts were for no reason, and I challenge you to give someone you care about a gift of your time or talents with the same intent. Feel free to drop me a line, message or link to your blog if you post about it, telling me of your "just because" gift.