Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Morning inspiration

Forgive the photos, but it's very dark when I get up in the mornings.

And it's very dark when I try to put an outfit together.  And my brain is still too foggy at that time to deal well with this:

This is generally what my drawers look like.  These are all knits and wrinkle-proof, so I don't usually care how I shove them in there.  They start off folded, but then when I'm searching for that little black tank top or the thin thing that likes to hide under the rest, it all gets yanked around and messed up.

It's very frustrating and hard to deal with while also dealing with morning brain-fog.

Probably the tidiest area of Beth's room are the bins of clothing under her bed.  She doesn't have or want a dresser and the bins work for her right now.  I suspect she'll love the having her built-in drawers and closet in the near future, but this works for now.  She folds her tops and lines them up vertically.   She can see everything in a glance.

I tried that this morning with one drawer.  Now my drawer looks like this and I found a top to wear in the process.

The other will get done tomorrow morning, or the first morning when I can't find "that special something".  Or I'll always dress out of the organized drawer.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The first impression

I was talking to someone recently about shoes.  She was curious how many shoes she owned.  The answer?  15 pairs.  And she thought that was reasonable for one person.

It probably is.  I mean, summer alone means flipflops, runners, black sandals, red sandals, something in brown, something with a heel, something for hiking, something for in the garden.  And in the winter:  warm boots for activities, closed toe shoes for church and work in black, brown and maybe red, fancy boots, something with a heel for indoor use only, something good for walking without slipping, something waterproof for the slushy days, etc.

The list goes on and our seasons here all overlap.  The weather can change 30 degrees in one day.  You can't really just pack away the off-season pairs.  I guess flipflops in January aren't likely, but they aren't really the space problem.

Okay.  So 5 people x 15 pairs of shoes  =  75 pairs of footwear and no closets at either the front or back doors.

The first impression at either door was generally just had a pile of footwear.  A mess.

This is what I found at a thrift shop.

When I say "no closet", I guess we do have that wardrobe.  Typical of other antique wardrobes though, this one has a shelf up top and three hooks on the inside.  Not terribly useful because I can do similar math for our coats and jackets for the five of us.  Where do those go?  And backpacks and purses?  It's a bit of a problem.  

Anyway, I wasn't sure it would look okay or that people wouldn't just kick their shoes off and leave them everywhere as we're used to doing.

The colour was perfect!  And we're all being very good about putting shoes in drawers (we all have assigned drawers).  And the drawers hide it all. 

I just stacked the two units and that still gives me a place to throw (or place gently) my laptop bag.

And the hooks on the wall - I love that.  

I bought that years ago and didn't have an immediate use for it.  Now it hangs just a few purses and jackets.   I don't want anything long or overly bulky there, but this works.

One day I'll take a picture of the inside of that wardrobe and show you the inefficiencies there, but we're working on it.   I think shelves through the whole thing would work.

And the back door?  Still a mess, but that's an area that will be fixed as we get a new backdoor, rip out the drywall, refinish the stairs to the basement and get rid of the toddler hooks that our teens don't need anymore.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A sweet new ride

It came at a cost though.  A cost that I wouldn't personally want to pay, but we didn't have any choice in the matter.  We really haven't seen the price tag yet, because Alice may be hiding her true feelings, but if it was me, the price would have to be "fear".  Even if Alice presumably paid the biggest price, Yvon and I are still left with the fear.  Fear of our girls getting seriously hurt.  Fear of losing one of them.  It was scary.

One day last month Alice was riding her bike home from school and was hit by a car.

My first thought when I saw this bike on the lawn was anger.  Why would someone purposely bash up a bike while locked up at the school?  Senseless vandalism.

It was quickly corrected by my older daughters, saying that Alice and Yvon had gone to the Emergency because Alice had been hit by a car.  She seemed okay, walked part of the way home, but she was just getting checked out to make sure.

I'm glad that my naive mind doesn't jump to the nasty by default, but fear didn't really strike until my neighbour came across to ask for a status on Alice's health.  I knew less than he did because he had been there when Yvon rushed home and he had seen Alice before they left.  I didn't have the benefit of sight at all. Yet he is the one who thought of the internal bleeding issues that can come later, the shock and adrenaline that allows people to walk normally on broken bones....all followed quickly with "Not that that is what happened to Alice!" as he must have seen the fear creep into my face.

I was originally just thinking what a waste of time this all was.  That we needed to be at piano lessons by 7:00, that I had choir to attend and a friend to pick up first.  That now Alice didn't have a ride-able bike.  That we would have to get it fixed, and fast or she may develop a fear of riding over the long winter thinking about her accident.

They were away for hours at Emerg and by the time we drove to see what was going on, the nurse told me they had left, although they hadn't been released.  Why would they leave without being released?  That part turned out to be untrue.  Alice had been Xrayed and allowed to leave with just scrapes and bruises to contend with.

We then went to the Police where Yvon was transcribing Alice's official police report.  It was a relief to see her, to hear her talking calmly about what happened and answer the policewoman's questions.  It was not a happy site to see her tears as the police made her feel partially responsible for the accident.  There were things she could have done perhaps, but ultimately the driver of the car was behind her, should have seen her and been able to stop in time.

However, all seems to be well.

The picture above doesn't really show all the damage.  The entire frame was bent beyond repair and we'll be giving it to the Bicycle Commuter's Group for parts once we take the kickstand off.

Courtesy of the drivers' insurance company, we picked up a new bike and helmet.  While the rest of us live with free hand-me-down bikes, Alice has a sweet new bike that should last for years because she is now into a full size frame and tire.  Some of us are more than a little jealous but we'll get over it.

She has stated that she doesn't want to ride alone right now, but she also says she is not scared of her shiny new bike.  Snow is predicted in the near future, but on the weekend it was warm and we went for ride.  She seemed fine, even excited, to be riding her new bike.

As we say in church, God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  Things could have gone very differently and we're very grateful.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

String Art

Part of clearing our basement for renovation was to prune our belongings, and then once pruned, we also had to find places for what we had left.  The stuff we couldn't bear to part with.  After boxes and boxes of books brought to Goodwill we were still left with a lot.

Since painting our bedroom, I'd been thinking of using that big blank wall for display purposes.  We don't have much in the way of nice knick knacks or art, but books are beautiful and we've got a lot of those. 

A better handyman would have have the holes patched where our plugs didn't work.  A better handyman would have patched the holes in the ceiling where the old track lighting used to be.  Or a good blogger would photoshop them out to put on a spotless show for their readers.

I'm neither of those.  The plan is to patch the holes when we've got the tools and filler handy while working in the basement. 

Anyway, the original idea was to provide a place for those books, but also hopefully have some blank spaces.  And I wanted to try my hand at string art. 

Not your 1970's camp art, but kind of.  There are some interesting images of string art on Pinterest.  I've done the 1970's string art, sort of like this:
Vintage 1970s Mod Owl String Art Wall Hanging...not exactly a DIY now, but maybe I could learn how to do this!
 Now I had in mind to do something more like this:

But "dream"?  That's right up there with "Live, Laugh, Love" for me.  I'm pretty tired of it. 

While looking for those images, I just read how others have done this project.  Hmm.  We did it the hard way with nails and wood instead of cork.

Anyway, a few banged fingers later, here are our versions of new millenium string art. Do you recognize it?  Bonus points if you do!

I love the detail Laura put into the background of her project.  

Alice had a totally different idea.  I love how complicated the most simple shape can be. 

It deserves more space on our shelf, but that's all we have room for right now.  After we have our basement back, maybe we can spread our belongings out a bit again.

I wanted to do two projects.  Seeing as how it's our master bedroom, I thought I would do a Y and an E.  Although it was a small project, apparently it was too ambitious for me.  I managed to get the Y done.

I've never managed to successfully paint a distressed background.  This is a section of shelving board from our ripped out cold storage.  Actually age distressed.  

As an aside, see that cute yellow duck?  I keep him because it's the first present given to me by my girls that they picked out themselves.   I had casually mentioned that I liked it while in the cashier's line at the grocery store.  Weeks later I opened it for my birthday.  I love that little guy. 

And this is my second project.

 I'd have it done if all the hammering could be done in front of the tv.  The Y looks lonely on the shelf (in spite of the ducky companion), so I still plan to do it. Again, a better blogger would do her Big Reveal when the project is finished, but I couldn't wait for that.  Neither a good blogger, nor a good handyman.  That's me.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


This isn't about refrigerator biscuits or ready-made pizza dough.  Don't get me wrong - I love those biscuits, and who doesn't love that chubby while Pillsbury Doughboy?

This is about my favourite cookbook. 

While trying to downsize this last year, I got rid of a bunch of cookbooks.  So many had one or two recipes that I kept returning to and the rest of the cookbook just took up space.  I forced myself to copy those few recipes down and brought boxes to Goodwill.

I couldn't part with this one.

It was one of my first cookbooks, a gift from a friend. 

It's been used and used and used and I wouldn't know where to start if I were forced to copy my favourites.  It's so full of classic recipes and I think they've all worked.

I still go to the Joy of Cooking for cooking recipes, but this is my baking bible.

How could I get rid of it anyway?  Who would buy it at Goodwill?  If it's only good for the garbage, I'll keep it on my shelf.

I keep thinking of getting it coilbound, but that may never happen. Besides, it's kind of handy to pull out the page I need and bring it to the counter while baking.   I'll just continue tucking the pages inside the cover.

Good as new.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cheer in the rain

I was reading another blog where the author quoted a poet who said that "autumn was hard to take straight".  Sunflowers are meant to be enjoyed in the moment, taken straight. 

Even in the rain, sunflowers are the more cheerful flowers, aren't they? 

The very last of my flowers and the most showy of them all.  I'm not looking forward to winter quite yet, but I'm going to enjoy these happy signs of autumn.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I have a confession to make.  Everytime my in-laws have an event, I feel put-upon.  I immediately feel all defensive and my mind starts to think of reasons why I can't attend, plan, help, or even approve the event. 

I don't even know why that is, but I think it's because they just do things differently than I grew up with.  Why is that wrong?  Of course it isn't.  My brain knows that, but first it has to go through it's usual thought cycle.  And I really have to start asking them to define the event.

Part of the problem is that it feels like I'm being dumped on unexpectedly.  If I had asked "what does a party mean to you?" before I agreed to go to the party, I wouldn't then feel surprised to find out that it means an all day commitment and I should bring a dinner with me.  I may have thought I should only bring a small gift and eat cake while visiting for a couple of hours. 

That example hasn't exactly happened, but it's just an example after all.

In this case, I don't even think they knew what they meant at first with this event.  This is new. 

Tomorrow we are interring my father-in-law's ashes. 

What's the protocol for that?  None of us have done this before.  Whatever any of us have grown up with, this is new.  Once upon a time, we were children who attended these things for relatives we hardly knew.  Now we have to define them, organize them, carry them out.  

And only I am thinking selfishly about me.  I don't want to bake.  I don't want to spend my Saturday in the country.  I'm busy and I'd like to start insulating my basement.  But this isn't about me.  It's about my mother-in-law and honouring her husband and his wishes. And it's about his many children who still grieve his absence.

It's a hard thing they are doing and I'm just thinking about me.  I'm terrible.  I'm doing so little.  I've planned so little, I'm preparing so little.  And I'm so ungrateful for the work that others are doing to make this happen.  

Who cares if the squares and cheese that I'd thought we would share after the short ceremony is now a full potluck meal?  That's not what I expected at the start.  Does it really matter?  So it's different than I expected.  If this is their family custom, or the way they want to pay tribute to their father, it's lovely     

And if I can provide a few squares and some flowers, then I'll be happy to share the time with them.