Thursday, September 29, 2011

My friend the attic

One of the benefits of living in a split level is the amount of storage. It seems that in the 50s storage was really important and they took advantage of every nook in the house. As part of our basement project we had to go through a lot of our stuff. We still had piles of boxes in the basement from our move two years ago. In order for things to be more organized and like to be stored with like, I tackled the attic storage space we have. We can enter it through a closet with a ladder, it's about four feet high and is a room before you enter the actual roof space. It's located behind the master bath and on top of our kitchen. It's a dry space and really hot in the summer!

The first thing I did was to take EVERYTHING out. I knew what most things were, but over the past two years we'd been adding random things that did not make much sense. I sorted and sorted and we donated two large boxes to Goodwill. Then hubby added brackets and shelves and we cleaned the space. Don't you love the eclectic floor tile and mint coloured wall?

By adding the shelves and sorting things properly we were able to move a good chunk of stuff from the basement to the attic. What lives there now?

  • Luggage and carry-on bags (close to bedrooms, good for packing)
  • Extra duvet, pillows and blow-up bed
  • Cat carriers
  • Family silver 
  • Memory boxes (hubby's, mine, wedding)
  • Mine and hubby's CDs (don't use them, but can't part)
  • Stereo equipment that's not in use right now
  • Picture frames I want to keep for future use
  • X-mas decorations
  • Halloween decor and costumes
  • Party things (lanterns, hats, Easter stuff, Thanksgiving, etc.)
  • Saddle, helmet and riding boots (not in use right now)
  • Box with various drapes and bags that I can't part with

I am feeling much better about this space, we don't have trouble finding things and were able to lighten the amount stored in the basement significantly. Do you have an attic? Any skeletons hiding there (I have a Halloween one)?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In the bag

Do you switch your bags during the season? I used to, but these days I usually have my go-to summer bag and a black winter bag that goes with everything. I don't have the time to switch depending on outfit and I can't afford to forget something because I switched bags.

I bought this bag in Paris about 13 years ago when I was visiting with my friend Suzy. I liked the different colours and the handy shopper style. Everything might end up in a jumble inside, but I know it's there and I don't need to spend time putting things in the right compartment. This bag is still in great shape and except for a couple years break when my kids were really little (and I needed my hands to be free) this works well for me because it matches most things.

Now that Fall is here I am ready to switch to my black bag and that gave me a chance to see what I'm carrying around every day.

  • various notes, business cards and receipts - including Caravaggio museum ticket and U2 concert ticket!
  • fold-up shopping bag
  • compact (rarely used, but you never know when you need a mirror)
  • candy
  • enamel container containing headache medication
  • 3 lipsticks I never use
  • 1 mascara I never use
  • bandaids
  • alcohol wipe
  • hair elastics and barret
  • toy car
  • post it notes (used to cover self-flush toilet infrared - my kids hate the self flush - it scares them)
  • cheap sunglasses
  • apple and granola bar (either I'll be hungry or one of the kids)
  • note book
  • favourite pen
  • mommy cards (my kids names, phone number and email - easy to hand out for play dates)
  • wallet
  • crumbs and grimy kids stickers (not pictured)
  • Keys (missing in picture)
I should probably have some type of calendar and/or phone. I don't have either.

What's in your bag? Anything weird - what have you added since you've had kids?

Linked to Beach Cottage Linky Party

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One photo a week - 39/52

Warm temperatures, lots of sunshine and a fall fair! We had a great time watching wagon coaching, ferris wheels, bull herding, sheep evaluations, bull washing and pumpkin contests while eating hot dogs and cinnamon sugar mini doughnuts. Except for M getting stung by a bee the drive was worth it to see the 148th Carp Fall Fair.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Easy breakfast = easy lunch

I've told you before that it's a struggle to feed my kids breakfast - what worked yesterday most likely won't work today. Then I found this recipe on Pinterest and pinned it to my board because it looked easy and yummy. I tried it a couple of weeks ago and they were indeed yummy and easy. My kids gobbled them up, as did hubby.

I made a version of them again last week - this time I put in some ham and added peas. They turned out just as good and I kept two for M to take to school the next day - she ate both of them.

I know I'll keep making variations of these, because they seem to be a winner in our house. Go ahead, try them!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting it right...

This is the wall above my living room couch as it is today. Below is how it looked like last week. I always wanted a gallery wall with black and white pictures, however, I don't have the patience for measuring, templating, etc. so my attempt was half-hazard - and it showed. The spacing was too large, the composition was lack lustre and every time the frames got dusted they ended up wonky! It bugged me. It bugged me for nearly two years and then I made a change.

I went to IKEA and got the RIBBA photo ledge. I decided to go with white despite my black frames, because the shelf next to it is white and the one across from the couch is white as well. We got two short shelves and two long ones to cover a larger portion of the wall.

We lined up the shelves with the horizontal lines of the original 50's shelf that separates the living room from the dining room. A couple of screws, some filling of holes and fresh paint on the wall and we were ready to put back the frames - no nails required and no more wonkiness.

I really like how the wall looks now - this is more streamlined and a lot more flexible, switching things around will be a pinch.

What's on the shelves?

  • D as a baby and his sophie chew toy
  • Photo of me as a child
  • Honeymoon destination (Venezuela) and Boston (our last trip before kids)
  • Gourd from Venezuela
  • Wedding photo
  • Photo of my nephew
  • Photo of my mom

Lower shelf from left:

  • Old family baby booties
  • Miami photo and D's French wooden toy
  • Random vase
  • Grandparents photo taken in Montreal in the 40s
  • Both my kids and their first bath
  • Flowers from the garden
  • Metal D
  • Photo of my daughter and one of her Swiss baby shoes 

Linked to Beach Cottage Linky Party

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    One photo a week - 38/52

    I can't believe we only have 14 weeks to go until year end - wow, how time is flying! This week I am really enjoying that my garden has some late blooming plants. I have no idea what this is, but it's a very large patch of bright pink flowers, about 2 feet tall, on the West side of my house. It's gotten quite a bit bigger compared to last year, so I might try to split it and plant part of it in another area of the yard.

    Not only do I enjoy the bright vibrant colour, but also that it attracts a ton of bees and bumble bees. While I was taking the pictures I had a good dozen or so popping in and out of those blossoms.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Peachy fruit

    Ontario produces amazing peaches. Not sure how they compare to a Georgia peach, but I have to tell you that we can't get enough of them! We pack them as a snack, eat them for desert or cut them up and mix them up with a couple of berries - a perfect topping for ice cream or breakfast cereal.

    What fruit are you enjoying now that Fall is closing in on us?

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Project dresser - Episode 2

    A couple of weeks back I presented my $15 dresser score. I loved the shape and size, and obviously the price. However, streaky brown was not going to cut it in my daughter's now pink - soon to be gray and purple - room.

    First I sanded it with a palm sander and then I used the Ultra White Benjamin Moore paint we already had. I didn't want to spend money on more paint, so using what we had was the way to go. The dresser needed 3 coats because I was covering a really dark colour. We also repaired one of the drawers and lugged it up to the bedroom.

    The photo below shows you that this dresser is indeed smaller than the one she already has and the colour is a brighter white. I managed to re-organize her clothes and everything fit. The final episode on project dresser will include a new purple wall, maybe the gray walls and proper placement in the room. Stay tuned!

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    One photo a week - 37/52

    Off she went to school this week - my baby girl is growing up! She did well all week and has been going to bed early every's tough to adapt to a new schedule. Doesn't she look cute in her school uniform?

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Virtual party decor

    A couple of weeks back I got an email from my aunt in California asking advice on a 90th birthday party for her mother. She had sent out the invitation and was worried that the hotel meeting room would be too sterile and plain, but she did not have a large budget to decorate. She asked me for a couple of ideas and I jumped on it.

    I gave her three mood boards to serve as inspiration. I used the invitation design that she sent me to get me started and knew that the tables would be round.

    The first board I based on the black scrolls in the invite and proposed using fabric as a runner. I also think green flowers would look great mixed with purple to give it a little depth. Votive candles and a frame with black and white pictures of her mother would be placed on the table.  A photo table would be placed by the fireplace in the room.

    The second options focuses on the green of the invite, but also the seasonal element of a pear that can be used as a place card and/or serve as a centre piece decor instead of fabric. Using black paper on the place cards would make them pop and link to the black on the invite. Again a photo frame and votive candles would be set up and a photo table. Fruit and foliage can be dramatic on a table setting and are more cost effective than flowers.

    My last option was to be a little more casual. Ribbon instead of fabric on the tables, small vessels of white and green flowers, bright green place cards and a few honeycomb paper balls thrown in for a fun touch. The photo table could have honeycomb paper balls hanging on top and again votive candles and a photo frame would dress things up.

    My aunt was pleased with the inpiration boards and has actually combined a couple of ideas - she'll be putting up a photo table and photos at each table, she'll be using ribbon on each table and introduced green and purple with a plant that will serve as a centre piece. I look forward to seeing pictures of the actual event. It was fun putting together a couple of ideas from afar, not even knowing the guest of honour.

    all photo credits on my pinterest board . Edit: Bad me for doing this, should have listed all the sources in the post.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Parc Omega

    I had a different post planned for today, but we had such a great time at Parc Omega that I wanted to share a couple (or many) pictures with you.

    Parc Omega is about 45 minutes drive from Ottawa, nothing we can't handle. I had heard good things about this park but had not had the chance to visit. You discover many species of wild animals in their natural habitat by driving through a dedicated path. Make sure to get a couple of bags of carrots at the start of your tour - those twelve hundred pound moose and gigantic deer will want their toll up front!

    On your route you get to see elk, moose, caribou, mountain goats, bison, hyaena, bears, coyote, wolf, boar, birds and you are allowed to feed the safe animals carrots as you drive can imagine that those guys know exactly what's going on.

    Once you arrive at the middle section there is parking, a playground, picnic tables and a deer feeding area. Look at my brave little two year old, he coaxed two of them right to him - note that these guys are not fenced in, they can leave any time they want...

    We then hitched a hay ride to a farm that's even further in the park. We got to see their goats, horses, sheep, rabbits, pigs and lamas and both of mine went for a pony ride. They had a great time here and the ride was fun as well.

    On the second half of the route we saw a big variety of animals, some of the more dangerous ones were kept from the road with fencing. We spent a good 3.5 hours in the park and could have spent more time by visiting the large play structure or taking the walking route. We had a great time - the highlight on our labour day weekend for sure!

    Linked to Beach Cottage Linky Party
    Photos: Giulia Doyle, Bruno Doyle

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    One photo a week - 36/52

    While I stayed home a day this week to tend to my sick daughter, I had a few minutes to bake some banana bread with our mushy bananas.

    I don't have a specific recipe - I use flower, baking soda, baking powder, brown sugar, eggs, some oil, vanilla and salt. I usually add a couple chocolate chips and this time I added some raspberries. Maybe I should have compensated for that extra wet ingredient because the bread was very moist - but hey, can't beat chocolate and raspberries in a cake, right?

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Late summer harvest

    In June we planted our tomato plants, our pepper plant and one cucumber plant. July was very hot and dry which my cucumber plant seemed to love. One plant is producing a ton of cucumbers which we eat at home and keep giving away.

    My tomatoes aren't quite as tall as last year and are just starting to produce. I think they wanted a little more water - but now we are getting quite a crop.

    Unfortunately my pepper is being attacked by slugs - as soon as I have a reasonably sized pepper it gets chomped...

    Any success with veggie growing out there?