Wednesday, 31 July 2013

How to Wash Your Hands

My husband is a problem-solver.  He doesn't get frustrated by much, but when he does, he fixes it.  Our kids have been "forgetting" to wash their hands, or doing little more than waving them under the water.  So Kevin created a little pictorial reminder for them, using our lovely 6-year-old model.  The laminated instructions are taped to the mirrors in the two bathrooms the kids use the most.  It seems to be working.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Budding Photographer

She wanted to go for a walk to take pictures.  So we did.  She's pretty artistic already at 6-years-old.

wordless wednesday

My Dream Office

I've always wanted to work from home.  I'm finally able to explore fully how to make that happen on a more consistent basis, since I'm no longer getting up at night with babies, and my kids are much more independent.  In the fall I will have only one child at home from 8am to 3pm.  Poor boy. He won't know what to do with himself!  I will have to figure out how to keep him engaged and busy during the day.  In addition to that, I plan to schedule a specific time to work, whether it's daily, or only weekly.  

Thinking about this (I have one month or less to figure it out!) has made me start thinking further in the future. Someday, in my freelance, work at home, dream job, I want to have an office.  It doesn't have to be a full-sized room with a door.  It can be a nook, a closet, a landing, or a corner.  And of course I'm daydreaming about decorating such an office.  I can't help seeing cute office products everywhere I go (and of course many of them are in my favourite colour).

Martha Stewart's Home Office line

Monday, 29 July 2013

July's Epic Family Road Trip

My mother-in-law's lovely front porch - Ontario

Late Friday afternoon, the four of us returned from a crazy 2-week road trip through 4 Canadian provinces and 5 US states.  Uncharacteristically, before we had been home even half an hour, I had the van unloaded and even vacuumed.  I was afraid that if I sat down at all, I'd never do it.

The actual unpacking has taken longer, but I'm nearly done.  All that remains is putting away the clean laundry, taking the suitcases to the basement, and tidying up a few odds and ends.

Before we left, I spent precious time making sure that house was relatively clean.  I'm so glad I did!  It was so nice to walk into peace rather than chaos.

South of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  See, it's not ALL flat!
Trip highlights:

  • Walking around Chicago.  My husband is a die-hard Blackhawks fan.  We made the same trip (To Ontario via Chicago) 10 years ago, but it was much more fun with the kids.  They were surprisingly enthusiastic about all that walking (running, splashing, etc).  Me: I was fine during the day, but my legs hurt for a week!  I wore the wrong shoes for trekking through the city.
  • Driving through Ontario's country roads.  I love all the old houses, prim farmyards, roadside free furniture (I didn't actually take any home), and dilapidated barns.
  • Time with family.  The kids had so much fun with Nanny (who gave them candy before lunch time and let them watch cartoons every morning), Poppa (who taught them how to fish...the kids caught 5 fish between them.  A couple with no help at all.), Uncle Al (who initiated a pillow fight in his living room, introduced them to two cats, a dog, and a hedgehog, and played lego), Grand Nan (who blew bubbles for them to chase, and let them feed a stray cat), Aunt Chrissy and Uncle Malcolm (who let them overfeed the fish in their pond, and search for fossils in the garden). And everyone else who made the trip wonderful.  I truly enjoy chatting with my mother-in-law over multiple cups of coffee.  
  • The Vinyl Cafe Podcasts
  • Free WiFi, free breakfast, and comfy beds at most hotels (do not go to the Motel 6 in Fargo, but definitely do check out the Clubhouse Inn in Chicago)
  • Date night in Brockville, Ontario.  We left the kids with their grandparents at their lakeside camper and then went out for dinner.  Midway through our meal, the wind picks up, and the manager comes in to tell us there is a tornado warning, and where to go if we see anything suspicious out the windows.  Once we saw the wind knock over a tree, I started to worry about the kids.  Everyone was fine, but it made for a memorable date!  When we left the restraunt (after the wind had died down), we had a hard time finding our way around the trees lying on the roads.
  • Mini-date in Merrickville, Ontario.  My husband let me go into every single shop I wanted to, buy whatever I wanted, eat poutine for lunch, and then we went for a drive to Burrits Rapids, a tiny and picturesque little town full of quaint old houses. He even stopped to let me take pictures.  It was such a nice date.
  • The first few days we were in Ontario where ridiculously humid and hot.  But we got some fabulous thunderstorms out of it.  I loved it!

Back at home:

  • My little maple tree grew a foot in height!  I should probably move it before it gets any bigger.  It's only 2-feet from the garage.
  • Our grass is nearly half clover, and the garden full of weeds.  My son yelled out the window to his daddy, "Don't mow-lawn the flowers!"
  • I must say it was so nice to walk in to a clean house!
  • I've decided that it is time to get serious about writing.  So I'm thinking about the future, and how to make sitting down to work easy for me, and what kind of schedule we should have once school starts.  And how to be Happier at Home. (This book is due back at the library today and I can't renew it due to holds...but it's not going back 'til I finish reading it!)
  • I'm totally looking forward to buying school supplies for my daughter.  I can't believe she's in grade 1!

Family portrait at the Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois.
So, how are you spending your summer?  Any big trips?  What is your summer highlight so far?

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Descriptions (Or, How I Pay Attention in Church)

July 1, 2013

Hot. Sticky. Body heat times 200. Two hundred people sit and melt in a barn-style camp chapel. Super-heated western sunshine slants through windows too few and too small. An occasional inadequate breeze wafts in the thrown-wide doors. Hot children wiggle and hot parents shush, and I envy the latecomers sitting outside in the shade, within reach of evening breezes off the lake.

I breathe in, trying to pull some coolness into my lungs. No luck. The air hasn't cooled but carries scents of fruity chewing gum and dusty pine walls. I sip cool water from my water bottle, the ice long since melted but leaving behind enough cold to soothe my parched throat. Head pounding from the heat, I listen anyway to the Reverend's authoritative voice.

Finally! A breeze! Coming from seemingly nowhere and everywhere, it cools me for a second. Just a second, but it is heavenly.

Monday, 8 July 2013

DIY Homemade Furniture Wax

After a week or two of teasing you on Facebook and Instagram, I have finally finished my kitchen dresser!  My choice of colour was solely based on what I had on hand.  I wanted free and durable.  So the olive green Behr Paint + Primer met those criteria nicely.  I had previously used this colour on my coffee table and loved the result.  Now after abotu 2 years, it is still mostly scratch-free.

I debated with myself long and hard over whether or not to distress this piece.  In the end, I decided to go for it because I couldn't get the previously crackle-finished drawers as smooth as I wanted.  The dresser is not good enough to warrant the work involved in stripping down all nine drawers to bare MDF.  I'm so glad I did decide to distress.  The effect is subtle, but brings out the details.

The hardware was covered in some thick gold paint, so I boiled all of it in the crock pot with a little dish soap, as recommended by This Old House.  The remaining aqua/white paint/faux verdegris wouldn't budge, so I left it.  Yet another reason to distress the dresser.

The "wood" detail that was on the top drawers turned out to be just painted plastic, so there was no way I was leaving those on!  Luckily the crackle finish had been applied before those details, so I didn't end up with a smooth part in the middle of each drawer.

This is what the dresser looked like before:

I was out of the Antiquax I've used on wooden furniture (both painted and unpainted), but I've been keeping a brick of natural beeswax handy for just this situation.  Combined with some olive oil, I had a great furniture finish that worked exactly the same as the store-bought stuff, but smelled way nicer.  I love the smell of beeswax.  The Antiquax was pungent!

Recipe for Homemade Furniture Wax

  1. Melt natural beeswax either in the microwave (30-second intervals, and stir to prevent fire) or on the stove in a double boiler (I used a glass measuring cup in a pot of water).
  2. When the wax is melted, add olive oil.  Approximately 1 part melted wax to 2 or 3 parts olive oil. (I used 1/2 cup wax and about 1 cup olive oil) Some of the wax will solidify, so melt it again and mix.
  3. Allow the mix to cool before use or you risk applying way more than you need (speaking from experience here).
  4. Apply a thin layer of wax to furniture (with your fingers, a wax brush, or a cloth), let it set for about an hour, and then buff with a clean lint-free cloth or paper towels.