Saturday, November 29, 2014

Kitchen Progress

Hey everyone, I hope you're all enjoying your weekend. Things here have ground to a complete halt as I continue working on the kitchen makeover. I'm able to get the bare minimum done on housework, and I think we're still wearing clean clothes, but other than that, the house is pretty much a shambles as I paint and paint and paint! I've not been able to even think about Christmas yet since this huge project looms foremost in my mind.

I've been immersed in the kitchen makeover for so many weeks now ... five and a half weeks to be exact! I hope to get lots done this weekend, and then (hopefully!) things will be finished enough so that I can move all our dishes back into the kitchen. I have to be able to free up my daughter's bedroom by next weekend when she's coming home for a visit.

I'm fortunate that I work from my home, and I've been able to work on this project for about three hours every weekday, and through most of the weekends. I've visited my dad regularly up until today, and then I decided I just have to get this kitchen finished and stayed home to work on it. I can't tell you how sick I am of sanding, painting and cleaning out paint brushes, rollers and paint trays! Here's my progress so far.

All the frames were sanded, primed and painted with two coats of taupe. We bought one can of taupe, and it was far too close to white for my liking, so we opted to buy a second can and we're really happy with the result. Of course, the colour is probably not very accurate in the photos, but we used CIL's "McClendon's Pass". 

Painting these frames took a very long time to finish. I had to paint them all with a brush, and developed quite a cramp in my hand from holding a fat paint brush. I also painted the bottoms and backs of the lower cupboards to brighten things up inside. I put adhesive shelf paper on the upper cabinets for the table dishes. 

Then I moved onto the cupboard doors, and I've been busy with those all this week. Painting the doors has been so much quicker. We used a tiny rubber roller for them, and it worked amazingly well.  I was a bit skeptical of the roller at first as I thought it would leave too much texture on the doors. However, the finish came out far better with the roller than the brush. Once you get the paint rolled on and leave it to dry, the paint slowly relaxes into the wood grain of the door, and there are no roller marks at all ... very smooth! 

The biggest problem with getting the doors completed is finding space to set them while drying. There are 24 doors, and I could only find space to have 12 drying at one time. We hung them from hooks in the basement rafters. We had them resting on counters and tables in the kitchen. We even have the pantry door leaning up in the bathroom. It's been a little crazy around here, let me tell you!

Thankfully, today I was able to start on the second set of 12 doors. They're all drying here, there and everywhere now, and I've had enough of it today. My husband and I went down to the hardware store and picked out the doorknobs, drawer pulls and hinges. The finish on the hardware is "black, oil rubbed bronze". It's a very subtle brushed finish with just a hint of bronze tint, and it looks great against the taupe. I can't wait to get these doors all back together again!

There you have it! I've been trying to get around to everyone's blogs to say hello, but have not been able to reach everyone. I'm just dying to get things organized for Christmas now, but I'm just going to have finish the kitchen first. There are still things I want to make for Christmas, but I'm not sure if that will happen. I really had no idea that the kitchen cupboards would take this long to complete, but at least the push to get them finished by next week is great motivation. I am so looking forward to sitting down to knit as soon as this kitchen is back together!

Thanks for dropping by!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Off We Go Again!

Off we go again ... smack dab into winter!  It's not terribly cold if you look at the thermometer, but boy! that wind is enough to knock you over this morning!  I pity the poor folks in Buffalo this week with their six feet of snow!  Can you believe that?!  And it all fell in 24 hours making weather history.  Cold comfort when you can't even get out your front door. We got the remnants of that storm yesterday afternoon and night.  We only got about 3 inches of snow.  This is the view out my own kitchen door today ...

The sky is blinkety blue, with brilliant white clouds scudding by.  The sun is bright and clear making the snow sparkle on the ground and in the air as the wind whips it high!  It's like nettles stinging your face when those sharp little crystal beads fly at you.  Did my son take a hat or cowl or even wear boots to school?!  No.  Too proud! But his ears will be burning red, and I'm sure his feet will be blocks of ice when he walks home this afternoon.  Sheesh! I'm tempted to pick him up at the end of the day (only so he doesn't ruin his shoes ... I did tell him to put all this winter gear on), but don't want to spoil the boy. 

Walking the dog was such fun.  Cody loves winter time and loves playing in the snow, as long as he doesn't get road salt between his paws. Already, the town is liberally salting the sidewalks, and the poor dog is already crying in pain and stopping and sitting on his little bum lifting all four paws in the air ... "please clean out my paws".  Now I carry him across the salt-encrusted areas, like in front of our elementary school, and at bus shelters. Such a pain.

The kitchen makeover is still going on ... and on and on and on. I am so tired of this endeavour right now.  I painted the framework with a very pale taupe, but it just looked white.  I was not happy with that, and my husband very kindly picked up another gallon of slightly darker taupe last night, and today I'll work again with that.  Yesterday, I primed four doors ... only 20 more to prime, and then I have to paint them all again in taupe.  sigh

I feel like it's all sitting in limbo at the moment.  More and more dishes are creeping out of the storage locker and are now sitting on my kitchen table as we get fed up with carting everything back and forth.  So clutter is rampant out there, and I'm feeling a little frantic.  I'll show more progress photos when I get the framework painted up.  

A lunch date with my daughter up in university town has been cancelled for Sunday.  She's swamped with work, and asked us to hold off for another week.  Just as well.  They got a foot of snow up there. Maybe we can get close to finished with the kitchen on Sunday instead.  I'm not even sure I want to drive to visit my dad on Saturday, but I really like to check up on things with him once a week.  The surprises I find in his room are numerous, and you can't expect the care workers to look in his closet and dresser drawers, but he tends to hide things away.  I noticed he stole a package of sugared ginger from the kitchen.  He loves ginger.  I thought my sister had bought it for him, but she said no.  oops! They're calling for more snow on Saturday ... how I hate driving in winter on the highway through Toronto to see him.  ugh!  double ugh!!

I need to look at something besides winter white now ...

 .... ahhhh, that's a bit better ;)

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Here & Now

Loving walking the dog in the crisp winter air even though it's earlier than normal.

Eating crock pot whole chicken after a day of painting.

Drinking lots of warm drinks ... tea and hot chocolate.

Wearing hats, scarves and gloves and my new winter coat which comes below the knees, but today my legs were icy even with all that.

Feeling a little twinge of excitement for Christmas now that it's snowed.

Last Christmas ... I don't have decorations up yet this year!

Wanting to get my kitchen finished and back into place again!

my pink Christmas cactus

Thinking about knitting gifts for Christmas ... what could I make and would my family want them?  I'm itching to get back into knitting and sewing again!

Dreaming always about moving back to the country, but that dream slips further away with each passing year.

... and I just had to add one more ...

Watching the strong wind blowing leaves from trees that still have not finished dropping them all for autumn even though there's a layer of snow on the ground now.

Joining up with Sarah at Chantille Fleur with her Here & Now post. 
 What are you loving/eating/drinking/wearing/feeling/wanting/thinking or dreaming about today?


Monday, November 17, 2014

Kitchen Progress???

The kitchen makeover is taking much longer than expected ... which of course is always the way! I got the frame work all sanded, cleaned and primed now, but such a chore. I think my husband realized I might start to feel a little discouraged with it all, and has had pity on me and decided to pitch in and help (thank goodness!!). He took over the sanding of the doors because he can use an electric orbital sander for that job. I think he's a little tired of a week of traipsing down the hall to the storage locker for every dish he wants. It was easy to convince him to order in Chinese on the weekend to save making a meal here, and hopefully we can get this kitchen back together quickly now that the painting has started.

Progress so far:

One little strip there that needed resanding

Doors partially sanded, screw holes filled, now they need wiping with tack cloth before priming.

We went shopping for the final choice of paint colour (a very pale taupe), and couldn't resist looking at the countertops at Home Depot.  We came home with a few samples of those too.  I don't think a new countertop is going in before Christmas, but I've got to admit I would be thrilled to have one of these to replace my outdated fake marble there.  I like the one second from the right.

The dog took full advantage of the door coming off the pantry cupboard and all the food unprotected for a very short time, and quickly made off with a bag of Oreo cookies ... the mint kind!!  Little cheat! My husband is always teasing my son for eating all the cookies and got after him for the missing bag of cookies.  He said "I just bought them last night and now they're all gone?!"  My son said "I honestly didn't eat them all, there were lots left!!". When they realized the bag wasn't in the cupboard or in my son's room, my son (wanting to clear his name) checked behind my chair in the living room where the dog will hide any food wrappers he gets hold of.  Sure enough, there was the empty bag. Of course, Cody being the trusty dog that he is, gave back all the cookies sometime during the night, and told us all about it with his barking around 5:00 a.m. A nice liquid chocolaty pool of regurgitated chocolate cookies in front of the back door ... ugh.  It's turned us all off of Oreo's for a while now. Cody spent the entire day in the garage until I had time to give him a bath.

A very gloomy day today with the snow coming down all of yesterday (Jane, I'm not laughing anymore!). We only got a few inches of snow, but it's a bit early for us to get snow in mid-November, and it hasn't stopped yet! I hope this isn't a prelude to what's in store later when things really get cooking out there.

It was a fairy wonderland out there earlier, but it's melting away now (but a very find sleet is still falling)
This is the last photo of the year for my mini rose (taken yesterday).  This morning it was in a heap on the ground, weighted down with the snow.  I sure hope it survives the winter (the last one didn't).

And one more rambling thought.  I've been going through some photos of my mom's lately, and came across this little memento that my grandfather sent to his sister back in the first World War.  I thought it was quite pretty, and I'll bet Great Aunt Mary was pleased with it when it came in the post from her brother whom she admired very much.  I found it too late for a Remembrance Day post, but thought you might like to see it anyway :)  The card is embossed, and the window is lace with embroidery on that, and the little flap lifts up.  Isn't is sweet?  I love these old-fashioned cards, and there's quite a few in my box.

Well, time is ticking, and it's taken me far too long to write this post.  I hope you all have a wonderful day, and ...

thanks for stopping by!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Betwixt Sanding & Painting

Still chugging away in my little kitchen makeover.  I've not got very far yet, but the work involved to get this far has made me muscle sore.  I thought I'd share my progress, such as it is, so far.  This is what the cupboards looked like at the beginning ...

A set of dated oak cupboards, some of which have lost a good deal of finish from wear and tear.  We toyed around with lots of ideas for this (for far too many years).  I'm tired of waiting for a change, however, and have just accepted there will be no new cupboards forthcoming at this time.  I decided I might as well just paint them and give the kitchen a fresh look.  Below is the facing wall of cupboards:

I've since removed all the cupboard doors and made a map of the doors and labelled them all.  My husband was impressed.  Some of the doors are just slightly different in size I noticed, so why bother fussing with all that later.  Marking them as to their original position will take out the guess work later ... you know, when I'm zonked and fed up with the entire ordeal and just want them screwed back in place!

Thankfully, with my daughter back in university (and she promised she wouldn't be back for three weeks!), we've been able to utilize her room as a storage locker.  I keep the door closed so the pooch doesn't go in and "investigate" (ie. sniff and lick!) my wooden cutting boards etc. 

My daughter's room now looks like this ...

She would kill me if she knew how we use her room in her absence!
... and my kitchen looks like this ...

Yes, I know, the spice cupboard will be emptied prior to painting ;)

All the framework has been sanded, screw holes filled and sanded again, and everything washed clean inside and out!  The sanding and washing were the worst parts, and my shoulder took a beating yesterday in my splurge to get past this point and onto painting.

The doors are stacked and waiting for someone? ... yeah, probably me ... to sand them all down in preparation for the painting.  I wanted to get the framework finished first, and then we can move some of the dishes and food back into the cupboards.  Hopefully I can sand the doors outside to save us from any more super-fine dust.  Even though it snowed yesterday, there'll hopefully still be a few more chances of good weather this weekend.  

While all this is going on, I see my Christmas cactus is blooming profusely, in the other side of the kitchen.  I just love the cactus against the now blue kitchen walls.  It just shows up so well!

It really needs to have its own table to sit on so that the branches can droop down gracefully and they wouldn't get broken off.  It loses the effect sitting on top of the breadbox.  The poor thing is shifted all around the kitchen when we need to use the table or whatever it is it's sitting on at the moment. Something more to think about after my current projects are finished in the kitchen.

Surprisingly, in between bouts of sanding, wiping up more dust, and hunting for dishes in the storage locker, I've also worked on a small cowl in the evenings.  My daughter requested a thick cowl to wear to "keep me warm while waiting for the bus".  Last year's deep freeze has made believers of university students to things like scarves, hats and mitts!  I found some pure Shetland chunky wool in Mom's stash, and combined a cable pattern, altered it to knit in the round and came up with this:

She had shown me one that one of her roommates had, and I fashioned it to be the same style.  It should be super warm, but I'm a little worried that she may not like the itchy pure wool.  It seemed soft enough when I felt the ball of yarn, but when I knit it up and put it on, it seemed scratchy even to me (and I love pure wool scarves). I knit a double layer so that it can be worn folded over ... extra warmth!!  The section that's folded down the inside is just 4 x 4 ribbing.  I've named it the "Polar Vortex Cowl" and one day I might even write up a pattern.  But for now, all you're going to see is this photo.

Oh yes!  And this is the kitchen window (below) where we can see my neighbour ;)  We were surprised one day when they covered their gazebo with this huge ugly brown tarp for winter.  I don't understand it, as it completely covers their kitchen sliding door onto the deck, and also the sliding door from their bedroom window ... two rooms now blocked with no view!  As ugly as it is, it does offer a huge amount of privacy for us ... and the dancer.  And now we can only imagine the dance routines that happen inside that gazebo ... ha ha!

That's it for me for today.  I'll hopefully get the primer coat on those frames this afternoon.  I have to visit my dad tomorrow as I've been away from him for three weeks! I took two weekends "off" to spend time with my own little family (and always feel guilty one way or the other).  Last time I visited, Dad slept his way through my entire time with him, and I felt quite defeated.  I seriously wondered if the staff has been sedating him again (something we were not aware was happening when he first arrived there). Things with Dad's nursing home are not quite as rosy as was made out in the beginning.  That could be a whole other post in itself, and maybe one day I'll write it.  It's a difficult topic for me to write about as I feel it ends up being a black moody post full of complaints and dark thoughts.  

Anyway, time is ticking as I keep coming back to write a little more on this post.  Time to hit "publish" and share with you all :)

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Sneak Peek

After two weeks, I've finally been able to complete the painting of walls and trim in my kitchen!  I'm very excited with the transformation, but I'm not quite ready to have a full reveal just yet.  I've now got to get things set up all over again, and I want to rearrange a few displays.  You know how it is. You can't just paint the walls and put everything back in the same place.  A little rearranging makes the room feel really fresh and new.

I'll show you just a couple of little sneak peeks for now, and see what you think.  First, of course, we have to show the "before" ....

Naturally, I didn't take any before shots since my daughter rushed me into this painting stint.  I had to scrounge around through my old photos and came up with just a few.  You can at least see the deep, dark yellow paint that graced our walls for the past ten years.  Oh look!  Last winter's snow still deep on the patio :)

I've wanted to paint the kitchen for years, and I had finally decided on a sort of Wedgewood blue.  Here's the final result ...

This is one area where I can't decide what to do (above).  I like this little bench that I sanded down a bit last summer, and I could put a few plants on top of it.  Or, I could put the jardeniere back in front of the sliding patio door.  You can see the wicker jardeniere in the first photo.  There's just not a lot of space in our eating area for both, although I have enough indoor plants now to fill both!

Above is a tiny peek at the cupboards I want to paint.  The trim around the windows is bright white, and I thought I'd paint the cupboards a cool beige (taupe) to match the backsplash.  I looked at some photos on line, and I think that'll work nicely giving the kitchen a very calming overall look.

Above is some fabric I have for curtains.  What do you think?  I actually bought this stuff to make curtains for the yellow kitchen, but it has been a long-standing joke in my family that we will never have curtains over our windows.  This is a nice heavy cotton decorating fabric.  I'm going to make tab curtains to be hung from black metal rods over the three large windows.  

It gets quite chilly in our kitchen with the bare windows in winter, and there's no privacy when we have supper in the dark in the wintertime.  Plus, it could block out my neighbour's deck which looks directly into our kitchen ... our neighbour who one day came out dancing to music with not a stitch on!!!!  Yeah.  We need curtains!  I think we're just going to go with vertical blinds across the patio door since they fold back easily and we can angle them to shift the bright sunlight that pours into the kitchen for half the day.  Although my daughter said they're out of fashion now (are they?!).

Well, there you have it.  Once I get the things set back in satisfactorily, I'll show you proper photos of the room.  I can't decide on what to do with the kitchen chairs either.  I quite like them because they have a nice roomy seat :) At first I thought we needed to paint over the dark green.  Now that I see lots of green in the curtains, however, I might just leave them.  What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by!


Monday, November 03, 2014

Old-Fashioned Apples

I love autumn.  And I love apples!  Apples, pumpkins and squash seem to be the grounding foods during this time.  My grandfather was a market farmer, which I've mentioned before.  One of his crops was apples of course. He grew a nice variety of apples on his small farm in West Hamilton. Somewhere I have a photo of a row of his apple trees in blossom, and although it's only a black and white photo, you can still get the beautiful frothy effect those blossoms give.

A few years before she passed away, my mom showed me some apple stencils that had belonged to her father. I'd never seen them before, and I have no idea where she had these hidden away.  Perhaps she didn't want my dad finding them and ruining them. They're simple thin copper plates with the names of apples stamped into them, which Grandpa would use to label his apple crates ready for market. They still show signs of the paint he would have used on them. Mom wanted to pass them along to us, and I think they're a wonderful little bit of family history.

My mother allowed me first pick of the seven stencils she had.  It was a tough decision, because I wanted to get my favourite apple names, but also one of the old-fashioned apple names.  These are the three I chose:

Greening and Russett apples are considered old-fashioned.  I still see Russetts available at our local apple orchard, but I've never seen Greening.  Northern Spies are a favourite of mine for both the name, and also they make great pies!!  

I forget now what other stencils Mom had, but I know MacIntosh was one.  My one sister displays them in her kitchen (as I do ... I just have them down whilst painting the kitchen), but my other sister hides all these heirlooms away somewhere, and I never see them again (an annoying thing, but there it is ... it would be nice to look upon these little treasures when I visit, but I never get to see them again).

I live in an apple-rich area of Southern Ontario, and we have numerous apple orchards to choose from.  I like to buy my apples from the orchard rather than the grocery store (better quality).  This weekend, my husband and I picked up some Cortlands for eating (another fav), but also some huge Northern Spies.  We could not believe the size of these monsters.  Even the lady at the cash commented on their size.  My plan was to make a pie on Sunday.  Spies are very tart and although they're great for pies, I don't like them for straight eating, so I picked up six spies just for the pie. These spies were really tart, and when I had a slice to try, boy did they make my mouth pucker and water!!

Can you believe I only needed two apples to make the pie?  Just two, and they filled the pie plate to heaping before baking.  And the pie?  It was absolutely delicious!! 

So if you want to make a pie yourself, look for those Northern Spies for some great tangy taste.  We used to frequent a local orchard up the road from where I lived in Milton, and they had the best apple cider (no preservatives), and they also recommended Wealthy apples for pies. I used to buy them for pies, but when we moved I was unable to locate them at our orchards here.  They're an early apple (and an old-fashioned, hard to locate apple), and are only around at the beginning of the season.

So here's to market farmers, apples and good old-fashioned apple pie!

Apple Pie

5 - 6 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1/2 cup of sugar
1 - 2 tbsp flour (only if apples are very juicy)
2 tbsp butter


3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened

Mix the flour and sugar together and toss apples in this mixture.  Layer in bottom of pastry shell in a pie plate. Dot with butter. Mix topping ingredients together, and sprinkle over the apples.  Bake at 450'F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350'F and bake for another 35 - 45 minutes until apples are soft when tested with an inserted knife.

Thanks for stopping by!


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Sunday, November 02, 2014


Every day now we have a little adjusting to do.  When I open the back door in the morning for the dog, I feel the chill creep in a little faster.  The thermometer reads just a little colder each time.  The trees are showing a few more bare branches.  The frost gets a bit thicker each night.  And yesterday we had our first snow.  The flakes flew hard for a couple of hours, but thankfully nothing settled on the ground.

My garden still has some flowers struggling to hang onto warmth and sunshine.  This miniature rose has been doing amazingly well, and has provided me with teeny tiny blooms all summer and through the fall.  We've enjoyed miniature bouquets on the table regularly.  I fear this is the last rose of summer, however, and the bugs have certainly made use of its outer petals.

I dried a few of these beauties, but they turn out so tiny, that they completely lose their "rosiness".  I'll just have to content myself with enjoying their pretty blooms in the warm months, and look forward to their reappearance next spring.

Clocks have now been turned back an hour, although I take advantage of that and allow myself an extra hour to write and read in peace and quiet :)

Another bloom willing itself to keep going.  Notice the buds still developing on the left.  I moved this flower at the end of summer and figured it had finished for the season.  It seems to like its new spot so well, however, that it came back into bloom and doesn't want to go to sleep just yet.  I don't want to see it go either.

And this hardy fellow still keeps forcing out one more flower just when I think it's completely done in.  All these shots were taken on Friday.  When I see a spot of colour in the garden, I can't resist heading out to see what is blooming now!

I've been very busy with redecorating my kitchen!  I don't have any photos to share with you yet, but it's been a long time coming, and it was a lot of work.  I still want to paint our dated (faded) oak cupboards.  I want to get it all done before Christmas, but from certain comments given by certain people who I thought were going to help me, it seems I'll be doing that portion on my own after all. It's going to take some hard work as I have 24 cupboard doors to refinish.  If I don't keep at it though, I know I'll be unhappy not having a completely new look in the kitchen.  It was no fun having the living room in a clutter with all the kitchen things stored in there for a couple of weeks while painting walls.  Hopefully, refinishing the cupboards won't disrupt us too much ... just keeping sanding dust under control will be the hardest part I think.  Wish me luck!

Thanks for stopping by!


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