The Grower's Daughter

The Grower's Daughter

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Paperwhites in Bloom

The Narcissus bulbs, or Paperwhites, beside my chair are in full bloom.

The taller ones were brought home from the store so we could enjoy them sooner, but the smaller pot of bulbs are being forced.

The boys have enjoyed watching these bright green shoots poke their way out of each bulb.

As you can see, the gardens are being put to rest for the winter, so the bright bulbs are a welcomed sight as the days get colder.

We've also enjoyed putting bird seed out on our back deck. It's right near the french door to our kitchen, so it makes for easy bird watching.

There are always birds there.

And lots of chubby squirrels.

[ via Pinterest]

This is a project that I've been wanting to do. I can't decide if I want to put it by the window where my chair is, or by the kitchen window. There are always birds landing on the window sill, and I love to sit and watch them up close.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Furnishing the Living Room; The Process

The completion of our living room has been a very slow process - much slower than I'm used to. I think my decorating philosophy (if you will) has transitioned from this need to have a room furnished all at once, to a more layered approach to decorating.

Previously, I would have had to set up every part of the room all at once, from painting to furnishing. The problem with this approach, I've found, is that you just don't get it right all at once. So things get switched out, and rearranged and returned.

While there's nothing wrong with doing a room like this, I've really come to appreciate the art of living in a space and experiencing it before I rush to furnish it. It requires patience, but I've learned it's so much more gratifying than just jumping to get a space finished.

I've seen this so clearly in our living room. It's currently quite sparse, and feels like it's finished as a room, but lacking personality. But it's coming... I can see it. When the room was finished, the basic furniture was set out. No rug, no artwork, no character. And it remained like this for a few weeks. Day after day, after living in this room, I began to understand how I used it, and could then see what the room needed to feel finished and like it was my own.

Which chair did I prefer to sit in, and did I feel like I needed a lumbar pillow to make reading a book more comfortable? When I lay on the couch in front of the fire, do I prefer to have a throw to drape over me? And did I find that when I went to set my morning coffee down, would I have preferred a small side table beside me, or did I find setting it on the radiator top sufficient. How is the lighting in the morning, and in the evening?

I've found that this approach makes furnishing a space so much more simple. It creates a list and helps me really focus on what's important for the space, and where I should invest my money.

Aside from our sofa, one of our other investments was a large area rug. We took weeks to research different options before we finally settled on the one that I had in mind in the first place. But I love it! And it was a good investment.

In the end, we chose Pottery Barn's Colour-Bound Natural Sisal Rug in Chino.

And while I knew that I wanted a natural fibre rug, and leaned more to the look and durability of the sisal rugs, I wasn't entirely sure on whether it was necessary for me to get a full 9' x 12'. Would a 7' x 9' work in this space?

So we moved our family room rug, a very cost effective ($149) jute rug from Ikea, into the living room and lived with it for a while. And while it was the right look and feel, it really was too small for the space. We made the investment, and purchased the full size. And I'm so happy we did. But I'm also happy knowing I didn't spend money on something I could have used for something else.

This approach was very beneficial when we went to purchase another large piece for this room. I had been looking for months for a large antique cabinet for the North wall of the living room - a wall that's remained completely empty until now. In my mind, I saw this early pine step-back cupboard, of simple design but with years of character in the wood. I wanted something tall to suit this large wall with high ceilings, and it needed to have cabinets on the bottom for Ryan's record player, and shelves on top that were deep enough to accommodate our coffee table books.

I wasn't having any luck, and at times, a lovely piece would come around and I would be close to just purchasing it. But then I had to remind myself that if I just waited, eventually the perfect piece would surface... it always does! And when it did, I wouldn't be disappointed that I settled for something that wasn't what I had my heart set on. However, at the same time, I had to be reasonable. There were a few cabinets that were exactly what I was looking for, but the were well over $1000, and often required an overnight drive. Sometimes I need a little perspective when it comes to decorating, and that Sunday, my perspective came in the form of Compassion Sunday. Compassion is a child-sponsorship program that we sponsor a boy through. I really had to think about this purchase. While it would be wonderful to spend that kind of money on a beautiful old cupboard, was it wise? Was it going to bring me more joy? Those are hard questions to ask. I do get a lot of joy out of things like this. And sometimes I need to be reminded that they are just things. And my life is not about living for more things. Sometimes I need to see my purchases in black and white. This cabinet would cost me as much as it would cost to provide food and education and medical attention for a year for not one, but two children - possibly even three! And you know, I just couldn't do it.

Now understand me, I don't weight every purchase like this. Furnishing a home is not wrong. But I know my heart. And sometimes I need perspective.

As you can see, I did find a beautiful old cabinet for this wall. It's not tall, but it's old, and it's full of character, and it's just what I had in mind.

My parents offered it to me when they were downsizing their kitchen. It had about four layers of paint and consumed Ryan's free time for days. But after hours of scraping and sanding, this transformed into exactly what I wanted, and it cost me nothing.

I have another piece in storage that I will try on top. It's an old top of a cabinet. Every time I walk past it I'm thankful that I didn't purchase something else.

And so, slowly, over time, this room evolves closer to what I envision. In the mean time, I make due. One of the items on my list is a coffee table. But until I find it, we are using a child's table. And you know, for now it works.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween Celebrations

This Halloween can officially go down as the most relaxed Halloween to date.

I, for once, was actually ready for Halloween. 

We had the boys costumes finished days before, and they sat hanging with their treat bags, and glow sticks, with my candy at the front door. We agreed on simple, inexpensive costumes - a knight and an orange butterfly (Hudson insisted this was all he wanted to be, so we happily obliged).

The boys went out with Ryan when he got home from work, and while they were out and about, I put some music on and got food ready for after, when we'd celebrate Ryan's birthday (yes, on October 31st). And when the boys had enough walking around, they came home and we all enjoyed an evening by the fire.

My sisters even joined us to celebrate.

And while I didn't go crazy with decorations (we didn't even carve pumpkins!), Willen and I did bring all the pumpkins to the front entrance to make it more inviting.

Here is Hudson in his costume. I would love to take credit for his beautiful butterfly wings, but that was all Ryan. And I never ended up getting a photo of Willen in his costume as he was too busy looking for his sword. That was the only stressful moment I guess... Somehow despite it being set out for him, in the half hour before they left, it managed to disappear for a few minutes. 

They were all smiles as they dumped their bags out and took stock of their loot. It's so much fun when they're so little and enjoy it so much.

And now it's November. That means it's time to start getting ready for Christmas!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Garage Sale Table

I've reached my favourite stage in our family room renovations.

The walls are planked, everything has been painted, and almost all of the furnishings are in place. There are still a few details that I need to finish - put out the rug, hang my curtains panels, sew another small curtain for our entertainment unit and hang some art.

I'm so happy with how this room is coming together. It has a cozy, cottage feel to it which is perfect for this space. Toys migrate here from the den, it's where we snuggle up and watch movies together - it really is our family room.

But we'll talk more about that when it's finished.

For now, I wanted to share something I found this weekend.

While out on Saturday morning, I was forced to drive a different way home due to some construction. As I took the scenic way back to the highway, I came across a garage sale. It's a pretty general rule for me that if there's furniture, I stop. So despite the dreary weather, and my warm seat, I pulled in and did a quick tour.

I'm not sure what this little table would have been used for. It's high for an end table, but doesn't show any marks from hardware that would have made it a small kind of cabinet.

I was drawn to it's simplicity, and it's pretty little legs. And I liked the small shelf.

It was $20, but I only had $14.20 on me to offer. He happily took what I had and even loaded the table in my car.

So now it's found it's place in our family room. All of the furniture in this room is quite low, with the exception of two big cabinets on the other side. This dark and slightly tall table adds just the right amount of weight on this end of the room. It also is a convenient place to hide remotes.

If it didn't work here, I planned to use it in our master bathroom. I think it would suit some glass jars on top with soaps and things, and towels stacked on the shelf for easy access. I spent the rest of the drive home imagining ways to make it useful again.

I planned to paint it white, but I'm enjoying the dark wood for now. It's nicely worn and adds some contrast to a very light space.

The beautiful arched window was a salvage find that my dad has had stored away for quite some time. At our Christmas open house last year I leaned it against an old harvest table and added a swag of greens to it. I knew when I was arranging the display that I had to have this window. Finally I told him he couldn't sell it because I wanted it. It's going above the couch.

I'm nearly there.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Laundry Area - After

I decided to make the most of a quiet day at home today and checked a couple of items off of my to-do list.

This is my laundry area which is one corner of my kitchen - the sunniest corner.

After seven years of doing laundry in the basement (though thankfully not a dingy basement), a main floor laundry was one of my few "list items" I wanted in the home we were going to purchase. And as it goes, it wasn't a feature of the house we bought.

However, in the kitchen, there was a small corner area that was being used as an office space. It was too small for a breakfast nook, so we had our plumber come in and see if it was possible to plumb in a laundry area. Because water lines were already running to this part of the house for the sink and dishwasher, it wasn't complicated to do.

Originally, I had wanted side-by-side appliances in a built-in cabinet with a counter top and nice shelves above. But, due to the size of the space, a pair beside eachother wouldn't fit. So, we settled instead on a stackable unit which allowed just a small space beside for sorting bins. We sketched out an idea for a narrow counter with a pull-out drawer for the bins to sit on (similar to what you would put in your cabinets for recycling bins). Then I could still add a couple small shelves above for character.

But, as renovations go, we ended up spending a lot more on other more important renovations and for the sake of staying on budget, I had to re-think this space. 

Was it necessary to have built-ins right now? No. 

Could it still be functional and pretty without them. Yes.

So my inexpensive solution?

I simply installed our old shower curtain and hung two panel curtains I had in our linen closet. 

You know, it may not be a gorgeous built-in laundry area, but for now, it's simple and quite pretty.

I slide the curtain over to use my machines, which I love, and then slide them back to hide everything.

And it's okay that it's such a simple space, because there's enough going on in the same area to give it character. These shelves are across from it.

So once I had the laundry space taken care of, I moved on to my cleaning closet right beside it.

Now, while I don't mind cleaning, it's actually my husband that is the neat freak in our home. I do however, like cleaning just a little more when my tools are pretty.

I know. Completely ridiculous. I just can't help it. It's like pretty packing or an old piece with perfect patina - I'm just drawn to it. And I'm fairly certain it's hereditary as my Aunt Jeanette suffers from the same problem.

Don't they just make you want to clean?

I've found them over the years at Homesense and Marshalls, and while they are beautiful, none of them are really more expensive than regular old cleaning tools.

And before you go thinking that I flutter around my house dusting everything with a feather duster, this is reserved for my chandeliers. I just use a plain old rag.

And while I admit, I love the smell of a cleaners, I do try to use just basic cleaning solutions when I can. Like for windows, a little vinegar and mild dish soap with warm water does a beautiful job.

These plain spray bottles from the dollar store are perfect for it.

One of the reasons I needed to clean out this closet, was that I needed to make some room for my vacuum. To be honest, I was quite disappointed to leave my central vac behind. But I've actually come to love this new one. The suction is fantastic and the canister detaches to you can carry it on the stairs. And it pivots. (Pivot! Pivot! - I know that you heard Ross when you read that!)

The fact that it's white had absolutely no impact on my decision making... none at all.

Different baskets are also used for other things like garbage bags and my laundry supplies.

Here you can see the closet once I fit everything back in.

Ryan later pointed out that it's not functional having the vacuum on the left, rather it needs to be on the right so I don't have to move the mop bucket to get it out.

Why does he always have to be right...

And there it is. My most inexpensive makeover in this house yet! If only it would go this way more often.

And on another unrelated makeover note, I was thrilled to see that our interior house colour - Simply White - is Benjamin Moore's 2016 Colour of the Year. To be fair, I discovered the colour through Catherine Burke who writes the blog In The Fields.