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Our new couches arrived two weeks ago and it’s taken this long for me to shove the toys aside and snap a photo. How do people with more than one kid get anything done?

Still forgot to move the clashing nursing pillow

 

When they first came I had to stand back and think a little on them.  We hadn’t actually seen them in the show room (here’s what they look like in the catalogue in a different colour) so seeing them in person was a bit of a shock.  They’re a lot taller than our old Ektorp and the high arm rests makes them look even bigger.  There’s also the fact that we didn’t have a love seat before and our living room is tiny.

Choosing these was a bit of a taste compromise for us.  Count yourself lucky if you have one of those partners who could not care less what your living space looks like.  Chris is a big mid-century modern fan while I lean toward softer styles and these ended up being a bit more masculine than I had imagined.  I think things will come together better when we get an ottoman or coffee table that actually goes with them and when we get a rug that punches the colour up in this room, which is veering very close to tan and beige territory.  I’m also planning on making a few throw cushions that tie the blues from the curtains in a bit.

I think they’re growing on me and they’re definitely comfy.  I wish we’d had them when I was pregnant so that I could get have gotten off of the couch unassisted.  Although in that case they’d be covered in regurgitated milk by now.

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We hosted an informal baby shower for our friends Adam and Michelle on Saturday. Boys and girls were allowed to mix, there were no games involving chocolate resembling baby poop but there were snacks!  I wasn’t planning on decorating until I found a tutorial for the Martha Stewart paper pompoms that I had been eyeing in kit form for the nursery before Kate came around and put my Costco pack of tissue paper to good use.

I could make these all day. The runner is the old valance from Kate’s room. There was delicious berry lemonade and cake, which appeared briefly here before disappearing:

It’s the Hershey’s cake that Alicia posted about a while back but with whipped cream instead of her Cloud Burst frosting, which is great (although I prefer vanilla to almond extract) but I wanted something lighter and easier.

I also made a tinier, long-sleeved version of Rose.

Now baby girl Wood and Kate can be twinsies while Kate is launching soft toys at her head.

Every night when Chris or I would read Kate her bedtime story we would paw through the dozen or so board books strewn about on the floor beside her crib.  The mess drove me bonkers so I thought this idea was the greatest.  After begging my Ikea bound friends to pick up some Bekvam spice racks, Michelle came through and now we have a cute and easily viewable book storage solution.

Kate just loves to pull them all off and throw them on the floor.  She also loves “reading” them to herself in her very loud and serious reading voice so that makes me happy.

Erin has informed me that she also come through with a few more so hopefully we can get a handle on this situation in Kate’s closet:

Unrelated; I cut Kate’s bangs because she would no longer keep a barette in and this was driving me bananapants crazy:

I think it turned out a little better than my last home salon attempt in grade eight where I ended up with bangs that more closely resembled eyelashes. Photos to come.

A few years ago my friend Natacha made curtains for her living room and I was super impressed. She brushed off my awe and said “curtains are easy.”  Tell this to a swearing heap of me when I tried making blackout-lined curtains for Kate’s room.  Total gong show.  I decided not to let that misadventure dissuade me from giving it another go in the living room. Except, I ordered way too little fabric and ended up with an amateur hour drape that didn’t cover the whole window.  Kind of misses the point, no?  So, I bought some heavier fabric in a co-ordinating color from Mitchells and now we’re set.

It’s hard to tell from the light of this grey day but they really add a lot of warmth to the room.  I only wish it had even occurred to me to line up the print.

I really like the curtain rod from Umbra.  Word to the wise, their shipping is ridiculously slow.

Chris also moved the armchair (a Kijiji score, not sure if I mentioned it before) and I really like how it divides the room and creates an ideal angle for eye contact.  We had an actual conversation after he moved it! Imagine!  He also contributed the cardboard playhouse from Kate’s new car seat box. It’s a marvel.

Also:

I somehow totally forgot to mention that I’ve worked on the last two issues of Twist. Check it – there’s my name at the bottom!  It’s, as always, a great issue and Kate really works her butt off to put it out.

Happy weekend (unless you work weekends, in which case, my condolences)!

Chris and I decided a few months ago that we need to accept that we’ll be renting for the next few years and moving around a bit for his work but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t commit to spiffing our accommodations.  The first room to tackle will be the living room because we spend the most time there and it really needs some work.  Here it is today in it’s “before” state, although, full disclosure, here our roman blinds have already been removed and a curtain rod installed for the curtains I finished this afternoon.

This room gets a lot of light and I love that.  I find the fact that this area is so open concept a bit challenging.  It’s nice to be able to talk to each other when one of us is cooking but if you’re lazy with tidying the kitchen you have to stare at the mess while you watch Teen Mom 2. The couch is a disaster. A replacement plus a new love seat is on the way.  We have one huge, white wall and I’m still not sure what to do with it. I love an ottoman and it’s nice that Kate can’t crack her head open on it but I think a coffee table will be more practical.  Our side tables are cheap Ikea pieces of crap that were meant to be a temporary solution but we all know how that ends up.

I think I’ll document the overhaul as we work on it.  It will be slow going but I’d love any suggestions you can offer!

I never know how to display Christmas cards.  We don’t have much shelf space, I’m not crazy about the look of them on the tree, and the piece of string tacked to wall is a bit amateur hour.  So, when I saw this idea in the round up of twenty years of holiday Good Things in the new Living I started collecting the supplies.

It took no time to make; just glueing some mini clothes pins to an embroidery hoop and tying on some ribbon.  Finding the clothes pins at a price that wasn’t total highway robbery was the biggest challenge.

Now I just have to wait by the mail slot for more Christmas cards to arrive (let’s get our acts together friends and family, I have just a few more days to enjoy them).

Chris decided that I wasn’t spoiled enough getting a new sewing machine for my thirtieth birthday and thought he would redo my studio as a surprise.  It took almost a month of hard work after working long days and overnights and I have to admit I wasn’t always the picture of patience but it was so worth the wait. I actually teared up at the big reveal.  I thought I would let Chris walk you through it so that I can spend less time blogging and more time french kissing my new cutting table. Take it away baby!

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When I was asked to “guest blog” I  had no idea what that meant.  While I do have an iPhone and a MacBook, I use them almost exclusively to check current and future weather forecasts; yep, I’m that cool.  So Amy’s explanation went something like this:

A:  You should guest blog about the studio, so you can explain what was done.

C:  What does guest blogging mean?

A:  You write on my blog.

C:  How does that work?

A:  What do you mean?  I hand you the computer and you type.

C:  So a guest blogger has to be in the same place as the host?  Oh, wait; I guess they could just log on from anywhere.  I don’t think I understand this whole Internets thing.

Back to the studio…  This final design was at least the sixth version, as I kept having to update my plans when I couldn’t find material or figure out how to create a telescopic cutting table that could be adjusted using only your mind (and a small hand crank).  While I did have to scale down my plans, there were still a few “must haves”.  I wanted to have an elevated cutting surface, desk space for a sewing machine and serger, a comfortable chair, an edge on to which a swift and winder could be mounted, and plenty of storage.

Outdated before pic

After

I had planned on designing and building everything myself but soon realized that returning to work and having a three-month-old at home was going to keep me busy enough, so the idea of buying already designed and packaged storage cubes became incredibly appealing.  I tried to choose storage configurations that would work well for sewing, knitting, and all around general crafting. I picked them up at Michaels with a forty percent off coupon.

The cutting table was built at counter height and the sewing table at desk height.  For both surfaces, rather than building legs, I decided to use the storage cubes and shelves as supports and that seemed to work well. The tabletops are inch thick melamine from Rona.

Closet before

Closet after

The closet was the simplest fix with the installation of a few shelves and the addition of some clear plastic totes, also from Rona.

Kate gives her stamp of approval

In the end, I think it came together pretty much how I had planned, with only a few minor hiccups along the way.

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Thanks so much to Chris for angsting over both the studio and the blog post (the post took him two days – that’s how he rolls).  I’ve been stealing a few minutes here and there to work on a jersey dress and the loveliness of my new space is saving me from totally pulling my hair out.  I’m a lucky lady.

The baby’s room is done and just under the wire.  There may or may not be a whole lot of scary chaos going on in the closet that needs to be dealt with but for now let’s focus on what hasn’t been shamefully tucked away.

First off, I must say that I was planning on going for a zoo theme with orange as a central colour until I saw Norah’s nursery which was itself heavily inspired by Little P’s room. I loved the bright, fresh, fairly gender neutral palate and decided to blatantly rip them off.  I used the same paint colour, Benjamin Moore in Robin’s Nest, but only on one wall since we rent and will have to repaint.  I wish I could have used it throughout the room. It’s just so perfect. Onward.

It’s a pretty tiny room so it’s tricky to get a photo of the whole. This is what you see from the door.

Underneath the crib sheet is a mattress pad I made by fusing some PLU with some fusible fleece and zigzagging the edges. It took all of ten minutes and saved me fifty bucks.
I made the crib sheet from Lecien Yellow Dots using various online tutorials that were all lacking in some way but once I got the gist it was super easy. I also used the yellow in the centre embroidery hoop.  You may recognize the pink fabric from the package Robyn sent and the little dress from my last post. The green print is by Patty Young and is much brighter in real life. The alphabet print is from the Cosmic Cricket line and the lambs are from Scarlet Fig.  The infamous Purl Bee Swatch Portraits tutorial is here.

On the opposite wall is the dresser / change table.  The print above is by The Wheat Field, as seen in Little P’s room. I want to buy every print in that shop. The dresser itself was a huge ordeal that ended with Chris making a solo, do-or-die trip to the city on Easter weekend where he found forty year-old beauty at a consignment shop in dire need of refinishing.  You can see a bit of it in it’s original state in my diaper bag post. He painted many coats of white and then spray painted the handles.  I really fell in love with this super expensive dresser and I think we did a pretty good job at approximating it. I made the change pad cover and I’m really proud of it. Instead of following the online tutorials that all seem to be an unshaped slipcover but I ended up measuring all the sides and making a fitted cover. I’m really in love with the Etsuko Furuya print that I used and wish I had ordered lots more.  The little pump bottle is recycled from my favourite body wash and holds a homemade wipe solution (scroll down – Aloe Vera Recipe).

The wall opposite the window is a bit sparse at the moment. Chris is planning on building a book case at some point but right now it just has this little shelf with this print from Lovely Sweet William, stolen from Norah’s Nursery.

I made the little valance by hemming a rectangle. Three cheers. Again, I used an Etsuko Furuya print. I also lined them with some blackout fabric.

It took a lot of trips to the city and elbow grease to get this all together but now that it’s finally done I’m really pleased. I don’t know if the cheerfulness really translates here but it’s pretty light and fun in real life.  I’ve considered adding some pink pom pom decorations and I have additional fabrics I ordered and a stash of fabric balls that I had planned on making a noren with but I was starting to run out of wall space and didn’t want it to look too cluttered given that it’s such a small space.  I tried to give lots of details and links but if there’s anything I left out don’t hesitate to ask.

Now we just need the baby!

I blame Robyn.  I dragged her to craft stores and she dragged me to every home store on the Western seaboard.  I may have dragged my feet and whined a little.  But then I started to realize something.  Robyn is a grown up. Grown ups buy things to make their homes presentable to their family and friends.  A snotty voice spoke to me.  It said: “Hey, guess what Amy?  You’re about to turn 29 and you don’t have a decent ware in your ugly house.  Your idea of a serving dish is a chipped Ikea 365 dinner plate you got nine years ago.  Bravo, dumbass.”

When I arrived at Erin’s the parade of lovely housewares continued.  She has every piece of Polish pottery ever glazed.

So, I went with my first instinct and drove to Ikea, which the province of Manitoba is totally devoid of.  And I was bored.

And so, I dragged our foursome to a series of antique and thrift shops and a new obsession was born.

It started with the smaller two delphite Pyrex Piecrust pattern plates bought at an antiques store for $16 a piece.  Then we found the larger version at Value Village for $5.99.  Craziness!  Chris’s jadite tea cup and the yellow dish were picked up an antique  / junk shop and the white Pyrex side plates were found at the same Value Village for $2.49.  We also found a milk glass vase there but I forgot to include it in the photo.  The bud vase is from Ikea.  Old habits die hard.

I am now in search of a sugar bowl and creamer, a large, rectangular, yellow table cloth with scalloped edges, more dinner plates (but not necessarily in the same pattern), and just about anything else that catches my fancy.

Another awesome Value Village score without the same visual charm is a totally unused French yogurt maker!

Unfortunately, I forgot to buy starter and a few key instructions are eluding us but I hope to try it out real soon.

Hooray for playing grown-up!

I finally finished the socks I’ve been carrying around in my purse since early December.  I’ve been working on them in the car (as a passenger) and during down time while teaching.

Theyre only slightly uneven in real life.

They're only slightly uneven in real life.

These are just a basic sock with a twisted rib.  The yarn is Silkie Socks that Rock in Walking on the Wild Tide.  I won it from Tiennie – she of the gorgeous family, beautiful house, amazing blog and  consistent comments.  Thanks again Tiennie!  I am totally in love with this yarn.

After weeks of searching thrift shops in Winnipeg and Kijiji for a real, grown up dining set we had a huge stroke of luck yesterday.  We had planned on schlepping to every  furniture store in the city but on our first try we found an amazing deal at EQ3.  They are discontinuing the Canyon dining set and one of their models had a teeny tiny scratch.  It was originally $1386 and we paid $299!  OK, the big reveal.

Before: Value Village formica table, Kijiji chair, pathetic Canadian Tire stool.

Before: Value Village formica table, Kijiji chair, pathetic Canadian Tire stool.

After: Mid-century Modern Coolness

After: Mid-century Modern Coolness

We  purchased another upholstered chair which was also crazy on sale but it’s not coming until next week.  The table has a built in leaf that makes it even bigger.  Now I have to cook a nice meal to christen it.

This also means I finally have a sewing table in my studio!

Yipee!

Yipee!

Things are finally starting to come together around here.  We found out that if we paint we have to repaint when we leave in around three years so we’re probably going to skip that and focus on accents like rugs and wall arrangements.  It will be slow going as we don’t have a huge decor budget but the thrill is in the hunt sometimes!