trees & ten years

On Wednesdays after the kids go to bed Taylor and I usually go out. Like, not OUT out, not like a date night or anything. We go to the comic book store down on Granville Street so Taylor can get his weekly comics, and I usually make him go with me to my favourite store HomeSense to look at all the stuff.

I was idly browsing kitchen gadgets when he suddenly called to me “I FOUND A BLEAK ART.” A little backstory, about a year ago I was there and found a canvas print of a landscape that I fell in love with. It’s a photograph of a range of mountains growing paler as they recede into the distance, mist in the valleys, all in shades of grey. I immediately bought it for our dining room wall. I call it my bleak art BUT that sort of vista is one of my FAVOURITE things to look at, second only to the same vibe, but with trees.

The print that Taylor had found was the same vibe, but with trees.

I told him I loved it and he offered to buy it for me, as an anniversary gift. We had decided not to do gifts this year as we (especially me) are quite broke, but I just loved this print so much! We walked around the rest of the store to see if there was something better (I even offered to make the ultimate sacrifice and get towels instead, because the towels we received as a wedding gift ten years ago have mostly all disintegrated and as such we only have six bath towels for our family of five people, hashtag minimalism). But in the end the art was the thing.

When we took it up to the cash desk the sales associate had a real moment with it. He glanced at it and said “good choice” and then looked again, longer and said “REALLY good choice,” with real emotion. He asked us if we “drive around a lot” and I replied “sometimes we go up to Kelowna?” (Taylor’s hometown, a forest-y, mountain-y scenic four hour drive away) and he was like “YES! It’s like that!” and really it is.

I had thought I would put the new print up in the bedroom, but after I got home I realized the new bleak art complimented the old one perfectly: it’s the same size (although oriented vertically rather than horizontally) and the frame is the same colour. Isn’t it funny, finding this matching pair almost a whole year apart? I hung the new one on the adjacent wall in the dining room (where it hides a spot where someone unfamiliar with removing Command hooks damaged the paint) and I can see it from almost every part of the front of the apartment, where it reminds me of the forest, and the mountains, and peace, and having a partner who knows me so well that in a whole huge store full of miscellaneous items he found the one thing I would really and truly love.

Happy tenth anniversary Taylor, you are my heart.

routines

Will 2019 be the year I finish painting the playroom? STAY TUNED…

shark

Now that winter break is over we are all slowly getting back into our daily routines. While I don’t typically like to have my kids over-scheduled in a lot of activities I DO try to stick to a schedule for meals, naps, and bedtimes. It’s especially important for my work week as I have to fit morning snack, lunch and afternoon nap for Nicky and the daycare kids all into the five-hour block of time between getting back from dropping Gwen at school and leaving to pick her up. In order to make it work we have to have morning snack at 9:30, right when we get back, and the kids have developed their OWN routine from there:

  • 9:30- 9:45 morning snack
  • 9:45-9:50 help me move the couch (see below)
  • 9:50-??? listen to Baby Shark and run around in a circle

They do this EVERY DAY and honestly… I don’t even find Baby Shark that annoying anymore. Oh and re: the couch, I don’t want the kids playing in the “living room” part of our living area because they always jump on the couch and throw all the cushions on the floor (annoying) and one time a toy was thrown by someone running through the living room and it SMASHED our tv so…. Anyway we push the couch forward to the entertainment stand (there needs to be a shorter word for this…) which pretty much eliminates the living room as a play area and makes the playroom huge with more room for running, playing and dumping out all the toys.

dough

Before Christmas my friend gave me a little jar of sourdough starter, which I promptly put in the fridge and forgot about. If you keep them on the counter they need to be fed every twelve hours but in the fridge you can let them go a week, two weeks or… a month? I’ve heard conflicting things from different people and websites, and of course there is my own personal experience of just leaving it for a month. Yesterday I FINALLY pulled it out and was like… is it alive? is it dead? WHO CAN SAY. I figured I’d feed it some to find out, and then I forgot to put it back in my fridge. This morning I have to say YES, it is alive and ALL OVER THE COUNTER. I transferred it to a bigger jar and popped it back in the fridge but HONESTLY I should start using it to make bread. Sourdough bread is actually one of my FAVES so it makes sense. If anyone has and tips, tricks, techniques, recipes or advice please let me know and REST ASSURED I’m going to set an alarm on my phone to remind me to feed Li’l Yeasty… weekly? Bi-monthly? Something-ly.

skin

Over the winter break, especially the last week when I was sick (I literally got a cough/lost my voice on New Year’s Day and I’m still not better) I definitely started slacking in the skincare routine department. SHAMEFUL in these times I know. I needed to get a new nighttime moisturizer so I decided to jumpstart my return to skincare by getting a TON of tiny products from Sephora. I wanted to try the Herbivore Pink Cloud moisturizer but I didn’t want to buy a full size jar in case I didn’t like it, so I got a set of small Herbivore products and THEN because I’d never used any of my Rewards points (I have literally never ordered anything from Sephora because the entire time I’ve been regularly buying stuff there it’s been three blocks from my house) so I got every (free) tiny product I could. I ended up with a bunch of new masks, moisturizers, cleansers, serums and facial oils, and a bunch of lip colour for some reason. SO be on the look out for a lot of well-hydrated selfies from me in the months ahead.

dishes

Last week we got a new dishwasher! You might recall we tried to replace our old, third-hand one a year ago but the new one we bought at the time turned out to be contaminated with mold and returning it was an extremely huge hassle that took honestly months. MONTHS! After Christmas we decided to give it another try with a different dishwasher from a different retailer and HONESTLY it turned out great. We were really anxious about something else going wrong so we weirdly kept it a secret? We just didn’t want to jinx it! But in the end we got a brand new dishwasher that had the look and all the features that I wanted/needed delivered, installed and the old one hauled away in a week and a half.

With our old machine we had to completely pre-wash everything before putting it in (you might ask “why put them in at all then?” and the answer is DAYCARE REGULATIONS). So we all got into the habit of leaving our dirty dishes in the sink/on the counter until there was enough to justify filling the sink with water. It was frustrating for me because I ended up washing up after everyone’s snacks and drinks all day long (I’m talking about people over the age of sixteen here) . With the new machine everyone can just put their dishes in it right away and wow. WOW. What a difference! We are all still getting used to this new routine but I sincerely hope “putting dishes in the dishwasher” remains a fun novelty activity my kids are happy to keep doing, haha.

a weekend in December

Usually we break out our family pajamas on Christmas tree decorating night but we were waiting on a delivery. Only Nicky needed a new pair this year (thank goodness, next year he AND both girls will need some) but due to the only-recently-resolved postal strike there’s a big mail backlog and we were worried they wouldn’t arrive in time. The finally showed up last week so I spent Friday afternoon wrapping them all, as well as the new holiday Legos, for some festive fun family Friday night. Taylor accidentally ordered this set of holiday Duplo but it worked well to keep Nicky entertained until bedtime, and then Taylor the girls and I opened the regular sets and got to work. Gwen and I built Santa & Mrs Claus while Taylor and Sym worked on the firehouse, and later when Sym’s two friends came over to watch Riverdale they ended up getting into the Legos instead and finished the whole thing!

Since we didn’t want to all be in matching pajamas while Sym’s friends were over (that would be a little weird) instead we all got up early-ish on Saturday and had a pajama brunch. Taylor made waffles and we had them with maple syrup and fruit salad. After I took Gwen to Robson Square to go ice skating. She loves it and I never have cash to pay for skate rentals so a few weeks ago I bought her a pair of secondhand skates of facebook marketplace. I also have my own skates, which I found in the garbage room a couple winters ago. I also love ice skating but I am truly terrible at it; it’s actually funny to me how much fun I have doing in in spite of my complete lack of skill. I’m hoping to sign Gwen up for lessons in January and I might sign myself up for some as well.

In the afternoon while Nicky was napping Taylor and I left Sym & Gwen at home building more holiday Legos (we have a lot ok! Other than the firehouse we haven’t even started any of the big sets) while we went out and ran errands, picking up some wrapping paper, a few small gifts and hooks to hang our Christmas stockings. Usually I hang them above the window over the tv but I have decorations on that windowsill and I was worried it would be too cluttered, so this year I elected to stick some Command hooks to the wall between the living- and dining room windows. There’s used to be some art there but I took it down when we repainted and it was a big blank space that needed filling.

Sunday was a much more lazy day, or at least was spent closer to home. We tidied up around the house, I took some stuff out to the storage room and cleaned up our messy mudroom. The day before I had an inspiration on a way to make a no-sew felt leaf garland so I spent the afternoon on that. I just used supplies I already had around the house so it’s quite short but I really like how it turned out. I’d like to make another, longer one as well as do a DIY tutorial post, but cutting out 43 felt leaves for just this small garland was ABSOLUTE MURDER on my carpal tunnels and my arms are still killing me so I’m not sure if it’ll happen.

this week

This week. THIS WEEK MAN.

You know the saying that like… comedy is tragedy plus time? So many things have gone awry this week that it’s ALREADY funny, and the week isn’t even over. No need to wait for the tragedy to become comedy when your life’s disasters are on a 24-hour news cycle! Fair warning: a lot of the things that went awry involve a great variety of bodily fluids. The amount of time I spent this week cleaning up pee and poo and puke…!

But we’ll start with me. Last week I bought myself some new baking sheets. I wanted to make cookies for the Thursday Treat (it’s A Thing now) this week, but all my old, crudded up baking sheets were different sizes and thicknesses, so it was almost impossible to figure out cooking times. I just wanted baking sheets that were the same size and the same thickness that would conduct heat in the same way. I’ve finally figured out my oven’s quirks (after only 11 years in this apartment): it runs a little hot, especially on the right side. So I have to rotate whatever I’m cooking laterally halfway through in order to achieve a consistent bake, or roast, or whatever. ANYWAY. I got these new baking sheets so I threw the old ones away. However when I was carrying them to the door, I dropped one. On my foot. No big deal, right? Except the way I was carrying it, it hit my foot on one corner. If it had landed flat, or one the edge I’m sure it wouldn’t have been so painful or dramatic, but all the weight of the thing concentrated on that one corner was just beyond! I’m sure there are mathematical calculations you could do with the weight of the sheet and the height from which it fell to figure out the psi or whatever, but all I need to know was that it HURT. I hobble-ran around the house yelling the kind of nonsense non-swears you yell when you are around little kids: “FRIBBIN FRABBIN JACKALOPIN FLUFFERNUTTER!!!!” The top of my foot swelled up like a gross ballon and started to bruise almost right away. It’s been a few days and the swelling still hasn’t gone down completely and the bruise is spectacular and encompasses the entire dorsal area (yes I googled that so I wouldn’t have to say “top of my foot” again). It goes from arch to arch, toe to ankle, purple and green and yellow. It’s quite a treat.

It’s worth mentioning that this is the same foot that developed plantar faciitis last summer, but I don’t have pain from that anymore because acupuncture cured it? I’m a believer now.

Ok. So. The other thing? I swear to god it’s been one kid or another, one animal or another with the bodily fluids ALL WEEK. It’s mostly blurred together into a haze of scrubbing and wiping and rinsing and sanitizing and washing. Nicky’s hair still smells pukey (after MULTIPLE washes!) and I have never been so goddamn happy to have in-suite laundry in my entire life. It’s also really brought to the forefront my & Taylor’s different parenting styles: when a toddler is barfing and screaming and barfing my go-to plan is to just hold them in place where they are (be that in a high chair, in front of the fridge or next to the front door) until they finish barfing so you only have to do crime scene cleanup in one spot, while Taylor’s natural instinct is to grab them and run? where? the bathroom? I’m not really sure, and I don’t know that he does either.

It’s also worth mentioning that I have an old baby wipes box of latex gloves to wear when I’m changing the daycare kids’ diapers (as per health authority regulations) and WOW have they come in handy this week.

Thankfully out of our family only Nicky has gotten sick (so far…). I think it’s actually been a few years since we’ve had a vomitty disease that’s stricken multiple members of the family, which is kind of incredible considering. Just in case anyone else gets hit we’ve all cancelled all of our weekend plans to have sleepovers, go snowboarding, and do Korean foot-peeling masks with our sisters. Ballet class is still on for now; we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, if no one gets sick I guess I can spend this weekend working on my endless closet-rearranging scheme. So far I’ve emptied my craft closet, sorted out a bunch of old paint cans from the kitchen closet, and put some crackers where the paint cans used to be. Soooo it needs a bit more work.

The acorn is actually a candle jar; the netting over the bottle was from a package of garlic? I think? Or maybe shallots. Either way it’s repurposed. Also I just realized now that the diamond pattern of the net matches the diamond pattern of the acorn top matches the diamond pattern on the wooden coaster, and yet I had them grouped together? The subconscious mind is WILD.

When we went snow tubing I sunburned my lips and for WEEKS nothing helped to heal the dry, peelly, chapped and PAINFUL mess. Last weekend in desperation I went to Sephora and spent TWENTY-TWO DOLLARS on this Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm. I said that if it didn’t completely heal my fried lips in ONE DAY I was returning it, and guess what? IT TOTALLY WORKED. I started using it on Saturday afternoon and woke up Sunday morning completely restored, goddammit. So if your lips are dried, fried or generally a wreck I recommend this. You’ll love it, and I’m sorry.

This week’s Thursday Treat: brown butter & toffee chocolate chip cookies. I wanted to try a new recipe so I googled “best chocolate chip cookie bon appetit” (I’ve had really good luck with recipes from them) and this was the result. Ironically (?) this recipe ACTUALLY comes from a baking blogger from Nanaimo, BC, which is 12 minutes from my hometown of Nanoose Bay. WHAT R THE ODDS. My grocery store didn’t have any Skor bars but it did have bags of Skor toffee bits so I used 80 grams of those, and 50% cacao chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate wafers (i… dk what those are). These came out delicious, and I got to use my new baking sheets! I also used an ice cream scoop to measure the batter for the first time and why? have I not always been doing this? You should do it too; my scoop is from Crate & Barrel and it works great.

Nicky is no longer drinking formula at all, so this week I washed and cleaned our beloved baby bottle machine so we can sell it, and with the counter space freed up by its absence I spent a glorious afternoon rearranging the kitchen. The toaster and bread box are with the coffee maker in a breakfast-slash-sandwich zone. The coffee maker is next to the sink so you can refilled its water reservoir easily. The stand mixer is closer to the stove which makes sense because most things you mix, you also need to cook. The space makes so much more sense now and is so much more ~visually open~ (sorry). I need to get a second or bigger utensil holder and I want a different breadbox; there’s nothing wrong with our current one but the steel doesn’t go with my current ~aesthetic (again, sorry) and it has a big dent on the top where someone (me…) dropped a jar of salsa on it the first week we had it. I would love one that was wood or white, but I also want a drop-front and a flat top so I can store stuff on top of it. The same one we have now comes in white, which would be perfect EXCEPT it’s not really available here? You can get it on UK sites for £31, but here in Canada I can only find it from sketchy resellers for $160, or $100 + $60 shipping. So the search continues.

OH! As part of the kitchen & pantry project I made labels for all my salts this week! Except this isn’t all of them, I need to get more of these jars (from the dollar store) for the rest of them. I have the labels all ready when I do though

You would never guess this guy has barfed over one hundred thousand times this week.

spring is springing


this famous Skinnytaste bagels


Nicky’s fave lunch right now: peanut butter sandwiches cut into “coins”


it was my birthday this week


dolly slumber party

Spring is starting to happen outside, and inside I’m getting a little bee in my bonnet to do my version of spring cleaning, which mostly involves rearranging things. Right now I’m obsessed (OBSESSED) with turning my kitchen closet into a pantry, which means I’d have to move all the tools and brooms and cans of pant into what is currently my craft closet, and move all my craft supplies… where? What I really want to do is put proper storage in the hallway and have my craft supplies there. Unfortunately I can’t afford to buy a bunch of cabinetry at the moment but I also haven’t been doing much crafting so I might just put it all in some big Rubbermaid bins temporarily.

What else? I’m very keen to finish painting our bedroom, and to repaint the hallway which assaults my eyes daily with its grotesque yellow paint. I need to put up all the art I took down when I painted the living/dining room as well as some in the little kids’ room. Speaking of the little kids’ room, last weekend I finally mostly finished sorting out and organizing the toys, which had been in a messy jumble since we had the floors done (last spring…). I need to get some storage for under Gwen’s bed to sort out the last of it still but it’s already much better.

I’ve lost track of how many teeth Nicky has now. They keep popping through in batches, and he’s been miserable, but I think he’s very very close to being done? The four dreaded molars he’s been working on since he turned one (FOUR MONTHS AGO) have mostly popped out (at last check he had three) and in the meantime his canines have appeared as well. This means he’s started sleeping through the night again (occasionally) so Gwen is sleeping through the night in her own bed (occasionally). Of course nights like that (of which last night was one) mean we have mornings like I did today, when they both wake up much earlier than normal. Nicky hollered me out of bed at 6:15 and when I brought him out to the living room I found Gwen already there, watching Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron.

Tomorrow is another early morning, as I have the second of three spine injections at the pain clinic out in the suburbs at 7:10am. I’m definitely not looking forward to it but best to get it out of the way and have the rest of my (long) weekend free!

play kitchen remodel reveal


please ignore the two-tone paint job on the walls, I haven’t finished repainting the playroom yet! The space behind the kitchen on the right is where the minicribs for the daycare kids will be stored when not in use.

Last spring when we were doing a big apartment purge in preparation for having new floors installed, one of the things I got rid of was my old blue retro-style play kitchen from KidKraft. Long time readers will know I’d had that thing forever, and it was pretty much the last one they made before they redesigned the door hinges- mine were always falling off. It was definitely time to replace it, but I wanted something different so it took some time.


clear plastic bins from InterDesign; play food & dishes mostly Ikea, Melissa & Doug, and Green Toys

I decided that a corner kitchen would be a better fit; since I rearranged the apartment I have a large playroom space and a bigger kitchen would accommodate more children, as well as provide plenty of storage for all the play food and dishes. I also wanted it to look nice, and so I spent a lot of time browsing blogger playroom tours, haha! I really fell in love with the white corner kitchen I saw here on Hello Baby Brown but unfortunately that colourway was discontinued (I emailed KidKraft to ask) and the other one available for that model was a dark black-brown colour that wasn’t what I wanted.

Early on in my search I added this white & pink corner kitchen to my wishlist, even though I hated the pink, because if push came to shove I thought I could do some light play kitchen remodelling. Then on Black Friday it went deeply on sale and push really did come to shove! I had to wait until I had some time off work to get started so this was my big project over winter break.


photo from KidKraft

This is not quite a Do-It-Yourself, more like a I-Did-This-And-You-Could-Too. I would have liked to show everything step by step but most of the work was done in the evenings when it was too dark to take decent pictures (I could barely take them even now!), however it’s all fairly straightforward. I basically only changed four things:

– the pink and white backsplash
– the pink, white and silver doors and front panels
– the pink and silver hardware
– the pink and white curtains

This may seem like quite a lot but the entire frame of the kitchen was plain white so what I changed was mostly just the details.

The Backsplash


The utensil holder is really a toothbrush cup I picked up at Homesense.

This was the first thing I tackled and was probably also the easiest and fastest to do. I used the same peel & stick subway tiles I put up in my real kitchen. I’d hoped there were enough pieces leftover to complete this project but most of what I had was fairly small scraps so I ended up ordering three more tiles, which turned out to be more than enough. I just measured carefully, cut the tiles to size and stuck them in place.

As luck would have it they were just one dollar each from Home Depot with free shipping so this was also very cost-effective!

The Doors

It took me a while to decide which of these doors to paint. The fridge & freezer were white, the microwave and washer were pink and the oven was silver. Only the pink was truly yuck to me, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to easily match the silver or white finish with paint so in the end I went with a medium grey (quelle surprise) for all the doors, the panels adjacent to the oven and microwave, and the two arched pieces that go over the counter (these were also pink).

The pink pieces I painted both sides, but the white and silver I only painted the front to save myself a little time. I removed as much of the hardware as I could, including the clear plastic windows in the microwave and oven doors, and taped around those pieces I couldn’t remove. The paint I used was BeautiTone Cabinet and Furniture Paint in Metropolis Mood. The owner of my local hardware store recommended this paint and OH MY GOD I LOVE IT. It went on beautifully and smoothly with a mini foam roller and dried to such a nice finish that I’m starting to believe I could use it on my real kitchen cabinets (the refinishing of which I know would be an act of pure hubris).

So far it’s proven very durable even with how rough toddlers play; there’s one small scratch in one of the arches but I think that happened when I was moving the pieces around before they were fully cured, and it will be easy to touch up. I myself accidentally slammed the wooden edge of a WheelyBug ride-on toy into the front of the oven and the grey paint wasn’t damaged at all while the original white finish on the frame chipped! You can see it in the pic above. I definitely recommend this paint.

The Hardware


The wooden crates the dishes are stored in were the packaging from the musical instruments I bought last month.

The hardware included the door handles, the frame on the chalkboard, the oven knobs, the sink, faucet and stovetop burners, a holder for the included toy phone and the round door of the washer. Now, most of these pieces were silver, which I had no problem with, BUT the handle and knobs for the oven, as well as the chalkboard frame were pink (the toy phone that came with this kitchen is also pink, but I left it as is and gave it to Gwen to cover in Peppa Pig stickers).

I’d planned to spray paint all of these, but I realized the the moving parts on the faucet and the opening mechanism for the washer door would make that impractical. So I decided to leave the silver pieces as they were and spray only the pink pieces, but my friend Lillian clued me in to a product called RUB N BUFF.

This is basically a kind of wax with metallic pigment in it that you rub on with your fingers and then buff with a cloth. After a short search I found some locally at an art supply store for about $8 and picked up a tube in my chosen colour, Gold Leaf) and got to rubbin and buffin. I wore latex gloves for the rubbing and used some unused, leftover stain-application cloths for the buffing. The pieces had different finishes so I had some mixed results (the knobs for the stovetop in particular turned out quite patchy), but overall I’m very happy with it, especially as I got the best coverage on the pink pieces which were the main problem for me.

There were a few pieces of hardware I didn’t want gold: the phone holder, the sink, and the inner ring of the washer door I wanted to be a gloss white and the stove burners a gloss black. These I decided to spray paint and BOY HOWDY WAS IT A MESS. I don’t know why I always think spraypainting things will go well for me but it’s honestly always a disaster. I don’t know of the problem this time was the paint I chose (Krylon Fusion for Plastic) or the finish on the pieces, but the paint pooled weirdly and left clustery round patches uncovered. I had to do about a billion coats to get full coverage, which took days. In the end the result was just okay; the pieces have a bit of a weird texture to them, but it’s not very noticeable except for on the burners, and metal burners for a real gas stove have a bit of texture anyway so I think it’s fine..

The Curtains

Last but not least. These were easy, I used a scrap I had leftover from hemming some Ikea curtains (unfortunately discontinued but similar here) for the hallway closets. Using the original pink & white curtains as a rough pattern I cut two pieces of fabric in the size I needed. Since two sides of each piece were already hemmed, I just hemmed the other two sides, forming a channel for the curtain rod at the tops, using stitch witchery iron-on hemming tape.


The washer makes excellent bouncy ball storage.

So there you have it! The only part that’s technically not done is replacing the painted-over pretend buttons & displays for the appliances. The stove top still has on/off displays next to the knobs (with a little rogue pink even!) but everything else is gone. I scanned the pieces with the controls before I painted them so I could redesign them the way I want. I’ll get around to that eventually, but in the meantime the blank panels don’t seem to be detracting from the enjoyment the kids are getting from the new kitchen!

one one two two

Those poor palmiers, I very very diligently halved the recipe and then grabbed the wrong size of measuring cup and used twice as much sugar as they needed! They were (mostly still edible) but pretty well encased in carmelized sugar. I need a do-over on them.

Last week Gwen had her first-ever Pajama Day at school and honestly you’ve never seen a more excited kid. Also: they were allowed to bring stuffies and two of her friends brought toys Gwen gave them for their birthdays.
Pork chops with apples & onions are a favourite family dinner, but I need to talk about those peas. I threw them together at the last minute, cooking them in butter with lemon zest and smoked salt and they were delicious. Even picky eater Gwen admitted she liked them “a lil bit,” and Nicky couldn’t get enough.

I spent a few evenings sewing a couple of rag rugs together using this DIY to make a new pouf. The rugs were $13 each and I stuffed it with old duvets and pillows I was planning on getting rid of so in addition to being easy it was very affordable! Initially I wanted more neutral-coloured rugs but the ones I found were much more expensive and I decided to go with the thrifty option. The kids and pets certainly think it’s great.

I have been working hard to slowly but surely refresh our living space and HONESTLY I am so happy with how it’s all turning out. The living room/playroom switch has opened up so much more space for playing, and just makes so much more sense than they way it was before. The simple act of repainting the (new) living room and dining room all the same colour makes those areas seem so much bigger as well. We shortened Taylor’s desk which got rid of even more wasted space and clutter, and opened up the office into the living room. And other than our new couch (which was sorely needed) I think the only purchases have been paint and a few small decor items. Other than that, it’s all been rearranging.

This weekend I’m going to repaint the wall where Taylor’s desk used to be (there were a couple of shelves above that we took down that left a major amount of holes behind), and next I’m going to focus on the playroom. I want to finish repainting, move the blackout blinds to make more space for naptime, create new book storage (shelves? a bookcase? boxes?) and invest in a new play kitchen. I got rid of Ol’ Bluey when we had the floors redone but I need a new one. I just feel like it’s something kids really love! I’m like 99% decided on this one, although I loathe the pink and would paint over it/replace it. It has a lot of space for play and I like the shape a lot. I have it planned out in my mind how I’m going to install it in this weird, awkward corner while still leaving space behind it to store the folded minicribs when they aren’t in use, with a shelf above it that has a framed poster mounted on the front to store the minicrib mattresses. It’s hard to explain but I’m very confident that it will work. I’m just hoping that the kitchen drops in price a lil more before I pull the trigger on it.

Also this weekend we’re going to start putting the tree up! Long-time readers will know I like to have it up, bare, for a while to let the kids get used to it, so we won’t decorating until December 1st. A little Christmas has already started sneaking in though: the new mushroom ornament and the felt Santa (made from a kit by Gwen) are already brightening up the room with holiday cheer.

The Perils of Scrimping on Butter

One night last week we were stumped on what to give Gwen & Nicky for dinner. On Thursday Sym is at her dad’s and Taylor and I eat later in the evening, so it’s just the two little kids to cook for. We decided on a lazy classic: breakfast for dinner. Just some fried eggs & toast. Easy-peasy.

We’d run out of butter to fry the eggs so after he got home from work Taylor popped back out to the store to pick some up. The grocery store by our house is way too busy at that time of day so I directed him to the drugstore instead. They only had the cheapest cheap no name butter, but butter is butter right? APPARENTLY NOT. Like I’m not some fancy label buying butter connoisseur; I buy store-brand butter for the most part, so I figured this would be fine. And when the house filled up with smoke and the egg whites were overdone while the yolks were barely warm I assumed it was just Taylor messing up somehow (SORRY TAYLOR).

Then on Sunday I wanted pancakes for brunch. We only recently stopped using pancake mix and making them from scratch (we use this recipe, which is pretty much perfect IF you half the amount of salt), but they’ve turned out great each time we’ve made them. So imagine my surprise and consternation when the house filled with smoke AGAIN and the first two pancakes were still raw on the inside when they were BURNT on the outside.

It was at this point when we realized the problem: THE BUTTER. That cheap-ass bargain basement butter with its ludicrously low smoke point was ruining the pancakes like it has almost ruined the eggs! We quickly wiped out the cast irons and tried using vegetable oil instead, which worked a little better (no smoke at least) but it did not impart a nice flavour to the pancakes, and we were still having trouble cooking them through: they were still turning out raw on the inside even when the outside was seriously overcooked. We tried reducing the temperature and flipping them a few more times, but then Taylor had a revelation: there was butter in the batter! Three whole tablespoons of melted trash butter, rendering our pancake batter uncookable and inedible.

In the end we had no choice but to send both the pancakes and the remaining butter to the food waste bin, while we went out for brunch instead (which was a whole other comedy of errors), but in the end we learned a valuable lesson: Don’t. Scrimp. On the butter!

In other news, Taylor and I have found a solution to Gwen’s kindergarten drop-off/pick-up problem. Turns out getting Gwen to and from school with both Nicky & the daycare kids was actually not… physically possible for me to do. So now Taylor drops Gwen off in the morning and I pick her up in the afternoon. I’d hoped to avoid this because I feel like going in to work so late won’t be good for Taylor’s job, but at the end of the day I just cannot do both drop off and pick up. It would be different if we’d gotten a space at the school LITERALLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM OUR APARTMENT, but we didn’t (something I will be forever bitter about) so we’re doing it this way instead.

Sitting Room

Having new floors installed in April has really inspired me to refresh the decor of the apartment. Unfortunately I’ve been pretty broke this year so right now it’s all just daydreams and pinterest boards, but I’m pretty sure the tide will be turning soon (knock on wood that I’m not hit with anymore financial disasters) and I’ll be able to turn at least some of my ideas into reality.

I definitely want to repaint/finish painting most of the house, and with the full bath and our bedroom already halfway done I feel like we could get those out of the way pretty quickly, and with my faux-tile backsplash in the kitchen the amount of painting to be done in there is very minor. The hideous yellow hallway is another story; there’s not a lot of wall to paint but with a whopping SEVEN doors opening off it the taping job is monumental. My biggest plans though, are for the living room.

With our open plan living area we don’t so much have “rooms” as just four different designated areas within the space: dining room, living room, playroom and office. My plan is to switch the living room area with the playroom, and hang some black-out roller blinds between the two so the playroom can also be used as a nap room for the daycare kids. I’m not sure yet if my plan will work (I’d have to relocate the tv under a window that might be too low?) but a big part of it hinges on getting a new sofa.

Our current big sectional is completely caved in on one side and the colour (brown) and shape (HUGE and curved) don’t go with what I’m envisioning. Initially I wanted to get a blue sofa but now I’m thinking a neutral colour would be better in case I get sick of blue. Obviously with the kids and the dogs and my own propensity for spilling drinks/salsa/gravy all the time a light colour won’t do, so in a shocking twist I’m thinking… dark grey. I know, I know. Such a surprise.

Of course, the colour isn’t the only thing to consider. Since we’re not getting another sectional Taylor has just one criteria our new sofa has to meet: it has to be long enough for him to sleep on fully stretched out. He’s 6’4″ or 193cm so it’s kind of a tall order HA HA PUN INTENDED.

I’ve been idly browsing for something I liked that would also be long enough and affordable (the tide of my murky financial waters hasn’t turned THAT much) so of course I’m looking at Ikea because you know what? I love Ikea! I’ve read a lot of articles about how when you grow up you are supposed to graduate from Ikea but to what? West Elm??? Our current sofa is not from Ikea and cost a ton and it didn’t really last that long before becoming un-sit-on-able.

Ikea has quite a few options in dark grey that I’ve been comparing, and I think I may have narrowed it down to just the right sofa for our space and our family.

1. One I was looking at is the Stocksund. It comes in two different solid greys and also a lighter grey & white floral pattern that I actually really like. Unfortunately, the full width of the sofa is 199 cm and once you subtract the arms there’s no way Taylor could fit on it.

2. The new 2017 Stockholm sofa is interesting, and with a seat width of 190cm it’s very close to the right size, but as much as I love the idea of velvet, our fluffy pets and messy children preclude it. Also, ten cushions? I woudl spend my entire day putting them back in place!

3. I had almost decided on the Norsborg and really like the little pockets on the outside of the arms for remotes, books, etc, but the height of the legs and all that space underneath throws me, and when I calculated the seat width it’s only about 180cm, which is not even close. NOT EVEN.

4. With the Kivik the too-much-space-under-the-sofa problem is eliminated, and those wide, flat arms would be perfect to hold a little tray with my drink or snack or whatever craft I’m working on at the time. Tragically though, the seat width once again comes in at just 180cm.

5. Enter the Vimle. I don’t think this product was available when I started looking so it’s new to me. It comes in a medium grey and in spite of not looking particularly oversized it is actually the longest of all the sofas I’ve been looking at (at Ikea and elsewhere). Minus the arms and the seat comes in at a whopping 211cm! I’m pretty sure this is going to be the perfect piece for us, pending a sit-down test next time we’re actually in the store.

If you have any honest opinions about any of these pieces, sofa suggestions under $1000 (Canadian) dollars or why Taylor is so obsessed with sleeping on the couch, let me know!

How does Gwen’s Garden Grow

At the end of June I was offered a raised garden box for myself & the kids. My neighbourhood had received a grant to build some for people who can’t access any of the community gardens for whatever reason, so it was totally free and even came with all the dirt it needed! I’m notoriously terrible at gardening but I figured WHAT THE HECK and said yes. The garden box was built and left in the part of the yard I’d specified, and over the long weekend Gwen and I went to pick out some plants. We got two tomato plants, a yellow pepper, a green pepper, one pumpkin, a strawberry, a blueberry, sage, parsley and chives. I put Gwen in charge of watering them and she’s very diligent about doing it every day.

We’ve had our garden for two weeks and amazingly, not only have I managed not to kill any, some are even starting to bear fruit! The pumpkin seems like it might not be long for this world, and I have my doubts about the blueberry (which is basically a single twig with some leaves that squirrels have dug up twice, but I dearly want it to live and grow because it is actually a PINK blueberry bush) but everything else is growing and thriving. The tomatoes especially, but the yellow pepper looks like it’s ready to blow up, and the sage and chives are doing well enough to use in meals already.