10.02.2014

Before and after: painted dining room chairs


Remember the free dining room chairs we scored a while back? I finally got around to painting them!


I used Rustoleum's Ultra Coverage spray paint in a semi-gloss finish. The finish on a few of my spray painted pieces has rubbed off in places, presumably from use, so I decided to take the extra step of priming the chairs (with Rustoleum's Ultra Coverage primer). I also lightly sanded the spots that I thought would get the most use, like the seats and the top of each chair's back. We'll see if it makes any difference in the long run.

Now that the chairs are black, I really want to strip and stain our dining room table (!). I've always loved the combination of painted black chairs with a natural wood table, but I had a picture of a farmhouse table so firmly in mind that it didn't occur to me to just go for it with our current table. I'm planning to use the same stain as Hannah's toy box, and maybe I'll beat it up a bit, too. I'm feeling the need for furniture that can be banged on, painted on, etc. Here's a little inspiration:

via

via

via

Now to find the time to actually get it done...

9.29.2014

How to: free landscaping


One of the items on my fall 'to do' list was to add some plants along the base of our new fence. We wanted something low maintenance and shade tolerant, so we decided to go with a mix of hostas and ferns. Adam's mom kindly dug up and delivered some ferns a couple of weeks ago (they're hard to spot between the hostas, but they're there!) and I planted the hostas over the weekend. The ferns in my front planter really exploded in size over the summer, so I'm hopeful these tiny ferns will do the same thing next year.

All eight hostas actually came from one plant in our yard - yes, it was huge! The plantings look a little limp from the move right now, but next spring they'll be just as pretty and perky as before (I hope).


According to the Internet, the best time to divide hostas is in either early fall or spring, but in my limited experience, mature hostas are virtually indestructible (so I wouldn't worry about the timing too much). I worked around the base of my plant with a shovel, getting under the roots and gently lifting until I could pull the whole thing out of the ground. With the plant on its side, I used a kitchen knife to cut through the roots, trying to avoid cutting through any shoots. Just make sure to plant your divisions at the same depth as before and give them a good watering once they're in the ground.


My camera's battery was dead, so I quickly snapped these photos with Adam's phone when I was done. While it doesn't look like much right now, this little row of greenery is going to be so lovely next year.

{my inspiration. photo spotted here.}
It's really time to put the patio furniture away, but I'm so happy with all the progress we've made out here this year. This once awkward patch of lawn is finally turning into the little oasis I've been dreaming of!

9.25.2014

A weekend in Montreal

Adam's band played POP Montreal last weekend, which was the perfect excuse to bring the whole family and visit two of our oldest friends. They just so happen to have a daughter around Hannah's age and a two-month old son we couldn't wait to meet.


We made the 13-hour drive from Halifax to Montreal on Friday. I decided to bring Hannah's tambourine and drum sticks at the last minute - thank goodness! - and they kept her entertained for most of the trip (toys and stickers from Target's dollar bins, her growing collection of Caillou books and a new etch-a-sketch helped, too). Adam's band played on Saturday night and we spent the rest of the weekend just hanging out (did I mention that our friends are great cooks?).

It was so much fun to see the girls together - they had a blast! I love watching their friendship develop with each visit and I know it will just get better as they get older.

Oh, and that scone covered in the most delicious homemade strawberry jam is from Ma Douce Moitié. We had lunch there on Sunday and the food was SO good (I stuffed myself with crêpes and had to bring the scone home). I'm used to carrying around crayons, small toys and a sippy cup of water "just in case", but this restaurant had toys and a chalkboard wall, and brought the girls water and banana slices in kid-friendly dishes as soon as we sat down. Awesome.


Our friends live in Verdun, less than a five-minute walk from a series of great parks and walking trails along the St. Lawrence river. Hannah constantly asks to go to "the park" (whether we've already been that day or not), so she had a great time, of course. And look how long her hair is (finally) getting!


We also made sure to load up on St. Viateur bagels for the trip home, and stopped by Mont Royal for Hannah's first visit. I wanted to snap a cute photo of Hannah with the city in the background, but she would not sit still. I guess she figures yelling, "Cheese!" mid-run is good enough :)

A huge thanks to our friends for such a fantastic visit - we can't wait to see you again!

9.16.2014

The easiest way to custom-frame art


Adam bought me this Rothko print when he was in London with his band last May.  It sat in the guest room for a few months while I lazily put off having it plaque mounted, until I remembered the massive Ikea frames I scored on Kijiji.

...and then the print sat in the guest room for another month while I put off painting the frame :)

As it turns out, my tendency to procrastinate actually came in handy for once; I decided to keep the frame's original wood finish and paint the mat instead. The result is a much warmer look than the white-on-white I was planning, and I think it's more interesting, too.  


The "mat" is actually the frame's original art, flipped over and painted with two coats of CIL's Seashell Pink (you might recognize the colour from my IKEA step stool makeover and Hannah's wooden toy chest before and after). Then it was just a matter of placing the new art on top and putting it all back together.


The painted mat is a little more interesting than plain white, but still neutral enough that it doesn't compete with the beautiful art. It compliments my lovely runner, too.

There really isn't an easier way to custom-frame your art - and the colour options are endless!

9.12.2014

One week in Cologne


I was lucky enough to study abroad in the UK during my junior year of college. I was also lucky enough to do some travelling around Europe with friends. As spoiled as it sounds, Germany wasn't high on my list of places to visit (Paris! Rome! Greece!). Luckily my friends were smarter than I was, and I got to visit Munich and Berlin as a result. Both trips were awesome, and I can't believe I almost missed out because Germany didn't seem "exciting" enough (I was 20, in my defense). So when Adam's band was invited to play the c/o pop festival in Cologne, I jumped at the chance to come along. Oh, and our amazing families volunteered to look after Hannah so I could go.

To sum up our week: I love Germany. The people are so nice. The food is so good (even if you don't eat meat). The buildings are so beautiful. The transit system is so punctual. And the beer, the beer is so good.

Sorry for the truncated post, but I had so many pictures to share. Click through to see them and to hear more about our trip!

9.09.2014

Whitewashed beach chairs


Last year, right around this time, we bought a sad-looking pair of beach chairs at a yard sale for $5. It took me an entire year to get around to refinishing them, but hey, they're done! And by some awesome stroke of luck, Friday turned out to be a gorgeous beach day. Probably one of the summer's last. I arrived home from a work trip mid-afternoon, and we headed to the beach to end the day.



To refinish the chairs, I first had to remove a million rusty staples and the old, moldy fabric from the frames. I used a hammer and a small chisel to carefully pry the back support off each frame. Then I sanded the frames.

I decide to whitewash the wood instead of staining and I really like how it turned out. I loosely followed these instructions, using leftover white exterior paint, a paint brush instead of a roller, and a clean rag instead of a sponge. I also decided to forgo the plastic painter's suit :) I didn't give my paint mixture much time to dry before wiping it off with my rag, because I wanted the wood to look more sun-bleached than whitewashed, and I only did one coat. When the whitewash was dry, I sealed the frames with two coats of clear water sealer and left them to dry for a few days.


I was too lazy to break out my sewing machine for a $5 pair of chairs, so after I measured and cut my fabric to size, I hemmed the edges using iron-on hem tape. Then it was just stapling the fabric to the frames and re-attaching the back supports.


The fabric is P. Kaufmann's 'Cool Stripe' in sorbet, purchased from Tonic Living. I love the bright, happy colours, and beach chairs need stripes, I think. The chairs are really comfortable (Adam only wishes that the backs were higher so he could rest his head) and I like that they come apart (the seat slides into the back) so they can easily be tossed in the trunk.




Who knows, maybe we'll even get another beach day in?

9.03.2014

Our trip to the Middle Rhine


Near the end of our week in Cologne, Germany, Adam and I took a day trip to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. The UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its castles, vineyards and historic towns, and it seemed like a great way to belatedly celebrate our third wedding anniversary. We caught the train near our apartment in Cologne and traveled to the picturesque town of Rüdesheim. The train follows the river, so we enjoyed some pretty spectacular views during our ride.




After lunch, we picked up a few bottles of Reisling - a regional specialty and one of my favourite white wines - to take home and boarded our KD cruise up the Rhine.







The views from the ship were incredible, despite some clouds and drizzle. There was lots of room on deck, so we set up our chairs and enjoyed a beer while taking in the sights. Just after we passed Loreley Rock, we ended our cruise in the tiny town of St. Goar.




We stopped for coffee and pastries, and made the trek up the hill to Rheinfels castle. Turns out admission was cash-only and we were about four euros short. We didn't have enough time to make the trip down the hill to a bank machine and back before last admission, so we took in the view and headed to dinner before catching our train back to Cologne (oh, and dinner was also cash-only, but at least the ATM was nearby). 



It was a long day of travel, but absolutely worth it. I would definitely recommend a visit if you have the chance. My only regret is that we didn't buy more wine :)
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