Going dark in the dining room

First things first: no, we haven't installed new baseboards yet. I know it looks terrible, but anyone who has actually installed baseboards will understand why we keep putting it off. I did throw a leftover piece (from our renovations upstairs) in the right hand corner for motivation. 

OK. On a whim one evening, I decided to paint the back wall in our dining room black. Adam came into the room while I was painting and said, 'Uh, what are you doing?'

I blame this picture

It looks a little crazy in here right now, but I'm (pretty?) confident that it will all come together. The plan is to add built-in shelving around the window and settee (and has been for awhile), and I like black as a backdrop (as seen here). Shelves for books, plants and pretty things still stuck in storage. We need some colour and live things in here!


Two and a half

I can't believe how much Hannah has matured over the past six months. She's at a great age right now, even if she completely wears us out :)

Hannah has great language skills and keeps everyone around her entertained with chatter. She loves dancing and music (Vampire Weekend is a current favourite), and her sense of humour cracks us up (the girl loves to laugh). She's always loved books, but lately she's started asking us to tell her stories. Her favourites involve us or other adults she knows as kids, and she likes to hear them told over and over and over again. She's eager to help out around the house (especially in the kitchen) and she grows more capable and independent every day ('I can do it!' is a frequently-heard phrase around here). I'm looking forward to seeing what changes the next six months bring (come on, potty training!). 

I took a photo of Hannah every month until she turned one. Now I'm taking her photo every six months. You can check out the rest of the series here.


Dutch puffy pancakes

Another winter storm felt like the perfect excuse to eat dessert for breakfast, and this Dutch puffy pancake was calling my name. At two and a half, Hannah loves helping us in the kitchen; she cracked the eggs, poured all of the ingredients and even helped mix the batter.

Here it is all puffed up in the oven. I let it cook with the oven door cracked open for the last minute or so to ensure it was nicely browned, but not burned.

It was so yummy and really easy to make (a two year-old literally did most of the work). It's pretty awesome as a special breakfast treat, but it would make a great dessert if you were having guests over, too. I spent a good hour (at least!) shoveling wet, heavy snow out of our driveway afterwards, so I didn't feel too guilty about having seconds :)

Recipe here.


A small, but mighty kitchen update

Hey, remember this awkward side of our kitchen? We think the opening on the left was originally an indoor BBQ and the opening on the right...we have no idea. Anyway, I mentioned that I might add a small piece of trim to hide the chipped brick under the microwave and I actually did it (it's secured to the brick with heavy-duty construction adhesive). It looks so much better now, doesn't it?

We've still got those shelves to install, but the newly-bright white side of our kitchen has me craving more colour. I think a quick update to my step stool makeover is in order, and this picture makes me want to go with bright yellow. Hannah loves helping out in the kitchen, whether it's to wash dishes, bake or crack eggs for breakfast (her favourite), so this stool pretty much lives in the kitchen now. Plus, won't yellow look great with our kitchen rug (seen here)?


My awesome air plants

I was lucky enough to win an Etsy Gift Card in a giveaway at the sweetest digs recently (thanks Gemma!).  This air plant pod was at the top of my holiday wish list, so I was pretty excited to find the creator, Denver-based clay artist, Michael McDowell, on Etsy (his shop's name is mudpuppy if you're interested).

I ordered a large and a small pod, both in grey. Aren't they striking? While purchasing the pods was easy, finding air plants proved more difficult. After some Internet searching, I stumbled across someone local who once sold air plants on Etsy. I contacted her, and she very kindly offered to help me out.

I took my pods to her house for a "fitting" and bombarded her with questions about how to care for air plants (she was seriously so sweet). Letting them get too moist is apparently the worst thing you can do, so I submerged them in water for a couple of hours when I got home and waited until they were completely dry before putting them in the pods. That was about a week ago and they're just starting to look thirsty.

I hung them in our kitchen window, where I'm hoping they'll get enough - but not too much - sunlight. So far, so good (fingers crossed of course)!

P.S. You can learn more about air plants (also known as tillandsia) here.


Making the most of odd spaces: Part 1

We celebrated Adam's birthday with his family last weekend, and his parents kindly offered to keep Hannah for a couple of nights. With the toddler out of the house, I was able to tackle a couple of projects on my 'to do' list, including this:

You see, this side of our kitchen used to look like this:

And when we moved in it looked like this:

(Unfortunately I don't have a 'before' shot of the other opening. It was basically a big hole.)

Adam moved the outlet to the back of the opening for me, and I built a new box to frame the bump out in the brick. I painted it white to blend in with the brick as much as possible. The top is made of three pine boards that I cut to size, stained, sealed and screwed into the existing wood frame.

I left the brick inside the opening as-is for now. The plan is to add a second shelf down the road (that step requires renting a hammer drill) and I think the natural brick could look good, especially with some green things (plants) in the mix. That said, the first picture in this post makes me think I should paint at least the sides white (the two sides in the opening with the microwave were mostly cinder block, so I painted those white).

The opening with the microwave will get a shelf too (and maybe a small piece of trim to hide that chipped brick). This is such a weird area that our plans for it are constantly evolving. The good news is that it looks better than it ever has and I'm pretty proud that I (mostly) knocked this project out myself (including all the cutting).


A new, old dining table

Remember when I talked about stripping and staining our dining room table, and a few of you were like, "Awesome! Only, won't that be a lot of work?"

Yeah. I started the project, abandoned the project, then convinced Adam that we should probably invest in a new table. Luckily, I found this beautiful old table for sale on Kijiji; it had been lovingly rescued from an old church that was being torn down.

Since our dining room table is also a desk, craft table and occasional sewing table, I love that this table is big enough to do it all (our round table worked well in the space, but it never felt big enough). I also like that there's nothing precious about this table: the more we beat it up, the more it adds to the table's character.

Now I really can't wait to add built-in shelves around the dining room window (something like this or this). I think shelves will help balance the size of the table (plus, we could use the extra storage space). The chairs likely aren't permanent, but they're easy to clean (as much as I like my black Windsor chairs, it turns out it's a real pain to clean food and other Hannah messes off all those spindles) and the arms help keep Hannah in her seat during mealtimes (although she's already learning how to wriggle her way through the hole in the back). 

We've had the table for several days now, and I think we'd all agree that it suits our lifestyle much better than the old one. While I've resolved to spend money on experiences instead of things in 2015, anything we do buy should help our lives function better or simplify them in some way. This table? It does both. 
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