An update on the mini-playroom

First things first: it's impossible (for me) to take photos of our basement without weird colour casts. Sorry about that. Maybe that's why it's taken me so long to snap a few photos of the play area we created for Hannah downstairs - I was hoping my photography skills would spontaneously improve :)

You can see my original plans for a mini playroom here. The biggest purchase we've made for this space so far is the shelving unit. I love how much storage it provides, and Hannah can easily pull toys out and put them away herself. I picked up some of my favourite plastic Dollar Store bins to corral loose items like blocks, train tracks and stuffed animals.

You may remember that I'd planned on painting the shelving white, but I like it as-is and I'm sure it will hold up better over time this way, too. Instead, Hannah's desk - a console table that I trimmed down to size - will be painted white (still need to get around to that one!). The rugs are from Adam's parents. They're neutral and 100% wool, so now Hannah has a soft place to play (there are three of them, so we placed them side-by-side to fill the room).

Hannah's aunt and uncle made her this play tent for her birthday. Hannah likes to read books in here, fill it with toys, or just cuddle with a couple of balloons :) The set-up is working well for us right now, and although it will never be a beautifully-finished basement, having a dedicated play space has made a big difference in our small house.


Waiting for spring

I've been spending a lot of time here lately. As someone who's been known to brag about my indefatigable immune system, this has been the winter of eating crow.

Between the brutal cold and flu season and the never-ending shoveling, I've never felt more desperate for spring.   

These are the views I've been enjoying while watching Netflix, or reading a good book, or meticulously planning fantasy vacations to someplace, anyplace warm. There's nothing fun or magical about winter anymore. Like many Maritimers, I've been gradually moving through the stages of grief and got stuck on depression.

Come on Spring, we need you.

Scenes from yesterday. If you need me, I'll be shoveling.


Irish Soda Bread + Make Your Own Buttermilk

My paternal grandmother was part of a large Irish family whose children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren still get together every year to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a traditional Irish meal. A couple of years ago, Adam and I were in New England for St. Patrick's Day and got to enjoy the festivities. I was pregnant with Hannah at the time, and a vegetarian to boot, so I missed out on the two things most commonly associated with St. Patrick's Day (beer and corned beef). This year, I decided to try my hand at something even pregnant vegetarians can enjoy: Irish Soda Bread.

I followed this recipe from Canadian Living. I didn't have any buttermilk on hand, so I made my own using milk and vinegar (recipe here). I'm a bread baking novice, and this recipe was perfect for me (really quick and easy to follow).

Did I mention that this bread is delicious? I ate it warm with butter and homemade port wine jelly, but we're planning to have it again for supper with some vegetarian stew (and a beer or two).

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Hannah's big girl bed

Hannah spent the weekend with her grandparents, so in addition to some much-needed rest and relaxation, I took advantage of the opportunity to do some serious house cleaning, purging and organizing. Oh, and I set up Hannah's big girl bed! 

We picked the bed frame up last August (my dad and his wife found it in the garage of their newly-purchased retirement home), but we only recently transitioned Hannah out of her crib. I'd planned on painting it (and maybe I still will?), but in the interest of saving time, I opted to give it a deep clean instead.

It just needed a new mattress. The bedding is courtesy of Target's closing sale and a close family friend made the quilt for Hannah when she was born (hand-embroidery and all).

I'm on the hunt for a low-pile rug to give Hannah a soft place to play (we recently moved her rocker downstairs to make room for some of her toys). We used to have a neutral shag rug in here, but learned the hard way that our dog cannot be trusted around shag rugs :(


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.
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