Moveable Memories

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For Christmas, I gave the Pie a stick. This stick, to be specific. It’s actually a piece of moulding too knotty for my dad to use, and I scavenged it out of his garage. Trust me though, I have a plan.

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I’m sure all of you have a relative with a cottage or grandparents’ home where, be it a door jamb or a piece of wall panelling, they have accumulated the heights of all the family members as they’ve grown over the years. At the cottage my great-grandfather built (now owned by my mother’s cousin), these height markings go back several generations. And it’s always sad when the time comes to leave that house behind, together with those memories that are so firmly a part of the house. Sometimes you can get away with removing the fixture they’re on, but sometimes not.

We plan to stay in this house for a long time, but you never know what will happen, so I wanted to make sure that when we leave we can take our memories with us.

First order of business is cutting down the wood to fit. I made sure it was cut so it sits above the moulding on the floor, runs parallel to the doorjamb in our guest bedroom, and ends at the top of the lintel, so it’s low profile. Then I drilled three holes (one at either end and one in the middle), and sanded it down.

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During one of LongJohn’s naps I popped just outside the backdoor and spray painted the whole stick white. Then I had to kick around my newly white leaves so the Pie wouldn’t see them. Fortunately it snowed soon thereafter so I was safe.

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Once the paint was dry I started marking distances with craft paint. We use mostly Metric in Canada but because we’re so close to the United States we are pretty fluent in Imperial as well, so I decided to go with both. For the centimetres I made a bigger mark every 10 and for the inches I made a bigger one every 6. I also made sure to start my measurements on the stick at the distance it sits from the floor, which when you take into account the moulding at the bottom of the wall, was about 10cm. In retrospect I wish I’d used a finer paint brush but what’s done is done.

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I added in the numbers in a different colour (again, wish I’d used a finer brush). Then I sprayed the whole thing with a clear lacquer to keep the markings fresh.

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Then I wrapped it and hid it behind a bookcase. Now when we take our measurements, we mark them in permanent marker and I dab a little clear nail polish over them to keep them from rubbing off. And when we’re ready to leave, we can take it with us!

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Found Objects with Fussellette

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Our Newfie friend Fussellette spent the entire summer this year wayyyy up in northern Ontario doing geology and getting really dirty (two things she loves). Like me, Fussellette likes to pick up random objects on her travels, and she found these two identical pieces of brick in a burnt out campfire full of tin cans.

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When she came to visit LongJohn recently she took advantage of my massive craft supply inventory and gave them a bit of a makeover.

Crafts with Auntie Sam. #alidoesit

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Taking things you find and making them into something else is one of the things I enjoy the most about making and doing stuff. Fussellette is the same way, and I hope that LongJohn can come to enjoy it too when he’s a little older.

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With a little bit of craft paint and some Sharpies, she turned these pieces of brick into little pieces of The Rock.

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One was a gift for her hosts, and the other she left with me when she saw how much I liked it!

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Ali Fails: Lighting up the wee small hours

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I’m currently sleeping in LongJohn’s room (though he talks in his sleep and I miss my giant squishy bed) and I bought this cute wall clock from IKEA so I could keep an eye on the time while I was there. The trouble is that I can’t read this clock in the dark. I don’t want an alarm clock that just has the regular glowing lights, a) because glowing lights annoy me in my sleep b) there are very few outlets in LongJohn’s room and there’s no convenient place to plug one in, and c) I wanted something a bit more subtle that wouldn’t mess with my night vision should I choose not to get up and turn on the light.

So I thought, what if I bought some glow-in-the-dark paint and made some modifications?

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The nice thing about most IKEA things is that they can be hacked and it was simple to undo the springs at the back and take the crystal off.

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Then I went to town with my paint. Followed the instructions and everything.

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I think it’s quite spiffy.

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When dry it’s a nice darker green.

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But it DIDN’T WORK! I’m not expecting this thing to glow all night or anything like that – just something to give me a faint hint of what ungodly hour it is when I wake up in the middle of the night (fortunately these are rapidly getting closer and closer to 7AM but in the interim it’s nice to know, ya know?). But nothing. LongJohn’s room is the brightest in the house during the day but even several hours of direct sunlight did nothing. Is the paint bad? Any other ideas?

Granny’s Porch, and other Memories

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This little furniture trio was a permanent feature of my grandmother’s screened-in veranda at her cottage. We would bring them out in the spring and haul them into storage in the winter. For wicker furniture, they’re surprisingly comfortable, and I have many memories of enjoying Slimo while listening to cicadas in the shade.

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They’ve been bright yellow for as long as I can remember, but my mother says they’ve been other colours in the past, like a paler yellow and a deep green. In any case, it’s been a while since their last paint job and they’re in serious need of a touch-up. I asked the Pie what colour he wanted to paint them, and – no surprise – he picked orange. Orange it was to be.

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This little metal patio bistro set I bought with Cait when she first moved into her solo apartment almost a decade ago. It was cute and green and suited her little tiny balcony perfectly. She no longer lives there, of course, and the furniture no longer suits her new place, so, being Cait, she foisted it off on me. After many years in the sun the green is more of a pastel than it used to be, and needed a bit of a boost.

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Gren supervises from an almost-safe distance.

Now time for spray paint! Full disclosure: I have a box of half-finished cans of spray paint in the garage. The Pie thinks it’s more than that. I have another box full of empty spray paint cans in the garage as well. They’re waiting for a day when I’m not pregnant and can sit down and empty all the air out of them before putting them in the recycling. So he’s not keen on me buying yet MORE spray paint. In this particular case, however, I perfectly estimated the amount that I would need. Because the metal set just needed a boost from its original colour, no major repairs or changes, I needed two cans to coat all three pieces (four if you count the table top and legs separately). For the wicker, I estimated that I needed two thick coats on each of the three pieces, and that it would take me two cans each. So I bought eight cans of spray paint, in total, to the Pie’s horror. After it was all over, I have a few spritzes of the green left and I’m totally out of the orange. It’s like I knew what I was doing or something.

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Not to worry – I wore that mask, gloves, and eye protection the whole time I was painting.

Look at the cheery difference already with the first coat!

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The orange stuff took significantly longer to do and was much more finicky, what with getting around legs and whatnot. I was very tired of bending over and squatting down by the time I was done.

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In the late afternoon sun though the stuff positively glows!

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Now all I need is a non-rotting deck to fully enjoy it (that’s next summer’s project).

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Ali Asks: A Temporary Re-Vamp?

Look! I finally did it! Up until Easter Sunday this room was still just full of boxes, but I finally sat down and cleaned everything up and put things away and unpacked. For some reason I’m missing the legs that go on the two sets of wire shelves I normally use, and we’re going to put another table in here to serve as a workstation (and add some pegboards and other things), so it’s still a work in progress.

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But in the meantime, it’s BEIGE. And as I’m sure you’ve seen me mention before, beige is my creative equivalent of a soul-sucking straw – I can’t deal with it. We’re going to completely gut this room sometime in the next few years – have the asbestos removed and lower the floor to the same height as everything else on this level (and install a heated floor!). But until then, there’s no point in trying to gussy it up too much. And yet … BEIGE. It might be some time before we get around to this room, what with our impending chaos. I don’t want to go crazy in the interim.

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So I was thinking, with regards to this bifold closet with slats (now, with EXTRA vintage!), that I could jazz them up a bit. They’re what you see when you walk in the door, so I thought they could be a bit more eye-catching. I was thinking of doing a simpler version of what I did with the coffee stirrer wall art and that wooden tray – of course, painting the slats as if they were the little wooden pieces. I’m just going to use craft paint but it’ll be a fun rainy day project.

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What do you think? Should I go for it?

And if so, what colours should I use? Leave your comments with your favourite colour scheme!

The Ocean Room: Phase One

With our summer schedule set to impending chaos, getting our new house in order has been a priority for us since we moved in mid-January. That said, life always gets in the way of the best of plans, and two months into our residence here, we’re not even half done. Not even close. It doesn’t help that I’ve spent the past three weeks out of the country.

Anyway, one room that we have mostly gotten into order is the future nursery, which we’re calling the ocean room. We have enough marine-related knickknacks and art that we’ve collected over the years to make a loose theme in there that we think the baby will like (our other two bedrooms will be the desert room and the forest room, respectively, though we haven’t gotten there yet). Here’s what the ocean room looked like when we moved in: a nice bright, sunny, YELLOW room. There was even yellow on the ceiling (because the previous owners were terrible painters).

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First I needed to patch all the weird holes they’d left in the walls – this wall was covered with weird plastic screws so I have no idea what was there before.

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I also removed this mirror that was bolted to the door, as it was warped and totally unflattering.

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Then I used painter’s tape all over the place. I know how to paint a room without it but when you’re tired and you have other helpers who are perhaps not as adept as you, it’s handy.

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And here’s where paying a little more for a certain brand will stand you in good stead. I use Frog Tape, which is wayyyyy better than the generic green painter’s tape.

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Clearly nobody painted under that mirror for a while:

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It took several coats of primer and trim paint to restore it to some sense of normalcy:

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The inside of the closet also needed a good priming. I left it with the tinted primer for now, because anything is an improvement over the insane purple that was in there before.

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And then my lovely big brother Krystopf came over to help me paint! After accepting his offer I learned he’d never actually painted anything before, which complicated things, but it was nice to have an extra pair of hands as the Pie was occupied with other household projects at the time.

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The first coat of primer (and Krystopf’s painting skills) did little to hide the yellow from view, despite me using a tinted primer instead of plain white.

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Finally ready to start cutting in with our blue paint – it’s called “Seashore” which seemed appropriate.

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Coat one!

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Coat two, trim, and ceiling done and finally we can put some stuff back in. I still need a mattress for the twin bed (where I will be sleeping) and a few other things, but we have some fun projects lined up for this room, so stay tuned!

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Welcome to our chaos

I wish I had a better post for you guys today, but we’re totally exhausted at our new place. We kind of moved all the furniture over in a rush on Saturday so we’re still trying to figure out what is going where. We know we’re missing some essential pieces now but we’re willing to live without until we figure out what we really want.

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The kitchen is still a hot mess. I mostly just shoved things in random cupboards all weekend while directing people where to put things. The Pie and I figure we’ll wait a couple weeks until we’re less tired and actually give some thought as to where we want things to go.

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Because I was mostly directing from the kitchen, our dear moving crew, when told things were to go in the basement, basically shoved absolutely everything into my office. So it’s a little impassable at the moment, and my computer is currently set up at the dining room table.

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Things that we didn’t immediately have a place for are in the future baby’s room.

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The guest room is half-assembled because I don’t want to put it together until I’ve painted it (it’s going to be green!).

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But the living room *kind* of is useful at the moment (i.e. there’s a couch, a coffee table, and the TV is hooked up to the internet).

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Gren is settling in fine, I think. We gave him some fancy drugs our vet gave us on moving day and those helped his anxiety a whole bunch (as did a Kong full of frozen peanut butter). He’s still prone to sulking in weird spots.

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And he and I are having trouble with these super steep back stairs. We’re going to see if we can’t lessen the slope by adding an extra one at the bottom at some point soon.

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But the Pie has started to figure out where things are going to go in the room the previous owners called “The Cave” (it was on an envelope filled with paint chips).

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And I can already see myself sitting in my favourite chair with my feet up in front of this fireplace. I’m looking forward to it!

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