Ocean Room: Complete

This, along with the new fuse box and the stairs, was on my to-do list to complete in the first week of maternity leave. Since I last posted about the ocean room, we’d been adding things bit by bit: a mattress, bedding, a dresser … more onesies than any one baby really needs … you name it. But it was missing the final touches, and most of those were either hand-made by us or by one of our many talented and delightful friends and family members.

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I went a bit overboard with the Silhouette Cameo to print these out in white adhesive vinyl.

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This amazing crocheted jellyfish mobile was a gift from the highly talented Fussellette.

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She also MADE (MADE!) this amazing ocean-themed blanket. I still can’t even deal with how amazing it is.

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These jellyfish crib sheets were whipped up by Cait’s ever-talented mom.

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Rusty made sure that baby wouldn’t miss out on a very first baseball glove, and it gets pride of place on an octopus hook.

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Even Trav contributed a wee piece of art.

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Mrs. Nice found the inspiration for this on Pinterest, and made it for us MONTHS ago. I’m so glad we could finally put it up.

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Even the Pie’s favourite animal the anglerfish gets a spot in the baby’s room. Guarding the deep sea vents. Get it? VENTS.

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Even this rocking chair is handmade, by either my great-great grandfather or my great-great uncle.

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You like the ship? Again, I went crazy with the Silhouette. The knobs on the dresser are supposed to look like the sorts of things you pick up on the beach – most of them are from Lee Valley, actually, and others my mother has given me over the years.

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Everything else was kind of stuff we already had from our oceanic travels.

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So it really wasn’t hard to stick with a theme.

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Now we just need a baby to come and live here (and you never know: by the time you read this, there might be one!).

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Postprandial Stroll: Pounding the Pavement in Salt Lake City


The Minion and I had a total blast in Salt Lake City. Not only were our clients complete dolls and ideal business-folk who made our work easier and told us the best places to check out on the tourist side, but this old town appealed to our mutual delight in architectural weirdness and we spent much of our time wandering the perfectly straight, majorly wide avenues, snapping pictures of all of the fantastic buildings that we found. This is the state legislature.


Former city hall.


A GIANT CHURCH. Well, the corporate office for the Church that seems to own most of the city.


The former Hotel Utah, which is incredible inside and out.




The Public Library, which reminds me of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in its construction.



You can go up on the roof and see the mountains.


“New” City Hall.


The old Union Pacific Railway station, which is now part of the Gateway Mall.


And let’s not forget the Tabernacle, inside and out.



And the Mormon Temple itself, the highlight of the city.





Which also looks spectacular at night.


And stuff doesn’t need to be old in the city to look nice. All the malls for example have water features in them. This is in the City Creek Mall after dark. It’s a great place to walk around and see pretty things!


Sweet Endings

We ended up finishing our work with our smart-as-whips clients a day ahead of schedule, so the Minion and I celebrated with dinner at the Green Valley Grill. We’d had a take-out lunch from there on Monday and thoroughly enjoyed it and wanted to taste their dinner menu before we left. For dessert I picked this chocolate cheesecake, which came with a house-made banana salted caramel ice cream. I picked it because of the Pie’s Banana Rule (“everything is better with a banana”), and I was not disappointed.


Also, anyone know what kind of trees these are? They were at the GVG and I’ve been seeing them in various places around town.


I’d assume that they were fake trees but they seem to be growing out of the soil so I’m confused …


Uber Fun

After having some truly awful experiences with cabs and cab drivers in this city, the Minion and I took the advice of our clients and tried Uber for the first time. And now it’s our favourite thing! In Greensboro at least, all of our drivers were retired gentlemen with some great stories and some lovely and clean cars who told us all sorts of things about the town, including the fact that it plays host to EIGHT colleges. That’s nuts. What’s also nuts is that most of the state has been under tornado warnings for the past couple days, but yesterday afternoon, after a giant but brief thunderstorm with pouring rain, the sun came out!


After we’d finished off our work for today we headed out as soon as we could to try to absorb some vitamin D after four days of miserable rain. While we waited for our third Uber of the day we admired the ornamental kale that appears to be growing outside most hotels in this town.


And we finally headed downtown! Despite there being no tornadoes nearby it was still plenty windy and the downtown area is full of tall buildings that create some hefty wind tunnels. They did have some pretty architecture though:


And a Woolworth’s, like when I was a kid!


And some weird stuff!


And some railroad tracks!


And some other stuff I didn’t put in here but you can see in my Flickr pics if you select from the menu at the left.

Finding Some Charm


Still poking around in suburbia, but we’re starting to take some enjoyment out of the little things we are seeing. For instance, this gorgeous old cab out in front of a trendy hotel in our ‘hood.


That and the already-blooming magnolia tree. I want a magnolia tree. It would never survive an Ottawa winter.


Dinner at Ruby Tuesday, which wasn’t much to write home about, but I did have this drink: apple fizz. With a bit of moderation on my part I’d make it at home. It’s basically a bit of apple cider, some Sprite, and some apple pieces. It could be quite refreshing, with some tweaks!


Livin’ in America

Greensboro feels like a very American place to be. Everyone seems to drive enormous cars. Don’t see a lot of pedestrians – and in fact there aren’t that many sidewalks.


We ate at an Applebee’s in the pouring rain. Been craving some sweets so I had the Salted Caramel Shorty Shake, a truly delightful wee concoction.


And then a banana pudding/banana cheesecake thing. With Cracker Jack. It was good but I’m not sure I’d eat it again.


Tomorrow we’re going to try to venture to downtown Greensboro to see if there’s things to be seen aside from suburban America. Hopefully it won’t disappoint!

In Transit

Spent a good chunk of Sunday traveling from Ottawa to Greensboro, North Carolina, via the Dulles Airport in Washington DC. First thing we saw when coming out of our gate in Dulles was this, in case we were uncertain as to what country we were in:


Then we were crammed aboard this wee puddle-jumper. The Minion was NOT amused at the size of the plane. I told her to get used to it because we always end up in strange small towns …


Just a Ramblin’ Soul


Hi everyone! I am traveling a TON for work in the next three weeks and that means that I’m not around the house much for making things. But I don’t want you to miss out on your regularly scheduled doses of Ali Does It, so I am going to do the same thing I did when the Pie and I went to Portland and give you a daily snippet of travel just to keep you interested. So stay tuned!



… at the new house of course. And being the technical people we are, we follow where the internet goes, which means that as of this weekend we will officially be living in our new house!


Here are some updates of what we’ve done in the interim: mostly we have filled it with boxes over the past week. For those ever-so-helpful-and-advice-filled folks out there: *I* did not do any heavy lifting but I did some scrubbing of most of the rooms to get rid of the previous owners’ cat (the Pie is allergic) and I patched all the weird holes they put in their walls. And took down the blinds. I hate blinds. Actually, Mrs. Nice took down the blinds for me because she’s lovely.


And we painted a bit! We knew that once we moved our king-sized bed into the master bedroom we’d have significantly less space to move around so we made sure to paint it beforehand.


The previous owners had been a little careless in their previous paint jobs and we ended up having to repaint the ceiling and the trim in addition to the walls so it took us longer than expected. The other bedrooms won’t be occupied for a while so we can do them at our leisure.


Once we get all the furniture in we can start to put some of the myriad boxes away. Hopefully I can get some decent pictures during daylight for you this weekend and show you what our plans are!

It’s OURS!

To quote @mu_your_mind, “MOFO YOU OWN A HOUSE.” #alidoesit

A photo posted by Alison Bell (@alidoesit.herself) on Jan 14, 2016 at 2:45pm PST

We own a house! Closing went ahead as scheduled, barring some minor panic when the lawyer on the other side didn’t get back to us until late in the afternoon the day before. In fact we closed early. We were all set to pick up our keys at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. I used to work for a lawyer who did real estate and I can tell you that THAT is early.


We got to the lawyer and the receptionist handed us an envelope. On the envelope it read [Pie’s first name] Toppenham and Heather [My last name]. And it contained a cheque. No keys. They had accidentally given our keys to someone else who had a similar set of names! The poor receptionist’s head practically exploded. After they tracked the guy down who had taken our keys the receptionist drove them to the Tower to us, so we didn’t get into the new place until around 6:30, so these pictures are all taken at night. But I hope you can get a good idea of what it’s like – and all the work that needs to be done!

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Finally, an entranceway with a door that can be shut to prevent canine and toddler escapees. And for the first time ever we don’t have to climb a huge flight of stairs after coming through the front door.

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Living/Dining room facing the front.

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Living/Dining facing the back.

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Yes, that’s a gas fireplace. The first thing I did when I walked in the door was crouch down, learn how to ignite the pilot light, and turn that sucker on. This is on the list of things to update but it’s not a priority at present.

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Dining room on left, entranceway on the right, looking into the kitchen.

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From the living room through the entranceway to the stairs that go up. So many less to climb with a baby on the way!

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There’s a large cubbyhole on the stairway. Not sure what we are going to hide in here.

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The bathroom is to the left at the top of the stairs. It’s been recently redone and is quite nice.

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Plus there’s a storage closet inside the bathroom and then the linen closet is immediately outside the door.

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This is the guest bedroom, which faces front and is closest to the bathroom.

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It has a pink closet.

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And a somewhat dodgy paint job.

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This will be the baby’s room, because it’s smallest and close to the master bedroom.

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It has a purple closet.

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The master is long and narrow with a giant red wall and some severely broken blinds.

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It has a green closet.

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And no outlet covers. I suspect the Pie and I are going to show up at the ReStore some day soon and buy out their whole stock.

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Back downstairs. The kitchen, which faces the backyard.

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The countertops need a re-do, but we have an interim plan that is cheap that will hold us until we have some more money to do something drastic.

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More of the kitchen. We might actually have enough cupboards this time to keep our food IN the kitchen instead of in a cupboard in the basement.

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Back door off the kitchen. I no longer have to take Gren down two flights of stairs to shove him into the back yard.

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Stairs to the basement. They’re actually quite steep and the more pregnant I get the less I may be heading into the basement.

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The “main” basement level. That’s the door to the garage, and then the door to the right is the room that will be my office/craft room.

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Laundry sink is next to garage door, handy for making messes.

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And directly next to that, with no wall or door or anything in between, is our hallway/laundry room/second bathroom! This is why our house was so cheap. Clearly this is a priority fix for us. My dad apparently has a plan for it cooking up in his head already. For now while he’s in Florida we’re just going to rig a curtain so that people who gotta go can go.

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This is my little office. It has a closet which is oddly placed. The ceiling has been dropped and the floor raised so the Pie actually has issues standing up in it. It makes him grumpy but I keep telling him he can simply stay out.

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It also contains a fridge, which will be handy for many shenanigans. Note the cut off part of the door because the ceiling is so low.

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Re-doing the office is one of our moderate priorities, because it’s the most dated part of the house, but it will be a serious undertaking because yep, those are asbestos tiles. Woo.

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Here’s the garage. It’s long and narrow and smells of cigarette smoke. It also contains a corroded, ancient fuse box (with glass fuses) that is in danger of shorting out at any moment (and which also does not meet a modern-day house’s need for extra outlets). So it’s our highest priority fix at the moment. If you know a reasonably priced, certified and reliable electrician who services the west end of Ottawa, please let me know!

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Anyway, from the weird part of the basement there’s another door leading down into the second basement. Which has been re-done recently.

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To the left is workshop/storage, and to the right is the Pie’s new office nook.

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In the main space, the previous owners put fluorescent bulbs on the windows to give the impression that daylight was pouring in. It’s not a very good illusion.

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The nook is actually way bigger than we originally thought.

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And has this super-rad textured original wallpaper.

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Which they’ve painted over in some places.

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The workshop/storage area has four unique workbenches, each clearly for a different purpose. I suspect we will end up tearing out three of them to make room for other things.

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The sheer amount of custom shelving is both admirable and totally overwhelming.

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Under some shelves you’ll find the door to the cold storage room.

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A.K.A. the murder room. I suspect that our children and their friends will lock each other in here from time to time.

So as you can see, there’s a lot of potential here for the Pie and I to learn how to do things on our own – with a little help from our friends and family of course and their expertise. I think we’re going to enjoy turning this house into something we can raise a family in. Stay tuned for all our shenanigans!

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