Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

August 21, 2013

Tasty Turquoise Kitchens

I cannot tell you how much I am itching to start work on the lakehouse, but the townhouse sale has hit a few snags and my work takes precedence.  I am planning to make the 1500km trek there (sans Hubby, unfortunately), at the beginning of September but, as they say, life happens when you're making other plans.  I can't seem to be able to plan anything these days, because so much is up in the air.  I am the gal who plans "free time" when we vacation, so all of this up in the air business is really driving up my stress-cookie consumption.  But I'm learning to go with it.  Deep breaths.

Almost every night I dream about painting the kitchen cupboards at the lakehouse.  If you've been reading for awhile, you know I've never really loved our kitchen in the townhouse.  I always wanted to paint the cupboards, but keeping the wood was one of the few things Hubby felt strongly about.  With the lakehouse kitchen though, he isn't so keen: the oak, combined with cathedral cabinet fronts, is just too woody.  As you know, eventually we plan to completely renovate the space.  But first I'd like to live in the space, figure out how we use it and, the biggest deciding factor, save some moolah.  I also need to figure out what we'll love for the long term because I keep changing my mind!  Right now, this is my dream kitchen.  Note the dreamy turquoise fridge, which is a must.

Pinecone Camp (for House & Home magazine)
This is our kitchen:

When I first saw it, I envisioned a makeover kind of like this: paint the lower cabinets turquoise and take off the upper doors fronts.

Life in Grace
Sadly, the insides of our cupboards are not show-worthy and are really awkward (see the three teeny weeny ones shoved in the corner?).  Plus the cupboard above the range hood drives Hubby nuts.  And when things drive him insane, he drives me insane, obsessing.  We're just going to take all of the upper cabinetry right off and install some open shelving instead, which is something I never thought I'd love.  But painting the lower cabinets turquoise is still the plan - and this is a plan that I plan commit to.  While I patiently wait for September, I rounded up some tasty turquoise kitchens, ranging from grey with the tiniest hint of blue, to pale mint to robin's egg to teal, to keep me inspired (and sated) . . . 

De Opkamer
House of Turquoise
Trend Kitchen Cabinets
via Shelterness
Home Life
Better Homes and Gardens
Better Homes and Gardens
Stranger than Vintage
Style in no Time
Fort Bend Lifestyles and Homes
Better Homes and Gardens
Style by Emily Henderson
Dust Jacket; The Decorista; No Pattern Required
Oh yeah, this just made me more antsy to break out the primer and paint!  Do you have painted kitchen cupboards or open shelving?  Do you love them?  Hate them?  Both are new terrain for me.

August 15, 2013

Here and There

I'm still burning the candle at both ends of the day to wrap up my work in time, but I wanted to drop in and let you know about two lovely features.  Along with some of my favorite bloggers, I was included in the Summer issue of Canadian Home Trends magazine as one of five "Reno blogs we love"!

Click here to read the free summer preview!  And check out the other blogs featured: Rambling Renovators, The Sweetest Digs, House Pretty and AKA Design.

In other flattering news, Amy, from Love on Sunday, featured my feminist mirror makeover for her fabulous Thrifted Thursday feature.  I love getting a sneak peek into what other people find thrifting and yard saling, and what they do with their loot.

Back to work!
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August 12, 2013

Research Update: $3000+ Worth of Poor Results

A lot of folks ask about my PhD research, which I know I am oddly silent about.  It's just that this is my happy place, where I like to talk about mint green spray paint and DIY abstracts.  I once did a feminist DIY project - blurring the lines between my blog-life and real-life, but I've blogged little about my topic and research in Hungary.

I've mentioned that I have had the lovely, lovely, privilege of not acquiring student debt, because I've ridden the scholarship wave.  Currently I have funding to do my PhD, but that runs out August 30th.  This year.  Things were going swimmingly until my supervisor read my last chapters and said, "I honestly don't think you can finish for August 30th".  Some parts, apparently, are boring and just not good.  Ouch!  I told my supervisor, "I can DO this, I swear.  I'll make it much better, you'll see".  It's shaping up, but now my confidence is shaken and I overthink every sentence.  I worked really hard on what I submitted.  I still have about 15 or so pages to write, but I aim to get everything in to my supervisor this week, who will make the call whether I can officially submit or not.  I might not know until right before the deadline whether I made the cut.  If not, I'll have to pay tuition.  I'll be rooting around in the sofa, hoping there's thousands of dollars of change hiding in between the cushions because you know where there isn't?  My bank account.

Nothing I can do now, but . . .

At first, I was seriously crushed.  A bad review and I might be charged for being such a terrible academic.  Super.  But then I figured, most people pay tuition.  How freaking lucky am I that I dodged that bullet for so long?  I was even funded to go to Hungary for research and language classes.  Two different trips!  I learned to read Hungarian while doing this dissertation, so talk about personal growth!  If I have to pay a few thousand bucks because I couldn't get my ducks in a row in time, so be it.  Hubby agreed.  Further, I'm pretty sure getting a PhD is supposed to be soul-crushing.  And, at the end of the day, Hubs and I are both healthy and happy, so other stuff is just icing.

Even with all of these rational thoughts, I now have this nagging little voice that greets me each morning with, "you suck".  I'm hoping that passes :)

"Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract" (WINE).
Inspired by this, but I used a photo from Hungary.  Seems fitting.

I'm in need of some "Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract" (WINE).
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August 9, 2013

How to Refinish Solid Wood Furniture Legs + Arms

We ordered the velvet (yay!) and we'll be dropping off the chair at Kessels Upholstery soon.  But first our little garbage chair needed some love.  We stripped and re-stained its light wood legs and sanded and oiled its solid wood arms.  But somewhere along the way I goofed . . .

First up, the legs.  They were weird light wood, did you spot that?  They didn't go with our other furniture and they didn't go with the chair's arms.  We unscrewed them and gave them a good sand (using 120 and then 220 grit sandpaper) and applied stain.  For the stain, we used the same brand that worked wonders for Hubby's DIY welded desk (Saman), this time in "dark walnut".  We picked the stain because on the sample board it looked like the same ashy brown hue as the arms. 


How to Refinish Solid Wood Furniture Legs + Arms

Before we delve into that, here are the application details:
  1. Hubs and I sanded the legs, removing the previous coating entirely until we had bare wood.
  2. Using a foam brush, I applied the stain along the entire length of the leg (I started doing only the bottom or top half and then they didn't match, so I worked the whole length, and applied stain all the way around).
  3. Once the whole leg was covered in stain, I wiped off excess with a clean, lint-free rag.
  4. I let it dry overnight and then applied a second coat. 
  5. I let it dry overnight again, then Hubs applied Danish Oil as a finish coat (I'll explain the oil below).
Actually refinishing the wood legs was easy.  They look amazing and the darker stain hides some of the dints and scuffs we couldn't sand out.  The dark stain covered all problems areas (this is why I like to wear dark pants).  The problem is, now the legs are darker than the arms!

The arms were trickier because they were stained and marked.

We gave them a really good sand - first with a 120 grit and then following up with a 220 grit.  I used a sanding block to help keep the pressure even.  It took some love (we each took an arm and sanded for an hour or so), but it was worth it!  These solid wood arms looked gorgeous again.  But really, really light.  Something made abundantly clear once the legs had been stained really, really dark.

How to Sand Furniture Arms
Refinish Stained Furniture

After sanding, we wiped them clean with a damp rag and let them dry.  Then I applied some Danish Oil, which is a lot thicker than Teak Oil, as per the instructions:
  1. I applied a really thin coat with a lint-free cloth.
  2. After 5 minutes, I wiped off the excess.
  3. I let them sit overnight, then I rubbed the arms with a cloth to "burnish" them.
  4. I repeated this process, adding a second and third coat.
How to Oil Furniture
Refinish Damaged Furniture Arms

Here's the other side, all oiled and lovely:

How to Refinish Solid Wood Furniture Legs + Arms with Danish Oil

The arms turned out lovely.  But still a bit lighter than anticipated and a much warmer hue than planned.  I thought even after oiling they would stay ashy, but the oil has a yellowness to it.  Now the dark/light clash has switched!

How to Refinish Solid Wood Furniture Legs + Arms
How to Refinish Solid Wood Furniture Legs + Arms
Use Danish Oil on Furniture Arms
How to refinish Wood Furniture Legs

Oh well.  I love the arms (the wood grain is gorgeous) and if, when it's all upholstered, I don't love the legs I can remove them and re-finish again, or just replace them.  What I learned from this is to buy the stain after the wood I'm refinishing is stripped and sealed, for a better match.  I also learned I love Danish Oil!  We also applied some to our little random stool/table and it made the wood that much richer.  Supposedly it builds a durable, water-resistant finish (and has a satin sheen when it's dry, so nothing too glossy). 

How to Use Tried and True Danish Oil

P.S. Here are the two products were used: Saman water-based stain in Dark Walnut (also available at Canadian Tire) and Tried and True Danish Oil (also available from Lee Valley). 

Tried and True Danish Oil; Saman Brand Stain Dark Walnut
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August 7, 2013

Easy and Delicious Meatloaf Recipe

Villeroy and Boch

Growing up, the "good" dishes and "everyday" dishes dichotomy was short-lived in our house after our "everyday" dishes proved too cheaply made to actually withstand the everyday, and our sturdy "good" dishes, that actually could weather the daily use, languished in the cupboard.  When the last crummy "everyday" dish bit the biscuit, my Mom decided to just use and enjoy the fancy Villeroy and Boch dishes she had received as wedding gifts (this cute floral pattern and the simple cream version with the same shape).  In 25+ years hardly any of these dishes broke, no matter how rough we were on them, and every family meal (even pizza night) felt special.  When I moved out, my Mom scored some nice Villeroy and Boch dinnerware at HomeSense for me, in a classic white, and Hubs and I have been enjoying many an elegant pizza night on them for years.  When Villeroy and Boch contacted me to review something new, I jumped at the chance.  I was offered a choice between six options, including adorable Anumut orange-trimmed salad plates and Colour Concepts cranberry hued glassware.  I chose the Urban Nature Platter and Bridge set because I thought they would pair nicely with my current dinnerware and colourful linens.  I'm planning open shelving for the lakehouse kitchen and figured these would make a subtle statement on display too!

Hubs and I were both shocked at their scale and heft when they arrived:

Villeroy and Boch Urban Platter Bridge Set
Villeroy and Boch Urban Platter Bridge Set
Villeroy and Boch Urban Platter Bridge Set Size
Easy meat loaf recipe

These pieces will definitely not get knocked over easily at our next dinner party (it's that German engineering!).  I love these two serving pieces because they work well separately and together.  The platter is excellent for piling on burgers for a summer BBQ and I've already used the bowl for holding fruit on the counter.  I'll admit, while I'm a proponent of using good dishes, I don't always use special serving ware.  I often favor oven-to-table Pyrex or Jadeite, but some meals just look plain ugly when they emerge from the oven . . . like my meatloaf:

Taking two seconds to place the meatloaf on my new platter and toss a salad into the bridged bowl has the same effect using good china everyday does: making a simple meal that much more special.  Hubs and I want to enjoy whatever time left we have in the townhouse, so we've been prying ourselves away from the television and eating at our dining room table!

Meatloaf recipe with hiddden veggies
Turkey meatloaf recipe
Meatloaf ideas

I've never used place cards, decorated the table with confetti, or even put the cutlery in the right order (I'm a lefty).  I use my Villeroy and Boch dishes with vintage napkins, glassware and cutlery, paired with a colourful, DIY tablecloth (similar to this one).  Simple.

Where do you stand on the good dishes/everyday dishes spectrum?

Easy dinner idea: turkey meatloaf

P.S. Here's my yummy meatloaf recipe:

Approx. 3 lbs ground turkey
1 diced onion
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1/4 cup mustard
1 cup dried parsley
1 cup shredded carrot
Salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients in one bowl and shape into a loaf in a large greased baking pan.  I read somewhere that using a glass pan larger than the loaf helps heat circulate.  Cook for 1.5 hours at 350°F (use a meat thermometer to be sure it's cooked).  Then, if you're anything like us, you can then get totally lazy and throw together some lettuce, pecans, dried cranberries and feta cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette and call it a day.

Villeroy and Boch provided the Urban Nature platter and bridge for review, but I was not asked or encouraged to write positive things.  That my Mom and I are long time fans and have our own Villeroy and Boch dinnerware is a fun coincidence!
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