Cleaning Up Our Hydrangea Bushes


Monday, April 25, 2011

We currently have nine Annabelle Hydrangeas planted in our front yard. In the spring, some folks leave 'em as is, some prune 'em right to the ground, and others (like me) prune 'em just a little. 

Here's how the front five hydrangeas were looking as of yesterday:

Kinda scraggly. I decided they needed a bit of a clean-up. 

I grabbed my new polka-dotted gardening gloves, a rake, some clippers, and a measuring tape (please don't judge me).

First, I raked up all the dead leaves that had blown behind them in the fall. I also removed, by hand, all the scrunched up leaves that were caught in the actual bushes.

Once all the dead leaves were gone I took out my tape measure and clipped each stem back to 20". This gave each bush a nice, rounded appearance. It's also good (according to the internet) to keep some of the older stems so that they can support the newer ones (and of course the very large blooms that will appear later on).

Once I was finished clipping back the stems I added some rich, black soil to build the garden bed back up a bit. The bags were on sale, too. Five for $10.

Here's how the bushes are looking now. I still have to edge the garden but there's only so much a girl can do in one day, right?

I'm so proud that I got all that done in one day. It's a miracle!!!!!!!!!!

Wait a minute, I still have all the side bushes to do. :S 

P.S. I pruned our hydrangeas the exact same way last spring and you can see how they turned out in the picture below. Not too shabby.

(This is an old picture from a previous post.)
When, oh, when is my yard going to look like this again......?

How to Recover a Chair All By Yourself (Mostly)


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Remember a few weekends ago when I painted, recovered, and stenciled two of my breakfast room chairs? {See that post here.} Wellllll, even though the fabric I chose was really pretty..... the teal colour just didn't go with anything else in the house. For two weeks I tried to convince myself that the fabric worked perfectly in the room but I just knew that I wanted something a bit more subdued. And striped. ;)

I curse you OCD!

The new twill fabric that I chose was from, you're never going to believe this, a Debbie Travis shower curtain that I bought from Canadian Tire.

Anyway, a few of you mentioned that you'd like a little step-by-step on how I recovered the chairs. So here it is:

How I Recovered a Chair All By Myself (Mostly)

First, I removed the seat of the chair from the frame by removing four screws (from the underside of the seat) with a screwdriver. I made sure to place the screws in a tiny plastic bag for later on. 

Once the cushion/seat was removed I flipped it over and started to remove the staples with some plyers. How hard the staples are to remove will depend on how long they are. Luckily, most of the staples I took out were short little ones that came out with a little tug. However, some of them were long and impossible to get out without manpower (thanks Al). 

I went around the whole seat removing the staples.

After removing the fabric I was able to tell that this was a high-quality seat with a high-quality cushion (um, not quite).

I set the seat/cushion face down on my new fabric (with the wrong side of the fabric facing up). I left about three inches around each side of the seat to fold over and staple. I also made sure to line up the middle stripe of my fabric with the middle of the seat/cushion.

I put my first staple in the centre of the longest side of the cushion. I made sure to pull the fabric realllllly taut.

I added more staples every inch or so on either side, making sure to pull the fabric tight each time, and working my way from the middle of the seat to the outer corners. I made sure to leave a few inches with no staples right at the corners. 

I added another row of staples along the opposite side of the seat/cushion. I started stapling in the middle and worked my way outwards to the corners on this side as well. I pulled the fabric really tight before each staple.

I stapled the other two sides of fabric using the same technique as the other two sides: starting in the middle and working my way out to the corners, pulling the fabric tight and leaving some room at each corner.

For the first corner, I played around with the fabric until I had a fold that left only a few subtle creases. Once I was satisfied I stapled the fabric into place with lots of staples.

I repeated for each corner.

Then I flipped the thing over to make sure the stripes were straight (phew).

Finally, I placed the seat/cushion back on the chair frame and screwed them together using the original four screws.

And then I admired my handiwork.

I love this fabric so much! I just have to remember to scotch guard the seats before I forget and drop a chicken wing on one (mmm, chicken wings).

If I forgot to explain anything let me know!

Sharing at:

The DIY Project Parade @ The DIY Show-Off, Amaze Me Monday @ Dittle Dattle, Just Something I Whipped Up @ The Girl Creative, Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps On The Porch, How-To's Day @ The Lettered Cottage

White Linen Curtains Finally-Inally Up


Friday, April 22, 2011

Window #1

First, I want to say thank you to everyone who left some thoughtful advice for me as to whether I should shorten the too-long curtains that I bought for the breakfast room by washing them or hemming them. 

The truth is, I was so impatient that as soon as I got three comments in a row saying that I should wash them, I went ahead and threw them in the washing machine (on cold, on delicate). Of course I was worried that they would shrink too much or not enough, but luckily they turned out just right. Well, to be honest they're still a wee bit long but I guess that's okay if I ever need to wash them again.

Some downsides to washing the curtains (versus hemming) were that I had no idea how much shrinkage I would get (oooh, livin' on the edge), I had to iron the heck out of them once they were dry (bor-ing), and they had little white fluffs all over them which I had to swipe off with a lint brush. But, I didn't have to bust out the sewing machine AND I would've been able to blame the washing machine if they didn't turn out quite right. Heh heh heh.

Window #1

I decided to try installing the curtain rods a bit higher than usual (for me). After trying various heights I settled on installing the rods so they were exactly in between the top of the window casing and the bottom of the crown molding. Since I took the pictures from an angle the rods look higher up than they actually are. They're in the middle, I swear!

Window #1

Whomever designed this house sure loved jamming at least one window in every room right up against a wall. It's such a nightmare to hang curtains this way! The above window (that I never show) faces into the driveway. I had to close the blind so you wouldn't see our dirty vehicles and muddy gravel driveway.

Window #2

This is the other window in the room which you see from the kitchen and directly as you walk into the room. I was able to hang the brackets a bit wider over top of this window since there wasn't a wall in the way!!!

Window #2

You can see how the curtains are just a tad long.

Window #2

The curtains are so light and airy. I am loving them so far.

I can't wait to get the table and chair set for this room finished this weekend (Note to self: You can do it, you can do it, you can do it) to show you how everything is coming together. 

White, 100% linen, 96" curtains - Crate and Barrel
Pewter, 36-72" curtain rods - Lowe's (Allen + Roth) 

Oh yes, and of course I can't forget the before and after shot:

Today I'll be sharing over at:

Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
Feature Yourself Friday @ Fingerprints On The Fridge
Flaunt it Friday @ Chic on a Shoestring Decorating
Show and Share Day @ Just a Girl

Poll: New VS Old Commenting System


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

So 'member a few days ago when I was feeling all disconnected and un-blogger-like because I could never respond to your comments?

Well I went and installed the Disqus commenting program on a whim. At first, it seemed pretty awesome. Y'all left me a million comments saying hi and I wrote back to every single one. That was fun.

But, I've come to realize that you can't link back to the person's site who left the comment. Ack! I used that feature all the time on the regular, Blogger commenting system. How do I get back to your site to check out what you've been up to? And if the comment says Michelle, how do I know which one!?!?!? (There are alot of lovely bloggers/readers named Michelle btw.)

I don't know what to do. Stick with the new system for a bit longer, or go back to the old one? I do love being able to respond to your comments. However if the Disqus program is too hard to use then you probably won't leave any comments anyway!!

Soooooo, I put a little poll on the top right-hand side of my blog homepage. Would you mind clicking on it to let me know which version you prefer?

Any other feedback would be greatly appreciated so I can get this sorted out asap!!

P.S. I really like your hair like that.

More Yammering About Curtains and Curtain Rods


Monday, April 18, 2011

{Warning: This post is long and boring but if you skip to the
very end I have to ask your expertise on something.}

The two windows in the breakfast room still need curtains and curtain rods. It's time, people, it's time.

I had originally chosen these curtain rods from Home Depot. My little heart was set on these for months! But once I brought them home and held them up, I knew they were all wrong. The rod was too skinny for the 3" rod pockets and the clear glass finials just disappeared from sight once up against the wall.

I had to do the dreaded item return this weekend. Don't you just hate skulking up to the return counter and having the saleslady give you the once over to see if you're scamming them or not?? Hate.Returning.Things.  

I had also decided to pick up an inexpensive pair of white, Lenda curtains from Ikea on my last whirlwind work trip a few weeks ago. But once I got there I realized that those, too, were all wrong. For one, they weren't even white, they were creamy. And two, they were way to heavy/thick for the light, breezy look I was going for. Plus they were tab tops and I would've had to sew a rod pocket onto all four panels anyway. 

So I had to start my search from scratch. Right after Ikea, I headed to the Pottery Barn in Toronto to look at their white curtain panels. Their plain white, linen curtain panels were $88 per panel!!!! And I needed four panels. Almost $400 bucks? I think not.

Finally, in desperation, I headed over to the only other home decor store that I could find: Crate and Barrel. Their white linen curtains panels were a bit cheaper so I went ahead and splurged. (Keep in mind that I was only in Toronto for one night and I had named the trip Mission Impossible: Curtain Edition.)

Then, the saleslady had the nerve to come back and tell me that they only had ONE PACKAGE in stock. 

Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I finally settled on taking one package home with me and having the other three packages shipped. I finally got them in the mail today. Yippee!

After returning the crackled glass curtain rods, I headed to Lowe's and picked up these ones instead:

I love how they are quite a bit thicker, with a darker pewter finish. They'll go nicely with the hardware on the back door that we installed in the breakfast room.

Even the mounting brackets are cute. As you can probably guess, I'm waaaaay excited to install these puppies.

Now here's where I need your advice:

I had to buy the 96" curtain panels which are waaaaaay too long. I need them to be about 88" - 90" in length. Should I hem all four panels to the length I need or should I try washing them (on cold/delicate) to see if they will shrink enough? (P.S. They are 100% linen.)


Roasted Sweet Potato Soup and Mushroom Bruschetta


Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'm not really a fancy cook or anything and most nights during the week I can barely scrape together a mac n' cheese meal for the two of us. But occasionally, I'll have some extra time to try out a new recipe or two. Both of these recipes were so delicious that we had the exact same meal two nights in a row. 

So scrumptitilidumptious that I thought I would share. 

Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
Makes: 8 servings


2 large sweet potatoes
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 small onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic , minced
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp white or black pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
8 fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

{Note: I added a dollop of sour cream to each bowl before serving.}


1. Peel and cube sweet potatoes; toss with half each of the oil and salt. Roast on baking sheet in 450°F (230°C) oven, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in saucepan, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat; sauté onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary, pepper and remaining salt until softened, about 8 minutes.

3. Add stock, potatoes and 4 cups (1 L) water; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

4. In batches in blender, purée soup until smooth; strain into clean pot. Garnish each serving with a sprig of rosemary.

Mushroom Bruschetta
Source: Jamie At Home by Jamie Oliver
Makes: 2 servings


Extra Virgin Olive Oil
11 ounces mixed wild mushrooms, wiped clean (I used button and cremini)
2 cloves of garlic, 1 peeled and finely chopped, the other halved
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
A few sprigs of fresh parsley, leaves picked
A sprig of summer savory, leaves plucked (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 dried red chili, crumbled (I omitted this)
A small knob of butter
1 lemon
2 slices sourdough bread (I used french stick)

{Note: I spread cream cheese over the warm, toasted bread before spooning the mushroom mixture over top}


1. Put a large heavy frying pan, big enough to hold all the mushrooms in one layer, over heat and add a couple of glugs of extra virgin olive oil. Depending on the size of your mushrooms, leave any small ones whole but tear, break or slice the larger ones up. Add them all to the pan and give it a shake to toss the mushrooms in the oil.

2. Add the chopped garlic and fresh herbs and shake the pan again. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and the crumbled chili and leave to fry gently for a few minutes. If the mixture becomes dry, pour in a little more oil.

3. Once the mushrooms have got some color going on, after about 3-4 minutes, add the butter and a squeeze of lemon juice to give a nice twang -- don't go overboard here, you don't need much -- and toss again.

4. To finish this off and make it into a lovely, creamy sauce, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan. Simmer for a little longer, until you have a lovely simple sauce that just loosely coats the mushrooms. Now toast your bread.

5. When toasted, rub the bread with the cut side of the remaining clove of garlic. Place each slice on a serving plate, pile the mushrooms and the creamy juices from the pan on top and tuck in.


Yum, yum, yum, yum, annnnnnd yum.

Pink Leaves and My First Go At Adding Photo Textures


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Awhile back I thought it would be fun to add a little pink to our yellow-and-white schemed living room. I came across a tiny little houseplant with pink leaves (I know, right!?!?) at Home Depot a few weeks ago. It's a delicate little thing so I'm amazed I've been able to keep it alive for this long already.  

I love how it looks on the little yellow tray that sits on our old trunk in the living room. I added a tiny country decorating book, a rattan coaster from our trip to Mexico a few years ago, and an antique bell that I bought for my classroom but ended up keeping at home because I love it so.

After reading Tricia's post over at A Rosy Note, I decided to try adding one of those photo-texture things just for fun. I headed over to a photography blog called Kim Klassen Cafe and downloaded two of her textures called Silence and SweetTreat. I had no idea what I was doing and basically smashed the buttons on my keyboard until I was satified that it might have, kind of worked.

Here are the original photos (with no texture things added).

That's all. Nothing too exciting going on over here. Just lazing around (obviously) and eating a giant bowl of Honeynut Cheerios. Hope you're having a great weekend!!!

Linking to:

Photo Feature Friday @ A Rosy Note

A Little Rake Here, A Little Rake There


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If you didn't think I was weird before, this post is surely going to change your mind. You'll notice in the above photo that I've started the big spring yard clean-up. The last of the snow melted a few days ago and the yard is finally dry enough to start raking. Yippie!

Since I am only only able to persist at tasks for 15-20 minutes at a time, I have to divide the front yard up into about 10 little manageable sections. Yesterday I raked two sections. Today I did two more.

I also seem to rake the leaves/grass into neat, little rows rather than large, unruly piles so that I can see all of the spots I've completed. I don't have OCD I swear.

I was going to go all hardcore today and try to rake three sections of the front yard.

But then........

1. I thought I could feel a blister forming.
2. I started to have a Pepsi craving.
3. I was bored.

New Commenting On This Here Blog


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

So I don't know 'bout you but the commenting on Blogger has been driving me kind of nutso.

It irked me that I could never reply to your comments directly. I love your comments so very much, but I never had a good way to respond and tell you that you are oh-so-witty and my most favourite reader ever.

I've been debating for some time whether or not to move this blog over to Wordpress but I thought I'd wait until the summer when I have more time to fiddle around and figure out how it works.

Soooooo, my next option was to install a new widget (wincing right now because that word is so annoying). I think I just installed the Disqus commenting program but I'm not really sure.

I did have to get the hubby to help since my computer was being cranky. 

I would love, love, love it if you could leave a little hello and then I can practice writing you cute little replies just to see if it works.

Let's try it, k? You're first. Just say hi. It's spelled h-i in case you forgot. 

P.S. Oh yeah, if there are any glitches could you let me know? I promise I'll leave you a thank you note with a little smiley face.

Oatmeal Muffins and Four Random Thoughts


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quakers's Best Oatmeal Muffins


⅓ cup Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
⅓ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup skim milk
¼ cup canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla

{I added one cup of raspberries/blueberries.}


1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line twelve medium muffin cups with paper baking cups or spray bottoms only with cooking spray.

2. For streusel, in small bowl, combine oats, flour and sugar; mix well. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

3. For muffins, in large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar and baking powder; mix well. In small bowl, combine milk, oil, egg and vanilla; blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not over-mix.)

4. Fill muffin cups almost full. Sprinkle with reserved streusel, patting gently.

5. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool muffins in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Serve warm.

Random Thoughts Go Here:

1. Did anyone else watch the last Grey's Anatomy episode? You know, the ultra creepy one where all the characters (even my boyfriend McSteamy) burst into song? I can't figure out what was more disturbing. The fact that the characters were lip syncing as they performed surgeries, or the fact that I watched the entire episode.

2. I have a new obsession. Sweet potatoes. Where have they been all my life?!?!? I've got some in the oven right this very second. Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes - the recipe is sooooo easy and sooooo good. 'Specially with a little bit of sour cream. I think I could eat these every night of the week!!

3. I have so much trouble finishing projects that I start. I couldn't even finish my Photo-a-Day-For-Seven-Days-Challenge. Poor, non-existent photo #7.  

4. Speaking of projects that I don't finish, I (cough, cough) forgot to work on the other two chairs for the breakfast room this weekend. I decided to wash windows, try out my Little Green Machine that I got for Christmas, and bake muffins instead. Ooops. Heh heh heh....
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