Goodbye Sunroom Furniture, Hello Toys


Wednesday, May 29, 2013


It's official. The toys have taken over. :)
After Cooper had his first birthday last month, I was in dire need of a better organization system for his toys. Previously I had them just randomly thrown into two large baskets in the living room. He had a little ride-on car and a few larger toys that I would just line up on the floor along the wall.
It was a bit of a pain to pick everything up off of the floor whenever I vacuumed and there was absolutely no rhyme or reason to where anything was. After his birthday, I decided it was high time to figure out a more permanent solution. 
We had two possible spots on our main floor that we could have turned into a little play area: the sun room or the breakfast room.
Since we already had the sun room / living room / dining room area sectioned off and baby proofed, it just made sense to use the sun room. While the breakfast room would have been cute, the door out onto the deck is in there and the space gets a lot of traffic (and dirt!) from the pups. Plus, the kitchen and breakfast room is where the dogs hang out when they are too hyper, wet from outside, or when we go out. Translation: dog fur central.
So, the sun room it would be. I moved one of the wicker chairs into our bedroom, another chair into the dining room, and the loveseat into spare bedroom. Just for now, until I can figure out a better place for them. Maybe in the basement eventually?
The sunroom already had a little shelf and built-in cupboard that Cooper loves to play in. I used the shallow shelf to store all of his medium-sized trucks and toys.

I used one of the larger baskets to store his musical instruments: two drums, a piano, and a homemade rain stick that I made in teacher's college. I gotta say, he LOVES those drums.
On the other side of the room I brought down the bookshelf with baskets that was up in his nursery and not being used.

I organized the baskets like so:
Basket #1: Stuffed Animals
Basket #2: Books
Basket #3: Puzzles
Basket #4: Train Set
Basket #5: Train Set
Basket #6: Wooden Blocks
I have another large basket in the corner that is filled with miscellaneous toys: balls, ribbons, wooden spoons, etc.
His little ride on toys, a bike and a car, get parked under the window. His two other large toys have a spot along the side wall.
I haven't decorated the room at all, so far I've just plunked everything in there. But, I suppose I could add a few things here and there to add a bit more "fun" to the little room.

We are so lucky that we have a built-in little space like this. We are also very grateful that Cooper has so many friends and family that spoil him rotten with all of these toys!

And here's the little stinker in action:

Now that's a mischievous grin if I've ever seen one.

P.S. It's all rainy and dreary here today. That's why we're loungin' in our joggers. Oh yeah.

P.S.S. My desktop has about 5000 pictures on it. Man, I'm so disorganized.

P.S.S.S. I have eight draft posts on the go right now. I hit publish on this one though. Booyah!

P.S.S.S.S. It's kind of annoying when people say "booyah".

P.S.S.S.S.S. Cooper slept for an hour for both of his naps today, instead of the usual 30-40 minutes each. Sa-weeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! Knock on wood because my project list could really use a few extra daylight hours ifyaknowwhatImean.

P.S.S.S.S.S.S. I was a total domestic goddess yesterday and put away 3+ baskets of clean laundry that was sitting there for two weeks. I'm pretty sure that deserves some sort of medal.

P.S.S.S.S.S.S.S. I have so much to say today. Maybe it's time to whip up one of those weird, random posts that you guys seem to like so much. Heh heh heh...... :)

Our Exterior Side Entry is the Royal Pits and Needs a Makeover


Sunday, May 26, 2013

In my mind I live in a house where the side entry looks like this:

House of Turquoise: Coastal Living Idea Cottage designed by Tracey Rapisardi

Who lives in these kinds of houses!?!?! You know the ones I'm talking about. The houses you see in magazines and on Pinterest where there is not a weed, cobweb, stray leaf, ding, dent, or speck of dirt to be found. These pictures kill me sometimes. With envy. ;)
Anywhooooo, the reality is that our side entry has been oh so neglected. We haven't done a single thing to it since moving in in 2006. While it was pretty plain and ugly to begin with, over time it's received quite a bit of weathering as well as general wear and tear.  
We always told ourselves, like the kitchen, that we would just leave it until we got around to doing a nice, big renovation. With so much on the go, we don't have the time or budget to do a large scale reno of either at the moment. So instead, we decided that now that the warmer weather is here we would do a few fix-ups so that the side entry doesn't look as ghetto as it's looking right now.
Let's take a look at the hideousness and then I will make a list of all the stuff that is ugly and needs to be changed or fixed up.
Are you ready? Here we go:

1. The white paint on the wood siding is flaking off. Everywhere. The painted wood needs to be sanded, primed, and repainted. Eventually when we get around to possibly painting the exterior brick and residing the upper half of the house, we will reside the side entry addition as well. For now though, a fresh paint job will do wonders. 
2. While the light fixture isn't terrible, it's small, old, and rusty. I'm hoping to find a cute one that will still fit in the tiny space.
3. The little window is the only one in the entire house that wasn't replaced before we moved in. It doesn't match the other windows and isn't sealed very well. Plus, I took the screen off one day and haven't seen it since.
4. The exterior door, while on the newer side, is still the original factory colour and isn't really my style. I do hate to replace things that are still sort of nice, but we'll just donate it or sell it if we have to. I'm excited to tell you that we already have the replacement door! When we bought two new exterior doors for The Fixer Upper, we also picked up one for the side because I liked the style and they were a great price. Yay!
Masonite Craftsman 6 Lite Primed Smooth Fiberglass Entry Door with Brickmold
5. The storm / screen door is awful. There are no words to describe the ugly. The screen part doesn't open, I've tried washing it a thousand times and it never looks clean, and it's rusty in some parts too. Since we do leave the main door open quite often in the spring / summer / fall, I think we will replace the storm door with another one, but probably one of the ones that has a solid piece of glass. I do like the fact that storm doors with glass can be locked. Okay so what if I'm a bit paranoid about burglars and kidnappers. We all know that already! Hee hee hee.
Andersen 3000 Series White Aluminum Storm Door with Nickel Hardware
6. The cement slab is crooked and ugly. We have no quick fixes for that at the moment. Eventually we would love to have a grey, lock stone driveway however that's not happening for a long time. So, I'll try to cover it up with an outdoor mat and a nice pot of flowers.
7. We have tons of grass and weeds growing up through the gravel. Speaking of gravel, there is a mish mash of three different kinds and it's mixed in with ruts and mud. We are hoping to get a load of new gravel to spread over both our driveway as well as our neighbours at some point this summer (we have a shared driveway). As for the weeds and grass I guess I'll have to dig them all out. Ugh. That does not sound fun.
8. Aside from the corbels, the space has no character! I have a few ideas to add a little bit more charm to the space. Maybe a mailbox, a door knocker, a window box, and some house numbers? We'll see what I can come up with! 
So, that's our side entry. I was almost too embarrassed to share the pictures but then I realized that this is what this whole blog is about, right? We're just ordinary people fixing up an old house with not a lot of time and a limited budget.
And just in case you were thinking that we have a lot of other projects on the go at the same time, uhhhh you're kind of right. Whoopsie!

My Antique Finds From Florida & A Cute Pic


Friday, May 24, 2013

Remember when we took that trip to Florida and almost froze to death because all we packed were shorts, t-shirts, and flip flops and it was super cold? Oh yeah. That was fun.
Well I managed to sneak a few little trinkets home after a day of browsing around old, smelly antique shops.
I bought this little scoop because a) it's adorable, b) we love coffee, and c) I've never seen another one like it. Plus, it matches my little collection of pie plates.

I scooped up this old, slate chalkboard so that I can leave myself reminders to you know, take the clothes out of the washing machine instead of leaving them in there for days on end until they get gross and smelly so that I have to rewash them two more times. Um, yeah. That really happens. I also thought the chalkboard would be a fun little prop to use in some photo shoots.

I found these three heart cookie cutters and had to add them to my little collection. Heart cookie cutters are very useful. Useful for looking cute, that is.

So yeah. That's what I brought back from the trip. I'm sure it's obvious that I didn't get to bring home a nice, golden tan. ;)

Speaking of rotten weather, we had another frost warning last night. For realz!?!? It's almost June!

In other news, my shelf in the breakfast room is looking pretty with some flowers from our crabapple tree.

And that's it for today. Coops and I are off to Home Depot to pick up a quart of primer. Yes, that means I'll actually be attempting a project this weekend. Yippee!!!
P.S. My little Coopster actually played by himself (without getting into mischief) for fifteen minutes while I typed up this post. Thanks buddy! And keep looking this cute while you sleep, m'kay?

Fabric Swatch Set #1 Is Here


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Okay, so these swatches have been here for over a month. Maybe two. I've been meaning to take some pictures to show you but my dear husband sat on them and got them all wrinkly. I'll stick with that excuse for now. ;)

The swatch on the bottom right was out of stock and so I chose a different one.

I was realllllllly excited and secretly hoping that I would fall in love with a combination of three or four of these and boom! I could throw them onto some cushions in my living room and all would be swell.
While I like all of them individually, I don't love them in combination with one another and with my bluish-grey living room curtains.
Here are the swatches side by side against the white couch:

Fabric swatches from

And here they are individually in order from my most to least favourite:

Magnolia Home Fashions Oxford Stripe Pasture Green

Premier Prints Jenn Porcelain Blue/Natural

Premier Prints Twill Traditions Storm Grey

Premier Prints Ikat Dots Dossett Grapevine/Grey

Duralee Birdcage Smoke

Premier Prints Twill Suzani Storm Grey

I think I'm going to get those green stripes for sure. As for the others, we'll see.  If I'm picky, I might as well be really picky, right?
To be continued..... heh heh heh. :)

My Hydrangeas - Some Tips and Tricks


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My hydrangeas last summer.
P.S. I added another one right at the corner of the house. It's still a baby.

Since I have ummmm, ten hydrangeas in my front yard alone, I guess it's safe to say that I kind of like them. ;)

I planted the hydrangeas when we first moved in because the previous owners' landscaping just wasn't cutting it for me. An off-centre cedar and some scraggly vines? Umm, no thanks. I was actually inspired to create a hedge of hydrangeas along the front of the house from a Country Living photo that I saw in a book or magazine. Even though I haven't been able to find the picture since, I can still picture that pretty grey house with it's long row of hydrangeas as clear as day. 

While I'm no professional gardener by any means, I thought I would share some tips and tricks that have helped keep my hydrangeas healthy and full of giant, white blooms. (Seriously, one of my neighbours admitted that she almost snuck into our yard one night to clip some flowers for her dining table. Of course we installed an alarm system after that, hahaha.)

Keep in mind that where you plant your hydrangeas and how you care for them will vary depending on where you live, where you plant them, and the variety that you have. My hydrangeas are the 'Annabelle' or hydrangea arborescens variety and they receive dappled shade in the afternoon / evening in Hardiness Zone 3b.

Caring for my hydrangeas started even before they were planted. I removed about a foot of poor quality soil and clay before adding in a combination of peat moss, manure, and garden soil. I also added bone meal to the soil that I used to fill in around the bottom and sides of each plant.

Hydrangeas require a lot of water. Because most of my hydrangeas are in dappled shade and only receive a small amount of afternoon / evening sun I don't have to worry about them drying out too often. Hydrangea leaves will get all withered and droopy when they have been without water for too long. When I do water them I try to do make sure it is in the early morning or early evening (although I've read that morning is always better). I also make sure to water each one deeply rather than just spraying the leaves or lightly watering the soil surface.  

In early spring I do a general clean-up and pruning of each hydrangea shrub. I start by trimming off the dead blooms with snips. Next I pull out any dead wood and leaves from the centre of each plant. Once the shrubs are cleaned up a bit I go ahead with some gentle pruning. (Gah! The word pruning is weird.) Most years I bring out one of Alex's measuring tapes and prune back each stem to a specific length. For example in 2011 I cut them all to about 20" long. (I didn't have time to be that particular this year so I just randomly trimmed them all until I got a nice rounded shape to each one.)  When trimming the stems, I make sure to snip above the first or second set of buds. I try not to cut off more than that.  

For me, gentle pruning has two advantages. By keeping some of the old wood, it helps the stems get nice and thick over the years so that the plant becomes nice and solid. Thick stems are important to help hold up those giant flowers when it rains. I've also read that gentle pruning in early spring generates more blooms. And this girl looooooves hydrangea blooms.

Every once in awhile I will use some Miracle Grow fertilizer when I water but I don't do this very often for no other reason than I am forgetful.

Because my gardens are under the roofline, sometimes the soil around the plants gets washed away over time. Every spring I make sure to add some nice, dark topsoil to cover up any exposed roots.

Here's how my hydrangeas looked a few days ago, Not quite as meticulous as in 2011 but I suppose a kid and a second dog will do that to ya. ;)

So, that's that. I've had really good luck with my hydrangeas so far. Well, except when the freakiest hailstorm ever crushed them all to bits last fall. I cried. For real, I cried. My fingers are crossed that they will bounce back this spring and summer!

If you have any other good tips or if I've left something out, make sure to leave me a note in the comments section.


New Flower Pots for the Front Yard


Friday, May 10, 2013

Old flower pots. Cute, but no contrast!

For the last few years I've used two ceramic pots in front of our icky cement stairs to add some curb appeal to our front yard. When I bought the pots a few years ago, I really liked how they had the same light green that we used on our front door and shutters. While I love the pots on their own, I just wasn't loving how they looked in front of the stairs. I finally realized that it's because they just blend right into the concrete and don't create any contrast!

See what I mean?

My old pots were really cute up close, but from far away they just blended right into the concrete steps!
So, I thought I would move the ceramic pots out onto our back deck and find some darker pots for the front yard. I was thinking that a dull black or charcoal colour would be nice since our roof, exterior light fixture, address sign, and metal railing are all black as well.
Before I had a chance to scout all of my usual spots (Homesense, Home Depot, Lowes, Canadian Tire, etc.) I ended up finding some really cute pots at The Superstore garden centre while I was out getting some groceries.

I used to turn my nose up to plastic pots because I thought they looked cheap but now I've changed my tune. ;) Sometimes you're able to find imitation pots that look like the real thing but are cheaper, lighter, and more durable. (Now that I'm off all spring / summer without pay I'm all about the cheap, haha.)

The pots are called 'PC Black Belly Pots' and I purchased three of the 18" pots. I'll be using two at the front door and another one at our side entry. They actually had small, medium, and large sizes to choose from (mine are the medium size). The pots are made of lightweight fiberglass and can be used both indoors and out.

I'm excited to plant some flowers in them! Up here in Northern Ontario we need to wait another week or so until the last frost. Come on Mother Nature, come on!


Coops Turned One, My Neck is Sore, and My Fabric Swatches are Finally In


Friday, May 3, 2013

Oh hi. I'm still alive. But you can call me robot girl from now on because I can't turn my head to either side and I've been walking around like a total freak show. It huuuuuuuuuuuurts. After a week of excruciating pain and looking like a fool, I finally hit up the chiropractor and he literally snapped my neck all over the place. It was horrible. But it seems to be working because I'm finally feeling well enough to write this blog post tonight. Woot!
Cooper likes to climb and eat chairs instead of sitting in them. ;)

Cooper turned a year old last week and we had a nice, big party with all of our family here (25+ people). At first I think that having a party is going to be so much fun but then reality hits and I get super stressed out. I cleaned the entire house thinking that our guests would be inside and then suddenly the forecast changed from snow and rain ALL of April to sunny and hot on the day of the party. We did a mad scramble to get the patio furniture out of the garage and to get the deck and yard somewhat presentable. There just wasn't enough time to do any raking or big spring clean-ups beforehand. It all worked out though. We got Coops one of those sand / water tables for his birthday and he's been playing with it (a.k.a. eating sand) all week!
Fabric swatches from
The fabric swatches that I ordered finally came in after two weeks of daily, stalker-ish trips to the post office. I thought that once I saw the fabrics in person I would immediately know what direction to go in with our living room cushions. However, I'm still undecided. I'll explain more and share some pictures in a separate post.
I'll fill you in on what's been going on around here, I promise. It's just been super, super busy. To top it all off, our beloved Roary almost died the night of Cooper's birthday party and had to have emergency surgery in the middle of the night. His recovery is going well but he's still not out of the woods yet. We are spending as much time as we can with him as it's pretty much a miracle he's still alive. I'm off to bed (at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night, holla!) but here is the cutest picture ever of our first baby:

Roary at his favourite place - the cottage.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Cozy.Cottage.Cute. All rights reserved © Blog Milk Design - Powered by Blogger