Christmas Stuff


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Remember how I was going to be all super mom-ish and sew a giant bean bag chair as a gift for Coops on Christmas morning?

Bahahahahahaha. That was funny.

I was able to decorate a few little spots around the house. It helps to have a few areas that look pretty and tidy and not strewn with superheros, pirate hats, and mini hockey sticks.

It's funny because I tidy our living room about 50 times a day and it never fails that two minutes later I'll turn around and it looks like this:

Keepin' it real, yo.

I try not to stress about it. We did have an epic game of sit-in-the-tiny-chair basketball and my pink suitcase is packed to the brim with toys "FOR CAMP!!!!" even though we're not going again until the spring.


So. Back to Christmas stuff. I decorated my dining room shelves pretty much the same as last year. Except I made a few small changes. Like, a different white pitcher. Sparkly pine cones instead of plain. A strand of red berries. White pine boughs instead of fir. Why mess with a good thing, am I right?  

We had our Christmas tree up three weeks before Christmas this year! I even remembered to water it every day. We got a Fraser fir again. It's pretty.

My little Coopster was VERY into the decorating this year. He's got some pretty good skillz as you can tell from the next picture. Hee hee.

Since we have four Christmas stockings this year (hey Winnie!!!) I wasn't able to fit them on our tiny stair railing. I decided to try hanging them under our dining room window. They were looking pretty cute. Until....... little decorator decided that the S for my name needed to be decorating somewhere else. It hasn't been seen since. I searched high and low all over the house because I want Santa to be able to find my stocking if-you-know-what-I'm-saying. I made an emergency trip to Michael's to buy another matching S and could you believe that they had every single letter except for S. I'm not kidding when I tell you that I started to have a mini panic attack in the middle of the aisle. I did what every person with no free time and a to-do list a mile long does. I bought four different letters, repainted them in chalk paint, conditioned them all with chalk, and rehung them so that they all matched. Phew.

Well, that's about it for now. I only have to finish wrapping gifts, do groceries, prepare my appetizers for Christmas Eve (we're having my side of the family over for appetizer night, nom nom nom), finish my Christmas baking, make homemade ornaments with Cooper, sew a bean bag chair, and clean my entire house. I've got time, right?

See you in 2016 my friends! I hope your Christmas is all lovely and stuff. :)

If you want to check out some other Christmas posts here are a few oldies!

What We've Been Working On - Part Two


Friday, December 4, 2015

In my last post, What We've Been Working on Part One, I shared that we've been tinkering away on some random projects around the house. 

One of the bigger things that we've been working on has been our side entry - but the inside this time! You'll be able to see in the next few pictures that it is a super tight area that we use many, many, many times a day. I'm sure you can imagine the wear and tear the space takes on a daily basis with two adults, a little boy, a baby, and two dogs coming in and out often at the same time. My face is starting to twitch just thinking about it. 

I shared a long time ago that the original house had the exterior door open right onto the stair landing. The previous owners added on a teeny, tiny (12 square foot) addition with a little cubbie for coats and shoes. 

While I'm grateful that we have a little bit of extra space, the previous owners used a real mishmash of materials. In that one little space there was painted brick, painted plywood paneling, and textured plaster. They had a window, trim, and baseboards that didn't match the rest of the house. The entry also had very old Berber carpeting that was stained and unraveling. I took a picture but can't even share it because it is SO bad. Okay I'll show you but just know that it hurts to look at it.

Oh man, I am dying from all of the ugliness right now.

I tried and tried to convince Alex that we needed to gut the entire area and start from scratch with new drywall, a new window, new trim, new flooring, new wainscoting, etc. However, my pleadings were flat-out denied.

Oh yes. We just bought a cottage ($$$$$). And we still aren't finished the basement. And we still haven't finished our ugly kitchen upgrades. And our storage room in the basement looks like an episode from Hoarders and needs to be emptied and organized. And I'm in the middle of three sewing projects and five painting projects. And, and, and, and.

So, we're doing a quick and cheap rehab instead: new paint, new flooring, new baseboards, new exterior door trim, and a new light fixture. 

A few weekends ago the boys got to work ripping the carpet out. 

I wrangled the baby, took pictures, made coffee, and of course did a little happy dance.

Cooper made sure he was prepared for work with his construction hat, soccer t-shirt, pajama bottoms, and Buzz Light-Year wings.

Don't you just love old houses when you pull up old carpeting to find about ten layers of different flooring glued on top of each other?!?!?!?! So awesome.

Once the carpet was ripped up, we cleared everything out and got ready for paint. I have no idea what went through my mind five years ago when I decided to paint our side entry a medium shade of green in a small space with minimal natural lighting. Oy.

We decided to carry the basement colour all the way up the stairs and into the entry. It's called Silver Satin by Benjamin Moore and I looooooove it. It's light, bright, and not green!

We've finished painting the walls and ceilings and are getting ready to repaint all of the existing white trim. 

Alex spent last weekend figuring out all the cuts for the laminate flooring that he will be installing SOON. I can't wait. It's the same flooring that we used in the basement. We had quite a bit leftover anyway. Score!

Quick-Step Reclaime - Mocha Oak

I've got googly eyes when I look at this picture. 

Once the new flooring is down Alex can reinstall the door trim and baseboards. Then I'll be able to add some fun touches like curtains for the window and coat cubby, new hooks, a cute carpet, etc.

I don't have any great after pictures for you today, BUT I will show you the cute light that I found to replace the bare bulb that we've had for three years.

Light Fixture - Lowe's

Tada! Cute, right?

I wish I could tell you that I'll be back with some after pictures in a few days. Unfortunately due to something I like to call 'the old house phenomenon' the floors are too uneven to put the laminate down as is. Alex will need to do some leveling first.

Fingers crossed that the majority of this redo will be finished by Christmas? New Years?



P.S. Please tell me there is a spot in your home that is beyond hideous like our side entry was? It will make me feel better about sharing these pictures.

What We've Been Working On - Part One


Friday, November 20, 2015

Hiya! I'm back again for a third blog post this week. I suppose I've gotta make up for my sporadic and, well, pretty non existent posts the last few months. Thanks for sticking around by the way. Moocho love comin' at ya right now.

Also, it snowed here for the first time last night! 

This was taken at 8:00 a.m. this morning before I even had a chance to finish my coffee.
There should be a medal for that, right?

Winnie and I were supposed to do some errands this morning while Coops is visiting with Grandma. However, the first time it snows up here there are always a million car accidents and fender benders since a lot of people won't have their winter tires on yet. So, we are staying home and staying safe. AND, I just watched my little cutie-patootie on the video monitor and she stirred and went back to sleep for maybe another 40 minutes. I just hit the nap jackpot baby!!!!!

So. What we've been working on. We're all over the map as usual picking little things from different projects and not really getting anything major accomplished. It really does keep things interesting. And it really does keep our house in a complete disarray all of the time. ;)

First, I've been raking. This is no easy task around here. We've got seven different varieties of mature trees in and around our yard. It sounds all awesome and beautiful until someone has to rake up all the leaves. (Uh, that someone would be me.) We were gifted with amazing fall weather the last few weeks. Up until today it's been warm and sunny enough in the afternoons to bring the kiddos outside and work a little bit at a time. 

When you're racing against time to get all of your leaves raked up before the first snowfall, you leave rice cereal crusted all over your baby's face.

See the picture below? See the grassy area with all of the leaves? I already raked that spot three times. THREE TIMES!!!!! At least my arms are getting a good workout?!?!?

Since the weather has been so nice I decided to get a head start on winter-fying my front windowbox. Remember when I dressed it up all simple and pretty a few years ago? Gosh I love that burlap bow.

My Winter Windowbox - A Simple Tutorial

My Mom and I dragged about ten yard bags full of pine boughs down from the mountain last weekend. Can you believe that I still didn't have enough? Who decided that a twelve-foot window box was a good idea anyway? Hee hee.

The start of my winter windowbox last weekend:

My frozen windowbox this morning:

Uhhh, I hope it warms up enough that I'll be able to finish it! I've also been toying around with the idea of adding a little bit of red to my arrangements this year. If you know me at all this is a big deal. Red or no red, the things that keep me up at night. ;)

So now let's skip to the holidays. I'm trying really hard to finish all of my shopping for the kiddos early this year. I'm also trying not to go too crazy. I love the idea of spending time doing holiday activities rather than spending a whole lot of money on material things. That being said, I still want Cooper's cute little face to light up when he sees the tree on Christmas morning, so I'm on the hunt for one of those new Paw Patroller things. People! These are sold out everywhere!!!!!

I will probably be stalking the aisles at Wal-Mart next week waiting for another shipment to come in. Also, I may or may not be willing to drive my cart over people's toes to get one. When you're the Mom of a Paw-Patrol-loving boy, you gotta do what you gotta do.

I just realized that I rambled on a lot in this post. I suppose I will have to break this up into two parts so that I can show you the destruction that's been happening in our interior side entry. 

To be continued!

P.S. Thank you SO MUCH to all of you lovelies who took the time to congratulate us on my last post about our new cottage. We are soooooo pumped and it was so nice of you to leave such nice comments. You are one of a kind. :)

Pinch Me, We Bought a Cottage!!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The day we got the keys!
{Please don't enlarge this picture. Muffin top and bad hair alert. Hee hee!}

I think this is the first time in the history of ever that I've said I would be back soon with another post and I'm actually back soon with another post. It was the result of a) deciding to stay home in yoga pants instead of doing much-needed groceries, b) the magical occurrence of both kiddos napping at the same time this afternoon, and c) me being so excited to share!

In my last post I wrote that Alex and I were hoping and wishing that one day we would find an affordable cottage on the same lake as my grandfather's. A few years ago we had an offer on an old, outdated hunting cabin but lost out because of a higher bidder. I also shared how we were SO disappointed because we didn't know if and when another opportunity would come up. 

At the beginning of the summer we were sitting around with family lamenting about how we missed out on the other cottage and were really hoping that something else would come along.

We had heard a rumour that the cottage right next door to my grandfather's might be going up for sale within the next few years. We laughed and joked that we would have to scrimp and save for at least five years and then we only might be able to afford it. Let me explain. The prices for properties in the area have only been going up. Also, the cottage next door to my grandfather's had a big renovation completed about fifteen years ago which meant that it was in really good condition. It also had a few bells and whistles that we weren't used to at our place like running hot and cold water!!!!! an indoor bathroom with a septic system!!!!! and solar power!!!!! At our family's place we were accustomed to bringing drinking water from home, boiling water for washing dishes, carting pails of water from the lake, having no electricity whatsoever, using propane lights and flashlights, and (you might gasp at this one) using an outhouse. Hee hee.


Well, whaddayaknow. About three weeks after that dreaming-impossible-dreams conversation, an ad went up on Kijiiji stating that the very cottage we were discussing, the one right next door to my grandfather's, was indeed for sale. Except it was listed for a price that was WAY over our budget.

Here's where a funny coincidence comes in. I actually knew the sellers, as I had practically grown up at their cottage.... playing cribbage and rummy, sleeping in tree-houses, and creating awkward synchronized swimming routines with their youngest daughter.

Alex crunched numbers for about 24 hours straight. We figured that if we drastically changed our lifestyle (no more fancy steaks from the butcher shop)(no more decor items ordered from Restoration Hardware)(no more all-inclusive trips to Caribbean destinations) then we just might be able to make it work.

We packed up the kids, drove down to see the cottage, made an offer on the spot, and waited for their answer. We waited for two very, very, very long weeks. Every time the phone rang I jumped out of my skin and scared both of our children. I made Alex check his email about every two seconds. The whole thing was extremely nerve-wracking. We knew there were other people interested in the cottage and so we were scared that we were going to be outbid for a second time.

Finally, we got the call. The sellers let us know that if we paid their original asking price (our offer was a bit lower) then they would sell us the cottage - even though there was a couple from Toronto willing to pay more than the asking price and with no conditions. They picked us.

They picked us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The purchase officially closed at the end of September and we are absolutely thrilled. We are so, so lucky to have such an amazing place to enjoy in the spring, summer, and fall. Cooper and Winnie will be able to experience all of the fun extended family adventures that I got to enjoy growing up because we are literally right next door to my grandfather's cottage. It's just a hop, skip, and a jump through the woods to get there.

So, without further ado, here are some pictures of our new place! Everything that you see in the pictures came included with the purchase except for the kayaks (and the baby).

View of the front of the cottage from the lake.

Side deck and side entry.

The back of the cottage as you drive in from the dirt road.

The walkway leading down to the sauna, deck, and lake.

The view from the deck.

The living room area.

Another view of the living room area.

The kitchen area.

Another view of the kitchen area.

The loft over the kitchen.

Bedroom #1.

Bedroom #2.

The bathroom.

The dining area.

The view of the dock and the other side of the lake.

Alex and I made a deal with each other that we wouldn't discuss any changes that we want to make for at least a little while. You know, because of the whole $$$ thing. However, it's still fun to dream about the future so we already broke our rule and talked a little bit about pressure washing the decking and possibly adding a screened in porch over the side deck. It's all so very exciting.  

Oh, and just a random note. Up here in Northern Ontario most of us small city folk use the term 'camp' instead of 'cottage'. I refer to it as a cottage on the blog because I think that's what most readers would identify with. So in the future, if you hear me squealing, "I'm off to camp!" you'll know what I'm talking about.


The Story About the First Little Cottage That We Didn't Buy


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I think the name of this blog sort of speaks for itself. I kinda like, okay I kinda love, the whole cottage thing. 

Growing up, I was lucky enough to spend every summer at my family's cottage. {Well, except those summers when I was a moody teenager but let's try to forget about those, m'kay?}

The cottage my Grandfather built in 1965.

Our family's cottage was built by my grandfather and was pretty darn awesome. I have very fond memories of swimming, boating, hiking, sleepovers, suntanning, saunas, card games, birthdays, and campfires with my grandparents, parents, brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

Since we've been all grown up and stuff, Alex and I occasionally went down to visit for a day or maybe even a night. But things were starting to get a little bit crowded (and crazy) when we brought the whole gang and all of our gear. Yo, why do babies require so much stuff!?!?!?! Yo, why are our doggies so badly behaved!?!?!?!

One day we came up with a pretty outrageous idea - what if we tried to purchase our own cottage on the same lake? Sure it would have been much easier to purchase a cottage anywhere (there are dozens and dozens of lakes within driving distance from our home). However, we didn't want to be too far away from the whole crazy, big, fun, family thing that we had going on.

We thought our idea was pretty far-fetched because the lake we wanted to be on is located in one of Ontario's Provincial Parks. There are very few properties to begin with - and when they do go up for sale they are either sold privately to friends and family or they are snatched up by people from the big city (Toronto) who are willing to pay a lot of moolah.

So. We waited, waited, waited, and waited some more. We took boat rides up and down the lake staring longingly at different properties wondering if and when any of them would go up for sale. Finally we heard about an old hunting cabin that used to be owned by twelve men. When we went to go and see the cottage we were happy to see that it was a fixer upper. Being a fixer upper meant that we *might* be able to afford it, and there might not be as much interest from people who were looking for something move-in ready. The hunting cabin was also only ten lots down the lake from my family's place which meant a 3 minute drive, a 5 minute boat ride, or a really long swim. :)

After playing around with our finances for a nerve-wracking few days (remember that this happened not long after we bought our 2nd house - The Fixer Upper) we made our best offer. The seller accepted it verbally over the phone and we went to the lawyer to write up a formal offer the very next day.

We were so excited! We called all of our family and cheered and celebrated and of course I started pinning a million cottage inspiration pictures on Pinterest.

Since the seller was an older gentleman we thought we would give him a week to travel to his lawyer to sign our offer. Unfortunately during this time another couple came along and offered him considerably more money in cash. We were so, so, so disappointed.

Here are some pictures I dug up from Alex's phone. Remember..... it was a fixer upper owned by twelve dudes. There was absolutely no Cozy.Cottage.Cute going on at all.

The hunting camp that we didn't get.

The hunting camp that we didn't get.

The hunting camp that we didn't get.
The sauna at the hunting camp that we didn't get.

Cooper checking out the hunting camp.

Despite it's ugliness, the hunting cottage had an open concept kitchen / dining / living room and three small bedrooms. The property itself was beautiful and the view down at the water was amazing. We could definitely see the potential. Unfortunately it was not to be. Friends and family told us that things happen for a reason and even though I *might* have rolled my eyes at the time, maybe they were right.


A month and a half ago we closed on the purchase of a different cottage RIGHT NEXT DOOR to my family's. The excitement has absolutely not worn off yet.

I'll share pictures next post, promise.

Big Boy Room Reading Corner - The Plan


Thursday, October 29, 2015

I often go through very, very, long phases where I get absolutely nothing accomplished because I get paralyzed by what-ifs. 

What if it looks dumb?!?
What if it ends up in that random pile of junk in the basement in a few months' time?!?
What if I can't do it?!?
What if I spend too much time and energy on it?!?
What if I waste money on it?!?
What if other people don't like it?!?
What if I don't like it?!?

I'm trying to face my irrational fears and come up with a plan to finish up Cooper's big boy room. It's been a bit of a challenge since I decided to work with the existing gray-green, striped walls.

The room is long and narrow with oddly placed windows. Also, I have Cooper's twin bed placed in the corner (so he doesn't roll off) when I would eventually like to have it more in the middle of the room.

Here is the overall look I am going for in his new room:

I've decided that one step toward finishing the room off would be to create a little reading nook in one of the awkward corners. I'm envisioning giant wall letters, book ledges, and a great big bean bag chair.

I splurged on the wall letters awhile back. They are from Restoration Hardware Baby and Child and I waited until they were on sale before I purchased them. Whenever I buy anything from the U.S. I always wait for a good sale (at least 20% off) so that the difference covers the shipping, taxes, and duties that come along with ordering from Canada. Each letter is about two feet tall, metal, and painted a dark, navy blue. Fun, right?

Extra-Large Vintage Metal Letters - Restoration Hardware Baby and Child

I purchased four letters to spell 'COOP' and for fun, I decided to wrap them around the corner instead of having them all along the same, long wall.  

My plan is to build two book ledges that run underneath the wall letters (also around the corner). I know that book ledges have been done a thousand and one times. However, I do love the look of them, and I want to encourage lots of reading, so I'm just going for it. 

Inspiration pictures, you ask? Here are a few favourites.

Source - Daffodil Design

Source - Boston Globe

I finally found a giant bean bag chair that would be perfect for the space. It's called the Navy + Cement Boxter Plaid Beanbag from Pottery Barn Teen. But the shipping. Oh, the shipping.

Navy + Cement Boxter Plaid Beanbag Chair - Pottery Barn Teen

I thought I completely lucked out when the slipcover went on sale 30% off from $99 to $69. (They won't ship the whole bean bag chair internationally, only the cover.) I was going to buy the slipcover and just do the insert / stuffing myself. But by the time I converted the price to Canadian dollars, added the shipping fee, factored in the taxes and duties, the total for JUST THE SLIPCOVER came to.....


That is absolutely ridiculous and there is no way that I would pay that crazy amount of money. 

So, I surfed and shopped and surfed and shopped (all in the wee hours of the night might I add) and finally found a bean bag chair pattern and some fabric that I think would work! 

The bean bag chair will look like this:

Rollie Pollie Bean Bag Chair

And the fabric that I've chosen looks like this:

Premier Prints Swiss Dots Navy

I'm giving myself a deadline of December 24th to get this all done. I'm thinking that a giant bean bag chair would be a great gift for Coopaloops to find under the tree on Christmas morning. :)
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