Friday, November 23, 2012

Deck the Halls

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, every where you go"
I love decorating for Christmas, in fact, I think it's hereditary.  My Mom has had her trees (yes - plural, as in more than one, even more than two!) up since Thanksgiving back in October. I'm not entirely sure if they are decorated yet, but they are up. Guess when you leave for a month of holidays, decorating might wait. But the trees are up!  My youngest sister usually beats me with getting hers up, but I'm not usually far behind. 
This year took a bit longer for me to get it up and decorated. First I had to find a spot for our tree. This hasn't been a problem in the past - it has a perfect spot, but since last Christmas, our living room has acquired a new computer desk for the boys, and a large plant and stand, and another chair. The leg is broken on the love seat, which means it needs to have our wooden storage bench behind it to hold it up... so moving the loveseat wasn't going to happen.  However, I got everything where I thought it needed to go, and I HATED it... the tree looked wrong, the loveseat kept tipping (because I needed to move the bench, so that I could move the loveseat back a bit, so that I could move the couch, so that I could get the tree where I thought I wanted it) Yep, sounds a little bit like "This is the House that Jack built".  However, my version is better. So after moving that all around and getting my tree up (which is a pain as every branch is individually put on!), I hated it.... so it sat, and sat and sat... and the kids begged and begged and begged for me to decorated it (if it hadn't been such a pain to take down, I would have put it away just to see the reactions on their faces when they got home from school)! Mean Mom aren't I?! Anyways... long and short of it - I put the tree where it always goes, and love it there.  But to do that, I needed to move the bench (again), move the plant and stand, and move the love seat. And then drag my huge tree across the living room. I don't have pictures of the mess that I made! Was a little too occupied trying to get it where I wanted it.
So, here is my tree.  Gold, burgundy and clear lights. Looks like I forgot the tree skirt... oh well, it's there now. 
 Even played with my settings and finally figured out how to do a "bokah" shot - love the way the lights look like this.
 Close up - a little over exposed - but I kind of like it. :) 
Can almost read by those lights!
 The next spot I decorated was my antique buffet.  For years, I've had this in my dining room with plants on it, and unable to decorate it. This year, we moved it to the library, and I can finally decorate it.  I knew that it would be the perfect spot for my Nativity.  I don't need to cram it into a little space - can stretch it out a little more.
 The facial expressions that the artist drew onto the people is just incredible.  The wisemen look like they are just full of awe, makes me wonder what they thought as they followed the star, to see the Messiah. What went through their thoughts when they found the tiny child in a humble home, the adopted son of an unimportant carpenter. 
 My most favorite person in my Nativity set is Mary.  According to Scriptures - she was a young girl. And not only was she young, but she was told her Baby would be the Messiah, the Saviour. Born of her, to save her and the rest of mankind. How did she feel, as that tiny baby grew in her womb, what did she do, the first time she felt those soft butterfly kicks inside and knew that was the Son of God kicking her?!  How did she feel when she gazed into his tiny, crying newborn wrinkled face? What did she think when the shephards approached to worship him? When the strangers from away, showed up and worshiped him. Brought gifts that were worth so much more than a poor family could ever imagine.  The look of love and awe that are painted on her face bring me to tears every time I set this set up.
  Next up was my village. Normally, I try to find a big spot to put this were it's not going to get bumped or hit but still visible. For years, it's been on top of  the living room bathroom (ceiling is flat - makes a perfect display area). But this year, I thought of an even better spot... on the floor underneath my antique bench and in some old crates.  I love it.  First of all, I had to fix a few pieces that were victims of a bouncy ball last Christmas. Thankfully, the extreme hold crazy glue I have works wonders.
 I put my woodland stuff into the crates that are beside the bench. One of our new item for this year - is the little triple light lamp post. Crispin picked that one out.
 The rest of the village went under the bench. Far enough back that we can't kick it with our feet when we sit on the bench, but still close enough that we can see it when we walk around.  I'm not liking that I can still see cords, but as I don't have a better way to hide them, I will live with it.
 Finally fixed this little piece.  The little boy on the hobby horse decided to take a spill, so he's all glued back together now too.
 My dancing couple, enjoying a quick twirl, brought on by the musical accompaniment of the children and their instruments.
 The other new purchase was a set of single lamp posts. Cody decided we had to get these ones, as they look like the lamp post from Narnia. So of course we had to get them. Every village needs a Narnian lamp post (and we have two!)
 On of my favorite pieces is the Library building.  I love how the kids are around the table reading a book. And look so excited to see what is in that book. As we are a family of readers - this is perfect. :)
After the village, then I did some garland around the doors, hung some huge decorations in the windows, and strung lights and decorated the kids tree upstairs.  But, I only have pictures of the upstairs. 
It's bright enough up there, that we don't even need to turn on the hall light when we tuck the kids in. There's 300 lights around the door frames, baseboards, roof-line and stairwell.  The kids love it. And as it's mostly the kids that are upstairs - I will put up with the garishly bright multi-coloured lights! (not my favorite, but I do it for the kids)
Next up was a couple of projects inspired by pinterest (whoever made that site was nasty... way to addicting.... but I've sure had fun getting ideas from it.) Will try to post the original pin and then my version...

Project #1

My Version

Project #2
 Pinned Image
(couldn't find where the original post)

My Versions

Christmas music has been playing just about non-stop. If I'm not at my computer listening to that play list, then it's going on the tv, loud enough that I can hear it through the house. And if I get tired of that play list, I've got a dozen or more CD's that are waiting.... 

I've got Christmas pictures of the boys as well, but those will wait till I get the cards all out to family and friends. :) 

Well, I think that's all for today.  Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Very Belated Fall Pictures

Sitting at my desk this morning and working, I realized that it's that time of year, where not only do I really miss the summer time colours, but I really miss the fall colours too. All I see are shades of brown, little bits of green, but mostly browns.  Leaves have long since fallen, grass has greened up just a bit, but that's because of the rain that we've had lately, it won't last long and then it will be brown too. I was thinking back to the beautiful September day when Jeff and I had a rare weekday afternoon together, and enjoyed it by going for a walk. 

I took my camera with because the colours were just spectacular. Here's a few of my favorites.
Standing on my driveway looking at our trees.

Looking down our street.

Sun through the leaves.

Beautiful red tree.

A row of trees by our Church.

Burgundy leaves.

Ornamental crab-apples.

The pond behind the cemetery.

Shades of red.
Here's a few of my fall visitors.
Mr. Blue Jay

A chubby squirrel.
I think it's time to fill the feeder again, doesn't take the greedy little sparrows long to empty it. I think the last time I filled it, it took them less than 24 hours to empty it. 
I'm glad I have these pictures to look back on as the colder weather moves in, and I will loose the little bits of green that are left to the white of winter's snow. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Finished the Basement

Yesterday, I remembered that it been awhile since I've written on my blog.
I finally, finished cleaning up the basement, and boy does it look so much bigger. 
Remember what it started out as? 
Really messy work bench.
Really messy scrap storage
 Really messy rest of basement.
 Well, I got to work and in a week and a bit, here's what happened. 
I sorted all the screws and nails and put them in labeled glass jars.
Added some shelves for storage, and found one of the old kitchen cabinets that we saved 
and added it here as well. I hung up my trouble light so it's aiming down at the table instead of at the wall. Added a nail for my tool belt, swept and swept and swept again, and then used the shop vac to
clean the floor and the ceiling. I hate spiders and their webs. Many innocent spiders lost their lives that day. Found my old stereo from Bible School days, dug through the huge box of cables that Jeff had collected and found a cord that fit and worked. So I now have music down here when I'm working. The cardboard pieces did get moved after I took this photo.
 The other side got a good going over. You can see the cardboard behind the printer. The corner where the office chair is, now houses a new shelving unit. On that shelving unit is all the computer stuff Jeff wanted to keep. The chairs are a future project. The wooden office chair will be refinished. The green kids chair will get a better paint job than green with a big red tomato on it. The chair is too wobbly for the kids to use, so it may get put outside in spring with a planter on it. If I can just figure out a way to seal it so if it gets wet, it won't get wrecked.
 My new scrap storage - this made the biggest difference. I got a bunch of big brackets and added them to the wall. All my long trim is up off the floor, my smaller mdf pieces are on shelves. I even made a 2x4 platform for my big pieces of wood and drywall to rest on. You will notice that everything is up off the cement - our basement floods if we get lots of rain, so everything gets off the floor. I want to get the freezer up onto 2x4's yet at some point, but I need stronger people than the boys to help me with that. The drawer is what is left from C2's old built in bed, and on top of that is a few random boxes of left over laminate. Which just might find a new home on the floor of my garden shed. Not sure where else I will use it. There's 1 box and a bit from one floor, and not quite 2 boxes from the other. 2 different colours and thicknesses. So I can't combine them.
So far it's been pretty easy keeping it clean. However, that being said, I actually haven't done any new projects, so that could be why it's still clean. 
My list of things I still want/need to do? I want a black board on the one wall, so I have an area where I can write out my DIY projects, or draw out a sketch of a project that I see in my head and need to figure out how to do it. Besides, I like chalkboards - they're fun. I also want to add some plastic to the ceiling, at least above my work area, so that the cobwebs and dust stay in the ceiling and not on me!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

When cleaning the basement is blog worthy?!

It's been a busy week here.School started on the 6th, Sunday was our Church's fall kick-off, and Monday I spent the day with my boss meeting clients. (almost 7 hours on heels! Not a good combo - I may have to invest in flats for future meetings).

I haven't started any new projects recently. So, today you get to see my "cleaned-up" basement work area.  Decided it was time to clean up my catch all of a work bench and the overflow. Our basement isn't very big (it's like a rectangle - one long side is made up of the laundry room, stairs from the upstairs and furnace room, the other long side is one open space - which has our deep freeze, my mountain of Christmas decor, my work bench and junk... lots of junk...) It's not heated very well or even insulated very well, so it's a cold unfinished ugly basement, it's also very low (which is so annoying when one is 5'11" tall) - so needless to say, it's not an often used area.
I did a small "reno" on the laundry room a couple months ago. Got sick of the crumbing cement walls.
I covered the walls with cardboard and then painted them. It sure brightened up the space and made it look a little better. Not much, but a little bit!

Anyways, I think I'm rambling....
Where was I? hmmm, small basement, overflow... oh yes. My messy work bench. It was so messy, I was able to use the photo for my photo group. The word was "hidden", my work bench fit it exactly. 
See, quite a mess. 
First up in this photo is my pile of still usable trim, mdf, plywood pieces, drywall pieces and whatever other pieces of other projects that I've saved, thinking I would be able to reuse them. I have plans for some of them. Some I don't.
Those colourful chairs were part of a Christmas present to Cody the one year. The table has since bit the bucket. A niece (who was tinier than Crispin) body slammed Crispin into it - and the table is no more! Tough little chicky, I like her! :)  
Looking further up in the photo is my workbench (which is the door from the laundry room on my sawhorses) - it works. And on the workbench - is a mess. The teal bin is full of picture frames, tool box is open because it's so full I can't stuff anything more in it or close the lid. There's random tools all over the bench, containers of mismatched nails and screws, some separated, some mixed. Garbage and other junk randomly placed precariously on top. 

 See? It's full. There's even an old chandelier buried in there. Had plans for that for outside. Guess that will be on the list for next summer. The orange cord from the ceiling is my trouble light cord. The basement is quite dark, and I need more light so I hung the trouble light from the ceiling. However, it lit the wall up more than the table. I'll fix that yet. 

Look! Progress was made! First, I swept and used the shop vac to clean up Shelob (she's the spider from Lord of the Rings - the boys like to tease me that she lives down there) and all her minions and their webs. shudder, shudder.....
Then I put the workmate and step ladder neatly in the corner, used some mismatched shelving brackets and added a shelf, added a few screws to hang stuff on - my Grandpa's work belt, the cord for the trouble light - which I tied on it's side, so now it aims down at the table, extension cords (there were 4 on the table - didn't know we owned that many) got hung up. Then I found all the random containers and paper bags of screws and nails. Found some free printable labels from here:
They are a little feminine, but then, so am I.  And grabbed a pile of mason jars.  Then I started organizing. Some of the screws were still labeled in their bags (decking 3", flooring 1 3/4"...) so those were easy. The rest I just put into jars according to their size.  Then I did the same with the nails. 
Emptied out the tool box, cleaned up all the garbage - got a full bag, and called it quits. I've got more to do down there, want to add another shelf under the screws.  The wood pile needs some work, but I can't do that till I clean up all the old boxes, which can't happen till I get the Hubby to clean up the random old computers and all that goes with them. And then the Christmas stuff needs to get cleaned up a bit, and then I think I can start cleaning up the rest. Hopefully by the end of the week (wishful thinking? I'll keep you posted), my basement will be clean. 

Well, supper is starting to smell really good. Should probably go eat! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Few Issues and Changes

Well, we had our first company over for supper with the new table. We all managed to get around the table, and there was room at our elbows for even more people if we needed it to  be. So glad that I made the table big enough for lots of company.
Mom W. - sorry for this not so nice photo of you! I think you were talking! 
So what this photo doesn't show is how awkward the bench is to actually sit on, and how tight the corner between Dad and Mom is. 
Issue #1: Bench
- it's too short for the height of the table
- the mattress is wider than the bench seat, which means that when the kids kneel on it (so they can reach the top of the table), it flips up and they slide off
Issue #2: Tight Corner
- Dad had to crawl under the table to reach his seat, because the corner was so tight he couldn't fit through. 
While it was fun for the kids to see Grandpa crawl under the table - I can't imagine any other company willing to do the same. 

So how we resolved it? Mom and I waited till Dad and Jeff left the house, and we rearranged furniture.  And we were having so much fun, I forgot to take before pictures.  
Here's a before of where the buffet used to sit (Taken in November of 2010)
Makes me realize that I should take more pictures of the house a little more often. Between Nov '10 and now, not much changed on that buffet - plants were all still there, just the tablecloth was removed. But that's where the buffet has sat since we got it. 
Now, the bench sits in this location.
We won't use the bench for at the table unless absolutely needed.  The table now has more room around it. Just need another chair for one of us to sit on, guess I will just use the spare office chair till we find another one.
Because we moved the bench under the window, the buffet needed a new home. 
So - it got moved to the library.
So this isn't really a good shot of my library before, but I will try to describe it as best I can. This is my antique sleeping bench, it used to sit under the window. There was a bookshelf to the right of it, and a magazine rack to the left.  Here is what it looks like today.
We moved the sleeping bench to the other wall, scooted the bookshelf that was there, closer to the window.  The magazine rack has a new home under the window, the buffet is to the right of the window and we were finally able to add the mirror to the top of it. Couldn't before, because it took up too much window space.  Not much more changed, but it sure makes the space look cozy. DH still has enough room by his office chair, that he's not feeling crowded, and there's still room for us to all sit and read. One little bookshelf (the one that used to be were the buffet sits) had to be removed from the room, but it didn't go that far. And it works where it is now, too. Someday, I hope to have lots of floor to ceiling bookshelves in this room, but with the way I love to move furniture, maybe moveable ones are best! :) 

It's not big changes, but it works for us.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's Done!!!

Can I dance for joy? My dining room table is done, all done! And it looks amazing, if I can brag just a little bit. 

Progress from last post. 
Spent one day staining my boards - decided to go with a walnut colour from SamaN (Home Hardware product).  For never having stained anything before (at least not wood stain - I've done the food stains before! LOL) it was a pretty easy product to use.  It's a semi-transparent stain, so the natural grain of the wood showed, and even better, all the little dings and nicks took on a deep colour. Sure added to the rustic look of the table. 

 Top picture is with one coat, second picture is with two coats. I'm loving how rich and deep the colour went. It's exactly what I was dreaming of in my head. 
This stain dried incredibly fast, and by supper time, the boards were back inside and ready for the next step. 
Of course, now I was panicky. See, our old table was still in the dining room. I had listed it on our local classifieds site, but hadn't had anyone really interested in it. We had one spammer, and one person who didn't want it because the top was laminated, so it wasn't "real" solid wood. Not sure what it was she was looking for, but the laminate was real wood and the table was solid wood. Then the day the stain was done, we had someone call, and they came to look at it, and they took it home with them! So now my dining room was empty and ready for the new table. 

Our last meal at the old table. That table has seen 17 birthday parties in our family (10 for C1, 7 for C2), it's seen laughter and tears (I believe I was at that table when we called my parents to say that we were expecting, and when I called to say we had lost a pregnancy), it saw first meals as a couple, biscuits that were hockey pucks, and rice where I doubled the rice, but not the water (I was still learning to cook and bake at that point). It's seen fancy china and disposable dishes. It's seen really good meals, and meals my kids threw back up on the table.... (ick!)  It's had many card and board games played on it, it's served as my craft table, my sewing table and a storage space.  There's so many memories made with that table, it was bittersweet to see it go, but I know that the memories won't leave with the table. They are here to stay. And new memories will be made with the new table. Hopefully, for at least a few generations. 
Second picture shows how we ate a few of our meals.  Table just wasn't quite ready to move into the dining room yet.  I moved my bench to this wall for something different. I kind of like it. (It usually sits under the chalkboard). 
ouch... that's all I can say.  Remember from last post all those holes I predrilled? Well, I was having some problems with my screwdriver bit staying in the drill.  See, I had to add an extender on to the bit because it was too short for the depth of the holes and the bit kept falling out and staying in the holes. I was trying to screw the boards to the top of the frame, so I figured if it was falling out with the table on it's top, maybe if I flipped it around so it was standing on it's legs, the bit would stay in the drill. Well, that didn't help at all - actually got the bit stuck in one of the holes so tightly that it took the Hubs a lot of wiggling and banging at it to get it out. But by that time, I had the table together. I put those screws in by hand (about 45 of them!). One big blister popped. There was one more that a few more screws would have made it pop. My thumb and fingers were that really sore feeling you get just before blisters form, and my thumb on my left hand is still sort of tender. 

It's finally in it's new home! I added some nails to the top for a little more rustic detail, and a bit of extra oomph - have one board that's a little warped, nails seemed to help hold it in place a bit better. 
I'm so glad that it fits the space, and it suits the space so well too. Can hardly wait for company to come over so I can show it off. 

A little tablescape. A little bird I found at the thrift shop, a glass dome - I think it's from a clock, but it works this way. And my favorite scent at the moment - Cranberry Chutney (I will be heading back to the store to get more).
Two chairs fit perfectly on a side, so it will seat 6 on chairs, and at least 4 kids on the bench. There's also enough room on the sides that if we have to squish 3 chairs to a side, we can. Now I  just need more chairs! With selling the other set, our spare chairs left too!  Those chairs will get a makeover yet too. 

Well, table is ready for company. Coffee can be made quickly - anyone coming?