Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where the hell I have been

So I just noticed that I havent posted anything since August.


I have been a bit busy. Else is now 20 months old, I've been working full time, AND I just had another baby!! We had a baby boy on December 1st and his name is Edward but we like to call him Eddie. Else loves him.

But all of this has kept me away from my blogging! Now I am back on Mat leave so expect some nice new posts cause we certainly have been working on stuff!

I would just like to mention that I have found a Mid Century Modern goldmine of info, right here on Blogger. Saul is a realtor but has a passion for MCM design. He has a floorplan for pretty much every style of MCM house built in Ottawa!! I am totally impressed with his blog and all the insights it has. However my hood is not included. Maybe it is too small, or maybe he just doesn't know about it. Anyways hopefully he will be able to help me out cause we are thinking about our future in this house.

When we found out we were having another baby, we started to think about how we would accomodate him or her into this house which is currently a 2 bedroom plus den. As you may know, the owners had switched the kitchen and master bedroom in the early 80's effectively ruining the layout for us in the future (I wish I could go back in time and make them change their minds!!!) I can appreciate that the kitchen as it is is like twice as big as it was, and that is a good thing, but we lost a bedroom!! And now we are thinking of putting it all back the way it was so that we can stay here. The kids can share a room for a while but there will come a time when that won't be possible any more. And when that time comes, will Else be old enough to have her own room on a different floor than everyone else? I am not sure sure about that.

The decision we need to make is if we are going to commit ourselves to this house for the long haul, or if we are going to sell and get a new place to start retro renovating. If we sell we are just going to redo the kitchen and keep it in the room it's in now. If we stay, we're going to do the switchover. We need to find the floor plans of our house to see how the kitchen was set up originally and if we can model around that using new materials and modern appliances (well, mostly modern, don't forget my turquoise wall oven and cook top!).

So, the big decision will have to wait..... stay tuned!!!

this is similar to our house but not quite the same. The window placements and the chimney are different and that actually makes a huge difference for our kitchen plans

Friday, August 26, 2011

Can you get more retro than a 1940's murder mystery game?

My friends Sarah and Oli live in England, and every so often make it to Ottawa for a visit. This time around I am pregnant so there was no wild pub nights in the cards for us. Instead we played 'The Last Train From Paris", a murder mystery set in 1940's Paris aboard a... you guessed it... train.
For dinner I made rouladen which was delicious, of course.

pile of meat. yum.

i was able to fit all the meat rolls into my giant Kitchenaid roasting pan.
There is a butcher down the street from me, who has been around since the hood was built in the 50's. They sliced up some inside round roast nice and thin so I didn't have to pound out the steaks like my mom used to do. Considering that I don't have a meat hammer, this was a nice luxury. Inside was bacon, onions and my dad's dill pickles (which are way better to use than store-bought) with some mustard and salt and pepper and garlic powder for good measure. They were a big hit with the crowd.

Speaking of the crowd, here are a few pictures from the night:

meeka the fashion designer

sarah the princess

chris as "the duke"
greg as the international man of mystery

oli as the terrible pilot who likes the ladies

tanis as the socialite
meeka has a sweet american accent

tanis does not belive that ren is not a spy

ren, you are a total spy


All in all it was a pretty fun game. The company that makes these particular ones likes to throw in weird twists so it is pretty hard to figure out who did it.
Meeka I still have your weasels.

"Shit From My Garden Stew", with chicken

Yesterday I was the recipient of not one but two bags of tomatoes. Grammy brought some over, and then our neighbour Miguel did too.
What do you do with two bags of tomatoes?

We grew carrots this year and most of them actually turned out quite nicely. We had harvested some earlier, but I think it was too early as they were pretty puny. The ones we are pulling now are big and tender and delicious! So I pulled some out the ground (a strangely sexual experience I would say) and took their pretty picture.

We also grew potatoes for the third year and most of them where also quite small. We had a lot of rain this spring and I really think it hindered early growth. In any case they still taste like good potatoes so I cut them up too. Here is a picture of the vegetables I used, minus celery (cause I forgot that I had some):

i did not grow the onion or zucchini. maybe next year.
So, I chopped up all these veggies and added a dried herb blend from Heritage Line Herbs. The smell of the tomatoes as they started to cook down was divine.

Then I cooked up some chicken with more dried herbs and some chopped garlic, and threw that in letting it simmer for about an hour. I really liked it, but Else wouldn't eat it. She kept saying "yucky, yucky" so she had PB&J instead.

Silly child.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gardening the Retro Way

Garden design changes a lot over time. In centuries past, a highly manicured hedged garden was de rigueur or else a totally wild garden like the kind you might picture at an English cottage. In the 50's, gardening took on a new shape of its own. Lawn care became super intensive, and lines and shading were very important.
Being the owner of a mid 50s home, I wanted to create a garden that is in line with my home's tradition. A year or two before we bought our place, the weeping tiles were replaced and new gardens at the front were put in. What was there before, I couldn't tell you. As it stands, our garden has a plain red paving stone foundation, not too far out from the house, and deep enough that it helps even out the slope of the yard without being too shallow.

west side of front garden
Last year, Pam at Retro Renovation was discussing mid century garden design (which you can read here) and it got me thinking about how I wanted to start building up my front beds. The only things that were in it initially were two hostas on each side, and some globe cedars that had seen better days (and were subsequently put to the curb to have a new day elsewhere). greg and I made a deal last summer that I had control of the front yard and he had the back so I have free reign up here! YES!! I should mention that this is the year Greg tried his Wild Yard Experiment, letting the grass grow until it seeded and finding neat plants inside it. It wasn't as horrible as I had pictured.. but man grass gets tall when you don't cut it for 3 months!

In any case, using the advice in this incredibly informative post I went to the fancy garden store and looked at the roses. I HAD A REALLY HARD TIME PICKING ONE. It is terrifically hard to pick a rose out when you are dealing with paper tags, whose pictures may or may not be accurate. What style rose did I want? One that had tonnes of smaller roses, or one that had fewer but bigger ones? What colour should I go with? It would have to go with the red brick, and will also dictate any future permanent flower colour choices. 
I went with "Americana" which is very similar to the "Tropicana" which was the essential rose of the 50's. It is a pinky coral, big bloomed, high climbing rose machine. In it's first year, it went from 3 spindly stems to about 20 and held roses so big that when it rained the roses ended up being pulled down to the ground.

my little rose's first bloom!!

very pretty and fragrant too.
This year Greg cut back the rose and it is already getting big and bushy. His dad made us a nice trellis out of cedar which we painted black (much to his chagrin) but it goes well with the front of the house. Now to see where it will grow this year!
the red means recent growth. this thing is going to get out of control very quickly.

Last year I also bought a nice Rhododendron from Home Depot. It was on sale as the flowers had bloomed already. I got a nice bushy white one and this year it has exceeded my expectations. It had 5 flower clusters I guess you'd say, each cluster has about 20 or so actual flowers on it. Anyways, it is real pretty, and seems to really like it's spot in the garden which is the north east side on my front steps. It doesn't get a whole lot of light, which is good, and the soil stays moist longer there, as rhododendrons do badly very fast if they are too dry.

pretty, sticky flowers

happy in its home
bye bye til next year, flowers!

I also planted some reddish purple Coral Bells with the hostas, which I think are going to go to the curb like their old friends the globe cedars. They just aren't working for me. The coral bells are, though. The purplish hue really goes nice with the red of the bricks, and they fill out a nice space. The creeping thyme I had planted the first summer has spread magnificently and is alternated with white and pink as you go down the beds.
pretty pretty creeping thyme. i love this stuff to death
Whether or not my front gardens look mid century is up for debate. I do not have box hedges though I am thinking of getting some to replace the hostas. I am trying to just make it look nice, which is all any of us can do, right?

I do have some garden influence in the back yard, and here are some pictures of it. Last year we put in a rock garden, rocks free from Kijiji if you could take them (it took a Ford 350 to do it and there were concerns about it's shocks) and planted some creeping plants. They are all doing well. We had found random columbines beside our garage so we gathered seeds and planted them last year. Holy moly did they ever grow. Now we have 5 large patches of nice dark purple columbines, and one random one that was white for a few years but has decided to turn pink.  I got some geraniums from FullCircles (freecycling) that were worse for wear but have done marvy along with periwinkles also from freecycle. I have some iris, also for freecycle, but they haven't bloomed yet this year so I don't have pictures.
Here it all is:
my ranunculus which i love though the flowers are way smaller than i thought they were

geraniums.. not the usual planter ones, but the shade loving low growing purple ones

formerly white columbine now in a nice shade of pink

one bunch of purple columbine

rock garden before we did more work to it. the speedwell is a carpet of purple and feels very soft too.
*disclaimer- I got an iPhone and really like taking pictures with it, using the Hipsamatic app. Sorry if you don't like that sort of thing but I do. So suck it up.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

So you may have noticed that I changed the look of my blog! I am reallyreallyreally happy with it :) I think it suits my design aesthetic better than the old one which looked a little too Victorian for my tastes. I am currently obsessed with the whole Pink And Turquoise look. It is how I plan on doing my kitchen. So perhaps staring at these colours on my blog will help me get my butt in gear on working on the horrible 80's flashback that is my kitchen.
Wish me luck!

ps- what do you guys think about these colours together??? Do you love it or hate it? Would YOU do these in your house, or just keep it online?

Renovating As A New Mother

I love my baby girl. She is an amazing little person and I have enjoyed my year at home with her. I had grand plans for the time I had away from work, and some of the things on my list where accomplished (like doing the den, the bathroom, and some gardening). Other than that... OH BOY was I unprepared for the time-suck that is child rearing! It is really really hard to get things done around here! Or to keep them clean enough to take pictures of all our hard work, or time to write blog posts about them! I try to write while Else is sleeping, but as I write this paragraph she is upstairs not taking her nap like a good girl should, and instead is warbling away to her Fisher Price aquarium in her crib. The sound makes my heart sing but it does not help the creative juices flow.

Else at 11.5 months, looking adorable as usual!

I really want to show you guys Else's room, because it was the first room that Greg let me have total control over and I really really love it. BUT.. it is always a stinking mess, and I can never get the pictures up on the wall like I want to.... so I have yet to take pictures of it. And now, I am going to move my vanity out of there so that when I start back to work I can let the baby sleep while I shower and do my hair (this room was "my room" for the whole year that we had it done and painted before the little one showed up). So, this means I will be rearranging things anyways, and perhaps that will give me some time to take a few decent pics and post them up for you.

So until that day comes.. you'll just have to wait :)

a sneak peek of the room from when Else was 6 months old, picture done by my friend Jen Allison

So, my advice to new moms (or moms with older kids cause I know the energy levels certainly increase as kids grow older) is to take things one small step at a time and eventually you will get what's needing to be done, done. But don't expect to have a bi-weekly or even monthly blog about it cause dudes... it took me a month to even THINK of cleaning my vanity out of the bedroom upstairs!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Some New Buys

I, as always, have found some fun things at the thrift stores. Here they are!

amazing little brass and fake wood record stand. holds 150 records.
rooster planter, who needs to be actually planted, hangs out with Celetron in the kitchen

green pyrex mixing bowls that I use almost every day, and new pink pyrex dish with lid and tray!

little blue pyrex casserole dish in really great shape

Rance the partridge has glowing green alien eyes. spooky.

little bowl from an estate sale that will be a planter for either haworthia or orchids
In other news, we've started restoring my turquoise oven!!!!! How exciting! Greg is thinking he is going to rewire the whole thing (the cooktop, at least) and possibly replace the elements with new ones, but we'll have to see if that is possible. We're going to get the chrome ring around the cooktop and all the little element rings re-chromed, so it will be shiny as new. There was alot of old grease and also mouse poop inside:
at least it got used a lot. that is a sign of a good stovetop!

can you find the flintstone vitamin??
Speaking of old and gross, we had to replace our furnace. We had our annual maintenece done and the guys come up the stairs with a sheepish look on their face and the bad news is that there are cracks in my heat exchanger. AWESOME. I am SO SO glad I didn't call in the winter, like I was supposed to. Lucky for me it was nice and springy out last week so having no heat was no problem, my house never went under 17.5 degrees and was in fact 19 or 20 for most of the three days we were furnace free!
new furnace
old furnace

Our old furnace was 19, which is a good age but not end-of-life. It was 100K BTU's which is a lot for our little house. the new one is a 2 stage mid efficiency, which is all we need. I pretty much got the furnace from freecycling, but it is a long story to tell so we'll just go with, we got a furnace that was used for 5 months installed with some new ducts for $1300. Try and beat that, I dare you!
Anyways it is nice to have heat! We are removing our old air conditioner (which is probably as old as this house! no jokes!) and this is what we found when we removed the condenser:
See all that junk on the metal? That is nicotine. And tar. And all the good stuff that goes with smoking in a house for 50 years. It's really effing disgusting.

One last pic before I sign off! I just want to show you the Gerard Method of securing one's home from intruders:
You take some metal strips (and not even heavy metal, but aluminum) and screw them into the window sash. Problem solved! Thanks Gerard, we can sleep well at night now!

The Hallway of Tears. Apricot Nicotine Tears.

If there is one colour that I cannot stand it is the colour PEACH. I hate Peach in all of it's incarnations. Light peach, dark peach, orange or red or pink peach.... it's like your walls are covered in flesh. Nasty, outdated flesh!
So, you can imagine how I felt about the hallway in my house. It was painted this really awful colour of peach that sometimes looked like a light pinky peach, then turned into orange disgusting nicotine-stain apricot when the light was turned on or the sun went down. It seriously sucked the life out of the house. It was a black hole where instead of seeing nothing all you saw was the colour of death.
I didn't take any pictures of this colour because frankly, I was afraid it would break my camera. It is, however, in the background of some pictures I have so I'll show those to you:
you can see how it is kind of dark and flesh-y back there

this is the light pinky peach
the colour during daytime was much like the colour you can see on the metal part of the light

this is really how it looked at night, with the light. see how it sucks the light out of the space? 
The Girl and I went away for a 2 week visit in Aylmer, and to do some renovations at my parent's house, so Greg stayed home and painted this hallway's ass off. Because BIN smells so bad, we can't really use it with the baby around, so it was the perfect opportunity!

We have used the Behr colour Antique White in the entrance way in the front, and it is a light coffee brown and is a good neutral colour for a large space such as a hallway with bad lighting. So, Greg took on the giant job of painting the hall. When it goes up the stairs, it is really really high (like, 2 stories high, or 1.5 I guess) so poor Greg had to get his ladder up there to paint in those high corners, but he did it and you know what? It makes this house feel SO MUCH BETTER! It's like the spirit of the house has been lifted. The air seems lighter!

Here are some pics of the finished product:
brown is boring but there's not much choice for such a big, affecting space

can't tell with Else is happy about the new colour or that ground beef is on sale
The next little sneak peek that you get is the Picture Wall which is at the top of the stairs. Here it is in it's unfinished glory:

there will be beadboard and a chair rail here, also some pictures. hence the name Picture Wall

mmm I love this wallpaper! it was the stuff I was going to use on the old closet in the den, I'm glad I could find a use for it now! check out the shiny woodgrain detail behind the cute roses!
So that is what we've been up to. Greg also painted the bedroom but it is not ready for its reveal yet. Soon enough! Once we get a carpet and perhaps a bedspread, you will see how cute it is too!

Peace out and try not to cry over peach paint.