Leaving home

>> Friday, July 27, 2007

Today we're closing on the purchase of our new house. And for some reason I felt like saying goodbye from our old home. I can't wait to show you our new house - especially the new arts & crafts "studio" (which will still have to be a corner of another room). The old sewing corner is now completely dismantled and in boxes. It's chaos here right now!

For the last few weeks I've been trying to clear things out, and sort through all our things, rethinking things I've been holding on to for years. We also acquired a few new bits and pieces, some different furniture, and things we never used to need such as chairs for our backyard. It's been so much fun imagining how we want our home to be, with a fresh start and a bit of extra room. But mainly it's been about letting things go.

So it doesn't make any sense that I bought this mug recently at Goodwill. I didn't need it but when I tried to put it down it kept sitting on the shelf looking like something I already own and should remember to take home with me. I've added it to my secretary desk which is the last thing I have left to pack up, since it's full of the things I use every day. I love the brown layers of glaze at the bottom, the pretty oak leaves and acorns but most of all those two sweet owls. I hope they like the new house!


7 Random Things About Me

>> Thursday, July 12, 2007

I got tagged a while ago by Khadija and didn't get around to it (until now). I think I was thinking about it too much. So here it is, finally,

7 Random Things About Me

1. I am hooked on Bubbleblaster. When I'm planning my day in the morning I play Bubbleblaster and kind of space out and make mental lists. I like video games where you don't have to think and can just stack and group things which then disappear with a satisfying little noise. This is why the only game I ever played before Bubbleblaster was Tetris - it took a long time to wean myself off that! Then Bradley introduced me to Bubbleblaster.2. One of my all-time favourite shows is "To the Manor Born". It used to be on Tuesdays at lunchtime when I first started freelancing and I would actually run and turn the t.v. on. I even wrote it in my datebook so I wouldn't miss it. It's not on anymore but Bradley bought the dvd for me. In case you didn't know, it's a 1970s British sitcom about a widow who is forced to sell her estate after her husband's death and continues to live nearby. It's hard to explain why, but the bossy main character is just so funny and lovable.
3. My children's book illustration hero is Beatrix Potter. I think her artwork is magical, and have ever since I was very little and was captivated by Squirrel Nutkin and Miss Tiggywinkle. When the movie "Miss Potter" came out I rushed to see it. I thought it was so beautiful and generally wonderful that I actually got teary.4. I'm a sugar addict. I love cupcakes, what am I saying, all cake, cookies, puddings (all kinds), pie, jam, fruit, ice cream and chocolate bars. Preferably with some kind of nuts and/or caramel. I'm the person over the age of 9 that still wants cotton candy when I go to theme parks.
5. I love small kits. Compact containers with little things in them that are useful. I once bought the survival sardine can at a camping store. It's a sealed sardine can with everything you need in a survival situation, such as firestarting cube, matches, hook for fishing, small candy (to keep the spirits up (see #4) and string, etc. I had to open it up, and then added a miniature copy of The Arabian Nights so I would have something to read and resealed it all in a small tupperware container.
6. I read all the time. I'm currently reading "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and I have to say I'm a bit shocked. Not because it's shocking now, so to speak, but I keep imagining what they must have thought of it in 1928. Incidentally because I'm a children's book illustrator I don't put any racy content on my blog. So if you're a parent you don't need to worry.
7. I collect bird stamps. I started collecting stamps when I was little, then stopped for around 27 years. Then recently I found a collection of used bird and flower stamps at Goodwill. I loved the vintage illustrations and I bought a couple of lots on ebay. I don't mind if they're used stamps so it's very inexpensive. I spent a few evenings soaking stamps to peel off the bits of envelope on the backs and it took me right back to cosy times doing the same thing while sitting at our kitchen table when I was little. This post has some pictures of some of my favourites.


Flea market apartment

>> Tuesday, July 10, 2007

After: the curves on the backs are my favourite detail of the dining chairs

Lately I've been doing a lot of furniture collecting and refinishing for our new house. It's funny how with each move I've felt the need to upgrade. After buying a condo suddenly my old wooden IKEA $129 couch just wasn't good enough. This time we actually have enough room to have a living/dining room and I thought it would be nice to have some dining chairs instead of the kitchen style table and chairs we have now. Also our loft bed is staying in the condo and we needed a new bed.

The first (and actually necessary) thing I found was a nice vintage wooden bed on craigslist. Most of our things are secondhand things I found there and then refurbished. I love it because it's like citywide swapping - I also sold some things we didn't want anymore. The bed was such a find because I really wanted a Victorian cottage style bed with turned posts. It just turned out that the only one I could find in that style was only $50 - such a bargain.
Before: doesn't look that great but has potential!

It's a nice solid hardwood, but was painted a heavy dark blue colour. I sanded it (just a bit - it's such a chore) and primed and painted it a creamy white. Now I love it! (You can see the finished bed in the background of the chair pictures.)

Before: I wanted to show the chairs looking terrible, so you can see how much they were transformed!

The second thing we found were some dining chairs that needed a little work - also $50. When we arrived to pick them up the woman told us she had two more that we could have for $15. She had tried to remove the arms and they were a bit of a mess. So now we have a nice matching set of four! They had a yucky pink plush on the seats, also the wood wasn't great, so I sanded, primed and painted them a very pale grey. Then I reupholstered them in a light tan linen type fabric. Now I love them.
This kind of upholstery is so easy. The seat is usually held in place with four screws at the back, after you remove the base, take off the old fabric by prying out the staples or nails (or get your husband to do it while he is watching Dr. Who - thank you Bradley!). Then add your new fabric on top and staple it in place snugly, going from side to side. The only tricky part is folding the corners so that they look neat - it's really trial and error and remember it's ok if it looks a bit messy on the back because it doesn't show once the seat is reattached.

Finally for the bedroom I've reupholstered a small piano bench my parents gave me several years ago. I don't have a "before" picture - it was a charming bamboo and monkey print but in colours that didn't match anything else.I love this new elegant fabric I found on Queen West, it's white linen with bamboo details.They didn't actually have any left, and I was so disappointed but I loved the fabric so I bought the sample pieces from them (for $1!) thinking I could make a cushion at least. It turned out the sample squares were folded so there were two rectangles, one of which was just enough - without a centimetre to spare - to cover the bench. And another piece leftover for a cushion. I used a plain cotton underneath since linen is a bit transparent. Also, it's meant for occasional use only, so the fabric didn't need to be extra sturdy.

So that's what I've been up to, and why our place is looking like a flea market. You know, the kind where you're worried you're going to knock something over. But in 3 weeks everything will be moved into our new little house!


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