Saturday, February 28, 2009

nesting part I

If there's any room in our house I'd love to get "just right", it's definitely the kitchen.  Not only is it the sunniest room, but there's no denying I have to spend a lot of time in there.  Thankfully it has already come a long way since we moved in - gone is the black peel-and-stick plastic flooring and the back door has been removed so we can use the back cubby as a pantry.  Originally the cupboards were various shades of white that sported terrible brass hardware, but a coat of oil paint and new hardware made a dramatic difference.  The layout works great, so at this point it's only about appliances and finishing details.  Unfortunately for me, the finishing details can take me forever to figure out.

Here's main issue number 1: the cupboards, like all the woodwork in the house, are a nice off-white (Cameo White by Para).  However the stove, range hood and fridge are all bright white.  This may not bother other people, but it drives me bananas, especially during the day when the sun is shining in.  It makes the cupboards look dirty, and truthfully I find regular white appliances boring.  I'm not keen on stainless appliances either (the black sides are problematic for those of us who have to have the sides exposed) and I think black would feel too dominant in the small room.  So right now, we're considering a retro-inspired fridge in bisque by Northstar.  In our layout, the fridge stands on its own, so we'd rather have a piece that feels more like sculpture and makes for a nice view from the living room.  This leaves the stove.  Not too many manufacturers make bisque stoves anymore, except maybe Kenmore.  So I probably could get a regular bisque stove and (a nicer) range hood, keep the black dishwasher and go with the fancy fridge.  Not inexpensive, but way less money than starting fresh overall.

Issue number 2 is harder: the finishing details.  The kitchen has only been painted this dark grey for a year now, but it's not right.  I think painting the walls off-white, but a with a hit of colour somewhere would be nice.  Maybe a section of the fridge wall?  Aqua, like the chair?  Wallpaper?  I love the window blind fabric, and the wooden floors will stay as they are.  I've painted the backsplash tiles 6 times now (seriously) and I think this is a reno project we could take on ourselves.  But what would we put there?  Subway tiles in a simple ivory?  Glass?  Marble?  Marble would be my first pick, but that's probably WAY out of any budget.  It's the grid pattern of what we have that bothers me most, but painting was a big improvement over the pink and grey cloud pattern that lies underneath.  And the counter is a black laminate - practical, but showing its age.  Again, I don't know what we'd go for otherwise. I'm completely open to suggestions, for everything!

At least there is inspiration aplenty out there.  I love Flickr for this, especially the Domino group.  Today I'm inspired by this simple table setting (and the blog that it came from), the ivory goodness here, the colour palette and fabrics in this living room, this great vintage stove, the compactness of this kitchen space, and even though this isn't a kitchen at all, I just love this space.

Two things are for sure: I should never take photos when groceries are all over the kitchen and there's clutter everywhere, and I'm officially nesting now.  Clearly.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

hearts all over

Valentine's Day was almost a bust.  Sadie has been sick since Wednesday and missed not just one, but two Valentine parties.  I promised we'd have our own little party today, but it ended up being super low key because Sadie is still under the weather.  We didn't even have the energy to bake (it's been a long week at work, plus sleepless nights, so we're all running on empty).  At least a little bit of colouring and crafting went down - enough for Daddy and Gramma to get pretty nice Valentines.  Also I made sure to pick up lots of chocolate for me and Jay, and a little treat for Sadie, but when your little girl isn't herself, Valentine's Day just isn't either.

The first photo is my latest knitting project, and in a colour palette that makes me thinks of hearts and candy.  I picked up this Sheep Shop yarn at Purl in New York, confident that Sadie would dig it.  And dig it she did, first she asked that I knit a doll sweater with it and then reconsidered and asked for a cardigan for herself.  So I'm using Knit and Tonic's Drive-Thru pattern, but adjusting a bit for the lighter weight wool.  I haven't done a yoke-style sweater before so it should be a good challenge.  If only I could actually knit today - this low energy vibe is strong.  Even Glen Miller, a usually active cat, was perched on the radiator all day.  But I do love that he seems to be dreaming of hearts.

February, Schmebruary.

Monday, February 09, 2009

for the love of reading

Traveling to other blogs is always rewarding.  The other day I stumbled upon this inspiring post, and I immediately started thinking about which books have changed my life.  The idea is that you would devote one shelf to your own life-changing books.  Wonderful idea, don't you think?

It also made me wonder about reading in general, and the eager student in me started researching the tangible benefits of sitting down with a book.  Recently a friend had mentioned a study (or psychologist) that suggested people who read a lot of fiction are generally better equipped in relationships, due mainly to the fact that they develop empathy for all sorts of character types - not to mention their situations, challenges and experiences.  A Canadian study written about here confirms this basic thought, as the U of T professor stated that "[his researchers] found that fiction readers had substantially greater empathy".  And Maryanne Wolf, the Director at the Center for Reading and Language Research has wonderfully suggested, "we bring our life experiences to the text, and the text changes our experience of life" (with thanks to this review of Wolf's book).  All to say that reading is important, rewarding and simply put - time well spent.  So on to the list of life-changing books!

Here are mine, but not in any order:

The Homemaker, by Dorothy Canfield: read just last month on a tip from Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Domesticity.  This book made me cry, made me want to reach in and embrace a 4 yr old as his emotions explode when he discovers the depth and sincerity of his father's love.  And it made me want to jump for joy for the progressive thinking about imposed gender roles even though the novel was written in 1924.

Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez: when I needed to pay off my student loans, this book put money into perspective for me and helped me develop values and strategies for dealing with money issues that have served Jay and me well.  I am forever changed because of this book - philosophically and financially.

The Powerbook, by Jeanette Winterson: I love almost anything Jeanette Winterson writes, but this book had sat on my shelf unread for years.  I picked it up at a pretty low point, and it couldn't have been better timed.  It reminded me that no one is perfect, that love is as beautiful as it is destructive, and that Winterson will always inspire me.

Ana Historic, by Daphne Marlatt: early in University a boyfriend had to read this for his English course, and although he disliked it, I devoured the novel.  It was the first time I read a novel written in experimental and poetic prose, and I was blown away.  That the main character made up the life story of a women offhandedly mentioned in an old newspaper article was an intriguing storyline too, and perfectly suited to the style of writing.  I could never look at words the same again.

Whylah Falls, by George Elliot Clarke: another novel written in a series of poems, but flavoured by the Acadian world of Nova Scotia.  I read this later in University, but it still binds me to my dear friend Kristen as we both loved Clarke's language and the visuals his words inspired.

Away, by Jane Urquhart: Urquhart is one of my favourite authors, and I read Away while Jay and I were adjusting to domestic life at the same time as trying to maintain an artistic practice.  The idea of a woman being "away" struck a chord with me and really influenced the art I was working then (and now).  It had never occurred to me that a woman might abandon her life, her family, and especially her children, for any reason.  But the human mind is fragile, and this novel was full of insight.

It's a small list, but these are the novels that immediately came to mind for me.  Do you know what would be lovingly placed on your shelf?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

vest addiction

This house makes photographing dark knits nearly impossible.  Also, I'm impatient and couldn't wait until the weekend when I may have been able to count on some natural light.

I found this pattern by Susanne Pietrzak on Ravelry (for free!) and it was exactly what I was looking for - squared edges, a high collar and a simple closure.  Easy to wear as I grow bigger, and should still work next winter when I'm possibly back to normal.  I improvised for size, but the pattern was so easy to follow that it never became difficult to figure out.  As for the other modifications, I did a seed stitch border and collar instead of garter, and I ignored the buttonhole since this could be a great opportunity for a shawl pin, brooch or kilt pin like I've used already.  And the wool was a dream to work with - Debbie Bliss Luxury Donegal Tweed that Ragdoll and I first spied in Paris.  It's very soft to the touch and the palette is great.  I'm not really a purple person, but this deep eggplant works for me.

Next up, a cardigan for Sadie.  I'm starting to feel a little selfish with all this knitting for myself. Time to share the crafting energy around.

(Note to self: next time, smile a little.  Who knew a glimpse of a mouth could look so sour?)

Sunday, February 01, 2009


20 weeks and counting.  I am 100% sure that my belly was not this big at 20 weeks the first time around, and the simple fact that I have to wear layers of clothing right now is making me crazy uncomfortable.  With Sadie, my bulging belly was covered with lightweight sundresses and single layer t-shirts.  But even with an elevated body temperature, I need layers in this chilly winter weather which has caused me to enter the I-can't-get-comfortable-sitting-on-the-couch phase about, oh, 3 months early.

The perk of the halfway mark is feeling the baby move and kick and punch with all of its 10 ounce might.  And the 19 week ultrasound was pretty fascinating too, although we didn't give in and ask the he/she question.  Sadie is completely on the side of it being a girl baby, while I have these boy feelings...but I had boy feelings last time and was certainly proven wrong.  It's nice to have a surprise waiting for you in 5 months, right?  Right?  This is what I tell myself anyway, over and over again, while I try not to think about passing up the one chance we had to find out.

In the meantime, I am trying to stay productive - as long as it means I can sit on the couch to do so.  Our trusty new laptop is helping this cause, and knitting is truly the best hobby (fingers crossed I don't get carpal tunnel syndrome this time as it ended my handcraft diversions until after Sadie was born).  Ravelry serves both interests, and Sadie and I have been known to lie back and indulge in videos at  Now that I think of it, 20 more weeks of this sounds pretty good.

Big belly notwithstanding.