Monthly Archives: March 2012

One Of A Kind Show

Thanks to two amazing bloggers, April from Money Pit Love and Christine from Bijou and Boheme (Go read their stuff! You’ll love it.) myself and two friends are headed to the One Of A Kind show tomorrow afternoon. (I know… it seems greedy winning two giveaways at once, but my friends are grateful!) I have one other experience with the OOAK show, a fond memory of wandering the booths with my sister as a wide-eyed high school kid from the country in the big city. My sister is a master with a bit of wire, some needle nose pliers, an tiny anvil and a little hammer, so she was looking for inspiration at every single jewelry booth we could find.

This time will be different, but no less exciting. I can’t wait for Saturday, meeting up with my girlfriends and spending the afternoon wandering from booth to booth. Who knows… I might even buy something if it strikes my fancy.

Is anyone else going to be there? Send me a tweet @thisdustyhouse and perhaps we can cross paths, and say hi!

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Three Things For Thursday

One


Someone gave us a $40 gift card to Chapters as a wedding gift. They know me well. The Husband? Maybe less well. Just a month or so ago, a coworker added to the Chapters moolah stash after I helped her out with a decent sized project. It’s about time I actually spent this money, especially since I can now do it from the comfort of my living room and have the instant gratification of loading everything onto my Kobo and reading right away.

So, last night, gift cards in hand, I purchased and downloaded The Hunger Games Trilogy.

This book (and movie) is creating buzz, especially among my youth group kids. I’m feeling slightly out of the loop, so I broke down, decided not to wait 8 months to get a copy from the library and slapped down a gift card. I started it last night and… I’m sorry, but was anyone else not blown away by the prose in this book? I mean, it’s not terrible, but it’s not as great as the hype has lead me to believe it to be. The jumps in time seem awkward and contrived and the back story of Panem seems spewed out without any kind of artistry. 
The story is engaging and I wouldn’t say I’m not enjoying the book. But perhaps my expectations for young adult literature are just a little too high.
After buying all three books, I have $32 left to spend. My twitter friends have been suggesting all sorts of titles. Do you have any to add?
Two

Last night, in a fit of bored while I was buying books, the Husband pulled our range hood out of the closet and set it in the middle of the kitchen. As I got ready for bed, I asked him how long it would be there. 
Only until the weekend, he responded.
!!
I interpreted that to mean that, by the end of day Sunday, our tile will be grouted and I’m going to have a range hood over my stove, gracing our tile backsplash with some more stainless steel goodness. I’ll admit, I’m actually a little worried about how the hood is going to change the feel of the kitchen. 
We went with Ikea for this, their Luftig exhaust hood. It’s pretty enough, but I feel like I’ve been so spoiled with a clear, empty wall, I’m nervous about giving it up. In the end, it will still be beautiful, right?
Three

Because it seems to be kitchen week here at This Dusty House, I want to share this one with you. For no other reason than I think it’s gorgeous. Also, I’m pretty sure the granite is the exact same one we have. Also gorgeous.

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The Process: Kitchen Tile Part III

Have you ever noticed that, when a homeowner is taking part in a renovation with the HGTV crew, they always get put on the task of tiling? You know why?

Because it’s super easy. A little messy, perhaps, but easy none-the-less. Also, depending on how much you’re tile, it doesn’t even take that long. Our small project took a grand total of three hours.

When we renovated our bathroom, I came home from work one day to a completely tiled shower and floor. This time, I wanted to actually help out. Mark started the process and, when I volunteered to lend a hand, he took me outside with a tile and started up the tile saw. I watched him start to guide the piece through the grinder, then turned around and walked back inside.

I know. I know. Not very grown up of me. Not very empowered of me. But I’ll be honest: that thing freaked me out. It was loud. Wet. Dangerous looking. I wimped out and gave into my fear of power tools. I can wield a drill among the best, I can cut a piece of wood on a 45 degree angle with a miter saw like no body’s business, I can even cut into a piece of drywall with a saws-all without a hint of nervousness, but that tile saw terrified me.

So, I grabbed the tile paddle instead. Is that what they’re called? It’s a special tool with two grooved edges two smooth. After an hour or so of slapping glue onto the wall and carefully placing some tile, I totally feel like an expert. So, naturally, I must share my expertise.

This is how tiling works.

(Clarification, correction, and criticism of my steps definitely welcome!)

What you need


Tile! Preferably, a pretty one.

Tile adhesive

Tile trowel

Tile cutter

Level

Pencil

Step one


Using your level, measure and mark out where your tiles will go. Draw a grid on the wall to ensure that, when you lay your tiles, they’ll be level and properly placed. The Husband drew our grid on the wall by the foot since that’s what our tiles were.

Step two


Determine which tiles you need to cut or trim and which ones you’ll use whole. You may need to be a little strategic with this. Some of our tiles were cracked or broken on the edges, so we wanted to hide those as much as possible. One or two of the marble pieces were blotched with a yellow vein. It takes a little work to sort through them and determine where exactly each one will go, but it’s definitely worth it.

Step three


Make your cuts. Some tilers will prefer to make all their cuts first. This is how we worked in the bathroom. That way, the cuts could be made and we could just throw them all up on the wall without having to break to cut another tile.

This time, though, we glued, then cut, glued, then cut. Eventually, as I got into the swing of things, the Husband was about to focus on cutting and I on gluing. It went twice as fast.

Step four


Slap the adhesive on the wall using your tile trowel. Use the grooved side to smooth it out. This will leave the deep grooves you see in this shot:

Step five

Press the tile onto the wall firmly. You may need to wiggle it into place a bit. Step back and look to make sure there are no large gaps between one tile and the next. Super skinny gaps are no good either. You want it to look uniform, with the same amount of gap between the tiles as there is between your mosaic pieces. Fortunately, tile is forgiving. If there’s no gap or too much gap, simply wiggle it back or forward until it’s right.
Step six
Repeat until your done! 
Step seven

Clean up. That glue can be nasty stuff.
Step eight

Sit back with a cup of tea and admire your handiwork.

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Tile on the Wall: Part II!

As promised, after yesterday’s teasing sneak peak…

It’s a backsplash!

I have no idea how we managed to find such a perfect tile for our kitchen. If you’ll remember from my post yesterday, we picked it on a whim on a trip to Rona for paint. We weren’t expecting to even look at tile. We saw it; we bought it; it turned out perfectly. I love the subtle blue, the way it draws out the grey of our counter tops but lets the red of our kettle and utensils and the green of my olive oil bottles pop. It’s colourful, but neutral at the same time in such a way that allows other colours to sing.

It’s not finished yet: it needs to be grouted. But it changes the whole feel of the room. It makes it feel complete, purposeful even. It seems to tie together all the choices we’ve made and makes them make sense. The wall of pantry cupboards suddenly fits far better than they did when the wall above the stove was empty. It draws the eye right into the heart of the kitchen and focuses the space. Perhaps I give this wall of tile a little too much importance in my kitchen, but I love the effect; I just can’t help it.

Oh, it’s so pretty.

As with everything in our house, we did the tiling ourselves. Tomorrow, I’ll share exactly how that went.

-~*~-
This post was linked up to RA 116 at the Remodelaholic.

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Part I: Kitchen Backsplash!

Happy Monday!

As planned, the Husband and I took one big step back from our mudroom project. It’s not finished yet… we still need to source doors for the pantry cupboard, sand and paint the closet, add trim, tile the entry floors, carpet the stairs, and build our bench, shelf and coat racks. Lots to do. But right, now, it’s functioning far more than it did before, so we’ve turned elsewhere, to another part of the house.

This requires some back story.

A few weeks ago, while at Rona – buying supplies for the mudroom – we stumbled across some tile on sale. Of course, that’s not exactly unusual. Generally, home improvement stores always have one or two different styles of tile on sale. But this time… this time it was actually something we liked. We trundled home with a case and a half after convincing the flooring guy to let us buy a few feet by the sheet instead of by the box.

In the car, as we headed home, I looked at the Husband and said, “I’m nervous about this.”

“Why?”

“Usually, when we buy something for the house, we hem and haw over it for at least half an hour. We check out all our options. We research. We just bought tile, tile that will go onto our kitchen wall permanently in a matter of 10 minutes. I’m sure, sure we just made a mistake.”

Even worse?

Because we’d convinced the sales person to let us take some of the tile out of the box, 1/3 of the tiles were non-returnable. We’d made a mistake that we couldn’t fix.

We got home. I picked up one of the tiles and held it up against the wall. The sigh of relief reverberated around our tiny little house. They were perfect. Absolutely, positively perfect.

Would you agree?

This is a three part series. Come back tomorrow for the reveal* – since I know that’s what you’re all really interested in anyway – and Wednesday for the process. I promise… this tile did not disappoint!
* -ish. We’re not that quick… it still needs to be grouted!

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The Mudroom: More Progress!

I am kind of in love with what this room will be. If we ever get it to the point of completion that I’m envisioning in my head, that is. But the progress is encouraging. The progress is beautiful. If not quite perfect.

There is paint on the walls!

Finally.

I kind of wanted there to be paint on the walls after the first weekend of work on this. I have begun to notice a pattern: we start a project and I impose my unrealistic expectations upon it. Rip down some walls, move a bathroom, install a new kitchen and new floors, and paint every wall? Sure! A month, tops! Fix up a mudroom from a state of grunge and disrepair to beauty? A weekend! Duh.

We’re heading into the fourth weekend of mudroom progress without completion. As my expectations adjust, I know it’s going to take a few more weekends of work back there. And for now, we’re taking a break. But, I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made thus far.

What have we done? 
  • We continued the bamboo flooring out onto the upper landing. Right now, the rest of the landings and stairs (there are four landings, total. I know. Crazy.) are still unfinished but will be finished with other, more durable finishes. 
  • We put in new light fixtures.
  • We removed the radiator that used to live behind the door. It was too big, warmed up the small space way too much and was kind of in the way. We salvaged a radiator we’d taking out of our living room, pulled the sections apart and put only two, hidden away underneath the stairs.
  • We pulled out the old pantry cupboard and added in a new, larger, more efficient one in a different spot. 
  • We painted everything purple. There is a story behind this actually… I originally planned for grey accented with a bright, cheerful yellow. Makes sense, right? I had even picked out a pretty grey from my CIL paint chip book. And then, we went to pick up the paint and I left the paint chip book behind. I picked up something that looked gray, found a yellow, put the paint chips side by side, thought they looked great, and bought a can of each.

    It was purple. Most definitely purple.

    So, now I have a purple and yellow mudroom, which isn’t necessarily bad. But, at the moment, it feels like the purple and the yellow are competing with each other which, obviously, was never my intention. 

I’m confident that a little white trim to separate them and make them stop fighting will help. If it doesn’t, I will paint the door. Again.

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Three Things This Thursday

You guys are amazing. That is all I have to say.

One

Maple glazed grilled chicken. Holy crap. This stuff is good.

Two

We bought a barbecue! We’ve been putting it to pretty good use over the past few days. Hamburgers. Chicken. Asparagus. Steak. Mmm… barbecue.
Right now, our back yard is a bit of a mess with things we’ve pulled out of our mudroom, but sometime early this season we plan to get it into tip top shape. Which means even more barbecuing and maybe a little (or a lot!) entertaining. Which means we need something bigger than the teeny little patio table we’ve been using. Already our steaks were nearly falling off the table last night, vying for space with the salad bowl, the bottle of wine, two wine glasses and the barbecue sauce. 
I want something like this:
Except maybe sized for 8 instead of 16.
Of course I would keep it set all the time. 
It will always be immaculate.
Even in the rain.
Three

I want to spend all my time outside. 
Yup. My garden is totally going to look like this.
Totally. 
Right?

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Blogiversay One

It’s been a rough week and it’s only Wednesday. I’m sure you’ve noticed the silence around here. This doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a lot to talk about. In fact, there’s enough going on around the house that I could probably have filled up this week and next week with posts that are actually interesting. (Finally. It’s been a while.)

Instead, I started training for taking on a few new responsibilities at work and filled up my evenings anyway, despite being a little drained. Blogging took the back burner, as occasionally, it must.

And then, I realized that today is my blogiversary. One whole year of blogging. Can you believe it? I’m not sure I can. It’s been an interesting ride, full of ups, plenty of downs, a learning experience that sometimes, I can easily imagine living without.

I know I’m always curious about the behind-the-scenes of other blogs. More often than not, though, I find that this can be dangerous and discouraging. How does that 6 month old blog have 15 000 followers already? What’s so different about that other blog that got shot into the fame-osphere? What’s wrong with me? How do I get to be like them? As I hit my one year of blogging, I’m feeling a lot more discouraged by the progress of others than pleased with the progress I’ve made myself.

I’m an insecure blogger. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

As I hit my 1 year blogiversary, and as a rough week does its best to only heighten my insecurities, I want to talk about why I blog. Because really, as I stare at my numbers and bang my head against a plateau that’s lasted since the third month of this blog’s existence, I have to remind myself why I’m doing it.

I blog because I write. I write for a living and so I need to write for pleasure to balance it all out.

(Obviously – unfortunately – the writing for a living and writing for pleasure are two completely different kinds of writing.)

I blog because I share. I describe myself as a chronic over-sharer. I love telling people more than they need to know. There aren’t many aspects of my life that I am unwilling to talk about in the right context.

I blog because I want people to read what I have to say. I’m not one of those bloggers that started writing a blog in order to share their renovation progress with their family. Obviously, this blog does that as well. But I started this blog so I could reach out beyond my family and friends and create a connection with some anonymous reader out there. I blog to connect with the world.

One year out, this last reason for blogging has been the most rewarding. I’ve met new friends, made connections, found a community. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

One year. 212 posts. I’m still blogging.

Fellow blogging friends, one simple question: why do you blog?

(Apologies for the no-picture post. I’ll be back tomorrow with some mudroom updates!)

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And now, for something completely different: orange and blue

I’m crocheting a baby blanket for my sister and my new little niece or nephew.

(She’s due in a couple months.)

(I’m just a little excited.)

(And, by a little, I really mean a lot.)

I don’t feel like I’m particularly good at picking out colours for things like baby blankets. Standing in the yarn aisle at Michael’s can be confusing at best, overwhelming at worst. Prices and colours jumble together and next thing you know, I walk out with an armful of colours I’m dubious about and a worry that I’ve become colour blind in the process.

But, for some reason, it always seems to work out.

Of course, I should have had no doubts about these colours.

I think orange and turquoise is my favourite colour combination. How could I go wrong? 
(I suppose she could hate it.)
(But I doubt that will happen.)
(Because it’s already 1/3 of the way done and gorgeous.)

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A Change In Plans: Mudroom Ideas

-~*~-

Originally, the focus of the back mudroom was all pantry. I was dreaming of shelf after shelf of canned good, and canistered baking supplies and pasta. I was thinking along these lines:

Yes, I made this in Paint. My artwork. It is beautiful.

What you see here is a full wall, essentially of cupboards. There are eight 24′ cupboards represented here. Whoa, space! One half of the pantry would go to our downstairs friends. The other half? All mine. Perfection, right?

The plan was all set.

And then, on Sunday, my BFF gave me Martha Stewart’s book on organizing. (She is very aware that I am not an organized person. She is trying to save me from the havoc that is our home. Unfortunately, I think I’m a lost cause.) Of course, the book starts off with entryways, beautiful entryways, entryways whose purpose is specifically for entering into a home, for shucking off the outer layer and stepping through into comfort.

A pantry is not a great space for shucking off the outer layer.

A few hours before he was set to head to Ikea to pick up either 24 inch cabinets, the Husband messaged me.

Him: What else is going to go in those cupboards? Towels and things?

Me: Sure. And canisters. All the food. All my baking supplies.

Him: Oh.

Him: That’s a lot of space, isn’t it? Will there be any food left in the kitchen?

Me: Does there have to be?

And, then, I realized how ridiculous the whole idea was. It’s one thing to take all your extra supplies and stick them in a back room. It’s quite another to take all your supplies and stick them in a back room.

Him: I want a bench.

So, new plan, a new amazing, smart plan that makes so much more sense than what we had decided on before. And that will be prettier on top of all that, just as a bonus.

Four of the pantry cupboards stay and provide plenty of useful space for both myself and our downstairs friends. Since they’ll be using it as well, we will be required to keep out landing clear. This may be a challenge. A shelf and hooks replace the other set of pantry cupboards and a bench provides a space to sit and put on shoes. Presumably, this bench will be full of cubbies that will provide safe storage for shoes, out of the danger of meeting some puppy teeth.

I envision something exactly like this:

But maybe with a bench that looks more like this:
There is some more progress happening and I am incredibly excited about it. There’s also been some backward progress that I am much less excited about. But that’s a story for a different day.

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