Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sunday Leisure

My Sunday afternoon was spent in the garden. I know that it’s still a bit too early to plant much – though there’s a few things that appreciate going in the soil a couple weeks before the last frost – but my leeks, onions, and chives were looking pitiful in their peat pots. Either they were too crowded for the growing tray, or their water and sun had been stolen by the peppers and tomato plants for too long. Finally, they were giving up.

So, I figured, they’d at least have a better chance of survival in the ground, especially since allums tend to be cold weather plants anyway and, according to my recent reading, should really have been planted in the fall of last year.

I marked off a few squares and got planting.

It felt good to get digging. And now. Now I’m just hoping they’ll rebound, that their stems will strengthen, that they’ll straighten up and grow. Was I too late? Have I killed them? I hope not…

***
In the kitchen, I’m talking about wild leeks today. Also, soup.

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TGIF

I feel a little bit like someone took my brain and drove over it a few times. As such, I can’t quite believe how much I’m looking forward to this weekend.

There will be plenty of sleeping.

image via the Pottery Barn
Followed by lots and lots of flopping back into bed. By which I actually mean testing out mattresses. 
‘Cause we need a new one.
And our second year anniversary is fast approaching.
So, we shall lie on a whole bunch of different mattresses, then put a blindfold on, spin around and point. And that shall be the one we take.
(Especially if it comes with that gorgeous bed frame.)
Happy weekend.

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Fish Tank

One of the things we saved from among the pile of our old things at my parents place was a fish tank. It was one of the few things of the Husband’s that found its way into our old barn storage two years ago. As he dug it out of a dark corner, I had visions of bright little tropical fish, fish with funny looking faces, fish, fish, fish.

Ours won’t look quite as good as these, but I’m hoping the introduction of a little water in our home will add an extra bit of texture, a little memorization.

Hopefully not too much algae scum.

Mark Dutka contemporary family room
LA JOLLA CONDO- DINING ROOM contemporary dining room
Oh. Pretty.
It’s surprisingly difficult to find decor inspiration that incorporates a fish tank, especially decor that complements my somewhat more traditional taste. Do you have a fish tank? Where do you keep it?

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My Weekend, According to My Phone

Our weekend purpose was this pile of old things destined for a garage sale, now waiting to be cleaned, sorted, and tagged:

But even better was being surrounded by space, old barns, fires of paper garbage:

Even better was how happy this little dog was to get so dirty:

And these beignets from my mother’s kitchen:

Even better was how a romp in the woods led to finding huge patches of wild leeks:

I love being home with my parents.

(In case you hadn’t noticed, I have gladly jumped on the Instagram bandwagon now that they’ve finally released their app for Android.)

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Sorting Through

When the Husband and I got married and moved in together, my parents though that, finally, finally, they could get rid of the pile of my stuff that was living at their house.

And then, they helped us move into our 580 square foot condo on the 30th floor of a four year old building in North York. All dreams of turning my bedroom into a proper guest room disappeared. In fact, home they trundled half the stuff that had lived in my student house – a wobbly table, a large bookshelf, a microwave and stand, half a hundred books, various boxes of random knick knacks and, well, crap.

They were even so gracious as to store a bunch of the Husband’s things. A fish tank, a hockey bag, golf clubs, a bike.

When we bought our house, they got all excited thinking that finally, finally, they could give it all back and, once and for all, be done with all of their 24-year-old daughter’s stuff. And then, they came and helped paint our 600 square foot basement as we prepped the unit for tenants. There was a bit of a sigh, a shrug, and an acknowledgement that they were still stuck with a mountain of old odds and ends.

Everything has lived in their storage barn (Yes, barn. Not a working barn, mind you, though it was once.) since, two years of languishing in the dark. This week, I got a friendly email from my mom reminding me about the upcoming town wide yard sale and her plans to put it all on the chopping block if I didn’t come sort through it first.

(That’s not how the email was phrased, but I’m sure if I just left it all there long enough, that’s how it would end up.)

So, just to be nice, and to save my canister set from the pile, we’re headed home for an evening, a visit, a chatter. I’m not a huge fan of the drive, but I’m looking forward to seeing these people.

I’m also looking forward to seeing this dog:

(We affectionately call her my little sister.)

Where have you left piles of stuff, momentoes of your past that should really just be yard saled?

Happy Friday! I hope your weekend is relaxing and re-energizing, filled with awesomeness.

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Three Things for Thursday

One: BlogPodium


BlogPodium is a one day workshop for design bloggers on the topic of blogging. And networking. Oh, networking. That thing everyone says is important. That thing I kind of loath with a passion. But guess what? I’m kinda going.

I’ve known about BlogPodium for months, since before the Design Bloggers Meetup. I’ve hemmed and hawed over purchasing a ticket, acknowledging the benefits (Meeting new people! Seeing old blogging friends! Cocktails! Swag bag! Making connections!) and cringing at the potential for awkwardness (The what-am-I-going-to-wear part, those first few moments part, the putting myself out there part, the chatting with brands about partnerships part, the uh-oh-no-one-knows-what-to-say-to-each-other-this-pause-of-silence-has-lasted-too-long part). I figured I would continue to comfortably hem and haw until the purchase deadline passed or it sold out.

And then Jen emailed me. I am powerless to a personal invitation.

So. I set aside all my personal insecurities. I pulled out my low-limit credit card. My name, This Dusty House’s name is on the list. I’m going. I’m focusing on the benefits, allowing for the awkwardness. It’s all part of the fun, right?

Canadian blogging friends, look out for me! I hope to meet as many of you as possible there. Also, a question: where do you get your business cards printed?

(This is now a sold out event! However, you can sign up for the waiting list and if you follow @BlogPodium on Twitter, you might get a chance to snag a ticket from someone who is no longer able to go.)


Two: Canning


Last week was gardening week, so you already know that I have all sorts of gardening plans. I’ve also been thinking about how we’re ever going to eat all the produce I hope my garden grows. I mean… there are plans to plant 12 different tomato plants. We are only two people!

Clearly I’m going to have to learn how to can some stuff.

I have many months of debating the methods, whether I should pressure can or stick to canning more acidic stuff, of finding recipes for red pepper jelly, salsa, sweet pickles, and relish. Any suggestions, tips, and tutorials are more than welcome!


Three: Butterfly Bedroom


Earlier this week, Lindsay shared these shots of a bedroom from Gossip Girl. I think I streamed the pilot of that show once, but I’m more or less completely unfamiliar with it so this was the very first time I’ve seen this space. I was immediately drawn to the wall behind the bed.

Butterflies! Dozens of them, in a scattered circular pattern.

The Husband and I still have no art in our bedroom. Or, well, in most of the house. I’m pretty certain I have neither the skill nor the patience to pull something like this off, but isn’t it pretty? Inspiring, even.

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Pergola, pergola

While our first focus is going to remain on the front of the house, putting our best face forward in a literal sense of the phrase, we don’t want to neglect the back yard this summer. In fact, in some ways, the improvements we want to bring to our back patio will be even more welcome than those we plan for our front porch and lawn. We love our barbecue, we love our garden, and our summer plans are full of lazy evenings with burgers around a patio table.

Unfortunately, at the moment, our patio is far from being a relaxing space. 
Admittedly, this is a very old picture that doesn’t actually give you the best sense of what the space looks like at the moment. There may or may not be an old door stuck over the window, an available scrap used to board it up when we decided to leave it out of our bathroom plans. There’s a few cheap patio chairs scattered around and scraps of wood and renovation mess against the garage. It’s just… not pretty. 
Thankfully, we have vision. 
We’d love to do away with the patio stones and lay down some beautiful interlocking brick. We’d love a proper fence to cut our view off from the side of our neighbour’s badly chipped garage wall. (This will involve bringing in a surveyor to remove any confusion about where his property line ends and ours begins.) Most importantly, we’d love to fill the space between our garage and the edge of our property with outdoor living space. Specifically,
Ana Williamson Architect traditional patio
In the process of my research, I’ve learned that these overhead trellises of vines are called pergolas. So, it’s official. We want a pergola stretched over our patio space. Preferably, we will fill the space beneath it with a nice long dining table, or maybe an outdoor sofa or two. It will be a comfortable place, perfect for relaxing in dappled sunshine, watching the garden grow, nibbling on fresh greens and juicy burgers. 
image via My Paradissi via Mirabeau
There is a possibility that I am highly idealistic. 
Strike that.
I am highly idealistic. 

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Summer Plans

Last year at this time, we were knee deep in some major renovations. We’re not done, per se, and plans and ideas keep wandering through our daily conversation. But, for now, for now we’ve decided to take a bit of a break. If you can call it a break. This summer is not going to be full of some glorious remodel, there will be no addition out the back come September and for once, we’re not going to spend every weekend inhaling drywall dust and paint fumes.

However.

There will be no sitting around twiddling thumbs. Oh no. We’ve still got plans, even if they aren’t particularly big.

A little back story. When we pulled up in front of our little house for the very first time, I have to admit: I hated it. It was weird, ugly. There was no grassy, just concrete out front. A satellite perched precariously from the roof. The exhaust poked its way out of boarded up windows from the basement level, right out infront. The front porch was chipped and ugly and for goodness sake, why did the previous owners tile it with smooth, slippery, interior tile?

image via screen capture of Google Street View

Curb appeal? Whatever was there was not working on me.

Over a year later, I love our little house. I think it’s cute rather than ugly. Its odd boxiness has grown on me and I’ve learned to see its unique face as quietly unimposing and welcoming. But I remember that first reaction to it and I know we have to do something to make sure such a reaction doesn’t match with that of friends, family, or worse, potential future buyers.

We haven’t done much with it yet. We’ve been focused on the interior and then, well, we hibernated for the winter. But I’m not sure if you’ve noticed… it’s not winter anymore! So, what are we going to do?

A list!

  • Rip up the concrete pad on the right. It is not driveway, cannot be used for parking and is terrible for drainage and well, prettiness.
  • Pull up the brick, re-level our parking space and re-lay the brick. It has started to dip where tires tend to sit. 
  • Board up the basement windows properly and brick or stone a facade over them. 
  • Run the exhaust line to the side of the house instead of straight out the front. (Newish readers: you must check out this story from way back when we first bought the house. Our neighbours thought we were on fire!)
  • Rebuild the porch, including ripping up the tile, building new stairs and railing.
Now that I write it all out, it looks like a lot more than I think it is. But really, the whole focus of this project is the porch. Oh, it needs help. The Husband, being a very visual person, immediately pulled out a sketch pad of graph paper and set to drawing once we seriously started to talk about what we’re going to do this summer.
Isn’t it going to be pretty? Wide, wrap-around stairs, a brick pathway and just a little strip of perfectly maintained grass along our property line. What do you think?

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Monday Morning

Monday mornings never go well for me. This morning, I spent an extra half hour wandering the house in search of my (very very dead) phone. I did not find it. Then, I realized my Metropass was still in the pocket of my husband’s coat, the husband that had left for work 20 minutes earlier. To top off the trifecta of missing things, my keys were no where to be found until I realized I’d left them on the console of the car. The car that had left with the husband 30 minutes earlier.

(Some days, I’m really thankful that we have two extra people living in the basement of our house. I locked up the front and went out the back entrance instead, knowing they’ll lock up when they leave for the day.)

Today doesn’t feel like it’s working out at all. However, my day turned far better when I opened up my Google Reader and found this post. Amanda and I had coffee a couple weeks ago (yes, blogging friends turning into real live friends!) and I was super excited to find out that she was close to finished the map of Roncesvalles she’s been working on for the past few months.

This morning, she revealed it, all finished.

She is an incredibly talented illustrator. I mean, look at that detail! Every window, every tree, even the cars in the parking lot and the alleyway.

It’s so Toronto.

And I want to hang it on my wall. Especially since the Husband and I don’t expect to stay in the city forever. One day, we hope to get back to the country, back to living and working in small town, rural Ontario. Back to small, close-knit communities, small town fairs, and the two fingered wave from behind steering wheels. But, when (if?) that happens, I know I’m going to want to take a piece of Toronto with me. We might not live in Roncesvalles, but I’d love to have any piece of Toronto hanging on my wall.

And, guess what!

Amanda is selling prints of this illustration!

She has them in her brand new Etsy shop. Or, if you’d like a little more Toronto experience, you can drop in to Gurts on Roncesvalles Avenue and pick up your very own with a bit of frozen yogurt on the side.

(Amanda did not reimburse me in anyway for telling you about her amazingly talented drawing skills. Unless friendship and a coffee date counts. I just think she’s awesome.)

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The Garden Plan: Always In Flux

This garden is a joint effort between us and our downstairs friends, the sweetest tenants we could ever have hoped to end up with. While it’s a collaborative effort, we did decide to separate our beds. I think this decision has freed us both up to look at our little beds as ‘ours’ to do with what we will, to create our own plans, to lean on each other for support, suggestions, and knowledge, but to take our learning experience into our own hands. We’ll still share the labour, the costs, and some of the produce, of course, and it’s my hope that the garden gives us a chance to spend plenty of time together and get to know them even better.

So, this is our plan! I tried to follow the rules of companion planting as much as possible, so fingers crossed that my onions and carrots will help each other. Of course, it may need to change a bit and get shuffled around and coordinated as we figure out light patterns and tall plants versus short plants, but for now, this is the plan:
Bed One

This is my tomato and pepper bed! There are three different types of tomatoes (beefsteak, cherry, and roma) and three different types of peppers (rainbow, green, and jalepeno). I put all these together hoping that, since they grow relatively tall, neither will block the sun from the other. Also, apparently peppers require nice high humidity for the vegetable to grow, and tomatoes around them will help to provide that within the leafy foliage of it all. 
Bed Two

 Spinach, cucumbers, lettuce, and green beans. The greens bed! When I asked the Husband what he wanted us to grow he had only two requests: cucumbers and green beans. So, plenty of cucumbers, plenty of green beans!

Bed Three


This bed is a bit of a hodgepodge of things. Originally, it was going to be a simple bed: onions, carrots, parsnips, and leaks. But really. Do you realized how many onions you can plant in one square foot? I may yet decide to devote two square feet to them yet, but here, you only see one, rather than the six I had original planned. There’s also chives, two types of squash, dill, carrots (lots!), parsnips (lots!), leeks (just a few – I don’t even know if I like leeks!), watermelon, and two types of potatoes, regular and sweet. These I plan to grow in a potato box to make the most of my single square foot.
I know some of you are experienced gardeners and have already been giving me plenty of advice. So, tell me: how have I done with this garden plan? Is there anything I should know that I haven’t yet learned about any of these plants?
(These plans were created using this wonderful square foot gardening tool.)

Just in case you missed one of them, check out the other posts from This Dusty House’s gardening week”

This post has been linked up to these link parties:
  

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