Monthly Archives: August 2012

An Indigo inspired office wish list

As I’ve mentioned here before, my company has recently moved locations. Yesterday was the official move day, though I’ve been installed in my new office for the past week. We’ve moved out of an open concept style office and into one broken up into tiny offices, so, for the first time in 2 years, since I ‘entered the workforce’ as a bright faced young new graduate, I have my own four walls and a door. 
So, I went on a little shopping spree. It was only virtual, and I’m unlikely to spend this much money on my little workspace. But, Chapters Indigo and Polyvore worked together to help me figure out a feel for my office, and slowly, I’ll start to gather similar items in order to make my space feel a little less like a blank slate and more like a cozy, practical space.

Office
  • Wesley Alarm Clock: $60. A perfect little bit of old-time touch.
  • Letters Lamp: $60. How perfect is a letters theme for the company’s only writer?
  • Grey Pedestal Soup Bowl: $12. My work provides dishes, but as I was ‘shopping’ I realized how much I would prefer to have my own little set, something pretty that I can make sure is always cleaned and ready for my own personal use. Obviously, the fact that it would look great on my office shelves played a huge role in this addition.
  • Black Text Pencil Cup: $9.50. More letters! 
  • Semikolon Business Card Box Ciel: $25. Admittedly, I don’t collect that many business cards. But, I have half a dozen or so and they just… float. I don’t have a proper place for them, so, more often then not, they just end up getting tossed.
  • Zen Grey Tea Pot: $24. It’s just pretty.
  • Sweater-Weave Basket: $40. This is a crucial one. I’m sure a lot of you have the same experience… my office is cold! If it were a comfortable temperature for me, others would find it uncomfortable warm. I solve this problem with sweaters and blankets. I spend my days at my desk wrapped up tight in an afghan, especially during the winter. Obviously, I need someplace pretty to put my sweaters and afghans. So, a basket!
Have you decorated your office at work? How much time and effort do you put into the space that you spend 8-10 hours a day in?
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

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Fabric Stash Decor

I used to do a bunch of sewing. I would save any and every little bit of fabric with a plan to do something with it. I would search thrift stores for bits of ugly fabric people had donated. Walmart’s $1.99/yard bin was my heaven. As I’m sure you can imagine, my fabric stash was pretty large. It was also pretty ugly. Weird fleecy fabrics that you could do anything with. Stretchy t-shirting in a blue-grey that looked like sweatpants (in fact, I made a pair with it!). Bright blue stretch satin, cheap and shimmery.

So, I got rid of it. All of it. Now, my fabric stash is down to this*:

Two bits.
The black and white gingham came from a closing sale of a Fabricland location. It was 60% off and I was disappointed that I wasn’t finding any pretty cotton prints, so I went for the next best thing in this slightly shimmery satin. I have no idea what I’m going to make with it.
The blue on the bottom was a gift to me from my brother after he made a trip to India a couple years back. It’s even more complicated than the gingham since, as a gift, and consider the trek it to the other side of the world, I’m nervous about letting my scissors anywhere near it. 
So, instead of being turned into beautiful things, both of these fabrics live in my dining room, on a set of shelves with a bunch of other tchotchkes. I think they’re kind of pretty there, sitting underneath a little box from the Chapters Indigo Home collection, where I keep my crochet hooks and sewing needles. When I put them there, I was intent on simply tucking them away, but it wasn’t long before I realized I appreciated the charm of the little vignette.
And you? Do you have a fabric stash? Big or small? And where do you keep it: on display, or tucked away?
What would you turn this fabric into?
* Full truth: there are also scraps of fabric left in my stash from my dresser makeover and my chair makeover. I still have a problem with hoarding fabric…

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Black and Gold: Design Ideas

This morning, I slipped on my favourite bangles as I was getting ready for work. They’re a gold bangle with little black and white circles set into the band. I love the little bit of drama they add to my arm, the gold, the tinkling clatter they make as I move.

These bangles have been making me think of other places I could bring in a black and gold motif. Turns out, I don’t just like it on my arm: I love the drama the bold palette brings to a room too.

One: A Black and Gold Bathroom


I love the bold contrast of the vanity. Statement-making. Combined with the metallic, gold-leaf wall, it’s a space that works because it embraces being dramatic to the fullest. 


Two: A Gold Clutch


I guess this runs along the same lines as my bangles. I love gold and black together in fashion. An understated black outfit combined with a flashy gold clutch seems utterly perfect to me.

Three: A Black and Gold Stove


Oh. My goodness. How’s that for a bit of unexpected drama? 

Admittedly, I’m not sure the stove works as well in this space as it could. The backsplash seems too busy, too much like it’s competing with the stove. When you have a stove like that, everything around it can be simple and understated.


If I’m being completely honest, while I love these two spaces, they’re not exactly… me. I’m not a black-and-gold, give-me-drama-or-go-home kind of person. Does that mean it doesn’t fit in anywhere in my personality except in my jewelry?

Of course not!

Four: Black and Gold Pendants

It’s so subtle, but it’s just enough. The gold painted inside the black pendant lights provides the drama of the black and gold without going over the top, without committing fully to such a bold colour palette.

Five: A Gold Bar Cart


Oh, I wish! Where can I find one of these? It’s beautiful, a little splash of gold placed against the dramatic dark background of a small black wall. It’s just the perfect amount, I think, of each. 


And, my favourite:

Six: A Black Desk


I think I may have stumbled across the official inspiration for my home office whenever I happen to get one. The black, high shine desk. The gold chair, and all the gold accessories. Oh, oh… I love it.


How do you feel about black and gold? I’m eyeing my brass mirror right now, wondering if there’s anything black I can pair it with to increase it’s dramatic flare. What do you think?


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Keeping Puppies Safe: Dog Tags

Happy Monday! I’ve had one of those unusual weekends that involved almost nothing. I got some new tech on Saturday, then visited with some amazing friends. I spent the whole afternoon on Sunday cooking, using somethings up, and stocking up my freezer. I love productive weekends, but I can’t say I like them more than weekends like this that involve plenty of relaxing and no self-imposed deadlines for accomplishments.
One of the things we did accomplish, however, was kind of important for my own piece of mind. 

See, last week, on one of our many evening walks, a gorgeous black lab came bounding out of the dark to meet Mocha. A quick glance around proved that this pup was on his own, no laid-back owner in sight. I knocked on a nearby door, but the woman who answered had never seen the dog before. 
His collar named him Madison, but with no owner information, we were at a loss. When Madison took off into the dark back yards of the East York neighbourhood, we moved on, planning to swing by and see if he was still hanging about on our way home from our walk. 
All we needed was a phone number, and I would have been much happier knowing that Madison was not still wandering the streets. Imagining the same thing happening to my own dogs, on Saturday, we bought them each personalized name tags, outfitted with their name, our name, phone number, and address. 

I think they like them. 

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Photo Friday: Hot Peppers

My hot peppers have been doing remarkably well. Perhaps too well. I have an overabundance of jalapenos and the number of red chili peppers dangling from the plant has me kind of alarmed. On top of those two plants, I have a mystery pepper plant, one that claimed to be habaneros, but is growing straight up and pointy, green, then turning brown and rotten. I don’t know what they are or, therefore, when to pick them.

I’ve made spicy chipotle sauce that ended up so spicy, a single tablespoon provides enough heat to a pot of tomato sauce. I’ve made jalapeno bread. I’ve made a delicious, tomatoey shepherd’s pie of sorts.

I’m happy with my peppers. Even if we don’t eat too many spicy foods, I’m glad they’re doing so well. If only I could say the same thing about my falling over bushy mess of tomato plants.

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Three Things for Thursday: On Blogging

This week’s Three Things are about blogging because it’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. I know that this is completely uninteresting for those of you who don’t blog, but please bear with me! I have a few questions about blogs and Facebook for you at the bottom of the post!


One: Blog Design

Over the past week or two, I’ve been slowly chipping away at my blog, trying to bring it out of the basic-Blogger-template world and into something I can call my own, something that is a little more ‘me’, a little more ‘us’.

As I’ve slowly been teaching myself to play around with a little HTML, I’ve begun to develop a new appreciation for those of you who design these things. The whole process makes my head spin just a little. But, I’ve proud of what I’ve managed to accomplish, of the work-arounds I’ve figured out, whether it’s legitimate design or not. I’m no web designer and I will never claim to be, but I’m feeling far more satisfied with the look of this space than before.

Two: Social Media Icons


These are what I’m the most proud of, I think. Here’s a hint for any bloggers who may want their own social media icons: they’re simply a circle cut out of one of my favourite photographs, with a letter stuck in them, slightly offset from the flower. 


Three: Facebook


This Dusty House is on Facebook! Obviously. I wouldn’t have created a social media icon for it if I wasn’t. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to add more content there, trying to make it something worthwhile to go with this blog. In some ways, I’m not entirely convinced. So, I have a few questions for you: 

Do you follow blogs through Facebook? Do you feel like it allows for a greater level of interaction? And, for my blogging readers; do you have a Facebook page for your blog? Why? How do you view the purpose of your Facebook page? 

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An Indoor Herb Garden: Update

Way back in February, I planted some herb seeds. As they were growing, I built some shelves into my kitchen window frame, intent on creating a little herbal oasis in the middle of the house. And then, I forgot to update you. And forgot, and forgot.

I’m sorry.

But today, I have an update! That window herb garden that I began? It grew. Parts of it. And parts of it didn’t. Parts of it got a little wild, and spread over the window sill and then were scorched by the sun despite are almost daily watering. And, today, I’m left with the bits that survived.

There’s my basil plants, two of them, which I love, and are turning into little trees. 
Then, there’s my parsley plants, again, two of them, which struggle, fall over and wilt, but always provide a fresh little shoot to give me hope that, if I trim it back, it will flourish and thrive.
And, there’s our aloe plant, which, when we received it as a gift from our neighbours, began to rot from an over abundance of water, making its death seem certain. Now, it’s developed three little baby aloes, growing around it like a little aloe family. 
One single row of them on the sill.
What have I learned?
One. If you’re going to have a window garden, make sure you space your shelves out to give the herbs enough space to grow. My pots could barely fit on the two rows up, let alone provide room for the plants to grow. In the end, I had two rows, one on the sill and one on the counter. It wasn’t a bad spot, but if and when I replant, I think I’ll remove one shelf to allow for more pots.
Two. It’s important to only plant herbs you will use and enjoy. I use my basil all the time. But, the cilantro grew like crazy, fell over and went to seed because we learned that neither of us were huge fans of the unique taste. Next time, I’ll opt for rosemary instead, which has become one of my favourite herbs.
Three. Keep your watering can handy. The reason some of these have done so well is because they get plenty of water and plenty of sun. But, since our watering can, the pretty brass one that sits beside them, is kept so close, it’s not hard to water on a nearly daily basis. Also, basil is really good at telling you when it needs water and perking back up within an hour of getting some.
I like having them here, but I can’t say that I use them all the time. The basil, regularly. But the rest? Perhaps this is why I let my oregano wither and my thyme scorch. When I plant more, I’ll look a little more carefully at the plants I actually want to grow here and go from there. Who knows. Maybe they won’t be herbs at all!
Do you grow plants indoors? Herbs? Or otherwise?

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Filed under indoor herb garden, kitchen

Named

Naming a puppy is hard. We searched through lists, created our own lists, crossed off names, added new ones. We asked people for advice and tossed around ideas as we walked, drove, bought chew toys (oh, goodness, we need chew toys), watched TV, made supper. This puppy is going to have this name for the next 10-18 years. It had better be good. It had better fit.

He was almost a Cooper. Almost a Zeus. Almost a Whiskey. Our friends would have named him Latte or Cappuccino to go with the drinks theme we had going that we never meant to start. (Ok, Pekoe was purposefully named after the tea. Mocha, though, we just liked!) We easily dismissed names like Max and Charlie (sorry guys…) because they seem far too common, far too ordinary, for a puppy who doesn’t seem at all ordinary to me.

He could have been the world’s most adorable Tippy. (My grandparents have always named their dogs Tippy. Every single one of them. I guess it makes the naming process pretty easy.)

While discussing puppy names with our neighbours over the fence, the 12 year old started talking about her friend, Kingsley, whose teddy bear had a long name because he couldn’t decide what to name it, so he just named it all the names he liked. Her suggestion wasn’t bad (Oscar), but the name she inadvertently suggested seemed to fit perfectly.

World, meet Kingsley.

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How To Paint Stripes

As I’m sure you can imagine, we didn’t really get much done this weekend. There were far too many puppy kisses and snuggles to worry about. A good chunk of our weekend was spent redirecting attention away from our computer cords, away from the legs of our chairs, away from our fingers and feet, and onto more appropriate toys. There has been a good deal of running around in the backyard and a good deal of cooing over a tired, sleepy puppy.

There hasn’t been a lot of painting, or re-organizing, or building. But, I did want to revisit last week’s projects and share more fully the one I had the most fun with.

Before I made these, I had never painted stripes on anything. Turns out, it’s remarkably easy, and remarkably rewarding, but ridiculously time consuming.

Also, addicting. I started with these hooks and, in the end, turned my stripe hungry eyes on our steps as well.

So, how?

Easy.

Step 1: Sanding

These were for our mudroom, so I didn’t worry too much about this step, but if you’re planning on putting your piece somewhere that requires a little more polish, make sure you start with a smooth board or you will see the texture.

Step 2: Prep your holes


I didn’t want to have to mark out my holes after I had finished painting so, with the nice smooth board, I attached my hooks, then removed them. That way, I would know exactly where the hooks would be screwed in once I was done because the hole was already there.

Step 2: Painting the base colour


Obviously, I used white. I painted the boards in multiple coats of a basic white paint. (In fact, in all honesty, I used ceiling paint because all of our other white paint – 4 cans of varying fullness – had gone funny in the time they had been stored.) Once I was happy with the level of coverage – there were some knots to make disappear – I allowed them to dry for a good long time.

Step 3: Taping



This is the most time consuming step. Using painters tape, tape down the area that will remain white. I made each of my yellow stripes 2 inches so, after I had the first one down at an angle I liked, I used the ruler to mark out 2 inches in two spots and ran the next piece of tape along those two marks. It’s time consuming, but definitely worth it to get perfectly spaced stripes.

Originally, I had wanted to a chevron on the hooks, but decided that, ultimately, it was just too much for me. I didn’t want to give up quite so easily though, so I had another stab at it with the back of the steps. To tape out the chevron, find the centre of the board and draw a line. Now, measure out equal distances from both sides of that line along the edge of your board and put a little pencil mark. Measure down the line the same distance and add a pencil mark. Line up your tape with the mark on the outside of the board and the mark on the centre line. Do the same with the other side. Trim your tape to form a nice crisp corner.

Measure as you did with the stripes from there, always making sure that your corners are nice crisp 90 degree squares.

Step 4: Paint the stripes


Easy peasy. Paint the visible white! 

Step 5: Remove the tape


The most rewarding step of this project. As soon as you have finished painting remove the tape. You want the paint to still be wet when you pull it off. Otherwise, you may end up with the tape pulling your carefully painted stripes off with it.

You will end up with a messy pile of tape. Embrace it.


Step 5.5: Touch-up your stripes


When you pull up your tape, there’s a good chance there will be a few spots that will have leaked through. I’ve heard mixed reports that this is diminished with higher quality painter’s tape. Mixed. If you’re like me and don’t think the possibility is worth the extra moolah, these smudgy spots are easily topped off with a little paint brush and some extra white paint.


Problem solved.

Step 6: Allow to dry


Watch a movie. Or back-to-back episodes of My Name is Earl.

Step 7: Varnish


For durability and prettiness, this is an important step. I wanted a high shine on my hooks, so I was excited for this step. Just slap it on there. When it comes to lacquer, the more the better. The thicker coat you do, the more the brush strokes will settle out and the more awesome it will look.

Step 8: Allow to dry


Again. Watch another movie. Or more episodes of My Name is Earl. Or, better yet, take your dog for a nice long walk.

Step 9: Screw on your hooks and hang


If that is indeed what you’re painting your stripes for. After you hang, you may need to attack a couple holes with some wood filler, light sanding and touch-ups with a paint brush. It will still look amazing when you’re all done and it’s up on the wall. 

Voila!


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Introducing…

It’s a little hard to introduce something with no name.

It took us three days to name Mocha. How long do you think it will take us to name this little guy?

Here’s the story:

We’ve been talking about a second dog for a long time.We always kind of knew that, as soon as we felt Mocha was ready, and as soon as we were in a situation that would allow for a second dog, we would go for it. Every few months or so, we’ve been checking Craigslist and Kijiji, keeping our eye out for breeds and prices. We started checking out CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) registered breeders. And, then, the shelters in the area.

Why were shelters our last choice? Especially over online classifieds, which are notorious for advertising breeders and puppy mills and skeptical treatment of animals? For some reason, I got it in my head that humane societies were just as expensive and required an extensive application process involving home visits and multiple interviews, etc. etc. But more importantly, I’m realistic. The Husband and I can raise a puppy – we’ve done it once, we can do it again! – but dealing with the behavioural issues that many dogs come into shelters with is beyond me. I wish this wasn’t true. I believe every dog deserves a happy, comfortable, responsible, and supportive home and walking through the shelter the past few days, I’ve wished I could provide that home to each and every one. But, I didn’t think we could handle the requirements of a shelter dog. Perhaps I’m not giving myself or the dogs enough credit.

This week, though, the Husband checked out the Toronto Humane Society website and saw a litter of four puppies, labeled as rottweiler/wiemaraner crosses. We met on Wednesday evening to check them out and they were as adorable as we expected. Unfortunately, we missed the application deadline for the day by a measly 10 minutes, but were assured that we likely wouldn’t miss out on the puppies if we waited a day or so.

We made plans to return Friday, when we would have more time.

Thursday night, we popped on the website. All the puppies were gone. We went to bed with extreme disappointment, and woke up still feeling the ache of the loss of what could have been. At the end of our workdays, we went anyway. There was another litter advertised and, despite our disappointment, we figured we should give them a chance.

So, yesterday, we visited, submitted an application and interviewed for a puppy. Our interviewer sent us home to think about it for the night and to honestly ask ourselves if we can handle the puppy’s schedule what with our full-time work schedules. We spent the night asking each other how much we really wanted this and arranging puppy visits and dog sitters for the next few months until the puppy is old enough to handle the time by himself.

This morning, with plans in place, and all questions answered and uncertainties laid to rest, we loaded Mocha into the car and took one last trip to the humane society. Home he came.

He’s adorable. He’s smaller than Mocha, but nowhere near as small as she was when she was a puppy and, the shelter staff think that he’ll grow to be around 40 pounds, double the weight of Mocha. He’s a Schnauzer Terrier cross, and was born in the shelter after his mom was admitted.

Speaking of Mocha?

She’s managing. She’s not so sure yet about this thing that has invaded her space and won’t leave. But, she’s getting there. They’ve had some friendly moments and some less than friendly moments. It will take time and patience, but I think she’ll come around.
She’s still my puppy girl, my sweetheart.

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