One of a Kind (late) roundup

Wow, this has been one busy week.  Between contractors and insurance people, clients (I love saying that word) and blog events, I haven't had a chance to post anything for a while.  So here is a belated round-up of the One of a Kind winter show, which runs until the end of the weekend, with late night shopping hours tonight!

The media breakfast was lovely, as always.  This year we got to enjoy my favourite kind of breakfast - sinful sweets!  The doughnuts from Glory Hole doughnuts were so decadent and delicious that I went a little overboard and had two...I like to think I burned them off as I raced through the Direct Energy Centre for the next couple of hours (could'a happened, right?).  My favourite artisan picks from last year were mostly all there again, and their stuff was still amazing.  I also found a couple of booths that I hadn't noticed last year (I seem to miss some every time I go). 

Becca Wallace has the most awesome photos of vintage cars and trucks against these bright and cheerful backgrounds.  The epoxy finish is perfect, they really pop out at you as you go by.  I was worried that my boys would see these photos and demand to know why I didn't get a bunch for their rooms, so I got a few little lapel buttons for their stockings.  Sadly, the works were a little out of my budget for this year, so I had to make due with admiring them (and her adorable little 8-month old).

Sarah Tacoma's encaustic photographs drew me in like a bird to a berry, perhaps in part because of my new-found love of all thing encaustic.  She takes the most gorgeous photos, then over paints them with a touch of colour and a film of beeswax.  The resulting artworks are so dreamy and soft, and you can tell I really had an affinity with those berries.  I also love the doors - they reminded me so much of a New Brunswick artist named Lynn Wiggington who does incredibly detailed paintings of the doors of Saint John (I have a signed poster of her doors in the upstairs hall).  Sarah's display of works was beautifully done, I could have stayed at her booth all day.

The same could be said of Atelier des cent-ans, which I posted about last time as well.  I just LOVE their booth and their works. Their display is lesson in presentation - quiet, careful, and considered.  It reminds me of the Japanese/Scandanavian store Mjolk on Dundas.  The wave motif they presented this year is so beautiful - I have been practicing a very similar style of drawing for an upcoming project (should I ever get time to do it!).

As always, Moon Rox tested my will power with their glittering line-up of baubles and bracelets.  I love the way they use gold and brass, and their pieces always feel like top notch quality.  Someday they will break me for sure.  I am already eyeing one of the bracelets in my photo as I type this, thinking about that awesome re-entry policy that the One of A Kind has...

If you went or are going to the show, I would love to know which artists caught your eye - I am always curious to see other people's picks.  Although many of my friends admire the same booths I do, there is always one or two I miss that I wish I had seen!  Speaking of which, Jen from Rambling Renovators will be presenting her picks tonight on stage at the show, and from touring a bit with her last Thursday as she selected them, I know it is an awesome list.  Don't forget the show is open late tonight - Happy Shopping! :)

Mr. Dress-up

I grew up watching Mr. Dress-up, and have always loved the relaxed, kindly manner of Ernie Coombs, who would have been 85 today.  Did you know he was originally from Maine?  If you have ever been to Maine, or met a Mainer, it would make complete sense to you.  Thank you Google for making me think of him today.

Fall/Winter Bedroom Makeover

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter and darker, my DNA seems to be pushing me to hunker down and get cozy.  My crisp white bedroom wasn't quite doing the trick.  I dreamed big dreams of getting this bedding from West Elm:

However, after a short and sweet discussion with the hubster, we decided groceries would take precedence.  Being a true Taurus, I did not let this financial fluff interfere with my vision, and instead purchased a couple of boxes of RIT fabric dye and attempted my first dye-it-in-the-front-loader.  After the basement disaster and the pipe fiasco, I figured that if things came in three's, wrecking the machine would at least end our streak. (I did not share this methodology with my husband.)

I grabbed a white Ikea duvet set we had on hand - my go-to white cover before the lovely West Elm one entered my life - crossed every conceivable extremity, and began pouring the inky black liquid into my defenceless machine.  It worked!!  It did turn out darker than these photos show it, although I certainly could have done with another couple of boxes of dye.  But overall I am pleased as punch.

I draped these Afgani pillows from Aunt D over the frame of the bed to help warm it up a little more.  I McGivered them on with my handy office clips so they wouldn't slip off every time we moved.  I put a spare rug we had over the foot of the bed, but it's the wrong colour and I kind of wish I had noticed and taken it off before I took the photos. I also took off the white bed skirt to show more of the rug.

Someone's camera-happy kid needed to get in the shot...amazingly with no funny face.

The Buddha is a very recent Value Village find - after paying the plumber for the pipes I needed to so some stress-relieving thrifting! He was a sad, peeled and chipped dark red colour for $4.99, and was just crying out for the my gold spray paint. I am very happy with the way he turned out, and he reminds me to just BREATHE. :)

Now I really want to change out the art for something richer... and maybe see if I have any darker curtains squirreled away somewhere...  But so far I like my bedroom change-up, hopefully it keeps the chilly weather at bay.  What do you think?  Any ideas for art?

Stitched Wool Laptop Case

The weird thing One of the (many) weird things about me is that when I am stressed out I am at my most creative.  I'll have fourteen deadlines and a calendar covered in black ink and suddenly feel the overwhelming urge to knit a sweater and re-paint a whole dining room set.  Hey, it's better than smoking crack, right?  So with a complete mess in my beautiful basement; a pile of business cards on my table from plumbers, flood clean-up guys, insurance adjusters, and contractors; and two new patched-up holes in my front yard, I knew it was time to get out the scissors and spray paint.

One project that had been on my list for a while was a sleeve for my laptop.  In the summer, when I was home, I found an old leather book bag my parents had given me when I was maybe 8 or 9.  It even has my monogram on it!  I don't think I used it for very long, since it wasn't very big and wasn't all that cool at the time... But now it seems all kinds of cool, and the perfect size for my laptop to boot.

The only problem was that it had no lining for my most precious baby, er, I mean computer.  When I saw this tutorial on Design*Sponge, I realized I had found my solution.   I had bought a sample of some lovely soft herringbone wool ages ago at a fundraiser for the Textile Museum, and had never known what to do with it.  I dug it up and paired it with a bright green embroidery thread.


I followed the instructions somewhat, and made them up somewhat as I went along.  All my sewing stuff was under plastic in the basement so I had to improvise. :)  William helped me sew the top of the case down - I would put the needle into the wool and he would grab it and walk away with it until it was taught.  It took a LONG TIME but that's ok.  I finished the sides up with the oh-so-beautiful blanket stitch, and slid it in my briefcase.

Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!  What do you think?  Are you a stress-crafter?  Or am I one of a kind? :p

Emily Henderson is a genius

Omigard Emily Henderson is soooooo awesome.  She made this light "sculpture" out of 99¢ hoola hoops.  I kind of want to do this and just hang it in the corner of a room without the light.  I wonder if it will look like I screwed four hoola hoops together and spray painted them gold?  Possible.  But for the price of a latte, I might give it a shot.  Cause it's better than sitting around thinking about how much work I have to do downstairs...right?  When you're down - make stuff!

The dark side of home ownership

After all the searching, all the open houses, all the paperwork and signatures, you hear those magic words: "It's Yours."  You can hardly believe it, but there it is - in all it's lovely glory - your very own new house.  Gosh it's exciting.  You drive by it approximately 287 times in a slow, creepy way before you get possession, imagining paint colours and fixtures and landscaping.  You pour over the teeny weeny floor plan that was in the marketing kit, envisioning renos and furniture placement.  When you get the keys, you hold your breath as you push open the door for the first time, and maybe celebrate with a little bubbly sitting on the bare floor, your euphoric giggles echoing through the empty rooms. It is a mortgage commercial come to life.

It's a little smaller than you remembered from the open house and that one other time you walked through it... and the kitchen is much worse than you remembered (are those mouse droppings??)...but think of the equity!  The decorating potential!  Replace the roof?  No big deal, you knew that going in - but what colour should it be?

Sound familiar?  Who's with me?

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE my house, I really and truly do.  The renos, the paint, the landscaping - it was hard work for sure, but the satisfaction of knowing it was my own cozy haven, my very own home made it more than worthwhile.  Even the essential-but-not-pretty things like plumbing, electrical, and chimney cleaning are all worth it.

It's the surprises that kill me.  Surprises are usually expensive, usually no fun, and decidedly UN-SEXY.  Here are a few of the visits to the dark side of home ownership that I have taken in the last three years of being here:

Sewage black flow in the basement Worse than walking down to a sight and smell that brought tears to my eyes was sitting in my dining room listening to them rip out the carpet, cut through the drywall, and yes, saw into my beloved built-in cabinets.  The sounds of destruction - not construction.  Expensive destruction.  I have not lost perspective - just weeks ago people lost their entire homes and all their possessions to Sandy - but it breaks my heart none-the-less.  Not our tree, but our problem. Surprise!

Fence toppled by high winds I can't remember exactly when this happened, but we awoke one morning to find the fence between our house and our neighbours' ripped and twisted, and lying flat on the ground.  The garden, to be exact.  OUR garden, to be completely precise.  We did split the cost of a new fence, and actually split it with almost all of our neighbours to build around on all three sides, but my poor, sad, smushed plants all needed to be replaced as well. Surprise!

Tree toppled by high winds You know this one - tree fell down.  Not part-way into our yard, nor into our and our neighbours' yard, nor any other of the 360 directions it could have gone, but smack into our property, taking the new fence, the garage eaves troughs, our garden furniture, many plants, and almost our 2 year old with it.  Not our tree, but our problem. Surprise!

Raccoon walking through our upstairs hallway At night.  While my husband was skiing in BC.  While I was at work until 11pm.  While my babysitter cowered with my then 1-year-old in his room, calling 911.  Surprise! When I got home, Will was asleep and the cops had come and gone, barricading the raccoon in my bedroom with a chair under the door handle.  I slept on the sofa in the next room in my work clothes (a dress) listening to the critter tear apart my closet all night, after calling every 24 hour wildlife removal number on the internet.  Oh and I was preggo (not really relevant, but it makes any story better, right?)  Critter-removal and re-entry prevention = not cheap.

masonry pointing repairs We haven't done this yet, and it isn't nearly as good a story, but there are several holes in the mortar between our exterior brick that need to be filled, and we need to replace the parging over our stone foundation almost all the way around the house.  We haven't done this because we could take the family to Europe for the amount we were quoted.  Who budgets for PARGING and POINTING? Surprise! Argh.

So it's not all sunshine and roses in my wicked and weird world (the raccoon thing definitely qualifies as weird though).  Amidst the the craig's list cabinet victories, the Value Village scores, and the crafty afternoon are loads upon loads of laundry, sink scouring, and potty training.  But who would want to read about all that? ;p  I would say my home and I are out of the honeymoon stage, but there are definitely more days that not that I look around fondly. I do love this house, flaws and all.

But seriously, enough sappy, misery loves company. I know you must have your own house surprises - please share!!

Basement down the drain

First of all, thank you all so much for the Steven and Chris love and support - talk about amazing! I was really quite touched by how many of you reached out with congratulations, and I am so grateful to have so many friends out there.  MOOAH to all of you!

One of the things I heard the most about was the basement - since I had never properly blogged about it or shown it off.  I was all set to do a post about it today and tell you the tale of how we got it looking so sweet after starting with this narsty, asbestos-filled, unfinished basement:

Blurry blackberry(!) shots taken at the open house
It was a lot of work and a lot of fun, as you can imagine, and we certainly did not do it ourselves.  In the end, we expanded our liveable area by 1/3 and created a really cozy spot where I spent a LOT of my second maternity leave.

Last night I was down in my newly improved "office" area doing some actual paid work (amazing) and heard some weird gurgling coming from the shower area in the bathroom.  People - when the drains gurgle, sputter, cough, or make so much as a peep - please call a plumber.

Because I am a kind and decent person, I will spare you the more graphic images of what I came down to this morning (and immediately texted my poor husband), and show you only this one.  The shower is one of three drains we have down there, the other two under the dryer and in the furnace closet.  Grossness was spewing from all three.  (Sorry, not often I get to use the word spewing and it is such a perfectly disgusting word, don't you think?)  So, a bit belatedly, I called the plumber (apparently the plumber Mike Holmes uses!).  Bob The Plumber* did not mince words, and, sadly, neither did he use the word spewing.

Blog buddies, I trust you remember this scene, in which we were attacked by our neighbour's tree, narrowly escaping the loss of one son, and burdened with expenses for removal and repairs?

It turns out this was just the first chapter in our "Nasty Dealings with Neighbouring Trees" - which hopefully ends after two (expensive) chapters.  This time, having been perhaps inspired by its ally Neighbouring-Tree-To-The-West's surprise air attack, the Neighbouring-Tree-To-The-North deviously tunneled underground with its roots, harpooning our defenceless clay pipes, and strategically blocking our sewage outflow.  Well played Neighbour's Trees, well played.**

My beautiful basement now looks like this.  Please note how much bigger the water stain is on the concrete than it appeared on the rug!  Luckily Bob the Plumber had me call Chad the Clean-Up-Guy*** and my basement has been cleaned, bleached, and disinfected by a fine crew who just left at 8pm.  The heaters and fans are running as I type, and the place smells like the YMCA.  Next up, digging up our recently-landscaped-with-patio-stone front walkway and the possible removal of our concrete front steps to replace our outtake pipe.

The moral of this story is, never show your house on National television - hubris is a bitch.

*not to be confused with Bob the Builder
**duh, of COURSE I am drinking wine - wouldn't you??
***not of the Pulp Fiction variety

Thank you Apartment Therapy!

William's firsman birthday party was featured on a few of my favourite blogs around the web!

Despite the less-than-stellar quality photos, The fine folks at Apartment Therapy did a feature on the birthday party I pulled together for Will (the same week as the Steven and Chris taping).  I love that they are always sourcing their stories from their readers, it's what makes the site such a great community!

I mentioned that the cupcake wrappers I used were ordered from Spaceships and Laser Beams, and they also did a feature on the party on their blog.  If you are in the market for party ideas, you really should check out this blog - the imaginative ideas on there are constantly blowing me away - their staff must have SO MUCH FUN at work!

Thank to both blogs, and welcome to their readers!! :)

William's firsman birthday party was featured on a few of my favourite blogs around the web!

The Steven and Chris Adventure

How did I suddenly end up showing my home on Steven and Chris?  That is a mighty fine question.  About a month and a half ago, I got an email out of the blue from their Senior Decor Producer (awesome job title BTW) asking if I would be willing to do a tour of my house for the show.  I responded enthusiastically (i.e. many exclamation marks were used).  There was no set timeline, so I got my butt in gear to finish off a few things, like the photo wall in the dining room.  Then suddenly, while I was at the ROM with my kids and visiting Mother-In-Law Diana, I got an email on my phone asking if maybe they could come the next day???    Wowzers.  I like to think I remained calm, but I have no doubt my mother-in-law would argue otherwise.

That evening I cleaned like a MOTHER... so many things were stuffed into drawers and closets that have yet to be re-discovered.  Then, as I checked my computer, thinking of everything I had left to do before they came, I realized that the next morning I had parent duty at Cam's nursery school until 11:30.  They were coming at 1.  Swear words were uttered.  To say I was a little distracted while setting up the kids' snack would be a bit of an understatement.  

Luckily, I got another email that morning saying that they would have to reschedule.  THANK YOU UNIVERSE.  By the time they came the following week, I even more time to stash away the clutter and 'style' my house (as in, I made my son's bed and put the toaster oven on the back porch).

I wish I had taken the opportunity to grab some good photos of the house that day, because Lord knows it will never, ever be that tidy again!  However, I was a busy bee for the 3 hours that the producer Barb was here, discussing wording, trying to remember the wording we discussed, fussing over every object in every room, doing voice-overs and on-camera takes.  They did the whole house, although the segment on my bedroom was cut and we discussed many, many more items than were shown!

After Barb left, the videographer Ved stayed for another 2, almost 3 hours taking shots of all the details in the house.  I think he did an amazing job.  The fabulous Diana was thankfully still in town and took the boys out for the entire afternoon (I have no idea where!).  There was no way I could have done this with them in the house - there is no way they could have been that quiet for that long!

Diana was a little surprised to see the cameras and equipment still here when they got back at 5pm.  The boys were great about not making a huge mess in the rooms Ved hadn't shot yet.  We asked him to shoot the kitchen first so that Diana could start making dinner (yummy knedliky!) before the boys lost their minds.  Below is may favourite shot of two professionals hard at work.

Then off they went, and I think before Ved had even finished pulling out of the driveway Cam had emptied a bucket of cars all over the living room floor and Will had an armload of trains dumped on the sofa.

Then Diana left, and my parents came, along with Chris's brother Dave.  (Did I mention that during this I also had William's birthday party - two days after the above scene - and Halloween, and had enjoyed visitors for about the last 5 or 6 weeks, starting a few days before my brother's wedding?)

The great news is that Mom was able to come to the studio with me to tape the "live" interview with Steven and Chris.  When I was in the green room, they asked if I thought she would mind being mic'ed as well - and I thought it best not to tell her in advance and make her freak out.  So just before the taping started, they gave a very shocked Barb Mackay her mic!

Photo courtesy of Flora Di Vetta
We had a lovely time and I was so glad she was there. It was really neat to see how they put the show together.  For example, the banana ice cream they showed at the end actually took about 15 minutes, and they were having a fit about it.  Also, the interview with the singer was done in front of a totally different audience, and we did not actually watch the entryway segment either!  Plus they actually asked me a few more questions, but I guess my nervous blathering responses needed to be cut in the interest of time. :)  But I am glad they kept the part with my mom - although she later confessed that she had no idea what they were meant when they asked her if she DIY'ed. :P  (She does by the way - she has recovered many chairs, sewed many curtains, and done more than her fair share of painting; I come by it naturally.)

So there you have it, my whirlwind adventure with fame.  It was a blast and I am hungry for more! They may have created a monster - I am crafting reality show pitches as I type. :)  WELCOME to anyone new who came from the show and actually read this whole thing - I would love for you to stick around!  And thanks to those of you who have read from the beginning - you are the wind beneath my wings. Don't worry, I won't forget the little people. :)

Lil' Ol' Me on National TV

Hearing the sound of your voice on the answering machine is strange.  Watching yourself give a tour of your home on national television in the middle of a live studio audience is... surreal.  Today the house tour I filmed a couple of weeks ago and the "on-air" interview I did last week finally aired.  Well, I shouldn't say finally - I am actually sort of stunned by how fast this all happened!  I have only watched it once - my neighbour kindly lent me her keys so I could bring the kids over to see it as it aired.  They weren't even home, but we don't have cable,  and the boys were thrilled to see their rooms on TV.

I will post more about it tomorrow, but I leave you with the link:


Gosh, my palms are starting to sweat just posting that image!  Thanks to everyone at Steven and Chris, they were so sweet.  The videographer was fantastic, the producer kept me calm and succinct, the senior producer had it all organized perfectly, and Steven and Chris were charming and kind.  It was a fabulous experience - one I never would have thought I would be blogging about - and I am so happy my mom got to be there too! Sadly the online clip doesn't show the studio segment with my mom and I, (neither of us had any idea they were going to mic her!), because she looked great. :)  Oh, and in case you are wondering, no - my house never, ever, ever looks this clean.

For the love of Fall - I'm IN

Clockwise from top: source | source | source | source | source | source

Clockwise from top: source | source | source | source | source

Yes, that big clatter of brass you heard was me jumping on the bandwagon.  Today was cold and bright, and I had to dig out everyone's mittens and toques before school.  When we were all home in the afternoon, the sky darkened and there were little, teeny, tiny, fleeting flakes of snow.  The lamps inside glowed, the radio played, and I snuggled on the sofa with my boys, a blanket, some books, and a cup of tea (nobody move, mommy's taking a sip!).  It was downright SNUGGLY.

In my defence, it felt a little more wintery than fall-like.  The leaves are mostly gone from the trees and sitting in huge piles on the street, waiting for collection day.  It was dark around 5 pm.  So I did what any self-respecting bandwagon-jumper would do, and made a huge and hearty pot of chicken noodle soup from scratch, heavy on the noodles, while Sarah Vaughn sang us a soundtrack.

I am not a fan of change - anyone who knows me will tell you that is the understatement of the decade. And fall is a rough transition, like leaving your beloved home for a year of unknown travels.  I can see the beauty, but it is still to close to summer for me to enjoy it without looking back wistfully over my shoulder as summer recedes.  Plus, this summer was a real hum-dinger - which made it that much more difficult to let go.

But eventually, even I turn and face the right direction!  So build up the fire, brew me a cuppa, break out the knitting needles, and let's talk cozy!!

PS. I have no idea why these images are looking so green - they look perfectly warm and creamy in photoshop.
PPS. Image sourcing is EXHAUSTING - damn you Pinterest - but such a thrill when you finally find the right one!
PPPS. Don't forget to tune in to CBC TV tomorrow at 2pm.  Don't be late, I am up right away, and if you blink, you'll miss me in all my dorky glory.  I am going to my neighbour's house to watch - the only time in the last two years I have wished for cable!

The week that was...

Wow, so it's November, huh?  How'd that one sneak by me?  I suppose Halloween should have tipped me off, but I often forget to associate events with calendar dates, if that makes any sense.  Yes, I know my mom's birthday is November 5th, but what does that have to do with next week?  Yikes.

This week has been a ball, mostly because my parents have been visiting and my brother-in-law popped in for 3 days last weekend (I ate WITH my HUSBAND in a RESTAURANT people!).  The gods of parenting did me another solid this week: Cam had his Halloween class party on Tuesday and William on Wednesday, so they could BOTH wear the much coveted ghost costume seen above.

I also added even more fall-themed items to the mantel, in the forms of Marcel the mini-pumpkin and his friend, and the mummy lanterns inspired by Jen.  And of course we had to put out the jack-o-lanterns we carved in the afternoon!  The one with the grin is currently sitting pureed in the freezer thanks to my amazing mumma.  I agree Cam - two-thumbs-up.

Also, the above craziness that happened chez moi a little while ago culminated in the below craziness, and while I am not supposed to blog about it yet, I am sure the powers-that-be won't mind if I ask you to tune in to CBC television on Tuesday, November 6 (that's next week BTW) at 2pm for 3 minutes of the most exciting and inspiring television in the history of the medium.*

So that's about all I've got for now, I know I could use a weekend! 
I hope your weekend is two-thumbs-up! :)

*Possible blatant hyperbole