Thursday, December 29, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Chistmas Edition!

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Brought to you by Like Mother, Like Daughter

Oh, Christmas! Such a lovely time. I have another Christmas picture blog post in the works, but here are a few of the little things that add those layers of joy and contentment to the season.


Our Christmas tree twinkling in the night.  I just love the glow, the fresh piney scent, and the ornaments shining with their own little histories.


We got our white Christmas! At first, the forecast was not looking good, but a few days before Christmas the snow began, and just kept coming! Snow makes me happy :)

 We have our very own Narnian lamp post in the backyard. Sometimes I stand at the kitchen window (usually doing dishes) and look for fauns hiding behind those trees...


Arden was so cute with the tree this year. We gave her some ornaments to place on the lower branches when we decorated it, and she seemed to have fun trying to get them to stay put in the branches. What proved to be more fun, of course, was pulling the ornaments off and playing with them!

 These two little ornaments were chosen as playmates, and then kept popping up all over the house in the days before Christmas. By the end of it, the little wooden Santa had lost the end of his cap!


Just a moment on Christmas day in the afternoon, Daddy and Arden playing together with her new (thrifted) wooden barn and Schleich animals. One of the benefits of having Christmas all on our own was getting to relax and enjoy the day as it unfolded.

Oh yes, we are very content, and thankful for the abundance of blessings!

round button chicken


Thursday, December 15, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real} on December 15

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Brought to you by Like Mother, Like Daughter

Wow, December 15th already! I'm excited to see my sister over at BackWoodsWife joining in too!

Things have been so busy these last fews weeks, but I'm grabbing a few images off the camera this morning before going out the door...


The other night Micah went out and captured the beauty of the house lit up at night. I love driving down the country roads at night seeing all the houses glowing from within! And I love that ours is one of them.


We went for a little the drive the other day since Micah had the day off. We stopped first at the bakery for fresh cinnamon rolls, then drove on to Cavendish to say hello to the Green Gables house.

Arden looking for Anne . . . 

It's closed for the season now, but sometimes I just like to go remind myself that it is indeed there. :)


I was trying to get a nice shot of Arden with Green Gables in the background, but of course, she wasn't really cooperating! This shot made me laugh though.


We have been slowly incorporating Advent into our lives the last few years. This is the first year we are doing candles at home. When the first Sunday of Advent rolled around, I went in search of stuff for a wreath. I didn't want to buy anything new. Mom had bought me three lovely red pillar candles earlier, and I had an old red candle already started from a previous Christmas. They were similar enough I thought they would work. I didn't want to make the old candle the joy candle, but I didn't have another candle of a different colour. Then I had the idea to tie some pink ribbon around the third candle, and there is my joy! I also had a pile of mostly dead branches I had cut off our spruce hedge, but I scavenged some of the live branches and brought them in for decoration.

Our dining room was under construction when Advent began (our before and after pictures are here in case you missed them!), so I put the candles on the high floating shelf in the living room to keep them out of Arden's reach, and there I think they will stay.

It's not exactly a wreath . . . but they are Advent candles, and in some small but important way I feel like I'm really entering into the Advent mystery when we light them.

round button chicken


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dining Room Transformation - Happy!

Also joining in with Like Mother, Like Daughter for {pretty, happy, funny, real}
Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life. 

round button chicken

(Sorry this is such a long post, but I figured I'd combine {p,h,f,r} with a renovation post and kill two birds with one stone.)

And now I would like to present - the transformation of our dining room! Oh happy day! What started as dark and outdated has turned into bright and cheery. This is more than our dining room - it's an extension of the kitchen, the room we spend most of our mornings in, the room that ends up being my office (bill paying, menu planning, blog writing, etc.) the only room on the main level with a fireplace, and basically an all purpose room. It has a north and east facing window, so it only gets a little natural light in the mornings.

The look I was going for was kind of Scandinavian-farmhouse-kitchen. You can tell me if you think it resembles that at all, but whatever it's called, I like it much better now!

The best way to describe its different stages is to show its different stages. So here you go - a pictorial account of our dining room's last two years.

To begin, this is the dining room as we first saw it, when we first viewed the house before purchasing, back in March of 2010.

The room as we first saw it was basically empty.
Note the brown-green wainscoting and rather dated stripey grape wallpaper. 

I mean, it was all very coordinated, but not my style!!

Lots of doors and stripes! Requiring lots of imagination.

The next phase is one of simply living in the room, as it was, for a year. It wasn't that bad. I almost got used to it. It fit the old house in a funny kind of way. But not in a me way. And it was waaaay too dark. 

We didn't do much, other than trade in the brown curtains for white and put some furniture in. Oh, and a baby!

I think this was taken around Christmas last year. We added a comfy
chair by the fire for chilly mornings and morning devotions
 overlooking the river. 

With a few Christmas decorations and our now dearly departed Mr. Tilley. 

And now the fun begins! 

The first stage of destruction occurred in July. Taking advantage of willing family members visiting "from away," we got to work on stripping the wallpaper! Hooray! 

This is actually a picture of the table set for brunch for Arden's Dedication!
But you can see the wall in the background that I had stripped months
 earlier in a fitof SAD-induced frenzy. 

And with the brunch dishes still on the table, we started on the wallpaper!

Aunt Karen and Mom - happy as clams in mud. 

It was quite a job, especially to get that under-layer off the plaster. Thankfully, there was only one layer of wallpaper to contend with. 

The previous owners, at some point in the house's history, had stripped the original layers of wallpaper, with the exception of a few stubborn patches that they didn't bother getting off. They then patched the plaster in various places with drywall mud, and also put in a few sections of drywall where the plaster must have been damaged. Because they never intended to paint it, all this patching and mudding was done quite roughly. They also mudded over sections of old wallpaper. This posed a real problem for us, since we were trying to get every last bit of paper off the plaster. We simply couldn't, without pulling off large amounts of mud with it. 

Here's a little bit of that old wallpaper stuck to the plaster. And part of the
wainscoting, which I also started stripping to see how big of a job that
would be. Too big, as it turned out. 

Then came the dilemma - what to do to get the walls paint ready? We looked into getting a skim coat of fresh mud over the whole thing. But with a $500 price tag, we decided we could figure something out on our own! 

The solution, costing very little money and very much time, brought to you by the friendly and knowledgable people at Benjamin Moore: 
Step 1: Prime the walls with a thick coat of oil-based plaster-friendly primer-sealer, covering plaster, wallpaper, mud and all. 
Step 2: Try our own skim coat of mud over the worst places. There were holes and dips that needed to be filled, and places that really needed to be built up to cover drywall patches and extra layers of mud and wallpaper, and just general smoothing to make it look like an even surface. 
Step 3: Reprime the whole thing. Did I mention this room has 4 doors, 2 windows and a chimney. LOTS of cutting in required. 
Step 4: Paint with colour.

The next phase of the transformation happened in August, and was due to the lovely painting fairies from Newfoundland, Granny Raymer and Aunt Alison! 

They accomplished Step 1 of the walls, which was a good thing, since the exposed plaster was creating dust and giving us all coughs. 

Here are the walls with their first coat of primer!

Our second dilemma was what to do with the wainscoting. I had stripped a small section to see what we were dealing with - several layers of latex (and maybe some oil) paint, over some kind of whitewash, over the original oil paint. Also, the previous owners had filled the gaps between the wainscoting with drywall mud!! Not a good idea!! It had cracked and they hadn't smoothed the edges or gotten rid of the excess, just painted over it. 

So, we started stripping. Some of the layers came off quite easily. And others didn't. And it was turning into a BIG job, too big for the few days I had Granny and Alison, and I didn't think it was worth exposing myself to that much lead paint in my condition had I done it myself later. 

So, we started painting! Anything was going to be better than that puke brown. Now before we painted, we did strip a few trouble spots and Alison did fill the worst gaps with some paintable, flexible caulking, which she smoothed out beautifully. 

Here are the painting fairies hard at work.

A mix of stripping and priming the wainscoting. 

The first coat of paint on the wainscoting. 

Some more paint going up.

Working late into the night...

An expert painter and handywoman!

It took 3 coats of the beautiful Benjamin Moore Mayonnaise (semi-gloss in a hardy cabinet sort of paint) to cover that awful colour. When the walls were primed and the wainscoting painted, I must say I was a bit stunned. It was all so much white. It was all so bright and blinding! Plus I had added white furniture to the mix. I almost second-guessed my decision to go for creamy-coluoured wainscoting. 

Wow! It's all so . . . white! 

It just took a bit of getting used to, but I have no regrets about the wainscoting colour now! 

In the weeks that followed we managed Step 2 of the walls, which was creating our own skim coat. Micah and I both tried our hand at it, several layers over several days. 

And then the room was ready for sanding. But we didn't get around to that till last weekend! There's something about sanding that is just so all consuming and dusty. Which is why we put it off for so long. But I REALLY wanted to have the room ready for Christmas, so we emptied the room out, sealed it off, and sent Micah in with a mask and shop-vac. 

That was last Saturday. On Sunday I asked my friend Kim, who had said she loved painting, if she might be available to come and help paint one of these days in December . . . and she said she would come on Wednesday!

So, onto Step 3! Micah and I primed the walls again on Tuesday night. It took forever because of all the cutting in, but I must say I was quite pleased with our job on the walls. You can still tell they are plaster walls, but I like that. And you can't tell there were big holes and gouges and rough patches of mud and wallpaper. We saved ourselves $500!! It's a good feeling. 

Step 4 - On Wednesday, Kim came over, and yes, she truly loves to paint, and she even loves cutting in! So I made her do that, of course! 

The real star of the show is the paint colour - Benjamin Moore Concord Ivory in a pearl finish. (Which, as you will see, is not ivory at all!)

At long last! The colour is going up!

First coat of colour!!

And so, thanks to Kim, by the end of the day, I had beautiful golden walls. :) I kept walking into the room that night and just gazing at the room in pure bliss. 

We have since moved the furniture back into the room and put up the lovely curtains that Mom made when she was here in October. I'm missing the white sheers that go in the windows as well (currently in the washing machine), and there is nothing up on the walls yet, and the china cabinet is empty, but you can start to get the picture. I will also say white furniture is not my first choice, but I am quite thankful for it nonetheless. One day I hope to get a big pine harvest table and sideboard/cabinet, and a bunch of mismatched old chairs. But for now we're going with white! 


It's so lovely and bright and cheerful! 

Still in need of some decoration

I was afraid the black stove would look funny against the cream wainscoting,
but I think it works. This old braided rug was given to us recently by some
friends who picked it up by a guy getting rid of stuff. I love these kind of rugs!

Now I can't wait to entertain friends and guests in here!

Another look

The room still needs some finishing touches, but it definitely feels like me. Is it silly to be so happy over a dining room? I can't wait to get some Christmas decorations put up now! 

With lots of thanks to Micah, Mom, Aunt Karen, Granny, Aunt Alison and Kim! 


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