Posts made in February, 2012

Is it getting warmer in here? (The art of creating a non-tv-centric living room)

Posted by on Feb 27, 2012 in Living Room | 0 comments

When we moved into this house, Sweetie was quite opposed to having a tv in our living room.  The living room is the first room you see once you’ve stepped through our front door (well, if you look left it is at least – if you focus straight ahead, like I suppose most normal people would, you see our kitchen) (but if you happen to have a weird crick in your neck when you visit, you might see our living room first) and he said he wanted the living room to be for relaxing and visiting with people.  He didn’t want the focal point of the room to be the television.

I fought him on this, and won.  :)  I do most of the cooking, and our house is quasi-open from the kitchen to the living room, and I wanted the option of having tv noise in the background while cooking/doing dishes/puttering around the kitchen.

But, he was right.  We’ve rearranged our living room a couple of times, and still the focal point of the room is the tv, surrounded by a big blank wall.

Our mighty lackluster living room

Jacob channeling his inner Ra

Not pretty eh?  The room looks…  unfinished.  And a little silly.  And very tv-centric.  Even if the cats don’t seem to care.  I’ve pondered adding a gallery wall around the tv.  I’ve tried grouping the tv with other things (oooh!  Maybe a big green star will cleverly camouflage the telly!), attempting to make it stand out less.   But, alas, the tv is, and has remained, the focal point in the room.  :(

Enter: inspiration.  While taking a random chatter-break at work one day (because it’s the only way to stay sane sometimes) Clint (friend and coworker extraordinaire) suggested putting a fireplace on the end wall of our living room.  BRILLIANT.  (I have rather smart friends.)  A fireplace would surely become the focal point in the room.  And, importantly, a fireplace would also give us a much better place to hang our stockings at Christmas (we currently hang them from the tv stand) (it’s sad, and rather pathetic, but true.)  (Don’t tell.)

So, after a wee bit of searching, a fireplace I found, via the fine folk at Kijiji.  :)

It’s not a functioning fireplace (in case the sparkly white insides weren’t a tip-off.)  Just a mantel with a non-functioning fireplace hole (technical term.)  But I love it.  And I pick it up tomorrow.  :)

And so, with fireplace purchase imminent, I’ve proceeded to Get My Pinterest On.  Of course.  Which has yeilded so many brilliant ideas for what to do with that non-functional fireplace hole.

I could fill it with pretty vases and the odd bloom…

Lovely fireplace filled with vases and purdy flowers courtesy of tumblr

I could get Sweetie to chop me some wood and fill it with artfully placed log-ends (as found through Brunch with Darling):

All rustic-y and filled with logs via Brunch with Darling

I could go simple and chic, and just add a pretty basket, like the brilliant folk at The Lettered Cottage did:

Simply styled with a basket from The Lettered Cottage

And then maybe switch things up for the seasons (so clever, and so easy!) like they did here:

The same fireplace, all cute and Christmassied-up!

Or, maybe I could go the classic route, and fill my fantastic fireplace hole with simple white pillar candles, a la Young House Love:

Young House Love's pillar-filled kitchen warmer

Or I could just rotate all of the above (and really keep the cats on their toes.)  :)  There are SO many different and lovely options!  (Can you tell I’m excited?)  (Yep – I’m super excited!)  Where will the tv go now?  I’m not sure.  It’ll probably end up on SOMETHING in the corner behind one of the tub-chairs, receding somewhat into the background (I hope.)  I’m hoping to find a little refinished dresser or something like that to use as a super cute (and non-pine) tv stand (queue additional scouring of Kijiji ads.)  Or perhaps Sweetie will build me some built-in-like shelving on either side of the fireplace.  Ah!  So much potential for my once sad looking tv-centric living room.  It makes me happy.  I’ll keep you posted. :)

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Loaded Baked Potato Soup (an embellished potato is a happy potato)

Posted by on Feb 20, 2012 in Recipes we love! | 0 comments

So I’m still getting the hang of this whole blogging thing.  And a particular challenge (that I haven’t yet mastered) (obviously) is remembering what to take pictures of mid-process.  Take this post, for example (since you’re already reading this) (thank you for reading this btw!): it’s a recipe.  Which, from looking at other blog-posts from other much more experienced bloggers (ie: pretty much everyone in blogland) I think means I was supposed to take pictures of all my ingredients lined up neatly pre-cooking, and then a few action shots too (water flying dramatically off the potatoes as I furiously scrub, or Sweetie grating-away at a big block of cheddar) (since I’ve declared cheese-grating a boy-job) before the final reveal.  Shamefully, I don’t have any action shots for this post.  Or a “before” pic of what all my ingredients looked liked before being expertly combined with chef-like skill (teehee), magically resulting in the best and easiest potato soup ever (seriously, it is…  just wait… the recipe is a’comin once I finish jabbering.)  BUT, what I do have, is this lovely pic of yumminess.  Let’s call this my “after” shot…

If I was an artiste, I'd entitle this "Soup in the Sun" or something equally dramatic

(For the record, there’s something a little odd about taking pictures of your lunch.  And I’m obviously not particularly good at it [although I'm rather proud of that little gleam of sun that's shining off the bowl.  I PLANNED that.] [K, no I didn't.  It was a complete fluke.  But a good one!])

Another admission?  This isn’t my recipe.  It comes from the good folk at Kraft (Kraft folk: you rock.)  With a few changes that make it ours (and, well, yours too, if you’d like to try this!)  Firstly, here’s the original recipe.

Kraft Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Looks yummy eh?  And it IS.  It’s SOOOO good.  But, we had a few challenges with the original recipe.  For starters, my microwave is archaic (it’s over 15 years old, which, in microwave terms, means it’s tired and grumpy and would really really like me to stop asking it to cook stuff, I think.  But until it absolutely quits altogether, I just keep asking it to be a trooper.)  (Label me “thrifty” but I hate throwing (quasi-)functional stuff out.)  So while the Kraft recipe says to microwave the potatoes for a puny 5 minutes, plus an additional 6 minutes once added to the liquid, I found I was microwaving my taters for 30 minutes or so.  Sometimes even longer if I had particularly ornery spuds.

Secondly, I just like to embellish recipes a wee bit.  :)  We love garlic, so a soup without garlic just seems odd to me.  And we never have green onions on hand, but we always have corn (completely different veggie-family, I know, but quite yummy in this soup!)  And cooking bacon is just far too hard and messy.  I’m a pre-cooked bacon bits kinda girl (more expensive, yes, but absolutely worth every penny, in my mind, to have a bacon-grease-free pretty little kitchen.)

So, without further rambling, I present my version of Loaded Baked Potato Soup.  :)


-3-4-ish baking potatoes (washed, obviously), halved

-1 can (10 fl oz/284 mL) 25%-less-sodium chicken broth

-1 soup can of milk (we’re a 1% family, but I don’t think it really matters what kind you use)

-two cloves of garlic minced (or, if you’re lazy like I am, a teaspoon of the pre-chopped stuff in oil)

-about a cup-ish (maybe a little more – I just pour it in) of frozen corn

-cheddar cheese (grated) for sprinkling

-bacon bits (bitted) also for sprinkling

-whatever else you’d like to add (Sweetie adds a dollop of sour cream to his)


METHOD (how very Grade 9 Science experiment-y eh?):

1. Cover halved potatoes (I leave skins on – apparently they’re good for you?) with water in a large-ish soup pot and boil potatoes until soft (10-15 minutes.)

2. Drain water. Mash up potatoes lightly (using a potato masher.)  Lumps are a-ok.  :)

3. Add liquids and garlic and corn.  Stir everything together.

4. Cook on medium (giving it the occasional stir) until hot and yummy (5 minutes-ish)

5. Ladel into bowls and serve with the option of sprinkling cheese, bacon bits, freshly ground pepper, dill (ooooh!  Dill is really good in this), sour cream (a dollop, not a sprinkling)…  Whatever you’d normally add to your potatoes. :)

6. Eat.  Marvel at how quick and easy this was and how yummy it all turned out.


Poof!  And there you are.  :)  It probably only takes 20-25 minutes from tater-scrubbing to soup-eating.  And it’s soooo good.  One batch serves Sweetie and I for supper, with leftovers for the next day (so it probably serves 4.)  It’s thick (kinda like liquid mashed potatoes) and super filling.  Perfect for a blizzardy Tuesday.

Just to give you another angle (and to show off my crazy awesome soup-photography skills just a little more) here’s another look at my lunch…

My inner artiste calls this "Soup in the sun version 2"

Yummy goodness in a bowl.  :)  And again with the little bit of sun being all gleamy off the side of my bowl.  Food-photography?  I think you’ve been mastered.  :)

PS – in case you’re marveling at how dirty my windows look in these pics, um, you’re likely right.  But the dirt is on the outside part that I can’t get to without taking the storm windows off.  Ever had to take storm windows off?  If you have, you’ll understand why the outside of my windows look so dirty.  (Regardless, sorry about that btw!)  (Oooh!  And try the soup – it’s GOOD!)

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Kitchen lust (it’s shameful, but so true)

Posted by on Feb 16, 2012 in Kitchen | 0 comments

I love my kitchen (I think this might be the third post I’ve started with that same exact statement.  I guess that means it’s true.)  (Or just that I’m very repetitive – also quite possible.)  But… I lust after others.  I won’t deny it – it’s true.  I know, I know: the grass is always greener on the other side of the gas range.  But I can’t help it – I want more.  Maybe it’s my icky peel-and-stick-tiled floor or my navy-laminate chipped countertops that make me long for others.  Maybe if I had a dishwasher or a double-sink I’d feel differently.  Maybe my relationship with my kitchen isn’t as faithful and strong as I want others to believe.

Pinterest hasn’t helped.  Oh no!  Pinterest has enabled this wandering.  Giving me snapshot after snapshot of what I’m missing.  What I could have.  What I need.  Lovely countertops.  Goosenecked pull-out faucets.  Stainless steel appliances.  Tiled floors (oh, glorious tile!)  Open shelving and spectacular backsplashes.  Ample storage.  Sigh.  Yes – if kitchens are my weakness, then Pinterest is my pusher.  I want to stop looking at others, but I can’t.  I’m addicted.  I need more.

So, setting all shame aside, here is a peek at those kitchens I long after.  I suppose they’re not so different from my own.  Just slightly improved.  Like a puppy who’s been house-trained AND brings you your slippers when you walk through the door.  My kitchen is that house-trained puppy, but my feet are still rather chilly.

Here is the kitchen that originally fueled my love for IKEA butcher’s block countertops…

…posted by Young House Love here in one of their Reader Redesign posts.  (Pretty eh?)

And then I saw this post by Dave and Joi from Nuestra Vida Dulce and I fell in love with their dark walls, white cupboards and lovely pink and green accents…


This kitchen doesn’t appear to link back to anywhere in blogland (if this is your kitchen, let me know!) but I love everything about it…  The butchers’ block countertops, the faucet (ooh!  That faucet!), that these lucky kitchen owners have a dishwasher (says she with pruny dishwater hands)…  And it makes me want to go out and buy pink tulips, like, right now (completely irrelevant, I know.  But just sayin.)

This kitchen via House of Turquoise makes me want to do some totally teal backsplashing…

…(it also makes me really really want a big ol’ gas stove.  Adore!)

And a farmhouse sink, butchers’ block countertops AND open shelving?  Yes please.  :)

(Again, not sure of the exact source, but pretty sure it came from somewhere here.)

Then there’s this kitchen from Modern Jane

…because I desperately need a chandelier in my kitchen (true story.)  And sparkly glass door pulls.  And a pretty white subway tile backsplash.  :)

And this one…

Absolute loveliness from the folk at The Lettered Cottage.  Makes me want to tear off my cabinet doors, install some corbels and beadboard, and paint my lower cabinets gray.  Like, RIGHT NOW.

And there are many many many more. Yes.  I’m lusting over many kitchens.  At the same time.  Does that make me a bad person?  Nooo…  Does that make me love my kitchen less?  Absolutely not.  It just makes me want to tweak my kitchen ever so slightly.  Add a pretty backsplash here.  Replace the countertops with amazing butchers’ block tops there…  Maybe add a dishwasher and big double sink and a fabulous new faucet.  Yes – I want to change my humble little kitchen, but these changes will only help it become a better, more fantastic version of itself.  I want to help it develop into all that a little 1940s kitchen can be.  And, maybe one day, with just enough tweaking, it will even bring me my slippers when I walk through the door.  :)

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Petite pantry redo (aka introducing some SLOM uniformity)

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in Kitchen | 0 comments

As I may have mentioned (um, over and over and over again) (sorry about that btw…) I have a tiny little kitchen (read more about that here!) – it’s cute, it’s quite functional (given its overall tiny-ness), it’s a lovely shade of gray (Stonington Gray, I adore you!), and I rather like it (flaws and all.)  But it’s small, with minimal cupboard space (people in the 1940s apparently had waaay less stuff than I do now) (and, well, I’m doubting they were looking for a place to store their crockpot and blender and a rarely-used panini press.)  (Or an 8kg bag of cat food, for that matter.)

A few days back, my friend Shawn (who has his own blog called the Olde Stone House) (hi Shawn!) was telling (er, texting) me about how super excited he was about his new pantry (which he just posted about here yesterday – great minds think alike, apparently!) and mid-jealousy (he has an entire room designated for pretty pantryness) (and an entire bedroom newly redesigned as one huge walk-in closet [not at all related to this topic, but also equally envy-inciting]) I realized that I DO kinda have a pantry of my own.  It’s not very big (but, well, nothing in this house is, really) and it doesn’t really have its own designated space, or a door for that matter, but it could indeed be considered pantry-ish.  My goal this weekend?  Make ‘er pretty. :)

My inspiration?  This pic (found while hanging out with the fine folk at Pinterest the other day) from Kristine at The Painted Hive:

Lovely labelled canisters via The Painted Hive

I’ve gotta be honest: I had a full-fledged eureka moment when I found this image.  The sameness of all the canisters makes everything collectively look so perfect together.  I know that this is likely lesson #1a in Decorating 101, but as a pantry-perfecting principle it was a near-epiphany.

So (of course) off I went to ikea to find me some canisters.  And canisters I found!  (And, even better, they were very inexpensive – only $2-3-ish each!)  I bought the SLOM series of jars, which are actually the same canisters in my inspiration image (giving me much hope that my puny pantry could indeed look lovely!)

And so (insert big reveal here) I present my befores and afters.  I haven’t yet labeled my jars (I’m not sure if the transfer labels Kristine used for her pretty canisters are available here in Canada, but a trip to Michaels to see what they can offer me might be in order!) which means that while I know what’s in my jars, no one else does LOL.  Absolutely fine for me, and likely fine for Sweetie even, but not so great for future guests looking to add sugar to their coffee.


Ack! Ugly floor alert! Ugly floor alert!


From this angle it doesn't look terrible I suppose, but the hodge-podge of jars makes it just a little cluttered non?


And presenting my afters…

All tidied up (just don't look at the floor)


Arborio and lentils and couscous oh my


Uniform loveliness :)

Amazing what a little uniformity can do to tidy things up!  OK…  It’s not a major “wow!  What a crazy difference!  Your house is now complete” kinda moment, but I think everything just looks a little more deliberate and organized now.  Which makes me happy.  :)  I ran out of jars, so I’ve still got more to add (an excuse for another trip to ikea!) and if I get around to adding labels, I’ll post pics to show that too.

All in all, though, it’s not a bad quick little pantry project for a Saturday afternoon!

PS – For future reference for future guests, the sugar in the jar next to the coffee, top shelf, second jar from the right.  :)

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Project Laundry Room: Part Two and a Half (every tiny little laundry room needs a little art)

Posted by on Feb 10, 2012 in Laundry Room | 0 comments

A quick post just to show off what arrived yesterday for my laundry room (yeppers – that little closet of a room gets art and everything!)

Hearts for the laundry room I heart :)

How perfectly laundry-room-ish eh?  Can’t wait to put this on the wall (once the shelves are up and stuff – my replacement washer is coming today I think [yay!], so hopefully shelves will go up next week!)  Purchased from etsy-seller honeytree (did I mention I’m an etsy addict?) just a few days ago (click here for more of her work!)  shipping was crazy super fast, and it was packaged sooo nicely.  This is what I was greeted with when I opened the envelope…

I love pretty packaging :)

So simple, but so cute.  I almost didn’t want to tear into that little kraft-paper-tape heart (but I did.)  :)  Now I just have to find the perfect laundry-room-art frame for my pretty little print!

(Aside: I never thought I’d get so excited about my laundry room.  I think this might mean that I’m officially grown up.  Or just weird.)

Happy Friday!  :)

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