Friday, March 23, 2012

A crazy Saturday morning idea

Three weeks ago, I started the house painting project. You know the one I've been talking about wanting to do for paint the front hall, living room, dining room and hallway. Because for at least 2 years I've hated the paint in those rooms.

Aside from the fact that I didn't love the colour (it's a yellowish-beige and it was there when we moved in), all those rooms were painted with a flat paint. So it showed every, single mark. It was covered in food stains and boot stains and finger prints and probably toe prints. It had yellow crayon on one wall, and puke stains on another. And in one area, the paint had been put on so thinly that you could see the colour underneath (it was pink, by the way). To put it bluntly, it was gross and I hated it.

And so, 3 weeks ago I got started on what I anticipated being a multi-month project. I figured the only way I would get it done is to paint in little bits -- a wall here, a wall there. I started with the first coat on the baseboards and door frames in the hall. They were all the same flat colour as the walls and we decided they should be white -- and semi-gloss so you can actually wipe the finger prints off when you need to. And because there's 6 door frames in that hall -- just one coat took me 3 hours.

Flash forward 2 weeks to last Saturday morning at 9 a.m. while Ryan and I are sitting in the family room drinking coffee:
Me: Can you finish the caulking on the baseboards this weekend so I can finish painting them?
Ryan: Sure.
Me: I'm just really motivated right now to get going on this project. One of these days I'm going to be tempted to have a painting party and just get it done.
Ryan: So why don't we?
Me: Today?
Ryan: Sure.

And so, we did.

We called up some friends who wanted to help and they said they were free after 2ish, Ryan got to work finishing the caulking and taking shelves and pictures off the wall and I went and bought the paint (we had, by the way, already chosen the colour).

Just after 1 p.m., I started painting. The kids even pitched in for awhile.
Our friends were over by about 4 and it was an all out painting party. Their daughter played with our kids downstairs while we painted. We breaked for pizza and by 11 p.m., the hall, dining room and living room had been completely repainted.

The next morning, Ryan put the second coat on the 'feature' walls -- two walls in an accent colour -- and I finished up the second coat on the baseboards and some touchups.

By 2 p.m. we were done and still had time to go for a bike ride with the kids.

So what's left? The front hall and the small area that leads downstairs. But the 'big' parts of the job is done. Something that I thought would take months to do ended up taking a day and a half -- all because I had a crazy idea at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

Oh yeah, and the house looks awesome now!

It's hard to really show in pictures, but here's an idea of what my house looks like now.


Random blurry picture of me on the living room couch in front of the shelves

A view of my living room...the left corner of the left couch is where I'm sitting in the above photo

This is a random hallway picture I found among our pictures.

A sample from the hallway (Ok, I know it's not the same spot in the hallway, but it makes a nicer photo)

The dining room. This room will be finished off shortly by the addition of a new dining room table. Sorry, couldn't find a before picture.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's March, right?

I wasn't planning on blogging today but then at the last minute I decided to write a mundane post about the weather.

Yes, the weather. And the fact that it's March 22 and it was 27C out today. And the fact that I had to break out the summer clothes for the kids. And the fact that while playing outside with friends this afternoon, the kids honestly came to us and said "can we go inside and play for awhile, it's too hot out". In March. Sometimes mid-summer days aren't this hot.

Oh yeah, but what really reminded me that it's a hot day in March was when I realized that I posted this almost exactly one year ago. If you don't actually feel like reading the post, I'll give you a hint: it was cold and snowing that day, and there's a picture to prove.

So let me make one thing very clear -- I. Am. Not. Complaining.

So to all my Ontario friends and readers, get out there and enjoy the summer-like weather.

Friday, March 09, 2012

A cake to make my birthday boy happy

This year's cake for Austin's birthday ended up very similar to last year's cake -- by request. Austin specifically asked for a Lightning McQueen cake with the number 6 on it...sound familiar?

So to make it a little different than last year -- and to avoid having way too much cake like we did last year -- I decided to use the icing to make the number 6. It was a good idea, but in the end, was actually a lot harder to do cleanly than last year's laying of a number 5 on top of a sheet cake.

First, I iced the cake all in blue -- which I learned from last year is the crumb coat. I think my icing was too thick because it wasn't easy to do.

Next, I iced a large rectangle in chocolate icing and then outlined the number 6 with white icing and filled in the 6 with Oreo cookie crumbs. (To look like the road of course!)

Next came another coat of blue icing. This was the tricky part because I had to 'cut' the icing in around the chocolate icing 6 and blue doesn't easily spread on top of chocolate brown! (So, if you're keeping track, that's three coat's of icing in some places. In case it isn't obvious, my technique to icing a cake is to keep putting more icing on until it looks more or less the way I want.)

And for the finishing touches -- a handful of cars from Cars, Austin's favourite movie and characters.

Me, the perfectionist, will say that it wasn't my most beautiful cake. But Austin loved it, and that's all that matters.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Something as simple as jam

About a week ago, Austin asked for jam with his peanut butter sandwich at lunch. A seemingly normal request except this kid hasn't asked for jam with his peanut butter in months.

So, I ran downstairs to my stash (yes, that stash of carefully arranged mason jars that sit on my office shelves full of the goodies I cooked last summer) grabbed a jar of what I thought was my strawberry jam and ran back upstairs.

And opened it.

That's when I realized that it was sealed with wax instead of the way I seal my jars (I can't explain the difference and I'm not going to bother for the purpose of this story). There's only one person that I know of who could've made that jar of jam if it wasn't mine. Ryan's grandmother. Nana.

Nana died less than two weeks before I opened that jar. She had given us an assortment of jam and sauces just this past Christmas yet this was the first jar we opened.

Now, she wasn't my grandmother, but for the last 15 years, Nana treated me as if she was. I was a granddaughter to her just as much as her other grandchildren. And she had many grandchildren -- and a handful of great-grandchildren.

So there was something very special in opening that jar of jam that day. It was raspberry jam by the way -- not even strawberry jam like I thought it was before I actually read the label. It was our last jar of Nana's raspberry jam.

And damn is it good. I enjoy making jam and have done so for two years now, but I could've learned a lot about jam making from her. It's just one of the many things I'll miss about her.

Austin, who was at the funeral and was alternatively fascinated and sad during that time, was a little confused at first as to why we had Nana's (or in his case, great-Nana's) jam. When I told him she gave it to us before she died, his matter-of-fact response (in only the way a 6-year-old can) was "well that was nice of her".

But raspberry jam wasn't her speciality. Peach jam was. Everyone who is anyone in the family (or newer to the family like me) knows that.

We have one jar of Nana's peach jam on the shelf from the presents she gave us last Christmas. I don't know when I'll have the heart to open it. Because when it's gone, she can never make us another jar.

I'll miss you Nana.