Time to break out the good china

My grandmother was over for lunch the other day, and as she usually does, she commented on how much she loves our china. This isn't common practice at most dinner parties and luncheons hosted by other generation-x'ers, so it's always nice to hear. After all, we spent a long time picking it before we got married, and I still couldn't be happier with our choice. When my grandmother made this comment, she was looking at it through a glass cabinet in our kitchen. Not on the table. It got me thinking....why do we lock up our good stuff only to use at special occasions and holidays? I don't generally host our holiday meals, so really, it never gets freed from the cabinet and allowed to exercise its china destiny. I thought this should change.

I decided that over the next few days, I would use the good stuff whenever we ate or drank. After my little experiment, I've decided that food and drinks actually taste better this way. I know that might sound dumb, but I think you eat and drink slower when you're using it and so you savour more. It must be a fear of breaking it that slows us down.

I definitely think I'll start setting the table with the good stuff more often, but for those considering a switch to their finest dishes, be warned. Washing dishes by hand is not nearly as much fun as loading the dishwasher and pressing 'on'.

What about you guys? Do you break out the good stuff pretty often, or are you like me and leave it locked up for special occasions?

Modern uses for barnboard

Hillary Swank's Manhattan apartment. From Elle Decor
Both my mom and my dad have farms. They divorced when I was a kid, but in the last few years, they've both bought places in the country and we couldn't be happier. Not only is it awesome to see them so happy and to have such beautiful properties to call home, we're also thrilled because it gives us a great weekend escape from the city, and more places to scour for materials we can use to make stuff!

Over Easter weekend, we were at both farms (lucky for us they're both kind of in the same direction!). At my mom and stepdad's place, we've found tons of barnboard. At my dad and stepmom's place, a ton of old wooden apple crates. I have big plans for both!

I'll be sharing what I plan to do with this stuff in the near future, but in the meantime I wanted to post a few inspirational images using barnboard that I've found around the web. I think it looks so great in more modern settings. What do you think?
Image via Pinterest
I would love to do a wall like this in a playroom. Image
I don't think I could possibly love this room more! The white, the wood...oh my! From Apartment Therapy.

This headboard has been slightly whitewashed, but it's still such a statement. Image here

I love the contrast of the rustic with the super modern. Source unknown...sorry.
This would be such an easy DIY, don't you think! Via Pinterest

Recovering a lampshade


A few years ago I bought a very plain table lamp for our living room. I had every intention of sprucing it up a bit with colour and fabric, but it got put on the back burner once babies and school entered my life! I finished school last week for good (there's a GIANT smile on my face as I type these words!), so it's seems that the time I would normally spend on school work can now be put to more interesting things, like cleaning the bathroom, and oh...refinishing lamps!

I basically left the campus last week after handing in my last assignment and headed directly for the hardware store where I picked up a can of spray paint and came home to tackle the lamp. I also had some fabric and bias tape lying around that I thought would work, and so now, the humdrum lamp is a lot more exciting. Too exciting for the living room in fact, so it's got a new home in the basement play room. The blue seems a bit tamer down there!

If you've never recovered a lampshade (which I hadn't), you can see how I did it below. Turns out it's as easy as screwing in a light bulb! Give it a shot at home. I think you'll be pleased.


The trick to spray paint, I'm learning, is lots of light coats rather than trying to cover the whole area the first time around. If you go too heavy with the paint, you'll see drip marks all over the place.

While the lamp base was drying, I pulled the trim off the shade to make it easier to apply the new fabric. It peeled right off. 

Next thing I did was roll out a template using packing paper. To do this, I just traced the outline made by the shade as I rolled it along the paper. It's never going to be straight (unless you want to pleat your fabric), and doing it with packing paper meant no wasted fabric. Once I cut the original shape with paper, I tested it on the shade to make sure it covered everything, and I confess I had to make adjustments to the template....more than once! The other thing to keep in mind here is whether you're adding trim to the top and bottom. Because I knew I was adding bias tape, I wasn't as concerned about the fabric coming right to the edge of the shade. If you're not adding trim, I would suggest folding the fabric under before glueing it to the shade so you don't see loose threads.

Once my template was right, I lay it out on the fabric and cut.

I was too lazy to get out the glue gun, so I used super glue. A few tiny drops did the trick. I glued where the two ends met, and a few spots along the top and bottom edges to make sure the fabric didn't shift much.

Using super glue again, I glued the bias tape to the top and bottom.

The world is a colourful place

 Need a hit of colour to jump start your week?

Images:1.Riomaggiore, Italy; 
2.St. John's Newfoundland, Canada; 
3.Guanajuapo, Mexico
4 - 7.Locations unknown. Found here.
8. Singapore

Beer and cheese. A match made in heaven!

I'm guessing that when most people think of doing a cheese tasting, their assumption is that the drink to match it with is wine. While you will seldom hear me say that wine isn't a perfect pairing for just about anything in the culinary world, I was pleasantly surprised the other night when our friends brought over a variety of beer to try with cheese instead. Wow! It was so good!

I gather you would typically choose the cheese first then match the drinks accordingly, but on a recent road trip to the U.S., our friends bought a variety pack of Samuel Adams so the beer was decided on first. The cheese guys were then able to help select six different cheeses based on the types of beer we were drinking.

What a treat! And such a great party idea. It's unexpected and really gets people chatting. Plus, it seems a bit less stuffy than a wine and cheese party! Give it a try if you want a yummy appie at your next dinner party. The only warning I give is that with all that cheese and beer, most people were pretty full by the time dinner was ready. Consider yourself warned, but good luck holding back!

K-Way makes a comeback

I don't know if this is a Canadian thing, but I heard yesterday that K-Way brand jackets are making a comeback for men, women and kids. Hearing this made me happy! I have very vivid memories of leaving for school on grey days with my K-Way in tow as a kid.

Classic styles (and some new ones too) in a ton of colours are available at The Bay and they're priced really well I think. 30 bucks or so.

If it is a Canadian thing, and international readers are wondering what I'm talking about, a K-Way is a fully water-resistant jacket that fold up into a small pouch when not in use that you can tie around your waist. I'm not suggesting the fanny-pack style is the way to go, but they're small enough to stick in your bag too.

Anyone else remember K-Way? I bet if I rooted around in my basement I'd find some old ones lying around. I feel like all kids wore them when I was young. It was packed in your backpack next to your lunch bag. Sort of standard gear!

Uh oh! What have I done!

Last week I mentioned that for me,  procrastination is the mother of invention. Forget necessity. It's when I'm avoiding dreaded tasks that I find I get the most creative....or in yesterday's case, destructive!

I've been dying to expose the brick on one large wall in our house for ages. Yesterday, after staring at my computer screen for long enough trying to finish the last of my school assignments, I decided it was time! I grabbed a hammer and started smashing at a piece of the wall. Just a little corner....you know, to see the condition of the brick!

This was an hour later. I don't think there's any turning back now.

The cloth hanging is really a sheet which I hung around the door frame hoping to keep dust at bay....it kind of helped!
The area I started with is a little foyer right between the entrance and what is basically the living room. The wall I smashed up yesterday continues along the whole side of the house and up the stairs. I figured if the brick was in good shape, we'd keep going. If it was in terrible shape, it would be a whole lot easier to re-drywall this small area than the larger space.

It needs some cleaning and more attention, but it's in pretty good shape I think.

Are any of you like this? Impulsive? Maybe a little reckless? I mean seriously! I have three assignments due  by Friday and then I'm done school FOREVER. You'd think I could wait till the weekend. No way! If I get an idea in my head, that's it. It's trouble. Who's with me? Tell me I'm not alone!

If any of you have torn down a plaster wall, you'll know this. It is MESSY! My hair was completely white, and anything that wasn't covered up (and even those things too) was completely covered in white dust. No matter how many times I've dusted since, it keeps settling again in another white, powdery layer. Yuck!

But! I'm really excited and can't wait to tackle the rest of the wall. I thought it was a one-woman job. Who was I kidding! We've booked a weekend later in the month, and the two of us will get it done, hopefully while the baby sleeps happily in the basement???

Yikes! Wish us luck! I'll post pics when it's all finished.

Have any of you exposed the brick in your home? Did it go the way you planned? Any tips of tricks?

Happy Easter

Here's what I know about me...when faced with a long list of school-related tasks, I often (always) seem to find something completely unnecessary and usually time consuming to fill up the few hours I have to complete said school task. This week was no different!

Today I presented a huge final design project that I've been working on for over a year. What did I do for most of the week to prepare for this presentation? Naturally, I made candy-filled eggs for Easter! In my world, procrastination is the mother of invention!

Sure, I could have used the time more wisely, but the way I see it, enjoying candy with your family is way, WAY more fun than any presentation could ever be, and worth the time!

I hope you have a fantastic long weekend and get to munch on chocolate for three days straight!

If you're interested, this is what I made. I found the tutorial here, and despite the colours not turning out how I wanted them to (I should have paid more attention to the tutorial), they're still cute and are filled with delicious things. And, I'd never thought to try cutting real eggs open with nail scissors before, so that was an interesting experiment!

Homemade bread


Do you think there is a scent out there that can make your home smell as good as it does when there's bread baking in the oven?

I don't think so either.

There's a reason Realtors suggest you bake before you have an Open House. It really is the most amazing thing for the senses.

But....there is a price to pay for that lovely scent. You have to bake the bread! How do you feel about baking? Total bummer? Total torture? Fun experiment? Pure bliss?

I wasn't sure where I fell on this spectrum of emotions having never actually baked bread. When I say bread, I'm not referring to quick breads like banana, zucchini, etc. I'm talking about the kind that needs yeast, kneading, flour, more kneading, and did I mention...kneading! The intimidating kind!

We swear by this cookbook in our house and use it all the time. It's a great resource and the recipes are pretty much guaranteed, so I used their recipe for American Sandwich Bread and I have to say, I kind of enjoyed making it.

There were a few issues... I couldn't figure out why my dough wasn't forming a ball in the food processor so I just kept adding flour (apparently a no-no). Turns out, I had the wrong blade on there, which might have been part of the problem. Duh!

Ultimately, I was quite pleased with the results. It was a bit 'doughy' but the book tells me this is what happens when you add too much flour. It was good enough though that Cam broke down in happiness when he came home from work (I baked strategically at about 5pm so that the scent would still be lingering when he got home and he would think I to be a domestic goddess!). And, good enough that I think I'll give it another go. We'll see when that happens!

What about you guys? Do you have bread recipes that you enjoy making? Do you think there's any point in baking it at home when it's so inexpensive and readily available just about everywhere? I'm curious to know your thoughts.

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