The Nursery Reveal

I gave you a bit of a sneak peek at our nursery plans in yesterday’s post, and today I will be sharing with you the results!

In theory, not much work needed to be done on the nursery, except for some wallpaper removal.  Unfortunately, I never captured a picture of the 80’s era wallpaper as I incorrectly assumed that the photos we had from the house’s listing would show it as it was there when we moved in.  Imagine my surprise when I pulled up this photo only to discover that it was taken pre-wallpapering of the walls (perhaps before the previous owners bought the house?).

The room was originally built with a set of double doors, which we found exceptionally annoying.  When one door was locked in place, the opening to the room was only 2 feet wide.  If both doors were left open, you had to reach around one door to get access to the light switch.

Our hallway, with a view of the nursery double doors, from before we moved in

While P was in the middle of our master bedroom reno he suggested that we convert the double doors to a single 30 inch wide door.  I happily agreed and he did the framing and drywalling while he still had use of our master bedroom as a work space.  Best. Idea.  Ever.

We also swapped out the light switch to one with a dimmer switch – so during those night-time visits we don’t need to have the room light on full brightness.

A quick summary of our mini-projects within the overall nursery project:

  • Convert double doorway to single.
  • Relocate and replace light switch with dimmer switch.
  • Update electrical outlets to modern, tamper-proof ones that comply with current  Code.
  • Paint the walls and replace the original baseboards / trim with an updated style to match the rest of our house.
  • Install a wall decal to dress up the space.
  • Spray paint the original brass light fixture a lovely orange.
  • A DIY glider
  • Sewing:
    • crib skirt
    • crib blanket
    • throw pillow for glider
    • bird mobile
    • ottoman / foot cushion
    • change pad covers

The new entrance door is in the middle of the space, beside the room’s closet and across from a window, so our furniture layout ended up being divided along the two side walls.

The South side of the nursery (to the left of the entrance)

The North side of the Nursery (to the right of the entrance)

My favourite part of the nursery has to be the corner with the rocking chair, a DIY ikea hack that P completed following this tutorial.  It’s my new favourite reading nook in our house!

My mom helped us out by sewing the ottoman and the change pad covers.  In fact, she took the ottoman tutorial I sent her, and modified it by making the pillow out of muslin, then creating a slip cover in the patterned fabric.

I had ambitions of doing the rest of the sewing projects on my own, but sadly was only able to complete the throw pillow and the crib skirt (I really underestimated my decreasing energy levels in the third trimester).  Thankfully, mom volunteered to finish the crib blanket and the bird mobile projects.

She also surprised me by sewing a coordinating slip cover for my nursing pillow using the bird fabric that I picked for the crib blanket!

I decided to make my own posters for the space above the dresser. I had seen a set on Etsy that I absolutely loved that incorporated the lyrics to “You are my sunshine”.  The lyrics have a special meaning for me as one of my earliest memories is hearing my mother’s voice singing me that very song when I was little.  Since I wanted the colours to coordinate with the rest of the room, I gave it a go on our computer and came up with these three:

I’m still planning to add the bird mobile to the corner above the reading nook, but otherwise the nursery is complete.  I also recently saw a blog post where they took white curtains and dip-dyed them to add a splash of colour to the bottom – don’t tell P but I’m debating trying that too!

At the very least, the nursery is more than ready to welcome our little one when he / she arrives sometime in the next couple of weeks.  P and I couldn’t be happier with how the nursery has turned out and we’re sure the baby will too!

Source List

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Nursery Inspiration

Now that I’ve finally shared the completion of our master bedroom project, I thought it would be a good time to share the other project we worked on this year… the nursery!  Before I get to the before and after pictures, I wanted to share how we came up with the design for the space.   

When P and I discovered that we would be needing a nursery in the relatively near future, we had just started the most ambitious home reno project we had ever planned.  The priority was to get the master reno done first, and then begin the nursery.

Since I wasn’t going to be painting the nursery (my usual task in our projects), and after the success of our bedroom curtains, I knew I wanted to have a few sewing projects to leave my mark on the space.  I loved the idea of the coordinating crib linen sets, but hated the price (especially as you aren’t supposed to use the bumper pads anyways) and thought sewing a crib skirt would be a great way to participate in the project AND save money.  So my first step was to look for fabrics to be the source of inspiration for the nursery.

We decided to wait for baby’s arrival (any day now!) to find out if our baby is a boy or a girl, so the colour scheme needed to be gender neutral.  I was adamant that I did not want a green nursery.  P found this funny, as green is a favourite colour of mine (I think I’m wearing the same green hoodie in 90% of the pictures taken of me).  But I wanted to do something different and green seems to be a pretty popular gender-neutral colour choice (for good reason, it’s awesome).

I went through a variety of colour schemes and ideas until I found the Chevron Remix fabric at Tonic Living.

While I originally was leaning towards a turquoise and red theme, this fabric, plus this baby blanket post over at This Dusty House led me towards substituting orange for the red.

I showed P the Chevron fabric, a few paint colours, and some other inspiration pictures that I had pinned.  While he was open to my suggestions, he was a bit hesitant at the busy-ness of the chevron pattern and was thinking of calmer, more pastel wall colours than the vibrant turquoise I suggested.

I went back to the drawing board / internet to get some more ideas and a couple of weeks later presented him with this plan:

The Chevron fabric is part of a line of fabrics by Robert Kaufman that are all done with the same colour scheme (called Bermuda).  I found several others that I loved just as much (two are in the inspiration board above), and P liked them as well.  He was also a big fan of the “birdie” theme – birds are incorporated into the room via the fabric, a wall decal, and a mobile.

With this inspiration board complete and the master bedroom reno winding down, our nursery project was set in motion!

(As many of the images in the board ended up in the nursery, I’ll be sharing all of the sources in my reveal post tomorrow.)

Master Suite: The Big Reveal

Here it is, the post you’ve all been waiting for… or at least, the one I’ve been wanting to share!  While the reno has been done for almost 2 months now, there were little odds and ends that still needed to be taken care of.  Most of them are out of the way – we still need to add artwork and “dress up” the top of the dresser, but with a baby due to arrive any time now this is as good as it is going to get for a while.  So I finally managed to get some “after” pictures to share.  Of course, it’s been so long since I last posted about the reno it’s probably worth recapping the project…

Previously I posted about the spark that started our renovation, the proposed layout changes for the entire master suite, and a look at what the space was like before the renovation started.

It was a long process, but we knew that going in.  We spent a solid 2 months planning, sourcing, and budgeting before demolition began.

A quick summary of our project scope:

  • Demo our existing his / her closets.
  • Extend our bathroom to accommodate a larger vanity and a linen cabinet.
  • Use the space created by the larger bathroom to install a walk-in closet.
  • Rebuild and tile the shower stall, including enlarging the opening to the stall and tiling the enclosure.
  • Replace the shower fixtures and shower door.
  • Tile the bathroom floor.
  • Install hardwood floors in the bedroom and closet.
  • Install a closet organization system.
  • Paint the ceilings and walls in all three rooms.
  • Sewing (this was me!):
    • New curtains for the bedroom.
    • Coordinating decorative pillow for the bed (a hard-won negotiation with my anti-throw pillow spouse).

To make the project affordable, and to be able to purchase the finishes we wanted, we decided to do all the labour ourselves with the exception of the electrical.  We are fortunate to have a friend who’s an electrician so we hired him to take care of that part of the project scope.  Since the work spanned such a long time period we were able to capitalize on sales for the majority of our materials.  Plus, we made a point of combining a variety of lower cost, in stock items (vanity countertop, shower door, closet system) with higher end splurges (vanity and linen closet).

While I helped with the design, shopping, painting and sewing (my first project since Grade 8!), the rest of the labour was done by P.  All of it.  We had one neighbour drop by for an afternoon of drywalling, another who would pop over to help bring heavy items upstairs, and our brother-in-law spent a morning helping P with the hardwood flooring install.  Everything else?  All done by my husband.  You will see in these “after” shots, what an amazing job he did – I am so lucky to have him!

AFTER!!!  Our newly decorated space

AFTER!!! Our newly decorated space

View of the East side of the room, where Closet #1 used to be

View of the East side of the room, where Closet #1 used to be

View of the West side of the room, where Closet #2 and the ensuite were originally located

View of the West side of the room, where Closet #2 and the ensuite were originally located

Sneak peak into the ensuite

Sneak peak into the ensuite

New vanity and linen closet

New vanity and linen closet

Our new shower - same size as before but with a much larger opening making it feel twice as big as it used to be

Our new shower – same size as before but with a much larger opening making it feel twice as big as it used to be

View #1 of the closet, where we had to work around the existing window

View #1 of the closet, where we had to work around the existing window

View #2 of the closet

View #2 of the closet

From the day the demo started (October 27, 2012) to its finish (June 2012) the project took 7 months to complete.  That includes a break in December for the holidays, and a few weekends off in February for family-related events.  Aside from taking 1 week of vacation at the beginning of the project, P did all of this work on his weekends, while taking a night class at the same time.  Yes, I am incredibly proud of my husband.

In case you were curious, here’s the exhaustive “source list” of all the materials used in our renovation project:

  • Shower:  Schluter shower system (Home Depot)
  • Tiles:  Shower & bathroom floor (Ontario Tile)
  • Vanity / Linen Cabinet:  Kraftmaid Waterbury Maple in Cognac, (Lowes special order)
  • Countertop:  In stock (Lowes)
  • Hardwood:  Ruiter Valley Maple in Walnut finish (in stock item at Home Depot)
  • Paint:  Eco Spec by Benjamin Moore.  I’m  HUGE fan of BM’s Natura line, but as they don’t have a suitable finish for bathrooms our local store recommended I try the Eco Spec, which is zero VOC’s and is actually about $15 less a gallon than the Natura.  I was very impressed – no paint fumes, and the coverage was good although perhaps not as good as the Natura which is a premium line.  I liked it so much that I will be using Eco Spec from now on!
  • Paint Colours:  Bedroom – Grey Horse (BM).  Bathroom & Closet – Moonshine (BM)
  • Curtain / Pillow fabric:  Gazebo (Tonic Living)
  • Towels:  Walmart
  • Duvet:  Blasippa (Ikea)
  • Bathroom Accessories (Towel bar, toilet paper holder) – Banbury Line by Moen (Home Depot)
  • Bathroom Mirrors: Home Decor Company’s Pivot Hardware and Mirror (Home Depot)
  • Shower Door:  Keystone by MAAX’s Insight Pivot Door (Home Depot)
  • Faucets: Danze Sheridan Series  (Canadian Tire)
  • Bedroom Mirror:  Stave (Ikea)
  • Closet System:  Martha Stewart Living in Espresso (Home Depot)

Disturbing Behaviour

I have a confession to make.  Kona’s been driving me a little crazy over the last couple of weeks.  I don’t know if it’s the heat, or if she’s not getting enough exercise, or if she’s going through a growth spurt of some sort, but something is up and she is constantly restless. 

Our typical routine on weekday evenings involves P exercising Kona when he gets home from work.  They are usually out when I arrive home, so I get dinner started.  After dinner and dishes are taken care of, P goes upstairs to the office while I relax in the family room to watch some TV with Kona.  Normally, she settles.  Sometimes she needs to be encouraged to play with a chew toy. 

But these past few days?  She’s been… well I guess the polite way of putting it would be to say she’s “instigating”.  She’ll try and chew on our couch (which she knows is not allowed), or she’ll start chewing on her dog bed (also not allowed), and after that she chews on the concrete hearth in front of our fireplace.  In the past few days she also started chewing on the door mat at our back door. 

It’s driving me up the wall.  My “relaxing” evening ends up consisting of me disciplining her every 3 minutes or so.  And she knows what she’s doing is wrong.  The last time I caught her at the door mat and told her to “go to bed”, she walked straight to her crate and sat there looking at me. 

But as a fluke, I have discovered a distraction…

Thursday night I was watching the Top 20 perform on So You Think You Can Dance (yes, much to P’s dismay, I enjoy my fair share of reality TV).  When a jazz routine came on the screen, Kona was MESMERIZED.

Source

The moment the dance number ended, she went back to her annoying antics.  But as soon as the next routine, a Viennese Waltz, started, she was back to watching the TV.

Source

Sadly, her enjoyment of the dance program ended abruptly with the end of this routine.  The two numbers were so different that I can’t think of what it was that grabbed her attention.  I guess we’ll just have to see if she shows interest in any of the numbers in next week’s show!  Meanwhile I just may start taking her for a THIRD walk after dinner in hopes that it will help her settle.

Master Suite: The Before

Over the past 2 renovation-related posts I’ve shared a bit about what “inspired” our renovation, and the layout changes we proposed to do.  What I haven’t shown you yet is what the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom looked like before the renovation began.  For the record, the first few pictures I’m about to share were the ones included on the MLS listing for our house before we bought it…

Our house was built in 1972.  While we since discovered that the shower stall was redone at least twice since the original construction, the vanity was original (but painted).

masterbedroomensuite_500

You can see the reflection of the shower door in the mirror above the vanity.  Very small and claustrophobic feeling.

The bathroom was not the style or decor that we would have chosen (obviously, because as you will see when I finally take “after” photos we completely changed it!).  But it was clean, relatively neutral, and something we could live with until the time to renovate presented itself.  Of course, we thought that would be another 5 or 10 years down the road…

 

The Master Bedroom, before we moved in

The Master Bedroom, before we moved in

The bedroom was the first room in the house we decorated when we moved in 4 years ago.  A team of friends came over to help tear down the *gorgeous* 80′s wallpaper (yes, that statement is oozing with sarcasm), and we replaced a similarly aged ceiling fan (which I’m pretty sure matched a set of lamps my parents had back in the day).

04

While we liked the wall colour that we painted it initially, after 3 years we were already sick of it.  We came to decide yellow was NOT a relaxing colour, something we wanted in our bedroom.  It was also a lot darker than we had originally envisioned based on the paint chip.  So since we were doing all this work and half of the bedroom walls would need repainting anyways, we decided to change up the decor.

_DSC0629

In addition to being awkwardly located in the room, the closets had the original builder-installed shelf and metal hanging rod.  That’s it.  Needless to say, anything else would be an organizational improvement.

Yes, our master suite had a lot of potential but definitely was in need of some updating.

To get the ideas going, I asked P to go online and save some photos of bathroom and bedroom images where he liked the decor.  I used Pinterest to do the same (caution: HIGHLY ADDICTIVE website).  This was an amazing help – when you go back and look at the photos you’ve collected you can really see the “trends” in what you have picked and the elements that show up over and over again.

Even better? Most of our images had similar looks and colours.  While we didn’t agree 100% (I loved carrera marble, P did not), there was enough overlap that we easily came to a shared vision of what we wanted the space to be.  And then we spent the next 6 months making that vision a reality!

Iced Experiments

While I’m not a caffeine addict these days, I still enjoy a nice warm comforting beverage to start my day – lately decaf coffee or a mug of tea.  Yesterday morning after Kona’s early walk the thought of drinking a hot beverage was not so tempting.  Instead, I thought of one of my favourite treats from Starbucks – the chai latte, which is also delicious as an iced latte. 

Via

I treated myself to one yesterday (it was delish!), and thought that this is something I could try making at home.

There are a bunch of recipes out there for both hot and iced chai lattes but many of them involve using a black tea base (i.e., orange pekoe) and adding spices.  I wanted to keep this as simple as possible, so I chose to make mine using store bought chai tea bags.  The ones I had on hand were made by PC Chai, although my favourites are the Tazo Chai, Stash Chai Spice Black or Green tea and Tea of India – Cardamom Chai

I based my method on a bunch of different iced tea recipes.  I wanted to make a concentrate to dilute with milk.  The method I followed was:

  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. 
  • Turn off heat, add 2 tbsp of honey and 6 tea bags.
  • Cover and steep for 6 minutes.
  • Remove tea bags and let cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
  • Chill (refrigerate) for minimum 2 h (I left mine overnight).

In the morning I tried 2 different combinations of tea concentrate and milk (I used 1%).  The first was a 1:1 ratio.  This had the level of creaminess that I was going for, but the chai flavour was not as strong.  The second batch was a 2:1 tea to milk ratio.  This had stronger chai flavour but was not as creamy as I would like.  In both cases the sweetness level was subtle – certainly less than what you’d get at Starbucks, but I would prefer it less sweet. 

Both versions were tasty, but I would prefer the 1:1 ratio with a stronger concentrate.  Next time I would add another 2 teabags (for a total of 8) to the boiling water – several of the sites suggested that to make stronger iced tea add more bags since steeping longer would increase the bitterness.  I also think a different brand may have a stronger flavour so once our current stash runs out I’ll likely try the Tea India brand next. 

Another idea I might try is using sweetened condensed milk as a sweetener to each serving.  I have a feeling this would take it closer to the Starbucks sweetness level!

I’ll definitely continue experimenting with the method until I get it *just right* but for now it is more than tasty enough to enjoy!

 

 

Saturday Successes and Disappointments

Saturday P and I hosted my parents for a dinner that was in honour of several special occasions.

The first was to celebrate a belated Mother’s Day and an early Father’s Day.  We couldn’t get together with my parents on Mother’s Day as it was the day before they left for three weeks in Ireland… Hence, the second reason for the dinner was to welcome them home!

On Saturday they shared many stories from their travels.  I was super excited to see them – while I’ve never been homesick before, I was “parent-sick” the entire time they were away.  Luckily they had created a twitter account for the trip (yes, my dad is tech-savvy!), and I spent my days obsessively checking to see if new tweets were posted.

The third and final special occasion was to watch the Belmont Stakes in hopes of witnessing the first Triple Crown winner in over 30 years.  My family, who are not horse-racing fanatics of any kind, have an annual tradition of watching the Kentucky Derby every year.  I’m not sure why, but my parents have always done so as far as I can remember.  The last time a horse won the Triple Crown was the year that my mother was pregnant with me.  Needless to say, we were super excited to watch…

Unfortunately, Canadian-owned “I’ll Have Another”, who won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness this year, had to withdraw from the race due to an injury.  So our hopes for a Triple Crown winner were dashed.  On the plus side, that was the only disappointment for our evening!

With the weather cooperating, we treated them to grilled Lime-Cilantro Marinated Salmon Skewers (recipe below), a Provencal-style potato and asparagus salad, and carrots with coriander, cumin and mint.  The two veggie recipes are courtesy of MediterrAsian.com, one of my go to sites for cooking inspiration.

Everyone enjoyed the vegetable recipes and I would definitely make them again, although with a few modifications.  I found the potato salad was a little under-seasoned.  I loved the flavour, but there wasn’t enough of it for my liking.  Next time I’d cut the amount of potatoes in half, but keep the dressing amount the same.  I also more than doubled the amount of asparagus in the salad.

The carrots on the other hand were almost over-seasoned!  While I was the only one to think so, I found them a bit too salty.

For dessert, I prepared a No-Bake Strawberry IceBox cake.  To give it a little extra oomph (and to reduce the obscene amount of whipping cream), I substituted a cup of lemon curd for one of the cups of whipping cream.

Since I was adding the sweet lemon curd, I omitted the sugar called for in the cake recipe. The verdict?  Divine!!!!  While the recipe definitely made too much for 4 people, P and I were happy to have leftovers to enjoy on Sunday!

I made the lemon curd from scratch using the following recipe (a blending of several I saw online):

Lemon Curd

  • 1/4 cup butter (softened) or margarine
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon

Method:

  1. Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  2. Add juice and zest.
  3. Heat over medium-low, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to hold marks from a whisk and the first bubbles start to appear (Mine thickened around 6 minutes, and was finished at 9 minutes).

Lime-Cilantro Marinated Salmon (Source:  Looneyspoons)

  • 1-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless salmon fillets, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey mustard (or 1-1/2 tsp honey, 1-1/2 tsp mustard)
  • 1 tbsp ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp each cumin, ground coriander, salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients except salmon in a small bowl, mix well.
  2. Place salmon chunks in a large, heavy-duty, resealable plastic bag.  Add marinade and seal bag.  Turn bag several times to coat salmon with marinade.  Marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (I try to marinate for at least half a day).
  3. Preheat grill or broiler to high setting.  Remove salmon from marinade (reserve marinade) and thread pieces onto skewers.  Coat grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil.  Grill or broil salmon for 3-4 minutes per side, brushing often with reserved marinade.  Salmon should be just slightly pink in the centre.  Be careful not to overcook the salmon or it will be dry.  Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.