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Archive for February, 2008

planter.jpgwindow-planter.jpg

I was helping my urchins deliver newspapers last week and stopped to admire this mirrored planter hanging in a neighbour’s garage. And she gave it to me!  Thanks Erin! I really do have the perfect place for it.  This spot is quite protected from the elements, however I intend to store it in the shed in the coldest months and just generally treat it like the treasure it is.

I have set aside the silk flowers that were in the planter for donation to the local elementary school for craft projects. I hope to see the blue picket fence overflowing with real shade-friendly flowers like impatiens in just a few month’s time.  Bring on spring!  

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cushions.jpgMy post on Colour Input Wanted is far and away my most visited and continues to attract great advice. At Fred’s suggestion (http://oneprojectcloser.com), I looked around the room for something I liked to pull a colour from, but found nothing! Not a good sign. But I have found two things that would be easy to acquire that inspire me. 

The first is a print which a local framer has had in his shop for years. He has offered it to me for the cost of the framing. I think it would look great over the fireplace. You can see it here: http://www.gallery.ca/exhibitions/past/alex_colville/english/visualpreview/toprinceedwardisland.html

And then there are these Pier 1 cushions. I kept going back to look at them. At the moment they are ‘visiting’ with me, while I try to decide if they would provide a starting point for a cottage colour scheme.

I am trying to put my finger on what I like about them, so I can explain it to Cottager, who is not feeling the attraction. I always like stripes. And the two tones of blue are nice, if a bit subdued. The beige stripe is like sand – too bland for the walls. 

The silver-white sateen and thin stripes of golden brown and blue velvet prevent the cushions from looking like remodeled beach towels, and give them some all-season versatility. And the brown detail pulls the leather from the furniture which will, of necessity, be a part of the decor for the next several years at least.

I think a few coral accents might look good with these blues, and if I wanted to mix it up a bit, I could swap-out the coral accents with brick-tones during the winter months. Coral is a big step out of my comfort zone; in fact I can’t find a single coral-coloured item in my house to test this theory.

So where does this bring me with the wall colour? Stephanie (http://localcolourstudio.com) suggested Montgomery White or Hepplewhite Ivory. I thought I preferred the first, but have found that in some lights, it is too peach-y. The Hepplewhite is still in the running, but I am leaning toward a Benjamin Moore light yellow called Antiquity. While a little on the safe side, it seems to look good in all lights.

And does it go well with the cushions? No, not particularly. Stay tuned

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p1120016l.jpgmaking-panels.jpgfinished-panels.jpgshelves-opt.jpgshelfandceiling.jpgceiling.jpgFinished - for now

Is any project ever really 100% finished? Not in my little world. Still, I’m going to call this one done.

If you are just tuning in, the goal was to re-purpose a closet in a tiny bedroom to accomodate a queen bed without looking like a bed-in-a closet. So I’ve included an early photo with closet doors and organizers removed.

Phase two was to paint the alcove a soothing green.

Phase three is the custom shelving. If your closet is symetrical and your walls are plumb, this is pretty simple. This was not the case, so some (hours of) tinkering was required.  We also cut a notch in the back corner of some of the shelves to allow for the passage of electrical cords. I still hope to get one more coat of paint on the shelves, but they work. 

For the alcove ceiling, Cottager built a frame out of 1×2 lumber to fit the space, with a two inch divider in the centre and 6 inches extra length. I bought two Artscape faux-stained glass window decals, each measuring 24 x 36, and some 16 mm clear vinyl. After painting the necessary parts of the frame, we affixed the window art to two pieces of vinyl for stability, then carefully stretched and stapled the vinyl across the back side of the frame and trimmed away the excess. Then we strung some led lights up in the top of the closet, and popped the frame up to rest on top of the shelves. 

Bottom line – It looks pretty good. I had originally bought clematis-themed window art, but one of the packages I bought had been opened, used and then unscrupulously returned to the store, where I bought it. This proved to be a lucky turn of events, since I was able to look at the product off its backing, and determine that it would do the job, but the pattern was too busy. So back I went to the Depot, where I exchanged them for . . . wait for it. . . a bamboo pattern!    

The pictures don’t really do it justice, but, lying in bed, it is quite pleasant to look up at. Much nicer than the stuccoed ceiling of the closet anyway. The LED lights are just ok – they don’t show in the photos owing to flash – and we are thinking of buying a couple of low-voltage puck-type lights to install on top of the shelves so we can really illuminate the ceiling, when desired. Eventually, there will be a window in the wall above the headboard, but below the false ceiling. But that is a another project.

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trimmed-bamboo2.jpgbushy bamboo obscuring viewBushy no more

No, not bondage, but bonding. After writing about my ‘tree in bondage’ I had a surprising number of visits to the Cottager’s Wife site from people searching on ‘Wife Bondage.’  Some people have such interesting hobbies.

My current interest -admittedly a little tame – is in gardening. I took my clippers to the problem bamboo last weekend with great results. Unfortunately, by the time I quit snipping, the light was not ideal for a photo, but you will get the idea. By clearing out a lot of the lower small branches I was able to expose the canes in interesting ways. There is still more thinning required near the tops of the canes, but I am now pretty confident that I can transform this neglected, scruffy mess into a visually pleasing feature – tall and elegant. 

So yes, I am bonding with my bamboo. Deep in the top of the clump pictured, I found a large and amazingly intricate bird’s nest constructed entirely of bamboo leaves. Smart birds: As Janet was kind enough to comment, the leaves do rustle soothingly when the wind blows.

I have even had some thoughts on how to bring the theme of bamboo into the cottage – in fact, right into the closet re-purposing project that I hope to see completed this weekend. I’ll be sure to let you know how (if ?) it turns out.  

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Tree in bondage

bondagetreeblog.jpgbondtreecloseup.jpg

Ok, I know a bit about hydrangea, holly, rhodo and azalea. But what is with this poor tree? 

I gather it has been trussed up to create these interesting elbows in its branches, but is it a life sentence? The last owner was clearly no gardener, so I imagine that it was done some years ago and then forgotten. I am thinking of setting it free.  Then I worry that the large branch on the left may require the extra support, and I might unwittingly damage it if I untie it.

If, after looking at the photos, you are able to ID the tree, that would also be a kindness. If not, I am considering contacting the local Garden Club to see if they have a member in the area that might stop by and help me to identify and troubleshoot my new green friends.  It might also be a pleasant way to meet people in our newly adopted community.

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Chocolate Fudgies 

Why not down that trowel for a few minutes and renovate your romance with a pan of these divine fudge/brownie hybrids?

The ingredients are pretty standard, the measures are round, and you can even leave your mixer in the cupboard if you have a whisk and a spatula to hand. The mini marshmallows melt away, leaving sweet-chewy spots throughout.

Just a few quick tips to ensure success: 

1 – Don’t overbake. The squares will firm up a bit once out of the oven, and are meant to be quite moist in the centre.

2 – It’s really worth it to line the pan – right up the sides – with parchment paper. Put a thin smear of margerine in the center of your 9×13 inch pan, press a generous sheet of parchment in, finger press some hospital corners and use scissors to roughly trim the excess paper away, even with the rim of the pan. 30 seconds and you’re done!

CHOCOLATE FUDGIES

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in medium-high position.

INGREDIENTS: 

1 cup margerine or butter

4 squares unsweetened or semi-sweet baking chocolate

2 large eggs

1 cup white sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup chocolate chips

1.5 cups white mini marshmallows

METHOD:

Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Beat eggs and sugars in large mixing bowl. Add cooled chocolate/butter mixture and vanilla and combine well.

Combine flour, salt and baking powder and stir thoroughly into wet ingredients.

Stir in nuts, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.

Pour into well- greased or parchment-lined 9 x 13 inch pan and bake on high rack for 35 minutes.

Cool, slice and enjoy.  Happy Valentines Day!

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windows-opt-blog.jpg The ‘Great’ Room

The whole darn place is white. When the sun pours in, it is glorious. I’ve never lived in such a bright space and would like to keep it basically white for awhile – maybe forever. But have a look at these pictures. There’s a white french door and five white-cased windows (not all in view) along the front of the house – and absolutely no ‘pop’!  Would it be reasonable to just paint the window wall? Would a different, much creamier white make enough of a difference to get the ‘pop’ I want, or would it just look mismatched or a bit discoloured?

What about a quiet taupe? If so, would it look best if applied to one other (small) wall in an opposite corner for balance?

Colour is not my strong suit. Cottager and I both agree that the window casings are sadly lost and something is needed. We aren’t thinking curtains, so it will have to be paint. And if I don’t come up with something, he might decide to wing  it – possibly by throwing a dart at the colour wheel. So your suggestions – and links to any relevant photos you might know of – would be much appreciated! 

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