Archive for June, 2008

Okay, so not exactly. Not our cottage. Though if they had stopped by, I feel sure they would have found it charming.

The New York Times has published their list of 31 places you should go this summer, and one of them is the Sunshine Coast! Here’s the full article with a tempting photo and short description of each of their chosen destinations. Makes me feel like going somewhere. Oh wait. I’m going to the Sunshine Coast.


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My Best Friend Fred has come up with a fun summer contest that you should know about – especially if, like me, you have a few home projects on the go.  Best of all, its in aid of a good cause.

Fred and his team at One Project Closer invite you to send them Before and After photos of a home project completed this spring or summer, along with a description of how you did it. Each Sunday they will post the week’s winning project photos and make a donation in the winner’s name to Habitat for Humanity. At the end of the summer, one Before and After project submission will be selected to receive a 50$ gift card for a home improvement store. Actually, Fred explains it all better here.

Habitat for Humanity is a great organization doing meaningful work in communities where it is most needed. Check Fred’s site for each week’s winner, and think about submitting an entry or making a donation of your own while you’re there. You don’t have to be a blogger or even mildly tech-savvy to do it. Just email your photos to Fred, and if your project is chosen, he’ll do the rest. Good luck!

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Years of watching my kids play soccer in sleet and drizzle – surprisingly – did not make me a fan of the game. That happened when Cottager and I accidently planned a cycling holiday in the Netherlands that coincided with the 2000 Euro Cup. We watched games in pubs and hostels, on a jumbotron in the main square in Arnhem, and we were in Amsterdam on an unbelievable hot evening when the Dutch team was eliminated. I remember an orange sea of fans flowing past our canal house near the flower market that night.

Four years later we took the kids to the beaches of Normandy to observe the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, and we quietly cheered on the Dutch (and, to be fair, the French) in cafes, bars and campgrounds as the contest played out in nearby Portugal. 

Clearly, I am not in Europe for this year’s contest. Poor planning that. But I am trying to follow it a bit, and I know my Dutch lads are doing rather well. Tomorrow we will be at the local pub, dressed in orange and rooting for the Dutch as the try for a place in the semi-final round. They have to beat Russia to get there.  

So say it with me now… Hup, Holland, Hup!  

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Home Sweet Home. Here are some photos of the hotel room I wrote about mid-week.

comfortable reading spot

I’m a bit disappointed in these photos, since the flash has significantly brightened the colours, and by extension, the way the colours worked together in the low natural light of the room. For example, the duvet cover appeared to be black and white in the room, but in the photos is clearly green and white.

Also, the photos can’t really capture the overall feel of the space. Never-the-less, this will give you some idea of how the design elements worked together and made the room both relaxing and stimulating – if that makes any sense. 

The wheat design was really quite cool, though I think one might tire of it quickly. Certainly I’m not planning to do anything quite that dramatic. If our cool weather continues, I may open some paint next week. If it suddenly improves, I don’t plan to waste a fine day painting. But once I have made some progress I’ll be sure to post some photos.

Update:  See the before and after photos of my new hotel-style bedroom

Indigo Room

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I’m in Ottawa this week, for work, and feeling inspired.  Been down pub for a pint recently, so I hope this is coherent.

In our non-cottage life, our bedroom is pretty sad and has been for a long time. The green-tinged yellow walls are a failed experiment. And it goes down hill from there. We typically spend very little conscious time there. The bed and furniture are generally bestrewn with laundry, socks in search of partners and old magazines we hope to get around to.

Nowadays, the urchins seem to take up space all out of proportion to their physical size in the shared areas of the house.  I need a retreat, and the bedroom sprang to mind as the most viable space. I visualized a soothing restful space… revolutionary, wot?

Last week I bought the Benjamin Moore big chip of Violet Mist which means I am nearly committed. Did I mention the room has poor lighting amongst its other charms? So poor that this quite-blue colour chip looks like a warmed up grey at all but the brightest moments of the day. Also invested in some finely checked black and white bedding from Ikea. Then got carried away and splurged on some Ikea art:  celery-green tinted dogwood blossoms on a dark background and a black ribba frame. 

So those are my basic elements: Pale violet blue, black and white, celery accents – oh – and navy – just because I can’t imagine it without navy.

The existing furniture is good quality warm brown country pine. The headboard has a similar tone, being the swing door from a 1910 farmhouse. These things, and the dreary beige carpet must remain, as total budget for this make-over is 500$. Will spring for brushed nickel hardware on furniture to jazz it up a bit, but thats it.

So imagine my surprise when I checked into the Indigo Hotel here to find my colour scheme ready and waiting for me to test-drive. The wall behind the bed has a wall to wall colour transfer of golden brown wheat waving against a violet blue sky. The bedding is high contrast – dark-dark green and white, with indigo blue and white pillows and indigo bed skirt. The window wall is celery green, as are the armchair and footstool. brushed nickel hardware, and nickel and navy lamps with black-trimmed white shades pull it together. All other walls are white. If this sounds like a dog’s breakfast, check back next week when I will post some photos of the room.  But how weird is it that I would imagine a room almost exactly like the one I’m now staying in? 

Happy Birthday Cottager. Have thought of a great gift for you… wouldn’t you love a celery-green armchair?

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So far, so good

We set out to get a coat of deck treatment down this weekend, when the forecast suggested a decent interval of dry weather. Our deck measures roughly 35 x 10 feet. It is sound but very bleached and absorbs water like crazy. Lets get ‘er done, we agreed. 

Cottager bought Thompson’s Water Seal, making a judgement call – as I would have done – that a bit of a cedar-toned stain would look better than an invisible product.

I went over on Friday afternoon and spent hours digging pounds of blond hair and bits of crumbled red bouncy balls out of the spaces between the planks – remnants of the previous occupant’s German Shepherd guard dog.  Then, following advice found on-line to avoid the wood ‘blooming’ that follows power washing, I scrubbed the covered portion of the deck with a brush and a bit of laundry detergent in water. 

Next morning, the rest of the crew turned up early and Cottager and I prepped the other half of the deck, leaving it to dry in the hot sun.  Around 2, we shook up the first can well (we thought….) and got started. Instead of a sprayer, we used a roller and hand brush. 

It looked great to start. Very subtle colour. Fine.

But after we tipped the second half of the can into the tray. . .  the stain began to appear much darker. Panic!

Probably should have tried to scrub the darker stain area down and then taken some time to regroup. But that isn’t our typical approach. Just…wanted…it ….done. The beating sun and a pair of frantic robins working hard to hatch a clutch of pretty blue eggs in the bamboo growing out of the deck, were pressuring us to finish up. So we re-rolled the half of the deck that had the tone we preferred with the tomato-soup coloured stain that we didn’t particulary like. It looks just ok. With the furniture back in place, the sun shining and a cold beer in hand, I feel like I can live with it – but just.  

The soup deck

So our bad for (apparently) not stirring the product sufficiently. But Thompson’s bad for this very un-cedar like tone of stain.  For the record, the stain really didn’t take evenly on any part of the deck. I’m not convinced that using a sprayer would have a made a difference with that.  I wouldn’t use this product again.

For now, we are taking a step back (yeah, a little late) and will consider, at some future point, whether we might be able to tone the tone down with some carefully applied power-washing, or if there might be something to be gained from going at it with a darker stain.  Or not. The robins LOVE it just the way it is.

Robins disturbed from their nest again 

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We’ve had a few half-hearted discussions on this topic during the last 6 months. We both acknowledged that a name is an important thing for a potential rental property. For us it’s just ‘the cottage’ or ‘Gibsons.’

I thought something to do with the bamboo would be good. Lucky Bamboo? Blue Bamboo? Bamboo is very hip; very organic; very renewable. Cottager wasn’t inspired. 

Then I thought I would try to find something in Austen to inspire me – but nothing really came to mind. Cottager pretty much nixed the whole Austen concept with a penetrating silence.   

Then he suggested Keats View Cottage. Keats is the island we look at across Shoal Channel. And being a strategically obliging wife, I agreed – after I did a little mulling and attempted some research.

Keats Island has its own on-line community. I went to the guest forum at Keats-Island.ca and asked if the island’s name referenced John Keats (English Romantic Poet, 1795 – 1821.) Quite a few individuals have viewed my query there, but to date none have considered themselves fit to comment on the origin of the name. And they really should know. Keats Islanders are, one supposes, an incurious people.

Therefore, I unilaterally declare that Keats Island is, in fact, named after John Keats, who was a contemporary of Jane Austen and who is generally  believed to have read and been inspired by Austen – just like me.

Keats View it is.

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