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I set out this summer to redo the exterior paint on the cottage. It was a bit of a challenge finding chunks of time between rental guests when it was also warm and dry enough to get to it.  And then there was the scraping. I estimate I spent 5 hours prepping for every one hour of painting.

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the trim was pretty bad too

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Prepping before painting

As a result, I got slightly less than half the cottage painted, but gosh it looks nice! And it is the important half – the front half. It was also the hard half, since the front takes all the sun, and there are lots of windows with finicky trim, and posts and whatnot.

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So satisfying once it is done

The trim is a BM colour called Mannequin Cream. The cottage itself use to be BM Duxbury Grey, which has a hint of green in it.  I love the colour, but here in the rain forest, paint already has a tendency to take on a green tinge, both reflected and from algae. The driveway shed was a different, slightly mauve grey of unknown origins, and it was this shade that I had colour-matched for the cottage paint. On the advice of a house painter acquaintance, I went with a premium Behr paint from Home Depot

Next summer I should be able to get the job finished. There will be much less prepping, but more ladder work, which I do not love. Meanwhile, I’m fired up to do more painting, and will start with the front hall of my home, which needs an all-over redo.

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For me, September marks the New Year. I no longer have the fun (maybe only in retrospect) of back-to-school shopping for clothes and sheaves of ruled paper for my sons, but still, I never feel more motivated to make meaningful changes than I do in September. This year I have the opportunity to seize on a deep and recurrent desire to really de-clutter my home. And I am on a roll.

I have discovered that taking pictures of stuff I am getting rid of is an excellent reinforcing tool. I initially just took a few pictures with the vague idea of a blog post, but I now plan to continue with both the de-cluttering and the photos.

I encourage everyone to try this: When you need a little motivation to continue with what is, lets face it, a tough chore, you can look back at your folder of pictures of things leaving your living space. You will be astonished and proud of what you have accomplished: Your resolve to continue the process will be strengthened and you will think carefully before bringing new things into your home as well. Once you have completed the process, you can delete the folder of pictures, and thereby rack up another de-cluttering accomplishment. Hopefully, a few of my photos will inspire you to give this a try. Trust me, photos of your own clutter will be even more inspiring.

Here is proof of how serious I am:  The hiking boots in the first picture arrived on a Christmas Eve 25 years ago and concealed an engagement ring in the toe. My love lives on but the boots must go!

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I deliver the best stuff to Crossroads Hospice Thrift store

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The rest goes to Value Village or Big Brothers. I kept the cat…for now.

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This is excess recycling, going to Encorp depot

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Newly empty hangers from my closet

 

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Two years ago the Cottager and I made a trip to Portland for our anniversary. On the way we stopped at a Cabela’s near Olympia, and purchased a pretty bonnet ceiling light complete with seeded glass, from a clearance shelf for just under $US 12.00. And then it sat around waiting for a purpose.

Recently I found a YouTube video for a recessed light conversion kit, available from Home Depot. Together these became my solution for a truly ugly recessed light at the cottage. Here it is, as was.

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And here is the conversion kit.

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And here is the  light in its new and improved version.

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Total cost was about $50, including a rather expensive old fashioned incandescent light bulb that casts a lovely, yellow candlelight-like glow over the table.  Not task lighting, of which there is more than enough, but very atmospheric. And in my view a big improvement. Love it when I find a use for something this way.  We have a couple of recessed lights in our home which we will also now convert, including one situated between our bedroom closets that does not manage to cast any light into either one.

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I see it’s been nearly a year since I posted anything here. I’ve missed writing about cottage life, and a variety of other topics which interest me. I always hoped to get back to it. Writing used to be fun; then it wasn’t, so much. Perhaps it can be again?

I’ve taken a year off of work, for a variety of personal reasons. It has allowed me to take better care of myself, which is wonderful. I’ve been eating better, and exercising more, reading a lot, travelling a bit, walking my dog, hanging out at the cottage, teaching myself to play the ukulele (yes, really) and just generally enjoying each day. But always, always, I have intended to start writing again. I just haven’t been able to make a start. So here is a start.

So, whats new at Keats View Cottage? In a material vein, the bed is new; the barbecue is new; these fishing float lights on the mantle are new: I really like these!

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More importantly, I have a new pleasure in spending time on the Sunshine Coast. Instead of squeezing in a weekend here and there, I have been spending a week at a time at the cottage. This has allowed me to do the usual home projects and gardening but also to spend long hours walking the beach, sipping coffee on the porch, getting to know people in the community better and considering what I want for the future. This gift I have given myself is, truthfully, the best gift ever.

My work involves a lot of writing, and over time, it seems the writing I was obliged to do drained most, if not all, of the pleasure from the act of writing. I’d like to get this back, if I can.

But I don’t want to look too far down the road, or raise my expectations too much. Reactivating this blog is a good starting point, because it’s true purpose was always to keep a record of the years as they whizzed by. While the cottage was a convenient focal point, what is most interesting when I look back is to see what we were doing at any given time, and what activities and ideas interested the Cottager and me (and the Urchins, of course.)

So now I have lost a whole year of recording those things, and although quite a bit of it hasn’t been “the best of times”, I’m still sorry not to have that record. And I feel motivated to write here, if nowhere else, once again. For those fifty or so folks who have continued to follow my blog throughout this long silence, your interest is appreciated. Thanks for hanging in there. More soon, I hope.

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Change something. Anything at all.  This week I changed my hair.  Been thinking about it for ever. Finally did it. Chop, chop. Free!

Also changed this bookcase. Cheap and ugly old thing needed a facelift. Three coats of Regatta Blue later, it has new ‘pop’ and a new purpose at the cottage.

Regatta Blue is a Sherwin Williams colour. I am getting a bit choked with Benjamin Moore. Their prices keep going up, and I have had some strange advice on one or two occasions as well. This quart of paint cost $20 at Sherwin Williams. They were having a sale. Forty percent off EVERY can of paint. Period. Can’t say I’ve seen that at BM.  The paint was lovely to work with. Think I’ll be hooking up with Sherwin again in future.

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Rental season starts next week. Have spent the last two days turning the cottage inside out: Washing bedding,  cleaning corners with an old toothbrush and setting up everything for the vacationers to come.  And now it is done, and I feel pretty tired and a little less blue.

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Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, so why not pass on getting sucked into the commercial hype of it all and show your love with a unique breakfast treat.

This looks great just out of the oven and tastes even better. I adapted this slightly from a recipe given to me by Mary Wallgren, from the Idaho branch of my mom’s family.

You will need a blender and also a cast iron skillet. If you don’t have the skillet, perhaps you should? Next thing you know you will be making frittatas and oven-fried chicken.

If you are really frugal, pick up a grotty cast skillet at Value Village and recondition it. There are instruction for this process on-line. It is a bit of a dirty job.

INGREDIENTS

Filling:

2 apples, peeled,cored, sliced
2 T brown sugar
2 T butter or margerine
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste

Batter:

3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp orange peel zest (optional)
3/4 cup milk

3 T butter or margerine
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

METHOD

In a bowl, stir together apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and lemon juice until apples are coated.

Melt 2 T butter or margerine in a regular skillet on the stove top, add apples and saute until apples are tender – at least 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set this skillet aside for now.

Place your 11 inch cast iron skillet into cold oven, and set to 400 degrees.

Now, into blender put your three eggs, and blend really well.
Reduce blender to low speed. Add flour, salt, granulated sugar and orange zest.
Then slowly add milk.
Stop blender and scrape down sides to ensure all flour is being combined.
Blend again for one minute.

Carefully remove cast skillet from oven using two oven mitts.
Place on cold stove top and add 3 T butter or margerine, moving it around with a spatula until melted but not browned. Carefully add batter from blender, then distribute cinnamon sugar apples on top and return to oven using two oven mitts. Bake 25 minutes, until edges are puffed and brown. Test centre with finger to ensure fully cooked.

Dust with icing sugar, cut into wedges and serve with maple syrup.
Caution: Don’t forget and touch the pan. Hot!

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Its tough to find time to blog when you are trying to move a project along and tend to the business of work and family at the same time. I’d hoped to post pictures as we progressed, but here, in short, is the first bathroom we demo’d, in its new glory.

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Only missing is the back splash tile, which will be installed in few weeks, when we will have a few jobs for the tile layer to complete at once.

I had some professional help with this, by way of a friend who is a professional designer: Jenn Brown Interiors

Most importantly, she gave me the kick-start I needed. I just didn’t know where to start, and so she arrived with a ton of samples and helped me clarify needs vs. desires, priorities and a vision of the style we wanted.

Our family home is simply that. It is full of the stuff of our lives and will never look like a magazine house, nor would we want it to. We live here, and have done for two decades, so things get worn, and even when we can keep up with repairs and touch ups, things get messy and sometimes just plain dirty. We love our pets, but they take a toll on things as well. So we were looking for an update to our old pink bathrooms that incorporated practical solutions for better organization; reduced visual clutter, and easy clean and hard wearing surfaces. And a reasonable price point, of course. Because we are frugal.

And so far I would say we are hitting it out of the park in terms of getting what we want and need.
One of the nice things about Jenn is that she listens well. If you want her to just design and create a new space for you, she will do it. But we wanted to make our own choices and do a lot of the work ourselves. It gives us a great sense of satisfaction when it works out, and we learn stuff when it doesn’t. She was able to go with the flow, and our rather slow pace.

She knows a lot about various products, and was especially helpful at things like picking out tile, which is, frankly, overwhelming. She is also a very frugal person, and knows lots of ways to get a great look for less. Her fees were easily offset, in my view, in savings that directly resulted from her advice and product sourcing. So a great value and highly recommended.

Now that we are well on our way, we are mostly using her as an occasional resource, and for referrals to trades people she has used and trusts. Once our bathroom projects are completed, I’m going to enlist her advice to refresh our bedroom and the front hallway, and maybe re-stage our living room too. Project creep!

More and better photos, information about the products we chose (and why) and a rough cost break down for this first bathroom to follow shortly.

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