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24 May 2014

Backyard Renovation BEGINS!

Yes, this is the first week I'm back at work.  We thought just to kick it up an extra notch, we'd start the backyard renovations!!!

Ok, ok, that's not super true.  We've been hassling the guy to start for 3 weeks now.  :)  I want the backyard usable for the summer, yo!

What's wrong with our current backyard?  Like, everything.  The ground is a jimble-jamble of different paving stones, dirt, gravel, weed, rusty nails, etc.  Ugh.

The little "mud room" attached to the house?  Well, not actually attached - sort of leany-on fally-offy - is THE WORST.  Seriously looks like it may collapse at any moment.  I applaud the theory, but the execution was poor.

Between none of the pavers is limestone, it's just dirt, so there are major weed battles every year.  It can pretty easily look like a forest back there in no time.

You can see the random mint bed on the side of the fence there.  Only mint will grow, it doesn't get a lot of sun.  And it leaks dirt into the neighbour's yard and she complains.

Underneath the muskoka chair is GRAVEL (with weeds).  Is that a nice place for a baby to play?  No.

There is also plenty of concrete edging to trip over and fall and hurt yourself if you are a baby. 

Not shown is an herb harden that actually wasn't too bad.  It had Chinese chives and spicy lettuce grow every spring, and in general herbs did ok there - I had some nice basil, sage, that sort of thing.  But Adrian will make me a cedar planter, so I hope to recreate it in another location!

The plan:  Tear down the "mud room", add a cedar deck (yes, I'm blowing all our reno fund on the backyard this year.  So it goes.  I love the smell of cedar, and it lasts a long time, etc.), bust out a patio door where the window is, brick up the current doorway, pave the backyard in recycled tires (easy for baby to play on), electrify the garage.  Add a cheapo awning to the deck (because I spent all our money on cedar), shazam!

The bricking up of the interior kitchen door will actually allow for more kitchen storage, as we then can add nice pantry (think ~IKEA with pull out shelves) to fit loads and loads of kitchen appliances and dry goods.

Day 1:  (chaos)

Bookcase reveal (before/after)

The bookcases are done!  Ages ago, actually.  Been having so much fun looking at them, no time for blogging.  :)

First, let's visit the way-back machine to see how the living room looked when we bought the house:

A bit on the ew side, right?  Like, what's up with the black marker on the wall?

Then we upgraded the electricity, making holes and repairing them, eventually to be left with this:

For a few years, it looked like this:

Not terrible, but not particularly polished.  Bit of a university-student look to the place.

And finally, the reveal...........


It took about a month of Adrian's work, but looks nice, doesn't it?  He did an amazing job, especially in the finishing.  Instead of wallpaper, we ended up using shelf paper from the Dollar store.  For reals.  We were in a bit of a rush to get ready for Pippa's birthday party, and just needed something up ASAP. doesn't look too terrible for having spent $4, so we'll probably keep it for quite a while.  It doesn't show up well in this photo, but the shelves are white pickled poplar, not painted white.  I am quite happy with the colour, it worked out well.

You can see now the TV magically floats with no wires or electronic support showing.  Me likely.  Everything is hidden in the false wall it hang on and the new mantle cubbies.

If the above photo does not quite satisfy your bookshelf lust and you've got 3 minutes to spare, I've prepared a handy-dandy video tour for your enjoyment. (Gosh, this took like 5 years to upload, I hope someone watches it!)

22 Mar 2014

Halfway done living room built-ins!

Left side is up!  Hooray!

Here is a sneak preview pic

You can see the white-wash pickling stain, and the oak (unstained) bead board (tongue and groove) behinds.

The trim still has to go up of course, and the mantel stuff has to happen.  The right shelf is cut, so tomorrow/Monday the sanding and staining of that will begin!

Hooray!  Halfway to getting our living room back!  :)  Also, I will need to pick a wallpaper for behind the floating TV.  Exciting.  I've never actually picked wallpaper.

19 Mar 2014

White Wash Pickling Stain

Hello Internetz!

Thank you so much for all your votes/comments about the shelf colour!  We have decided to go with "White wash pickling stain".  You can see the first coat going on below.

It's going to be hot, trust me (I have good colour imagination).  And if we no likes, we can always paint the shelf white in a few years.  Can't go back and choose stain once we've painted, so this seems safest.

Now, for help with the wall colour.  I am thinking of "griege" - that's gray mixed with beige, yo!  Is it gray?  Is it beige?  That's the colour I'm going for, with maybe the slightest suggestion of a purple-ish undertone.

So far my fav I've found is Loggia by Sherwin Williams.  Do you have a favourite "griege"?  Keep in mind the shelves may have the slightest green tinge, due to the poplar.

 Second coat of white wash pickling stain is going on this morning, then some polyurethane, then the left side is done! (Can't stain both sides at once, living room is too small)

10 Mar 2014

Progress on those shelves!

Adrian assures me there is plenty going on behind the scenes, and he loves his Kreg jig x 1,000,000

4 Mar 2014

Built-ins begin!

Yes, it is renovation season again here at the So house!

Our long term plans included built-in bookshelves in the living room.  And with only a few months of mat leave left (and thus both of us at home), the time is NOW to get to some of these projects!

Nothing was overly terrible about our living room, it was just a shade on the ugly-unfinished looking side.  It will mostly look the same when we're done, but with killer custom bookcases.  Which is sort of probably end up looking like IKEA bookcases, but fitting our space.  Also, playstation (aka, Netflix machine) and all cords will be hidden - hurrah!

Reminder:  old living room.  You can see my classic 1970s bookshelf (look familiar to any Markhams, perhaps?). and two mismatched IKEA bookshelves, all bursting with books n' things.

Kick off - here is our wood pile (poplar - aka, "poor man's cherry").  And he's begun - mantel is down already!  I'll keep you posted for how things are shaping up!

In a surprise turn of events, I've not made up my mind what to do with colours - both wall and shelves.  So, blogosphere, here are two questions for you, please make sure to take the polls at the right, polling closes March 15th! (or whenever we start painting/staining)  Calling all Internetz, please make sure to vote!  That means you!

When I say "lightly coloured stain" I mean something like a pickled oak shown below.  When I say "dark stain" I mean Jacobean (our house stain - several things are stained this here at Casa So). And of course, poplar is a-paintin' wood, so feel free to vote for white if that's how you swing.

28 Feb 2014


Darn-ed my socks, that is!

In this edition of Corrie's-old-timey-hobbies, I will be darning my socks.  Ok, ok, I haven't darned socks since like 1997 (for reals).  That was with my Grandma - I think maybe we did it once or twice.

So a darning expert I am not.  So I had to visit youtube.  I got the basic gist of it, and thought I would give it a go with some yarn I have for crochet-ing.  My goal is not to make the socks pretty, but to make my toes not hang out (that's a finger below, but you get the general idea).

What ho!  Where is Grandma's darning egg?  Sadly, I don't know, probably lost to time. Our trusty oyster shucker to the rescue!

Well you can see the final product below.  Sort of looks like my socks have a MAJOR cancer.  BUT, I am betting my toes won't fall out anymore!  Win!  And now I feel more emboldened to darn again, perhaps not sucking so much next time.

Darn them all!

11 Dec 2013

Et Voila - Pippa's nursery reveal

Only took us 7.5 months to put together the nursery.  hahahhaha.  Well, at least we got there in the end!  :)

Ta da!

Now let's break it down.

  • You can read the saga of the baby change table if you're forgotten.  Now the potty lives there (you can see the hint of red), extra diapers are also in that basket below.
  • The boxes on the wall above the change table are wine crates that Adrian stained.  In the lower one lives diapers (prefolds on the right, fancy pocket diapers on the left), in the upper lives cute stuffed animals that are a little too old for Pippa right now.  We recently moved these two crates higher, the lower one was close enough for Pippa to easily bang her head on if we weren't careful, so Adrian moved them and patched and painted the wall there.
  • You'll see my fancy Ubbi diaper pail next to the change table.  I loves it.  It is strictly for cloth diapers.  I use fancy blueberry diaper pail liners, but of course you can't see them.  Know they're there in their cuteness.
  • Next to the diaper pail is the wicker laundry hamper for Pips.  I swear bits of wicker keep breaking off, so I'm not sure how long it will live there, but for now it's pretty.
  • Next to that is the leather ottoman, which right now we're using to store baby blankets.  I like having a flat surface there to put laundry baskets down on.
  • Window covering - just a roller blind for now.  We're not that put together to have actual fancy curtains yet.  When she's older!

Pippa's dresser was a gift from my Aunt Jeanne.  I love it!  All her little clothes live here (and a bit in the change table).  You can't see it well in the picture, but the blocks on top of the dresser say "PIPPA".  There is a little girl porcelain figurine as well on top.

Above is the west wall of the room.  You can see my rocker (baby shower present from Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Ted!) - I added a few pillows for comfort and a pop of colour.  I really love the turquoise pillow, it's hard to see but there are pretty ribbons woven in it.  Her bookshelf right now has some books, but is also a lot of storage.  Extra diaper wipes (I make own now, so we don't go through disposable ones very fast anymore), extra diaper inserts, Pippa's shoes and Pippa's towels all live here.  On top of it we have some baby knick-knacks, Pippa photos, and yes, a LOUNGE sign. is nice ambient light in the night if we're checking on her?

Despite how it looks with the odd lighting above, the walls are "Heavy Cream".  I wanted something neutral and classic for our babe.  (It is more true-to-life in the tall dresser photo)

On the south wall you're see the Pippa peacock.  Adrian designed this for Pippa (you see it on the birth announcements).  This peacock is really what held the room up for so many months, it took like 4 months to print it!  Above the bookshelf you'll see ABCs that Adrian also designed for the Pipster.  Both of these I thought would be much bigger when we ordered them, Adrian and I aren't really happy with the scale of things.

The photo above shows the north wall.  On it hangs the beautiful quilt the Eastminster Choir gave us.  This really sets the tone for the whole room.  We have some elephants from Vietnam hanging on the edge of the railing there for a little pizzazz.  You can see Pippa's crib - WHERE SHE ACTUALLY SLEEPS NOW!  This was a great hand-me-down from Mark and Debbie - thanks again!  You can sort-of see the mobile Adrian made for Pippa, after being inspired by the cool mobiles we saw at the Guggenheim this summer.

In every photo you are seeing the light fixture Matthew bought for Pippa in Vietnam, with the bird from Sarah hanging from it.  The bird kinda hits you in the head when you walk under it, but I love it so it doesn't bother me a bit.

And, last but not least....

Pippa's new rug!  Handmade in Iran.  Of wool.  We bought it down the street.  Perhaps future Corrie will look back at this rug as folly, but I'm willing to take the risk.  It is soft and beautiful, and has no chemicals on it, something we were concerned about since Pips spends her days crawling around.  The rug really completes the room and softens it up quite a bit.

Rug action shot!

17 Sep 2013

Updated Baby Change Table

How's a girl to know she's a stay-at-home-Mom?  She gives furniture refinishing a try!

Pippa's nursery has like 5000 different types of wood in it, so I thought I'd paint over her change table to remove one shade of wood.  Nothing was wrong with it (other than some scratches I'd inflicted), it is a great hand-me-down from Rick & Amanda - thanks guys! 

I don't really have a great 'before' photo, but here we are after Adrian had just started to take it apart.

But wait!  "PAINT OVER LAMINATE?", you say in a crazed voice.  "Yes", I say, not quite sure of myself. 

We got ourselves to a fancy (read: $$$) paint store, and we bought us some super fancy primer. 

The clerk still said we'd have to sand, but we didn't believe him. Look, the paint is called "Stix" - as in it "Sticks" to everything, right?  Um, no.  Not right.  I had to lightly sand.  See below on the left with no sanding - yowsers!  But, like - lightly sanding things isn't the end of the world.  I don't know why I was so shy to sand things.  I decided to put two coats of primer on...well, just in case.  It dries fast.  And I didn't use that much of the expensive little can, so I gave it another go.  

Yaddah yaddah...two coats of black later, and TA DA!

Let us not forget the fancy new knobs.  Which I LOVE.  They are glass with some gold.  Very hot right now on DIY blogs.

A word about "black".  We told the man at the store we wanted shiny black.  He said, "I have lots of different blacks, just like you can choose different whites, pick a colour for me."  I went to the paint colour selection area and LAUGHED because all the blacks were the same.  I chose 'Jet Black' on a whim.

Joke's on me.  It is totally very dark gray, not actually black.  Drives me a little insane every time I see it.  Gray does not work in this room.  I wanted BLACK.  We even have another can of paint (different kinda fancy paint, I have a project in mind to justify it, stay tuned) of DARK GRAY which I deemed entirely unsuitable for this project.  True, this is much darker, but still.... #firstworldproblems.

2 May 2013

What's in a name?

Our little baby girl's name is now final!

First name:  Patricia-Rose

My paternal grandmother's name was Patricia.  She was very important to me, I was shocked and saddened by her sudden death in 2006.  She loved her grandchildren more than anything!  I spent a lot of time with her growing up, I think she was a good influence on me.  I hope she would have liked her little namesake!

We added the -Rose because... well, we like it.  :)  Grandma loved roses - she always had some planted in the yard, I inherited what I think of as her most beautiful painting of - wait for it....roses!  We now have this hanging in the hallway, I looove looking at it.  In fact, I could see it while birthing the baby girl!  And as my Dad pointed out - we are from the City of Roses. 

I know Rose is the most overdone middle name ever right now, but I care not.  And anyway, it isn't her middle name, it is part of her first name.  I've always loved double names.  :)

Nickname:  Pippa

While Grandma went by Pat, we wanted a more modern short form for Patricia.  I liked Patsy but Adrian didn't, both of us are a bit soft of Tricia (seems too 80s, right?)...and I finally happened upon the fact that Pippa is a legitimate short form for Patricia!  Excellent!  In fact, I even remember remarking to my Auntie Jan that Pippa was a cool name, but with Pippa Middleton's bum and all it would be too popular.  This is what all the name bloggers were saying at the time.  BUT - they were wrong.  Pippa/Phillipa/Patricia have not really moved very much in the top 1000 names for the last few years.  So we felt safe going with it - we didn't want an overly popular name. And it is hella cute.  :)

Middle name:  Gwaiji

Chinese names are complicated.  There are five Chinese elements (wood, fire, earth, water, gold).  Depending on when you're born (right down to the minute), you are lacking in an element, and your name should make up this element.  Pippa was lacking in wood. 

Gwaiji is really two names - Gwai Ji.  Gwai is her Chinese middle name - all of our future children will share this.  Ji is her Chinese first name.  You could pronounce this Gee or Chi or Tze - it doesn't really translate well into English.

Gwai is the osmanthus bush - which is a lovely floral bush with fantastic scent.  I really like the smell of osmanthus, so this seemed a nice choice from my perspective, although Adrian and his family had the final say on the Chinese name.

Also complicating the Chinese name is that the number of strokes (including the last name) has to be a certain number (like, 56 is good) - due to the time and date of her birth.  Confusing, yes!  Her Chinese birthday is March 14th - see if that doesn't make your head spin.  :)  In fact, because she's born at 11:18pm, that's actually the next day.  Also confusing.

Anyhoo, the name Gwai Ji should confer much success on our little Pippa, and perhaps even soften our Taurus up a bit.  :)

18 Apr 2013

BEAUTIFUL quilt from the EUC Choir!

My super awesome choir family at Eastminster United Church made the baby girl a quilt!  It is SO amazing!  It was dreamed up and coordinated by Marie - a big ideas lady!  Rumour has it she was up late for a few nights before it was done, pulling it all together.

I am just so thankful and impressed by all this.  It really is so special and wonderful.  I can't use enough words to describe it.  We will treasure this always.  I had a quilt made for me as a baby until I was five ("Greenie"), and I LOVED it.  I hope the Appleseed will love this one just as much.

I will apologise for the photography - I did it, not Adrian.  :)
Here is the entire quilt.  You can see Marie co-ordinate all the fabrics BEAUTIFULLY!  She must have remembered somewhere along the line me saying that I think Appleseed likes RED, not pink.  So red and yellow fit in perfectly with our nursery decor (although here shown in our room because the light was better).

And now for the long winded version!  :)
In no particular order (mostly because I can't seem to control the upload on blogger)

The square below was done by Ann!  Marie said the black satin ribbons were the inspiration for the black borders throughout the whole quilt - which is just beautiful!  Thank you Ann!

The square below was done by Maya and Kevin and Marie.  Maya and Kevin wanted to add some African fabric, and Marie added the kimonos.  What turns out to be really cool is that Maya lived in Japan for 3+ years!  Maya has given me lots of appreciated baby tips, and has super cute children herself.  :)  Thanks Maya, Kevin and Marie!

The square below is made by Joy, who also gave us Ugly Dolls (which we love and are super cute, despite the name!).  Love the two little quilted fishies!  Joy is our alto section lead, and has always been so happy for us ever since our announcement way back a long time ago that we were expecting.  Thanks Joy!

The square below was done by Julia.  You can see it has 'tea for two' on it, and ROSES.  Loves!  Julia is a younger choir member, who sings a beautiful Soprano 1.  She is apparently a well educated babysitter - we might be making use of her skills in the next years!  Thanks Julia!

The cool square below is done by Alanna, who is one of my Alto 2 buddies!  She sewed the teether right onto the square - cool, right?  And I have it on very good advice that those are excellent teethers, particularly if baby's teeth come early.  :)  Alanna also gave us some SUPER cute baby hats!  Alanna knows latin, so is helpful to have around to translate the odd latin phrase in choir music here and there.  She is also a famous environmental author, often jet setting on trips around the world doing research.  Thanks Alanna!

 The square below was done by Susan.  Susan is another one of my alto 2 buddies, and the choir president.  What better to put on her square than New York, where our choir recently went to sing at Carnegie Hall?  Susan did a lot of the trip organisation, and I must say, it was the most well-planned trip I've ever been on!  :)  Thanks Susan!

The square below was done by Laura.  How appropriate, a singing lady - I think that's me, singing to the baby girl!  Laura's last name is my first name, it can get very confusing!  :)  We visited Laura's cottage last summer, when I was like 1 week pregnant - she totally guessed!  We hope we can go again, and this time bring the Appleseed with us on the outside!  Thanks Laura! 

 The square below was done by Bev, and it's a beauty!  I got to know Bev and Gord a lot more on our New York trip, they are super fun.  She is a home ec teacher, so of course you expect big things from a quilt square - thanks Bev!

The square below was done by Cathy.  It has LOVE written in the middle - a beautiful square, I LOVE it - just like we already love Appleseed to bits.  Thanks Cathy!

The square below was done by Kit.  Kit is a super talented younger member of our choir, who won our choir scholarship two years ago - and we are so lucky she stayed!  You can see embroidered below twinkle twinkle little star on the piano - awwwww.  How cute.  And ROSES again, eh?  Love it!  Thanks Kit!

The square below was done by Joan and Brianne.  Joan said she can't sew, but she can knit, so she knit the pretty turquoise squares for this quilt square.  Brianne is another highly talented choir member, and you can see she embroidered some gold stars - how fitting, she's a star herself!  Thanks Joan and Brianne!

The square below was done by Diana.  She is another of my alto 2 buddies!  She and I roomed together in New York, so how appropriate for another New York City square!?  Awesome!  And you can see some more of Joan's cute little knit squares - probably very good for the Appleseed to touch all these different textures.  Thanks Diana and Joan!

The square below was done by my midwife, Marlene.  We laughed at my last midwife appointment - she said hers was the only square without special adornment - because she had to rush out to a birth!  :)  Fair enough, catching babies is a very honourable job, I would say!  :)   Thanks Marlene!

The square below was done by Barbara.  Barbara and I live in the same direction, and often walk home together, so we usually yatter on for quite a few minutes at the point were we have to walk our separate ways.  :)  There is LOTS of detail in this square, it must have taken her quite some time, and is so pretty!  Thanks Barbara!

The square below was done by Abby, Susan's daughter.  Isn't that lovely!?  She went over to Marie's house to learn how to ... sew/quilt/embroider.  Pretty cool, right?  I hope she had fun!  She did a lovely square, pretty darn good for a first timer!  Thanks Abby!

The square below has the special designation of the only one being done by male member of the choir - Dennis!  Dennis and I are co-chairs of the Property and Maintenance Committee at Church, which is more fun than it sounds (we do our best to keep the roof up!).  :)  Dennis learned how to do embroidery for this square, and there are two very cute sea horses and a little yellow fish there!  Dennis and Adrian have very similar hobbies, so it is no wonder we all get along.  Thanks Dennis!

This next square was done by Ester.  Ester is the wife of Dennis (see above), and another one of my alto 2 buddies.  Three hearts - me, Adrian and Appleseed!  Awww!  And piano and roses - very pretty!  Ester is another midwife in our choir - how cool, right?  Ester always has a calming word about birthing for me, and is fun to talk with on non-birthing conversations too!  Thanks Ester!

The square below was done by Judith.  Judith is another one of my alto 2 buddies.  Judith is super smart and organised, and always fun to talk to.  She's been in the choir a long time, so she has some interesting perspectives sometimes.  :)  Thanks Judith!

The square below was done by Catharine.  Catharine has a beautiful voice, and is an Alto 1 in our choir.  Three hearts, plus a green bow for Appleseed to play with - love it!  Thanks Catharine!

The square below was done by  Leslie.  It is just so pretty!  Elephants are very hot these days, and the piano/roses are my fav!  Leslie is a very cool lady of indeterminate age, and brings a lot of character to the choir!  Thanks Leslie!

Phew!  I don't think I missed any!  How beautiful!  I cried of course when the choir presented it to me, all wrapped up beautifully with lavender from Marie's garden.  Thank you so much to everyone, this quilt is so special to us.