Friday, October 31, 2014

ORC Diary: The Drapery Saga.

Day 5.1.
Thursday. Where it's at.

The post goes live and I start looking at what other linking participants are doing. I begin to panic. I start sewing up my canvas dropcloth for my drapes. Half the day later, I realise I've somehow done my math wrong and with the pleats all pinned, it's going to be too short for the rod.

Start over.

I measure the cloth and realise my first measurement had been wrong--nothing wrong with my math. So, I set to setting the pleats yet again. Then, when the math checks out, hooray, I begin to sew in the pleats. Boy oh, boy, three thicknesses of dropcloth plus buckram really is thick!

Another half of the day goes by and I hang them triumphantly.

Eight inches too short. And the pleats are wonky. I screwed up the spacing at the ends there, somehow.

I put another dropcloth I have lying around into the washing machine to bleach and run out the door to find a solution.

While I am gone, this happens:

In two and a half hours I hit Marshall's, Home Sense, Pier 1, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Home Outfitters. I come home with yarn and two pillows. I keep looking at blankets...and I think, hey, I could make a fringe. I could make eight inch fringe with the yarn for the bottom of the drapes. You know, instead of sleeping. Not sure about it. Happy about the pillows--20% off.

In between jabbing myself with pins, I've put another two coats of stain on the wood for the coffee table today. Looking good.

But I am this close to throwing in the towel--or the dropcloth, as it were.

Day 5.2
What's Halloween? Oh yeah, that thing which causes really long line ups at the fabric store!

Mom comes over to help with the couch slip cover. She brings the Poang cushion all covered! We discuss my "fringe" idea for the drapes--and conclude it would probably pick up too much dog hair.

I borrow her car because I realise I'd forgotten to check Walmart last night for more of that fabric I want to trim out the drapes. I also decide I want to paint the back of the bookshelves a colour closer to the rug. Mom helps me figure out a colour and away I go.

I get the paint, but the fabric is not available.

Driving back, I realise that I'd completely forgotten about the Ikea Ritva drapes I'd started reconstructing eons ago. (I bought them in October of 2011. Yes, I checked the blog.) I decide to get them out and figure out why I'd given up on them.

When I return, Mom has to leave. I don't have time to tell her about the drapes.

When she's gone, I decide the "new" old Ikea drapes will be fine. Mom comes back and takes everything out of the bookcases for me.

Six and a half hours after she leaves, I have one drapery panel done.


Not liking how it is hanging. Is it the Euro pleat?

I'll look again in the morning.

One more panel yet. And I work a long day tomorrow. We'll see what happens!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

ORC5: Tickety Boo

What a difference a week makes.

First, thanks to all of you who left me comments and encouraged me. Your kindnesses helped lift me out of a slump of discouragement, frustration and disappointment.

Progress throughout this project has been slow. Here are the links to my previous progress reports:

Week 1: The Befores, the Vision and the Punch List
Weeks 2 & 3: Catching Up
Week 4: Barely Hanging On

This week made up for all of that--and just in time, too!

#1. I bought a rug. I took Chris to Target Friday night and we bought a rug, a pouf, and a wooden bird. I've been having second thoughts about the rug all week but I am coming around.

#2. The wood trim is up. Yahoo! Finally, the trim feels finished--oh, only 17 years after we started!

The chimney breast was tricky: and I had to do some repainting.  I remembered to take a picture after I'd started!

The window wall was relatively straightforward--even though the wall wows and we discovered the curtain rod wasn't hung straight. Oh well!

#3. The Vittsjo finally arrived at my local IKEA. I've bought it and, with my husband's expert help, hacked it.

#4. Mom is sewing up a storm on the couch slipcover.She is further along than this, but I didn't get a photo of her last fitting.

#5. It's not all just my husband and my Mom, I'm doing some work too. I made a decision on the trim for my drapes. That counts as work, right?

But now I need to decide between doing a Euro pleat or a traditional one.

#6. Mom took the poang chair cushion--and fabric--home with her to work on.

It's been amazing and I'm feeling pretty confident we can get it all done. But it'll be close!

The Punch List:

Put up moulding on fireplace chimney breast
Put up moulding on window wall
Stain second pine shelf over TV to match the first one.
Spot prime the bleeding knots in the fireplace surround.
Paint it.
Top bookcases with wood and or/thick shelf.

Declutter books
Declutter games and relocate
Declutter dvds, cds, etc.
Make sure the TV is set up properly for devices to attach properly.

sew a couch cover. in progress.

sew or buy a cushion cover for the poang chair in progress.

buy a rug

sew vertical trim on the dropcloth drapes. in progress.

buy low light plants

New things added:

*add wood top to second vitssjo piece. Stain it.

* Stain and wax top for coffee table.

* sew pleats into drop cloth drapes in progress

* buy pillows and blankets

* style bookcases.

Things that have changed:

buy and install window blinds. Not going to happen.

recover ottoman...zebra stripes? no longer necessary. Replaced with IKEA Vittsjo.

Cut, peel and flatten top of log for a table. Highly doubtful. We just can't get the chainsaw to work to flatten the log we have ready to go. Boo hiss.

This log is from the tree that used to be in front of the dining room window which we cut down many summers ago. I would be so great to have it in the living room.


bring back long rustic lunch bench? no. There really is enough wood already.

stain floor w/multiple shades of blue? no.

get doors for 1/2 the bookcase?  I found out that in August Ikea updated the Billys--and the new doors, apparently, will not fit the old units. So. No doors.

**************** Please check on the other linking participant's progress at our gracious host's blog, Calling It Home. So inspiring.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

AT Style Cure Day 4: The Outbox

Yes, I know, I am insane.

I am working like a feverish dervish on The One Room Challenge (which thanks to my Mom and my husband is coming along quite well, thank you) and now I am adding this.

The Cure and I go way back: it was the whole reason I started this blog in the first place, seven years ago. I haven't always participated in the cures since then: some have been either ill-timed, ill-conceived or irrelevant. But this one looks well thought out and manageable--and I have a half finished kitchen to wrangle into shape: and I'd much rather do it before Christmas than after.

So, Day 1: Style Questionnaire. I skipped the favourites category. For me, knowing that Ruth Wilson is currently my favourite actress does nothing to inform my style. (Oh gawd, her acting in The Affair is amazing.) In our peculiar culture, actors and actresses, cars, etc are objects onto which we project some sort of meaning. I grew up somewhat isolated from popular culture--and the death of Princess Diana so shocked me, I avoided all celebrity media for many years (and, for other reasons, almost all television and movies). I am not as culturally illiterate as I once was, but, still, enough.

However, I do have five style words (and a pinterest board devoted to interpreting them visually). Looking through the board and thinking hard about them helped me think through some issues I was having with the living room.

Day 2: Style Scouting. I did this via pinterest. Fun and surprisingly useful.

Day 3: Sit for ten minutes and choose a room. I didn't sit, but I did choose the kitchen.

Day 4: Set up the Outbox and put one thing in it.
see above.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ORC4: Barely Hanging On

"I have a problem."

"What kind of a problem? A big problem or a little problem? I don't like big problems."

"Well, it is this. I have a dog who likes to pee on carpet, and I need a rug for my living room."

"Impossible. That's impossible."

""My hardwood floors are in rough shape and we don't have the money to refinish them right now, so I need a rug."

"What do you want? A rug to soak up pee?"

"This is hard for me. You are not making it any easier."

He shrugged. I left.


Mom was over on Sunday and we looked through the pieces we have from an old slipcover.

I cannot find a suitable navy upholstery fabric and my budget is nil, so we are going to use what I already have.


I have had exactly two days off of work since last Thursday. You now know what I did on each of them.

I'm sure the other linking participants to the One Room Challenge have lots to report. Check on their progress here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Decluttering Family Style

Decluttering makes you confront your life as it is--not as you wish it was. That can be uncomfortable.

I wanted to get rid of some games we no longer play anymore. I gathered some from the living room and put them on the kitchen table and asked the kids to tell me which ones they wanted to keep.

That may not have been the best approach! We did not let go of that many.

The white box held play dough supplies. I had held on to them for my nephew. When my seven year old nephew was over last, he played minecraft with my son. Good-bye play dough.

The hard truth is, we haven't played a game together as a family in a long, long time. My daughter is irritated beyond reason by her brother: so sometimes, it just isn't all that fun for the four of us to be together. Yet, my picture of a happy, healthy family is all of us sitting around a table. I am not quite ready to give up on that.

But, I don't want to keep the games in the living room anymore. As part of my efforts to spiff up the living room this month, I  decided to put the games we wanted to keep with the rest--on the top shelf of our coat closet. But first, I had to make room.

Years ago, I had put up a cooler and a picnic blanket in order to make it easier for us to go on picnics. Sadly, we've never really gone on a lot of them. So, the blanket is being relocated to be near the camping stuff and I am probably going to donate the cooler. Taking out just those two things gave me the room we needed.

Now, to make sure we play one of these together, soon!

Monday, October 20, 2014

From the Weekend: Fall Lingers

My son showed me how the slanting light of the setting sun was lighting up the tops of the trees. I handed him the camera.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

ORC Weeks 2&3: Catching Up

This is an update for both weeks two and three because for all of the time available between week one and week two, I was a long way away connecting with family at my Grandmother's funeral. It was a trip which healed and restored my soul like none other. (Truly, one last gift from a most remarkable woman). And then, unfortunately, I spent all of the time between week two and week three down with a nasty, nasty cold. Needless to say, progress was light.

When I finished the last ORC in the Spring, I knew I wanted to do it again--and I knew I wanted to tackle my living room.

So, to get a jump on things, I painted it.

I also hung two drop cloths I bleached a few years ago.

And then I tossed the teal carpet.

So, really this is where we began.

This week, I took care of a few things I could do in short spurts.

I sealed the knots in the faux fireplace and painted it. It is, actually, the exact same colour of the walls, but in a semi-gloss. (Glass of Milk by Martha Stewart) I love it.


No, your screen did not suddenly sprout spots. That's what happens to knots when they are not sealed with a shellac based primer.


I also stained the shelf above the television.


sorry about the blur, but it is probably for the best. That's one nasty reflection happening there.

(In our living room the best place for the TV is the corner, even with a flat screen.)

I have several cans of stain. I know I mixed two or three--or maybe more of them together when I stained the first shelf. I'd wanted it to match the ikea unit.

Top row, left to right: Cherry, English Chestnut; Bottom row, left to right, Red Oak, English Chestnut, Golden Oak.

So I measured and experimented until I had exactly what I wanted. I wrote everything down as I went so I'd have a recipe.

After supper, I started making my recipe: and then, as I was about to measure out the last can, I realised that I had picked up one can thinking it was another--so who knows what I'd mixed together. I blame my cold, the dim light of the room, and the fact we were watching something on TV.

I decided not to worry too much about it. I simply adjusted a bit here and there. Stains can be custom mixed, just like paint. I enjoy messing around with them. Things were humming along nicely when I went to bed.

The next morning, I made a disastrous decision. I decided to give the top a second coat in red oak. It was awful. So awful, I took it down to the workshop in the basement and sanded off as much as I could--and started over.

Back to Square One. Or is it Trapezoid One?


Now, that's all right.

The Recipe (for my own future referance):

5 1/2 tsp Cherry
1 tsp English Chestnut
1 tsp Red Oak

I have been seriously contemplating hacking the Ikea Vittsjo, but I just checked and there are none in town.
Can you say beyond frustrated?

Updated punch list:

The Punch List:

Put up moulding on fireplace chimney breast
Put up moulding on window wall
Stain second pine shelf over TV to match the first one.
Spot prime the bleeding knots in the fireplace surround.
Paint it.
Top bookcases with wood and or/thick shelf.

Declutter books
Declutter dvds, cds, etc.
Make sure the TV is set up properly for devices to attach properly.

Cut, Peel and flatten top of log for a table
sew a couch cover from indigo denim
sew or buy a cushion cover for the poang chair
buy a rug
buy and install window blinds
sew either vertical trim or band the bottom of the dropcloth drapes
*sew pleats into drop cloth drapes
recover ottoman...zebra stripes?
buy low light plants

Still undecided:
bring back long rustic lunch bench?
stain floor w/multiple shades of blue?
get doors for 1/2 the bookcase?  I just found out that in August Ikea updated the Billys--and the new doors, apparently, will not fit the old units. So. No doors.

Check out the other linking participants in the One Room Challenge, here. I am sure they will have much more dramatic updates!

Monday, October 13, 2014

From the Weekend: The Windows

My husband and son changed out the screens for the storm windows this Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

I guess winter really is coming.

Monday, October 6, 2014

In Memorium

Life happens.

So, too, does death.

My ninety-nine year old grandmother died this week. I am flying five thousand kilometers to be with my family to celebrate her life.

She was cheerful. She was an awful nag. She always stopped to talk to people. She laughed at human foibles, especially her own. She loved her family fiercely.

And even though I last saw her in 2007, I will miss her always.

Norma Jean Wylie (nee Summers) 

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Kitchen Project: The Table

This table has a history.

When I bought this table three and a half years ago, I expected it to solve all my "eating in the kitchen woes." Little did I know, a whole new set of woes were about to begin.

It started innocently enough.

One day, while cleaning up after dinner, I threw my dishcloth on a spot to "soak" it and make it easy to wipe up. Little did I know that I was inviting disaster.

The Liatorp, by IKEA, is one of the few pieces they carry which is simply a melamine finish on a pressboard (or mdf) surface. (The new Ingatorp is, unfortunately, no different.)

Once the finish cracks or becomes pitted, the fibres in the pressboard underneath swell up, creating huge blots.

This becomes this in short order.

Most of their furniture is at least some sort of wood. The pressboard, however, made the table impossible to re-finish--or so I thought.

So, for too long, I lived with this.

Eventually, it got so nasty (and clean up so impossible) we just stopped eating at it. That killed me. I believe very strongly in having family meals together. I have teenagers. It is really important for us to connect. I imposed a rule: dinner together once a week. That's how bad it was.

Once in a while, I'd research how to "fix" it, but I never found anything quite satisfactory.

Then, one day last week, I was thinking about it and realised it was simple. I would sand down the raised bits, prime them, and then re-paint with a melamine paint.

So, that's what I did.

I used a shellac based primer. An oil based primer might have done the job just as well, but I thought of the pressboard as if they were knots. They had to be super sealed to protect them from moisture.

Then, I rolled on a couple of coats of the melamine paint (colour matched to a side rail I took into Home Depot.) I used a sponge roller which was a bit of a mistake. It knocked back the sheen of the paint and it gave me really thin coverage. The thin coverage wasn't a bad thing, necessarily, I just wanted the process to go a bit more quickly, so I switched to a brush. I did two coats with it.

It is not perfect.

If you look closely, you can see the brush strokes.You can also see where the pressboard spots were. (Trust me. The camera can't pick it up but the naked eye can. Especially when you get down close when the sun is shining.) I probably should have sanded a bit more. I'm not sure wood filler would have helped but it might have.

The sheen doesn't match the original table top. As you can see, you can tell when you put the leaf in.

The thing is, I really don't care about these imperfections that much. They certainly are not going to keep our family from the table anymore.

(Next up: repainting those chairs. But don't hold your breath.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

15 Minutes: Declutter Countdown

Have you heard about the 31 Day writing challenge, hosted by The Nester?

Regrettably, I decided not to participate this year: I have in the past. This year, though, I figured I should take it easy and just follow along as best I can while doing the One Room Challenge in my living room (and following all of those fabulous participants. It is a busy month in blogland.)

This evening, I was reading a blog doing a series called the Clutter Countdown. Everyday, she will post a fifteen minute decluttering challenge. Tonight, it was all about the kitchen counter. I decided to play.


After 15 minutes.

Oh, so close! I was quite proud of myself for my 15 minutes included clearing out the dish rack so it could play host to the supper dishes.

So, I just let the timer continue.

And ta da!

Full disclosure: there are two cooking pots still on the stove, soaking.

But thanks Beauty and Bedlam. I needed that.
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