Painting, Painting…

I expected that my next post would be about the tiling projects from December/January, but that can wait.  Yesterday I painted the nursery and just about completed it (aside from another coat of trim paint on part of the panelling and work on the windows.)  This room has been the most ridiculously involved painting project I can remember doing.  It seems like I’ve been patching, caulking, caulking, caulking, brushing, and more for ages.  Judging by the timeline in photos, I have been!

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Before:

guest room blue

At first I’d planned to paint this room with a colour matched gallon of deep blue that I purchased in the fall.  It was dark, and I doubt I’d have picked it on my own, but L loves dark blue, people have remarked since we bought the place that it was particularly lovely, and it happened to go very well with some linen curtains I’d scored at a thrift store some years ago and finally had a chance to use.  However, it is a very dark shade which sucks away the light.  Most of the main floor of the house is done with dark paint, and I’m sometimes regretting that fact.  Then it became clear that instead of being a guest suite we’d be turning it into a nursery for MiniMonkey.

I still thought I’d just use the blue paint, and it didn’t bother me whether girl or boy.  I just hoped the kid would like dark blue!   But… soon I was thinking how nice it would be to plan something from scratch: something lighter and brighter.  When I asked L about it (expecting he’d prefer to stick with what we had due to preference for the colour and to avoid buying more paint) he said it was a good idea.  Still, I didn’t jump on it.  The ceiling paint was in poor condition, and I knew I’d have to begin there.  I despise painting ceilings, I really do, but there wasn’t any avoiding it.

There was so much prep-work to tackle first.  The crown moulding had gaps all around and needed caulking.  It was the same with the trim of the panelling too, and it really took forever to get to the point of painting, because I dutifully primed it all too.  It wasn’t only the panelling to prime and coat a few times with ‘coconut ice.’  Only the entry door had been (mostly) painted after moving in, and I had to do the bathroom and closet doors.   Actually, the windows have yet to be primed and painted except the parts along the drywall.  Once spring finally arrives I must remove all the ugly motion sensors, fill the holes, and paint when they can be opened.

A few weeks ago I grabbed some purplish paint chips while at the store.  I’d been feeling fond of purples and aquas for a while, but aqua seems tough to get right (besides, L doesn’t like green and considers many aquas too green) and would be more difficult to coordinate well with the ’60s blue tiles in the bathroom.  Only one chip looked decent at all.  Another could have been nice elsewhere but read a bit too tan in this lighting.  I left it up for a while, and L immediately agreed to it when I showed it to him.  He answered so fast I’m still skeptical that he could have even seen it, but he always has been extremely quick to judge that he likes something.  😀

We had just found out Mini is a girl when I showed him the colour.   (Uh, hopefully the accuracy of that determination isn’t called into question later, because I’m very set on her name!)  Again, we were fine with a light purplish shade for either, but it does push the envelope a bit now that I’ve seen the entire room in it.  It’s so very… PASTEL and infantile, but then again it is a nursery, heh.  In a few years I can slap on the blue again or something else.  I do like it, but it is quite a change!

 

Now I’m just waiting to furnish and set up the room, but I do feel I ought to wait.  As much as it would be nice to start setting up the crib I might as well let more time pass.  So far I’ve removed the antique dresser and am hoping to refinish one stored at my dad’s, and I bought a laundry hamper.  That’s it.  I may or may not try out the new positioning of the bed shortly, since it must be moved for painting.  I haven’t any ideas for decoration, but I removed the curtain rods at the last minute and will likely do shades instead.  It’s very much a work in progress…

The only thing that caught my eye for decor was that I remembered seeing mounted butterflies on eBay years ago that were very pretty.  Then I was at Home Goods and happened to see a beautiful shadowbox arrangement thing made of them and beetles.  I was stunned when I saw it and gleefully eyed the red sticker indicating that it was on clearance, but then I saw the actual price and sighed.  $250 was not happening.  So sad.  I took photos instead.  I also saw a pretty carpet.  There aren’t really any plans to get a carpet, and I have no idea if I’d want one that looks like this, but I liked it enough to take a photo.  (It is too feminine, I think, unless I’d used pale grey as the wall colour.)   Those butterflies though!  Sigh

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Stencilling a Subfloor: a budget friendly makeover

Ah, this was a project I planned to tackle before we even moved into our house just over two years ago.  How time flies!

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Perhaps you’ve already read about my first stencilling project?  Well, I knew that the solution to the stained (and in my opinion very unappealing) master suite carpeting was to rip it out and stencil just like I’d done to the apartment kitchen.  I even decided to stick with the same colours  and pattern!  According to the mix information I purchased the paint for this before we even moved… and here I am finally done with it.

I began tearing up the carpet on Monday the 13th thinking that with luck I could be done for the weekend.  Ha!  I just completed it on Thursday and only did so by opting not to clear coat.  (I’d wanted to do everything properly and thus apply several coats and let it dry for days as directed, but that meant not stepping into the room until next week, doing things in stages thanks to furniture issues, plus a lot of work… nah.  It’s good.)

Here is a before picture showing the carpeting.  It seems I did not take many photos of the room before we moved in, and you do not see the brown mystery stains here.  Any shades of tan, beige, and brown have never been my thing, and by the time I finally began tearing it out the carpet had additional pulls and damage.  It was beyond time to go.

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It was easiest to start inside the closets, and oh look!  A mystery stain!

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The padding underneath was actually really nice, but it had to go since I wasn’t about to put in another dust collecting carpet.  Annoyingly, previous workers had been rather careless with spackle and paint which left the floor a bit lumpy.  I didn’t want to try sanding anything though, because with the plywood it seemed weird to.

This was a lot of work, and I didn’t quite finish removing the carpet on day one.  I’d begun thinking it was perfect timing to bring the trash out for collection the next morning, and it ended up being 12 contractor bags full at the kerb not counting what was still on the floor when I quit for the evening.  At this point I may have been having a second thought or two.  The were about two million staples to find and pull up!

Last time when I stencilled the apartment kitchen floor I neglected to prime first.  That was not to be skipped now!  When I was nearly done brushing it on I noticed that the can said it wasn’t meant to be used on flooring.  Oops.  Perhaps it would have been better to stick with only the floor paint after all and no primer?

It looked a lot cleaner after priming anyway.  The next day I brushed on a few coats of the base colour.  In the apartment I’d regretted having the edges dark since it showed dust bunnies too well, but I ended up doing the same thing here with the navy blue exposed at the edges.  Actually, I was very close to switching to the grey except that I’d already completed the cutting in and taping for the navy.  In the end I suppose it works out better in this case to have the darker one at the edges to disappear better under the heaters and disguise imperfections?

I filled in most gaps which included rough cuts around doors and a lot of gaps in the landing area.  I’m unsure why they never installed any trim there and had to add some myself.  I really don’t like quarter round and always opt for cove moulding instead.  Rather than wood I used the foam stuff thinking it would curve with the “tower” wall, but the piece I had ended up snapping around a nail, so I filled the wide gap instead.  Eh, it works?

Previously I had made a painted border, and I wanted to again, because I think it looks more complete with one, but I was intimidated by the idea of taping a curve.  Whether this room would end up with a border or not was up in the air until I actually attempted to tape.  It wasn’t bad at all with just a bit of care and finessing.  I was rather proud of myself!  😀

The navy had an entire holiday weekend to cure before taping and stencilling.  I only eyeballed the distance from walls and tried to account for projecting bits of trim to balance with the baseboard heating units.  No portion is perfect, but I am entirely pleased with the results.

It was at this point that I considered switching to grey for the outside border, but I’d not trimmed the tape or planned for that.  The navy matches very well with the bits of carpet on the stairs too, and that helped me decide to keep it as the main colour.  So, another line of tape was added within the perimeter of this.  Just look at this!  So proud!  😀

Before quitting for the day I wanted to complete the border by brushing on the navy to seal the edges and then two coats of the grey.  I peeled up the inner tape before anything dried too much in hopes that it wouldn’t lift any layers that weren’t supposed to.  Success.

In the kitchen I’d measured and begun the pattern symmetrically, because the room was narrow.  Here I decided that the most important focal point was the space between the entry door as one walks up to the landing, so I began there.

 

This is how far I made it the first day:

And finally I was done late on day two and just barely with enough paint in the tray for the last bit:

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Working on a much wider room was a challenge, and I had a difficult time keeping the pattern on track.  It isn’t perfect, but I’m still quite pleased with everything.  Here is the tour starting with the landing:

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Standing in the corner is one of the steamer trunks that my paternal great-grandfather used when he left Slovakia in 1900.  Each of my uncles has one or two, I’m told, and my parents had two but kept this “uglier” one in the damp basement (and mum painted the “nice” one, sigh.)  I rescued it a couple of years ago, washing and waxing away rust and mildew and treating the leather, but the bottom (back here) is falling apart.  😦  It is a fairly awkward item to keep around, but I don’t want to lose a rare bit of family history, and so here it lives.

Last fall I scored an older one, with at curved top, free from a neighbour after it didn’t sell at their yard sale and about to be tossed!  It is also in less than excellent condition but has a nice look with neat metal reinforcements at the edges and lovely bare wood. I’m going to let it dry out this summer then preserve it.  I’ll be sure to write about it here.

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For the photos I decided to set up the cradle that I refinished to match the bed (which I also stained and waxed to have a greyed Restoration Hardware look.)

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L and I are much happier now with the room and feel like it finally has our style.  I’m also glad to be rid of the dust-trapping aspect of carpet and look forward to a much easier time when vacuuming.  The only thing that I might do something about are the closet doors and trim colour.  It would be a pain, but it could be worth gel-staining the wood to a darker tone?  I’d really like to paint it but think that would be a shame to do and will not, but a deeper shade could make a big difference.  The trim already looks significantly better here than it used to having been touched up to hide strange fading and wear.  As for the doors, they are loud and feel flimsy.  Depending on measurements I could rig up some Ikea PAX sliding doors or something one day?

Next I’ll have to finish painting the bathroom.  Colour goes a long way, and paint disguised the nasty formica-like vanity, but one day we hope to renovate it.  I’m sure that will be many years from now if ever, but it doesn’t stop me from envisioning marble tile and some sort of wonderful tub.

 

Here and There

Hello again!

I really should have written about the tiling that I was working on in December while I was at it.  Why did I convince myself that projects must be complete before I could post?  All that leads to are delays, and it is silly considering that all the blogs that I’ve most enjoyed reading all seemed to be progress posts rather than complete and perfect before & afters.  Speaking of, I recently found a really enjoyable blog, written by a talented and impressively productive lady, while researching for a future project.  It took me forever to click through to begin reading at the first post, so you’re welcome for the link to it.  😛  (I don’t know about you, but I have to start at the beginning when I find a great blog.)

Just after my last post I did grout and finish the hearth and entryway.  (Although I didn’t seal it yet, now that I think.  Whoops.)  Photos were taken, and there will certainly be a post about those coming up.  Aside from that we enjoyed the holidays, and I was focused on frenzied sorting and organising of all the things before succumbing to 1st trimester exhaustion.  I’m still fighting it, to be honest, and I don’t think that the dreary winter weather is helping much.  Sporadic project-ing does happen, but I could use some energy.

Yesterday I caulked crown moulding in the guest  baby’s room and edged the ceiling.  Rolling on the paint was too much, however, although I re-coated the hallway where water had leaked months ago.  At some point before Christmas I pulled all the furniture to the middle of the room and brushed one coat of Coconut Ice trim paint onto the wainscoting.  Slowly I’ll get there.  Now the dilemma is whether to paint the walls with the colour-matched dark blue (that I already purchased) or go light and bright, perhaps with the Polished Limestone that I have on hand?

This is a difficult choice!  First of all, I already bought the blue.  It is a lovely shade that matches a bedspread and picks up the blue in some heavy linen curtains that were finally put to use after being found at a thrift store some years ago.  It has character and cohesion.  …But it is soooooo dark!  Our entire first floor is done with rather extremely dark shades of paint, and the light does get sucked right into the walls.  It would be lovely to have and airy room on cloudy days.  …But the pale grey is so neutral and boring comparatively!  Sure, it is a lot more “nursery,” but it feels like giving up.  Heh.  Yesterday I asked DH about the situation, and he surprised me by not jumping at keeping the blue.  I thought he’d be all for it since it is his favourite, but he even suggested choosing something entirely different.  Perhaps?  Such a shame to lose that blue though!

This is not the most helpful photo, but I was laying on the bed tired and just wanted to get a shot of the two colours.  The colour-match may read a little differently than this, I believe, and Polished Limestone can be seen in the hallway beyond the door.  Disregard the need for at least one more coat of the trim paint.  😀

Anyway, this will be a long series of progress posts for the nursery, I am sure.  I already plan to move the bed to fit a crib, and the dresser will be stored indefinitely.  I love it, and it was a Salvation Army bargain which I felt lucky to find, but it doesn’t store very much and is delicate.  I used to have one handed down from my mother that is much more suitable, but it has been stored in my father’s basement for a few years.  The condition is questionable.  Once I refinished it and would love to again, but I’m afraid paint may be the best case scenario now.  At worst I have to find one on Craigslist and figure out how to get it home or resort to  Ikea.  (I realllllly don’t want to do Ikea.)   Due to the placement of windows, closet, entry and bathroom doors I don’t know whether I can fit a recliner/glider into the space too.  Gliders are wonderfully comfortable but mostly ugly and always expensive, but I have a thrift store recliner in storage (and pieces.)  It needs refinishing and  reupholstering, again, because the cats shredded the fabric the first time I did it.  Also a nicer fabric would be ideal, but the one I planned to use isn’t in stock (now that I waited a couple of years before buying it.  Unfortunately upholstery fabric isn’t cheap, so…)  I can only hope it will be available again and soon  or else the recliner is doomed to sit in pieces for years.  😦  Planning a real makeover for the nursery could be fun, but I’m not sure I’ll go for a full leap.  The kid is sure to love navy blue and Jacobean floral curtains, right?  Right?  What I do have so far is a lot of linen crib bedding that I scored at the Restoration Hardware Outlet during big sales.  It is all shades of grey and white.  The crib is iron, but I don’t know yet how I want it finished/painted.  Perhaps just clear coat over bare metal?  Boringly safe white?  Decisions!

Lately I’ve been dreaming of spring and have been making garden plans.  Today I placed an order with RareSeeds, and I bought a montmorencey cherry tree too.  We moved to this house two years ago this week, and that first spring I planted a tiny cherry tree thinking the sooner the better if I ever wanted to eat any fruit, but the poor thing died right away.  Last year I told myself not to bother and be glad not to attract more critters, but now I’d really like some tart cherries to look forward to.  I have fond memories of eating them straight off the tree once at a relative’s house (she had an amazing garden) and this pushed me to go for it so that our child can pick cherries in our back yard.  (If I can get the thing to live and grow!  I opted for the more expensive one instead of bare-root hoping to improve my chances.)

The RareSeeds order is basically for decorative stuff that was in the goth garden already, but I added some beans too.  A few of them are gorgeously purple and will be part of the decorative garden.  This year I’ve decided to make use of the somewhat sunnier front of the house more ambitiously.  There is no water source, however, so I’m thinking of ways to extend soaker hoses knowing anything out there is otherwise doomed.  Some of the beans should be pretty there, and perhaps I’ll try a few tomatoes and watermelon?  Last year the tomatoes were a dismal failure since we are so shaded by neighbouring trees, but I desperately want home grown tomatoes if nothing more!  I was working too much and think they were not watered enough either, so my hope it that more attention will make a difference.

Air Cured Pork Loin

Have you ever had thin slices of lomo at a tapas joint or perhaps have a family tradition of Italian lonzino?

I’d never heard of lonzino until I tried to find a recipe online approximating the delicious cured pork loin served to us each day when we visited my father-in-law.  Even lomo wasn’t on my radar any longer, but an order from La Tienda filled the gap pretty well while I finally got around to trying to cure my own.  (La Tienda is a great resource if you crave things like fuet!)

This is not going to be a recipe or exact procedure (per usual here.)  I do detest measuring and weighing after all.  Besides, I have yet to come up with a way to make a mouth watering smokey loin with a strong hint of thyme such as the traditional Romanian kind my father-in-law makes.  So far I’ve achieved salty and savoury.  I need his secrets and perhaps a smoker.  Nonetheless it was an adventure, and maybe someone reading this will be inspired to try their own charcuterie?

I began the cure on the 18th of November, and I deemed the pork ready on the 18th of December as it turns out.  They were rather large hunks which took a long time.  I just began four, as thin as my wrist, yesterday as a second attempt which will go faster.  First I washed the pieces and trimmed them a bit to be a more regular size and composition (less fat.)  Roughly following a few online guides I salted them including pink curing salt in the mix (which contains nitrates/nitrites which are extremely important to prevent dangerous bacterias from colonising the meat.)  This is also supposed to be done by weight for safety reasons.  The dry brine included some herbs, liquid smoke, and semi-sweet paprika, but it turned out to not be enough for the flavour I was looking for.  The pieces were tightly wrapped and went into the fridge until the 4th.

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At that point I rinsed them (not well enough fearing they’d be bland… too salty in retrospect,) let them drain for a while, and tied them up to hang in the garage.  It didn’t look odd at all, I’m sure.

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On the 18th I figured the smaller one was ready, and it was was indeed.  I wonder what the drain guys who came to fix our sewer line thought when they walked into the garage??  😀

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I made pa amb tomaquet to serve it with, and we didn’t die.  😉

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Meanwhile, I have been very productive lately and preparing to post about a big cosmetic improvement to our house.  I finally re-tiled the fireplace hearth and the entryway!  That was… last week and the week before, but I still haven’t done the grout.  Once I set the entry tile on Thursday I’d been ready to write a nice post, but without a completely done after photo I’m stuck.  Today I nearly did the grout but somehow found myself painting the guest room panelling instead.  Tomorrow!  I’ve really been in a productive frenzy lately, which is good.  Partly it is due to the holidays and wanting things to look as nice as I envisioned when people will actually be here to see, and partly it is a due to a looming deadline on the horizon…  This is off topic for this blog, but we finished up the IVF cycle with a day five transfer last Thursday, and today I had a really obviously positive home pregnancy test.  It is pretty exciting although I should keep my enthusiasm tempered this early, but I can’t.  😀  (It is extremely early to test, but I’d already tested out the trigger and know it’s real.  Now we just need it to stick!)  

Xmas Decor 2016 & List of Upcoming Projects

Yesterday I brought the tree down from the attic, put it together, and decorated.  We were away around Thanksgiving, and I haven’t been terribly productive recently, but at least the house feels nice and Christmas-y.

Actually, I’ve been working on things here and there, like massive organisation bursts, but in the last week and this one not much else could be done.  L worked from home, took this entire week off, we were away, and I’m about to flip out for lack of alone time, so… I’m looking forward to more productive times.  Also, I’m now in the midst of the IVF cycle (number II,) and it is rather inconvenient.  For example, we left for Manhattan well before 7 on Monday and weren’t home until noon.  Thankfully on week days I can mostly go to a nearer location for monitoring, but city trips make for an exhausting day without much hope for large projects.  However, I do have a long list in mind to complete before family visits for Christmas.

Definitely:

-Purchase quartz tile and supplies to re-tile the entry area and hearth.  (Likely to be done this Friday when I go for local-ish monitoring.)

-Tile the hearth and entry.  This would have been ideally done before putting the tree up, but alas.  I am antsy to do this in particular, because it is a small enough project that I’ll get a lot of satisfaction quickly, and it will make a huge change to the look of our place.  Of course I’d like that done before we have the rare occasion of house guests.  (It already irks me that my tree photos now showcase the old tile!)

-Finish sanding the dining chairs before staining and waxing them to match the Restoration Hardware style dining table that I completed at least two years ago.  (!!!)  While I’m at it I ought to touch up the coffee table.

-Brush trim paint (coconut ice) on the remaining 40% of the kitchen beadboard that is sadly still only primed after about two years.  (Also !!!)

-(Semi-temporary) repairs to the front steps.  I began this and ran out of Quickcrete.  L would like this to be completed, so if I get warm enough weather and a chance to then I’d better get to it.

-Brush edges of masonry that I painted earlier in the fall.

-Finish the sofa reupholstering.  Specifically to staple the back properly, stitch the upper back as needed, and staple black cambric stuff to finish underneath.  (Why haven’t I done this yet?   This is why I should never let myself stop at “good enough for now.”)  To truly complete it I’ll have to sew four-six throw pillow covers of the same linen as the sofa.  I have them all cut and ready to go, but I suspect this will be a long term sort of thing, because the jewel toned silk dupioni covers that I make long ago are “good enough for now.”

-Paint ceilings of guest room, hall, and main bath; guest and main bath walls; guest paneling, doors, and re-coat other doors; and re-paint main bath headboard with gloss.

-Pattern and make a winter coat.  I’ve planned this for two years and have all the fabric and notions required.  I actually started work on this last week but felt a bit overwhelmed and stopped, because nothing but wasted work ever comes from pushing through when I’m not in the right creative mode.

-Change out all remaining switch plates and outlet covers after painting.

Hopefully, but maybe:

-Change all door hinges to brushed nickel, adjust, and touch up paint.

-Fix the drop ceiling droop, add cross bars for 2×2′ tiles, and install fancier new tiles to replace the institutional styled 2×4′ kind.  (I may have to cut this from the allowed budget thanks to a fancy Butchers&Bicycles bakfiets we bought.  This change would make such a huge difference in the appearance of the media room part of the basement, but it is one of the most sensible to cut from this year’s list and save for later.  I anticipate it being a very messy, fussy, and time consuming hassle of a project.)

-Replace the sewing room and probably dressing room/master suite doors with some that have a frosted glass panel to let in light.  (I’m dying to do this too, but it is the other sensible thing to cut from the budget as it costs a lot for likely a less dramatic change.  It makes less of an impact than the drop ceiling, I guess, but it is a far easier task without all the hassle and mess of the ceiling project.  We’ll see.)

-The exterior staining project.  Soon I’ll write an update post about this, but due to ladder circumstances I haven’t finished the two sides of the house.  I began the west side and wanted it done this fall, but the ladder thing complicated the matter.  Not only do I need good enough weather and L’s availability and willingness to help, but the hillside is a severe obstacle.  While I purchased legs for the ladder I’m still nervous.  The other side would have been easy, but first we needed to have a nastily rotten old pile of firewood removed, and that happened way too late.  It makes sense to leave that until spring now.  I sure wish the warm and dry weather lasted longer here!  A part of me still holds out hope of finishing the west side before winter.

-Paint dining/living window trim with coconut ice.

Future projects that I won’t even think of trying before Christmas but do intend to do within 6-9 months:

-Rip up the carpeting of the master bedroom.  Prime, paint, and stencil the sub flooring.

-Sort and organise the remaining boxes and stuff in the storage room and basement.

-Tear out the laminate and carpet in the media room and storage room.  Level whatever I find beneath, and install vinyl planks.  This is huge.  I’ll need to remove or move around L’s workstation and big entertainment thing, furniture, and a tonne of stored crap (see previous item.)  Then I have to deal with the demolition and rubbish, but I’m most concerned about what I’ll find beneath the laminate.  I can only fear what has caused bouncing dips and unlevelled spans as drastic as we have down there…  I hope that some levelling concrete is all that is required, but all sorts of nightmares plague my plans with this especially after we had a massive swarm of carpenter ants to eliminate this spring.  It’ll be a gorgeous change though.

-Paint the dressing room and curved stairwell.  Maybe re-do the master bedroom too now that I have selected the proper pale grey?

-Continue to replace torn and ugly aluminium screens of storm windows and re-glase windows.

-Refinish a crib, maybe???

-Lots of sewing.

-Reupholster a recliner and a cute little tufted round chair.

-Restore or basically do something to make an antique travel trunk useable as furniture.

 

Anyway… On to the holiday decorations:img_7982Above is the sofa featured in my reupholstering instructional posts (that I have yet to finish.)  Actually, I did that round chair/loveseat twice too!  You might also see that the crown moulding has been finished but the window is only white primer?

 

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This year’s additions.  I found a few more of the Egyptian glass, liked the random matte white with black ornaments, and finally added a pickle!  img_7930

 

A closeup of the centre-piece on the coffee table:img_8009

 

I have these allllllll organised when stored!  Each year some ornaments are put into rotation or maybe not.  Believe it or not, I’d like even more options to select from!  Since I do add a dozen or so each year that is becoming more of a reality.img_7940

 

Surprisingly Good Chicken: Buddha’s Hand Marinade

Last week, when I did our grocery shopping, I spotted something nifty:

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It’s a citrus fruit thing called Buddha’s hand, and I had to get it.  I just love trying out new and strange produce.  Heh, just ask my mother for stories of shopping with me as a kid and begging for a star fruit or some other foreign looking botanical specimen.  (Back then star fruit was really strange, and I remember the first time we started seeing kiwis on offer and marketed with special little spoons.  It was the boonies, okay?)  Anyway, I didn’t realise that there wasn’t going to be any fruity pulp to try, but luckily I planned to do something involving the zest as I shopped.  Often I’ll make a lemon based marinade, so I figured that work with this thing, and grilling sounded tasty… maybe shrimp kebobs?

I ended up with boneless chicken thighs.  I’d also planned on getting a pork loin to cure, but the store wasn’t running any specials (as they always seem to usually, darn it!)  Chicken was dirt cheap though, and after some consideration I went for it.  I’m not a big fan of chicken.  Generally I kind of dislike it even, and I only prepare it a couple of times a year.  Usually I bake thighs covered a bit of mayonnaise, dill, scallions or onion, black pepper, paprika, and garlic salt.  Occasionally I’ll dredge cutlets in coconut flour for a sort of schnitzel.  Other than soup I think that is pretty much it.  I’m just not into chicken.

Once I finished putting away the groceries I threw the thighs into a bowl with thin slices of the Buddha’s hand, the juice of a few lemons (after seeing there was no pulp in this thing,) a bunch of garlic salt, a little black pepper, and a little bittersweet Spanish paprika.  My idea was to kind of brine it, I guess, hence more salt than usual and put it in the fridge for a few hours before grilling.  I didn’t even photograph this since I didn’t plan to blog anything about it.

But it turned out to taste AMAZING.

This was days ago, so describing it is difficult, but L and I were really, really, really surprised and amazed at just how delicious this chicken was.  The flavour ended up penetrating through beautifully, every bite had a delicate and tangy goodness with a bit of the grill char too.  Freaking awesome.

This isn’t pretty, but I did take a photo of the chicken after grilling, because I tasted a bite and was wowed.  I don’t even remember what was in the foil, shishito pepper?  Yeah, shishitos with olive oil and salt:

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So, the point of this post is to encourage you to try cooking with Buddha’s hand.  Figure out what went right with my experiment, or Google for recipes, but do try it if you ever see it in the shop.

Capezio Can Can Boots VS American Duchess Renoir Button Boots

This morning I took photos of the two pairs of boots to illustrate the differences between them.  Surely not many people out there are comparing these, especially since the Can Cans are discontinued now and custom made only, but here we go anyway…  (Actually, this website appears to be selling the Can Cans, but I cannot vouch for them personally, and the price is significantly less than I was quoted by Capezio.)

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So far the Renoirs win on comfort, I believe.  The lower heel is of course easier on me since I barely wear heels at all, and they are a size US8.5 which my toes appreciate.  While I have always found the US7.5 Can Cans to be wonderfully comfortable I’ll have to admit that the feel caused by the heels is not optimal (nor is the size now, but that isn’t their fault.)

As noted in a previous post, I’ve worn the Can Cans for thousands upon thousands of steps over the course of a decade.  They are very sturdily made and have been the most wearable shoes I’ve ever had.  I’m looking forward to the look once the Renoirs have been broken in, and I anticipate that they’ll win the wearability contest.  They appear almost equally well made with the Can Cans looking just a bit better in some way that I cannot put my finger on.  Thicker leather?  Something about the construction?  It is a tad difficult to compare with the Renoir pair practically unworn yet too, but I have hopes that they’ll fare well over the years.

Nearly $200 for the Renoirs is pricey indeed, but I generally select shoes in that price point.  Seeing them in person I have no complaints about the cost at all.  In fact, they are a bargain compared to nearly $500 for the Can Cans.  So, there you are: my thoughts on these two beautiful Victorian/Edwardian-ish boots.  I hope that seeing “after” photos of the Renoir boots may be interesting to someone even if they aren’t truly broken in yet.  I was scouring the internet for reviews and images that didn’t look the same as the pristine pairs on the original website.  I hoped to see them after buttons were adjusted and after conforming to someone’s feet.

Most of the original boots I’ve seen have a gorgeous shape which the Renoirs are lacking, but I’m not sure if that might change with more wear and button adjustment?  Perhaps anatomy and tolerance of discomfort have something to do with it too?  Or did the leather shrink?  I don’t know.  I love these curves!

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Will the Renoir boots approach this look after a while?  I hope so and will report back some day to let you know.

PS: I was able to get the most lovely little folding button hook!  IMG_7046.jpg

A funny thing is that although I am a rather ambidextrous-leaning lefty it was much more natural to hook with my right hand.  I was surprised at how easily it went with my right while my left fumbled a little.  Maybe that is since my left is used to the idea of buttoning normally?  Heh.