Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Touring the Countryside for Antiques

One of my sisters recently had some holiday time she needed to use up, so we agreed to plan a day trip to visit as many antique malls as we could. This was quite an undertaking as they are all quite far from each other, making for a very long day of driving. However, the thought of scouring through rows and rows of collectibles and rooms and rooms of treasures was simply too alluring for us.

I'm happy to share that after five hours of driving, and a few turnarounds, the day was a success!

I came home with a few bags of carefully wrapped findings.

What was even more successful, was that we managed to do the entire trip with both boys! And can I just say that they were unbelievably good sports. Though I did put some effort into making the day more exciting for them. I created a scavenger hunt for Willen to do in the antique store which kept him happily occupied - the prize was $10 to spend at a surprise destination later in the day (a Lego store complete with a build-your-own-care racetrack, and life-size Lego creations). We also made stops at a farm and at a park, ate lunch at a chip truck that was an old fishing boat, and ended the trip with a giant ice cream cone. They also napped in the car, which helped.

On one of the back roads, we came across this field and a small herd of Jersey cows. It was such a pretty pastoral scene, I couldn't resist pulling over and taking a few photos.

As for what came home, here are two gorgeous ironstone pieces I found. 

The pitcher was $19, "as-is" (which means nothing to me as it usually just means it has even more character and charm, and will simply be displayed on my shelf) and the sugar pot was $35. What's even better is that I actually had this exact one, and sold it a while ago. I regretted it, which rarely happens to me, so it made the find even more sweet.

I've come to love the detailed pieces - the pots with ornamental handles, and pitchers with pretty patterns.

I also picked up this small frame for $19 and this charming little gold alarm clock, that works perfectly, for $11. I think the clock was a steal!

Also, my roses started blooming for the second time this year! They were the only bit of my garden I could move with me, as they were in pots, and for a long while I wasn't sure if they would survive. But after a lot of watering and care, they've recovered and a full of buds. I just hope most of them either open, or stay tight before we leave for the cottage!

The old basket to the left wasn't a find on this trip, but I did recently find it at an antique shop in town. It was $20 and it holds things we use each day at the table - my bible and notebooks along with Willen's activity books and homework supplies.

I also found this ladder back chair, with it's perfectly simple design, for $18. I plan on recovering the seat with a piece of antique linen. I can just see it in the boys room, with a lovely old quilt folded on top of it, or in the front entrance with a basket of mittens and scarves set on the seat.

I also found a few other things which I will show later.

Coming up in September, I have two more large antique shows that I'm looking forward to - the Fall Christie's Antique Show on Saturday, September 12th, and the Annual Aberfoyle Fall Outdoor Antique Show the following Saturday, September 19th.

For now, I was happy to cross a few items off my list.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Weekend Antiquing

This Saturday the boys and I took a field trip, as Hudson liked to call it.

It felt like it had been a little while since I had visited the antique stores in Niagara on the Lake, so we decided to make an afternoon of it.

Now, occasionally, I bump into someone who reads these pages, and is of the opinion that I have a perfectly dreamy life, with perfect children and a perfect house. And I can see how they might arrive there. I'm not interested in sharing photos of my home upside down. I love being inspired by beautifully curated homes - homes that are lovingly cared for, and yet comfortably lived in. That's what I hope to inspire in others, so long as it doesn't create this illusion that everything is always picture perfect. Let me just clarify now that while I do have a very near perfect life in my opinion. It's perfect because it's mine. But everything isn't always literally perfect. There is always a mess somewhere in my home, and my children, two very alive and very curious boys, the little angels that they are, do a great job of keeping me on my toes. I just try very hard to slow down and spend time looking for inspiration in my days, and to channel that into my home as my way of loving my family. I'm not great at a great many things! But these are things that I love, and so this is what I do.

So, in an effort to shed some honest light on my weekend, in hopes of reassuring those who may sometimes doubt it, my life is very much normal.

When we arrived in Niagara on the Lake, a quaint town about thirty minutes from our home, the first stop we made was at one of my favourite antique barns called Queen's Antiques. It's outside of town and full of beautiful items. Here I picked up some baskets and a gorgeous little brown transferware dish.

But, this was such an adventure.

Trying to corral a three year old who must exclaim "Mom! Check this out." and touch every single thing, and I do mean every single little thing, through an antique store is next to impossible. Especially when it turns into a temper tantrum for reasons still unknown to me. I love my son, but the morning went from tranquil to tears in about 10 minutes. I had to actually carry him out of the store, desperately trying to keep flailing legs from knocking anything over. We then spent 10 more minutes in the parking lot on a break, before I was finally convinced that he had calmed down enough to go back in so I could purchase my finds.

I was wrong.

Back out we went.

In the end, I managed to run my card in and have her ring up my purchase while I watched him in the car. It was this moment though that altered my morning for the better, when it very much could have altered it for the worse. Unfortunately this is not an uncommon occurrence for me. He can be an angel in the car, and the minute we enter a store, a whole different child emerges, and quickly I'm left feeling defeated an overwhelmed. But this woman at the cash register made all of the difference. In that moment, instead of the usual looks of disappointment and annoyance that I receive from onlookers, despite my best efforts to remain calm and yet firm, she was kind. She was genuinely okay with the whole situation - at least that's what it seemed. She didn't make me feel guilty for not having a perfectly well behaved child, or feel like a bad mother for being too firm or not firm enough with him. She simply said that she recently watched her grandchild and had forgotten how much work having a little child was. And instead of arriving to the car defeated and in tears, I left relatively calm.

And so we carried on with our morning.

To my surprise, the rest of the day was lovely. We walked to the lake and the boys ran around while I sat and enjoyed coffee and something sweet. Then we walked to the park where the boys splashed with the other children in the fountain, and made our way back to the car, leisurely walking up and down the old streets, admiring the houses and gardens. We even browsed another antique store where he calmly sat chatting to me in the buggy (something that never happens anymore). 

So please know that while I won't be posting photos of the sand ring around my bathtub this morning that I was too tired to clean last night, after an evening trip to the beach with the boys, or my kitchen after pancakes and coffee are served, they are very much there. Our house is a home and we live in it. And we love it.

And speaking of homes that I love, here are some of my favourites that inspired me when we were walking about town.

Isn't this a quaint little cottage. I love the simple green gardens made personal by the willow woven around the bottom of the boxwood and the urn filled with grapevine.

Sitting by the water was a breath of fresh air - both physically and spiritually. It was Saturday afternoon and everyone was relaxing on the grass with a picnic, or sailing past on their boat, or biking along the waterfront. And I just sat there, taking it all in, enjoying a great coffee and Brioche while the boys ran about.

This delectable little treat was a Chocolate Cinnamon Brioche Bun that pulled apart and ended up being enjoyed by all three of us. It was from Willow Cakes and Pastry on Mary Street.

The boys chose colourful macarons.

I just love wandering around town - any old town really. I study their gardens and the paint colours they choose and how their fences are finished and their window displays and always come home with something to replicate in my home.

And in Niagara on the Lake there are so many beautiful old homes, all of which are kept pristine and personal, from grand estates to tiny cottages.

I think this is one of the tiniest of them. It's so charming.

And of course, I love browsing through their antique shops just as much.

These berry baskets are perfect for holding little hostess gifts.

And I was so taken by this little covered dish. With Fall being around the corner, it will go perfectly with my other brown tranferware which will soon be on display. The little tray doesn't accompany it. It was another recent purchase from a new shop Oliver and Rust. (If you click on the name, you can view Meg's blog where she shares some lovely finds and glimpses of her home).

I get so excited for Fall when I see it!

I'm particularly drawn to pieces more from the Aesthetic movement.

And I loved the aging and discoloring of this little tray. It has so much character.

I've also recently picked up quite a few ironstone plates, most of which are from Oliver and Rust. They will come in handy for Thanksgiving dinners and may even end up as a wall display.

And finally, this little tartan lunch box. How sweet is it? Again, can you tell that I have Fall on my mind?

I'm looking forward to another day out with my sister this week, where I hope to find more treasures. Some of the items on my list?

A wardrobe for the master bedroom.
A Night table for Ryan.
Vintage tartan throws. 
A brown transferware pitcher.
A few amber glass bottles.
A coffee table for the living room.
A pair of andirons for the dining room fireplace.
A mantel clock and a small alarm clock for my nightstand.
A small cabinet or table for the upstairs bath.
And of course, artwork.

I will let you know how I make out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Before Photos - The Family Room

I thought next I would share another room we are currently working on - the Family Room.

I mentioned in a previous post, that in hindsight, it was a mistake to work on both living spaces at the same time, while attempting to actually live in the home (no matter how "quick and easy of a job" the contractor might claim it is). 

Hence our half-put-together family room.

This room's walls and ceilings were originally coated in a plaster-type texture, similar to spacalding you would roll onto a ceiling. The reasoning behind it, I believe, was that it was a cheap way to cover up imperfections in the original plaster walls that had been wallpapered over a few times.

Re-drywalling this room was not in our immediate budget. So, when our drywallers came to quote our Living Room, and they mentioned that they could "skim" over the texture, and that it wasn't going to be expensive, you can imagine we jumped all over it.

Now, please be gracious and remember that while this isn't our first home, this is the first time we've renovated a home on this scale. I mean Ryan's done some big renovations himself before, but not quite like this. So we're slowly learning that no project is ever as easy at it seems, and how budgets seem to get pushed with each project, and that if a contractor quoting a job says that it will only take a couple of days, it usually, in our experience, takes a couple of weeks.

So, when the "smoothing out" didn't working on the walls, we needed to come up with another cost-effective solution. It was here that I had the brilliant idea to do planked walls. It provided the covered that we needed, without the huge cost. It's also quite cozy, and has a cottage feel to it, which is nice for a Family Room.

The planking is over halfway complete, however we've come to a stand still for the next week or so. Ryan's work schedule has been busier than usual, and other projects have needed more immediate attention. But again, due to the lack of space to relax in, we just set up the room as best as we could just make things comfortable - particularly for the kids. It's hard enough for them to settle into a new home, the renovations and unsettled house make it even harder.

Here you can see some of the lovely old wallpaper.

This is the room where we have our main entrance. The front door is rarely used, unless by visitors, as it's on the other side of the house (we're on a corner). Because of it's situation to the driveway, this is our entrance.

Here are the earliest photos that I have. Here we are in the middle of removing the spacalding.

You can also see that the ceilings have been smoothed. For some reason, they set perfectly, which is nice, as it will help make the room feel finished off.

This room is also the access for the crawlspace for the latest addition. It's quite tight down there! Our plumbers had to remove some galvanized plumbing, and bring it all up to date.

Ryan's working hard putting up the planking.

Once the rest is finished, the boards will be sealed and then primed before being painted. I haven't selected any colours yet, but it will most likely be white, especially as this room gets limited sunlight. Aside from that, I would also like to replace our aluminum door with a wooden door.

Hopefully soon I will have some after photos for you!

Monday, August 10, 2015

In Season - Peaches

Few things are more quintessentially summer than a sweet peach, with it's juice dripping down your hand as you bite into it, still warm from the market stand on a hot summer's day.

We eat quite a few peaches in the summer, usually just as they are, but occasionally they are enjoyed with our morning yogurt, or on top of our pancakes, drizzled with maple syrup.

Even their colouring is summery.

I think this week I may even can some peaches. I think the boys would love a few jars of peaches with a vanilla bean syrup for over ice cream, or even some peach jam, which would be a first for me.

And speaking of canning, I've discovered that we have what I believe to be a Crab Apple tree in our yard. Not only does this mean that I will be trying to make a batch or two of Crab Apple Jelly, but it means that we will have a tree that will be in bloom in the Spring.

This weekend we stopped by a local flea market. I brought home a small little basket for $5. It's actually the perfect little basket to ripen fruit in. It's often thought that the best way to ripen tomatoes or peaches would be to place them on a sunny windowsill. But actually, these fruits ripen best when stored in a paper bag in a dark place. So far, this little basket has worked well. Right now I have some beautiful Heirloom tomatoes ripening that I can't wait to enjoy.

Looking at this photo of my kitchen, I just realized that I really need to get around to sharing more before photos. Hopefully I will be able to share more soon.