Thursday, October 8, 2015

An Autumn Mantel

I'm fairly certain I was enjoying myself so much yesterday, that I was humming as I selected and arranged pumpkins on our mantel.

I just love our fireplace.

I knew I would love the look of it and relaxing by it, but I didn't realize that I would love it quite as much as I do. I spend as much time in this room as possible. In the morning light with a coffee and my study, cozied up with a boy on either side and a book before bed (currently we're enjoying The Indian in the Cupboard immensely!) and stretched out in front of the fire with a throw and the lights off while Ryan is working late and the house is quiet.

You can see in the photo above that we have temporarily put out a rug. It's much too small for the space, but we're waiting for a rug we've ordered from Pottery Barn that will fill the entire space. We just needed something to keep the couch in place,

I went back to the pumpkin stand just outside of town and spend longer than I should have picking through pumpkins and gourds, trying to find just the right shades and sizes and varieties.

I will endure a lot of comments over Thanksgiving for my lack of colour, but it looks just right. I often forget that for most of you, Thanksgiving is still weeks away. We're lucky to enjoy it this weekend!

The seeded Eucalyptus is something I always put in our arrangements at the store as it's whimsical and last forever.

And this nest was from my Oma's patio. She spent a season watching the Robin's putter about it. It was actually my sisters, but it sat around for weeks at the store, so I finally just brought it home. I wouldn't be surprised if I came down one morning and it migrated over to her apartment, which is next door.

Ryan laughed when I told him even the stems of the pumpkins have to be considered; ones with a slight curve, and good length are ideal. They must also be turned in a variety of ways.

He just laughed... But I secretly knew his inner design-background agreed whole-heartedly.

I just love when they have the little bits of stem still on them. It makes them even more charming.

It's so cozy.

Once the rest of the room is set up, I have a couple more things to put out.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Waffles and Painting

I love breakfast.

I love making breakfast. 

I love setting the table and flipping pancakes while enjoying the first of the coffee. I love how much my husband loves a big breakfast on a Thursday morning, which in our house is Saturday.

I love the smell of bacon in the oven and the way my youngest says every morning "My tummy's sore... I really hungry", as he pulls out his chair and climbs onto his seat.

There are times though that there just isn't time.

On those days, when I still want something warm and comforting and dripping with syrup, I pull out a bag of frozen waffles. Not those kind of waffles. Real waffles.

Every Saturday at the store, waffles are served. They are served lots of different ways - with local strawberries in the Spring, fresh peaches in the Summer, pumpkin spice in the Fall. But no matter the flavour, one thing always remains the same - we always use real whipped cream and real maple syrup.

If there is ever left over batter, my mom bakes it all off and sends home a bag of waffles for her grandsons. They actually heat up well in the toaster, or if I'm warming a lot, in a tinfoil pouch in the oven.

This week's flavour was Pumpkin Spice. I served them with the usual - whipped cream and maple syrup, and then threw a few toasted pecans on top.

They were so delicious.

And it was exactly what I needed to start a very long day of painting...

I'm nearly finished with the painting in the family room. The panelling has been primed and painted and the trim and windows are nearly done. I can't wait to get it all back together.

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Renovated Living Room

I can't quite find the words to express how thrilled I am to write this post. But, before I do, there are a few things to note.

First, this will be a very general over-view of a huge amount of work, and weeks and weeks worth of waiting.

Second, while we are finished with the renovations, short of a few minor last minute touch-ups, the room isn't finished. The best part still remains - decorating it. However, up to this point, it's been at least partially furnished so we can finally enjoy it. We've only waited almost four months!

You can catch up on the renovations prior to this point, here.

And so we continue where we left off...

We hit a major stall in the middle of the summer with our fireplace installation. We had to vent a gas fireplace insert through a nine inch hole in a two foot limestone wall. Everyone was hesitant to begin chiseling through. The installers were concerned that what started out as a small hole, would end up a large hole on the outside due to interlocking stones of all sizes.

After consulting with a local historic mason, we were put in touch with a local coring company.

To our relief, coring a hole through the stone wall of our old home wouldn't be an issue. Though it would require some time and patience.

A massive drill was mounted to the wall, and the coring began. It was very slow and steady work, but the result was a perfect.

The next step in the fireplace was to install a base. Ryan's cousin, Johnny Sinke, is a local custom carpenter. He is in his early twenties and extremely skilled at his craft. Winning second place at the world skills competitions in fine woodworking insured the success of his own business, so we were very thankful he made the time to design and install a mantel for us.

We wanted something that could hold it's own in such a large, open room, but we also wanted something simple and clean. I wanted a large mantel shelf for display, and big mouldings to suit the large window casings and 8 1/2" baseboards.

His design was perfect.

After the base was installed, the insert came next. He then returned to put the mantel around the insert, and to install the bulkhead and finish everything off.

Next came the rest of the carpentry which was done by a friend of ours.

When the drywall was installed, we lost most of the definition on our window casings. Every piece of trim and wall in this room is different. Nothing is even and everything requires extra time and care to make it level to the eye. And nothing is made the way it was back then.

Rich and his crew did an amazing job.

We chose 8 1/2" hardwood baseboards and put an extra piece around our windows to add that definition we wanted.

He also installed door casings that best matched the original trim around the windows.

You can then imagine our excitement at this point when our painter, who is booked for weeks, had last Saturday open due to the coming rain and an exterior job lined up. We ran around getting everything prepped for her as she only had one day.

Now usually, when it comes to painting a room, I paint it myself. However, because everything in the room was new, I wanted a professional to paint it. And I'm so glad I did. She knocked the entire room off in one day.

Yesterday afternoon was like Christmas morning as Ryan unpacked our couch which has been sitting in a box for months!

You can see in the back ground, the other door casing still needs to be taped and mudded as we had opted to remove the original, and match the doorway opposite to this one. The originally had been cut off when the stairs were moved and it would have required so much time to strip and fix. Plus it was quite expensive to try to custom make another matching casing for the other doorway.

The drywaller will come in the next week, but we didn't let that stop us from having the painter in.

The room was then scrubbed from top to bottom.

We then began furnishing it just enough to be able to sit comfortably in it. The rest of the furnishings will come soon, but for now, we were more than happy to just simply sit and enjoy the best part of our new home for the first time.

Our sofa is a classic chesterfield with it's rolled arms and tufted back. It's done in a nubby linen with turned legs. We purchased it at Leons of all places, and won a 20% discount, which in the end, covered the taxes and delivery and even a 5 year scotch guard stain warranty. This was a huge deciding factor for me. We have two little boys and accidents are inevitable, but it's so nice to have that peace of mind.

I also spent a great deal of time researching chairs. I wanted two classic wing chairs and really couldn't find anything that I loved new. I wanted something that was upright for reading so the classic wing chair seemed most suitable. But finding one in a fabric I liked was so hard. I decided to look for a pair of used chairs to have recovered. I was thrilled to find this pair locally for $140. They are in great condition, however they are dusty rose! Next came the dilemma of covers. I wanted slip covers if I could, but again, really struggled to find what I was looking for. I'm not skilled enough to sew my own, so until I either learn, or find someone who can for a reasonable price, these $50 covers from SureFit were my next best option. They tuck way into the upholstery and tie at the back. I still have to steam them, but you get the idea. They are made from a duck cloth material. I'm toying with the idea of hemming them so you can see the wooden legs. 

Either way, for $120 a chair, I couldn't be happier!

I can't wait to see it with the rest of the furnishings. I have most of the pieces in storage that I have been saving, but there are still a few that I need to find. One of which is an area rug.

Overall though, the room will remain quite simple.

The four windows and white walls make for the most beautiful lighting.

And we can't get enough of the fireplace - and neither can Oliver, our miniature Schnauzer, who has made his home right in front of the hearth.

We've spent the first four months without this space. We got used to the house without it, so now, all of the sudden we have this huge beautiful addition! 

It's like falling in love with our home all over again.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pumpkin Loaf and Tea on the Deck

Since it is the season of all things Pumpkin Spice, I thought I would share one of my favourite new recipes I've tried this season.

This super moist, but not-too-sweet, Pumpkin Bread was originally from Food and Wine, however I discovered it via here.

I only substituted the almond milk for 1/6 cup cream and 1/6 cup milk.

I also had some extra cream cheese frosting in the freezer, so I thawed that and spread it on top with some toasted pecans.

The whole house smelled scrumptious and quite like Fall!

While it cooled, we put the kettle on and set up tea on the back porch. Recently we purchased four wicker arm chairs from Ikea to have a small sitting area.

We enjoyed it with a cup of Chai tea.

I can't get over how much he loves to sit and have tea with me. It's so special.

In other news, we welcomed our second nephew yesterday!

Meet Luke Richard Oblak.

He was due on Thanksgiving, but we're happy he came early.