Bedroom #3

So, summer is here, visitors will be sleeping over, and our third bedroom was begging for a makeover!  It’s a room that hasn’t been touched (besides cleaning) in all the years we’ve lived here.  In fact, it’s been used as a catch-all room:

IMG_0256 We hope to do a more extensive renovation in a couple of years, so I didn’t want to spend too much money on a makeover. The blue carpet would have to stay, so we had it professionally cleaned. After that, I was left with painting and decorating. I had a hard time figuring out what colors to pick.  In my opinion, the white upper wall, periwinkle blue wainscoting, and blue carpet did not go well together:


But what color goes with blue carpet? And did I want to keep the white walls and ceiling a huge, blank canvas?  In the end, I flip-flopped the colors!  I painted the wainscoting white and the upper walls a very light blue.  And I love it!  🙂


Stay tuned this week as I work on the window treatment, bunk beds, an old-fashioned desk, and decorations!

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Lilac Jelly

On our property, Spring rushes in with an array of sweet smells (hyacinths, lilacs, lily-of-the-valleys, and viburnum) as well as more pungent smells (wild onion, freshly mown grass, and natural wood chips). I love them all.

Lilacs, however, hold a special place in my heart. I have childhood memories of pulling over in our car and cutting some branches of wild lilacs to fill our home with their sweet smell. On our current property, we’ve planted a hedge of different varieties of lilacs, and every year it only gets better.

This Spring, I decided to try something new in order to savor the fleeting lilac season:

lilac jelly


 I’m not going to give you a recipe because there are many recipes online that are all very similar. The general gist is that you steep the lilac blossoms (without any leaves or stems) in water and make a jelly out of the resulting lilac “tea”.


We used white and purple lilacs. The white ones are more fragrant and I thought that they might make a better jelly.


Josh was willing to help me with the somewhat tedious job of pulling off the individual blossoms. Two cups is a lot when each blossom is tiny!  🙂


Honest verdict? Unique and delicious!

It’s a light, sweet jam with a pronounced floral note….  I’m picturing it served on warm-from-the-oven scones or else smeared on some brie cheese and a crusty baguette.  Mmmmmm! For now, though, I’m debating whether or not to make a second batch…and also whether or not I want to make sugared lilac blossoms.  🙂

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When Color Panic Sets In

Our red barn doors were sagging, they didn’t close properly (a cinder block held them shut), they weighed a ton, they were starting to rot, and a broken board at the bottom served as a cat entrance.


It was time to get them fixed!

My dad visited for a long weekend and made new doors (while mom and I went garage-saling, haha). It was quite a challenge because the whole barn has settled to the side and so nothing was square. Yet we wanted the new doors to look natural and fit in, while still functioning. Much to my dad’s chagrin, I also requested a cat door.

dsc_7047The doors turned out fantastic! After my dad was finished, we were left with the job of painting it and installing the hardware. We started with the white trim, and then moved on to the red doors, matching the paint to the back of the old doors. We thought that it would be the true color, seeing that the red paint had really faded on the outside of the barn.


After one coat, I desperately sent this picture to Josh:

new “Help!”

The red looked terrible! Having dealt with red paint before, I did realize that adding more coats would improve its appearance, but still!!!!  We didn’t know what to do, but having bought 2 gallons of paint and being Dutch, we decided to just keep painting.

Meanwhile a few weeks had passed as we plugged away at it, and I’m sure the neighbors were shaking their heads, thinking that we had made a huge mistake.

But six coats later on the barn doors and a fresh coat on the rest of the barn, things were finally looking up. And while the new red is definitely more vibrant than the old color, we actually think it’s not that bad (plus it will fade with time!). We also installed the white x’s on the bottom halves of the door, which helped to minimize the glaring red.


Which brings me to a question for you: Do you think that we should put two x’s on the top of the doors as well (like it used to be)?  Or do you like it with just the bottom x’s as is?

(My dad and Josh are both hoping that it is perfect as is, but I’m not so sure.)


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1/2 Hour Easy Travel Pillow

With about 45 hours of sitting in the car ahead of me, what did I do an hour before we left? Whip up two travel pillows, of course. I cringed when I told Josh that I was going to make travel pillows while he was running back and forth, busy packing the van. His responding look spoke volumes, but seeing that we were not pressed for time and that I was positive it wouldn’t take too long, I pulled out my sewing machine and supplies.

Here’s what I did:


I started with a basic square pillow form that I had in my stash. I measured around my neck to get an idea of how big to make the circle, and then I drew the circle in pencil and cut it out.


Next, I pulled all of the pillow stuffing out.


Then I cut out the same circle on the bottom half.


My pillow form was already inside out for some reason, so I sewed all along the circle that I had just cut out, leaving a gap in one section to put the stuffing back in. I then turned the pillow right side out in order to stuff it.


I stuffed the pillow with the former stuffing, which surprisingly fit quite easily in.


I then sewed up the gap and the pillow was done!


Time to sleep!


Here are some takeaways:

  1. The pillow was super easy to make and I think it’s comparable in size and comfort to what I saw at the store for a whole lot more money.
  2.  But, I wish the pillow was even poofier. Josh really likes travel pillows (instead of regular pillows) in the car, but he preferred to use both of the travel pillows at once to give more support.
  3. If I were to make it again, I would place the circle more off-centered so that at least one side would be bigger and give more neck support.
  4. Also, a darker colored fabric would be better. The pillows stayed white, but if we had stained them with food, it would have been obvious.
  5. In the end, because we traveled so far, the pillows were worth it and added a little extra comfort. I can see myself using them in the future for shorter trips to Canada as well.
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Found: A Printer Table (with a quick makeover)

In my last post, I showed the computer desk that I had refinished and then talked about getting some kind of printer table to put next to it. I wanted something that would contrast with the desk (not something wood and boxy) and more industrial looking.  Well, I hit the publish button on that post, left to do some errands, stopped at an antique shop, and saw something that would fit the bill! I whipped out my measuring tape, and yes, it would fit nicely beside the desk.

IMAG0068 It’s actually an old record player stand that has a wire rack below to hold albums. But who can’t re-purpose things? So I bought it and got to work with a quick makeover.

IMG_0049 I ripped off the old vinyl covering (which had a few holes in it anyways) and discovered smooth plywood underneath. I left the plywood and spray painted it a deep blue. The wire rack got turned into a cookbook holder, since I don’t store them in the kitchen.


The blue ties into the dining room lamp and tablecloth, which is right across from the desk and printer.


Here it is with the printer on it next to the desk:


Although it’s not everyone’s style, I personally love it and think it’s fun and unique. In the future, I might refinish the top in another way, spray paint the legs, and use the bottom wire rack to store something else (music books? magazines? stationery?).  But for now it looks pretty good to me!  🙂


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Desk Makeover

This desk makeover is special. After my mom immigrated to Canada at the age of 19, this was the first piece of furniture that she bought with her hard-earned money. Since its purchase, many people in our family have used the desk over the years. My dad added the leaf on the left when my mom used it as a sewing desk. But recently it’s been relegated to a humbler use: stuck in my parents’ basement storage room, basically used as a surface to collect stuff on. I wanted a solid small desk and so it was time to let it shine again! After some stripping, sanding, staining, and painting, it’s now back to its rightful use: a functional desk.





My favorite feature is the little ledge that pulls out: perfect for coffee time!


The only final touch that I have to work on is what to put the printer on next to the computer. It’s a huge printer, but it was free and has served us very well!

Right now it’s on a file cabinet:


The file cabinet is cute but I don’t use it anymore. Ever since I’ve read about Alejandra’s method of using binders to store information, I find it so much easier than files and I don’t use files anymore. So I’m thinking of purchasing some kind of industrial looking cart to put the printer on (and maybe store paper, etc).  If we ever get a wireless printer I won’t have to store it next to the computer desk, but for now we do.

I was thinking of something like this:

Any suggestions?

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Garlic, Hornworms, and Baby Birds

Harvesting in the garden……


In mid-July, we dug up our mature garlic



Sometime you gotta improvise when you don’t have a proper drying rack


3 kinds of garlic: Chesnok Red, Music, Belarus Purple Stripe


Trouble in the vegetable garden….


You know you’re in trouble when a bunch of your tomato branches have been stripped of leaves! Time to start looking for….


….a tomato hornworm! These huge (4-5 inch) green caterpillar-like creatures have massive appetites and can do a lot of damage! They are very hard to spot and it can take quite some time to find them. Can you see it?


Look at its massive mouth!


Josh spotted a tiny one, which was great because it hadn’t had much time to consume our plants!


Second batch of house sparrows…


It’s so cute to hear their little cheeps as I walk by the birdhouse!

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