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Sewing Studio Tour (Confessions of a Fabric Hoarder)

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A few weeks ago I posted a short video about how my sewing table is set up. A few people mentioned wanting to see my entire space… I was a little reluctant because to be honest, it is a mess. Last weekend, Isabel came down to do a little work with me and exclaimed “Mommy! Why’d you make such a mess again!” So I tidied up a bit, and decided now was as good a time as ever to show you around.

My sewing space is not glamorous, but it is big, bright, and all mine. It’s a bit of a mess, and less organized than I would like, but I really have no right to complain. I’m fortunate to have such a space at my disposal! One of the benefits of living almost in the middle of nowhere is that we can actually afford a fairly big house on a lingerie-maker & mechanics two salaries.

I am super fortunate to actually have two spaces in my house that I use for work – my entire basement and a room at the corner of our house with lots of light, which is perfect for photography. In our old house everything was crammed into one bedroom. It feels really good to have the space to have a home for everything, and to be able to shut the door at the end of the week, and (try) not to worry about work for a bit.

The best part of this video is that Oliver made a cameo!

Two weeks ago he had surgery to remove some teeth as well as a lump on his head that turned out to be a mast cell tumor. It was scary waiting for the results after the lump was removed but I was relieved to find out that out of all the mast cell tumors he could have had, his was the “best” kind to have in that it was extremely slow growing and they were able to remove the entire mass. Oliver is 10, and his age is starting to show… But now that he has recovered he seems to have more energy again which is great!

Non Lingerie Related Things I Love

Anxiety, Home, Personal

Jeez Louise… I keep saying “I will blog more. I will blog more.” Then I think about blogging and I seize. Blogging/writing is one of the things that anxiety has taken from me. I’m trying to reclaim it, but also trying to accept that it takes some baby steps. It’s funny, because on here I’ve always been somewhat of an open book. I believe in the power of sharing experiences, good or bad, but over the last two years, it’s become so hard. I’m not sure when or why it happened exactly but that nagging voice in the back of my head saying “no one cares. you can’t do it. you are a failure” started to take over. Ridiculous because rationally I look at what I have achieved and I am proud, but in my mind, nothing is ever good enough. There is not a point with my business where I feel I could look back and say “there. I’ve done good.” Or a point with my physical self where I could say “ok, I’m thin enough/fit enough/healthy enough.” Anxiety is not about rationality though. What a difficult thing to grapple with as someone who values evidence based thinking and rationality!

Needless to say I’ve been dealing with a lot over the last few months. Learning how to re-train my brain into more productive modes of thinking and dealing with some difficult things from the past has been rewarding and a huge challenge. On one hand I feel happy I am doing this. I want to be a good example for Isabel. Sometimes our thinking needs a facelift, and it’s ok to seek out help if you can’t do it on your own. I am a huge believer in continual self-improvement. On the other hand, it would be so much easier to stick with the status quo

Work has slowed down somewhat over the last few months, mostly because I haven’t been adding anything new or updating any of my shops. I plan to do so soon… when I’m ready.

Mostly I’ve been working on sewing that I want to do, fixing up our house, running, and trying to stay sane. I had a lot of work opportunities that fell through in the last 6 months which were hugely disappointing (including a book. PS If you are a publisher or literary agent, I want to write a book. Contact me!). I found I was wrapping myself up entirely in my work and the disappointments felt overwhelming because I didn’t have anything else going on. I think this happens a lot with our careers, it becomes our identity. So, I’ve been broadening my horizons again.

I ran my first 5k race! Here I am with pig-tails a-bouncing with my beautiful cousin Pam. She makes it look easy! It was really fun and I felt so accomplished once I passed the finish line! I remember Pam saying “Ok you can stop running now.” Ha! It was a very hilly route which was a challenge for me.

2016-09-24 | 2016 Muskoka Brewery 5k

I also have taken on a bunch of projects around the house, because fixing up this house is my dream. I re-pointed the fire place, I repaired a water damaged wall. I patched so much old plaster. I sanded. I painted. I worked my butt off.

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This room is going to become an office/sewing room. It is so bright and airy feeling now. I’m just saving up my pennies to put in a big long desk with lots of file storage. For now, it’s a great place to do yoga and store my plants. I currently have my sewing area set up in the basement, which is nice because there is lots of space, but lets face it, basements aren’t the nicest place to spend your time… at least not mine!

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This room was the scariest in the house because there had been water damage and we had to do some exterior repair in this area of the house too. It has been kind of a “make-do” project because eventually I would like to tear out this fireplace surround, but for now, I’m absolutely happy with the results and it is nice to have a big, bright living room to spend our time in. Previous to getting this room done, we had set up in a spare bedroom. Dan built and installed all of those floating shelves. The room still needs art, especially something big and impactful over the fireplace, but I’m not really sure what I want there yet.

I am loving this house because I have the space to display all of the things I love. I have lots of little knick knacks that remind me of this or that… things from our grandparents, things we have made, things we picked up at junk shops. Our house is filled with hand me downs and even random things picked up from the side of the road.  I love that.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. We had our first family get together yesterday at our house, and will be enjoying a turkey dinner with all of the fixings tonight. Isabel’s birthday is also coming up. I can’t believe she will be 2 already. And, of course Halloween is on it’s way which means I have costumes on the mind…

I really hope to spend more time on here. I spent a lot of time, energy, and money getting my new blog set up. Now I just have to start using it!

 

Making Do with Ugly Tile

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Green.
This house has a lot of green.
Deep, forest green.
So, as I mentioned in my last house post, Dan and I are prettying up the inside of our 1930’s beauty on a shoestring budget. That means for the time being we’re focusing mostly on paint, window coverings, lighting etc, while we do some more important structural work to the house. If money weren’t an issue, I’d gladly replace all this tile with something a little more neutral, but for now we have to make some of the more permanent fixtures work.
The purple wall colour really made the green pop.
Hi kitty!

This is our main bath. On one hand it is amazing. There is so much space, and if you know me, you know I love to bath. Baths are my thing, so a room that is almost entirely bathtub is pretty amazing. Before you say “but doesn’t it cost a fortune to fill?” we pay a set charge for up to a certain amount of water, and we never go over that amount, so other than the awful environmental impact of using so much water, it’s not a huge money drainer. That being said, eventually we’ll put in a more reasonable sized tub…. for now, I’m enjoying swimming laps during my evening bubble bath.

This room also has a shower and a sink. There is a small powder room just off of it. To me, it’s a little strange that there is no toilet in here, but also kind of nice.

This room also doubles as a laundry room. It is just off of our family room which is super convenient when I’m watching Isabel and doing laundry. The washer and dryer are currently housed behind glass sliding doors (just to reflect more of that green tile, I swear), and I hope to replace those with some sliding barn doors.

The green marble tile is a challenge. However, I don’t hate it the way I hated the yellowy-gold floral tile in my old bathroom. This tile is new-ish, it’s clean, and now that my walls are painted bright white, it almost takes on a black-ish shade. Painting out all of the oak trim really helped to neutralize the room.

Kitty is showing off our pretty stained glass windows.

Yup, even the top of the vanity got tiled.

I’m exceptionally happy with how this room looks now. It has some nice fixtures, like the big tub and steam shower, but the tile is definitely not my taste. I’m happy with how the white paint has toned everything down and will be content living with this room as is for the next several years. I would eventually like to remove all the tile and replace it with something more neutral, install a toilet and new tiled shower and vanity. The room itself is huge, and I believe it used to be a bedroom, so there is so much opportunity to have a super amazing bathroom in here.

Some people had suggested I paint the tile, but there is so much tile in here, I’d worry about it scratching or scuffing. While I’m not loving the colour of the tile itself, scratched or scuffed tile would bother me even more. For me, as long as things are clean and in good shape, I can usually survive with something a little less fashionable.

The small powder room next door to this room also has some questionable tile – mauvy purple with flowers. It’s on my fall to-do list… one room at a time.

Updating our 1930’s kitchen.

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The kitchen in our new house was in pretty rough shape when we first saw the house. There had been some water damage across an exterior wall (which has since been repaired) which was torn down to the studs, and the flooring was starting to come up due to it’s age. There is still a lot  that I would like to do (new appliances, new countertop), but for now we’ve tidied it up with some paint, lighting and flooring on a pretty tight budget. I really love this room now. We have so much more counter space for preparing meals, and there is even a little breakfast nook (which we have yet to furnish!).

Our sunny kitchen window.

Buying the house and doing the major repairs, like replacing the furnace and taking down the chimney, sucked up a lot of our resources. We didn’t want to get into any debt prettying up the place, so we’ve chosen projects that we could DIY.  We removed all of the cupboard doors,  removed the antique hardware, filled  the holes and sanded them down, then painted our cupboards in a two-tone colour scheme with white up top and grey-ish blue down below. We took a lot more time and care painting our cupboards this time around than we did in our old house. Let me tell you, painting cupboards is an ordeal. It is not a quick and easy project. It is long, annoying, and grueling. Be prepared to have your canned goods and dishes strewn throughout the house for weeks.

One of the most annoying parts of the paint-job was that the hinges had been painted over. We had to chip away the paint in order to fit a screwdriver into the screws. That alone took us a day, at least…
We replaced all of the vintage red hardware with new chrome cup pulls and knobs from ikea. We also had to replace the hinges. Hardware adds up, but it made a bit change.
We replaced a small piece of the countertop over the dishwasher. It wasn’t even really made of countertop material, just some plywood with old tile on it. My parents recently renovated their kitchen and had a piece of wood countertop left over from their island they installed, so we were able to get that for free! I would like to eventually replace the rest of the countertops with the same, and tile the backsplash. I’m particularly proud of this little piece of countertop because I personally demo’d it. That sucker was screwed it good.

A little built-in in our breakfast nook

One of the things I’ve had the hardest time adapting to is our new range. First thing, just look at it. How the heck do you use that thing? I actually had to read the manual. Second, it’s a gas cook top. I’ve only ever cooked on electric, and as a result burned ever grilled cheese sandwich I made for the first two months living here.  At first I really did not like this range, but it’s really grown on me!

I really agonized over the flooring for this room. The rest of this house has hardwood (except for the extensively tiled bathrooms). I had originally envisioned tile, but we are dealing with a pretty lumpy floor and did not want to get into a new subfloor. We ended up choosing vinyl plank flooring, which was easy to install and is really easy to maintain. Dan and I are getting really good at laying quarter round.

A little place to hang our hats.

 I am happy to have kept many of the original features of the house, like the tall cupboards, but am glad it has a more updated look.  I’m also really happy the work is done (though I just remembered we still have to paint the trim… ugh).

I keep thinking back to our little apartment we shared in Orillia. We literally had one little block of counter space, which was usually filled with dirty dishes.  Now it feels like we have so much room. The four of us (don’t forget Oliver!) can be in here comfortably with room to spare, and Dan takes up a lot of space so that’s saying something! (Love you, Dan, but you are super tall)

New Old House Tour: The Good, the bad, and the ugly.

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I want to start this post by saying “I love our new house.” It really is beautiful with lots of old-fashioned charm. That being said, it has a lot of “issues.” Some of them cosmetic, others a little more serious.

This is our second house purchase. Our second old house purchase. Our second old, neglected house purchase, because that’s up our price range. A lot of the stuff we are doing feels like old hat – like replacing old wood supports with metal jack posts-  while other things feel a little more overwhelming (our whole chimney situation). I hope to do a series of posts about the work we are doing in our house, as it’s something that I really enjoy! I hope you do too.

We kind of moved on a whim, but had been considering relocating for a while. We (mostly me) had some negative experiences in our old neighbourhood and the idea of moving out of town was becoming more appealing. Also, after Isabel was born we were starting to find our starter house a little small, especially since my office had taken over the Master Bedroom. Our yard was tiny, we were next door to a parking lot, on a very busy street. We were just ready for a step up.

I kind of happened upon this house one day when I went out for lunch with my cousin. When I saw the outside I immediately needed to see the inside, so I talked to Dan and we went to see it that night! On the drive back to our house that night, we talked about how we both could envision Isabel learning how to ride her bike in the nice, long driveway, or playing in the spacious backyard. So, after getting some second opinions, we bought it.

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, the purchase didn’t go quite as smoothly as with our first house. I’m still a little irked but in the grand scheme of things, it all has worked out in the end.

Over the last 4 months we have been putting so much work (and money!) into the house. The previous owner had done a lot of upgrades but I think over the last few years a few things got a little out of hand, so I’ll start with what’s Bad. As you can maybe tell, the exterior needs some clean-up and paint, but the biggest problem was the Chimney. In December we had a new furnace installed that wall vents instead of chimney vents so that we could tear down the crumbling masonry. This was a very big job, and I was happy to pay someone else to do this for us!

Scaffolding around our very scary chimney

The chimney was in such a state that there was some ice damage in the front room and the fire place will need to be entirely pulled out.  So far we have had the chimney torn down to the roofline and are pondering and saving for the next step. The nice thing about this house is that it is big enough that this room can be kind of blocked off for the time being. In our old house, every square foot was precious.

Bye-bye fireplace…

The new furnace and chimney demo were pretty costly for us but I’m glad to have them out of the way.  I’m still a little stressed about how we will finish the job, but it will get done! At least now we have stopped any further damage from happening inside.

The other, much less serious, but on the Ugly side of things is that every room is painted a colour. Like my favourite palette of Folk Art Acrylic Paint colours from the painting class I took in 1998. I like colour in my lingerie. I want my walls white, or perhaps a nice light grey. The house felt so dark and the rooms felt small with all of the dark coloured walls and woodwork. We’ve been working our way through room by room with a more neutral (ie. white) colour scheme and it is really brining out how big this place really is! I also like the original woodwork, and I find it stands out more on a neutral wall…

dreaming of turning this into a boutique/fabric shoppe.

Eye Spy with my little eye, a blur that looks like Dan.

The tile… oh the tile.

Aside from covering everything in a neutral coat of paint, we’ve also had to do quite a bit of work in the kitchen. I was able to give the original cupboards a fresh coat of paint, but the room needed new flooring ASAP.

Aside from painting and a bit of flooring, we’ve also had our dryer vents clean (do this! Seriously. dryer vent fires happen), had several large trees taken down that were overhanging our house (another very costly undertaking), replaced jack posts, repaired some plumbing, sealed a leaky window, replaced light fixtures… In other words, we’ve been pretty busy and still have a lot to do.

It feels a little overwhelming when you buy a house like that this needs some serious upfront repair, especially when you are DIY-ing and working with a limited budget, but this house has some great features (which is the Good part of this post): New windows, new wiring, new plumbing, huge deck, newly insulated, relatively new fixtures (though I would like to replace the tub for a more environmentally friendly, smaller version!)… It just needs a little TLC to get it back to where it should be.

One of the funny things that I love most about this house is it’s maze-like layout. I’ve had three people get lost going from the bathroom to the kitchen, and when I had my nephew over a few weeks ago we had the best time playing hide and go seek. There are so many great little hiding spaces… that’s what I love about this house. It’s fun. I feel like it will be a fun place for Isabel to grow up.

I think we are pretty much down what we will do inside for this year while we build our saving up again! There are extensive gardens that will need my attention for now, and the house is mysteriously only half painted, so we will need to clean the stucco and paint the woodwork. Now that we have finally been having some nicer weather, I’ve really enjoyed spending time in our beautiful backyard (which I will show you another day).

In my next post I hope to show you a little of what we have done inside!