February 28, 2010

Back of the Cupboard finds

Our kitchen renos are progressing.  The electrician came in this week and moved our electrical panel, so we could then remove the last remaining studs.  Yesterday, I removed the living room carpets, smooth edge and staples, and Hus scraped off the stipple on the popcorn ceiling.  

Our old kitchen cupboards are still there, but while I was packing the extra dishes, appliances, food etc. away; I found a few things in the back of the cupboards that I forgot about; and made a mental note to use them once my new kitchen is in place.  Sorry, no pictures, as they are packed away!

1. Martini glasses.  About ten years ago, Hus and I (as well as the rest of the world inspired by 'Sex and the City') enjoyed the occasional martini.  We've been in this house for six years, and judging from the state of the dusty glasses, we have not made one in that time.  When I came across them, I almost put them in the box destined for the thrift store, but reconsidered.  I think we'll make them again when the new season of 'Mad Men' starts.

2. Southwest Terra Cotta dip bowl with matching spoon.  This one really threw me, because I can't remember buying it!  I think that one of my sisters or my mother bought it as a Christmas gift and I never used it (sorry!).  We often buy used things for Christmas for each other.  But now that I've rediscovered it, we'll put homemade salsa or guacamole in it for our kitchen reveal open-house or some other occasion.

3. Mini-crockpot.  My Mother-in-Law bought this for us as a gift.  We've used it a few times, but not recently.  I already know when I'll use it next.  One of my colleagues is retiring and is a chocoholic (that is her only vice).  Our 'Women's Faculty Club' (sounds official doesn't it?) decided to send her off with a chocolate fondue get-together this summer, and I'm hosting it.  I have a regular fondue pot, but this crockpot may come in handy if we decide to experiment with a white-chocolate fondue or a chili-chocolate fondue etc.

Its amazing what you find stashed away in nooks and crannies in your own house!

February 26, 2010

Spring Ditch Diving

Every spring, the melting snow reveals an accumulation of bottles and cans lining the ditches around our neighbourhood.  For the past few springs, we take along bags and pick up these treasures whilst walking the dog.  He seems to think that these are extra special walks, as we descend into the deep ditches where he normally isn't allowed to go.  Our last ditch diving venture gleaned two bags of assorted cans and bottles:

There are a lot of cans in these bags, since we crushed them to save space.  Most of the cans (disturbingly enough, beer cans) were collected on a 1/2 kilometer stretch of a secondary highway.  Hus euphemistically calls these "road pops."  For a little extra work (we were walking anyway) we earned over $3 when we returned these, and helped clean up our neighbourhood.

I've noticed that another one of our regular walking routes is suffering from an accumulation of bottles and cans.  I guess we'll have to take some big bags next time we take the dog for a walk!

February 23, 2010

Beginning kitchen redo

This weekend was also notable for another thing: we removed an L-shaped wall separating our kitchen from our living room.  This is the first step in our kitchen remodel!  Unfortunately it is not as easy as that, because when the house was constructed in 1979, they put the electrical panel in this non-load bearing wall.  So, the electrician is coming later this week to move the panel and collect a handsome pay, so we can take the remaining studs out and have a totally open living space.  We live in a three-level split, where the main level contains the entrance, kitchen and living room.

I'm excited though, as this is a project that has been long-planned.  We bought the house six years ago and have been living with a functional, but worn-out, kitchen ever since.  We wanted to really think out the remodel, and we finally have a hefty savings account where we can get what we want without going into debt.

We also had to wait awhile for our cabinet-maker to finish her other jobs.  Initially, we were thinking of going with pre-made cabinets from Ikea or Rona etc., but we know so many people who have had difficulties with pre-made.  When the cabinets came in, they were the wrong sizes, and the owners had to compromise on their initial design etc.  And those cabinets are often of very poor quality.

In the planning phase, several internet boards suggested getting a quote from a cabinet maker, as the price for a custom kitchen was often more reasonable than one might imagine.  I know a cabinet-make in town; she had been a former student and we often worked together on political work.  After a few consultations she drew up a plan and a price, and we were sold!  She is also very excited about out kitchen, since she has never done cabinets like the ones we want.  As she was working on her other jobs, she has always been in contact with suggestions etc.

We decided on plain slab European-style fir cabinets, with the grain going horizontal.  Here is a picture of the sample she made up:

And we are going to order these handles and knobs in Pewter from Lee Valley:

So, we'll be living in chaos for about two months, but then I'll be happy to post before and after photos.

February 21, 2010

Weekend Thrifting

Hit the thrift shops for the first time in many weeks, and found three things for a total of $4.25.  

First up, is a square rubber-backed tablecloth for $2.

I have no idea from what time period it is, but the pattern doesn't look particularly contemporary.  I was holding this in the thrift shop imagining it on our patio table.  We have been having unseasonable warm weather, all the snow in our yard is completely gone, and all the trees are budding, so I hope to use it soon.

Next, is a small, tacky, black velvet wall hanging.


Maybe it was the springtime theme that caught my eye, the fact that it was only .25 cents, or that it was handcrafted in Canada by Ecstasy Giftware of Shannonville, Ont., but I couldn't pass it up.  I told Hus that I would hang it in the laundry room with my other tacky finds, but he said it was too good for that.  So, we'll have to find another place.

Finally, my eyes were stopped by this $2 t-shirt.  I love Jazz, and I love Crustaceans, so why not?


 Especially when it was made in the USA circa 1982.

February 20, 2010

Etsy Sweater

The virgin wool 'made in British Hong Kong' sweater that I purchased from Etsy three weeks ago finally arrived!  It is even better than I had hoped, and for vintage, it fits really well!  I love the covered buttons.  While I was waiting for it, I also scoped out ebay and won this Sarah Coventry pin.  I think they work well together.  Note to self: next time don't wear a dark t-shirt underneath!

February 14, 2010

Homemade Valentine's Day

On the theme of non-consumerism, I decided that my Valentine's Day present and card to Hus should be of the homemade variety.  Besides it is a lot more fun getting my hands and mind active and creative, rather than roaming the mall.  Here is the card I quickly made up, including little 'scrolls' with messages and coupons....

And here is his present...Sugar Cookies!

When I was at the grocery store yesterday, I did consider getting him some Valentine's chocolate.  I went over to this huge display of chocolate in the middle of the store, but was disoriented for a second.  Where was as the red and pink?  And the hearts? Instead, it was a display of Easter chocolates and candy. Easter!  Valentine's Day wasn't even over, and Easter is still 2 1/2 months away, but there was this huge display.  I find all the commercialism around holidays overwhelming.  Is anyone actually going to buy chocolate Easter bunnies so early?  So I left without buying any Valentine's chocolate.  Besides, my cookies are yummier.

February 13, 2010

Gone to the Dogs

After I wrote the last post, I couldn't get two songs out of my mind....so to thank my dog I give you....The Kids in the Hall, "The Terrier Song"...


The other song was Jane Siberry's "Everything Reminds Me of My Dog."  Here's a Link to the Video.

Both make me happy, so enjoy!

February 11, 2010

Bad Day Makeover

Work over the past two days have been awful.  Well, actually not the work itself, but the dysfunction of the workplace and the silly power games.  I came home at 3:30 and felt emotionally and physically wiped.  

But by 5:00 I felt refreshed again.  What did I do?  I looked at a few funny sites on the internet (including awkwardfamilyphotos.com) and played with the dog for about a half hour!  I don't know what it is, but chasing the dog around the house (and vice versa) and wrestling with him always picks me up.  Perhaps because dogs' needs are so simple, and playing with him allows me to be totally in the moment.  Actually, I have to be in the moment because he weighs 70 pounds so I have to watch it!

Then I made our Friday night pizza (a day early since we are invited out to dinner tomorrow).  Hus had to go to a meeting tonight so I am home alone; which means that besides writing this post, I am also engaging in my favourite guilty pleasure - watching Survivor.

I told myself I wasn't going to watch this season, but I can't help myself!  Hus always says he can't believe that someone as intelligent as myself would watch such crap; but I'll tell him he shouldn't have left me alone tonight.

Go Stephanie, Amanda and Russell!

February 09, 2010

Vintage Cardigans

Now that I've started this blog, I've jumped feet first into what the internet has to offer.  So, I've also made my first online purchase at Etsy.  I am awaiting a 1950s off-white wool cardigan to be sent to me!

In anticipation, I thought I'd give you a fashion show of the other vintage cardi's I've acquired over the past few months.

First, my favourite...and it was free.  A friend purchased this lovely lemon-yellow angora cardigan at a thrift store for a halloween costume, and then didn't need it anymore.  Thanks Moe!  It always get compliments.  It is paired with a stick pin I bought at Value Village for $1.99.

Next up, is a neat cardigan made of Orlon, with a mesh over-weave.  I bought this one at a $5 bag sale from a store that was getting rid of its vintage section.  The other two pieces that I threw into the bag didn't end up fitting, so I guess you can say that this one cost $5.  Since it is gold, I have only worn it once to a Christmas party.

I only purchased the last one a few weeks ago at Value Village for $7.99.  So I haven't worn it yet.  It is a bright blue merino wool cardigan.  I've washed it two times and it still faintly smells of an elderly woman's perfume.  At first, I was a little freaked out about this, but now I rationalize this by thinking that the sweater must have really meant something to someone since it is holding on to their scent.  It is paired with a 'made in Italy' scarf I bought this summer for .50 cents at a Salvation Army.

 All these sweaters have fantastic buttons and reinforced button-holes.  The only problem is that they are all a tad short, but I'll compensate by layering.  Hopefully, my Etsy one is as nice.

February 07, 2010

Weekend Book Reviews

I've finished two of the books I've been consuming.  I say consuming, because I read Salt: A World History (2002), and I listened to No Impact Man (2009) whilst walking the dog, doing chores, cooking etc.

I love reading about the history of everyday items we take for granted, and salt is one of them.  Of course, every mammal needs salt to survive, but in our modern Western world, where we are so divorced from basic functions of life, we forget this, and focus on the negative impacts of salt. 

This book explores much more that the tangible granules that make up salt, however.  Salt, and the demand for it as a preservation agent, played a huge role in colonization, warfare, trade and empire.  We see this with all the place names and words that begin with the prefix sal; Salzburg, salad, etc.  I particularly liked the sections that dealt with its connection to fish and fishing.  I never knew that part of the Hanseatic League's success was because they traded for salt with the Spanish and Basques to monopolize the production of pickled herring.  I also learned about the salt processes which gave France an advantage over the British in the early fishery of Canada.  This book was packed full of interesting facts and trivia, but, if you should read it, it is the sort of book that doesn't have to be read cover to cover.

I hate to say it, but I didn't enjoy No Impact Man quite so much.  And perhaps it was for the opposite reason; much of the literature he relied upon in his one-year experiment to live as sustainable as possible, I had already read and/or knew about.  For instance, in the chapter about sustainable and local food he relied heavily upon James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith's 100 Mile Diet.  It was natural for him to reference them, but because I listened to No Impact Man, rather than read it, I couldn't just skim over this section.  I was also a little confused about where Colin Beavan actually stood in regards to capitalism, and collectivism versus individualism.  In one of the chapters he comes close to making a real critique of capitalism and the relentless drive for stuff that it creates, but at the end of the book seems to advocate that individual action will ultimately solve the ecological crisis we are in.  I did really enjoy other aspects of the book; I felt he was very brave in exposing many private details of his family history and family life.  I enjoyed his analysis of the positive impacts the experiment made in his social life, family, health etc. and the reminder that we only have one time to be alive, so why waste it on a bunch of artificial experiences and disposable stuff?

Now, I can move on to other books.  I'll probably read several (used) novels and mysteries I have lying around.  As for non-fiction, I am dying to read Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.  But, being inspired by Colin Beavan, I won't buy it; I'll see if the local library has it. 

February 04, 2010

Hotels, Cocktails and Letter Writing

I've had writer's block for a few days, but now that I have four (4!) followers I feel some pressure to keep the posts coming.  Thanks so much CP Vintage, Mick, storybook ranch, and Jill for letting me know that I am not alone in blogland and writing in vain! I would write anyway, however, since having this blog has been very therapeutic, even though I write of trivial things.

Tonight, I am away from home for work purposes and staying in a hotel.  The Hotel restaurant was featuring 'French' cuisine and my colleague and I had smoked salmon on potato pancakes with sour cream and quail eggs for an appetizer and for the entre we had lobster ravioli in a cream sauce topped with a scallop and sun-dried tomato pesto.  Now that I write this, I'm not really sure that these dishes are really all that French, but they had  French titles!  

Anyway, for an aperitif I had Dubonnet on the rocks with lemon, which I haven't had for years.  I'm reading on the internet that it dates to the mid-1800s and was concocted to hide the taste of quinine, an anti-malarial treatment.  It was given to French Foreign Legionnaires in North Africa.  Then, it was re-popularized as a drink among the jet-set crowd in the 1970s and 1980s with the help of an advertising campaign featuring Pia Zadora.


There is something quaint and nostalgic about things like Dubonnet cocktails (and cocktails in general), airline travel and staying in hotels. Airline travel is definitely not the ultra-glamorous escape it once was, and frankly, neither is overnighting in hotels.  Particularly in Vancouver, where one must do regular bed-bug checks (beware Olympic visitors!) 

But, I have to admit that I always have a little thrill when I open my hotel room for the first time.  I always have a look at the guest directory, room service menu, and I must check to see if there is hotel stationary with envelopes.  I always wonder if anyone uses it anymore, and how many years that stationary was in that drawer.  When I was doing my graduate research in the archives, because of my topic, I often found letters written in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s on hotel stationary embossed with mid-century font and graphics from exotic locales like Australia and Florida.  The letter-writers were staying there for extended periods of time and wrote lengthy letters of 3-5 pages.  I wonder if their paper was regularly replaced.  Anyway, in honour of times gone by, I often use the hotel stationary for writing notes.  I wish I stayed long enough to justify writing a letter on it.

Does anything thrill you about overnighting in hotels?