September 30, 2011

I've Been to the Shops

I haven't mentioned this yet: when I was in Hungary during August I mysteriously lost 10 lbs.  This is mind-bloggling for me because I have been trying to lose weight for literal years and while in Hungary I did nothing to work toward my goal.  Instead, I ate meal after meal of starch and meat and then washed it down with glasses and glasses of wine. 

I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth here but because of my weight loss I had to purchase some new pants (my pants were looking toddler-saggy in the derriere region).  Plus, I don't actually own a pair of basic black heels (I tend to go for the bright colours) and I decided this was the year to invest in a pair of good quality, black heels.  So I went shopping.

Here's my modest haul: new grey pants.  Not exactly cheap, but these are SO comfy I could sleep in them and it seems impossible to wear them out.  I don't own many pairs of pants, but they are all this cut & brand.  Sometimes I find it makes sense to fork over a bit of extra money for quality pieces instead of buying lots and lots of cheaper clothes.  I also found a pair of black heels that are also so comfy I can walk for miles in them. 

New pants!
(But my sweater is from the Superstore and my necklace is DIY).

New leather shoes!

What does this mean for my blog?  To keep our monthly budget in check, I'll be working on some projects that don't require any outlay of moolah.  Namely, I'll be finishing up the curtains my mom sewed when she was here (they're behind me in the last photo).  I should be doing this anyway so I can show you the fruits of her labour!  I've just been distracted because I defend my PhD proposal Monday.  If successful, I can actually begin my dissertation.  Exciting, clammy-hand-making news.

Happy weekend!

September 29, 2011

Think Pink (With Mustard Yellow!)

My mom has this uncanny ability to investigate a pile of vintage goods (sometimes even just a heap of junk) and pluck out the most amazing items.  While she was visiting we went to a flea market and she found this gorgeous vintage ochre, pink, cream and black tablecloth.  If it wasn't a square, I'd be blogging about how great it looks in my house.  (Why the heck are both our kitchen and dining tables round?  Whose idea was that?!?) 

So now she's got me hooked on another colour palette (remember the yellow & grey obsession?) and I'd like to incorporate this colour combo into my house.  I can't make it work.  But my mom is slowly directing her kitchen toward a subtle pink and yellow scheme, starting with the vintage pink Pyrex bowls she bought, and my only consolation is that, at some point, I will visit her and bask in the loveliness.

The perfect shades of mustard yellow and vintage-y pink.

The tablecloth reminds me so much of this table setting.


September 28, 2011

A Fabulous Home Tour

This probably isn't earth-shattering, late-breaking news but in case you hadn't guessed: I really, really like shelter blogs.  I refuse to abandon reading magazines because I love casually flipping pages (and ripping them out to save in a binder for inspiration) but blogs often give us something design magazines don't tend to emphasize: a glimpse into real, un-staged homes and the living that takes place inside. 

I find that photos of homes featured on blogs seem more lived in and less staged somehow.  I know not all blogs are like this - professional bloggers sometimes veer into too-perfect territory, what with their seemingly endless time to devote to decorating their homes - but 8foot6 is a fabulous example of a blog featuring a stylish home, and stylish blogger, that gives us a glimpse into a (Canadian) home & life.  Shannon, the blogger behind 8foot6, has, with her partner as well as a designer and architect, created a home that is casually elegant, modern (yet peppered with vintage finds) and looks utterly, completely livable. 

Scroll through the photos below to see for yourself, or check out her blog.

I love the shoes, all lined up.

The living room is by far my favorite room.
Love the softly coloured rug paired with the vibrant artwork and neutral furnishings.

Check out the chalkboard door! 
What a quietly glamorous dining room.

I love Shannon's collection of milk glass - they make such a big impact when grouped together.

All photos courtesy of 8foot6.

September 27, 2011

Felted Wool Brooch. Swoon.

Etsy seller Lena Baymut, from the Ukraine, makes such amazing felted wool accessories that I am compelled to blog about her work.  I am especially fond of her felted wool floral brooch, pictured below, and will be periodically checking out my own blog today just to ogle the photos of it. 

I have been on a felted wool hiatus since making the felted wool billy buttons, necklace & needle felted wool abstracts but I will be rummaging through my supplies this weekend in the hopes of figuring out how to make something half as beautiful as this brooch.  I doubt I will be able to craft something so modern and sculptural, but I'll keep you posted on any DIY progress.  If you so desire, you can purchase this brooch in Lena's Etsy shop.  I can't promise I won't be immensely jealous, though.

Lena Baymut - Etsy Seller

Lena Baymut - Etsy seller

September 26, 2011

Blast From the Past

Last May Hubby & I went to Portgual and France, where they wear the fancy pants (anyone get the reference?)  While in Paris, I bought this touristy magnet as a gift but I loved it so much that the intended recipient never received it.  I guess I'm greedy like that.  So you can imagine how completely jazzed I was to find seven antique postcards of my hometown and surrounding area - including the best lake in the world (hey, its called Lake Superior for a reason) that have the same turquoise wash and red lettering as my magnet.

If you've been reading Dans le Townhouse for awhile, you know I have a bit of a love affair with Lake Superior.  So I am extra happy to now own these:

I really love the turquoise wash on these postcards (that were originally tinted photographs).  Can you believe these have survived 100 years?

Only one of them was ever sent and it is dated June 4, 1912.  Check out the 1 cent stamp!

I know I want to frame them in white floating frames, like what I used for the small paintings in the hallway, and hang them in a row but I don't know where. . . . see the townhouse Home Tour and give me your thoughts.  I feel like I am running out of wall space.

I need to track down seven of these white floating frames . . .

September 23, 2011

Our Townhouse: Decorated by Strangers

Ever wish you could see what your house would look like if someone else took over the task of decorating?  Do what we did: move to a neighborhood of identical townhomes & make spying a dedicated hobby (MLS listings provide a great, legal venue for this if midnight strolls with craned necks peering into windows gets old).  Hey - its a perk of living in a neighborhood of homes so identical, it was tricky to find my own for the first six months.

I should be worried that so many homes in our neighborhood are for sale right now.  But concern for the mass exodus is overshadowed by my insatiable desire to see how other people have decorated their townhouse.  And I know some neighbors have been renovating because I've seen mint green & pale purple toilets strewn on lawns on garbage day.  (News to me that you could put out a toilet on garbage day.  In our hometown, no way could you get away with that).

Take a look at the photos below, snagged from the listings of three homes belonging to folks fleeing the neighborhood.  Its an alternate reality.  These all have the same layout as our townhouse, but compare these photos with our House Tour.  And then cue the creepy twilight zone music.

September 21, 2011

I Think I've Gone Mad

Either that, or this is my best art project.  What do you think:

Can you guess what medium this is?  These are photographs . . .

. . . of my parents' paint stained basement sink.

Washing my paint brushes after a particularly unproductive painting party with my mom this summer (I produced the yellow painting below) I morosely noted that the sink looked better than my creation.  I grabbed my camera and snapped away, planning to post a joke-y blog post about my mad lack of skills but then I started to like the photos.  I edited them recently (I snapped about a million) and I like how the sink isn't recognizable until I zoom out.  I have thought about blowing them up huge and hanging them in a series with the taps & sink as the last photo.  But I have too many ideas and not enough wall space!

What is the most unusual DIY art project you've dreamt up?

The yellow painting that wouldn't cooperate and spawned my photographic exploits.

September 20, 2011

Drug of Choice: McCoy Pottery

Although yesterday's giggle-fest was uplifting, I need to get in some serious eye candy before I can go on with my day.  Mom is on a plane, headed back to her home 1500kms away.  Maybe because I'm so glum, this incredibly cheery room laden with turquoise hues and McCoy pottery (you have to sing this line: these are a few of my favorite things) is making me smile. 

Do pictures of pretty rooms & things boost your mood too?  Or am I just that superficial?


In case you missed it, I posted about my own McCoy collection here, here & here.

September 19, 2011

I Wish I Were This Inventive.

Today is my last day with my mom.  Tomorrow she leaves for home.  Sad face.  She is kindly whipping up a curtain for the guest room (a post soon, I promise) but will be done shortly and then the last day of mother-daughter fun will commence.  It will involve baking, eating, the making of sad faces and a trip to a chocolate shop.  Because my dance card is so full today's post is short, sweet & giggle-inducing.

Check out these hilarious embroideries:

What Party?

What Party?

What Party?
This is me & Hubby.  I'm the one bringing home buttons.

I seriously cannot stop giggling.  I want one.  Such a modern take on a familiar craft.  Want to see more fun & quirky embroidered goodness?  Check out Embroideries by Stephanie Tillman.

September 16, 2011

Made in Hungary: Felted Wool Pillows

Stupid too small suitcase.  I lovingly fondled many a felted wool pillow in Hungary.  Even using traditional, labor-intensive techniques, handmade felted wool pillows like those below were only $25-50 CAD.  But, gormless gal that I am, I waffled and came home pillow-less.  Shoulda . . . woulda . . . Next time I am going with an empty suitcase and stocking up on goodies because these Hungarian pillows, distributed by Horne, cost much more. 




Although I came home pillow-less, I did pick up a few felted wool change purses.  One for mom and one for me.

September 15, 2011

DIY Painted Wood Wall Art

Wow.  Some DIY savvy gals just put me to shame.  While I was busy fiddling around with chalkboard paint, Janine, from Salvage Love, was making fabulously modern art with scraps of wood

When Hubby & his dad installed our hardwood floors we had a box of wood scraps leftover.  In an effort to de-clutter (and be green), we posted an ad for a free box-o-scraps on kijiji, my fav online classifieds.  Within hours some eager fella was in our driveway trying to shove the too-large box of scraps into his wee little car.  My heart will break if he did something cool like this too:

Salvage Love

Salvage Love

If you wanna get scrap-happy and make some wall art of your own check out this post, on Salvage Love, for the full how-to.

September 14, 2011

DIY Chalkboard Knife Block

Want a knife block you can doodle on?

Our knife block, a cheap-o Winner's purchase from four years ago, was looking a bit worse for wear.  Due to my excessive cleaning, I had managed to scrub most of the varnish off and I wasn't a fan of the light wood.


Before - Sans Varnish

I had a can of chalkboard spray paint lying around because I opted not to paint the magnetic memo board I made.  But that means I haven't ever tried chalkboard paint.  And all the cool kids are doing it.  So I thought the lonely can of paint + an ugly worn-out knife block = fun kitchen accessory.

I lightly sanded the surface of the knife block and spray painted it in a well ventilated area.  One coat resulted in this: 

Once the paint was dry, as per the manufacturer's instructions, I rubbed the whole thing in chalk using the side of a piece of chalk.

Then I wiped the chalk off using a damp cloth.  Apparently this "conditions" the chalkboard surface.  Can you imagine doing this for an entire chalkboard wall?!?

Now I can doodle:

No doodle.

To save you some scrolling . . . the "before" again.


I love the look!  Even as a plain black knife block I think it looks better: crisper, more modern and it fits with the other black accessories in the kitchen.  Yay for the inexpensive and successful (key word) DIY project.


This project is a little like Don Draper: cool and super easy.  But here are some troubleshooting tips:
  • Use a very fine sandpaper because any scrapes or scratches in the wood will be made more visible by the paint.
  • Don't paint rubber feet - the paint would NOT dry on the rubber feet so I had to spend a few minutes scrubbing them clean with paint remover.
  • Be a bit more generous with the "conditioning" process.  The amount of chalk I used was insufficient and sometimes what I draw won't erase easily.
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