Before and After

In the last week I have had so many requests for before and after pictures of my cottage bedroom and dresser that I thought I should comply.
These photos were joined together using an iPhone app called Pic Jointer which is super easy to use. The Before and After text was added using an app called Overgram, which has, as you can see, a watermark. There’s another app called Over which doesn’t leave a watermark.

This first set of pictures are of my potted tomato plant that I planted on May 22, and the After picture was taken on July 30, so about two months later. The After picture does not really show how enormous this tomato plant is. It is well over 5′ tall and has roughly 50 tomatoes on it!
My secret, you ask? Well, if I told this to my parent’s or grandparent’s generation no doubt they would chuckle at my ignorance in terms of reducing, re-using and recycling. You see, for the past couple of months, since living in our little cottage, by necessity I have been watering my outdoor plants using my kitchen sink “slops” – the rinse water from i.e. my blender after making my morning smoothie, rinsing fruit and vegetables and from hand washing dishes. This is because I have no outdoor spigot or hose so rather than use watering can after watering can of tap water, I thought I would just recycle some waste water that would just be going down the drain. The plants absolutely LOVE it. I have never had such a good crop. This can partly be explained by the fact that tomatoes, more than other plants, really require a steady moisture level in the soil. They don’t like to dry out completely, nor be flooded all the time, so a daily “slops” regimen at approximately the same times every day is just the sort of routine that allows for their optimal growth. I have not used any other fertilizer at all, just the kitchen waste water. Amazing! I will definitely be doing this again next summer and I recommend you to try it too. It’s just one of those old-fashioned practices that have fallen out of favour but which makes a whole lot of sense in terms of recycling.
And, of course, here also are the much requested before and after pictures of my cottage bedroom and dresser:





Finishing Touches

Well, here is the finished cottage bedroom. I was going for a look that says ” come and lay your weary head down here”. The colours I chose were turquoise and citrus green, colours which are on trend, and therefore readily available, and are also peaceful and soothing.
Since my milk painted dresser resisted chipping (which apparently happens sometimes), I didn’t bother with a sealer. I was pleasantly surprised to find that milk paint, all by itself, is a very durable finish and won’t come off. All I did was give it a light sanding to smooth out the raised grain.
I purchased some inexpensive bedding and accessories at Homesense as well as a pair of linen drapery side panels. I really wanted to make it easy on myself and these side panels certainly did, given that they were the right width for both a window curtain as well as a curtain to cover the closet (which has no door). All I had to do was shorten the window curtain, as with a window of this size, pretending that the window is larger than it is by hanging the curtains up to the ceiling seems a bit silly (see the prior post here), so I decided on just one short curtain hung slightly off centre to allow the curtain to be pulled back completely off the window, given the way the window opens to the inside.
As an added bonus, there was enough fabric left for a couple of neck pillows, which just add to the comfortable feeling of the bedroom. I made a few practical additions, such as a basket to hold mystery novels (required summer reading!), and a crackle jar with a jaunty bird on top to hold jewellery, watches, etc. at the end of the day. A stripy rag rug in the exact colours of the bedding provides a soft and warm place for your feet when you get out of bed in the morning. A dreamy cottage bedroom – bliss!


Peaceful and pretty cottage bedroom



New (shorter) linen curtain on the window is out of the way most of the time



The cut-off end of the curtain was enough to make two neck pillows. Just cut in half, and sew along 3 sides, leaving an opening



iron the seam allowance towards the inside of the cushion. This will make it easier to sew it closed



For the stuffing I (literally) cut an old, lumpy but clean pillow in half



then I sewed each half shut. It doesn’t matter what this seam looks like as it will be inside the pillow



Hmmmm……….these pillows need a little something something.




Using a leftover strip of fabric, you can make a bow by sewing 3 sides, just like you did with the pillow



The easiest way to turn a ribbon right way out is to push a yardstick into the narrow sewn edge




and keep pushing through until it’s the right way round.



iron the finished ribbon and tie a simple bow around the finished neck pillows




a jaunty bird sits atop a practical crackle pottery container



The other linen side panel went on a tension rod to cover…………



This mess!!


Milk Painted Chest


Chest before

A long time ago I stripped and lime washed this chest. In the many years that we have owned it, it has been used as a stereo chest, a kid’s toy and game chest, a clothes dresser and now it’s back to holding clothes. What I like about it is that there are many drawers, so it holds a lot of items, and they are neatly concealed behind doors. What I don’t like about it is that the doors were made of a different wood and always looked different than the rest of the dresser. Wood is like that. Also it was looking a bit boring.

So I decided to change it up a bit. I had been doing a lot of research on milk paint because I like how non-toxic it is. It is made up of chalk, limestone, milk protein and pigments. I found a website I really liked called Miss Mustard Seed where the author gives detailed video tutorials on how to use milk paint. I didn’t really want to pay for the shipping of it into Canada, so imagine my surprise when I found it for sale at Weeks Home Hardware in Waterdown. I was doubly surprised to find that it’s made in Toronto by Homestead House Paint Company.

It’s extremely easy to use, no prep required at all. You mix it with water, brush on a couple of coats, then sand or scrape off what doesn’t adhere and top coat with either varathane, hemp oil or wax. As you can see from my photos I did it right in my living room. It smells a bit like toothpaste but otherwise no odour.

In the case of my dresser, I used a Homestead House colour “Laurentian” which is a very pretty turquoise shade. The photo below shows two coats on my dresser but I have not had a chance to antique it or apply the top coat yet. I put the glass knobs on just for the photo so the final finished dresser will look a little different, a richer colour with some distressing. I tried sourcing glass knobs at ReStore but no luck and they were frightfully expensive at Lee Valley, but I managed to source them inexpensively at Target.

I am pleased with the result so far and I think it will really freshen up the cottage bedroom.


milk paint is sold in small packages of powder




all you need is a small plastic cup, some water and a chopstick or something to mix it with



mix for several minutes until smooth



2 coats of milk paint, new glass knobs. It already looks fresher even though I am not finished.



Cottage Bedroom

For my first project I decided to re-paint the bedroom. The panelling had been previously painted but the paint was particularly dingy, making the whole room look smaller and darker. I used a favourite cottage colour: Simply White, Benjamin Moore OC-117. It’s a milky white colour, not an ultra-white, so although it is bright, it’s not blindingly so. Although there were at least two coats of the old paint, the panelling still soaked up a lot of paint, as did the acoustic tile on the ceiling, so I had to do two full coats, despite using one of the new “Paint + Primer” paints. If you are planning on painting a ceiling, do your neck and upper back a favour and use a two foot long painting stick attached to the paint roller. This allows you to stand back and paint forward at an angle, rather than painting up above your head. Using a shorter painting stick is easier for me than a long one, which requires quite a bit of upper body strength to manipulate.

It’s also crucial to provide proper ventilation when painting. Paint with the windows wide open and use a fan in the doorway to force air out through the window. Even with today’s zero VOC paints you are still going to have paint fumes until the paint “skins over”, which usually takes a couple of hours. If you are pregnant or nursing, do your baby a favour and do not paint yourself. This is the time to get someone else to do it. Leave for a few hours and by then the fumes should have diminished significantly.

I am very pleased with the result. The room looks a lot brighter and larger. I scrounged a bed frame and used it to add height and definition to the wall.

Next week: dressing up the bedroom (a bit!)


Before bedroom – paint looks white, right?




Before bedroom – what NOT to do with drapes!



Bedroom after painting in Benjamin Moore OC-117, Simply White



ceiling also painted in Simply White

And you thought that paint was white!

Ventilating the bedroom with a vintage Robins & Myers fan. It works fantastic!

Do your neck and upper back a favour and use a painting stick to paint the ceiling


Green Acres!!

Oh Boy!
What have we got ourselves into now?
Our new house build is going amazingly quickly – roof goes on this week !!! – however we will not be able to move into it until late September. Since our closing date on the old house was June 27, we had to find alternate living arrangements. Camping on the building site was not really an option (and I’m SO glad since we’ve had the wettest summer so far) and any short term rentals were cottage rentals, at cottage rental rates.
Since my husband and I are both a bit impetuous crazy, we decided to invest in the purchase of a rental cottage ourselves. It needs A LOT of work, however, both to get it liveable, and rentable for next summer.
Luckily for us, my hubby is very handy and I love to paint, so it will be the kind of challenge that we love to take on.
The cottage is a real, old Ontario cottage with a great sunroom and lovely wood floors (under all those layers of Lino) and original wooden slider windows, on a large lot with humongous old maple trees providing natural air conditioning so the place has potential, that’s for sure.
Can we do it? Stay tuned to this blog over the summer as we try.


Green Acres is the place to be!!



We were welcomed by a lovely Sunflower



Huge maple trees on the property dwarf the little cottage



Doesn’t this one look like it’s just made for climbing?


Summertime Vegetable Soup


Gather all your ingredients

Summertime Vegetable Soup

Even though it’s early summer, we have had some cold, damp days lately and I felt like I wanted a nice, light summertime vegetable soup. This one is really easy, only takes an hour and a half or so and feeds a crowd.


Use whatever vegetables you have on hand – anything works as long as you have something tomato-ey to lift the flavour.

Here’s what I used:

Chicken carcase wrapped in cheesecloth (or 2 bouillon cubes)

1 onion

leftover wilted celery centre (really good for soup!)

2 carrots

1 zucchini

1/2 a green pepper

2-3 cloves garlic

one large or two small potatoes

1/2 cup orzo pasta (I used kamut orzo)

3/4 cup frozen peas

3/4 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup frozen baby lima beans

1 1/2 cups of tinned tomatoes

1 cup clamato juice

a couple of handfuls of greens (baby spinach, kohlrabi greens, swiss chard, beet greens)

1 Tablespoon dried oregano (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh)

1 Tablespoon paprika

A couple of bay leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste

3″ piece of parmesan or asiago cheese rind (optional)




Cover wrapped chicken carcase with water and bring to the boil



chop all the vegetables



cook carcase for an hour



add all the other ingredients except the greens, bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes



in the meantime chop the greens



then lift out wrapped carcase using tongs



add all the chopped greens



and serve with some shredded parmesan or asiago cheese (optional)


Gotta love marigolds!

20130618-212607.jpgMarigolds and Basil are perfect companions for tomatoes – even in a pot!



Thai basil is an excellent companion plant

The theory behind companion planting is that certain plants such as marigolds, and nasturtiums are so pungent and produce an odour which many insects absolutely loathe. Tomatoes are particularly susceptible to aphids, whitefly and root nematodes. Marigolds work well to repel these harmful pests. When you plant basil with tomatoes both plants will grow stronger and better. Even if you just have a tomato in a pot you can plant some flowers and herbs around it. You just have to make sure you provide enough water for all the plants that are in the pot, and fertilize more frequently as well.