..the secret life of daydreams..

a blog of the everyday beautiful

About piabaerg

play room reveal

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This update has been a long time coming as the room has been finished for months now, but time has a way of getting away from me, especially with as many projects on the go as we do (another topic for another day), and a toddler who apparently employs magical powers to dismantle multiple rooms at the same time. Seriously. The numbers of times I have refolded the tea towels back into their cupboard…

All the more reason why I am so excited about finishing a playroom/craft room for her (and for me!). The bonus room above the garage has historically been the room where orphaned and stateless items get abandoned for lack of a better home (i.e. I don’t know what to do with this crap so I’ll tuck it where no one will see it). I don’t know about you, but I think this dirty little secret lives in most homes, lurking in the deep recesses of a hall closet or in a kitchen drawer. Mine had shamefully ballooned into a whole room, especially since we have moved a couple times in recent history and the in-laws were generous enough to let me store painting and craft supplies here in one location. But now that this is becoming home, I knew this room needed to be dealt with. High on the list of priorities was proper storage for all the crafting/painting/sewing supplies, as well as a space for the little one to play and make a ruckus.

 

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There was also this awful partition dividing the room in  half, rendering each side more difficult to use and arrange. It also hid how big and spacious the room really was, so knocking that down was the first thing we did once everything had been moved out.

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Brightening the room up was another priority, which meant adding pot lights into the window nooks and over the big window. Thank goodness for husbands who are willing to worm around in the attic space running electrical cable. When asked how it was up there, he replied, “It’s alright… if you don’t like your knees and shoulders.”

Painting the room a cheery cream white did wonders as well for making it a bright, inviting space.

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I bought kitchen cabinet lowers from IKEA for the aforementioned storage. Turns out they have a shallow depth cabinet that worked great in this room. The full depth cabinet would have intruded into the space too far and felt bulky and awkward. These 15 inch ones were perfect! The wooden counter top completed the look without looking too much like a kitchen and added a “workspace” feel.

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I’m a total junky for organization (otherwise things fall into complete disarray almost immediately) and it delights me to no end to finally have proper storage and homes for things like my sewing machine, painting supplies, construction paper, etc. I’m not sure how long these drawers will look like this, but for now, it makes me ecstatically happy.

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For the playroom half of the room, my plans included custom open shelving for kids books and toy baskets, as well as a sitting area and a reading nook.

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“How hard could it be to screw together some metal piping and throw some wood on?” I had thought to myself… Well. It turns out there was a lot of math involved because unless I wanted to start cutting pipe and and threading them myself (I didn’t), I had a few specific lengths to work with. And of course I wanted to make it complicated for myself (when do I not?) and have shelves at different heights. In the end we got it all put together though and I’m really happy with the outcome.

Reading nook

 

The sitting area will still see some furniture updates as our current couches will become the playroom couches in the eventual future, but the last thing I will show you is one of my favourite features. An indoor swing! This is my mom’s old childhood swing, and there is also a ladder and a “trapeze” bar as alternative attachments. It will be a while before she can use it, but in the meantime I have enjoyed the occasional swing myself.

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This room is quickly becoming one of the favourite spaces in the house, especially because it is so bright and cheerful, and I look forward it’s ability to transform as the demands on it’s use change with time.

Also, a huge thanks to my dad who helped out in a major way with electrical work (moving outlets and installing the pot lights). He also put in a ceiling vent fan that will allow me to safely use oil paints and keep air moving through the space. Love you dad!

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get by with a little help from our friends…

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This past weekend was a fence-post-hole-digging kind of weekend. My dad and I spent the better part of Thursday measuring and marking, which proved invaluable once we started to dig. As they say, measure twice, cut (or dig) once!

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Having everything laid out in the real space and marked with spray paint and stakes meant that on Saturday and Sunday we just got to work. Justin picked up a rental hydraulic auger to make the work faster, and at just under a $150 for a day rental, that might be one of the best decisions we have made with this garden so far.

I’m sure in some alternate universe, hand digging 40-plus, 3 foot deep holes in rocky ground wouldn’t be torture, but we weren’t about to subject ourselves to that. Instead, they all got dug in essentially one afternoon with relative ease.

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That auger was a workhorse, and much easier to use than a handheld two-person auger. I think we would have run into difficulties with anything else in our rocky soil. It wasn’t all a cake walk though; Justin was definitely feeling it in his forearms that night.

A huge thank you to our friends Corrie and Thomas who volunteered their whole day and made it fun to be working. Corrie and I tackled a few things on my to-do list (pruning the red currant, moving soil, lining some of the boxes with landscape fabric, and leveling and squaring off those same boxes) while Thomas helped Justin manhandle the digger.

Love you guys. Couldn’t have done it without you!

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Also big thanks to my dad for helping me think through logistics and planning, and being available hands when we needed him. This girl also pulled her weight keeping an eye on the all-important measuring tape:

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the yew

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I have a thing for yew hedges. They are, in my eyes, the perfect landscaping hedge: hardy, tolerant of sun and shade, and with a narrow growth habit and an ability to flush green growth from old wood  which makes them very simple to trim. They will also last for many decades (or more, there is a yew hedge in England that is 300 years old!) if well cared for.

Then there is the visual. With that dark green foliage, yews make a beautiful backdrop to flowers and other vegetation.

I also suspect there is an emotional tie to the yew for me. I have a great love of English gardens, and wandering the elegant estate gardens in the Cotswolds and Oxfordshire with Justin several years ago established my resolve to one day incorporate yews into an eventual garden.

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So, when we started talking about redoing our vegetable garden, on the top of my list was a yew hedge for the east side of the garden. It will provide a visual backdrop for everything else in the garden, but it also serves a functional purpose in that a hedge will create a windbreak for some of the prevailing breezes we tend to receive from the interior. My goal is to create a sheltered micro-climate within the space of my garden so that some of my more “gentle” plants can thrive.

The downside is that yews are frightfully expensive. They are typically priced about $10 a foot in vertical height, so planting a five foot tall hedge can easily run you $50 a plant. And when I wanted a 60 foot long hedge, that proved to be too pricey. We considered the more wallet friendly cedar as an alternative, but I knew I would be disappointed by that decision in the years to come. So I did some digging on the Internet and found a local grower who was willing to sell us little 12 inch starts for five dollars each. We went with the varietal of the H.M. Eddie Yew as it presented with the right growth habit for our needs.

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Compromising with little starts like this means employing some patience, as it won’t look like what I imagined for many years to come, but that is alright, because gardening is all about investing in the future. As Audrey Hepburn famously said once, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

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potager

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So in yet another make work project for ourselves, the backyard veggie patch is getting a makeover. And by makeover I mean a complete reconstruction…

What have I done…

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the plans

The goal is that while we will have to put in a lot of effort now, it will ideally be less work in the future. How? automatic irrigation (thanks to my ever patient husband), and raised beds that will keep more weeds out. Also, the grass is getting turfed. Out. Done. It’s a pain to mow and while I admit I prefer the look of a neatly clipped and trimmed grass walk, it’s just way too much work to be worth it.

Add in a new yew hedge and the relocation of basically every existing tree and shrub, and I will have my dream potager garden that has been inspired by some of the amazing gardens I’ve walked through in Europe.

We started work already last summer, but didn’t get too far before the rains of autumn hit, which were followed by an unusual cold snap through December and most of January. While we had hoped to be farther along by now, this pause is giving me a chance to catch up on here before we keep going outside. Stay tuned!

 

it may only be the end of january but…

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It may only be the end of January, but the snow has finally melted (I know, I know… us poor west coasters with *only* a month of snow to deal with…) and I’m starting to dream about the garden again.

Especially because this beauty is in my hands and visions of tomatoes and artichokes and fresh peas are floating around in my head.

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If I could get it all I would. As it is I tend to buy too many seeds (they are so small afterall…), so I’ll be doing my best this year to select what I actually have room to grow. Can’t wait!

a special garden party

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This is a little late in being posted, but back in May I had the wonderful chance to throw my mom a special 50th birthday party. Most of you who know me know that I love to host a good themed party, so with gorgeous weather in sight and my peonies in full bloom, we decided a garden party would be the perfect foil for this sophisticated but casual party.

I can’t say enough ‘thank you’s’ to my aunt for all the work she put in alongside me, and for the use of her gorgeous backyard and patio. It was the ultimate backdrop for this event and I am so pleased with how everything turned out. It always causes me delight to know that I’ve created a comfortable environment for people to relax and spend time together, as evidenced by those who linger long after they have said that they “really should get going.”

Also special thanks goes to Julie from Julie Christine Photography. She came out and captured all the lovely details for me and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have all these beautiful photographs that I just don’t have time to snap when I’m playing host!

I hope you enjoy this little peek from our day.

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drink setup

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Happy Birthday Mom! Love you.

newborn shoot – baby wade

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I had the great privilege of taking a few shots of this little guy at the beginning of January. He was born to my good friends Mike and Kacey back in November, so while this isn’t exactly a newborn shoot in the classic sense, he still makes for a pretty good subject. Wade is a mover though, as you will probably see in the photos; and he is most definitely a cutie-pa-tootie!

Here are a couple of my favourite shots from our  little session:

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