Thursday, 29 March 2012

* The Return of the Backyard *

Throughout this normally frigid month of March, Toronto has been blessed with a few days of absolutely gorgeous and unseasonably warm weather.

In fact, those of you who follow me on twitter may already know this, but we actually had temperatures last week that were comparable to Maui's... that's right, as in Hawaii.


This glorious, albeit short stint of amazing weather has been a great break from the cold, but it's also given me an unusually early desire to spruce up the backyard.

After a long winter of hibernating inside, having access to our yard essentially adds another room onto our little home.

And since we haven't exactly got unlimited space here in the Nook, extra room is definitely cause for excitement!

Mid to late spring, when the time and especially the weather is right, Marc and I wipe down all of our outdoor furniture, clear out whatever has blown around the yard throughout fall and winter, and head out to stock up on flowers, herbs and vegetable seeds.

Even for a teeny tiny piece of land like this, "opening" the yard makes for a long day of hard work and fresh air that is absolutely exhausting, but always worth it once we start seeing the fruits of our labour...

In addition to colourful blooms,  over the last couple of years we've grown tomatoes, peppers, basil, chives, and more lettuce than the two of us could ever keep up with.

While these plants quickly get taller and wider than the cedar garden box Marc built for them - and we end up losing some of the space we just reclaimed - it's a small price to pay in exchange for the fresh food we pluck right from the garden, mere minutes before dining!

We'll likely plant the usual suspects again this year, but there's not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to the flowers we've chosen thus far...

Growing up, my mum let my sisters and I pick our own colour of impatiens that we'd tend to all season long, so that's my one personal must have, but beyond that we really just pick up whatever catches our eyes as we poke around Kensington Market and Home Depot.

Do you have big plans for your yard this year? Any indoor gardens already on the go for you apartment-dwellers?

Outdoor furniture and patio sets can get pricey, but that's definitely something I'd like to look into this year... when the weather permits, anyway :)

KLI | NofW

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Kitchen Overhaul Update

A while back I mentioned that our teeny, tiny kitchen was in desperate need of a makeover.

It's not that I just wanted to redecorate -  I needed to redecorate, and if you don't believe me, see for yourself.

This kitchen was/is small, had super bland beige walls and countertops, was poorly lit (with inexplicably exposed fluorescent lighting), and had sub-par finishes all around.

As much as we would've loved to, it sadly just didn't make sense to rip everything out and start from scratch while we're just renting.

No, there weren't any snazzy new cabinets on the way, no beautiful backsplash en route...

We had to approach this overhaul knowing it wasn't investment, but rather a temporary way of personalizing another bit of our little home.

As I've said before, I love sketching on my iPad and did a lot of brainstorming for our little kitchenette by doing just that...


With busy work and social schedules, plus a tight budget, making something of these ideas has been a very slow process. And while it's still very much underway, it dawned on me that we've actually made a lot of progress in the last few months... baby steps or not!

First, we managed to free up some much needed counter space by replacing two wooden knife blocks with two magnetic strips.

I've loved the look of these for a while now, and thanks to MLo and his Dad (who both miraculously remembered my passing comments about this idea), our amazing knives have been both on display and out of the way since Christmas!

Despite the setback/saga of MLo's broken elbow, I managed to take the next step on my own and checked 'paint the walls' off my to do list over the holidays. 

We opted for a bold and bright yellow that almost makes our turquoise bathroom look demure!

This admittedly in your face colour takes some getting used to, and I know it definitely isn't for everyone, but we're very happy with the way it turned out and both agree it really livens up the space!

After not really finding exactly what I wanted on Etsy, I ended up purchasing this set of four glass kitchen canisters for a ridiculously low price at the Kitchen Stuff Plus store across from my office building.

Kitchen Stuff Plus
Since I don't do too much baking, we've passed on your typical flour and sugar, opting instead to fill our new canisters with more frequently used items here in the Nook: coffee, tea, pasta and nuts. Whatever works, right? 

Other improvements and additions include a new magnetic spice rack, Marc's DIY filter for our terrible fluorescent lighting (made of a custom-fit wooden frame and tracing paper), and a little Sansevieria plant here and there, to provide some much needed greenery.

I still plan to hang a mirror behind the sink, score one or two new lamps for the corners beneath our cabinets, finally decide on a small print to frame, etc. etc. etc. but thus far I'm quite pleased with our progress.

Would you or have you decorated your kitchen or home differently, with outrageous colours or daring designs, knowing that you'd likely move or renovate within a couple of years?

You obviously know my answer... what's yours?

KLI | NofW

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Right Where I Want To Be

Last weekend my Dad and I made the last minute decision to check out an architectural exhibit down at the Harbourfront Centre that I've been meaning to write about since...

Ironically, the very little exhibit was called BIG ENOUGH? and was focused on the choice we all make when deciding between urban or suburban living, and how both our life priorities and perspectives on space shift accordingly.

Several installations included photos, text, 3D models and more, by firms Altius Architecture Inc., nkA, and rzlbd, and artist Surendra Lawoti.

My favourite feature of the exhibit was the very first thing we saw as we walked through the door...

There was a map of Toronto on a poster board up against the wall and two small dishes off to the side of it... one meant to hold red tacks, the other yellow.

The instructions said to punch your yellow tack through the map to mark where you do live and the red where you want to live...

When she noticed us checking out this installation, the woman working behind the desk said, "Oh sorry, we ran out of yellow..." and without a thought I replied, "That's okay, they'd be on the same spot anyway!" 

If there was ever any doubt, that comment confirmed a very big reason why I'm a very lucky girl. Renting or not, I am living exactly where I want to be right now, and from the looks of this map, not everyone can say the same.

In fact, the location might be what we love most about our little home. Our condo complex and the neighbourhood itself has the feel of a small town right within the city, and we're close to everything, including some family and friends.

Having said that, this little apartment is definitely not big enough and I'm well aware that it won't house us forever, but for the moment at least, I can say it's just about perfect... and just maybe worth the sacrifice of square footage :)

What  about you, are you right where you want to be? If not, why? Regardless of your answers, head down to this exhibit if you can and make your mark on this map of the GTA ... open through July!

KLI | NofW