Friday, 7 December 2012

The Art of Selecting, well, uh.. Art

For this week's Friday Phil, I want to talk about selecting artwork. Now, we're no experts on the matter; I'm not sure we've ever actually selected any artwork per se, which is why I want to talk about it.

See, my inlaws have a theory about this, and if they actually use it, it's worked for them. My father-in-law explains it something like this (not exact quotes): 
The thing you can't do is say "I like this," or "I don't like this." You need to say "This inspires me," or "This doesn't inspire me."
Well, you might say, isn't this just replacing one word, namely "like," with another, "inspire." And you're mostly right. But as far as I can tell, the primary difference is this:

Art is so subjective that what one person likes relative to another is often so inconsistent as to appear random. When we say "I like this," or "I don't like this," we pronounce personal judgment on a piece of art that, if your partner has an opposite opinion, represents your active disagreement.

However, if we put the responsibility on the piece of art to inspire us, then whether it does for one person or not is not their fault. If the Mona Lisa doesn't inspire me, my wife can't say "Oh, he's just disagreeable," she'll just have to blame ol' Mona's half-smile or Da Vinci's forgetting the eyebrows.

Or you can blame Dan Brown.
It's your call, really.
Now, that sounds like high-falutin' psychology. Truth be told, we have only halfheartedly tried to test this strategy in the past. I have to admit, the subtle distinction between liking and being inspired by art makes it seem almost laughable to put it into practice. That said, we haven't exactly been loading up on the art using our own methods. Maybe if we did put the theory to work, we'd be walking out of galleries and decor stores with so many paintings under our arms, you'd think we were auditioning for a part in Ocean's Twelve.
No, so far our strategy for selecting art and decor (primarily decor to this point) has been less evolved. To illustrate, we're going to do some mad-libbing, so need you to pick:

  • a type of material (wood, stone, fabric, etc.)
  • the name of an animal or religious figure (I guess in the case of the ancient Egyptians, this could be both)
  • a verb meaning "love" or a word meaning "hate"
  • an actor from the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross (or the original 1983 Broadway stage production, if you have to be different)
  • a facial feature

Got yours all written down? Don't peek down before you have!

Good. So our strategy for selecting decor goes something like this:
Cass says "How about this [material] [animal/religious figure]?"

I say "I [verb for love or hate] it. Doesn't it look a little like [Glengarry actor]'s [facial feature]?"

I would say our method inverts the old 18th-century marriage proposal system, where
"man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal," but this blog relies on Friday posts to bring the testosterone, and quoting Jane Austen doesn't exactly fit that bill.

Quick, gotta recapture the male audience's attention. Ummm, okay:
"Yo dudes, who's hotter, Jane Austen (above) or Mona Lisa?"
Okay, yeah, never mind.

I digress.
One thing that shopping for art has done is helped me realize how difficult it is to find art that both of us like that compliments the furniture and decor we already own. So my solution on a pair of occasions has been as DIY of me as I get: I make my own art (sort of).

Next Friday I'll share with you how I do it, but suffice it to say, if you've got Photoshop and a bit of a printing budget, you can make beautiful canvasses that you, your significant other, and your space will love.  

With or without eyebrows.  

Until then, do you guys have any strategies for selecting art and decor? How did your mad lib turn out? (Mine: Cass says "How about this Mahogany Platypus?" I say "I canonize it! Doesn't it look a little like Alan Arkin's jowls?")

In case you thought, hey, I'd buy a mahogany platypus.
Note: They're not mahogany, nor do they look much like George Aaronow, in case that impacts your buying decision. That said, they don't NOT look like Alan Arkin...

Thursday, 6 December 2012


Ok, now that we've all laughed for five minutes about that amazing post title, wow I really out did myself with that one. I have one hour to write this post and keep up the 5-days-a-week streak, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

Last time we talked about our bedroom we had painted and installed trim, with tasks left like patching nail holes, priming, painting, and caulking. My parents helped us out with the trim as they had done their own last year, except they still haven't caulked theirs because they are scared of it.

At first I thought this fear was crazy, how hard can it be? One day while Philip was off at work I decided to give it a whirl. Got my little bowl of water, cut off the tip of the caulk, put it into the caulk gun (coolest non-deadly weapon ever), and I was ready to go. Lined it all up, started to pull the trigger...There was way more excess than expected. As I wiped it with a wet finger I was very quickly realizing the catastrophe occurring. I ran to get a wet rag, and with that, learned the trick to caulking successfully. Make a huge mess, then clean it up with a wet rag before it dries. Secrets to success people.

My first section of caulk, the rest looks a lot better...
but this gives you an idea.

I stopped when I got to the dark walls, fearing that I might mess it up big time and it'd be a lot less blended in. Philip finished it up on the weekend as he has a much steadier hand. However, we did encounter another obstacle. We were noticing that the paint was peeling off a lot when we wiped away the caulk, so we went back to Rona and bought some latex painters caulk instead of what we had been using previously. It worked a bit better, there was still some paint loss, but my mom came back and worked her cutting in magic and it was all better.

We got through it although some profanities were surely tossed around, and it wasn't altogether smooth, but we got it done.

Has anyone else caulked anything recently? Is it easier than I think?

Least favourite things about caulking:

  • It's sticky and weird when you get it on your hands
  • So messy - this kind of goes with the first one
  • I hate how it keeps coming out of the tube even when you're not pulling the trigger so it's just constantly coming out and you have to put it on something when you need to put it down to smooth
Caulk stream going strong even when I'm not using it. 

It does make the job look a lot more finished, and I'm glad we did it even though it might have been one of my least favourite tasks so far. One thing I've been learning through this whole thing is that we get hung up on one task, hate it, notice every flaw, then move on to the next and completely forget about it and we don't even notice the work we did on it anymore. It's like a woman in labour, forgetting that horrible pain and having 3 more children. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Pro Packers

Well, with our bedroom and office renovation projects coming to a close, I've started to take a peek into some of the boxes that we packed before the move. It's a little bit ridiculous, but this is probably the first permanent unpacking we're doing! We've lived here since the end of August and have already slept temporarily in two different rooms and most things in our house are not in their real spots. This is finally going to come to an end!

Our moving strategy at the condo involved packing a lot of things up before the open house happened so that our condo looked a little more clutter-free and it also enabled us to pack easier afterwards as most of the things that we didn't use on a regular basis were already packed up. 

What this created was a disaster for unpacking. When we were deciding to sell, we started slowly accumulating boxes and packing them up. This basically involved me scrambling through the condo looking in each room for things we don't use regularly, I'd put them in a box nicely, and then if there was room left look around for something that would fit. That means there are boxes that contain things from all different rooms and uses, it makes absolutely no sense. 

You won't even believe what's all in this box. I had no idea.

An example of a real boxes contents: 

  • 2 empty clear cosmetic bag type things (not sure where these are from or what I will use them for )
  • A box of blank cards made by Philip's company to commemorate the President's 35th Anniversary with the company, the front of the cards is a picture of "Eyebrow, Saskatchewan"...I had never read this before...but I am not joking that it says that on the back. Photo proof included.
Prairie photo of Eyebrow, Saskatchewan...when Philip comes home I may convince him that we should move there. 

In case you didn't believe it.

  • One picture of us, no frame, nothing protecting it...just a photo.
We care so much for our belongings, this photo is a real survivor for making it in this box with no protection. 

  • A bundle of leftover thank you cards from our wedding, I still have to find a use for these.
  • A miniature Chicago Bulls basketball - we have a hoop somewhere, but apparently it didn't make it into this box.
  • Some tiny green klompen gifted to me by a friend who travelled to Holland (for those who don't know this - I'm 100% Dutch and quickly being outnumbered by Mennonites). 
  • Some kind of game system controller, I don't know what for (remind me to ask Philip what it belongs to). 
  • Bride and Groom rubber duckies that someone brought to our wedding - so cute!
Can't wait to play with these in our remodeled bathroom when the tub becomes less peach and more usable. 

  • 2 wooden cars that Philip made as a kid.
  • A Psalter Hymnal, a lot older than the one you can buy on Amazon.
  • 2 German dictionaries (Philip speaks German). 
  • Delft blue tea light holder (with a tea light floating around in it), a doily, and a small porcelain rabbit from Russia - all of these belong to Philip's Oma who gave them to me at one of my wedding showers. 
  • An ipod arm band still in the package. 
  • A photo album that has never been filled, but does have some pictures floating loose in there from high school days. 
  • Floral picture frame with a photo of Philip & I at Niagara Falls in it.
  • Small wooden picture frame with a photo of Philip's Oma Wiebe.
  • Small picture frame with a photo of Philip's brother Jonathan.
  • A two photo picture frame, with one photo in it. 
  • Philip's University of Manitoba student ID.
  • Bulletin from my infant baptism at Second Christian Reformed Church in Ontario. 
Cassondra Ann Laninga, in the womb.

  • Very difficult to identify ultrasound photos of me (at least that's what I'm told...)
  • A couple of photo albums, one is Winnie the Pooh, from when I was in elementary school.
  • The book, "Marsupial Sue" by John Lithgow.
  • Empty Class of 2007 Graduation picture frame (I graduated from high school in 2007 - just need to put a photo in this!). 
  • A photo of Philip's Oma & Opa in a frame.
  • ID passes from our honeymoon cruise. 
  • An "I'm a Girl!" ID card provided by Ross Laboratories from my hospital stay at birth.
  • An old digital camera from a previous boyfriend which we never really use as our iPhones probably take better photos.
  • A pedometer. 
  • White binder filled with Philip's Eastview Link's that he was a part of publishing (church magazine). 
  • Travel case for my mini chi straightener and hair dryer. 
  • One leaf.
I want to pretend we packed this intentionally.

Wow. That was way more legendary than I'd expected (oh boy, I've watched too much How I Met Your Mother this week - I've been pretty sick since Saturday). Now I have to find places to put all of this stuff. Later this week we'll have to post an update on our reno's! Yesterday we finished up the floor, trim, and touched up some paint, time to move some furniture in and get settled! Don't forget to answer our poll this week!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Would You "Tues"?

As you know, the poll was extended after last Thursday's post. This is because I remembered a fun tradition my friend and I had, which was that every Tuesday we would ask each other a poll-type question and call it "Would you Tues" (pronounced to sound like choose - or in this case something like Tch-yooze). 

The results are in, and most of you are further than we are in holiday preparedness, but there are a few procrastinators out there.

Here's where we're at in our decking of the halls:

Last year we didn't have one, we'll see what happens this year! I'm a "real tree" person, but I do have a hand-me-down fake tree in the basement that we might use this year. As of right now every nook and cranny of our living room is filled with books/gift wrap/wall art/etc. that is meant for the two rooms that are being reno'd right now; as soon as those are gone I'm getting that tree up! Boxes of books everywhere doesn't exactly scream beautiful Christmas party decoration.

As for other decorations, they really add up so I've been trying to slowly accumulate them this year. Last year I got a few ornaments from relatives, this year I've made my pine cone craft, and I just purchased this cute light up white tree decoration from Ikea (I don't know the scientific name for it which is why it ended up with that long run-on name), hopefully I can keep building on that until I have a proper Christmas collection!

For this year, our tree will likely look something like the below, with a variety of homemade when we were in elementary school ornaments, and no general theme of any kind. Definitely homey and much like what I grew up with at home, although as soon as I moved out my mom was ready for a beautifully put-together tree with ornaments that all came in a set together. Stay tuned for a beautiful tree photo, hopefully it happens this week!

Probably still better than how our last-minute Christmas Tree will look.

We have 20 gifts to buy this year, and so far I am completely done 6 of them, with 2 others started and 12 with no progress whatsoever. Hopefully after we're done these bedrooms and have the bathroom underway I can focus on shopping. I do love Christmas shopping and thinking of things for each person, but 20 people is a doozy! Also no idea what to get for Philip this year (we greatly lowered our budgets since we've been buying a lot of new things lately) so if anyone has any suggestions I'd appreciate them!

This past weekend was our last weekend of freedom before we commence 2 parties a weekend for the entire month of December...ay caramba. I'm really looking forward to the festivities and all the parties will be fun - but it also means 4 weekends of not a lot of house productivity. The other main event planned for Christmas (we have to reevaluate this plan as some things may need to be ordered and not come on time) is completely gutting and renovating our bathroom. My parents have work off over Christmas and offered their labour over the week, so we're really pushing to be ready for them while we have the help. This coming weekend we start with my mom's side of the family and our church young adults group (this is the one we're hosting), followed next weekend by my friends and my dad's side of the family, followed by the real deal Christmas Eve and Christmas immediate family celebrations. In amongst that we'll also have our church services for Christmas Eve, which Philip is pretty involved in on the drama side so there are a lot of practices and things like that added into the mix. 

General Christmas Cheer Levels/Emotional Preparedness: 
Cassondra: As far as being stoked for Christmas, I'd say that my level of Christmas cheer is moderate. I'm really excited to put up decorations and for all of the events that we have planned, but that is being slightly crushed by the lists and pressure to finish these two bedrooms and get the bathroom planning into high gear. I'm just hoping that we can get this all under control to some extent by the end of this week so that we can focus on family time and relaxing a little bit over the Christmas break. Luckily Philip gets a week off at Christmas so that will be really nice, as long as it doesn't get totally taken away by bathroom gutting. 

Philip: Philip is busy caulking in the bedroom right now so I'm taking the liberty to write this for him after walking over there and asking how excited he is for Christmas. He is primarily in denial, as house stuff and church drama production things are sort of stressing him out. I asked him what he's most excited for though and - Cass family shout out - he said my family gathering on Saturday. That shows you how great my family is, that a gathering at the in-laws is the thing he's most excited for at Christmas time so far. We'll have to tell you a bit about our gatherings sometime, they are definitely unorthodox - and as a sneak preview you should know that this Saturday at our family gathering we are to come dressed in '80s workout attire (add going to Value Village for neon coloured spandex to the Christmas to-do list). 

In case you're one of the procrastinators out there, just remember, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Try it out sometime, I imagine it's effective. 

This week, tell us what you'd like to receive for Christmas! I have to admit so selfishly that I am looking forward to getting gifts more than ever this year. I know this sounds terrible...but it's just the truth. We've been so busy with house stuff and constantly on a budget that being able to bask in some free treats that I may not have been able to buy for myself sounds glorious. Next Tuesday when we wrap this poll up we'll share a few of the things on our Christmas lists too, Philip is a very in-depth Christmas list maker so it should be pretty easy for him. Make your votes people - and as a reminder, we've learned that iPads don't allow comments or poll votes, so get your computer out!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Coming This Winter to a Winnipeg-based Home Reno Blog Near You!

Well, with December having commenced this past weekend, our official To-Do list for Winter 2012-2013 has just begun, and this is what we have to look forward to until February. For your benefit, we've included some rationales for why these items have been included now during the coldest part of the year:

Plans Plans Plans

  • Design/quote bathroom
  • Design/quote kitchen
  • Design/quote deck
  • Design/quote basement
  • Design/quote upstairs ensuite/walk-in closet
  • Design/quote landscaping and outdoors
Why now? Because we want to be able to budget for some of these projects over the next few years. And because it's cold outside, and dreaming up cool ideas for the future warms the cockles of our hearts.

This diagram clearly fails to illustrate where exactly the "cockles" are.
This article disturbingly suggests that cockles refer to snails.
We're going to stop researching this right now.

Window Coverings

  • Quote blinds and curtains
  • Install blinds in master bedroom and living room
Why now? Because we hate wearing clothes indoors want more privacy and because we feel self-conscious using our Wii-based exercise games in front of our only TV in the house in the living room, for all the world to watch us out our big picture window.

This gives you an idea of what you might see if you looked in our living room window while we were exercising using our Wii-based exercise games. Except, instead of "cool workout clothes" picture "ratty sweat-soaked t-shirts" and instead of "attractively bronzed men" picture "pale out-of-shape newlyweds dry-heaving during jump squats."

Light Fixtures

  • Replace bedroom/hallway light fixtures
  • Replace living room light fixture
  • Replace dining area light fixture
Why now? Because IKEA just opened in our city and they have really cool lights. As well, our living room light fixture fell from the ceiling and nearly injured me more than a month ago (it was as dramatic as you imagine it) and, as of right now, we haven't done anything about it.

Garage Door Openers

  • Remove existing garage door openers
  • Install new garage door openers
  • Identify lighting solutions
Why now? Because Philip's dad says Sears has a sale on garage door openers in December. As for why that is, well, you'd have to ask Sears.

Interior Doors

  • Remove bedroom/bathroom doors
  • Paint
  • Rehang bedroom/bathroom doors

Why now? Because none of our bedrooms have doors on them right now. Which means  changing clothes when we have company over involves a complex system of full blindfolds, bedsheet curtains, and sombreros. Don't ask.

"SeƱor, please put that blindfold back on!" (Changing at our house involves everyone else dressing like a stereotypical Mexican bandito.)

Gut Upstairs Bathroom

  • Remove mould
  • Discard wall tiles
  • Discard bathtub
  • Discard flooring
  • Discard sink
  • Discard vanity/cabinets
  • Uninstall toilet
  • Replace window
Why now? Because right now we shower in the laundry room in the basement, and while the bathroom was once in style, that was when "Watergate" was something you might open to let a riverboat through.

Upstairs Bathroom

  • Install new shower/tub
  • Install new lighting
  • Install new flooring
  • Paint/tile
  • Re-install toilet
  • Install new cabinets
  • Install new sink
  • Install new mirror
  • Reconnect plumbing
Why now? Because unlike with the gutted basement, we don't intend to let the bathroom stay gutted for very long. And yes, we recognize having to go down to the laundry in the basement to have access to a hot shower is one of those classic #firstworldproblems, but it's at least a problem we have the power to correct.

As for more recent news...

Since we haven't updated you on the status of our bedroom reno since last Wednesday: Yesterday night we got a little bit overwhelmed because we're trying to get our bedrooms done (a project that has really unfolded to be a lot more complicated than we'd originally anticipated) so that we can make our living room a little less chaotic by this weekend when we have a Christmas party happening at our house. Wish us luck! As soon as we're done that it's full speed ahead with bathroom renovating - a little bit nervous about getting that all done on schedule, but we're doing our best! Started planning out yesterday some vanity choices and figuring out some obstacles ahead of time. 

Remember to fill out the poll today before we reveal results tomorrow (we've learned that comments and polls aren't working for iPad users, so get your computer out!). We'll be sharing a bit of our Christmas preparations as well tomorrow. 

What do you have in store for Winter? Anyone else crazy enough to tackle a major renovation while Christmas shopping and hosting holiday parties?