On today’s Sustainable Sunday, we’re cooking up batches of chicken stock to keep on hand as the cold weather settles in (we usually freeze it). Nothing could be better than a steaming bowl of hot chicken soup to keep warm on a winter’s day!
Homemade pesto is the payoff after we previously showed you how to set up an indoor herb garden! My personal favourite herb is basil and we use it in a lot of dishes. It’s not only great as a pesto, but in a bocconcini, tomato and basil salad. As you’ll see later, we also love to use it to simply top a burger.
You might be tempted to pick off a leaf or two as you need it. But if you make a habit of doing that, you can leave the plant looking spindly and sad. The key to producing more basil, and keep it lasting and looking good, is to prune. Pruning will foster full bushy plants. To ensure that you are not going to damage the plant, wait until it has at least three or four sets of leaves and is about 6″ to a foot tall before the first pruning.
Basil leaves grow on opposite sides of the stem. Cut the plant 1/4″ above at least two sets of leaves (where the scissor icon is pictured below). The leaves left at the top of the stem will grow out to become branches. Once the branches bear a few sets of leaves, again, just cut them above a pair of leaves and the plant will re-grow.
We love herbs but they are typically sold in such large bunches that they end up spoiling before we can finish them. Under those circumstances a living herb garden makes perfect sense! But let’s face it. Canada really only has two seasons: winter and the month of July. The perfect solution for us was to start growing our own herbs indoors! Growing our own will not only curtail our current food waste, but provide a ready source of nutrient rich, flavour-packed herbs year-round!
Find a Sunny Window
We have the perfect sunny spot in a window that faces South to grow herbs successfully! With the help of Ikea’s SATSUMAS plant stand and VILDAPEL plant pots, we got busy setting up our little herb garden.
Planning the upcoming renovation for my Mom’s accessible shower has proven to be a time consuming process and my time for DIYs has crawled to a standstill. Over the course of the next few Sundays, we’re going to be filling in those gaps. Welcome to the sustainable living series we’re calling Sustainable Sunday!
The Sustainable Living Project
Remember seeing similar stripes on BoF a few weeks ago? Well, wonder no more about what we created with them. We’re finally ready to show you the second makeover of our Singer sewing table: a Hudson’s Bay point blanket inspired desk – helped out by an Ikea hack along the way. That’s a lot of DIY influences for one upcycle!
If you’re a visual learner and would rather skip the tutorial, head to the bottom of this post to watch the video.
When we found this vintage Singer sewing table at a local thrift shop (missing the treadle and band wheel), I couldn’t resist the challenge to repair the veneer and breathe new life into it! I had two very distinct visions for it – so we’ve upcycled it twice! We’ll have one reveal for you today and another – more unique one – next time.
Have you ever given any thought to renovating for the needs of an aging parent (or for your own future needs)? Neither had we until recently! Birdz of a Feather is known for it’s in-depth, hands-on DIY tutorials but today I’m stepping away and taking off my tutorial writing hat to switch it out for one that supports my role as a daughter.
By 2036, seniors in Canada will account for a quarter of the population. What can we do to improve the quality of life for this segment now? This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because my own Mom is ‘getting up there’. You know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention, right? Well I had never given any thought to renovating with the special needs of an aging population in mind until my Mom developed Alzheimers shortly after my Dad passed away.
Along with the early onset of Alzheimers came the falls. The first time my Mom fell it resulted in a broken neck and nose. She somehow fell forward flat on her face as she was getting out of bed one morning. In the aftermath, a rented bed was set up in the living room on the main floor of the house. We also hired round the clock care to make sure she didn’t fall again as she was healing. I won’t get into stories of how difficult it was to find good people to help with Mom’s care but suffice it to say that it was during that time period that my youngest sister decided to quit her job and live-in to take care of Mom on a full time basis. My sister is a saint!
Then came a second fall shortly on the heals of the first. This time Mom broke her foot and again she couldn’t navigate the stairs. My poor sister slept on a couch in the living room for months on end so she could be there every time Mom had to get up to go to the washroom. There was no way she’d be able to get up the stairs until she was fully healed – again – and not without the help of a chair lift.
Thankfully, in the interim, we were able to get assistance from our Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) an agency that provides home and community care services. They sent a home care provider to come in for an hour during weekdays to help my sister with Mom’s personal care. It’s a blessing to have this much-needed service and I can only hope that it doesn’t succumb to budget cuts like so many supportive community programs and resources do.
Given Mom’s back-to-back falls, something had to give. We thought about moving her into a one-level condo but ultimately, she didn’t want to leave her house. Uprooting her like that, knowing she wouldn’t be happy in unfamiliar surroundings, wouldn’t solve anything but she couldn’t go on residing on the main level of her house without a fully functioning bathroom forever! Wouldn’t life be easier if we all lived in bungalows?
As we looked into getting a chair lift, my sister applied to a non-profit organization to help fund it. Somewhere along the way of the approval process, it was suggested to her that instead of a chair lift, we also had the option of converting the two piece bathroom on the main floor into a full 3-piece bathroom – and still get help with funding. A bathroom was the best way to go; Mom would be able to remain in her home!
We just heard back yesterday that we will get some financial help in the form of a grant so are thrilled with the news; every little bit helps. It’s bittersweet though because, in order to qualify for funding, we have to step aside and hire a professional licensed and insured renovator: Hubs and I won’t actually be doing any of the construction ourselves. However, rest assured we’ll still be passing along valuable DIY information of the building process and innovative products as the work progresses!
While funding was still in the works, we went ahead and got the building permit issued to jump start the process. We thought it would be smooth sailing after that to find a caring and qualified contractor that has experience with curbless showers (no trip hazards for Mom!). Surpisingly it has taken longer than I ever imagined to find someone we feel comfortable with.
I have to admit that handing over the reins to a contractor is something new for us. If you’re a regular Birdz of a Feather reader, you’ll know that we’ve DIY’d our way through just about every part of our home – inside and out! Once we hire someone, it will be one of those rare moments when we can step back and let someone else take care of the grunt work for a change. As foreign as that will be to us, realistically I know it will all work out in the end!
There’s a few aspects of this reno that I’m still taking charge of however: defining and finalizing the scope of work, plus the design and finishes in the space. Over the last few weeks my sister and I have been planning and looking for supplies like grab bars, a wall mounted vanity, tiles etc.. While I have to concede that we can’t do the work, that doesn’t mean the space can’t be just as beautiful as other bathrooms we’ve worked on!
The only input from Mom is that it doesn’t look ‘geriatric’ when it’s done. To that end, we’ve already managed to source some great safety fixtures from Moen (i.e. grab bars and fold-up bench seat) that not only boast form and function, but are easy on the pocket book too! I can’t wait to see it all come together.
Below is my design for Mom’s curbless shower. We’ll expand the powder room by taking over a closet space in the adjacent laundry room to add the shower. We found a lovely large format Arabesque tile to use as the feature wall and will keep the rest of the tiles simple and elegant (hopefully the tiles we chose are still available by the time we get to the contracting stage!). The bathroom itself is a tiny and compact space but we’ve designed the shower to be wide open: in the eventuality that Mom ever needs a wheelchair, we’ll be ‘ready for bear’ as Hubs likes to say!
Whatever we do in Mom’s bathroom will likely carry over into our own home eventually. We’re not getting any younger and have to start thinking about what we can do to make our house liveable in the long term too!
Although we’re not doing the physical labour, there’s a lot to think about as we finalize the scope of work and gather quotes. Waterproofing for instance is an important thing to keep in mind – especially when there’s no curb to hold back the water! But you’ll hear more about those things soon enough. We can’t wait to get started on the actual transformation of Mom’s bathroom.
Mom is doing well now and is in good spirits but it’s difficult to watch as her memories slip away. We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure she ages gracefully in the comfort of her own home 🙂 I think there will be some valuable take-aways in our upcoming posts if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. It should be an interesting and enlightening experience over the next few months to see how it all pans out.
My advice to anyone reading this it to take on accessible-friendly projects while you’re still young and healthy enough to do it. It may seem counterintuitive, but thinking through your long term plan and making smart changes over the course of the years spent in your home can help you remain there as long as possible. One of the improvements we recently made to our ‘forever’ home is to add pull-out drawers in our kitchen so we don’t have to bend over to reach things. It’s a DIY improvement you can easily do yourself.
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If you’ve given any thought to renovating for accessibility or have undergone a renovation that takes that into consideration, leave us a comment. We’d love to hear about it.
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Repairing veneer isn’t as scary as it seems. There are plenty of things to spook you this Halloween season, but cracked and missing veneer shouldn’t be one of them! I love to try new things and then pass that learning along to you but instead of my usual abundance of information at once, I’m splitting this project into manageable chunks and will get to the final reveals another time! I promise, it will be worth the wait (there are links at the end of this post)!
When I stumbled on this Singer sewing table at Value Village, I thought twice about buying it, then couldn’t help but bring it home with us. Although the sewing machine was long gone, I could only imagine the wondrous things that were stitched together at this very table!
We’ve always easily found the metal stands but bases with the original wooden top are harder to come by. I’ll bet that’s because most people only think the metal is salvageable; a table top in this condition usually ends up in the garbage. Despite the water damage and missing/cracked veneer, I can’t wait to show you that there’s still plenty of life left in this ol’ gal – and the table too! 🙂
Mold prevention – and remediation – after any kind of leak or flood is hugely important because of health implications. We learned a hard lesson last year after the pipe connected to our outdoor faucet burst and caused water damage in my newly built craft room. In that post (part 1), we showed you how we installed a frost proof faucet to repair it and make sure it wouldn’t happen again. Now that it’s Fall, we’d like to remind you to remove the hose from the faucet – even if you have a frost-proof one, so you don’t make the same mistake we did. Leaving a hose connected during the winter is a recipe for disaster!
Molds can produce allergens, irritants and potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins) which can make you very sick. The key to mold prevention is moisture control. You need to dry out water damaged areas with 24 – 48 hours to prevent mold growth. Time is of the essence!
Signs of Water
Be aware of signs of water damage. You may have obvious signs – like standing water – but if the leak is primarily inside the walls, it might not be so apparent. One of the more subtle things I noticed was that the baseboards had come away from my once-perfectly caulked baseboards. Then I noticed the paint was bubbled right above the baseboard and when I went to touch it, the paint easily lifted and fell away from the wall.
Today we’re showing you how to maximize kitchen storage.
But first, a big thank you to everyone that supported our Amara Blog Award nomination as the Best DIY & Home Improvement Blog! Birdz of a Feather has been shortlisted!!
Our Improved Forever Kitchen
With any kitchen reno, there are some ‘must haves’ if you plan to stay long term – but storage is a biggie! In our last post, our kitchen was renovated with the intent of putting our house on the market. After deciding to stay, and living with the kitchen for a while, we got to work changing a few things to make it more liveable for us. Our kitchen is fairly small so storage is key. Our improved ‘forever’ kitchen was accomplished with three key features: better storage (pullouts and pot drawers), electrical placement and lighting. Electrical placement and lighting will be covered in a future post.
Maximize Kitchen Storage with Pullouts and Pot Drawers
Standard cabinets with doors are fine for reselling a house, but are not great when you have a lot of stuff to store. Who wants to kneel down and dig around a cupboard that’s so low to the ground? Not us! It’s hard to reach items in the back and a nuisance to move all the things that are stacked on top of the one thing you really need! Pullout shelves not only help organize kitchen items behind closed doors, but put everything within reach!
Since we weren’t sure if we were going to like pullouts as much as the pot drawers we had in our pre-reno kitchen, we only purchased enough to do a test run on the set of cabinets beside the dishwasher (and for the pantry).
Here is one of the pullouts; they’re pretty shallow.
We removed the shelves and installed these drawer glides.
The part circled below fits into a hole in the back of the pullout:
Here’s a closeup of the back of the pullout where it connects:
To install the pullout, the glides get fully extended, then the back goes in first.
The front of the glides then snap into the clips on the underside of the pullout (shown below):
Ensure that the front is properly connected by trying to lift the front. If it stays put, you’re good to go!
Then you can start loading things in.
Verdict on the Pullouts
After testing out the pullouts for a while, we decided that we weren’t fond of using them in the lower cabinets. Things kept getting knocked over because they were too shallow. We also didn’t like having to open things twice: the doors and then the pull-outs. We made the decision to replace the doors on the next set of lower cabinets with pot drawers instead, as you’ll see later.
Having said that, the one place we absolutely loved using pullouts was in the pantry.
Like the first set of lower cabinets, we switched out the shelves for pull-outs. To install them, you have to plan ahead by gathering the items you want to store in the pantry. That’s so you’ll know exactly where to set the height of each pullout. We started by installing the bottom one and placing the items into it, leaving adequate space above the tallest item and marking the approximate height of the next one.
Now, perhaps there’s another way, but I developed a great little trick for installing the rest of the glides. For the next pullout, I inserted shelf pins closest to the height marked and temporarily reinstalled a stationary shelf. Since the shelf was level, I rested the glide hardware right on top of it while I marked the placement so we could drill (shown below). Easy peasy!
We continued in the same fashion until we reached the uppermost pullout.
The pullouts didn’t necessarily give us more storage space, but it sure was a convenience to be able to slide a shelf out to get to our canned goods and appliances at the very back! We would absolutely recommend pullouts for a pantry!
For the rest of the lower cabinets, we removed the doors and shelves. Then we installed two pot drawers in each section for a total of four new drawers.
With all the practice on the pullouts, the pot drawers were just as easy to install. They’re really just a deeper box with a drawer face on the front!
Coordinate the Hardware
We replaced the door knobs that were on the old doors with the matching cup handles that were already on the upper drawers. We debated about whether to centre the handles on the drawer additions, but ultimately decided to position them near the top.
The large, deep pot drawers we swapped out are just the ticket for storing pots and pans!
Finally Tons of Storage – Yay!
In the two wide drawers, we were able to store Hubs’ entire collection of Paderno cookware.
And no kitchen would be without a variety of non-stick pots and pans. Can you imagine what a mess this would be if we had to stack ALL OF THIS into a cupboard?
The pot drawers we added to the narrower bank of cupboards are great for storing glassware and a few other utensils.
You really can’t beat pot drawers for being able to easily retrieve items.
Inside the Drawers
Shallow drawers are perfect for storing spices. Don’t forget about drawer organizers for inside the drawers! Although our spice drawer already had an Ikea insert, it still looked disorganized (it suffered from ‘square peg/round hole’ syndrome).
In contrast, I designed and printed spice labels then transferred our spices to the same-sized round jars (again, from Ikea) which made a big difference. The lack of visual clutter really helps and keeps all our spices at our fingertips!
The next three photos will show the transition from before to during and finally after. Sadly, here’s how our kitchen looked before:
Here is the kitchen as were were about to get started on the pot drawers:
Overall, the upgraded kitchen is not only beautiful, but it’s super functional because of the addition of practical storage in the form of pullouts and pot drawers!
Even we didn’t expect the plot twist at the end of our last post – when we decided to stay after our kitchen was specifically renovated to put it on the market. The improvements we made helped solidify our decision to stay!
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Time flies at Birdz of a Feather when you’ve been nominated for an Amara Blog Award! I can’t believe there’s less than 1 day left to vote! Voting ends tomorrow at 12:00 noon BST – that’s 7:00 am eastern standard time! UPDATE: VOTING IS NOW CLOSED.
Until we unveil these stripes on our blog, please spare a few minutes to vote for us and also our fellow nominees, The Navage Patch, here:
Amara Interior Blog Awards are giving away a Leica camera to one lucky voter. Vote to be entered into the giveaway!
Sincere thanks to those who have already voted for us!!