Clearing the deck(s)

When we first looked at this house as potential buyers, it was the deck that sold us. Don’t get me wrong: we loved (almost) everything else about this house, and what we don’t love is pretty much just cosmetic.

But oh the deck… it was spacious, well-built, smack-dab in the middle of an already-landscaped yard… Perfection!

I know what you’re thinking: “How stupid do you have to be to buy a house in Canada based on a room you can only use for 4-5 months of the year?!” Didn’t matter. To two people who had be living on one of the busiest street corners in Montreal (and one of the two had lived his whole life in Mexico City), that deck was the icing on the cake!

Now, I’m not kidding myself that there isn’t pretty hefty work to be done. The paint is peeling in some fairly obvious areas, the lattice on the far part of the roof needs replacing… But we’re still really looking forward to our first meal out there.

So here are the “before” shots, along with a list of projects that I intend to tackle during the spring and summer months.


On the whole, I’m not thrilled with the rust-red/cream colour scheme of the exterior of our house… But it could be A LOT worse.


ALL of our deck furniture consists of hand-me-downs or second-hand gifts from family and friends. Thank you, magical deck furnishing fairies!


The table is a dumpster-dive score. In fact, it graced our apartment hallway for over a year (a period during which I threatened its disposal daily), before Erick won out and it moved to L’Ile Perrot with us. Imagine my delight when we finally put it together, only to discover its gorgeous mid-century Swedish lines! What can I say? The man has foresight. You can read more about those chairs and their in-progress makeover here.


Those Ikea planters were actually part of our wedding decor (funny stories about them abound – but I’ll save those for a later date). I can’t wait to see them all filled up with pretty plants!

The To-Do List


– Swab wash the deck

– Finish the chair(s) makeover

– Sew a matching tablecloth (maybe a pattern like this?)

– Sew a matching cover for the lounge chair

– Re-paint and reinforce the little bentwood and cane side table (stool?)

– Fill the two three-pot planters with cheerful plants

– Spray paint a variety of (freebie) containers to unify them visually (or maybe something like this?)

– Create a container garden for herbs and other flowers

– Hang some baskets of flowers

– Replace lattice roof

– Buy an outdoor rug (something like this)

– Buy a BBQ (suggestions, anyone?)

– Hang some twinkle lights to create ambiance like this

Hm. That is a long list. It may be that my lounge chair, a book, and a glass of wine are the only projects that I actually tackle out there. But at least I have well-intentioned goals.

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Take a seat

Actually, don’t, because you’ll probably fall right through. And no, I am not making derogatory remarks about anyone’s weight. I am merely telling the Cinderella-esque story of the four dilapidated chairs that came do live on our deck.

My parents hoard collect chairs. To be fair, it isn’t their fault. My grandmother (love her) was a major pack-rat, and she lived with our family for sixteen years, so by default we ended up with most of her junk stuff chairs. And they’ve been hanging in my parents’ garage for sixteen years.

Fast forward to the present, where my parents have decided to put their house on the market. “The chairs must go!” cried my mother one day. And since I may or may not have inherited by grandmother’s tendency for “collecting”, I took them off her hands.

And now they grace my deck. Except that they look TERRIBLE. So when I had access to free labour my friend Alana visited last weekend, we got out the sander, put on our utility masks and generally made a huge mess.

Here are the quintessential “before” shots:


You see that discolouration on the seat? That’s mostly caked-on dirt. Oh yeah. Like that line of dust on the back of the other one? I thought so.


You know I love me some chipped veneer.


And then there’s my affinity for crackling finish. I do love crackling finish. Hey! A lot of people pay ridiculous amounts of money just to have this finish purposefully put ON furniture! “Shabby chic”, I believe they call it. Well, I have shabby chic in spades here.

The first thing Alana and I did was clean the chairs. Then we got to the business of sanding those babies. Two days hours later, the chairs were improved, but by no means complete.

Erick took some “during” pictures. *Please note that I do not regularly wear bandanas, contrary to what the pictures on this blog would have you believe.*



And just to show you how fast I was sanding, here is an action shot!


Look at me go!



I particularly appreciated the picture-taken-through-the-whirling-dust effect Erick achieved on that last one.

In all seriousness, there are many worse ways to spend an afternoon with a friend. And we rewarded ourselves handsomely with a plate of devilled eggs and an hour of Downton Abbey, so it was well worth it!

Still to do:

– Reinforce the bottom of the seats so that the aforementioned falling-through doesn’t happen

– Trace and cut new seats in plywood

– Spray paint the chairs

– Upholster the new seats and install them

What projects are you tackling for spring? Any furniture makeovers that you put off during the winter? Leave a comment and let me know!



An Easter-Themed Arrangement

This weekend, Erick and I visited my grandmother and aunt, who live in Quebec City. We had a fabulous time catching up and celebrating Easter, but it was bittersweet at times. It will come as no shock to anyone who knows my family to hear that my lovely grandmother is living that awful, cruel disease they call Alzheimer’s. My aunt is living it right along with her, and doing a frankly heroic job taking excellent care of her. It has been so hard to watch the vibrant, intelligent woman who was my grandmother become a shell of her former self. (And it’s not as if I live with the effects of this disease every day. I have no idea where my aunt finds her strength, to be honest.)

I digress.

Flowers make my grandmother happy, and I that makes me happy, so I decided to do up this little Easter-themed arrangement to please her.


I purchased the flowers at Rose Drummond, which is our favourite mid-way stopping point between Montreal and Quebec City. For this arrangement, I was inspired by this pin.

I used:

3 pink roses

1 stem (multiple blooms) white daisies

1 pink/coral gerbera daisy

2 yellow roses

1 stem pink snapdragon

[1 stem Italian ruscus, which I ended up discarding from the arrangement]

3 packages of Easter-coloured jelly beans

1 medium-small mason jar

1 elastic band

1 medium glass cube vase

* You could do this using floral foam, to create a more secure arrangement. I wasn’t too concerned, since it wasn’t travelling. *

This is a really easy arrangement to create, and the filling of the cube with the jelly beans was actually the most difficult part!

Step 1: Choose and prep your flowers – at least 5-6 large blooms (roses +gerbera) plus filler (the daisies).

Step 2: Create a simple, round bouquet, alternating different blooms. Make sure to cross your stems in the same direction, so that you can easily change the tightness of the bouquet. Secure the stems with an elastic and cut them to the desired length. (BTW, this is how you can make a simple bridal bouquet. DIY brides for the win!)


Step 3: Put your mason jar inside your cube vase (obviously, fill the mason jar with water). Insert your bouquet.

Step 4: Fill between the jar and vase with the jelly beans, a little at a time to keep everything even.

Step 5: Take a step back and check your arrangement to make any little tweaks. Literally and figurative, smell the roses!


Now here’s the part where I tell you that I did the little step-back-and-smell-the-roses-and-do-a-tweak for a good hour. I could not, for the life of me, figure out what was bugging me about this arrangement.

And then it hit me. The greenery: way too Downton and not enough happy-go-lucky.

So I took it out.


Bam. The power of editing!

Happy spring, fellow flourishers!