around the house

Here are just a few things that have been happening around The Marion House lately. Last weekend, I found myself in Ikea shopping for a laundry basket and some storage boxes and instead came home with two Enje blinds for our kitchen windows. I've bought these blinds before, for the same windows in fact, but returned them when they didn't fit. If you're like me and live in an old house you probably have windows that are all slightly different in size. Case in point: the left hand window in our kitchen measures 31.5 inches and the right hand window measures 29 inches. Why, is beyond me!  Luckily, I had read this post by Anna at Door Sixteen the night before and thought I was up for a little DIY blind alteration. Anna does such an incredible job of explaining step by step how to do this that she makes it really easy and stress-free to do. We actually got both windows done in the time it takes H. to nap. Here's the before:

And the after (it's there look closely - believe me!):

As you can tell from the photo, the Enje blind isn't a totally opaque blind instead it just gently filters the light and gives us a bit of privacy.

In total, I spent $60 on these two blinds. If I had gone the custom route, I would have been lucky to walk out the door with less than $60 in fabric.

I think they look pretty good. It's a clean, simple look that works with our kitchen and just makes it look a little more finished off. They certainly help hide our less than attractive, useless windows. (One day, we will get around to replacing them!)

Our other big home improvement over the weekend came in the form of this new Dyson vacuum cleaner. The last time I bought a new vacuum was back in 1992. Yes, almost 20 years ago! Frustrated having to find bags for it all the time and disappointed in its sucking power I thought the time had come. This was one purchase, I was willing to spend a bit of money on because I figured if I had it for 20 years than the higher price tag would be worth it. I do believe you get what you pay for. Having said that, we didn't go top of the line with our new vacuum. We just bought the basic Dyson and I am thrilled with it.

Did you know that this vacuum is in the collections of both The Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum? Also, they send you email reminders every time your filters need cleaning and to top it all off they have a helpline in Toronto where real people with hands-on access to all the Dyson vacuum cleaners are standing by. Needless to say, that's service my old Panasonic never had!  Is anyone else out there a Dyson fan?

I've also been trying out some of the recipes in Nigella Lawson's new cookbook, Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home. You know how much I love, love, love Nigella! I enjoy reading her recipes as much as I love making them. She always gives a bit of her own perspective which I find totally engrossing. One morning last week, H. and I made these Blueberry Cornmeal muffins bright and early (like before I even had coffee!)

They were delicious and kept H. busy as he picked each blueberry out individually. I also found they were even better the second day which is always a nice surprise! The recipe is on my Facebook page here.

Finally, last week I visited a house in our neighborhood for an upcoming Hello! Neighbor tour and it reminded me so much of the eclectic, charming homes often seen in the British magazine, Living Etc. I love the relaxed but stylish feel of these homes where new and old mingle gracefully and bright wall colours lead the way. The two images below, both from Living Etc., remind me very much of the house I just visited.

What do you think? Are you tempted to paint your walls a bright colour after seeing these images? I have to admit when I left that home last week it did cross my fickle mind but then I thought back to my homework and stayed the course. I think what I need is another house to live out a different decorating fantasy in! You too?