Peach Porch

Before we moved in, our landlord told us that he would paint the front porch and over the summer. A couple of Fridays ago, he emailed us inform us that he would be coming by on the following Saturday to do the job and to let us know that the front porch would need to be cleared off and cleaned before his arrival. I cleared off the porch and used an old mop to clean it up, but when the landlord arrived the following day, he told me that that wasn’t good enough: I would have to scrub the porch.

Over the course of the weekend, the landlord didn’t finish the porch. Instead, he left us the paint, saying, “You can finish it.” Since when do people not ask when they want you to do something for them? I don’t take kindly to someone saying, “You’re going to have to get down on your hands and knees and scrub the deck. You’re going to have to spend the better part of a weekend finishing the job that I promised to do before you moved in, the one that improves the property I own.” So says you, Mr. Landlord! If you agree to paint the porch, shouldn’t prepping for the paint be part of the job? And shouldn’t you also finish the job? Such demands would be a lot easier to swallow if presented as requests, as questions rather than statements, or, if nothing else, if they were at least phrased somewhat apologetically: “Would you mind…?” or “I know it’s inconvenient, but I was hoping…”

The porch-painting last weekend wasn’t a particularly rewarding job either. Normally, a fresh coat of paint makes whatever it’s going on feel … well … fresh. The peach colour that the landlord chose (or as he calls it, “deck colour,” as though all decks were this putrid colour) looks dingy from the get-go. Not only have I never before seen porch this shade, but it does not match the existing exterior of the house, which is pale yellow and dark grey (and also due for a fresh coat), a colour combination that looks quite nice, actually. Oh, well. It’s done, and now we can move on to other things.

The steps and porch painted peachy-beige (a.k.a. deck colour)

I baked Steve some cookies as a reward for his hard work. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip. Yum. The reciped came from Martha Stewart’s website; she took it from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry (Artisan Books, 2011), and I modifyied what’s below, substitutuing whole wheat flour for the all-purpose (so they’re healthy cookies now, right?) and using 8 ounces of chocolate chips (well, maybe it all balances out, anyway).

Ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened, plus more for the pans

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

6 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon water

1 cup rolled oats

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Ingredients assembled! Note the baby monitor: baking happens when baby naps.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter or line 2 rimmed baking sheets.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, and water. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheets, spacing the dough 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden in colour. Remove to cooling racks.

The finished product: nom!

In the background of these shots, my kitchen assistants, duck and elephant. Together at last!

The house…

Nearly four months ago, our family moved to Vancouver from Ottawa. My husband, Steve, had been commuting between the two cities since February (flying home for three-day weekends every week, so that he could spend time with us), because I was committed to teaching a course at the University of Ottawa. When the course finally came to an end, I was thrilled to have my husband with us full time once again, excited to finally be moving to the West Coast, and eager to see the house that Steve had rented for us!

Taking care of a baby and teaching a university course meant that I hadn’t had the time to fly out and see it in person before moving in: the first time I would see the house would be the  moving day! Photographs that I had seen online led me to believe it had promise: a Victorian-style home built in the Edwardian era, it had lots of character in the form of mouldings and stained glass, its rooms appeared to be a decent size, and it had a big back yard as well as a large deck.

In person, I could still see the potential of the place, but I felt it needed some work to make it feel like our home. I’m no interior decorator, but I do like to take pride in my home. We would have to do some painting and change some lighting: the baby’s room was a drab beige with brown trim, there were watermarks on the paint near the window in the master bedroom, the matching eighties fixtures in the living/ dining area, one of which was also a ceiling fan, felt dated, but my two main points of contention were the burgundy and pink flowery wallpaper in the entrance and kitchen (complemented with a matching blue house border in the kitchen) and—wait for it—the pink ceiling fan in the master bedroom.

While I was gung-ho to fix everything right away, Steve was understandably apprehensive about wasting too much time and money on a rental. But, bit by bit, we’ve been making this place our home over the past few months: the landlord paid to have the wallpaper in the kitchen removed and a coat of off-white paint put up in its place, so I (unfortunately?) have no photos of the kitchen before. Steve has already replaced the light fixtures in the living and dining area, so I have no photos of those either, but here is a photo of something similar:

I wasn’t too sad to say goodbye to that one, but it was a bit of ordeal for poor Steve. The wiring in this house is O-L-D, and pieces of the ceiling fall out when he tries to change anything! Yipes! To give you an idea of what we’re dealing with, here’s a fuzzy picture of the light switches from our entranceway:

Side by side like these ones, they look like boobies. Quaint, no? But tricky to put new fixtures in without a junction box… The wires in the living/ dining area weren’t hooked up to any switches, so Steve had to convert the fixtures we bought with some pull switches (See the little pull switch on the left of the light? Steve did that!):

Today, Steve went out and bought paint, and tomorrow I’m going to start in Callum’s room! I can’t wait to start decorating in there and to turn that drab room into a fun space for our now one-year old guy! Stay tuned…