Monday, December 12, 2011

The Best Present Ever

My Mother-in-law and i have a lot of similar interests. We both love renovating and restoring older homes. And both of us like rolling up our sleeves and doing a lot of the work ourselves. She's probably renovated twice as many homes as i have and even though she's twice my age, she still does circles around me. Everytime we visit her in the home that she is currently restoring, there's always some freshly completed reno project to check out. I wish i were able to check off projects from my to-do lists as quickly as she does. Hopefully, with the amazing birthday present that she bought me i can make some serious progress on some of those cottage items next season.

The best gift ever - Stihl MS230 Chainsaw:

...And just in time, here's a pic our lovely cottage neighbours sent us. Ordinarily this would be bad news, but now, i'm kind of excited to try out my new gift:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Hour - Sangria

My wife and i (and incidentally most of the guests we've ever had to the cottage) love red wine. Not just the snooty swirl in the bottom of the glass while make slurping noises type of red wines; but pretty much all red wines. Are you like us? Do you love red wine? If so, you've probably pondered the health claims associated with red wine, is it good for you or not? Well we figured with the amount of red wine we consume at the cottage, it might be prudent to tip the scales toward the good for you camp once in a while, by adding a serving or two (depending on how many glasses you have i guess) of fruit and antioxidants. Below is a favourite Sangria recipe of ours:

1 bottle of red wine (plonk will do)
1/2 cup Orange Juice
1 sliced orange
some blue berries (for garnish)
some sliced strawberries (for garnish)
1/2 can of soda

In a pitcher add the orange juice, wine and orange slices. Refrigerate for an hour so the flavours can blend. When ready to serve add a few of the sliced strawberries and blue berries to the bottom of each glass. Add the soda and ice to the pitcher and pour into the glasses. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's Up Dock?

In my opinion a cottage isn't a cottage without a dock. The dock that our cottage came with wasn't much of a dock, it was more like a floating means to get from the shore onto the previous owner's pontoon boat. It was about 10' x 10' and had two staircases taking up most of that 100 sq ft. One set of stairs came down from a long ramp, and one set went up to the deck of the boat.

The Before:

With the two staircases the dock wasn't any good for swimming, lounging or fishing from. In fact there was hardly enough room left on the dock to fit a single Muskoka chair. Not to mention the dock was pretty old and rotted out. It actually was so old it had a small sapling growing out of it. So at the Spring Cottage Life Show, we ordered the show special from Dew Docks. We spent one weekend, demolishing the old dock. In the process we discovered why it sat so low in the water. Over the years critters had built a home under it, by gnawing a large cavity away at the styrofoam floats. Another weekend was spent loading up the dismantled dock so that it could be carted away. And then that wonderful day arrived, when the folks from Dew Docks put in our brand new cedar dock. I can't tell you how nice it was when the email arrived from the installer, the email had no subject and no text, just a picture of our new dock floating on our tranquil, peaceful bay. And with the heavy duty plastic floats no more worries of critters gnawing away at it.

We now start and end our cottage days on the dock (and spend a lot of time in between fishing, swimming and relaxing). In the mornings we walk down to the dock to have coffee and enjoy the stillness of the water with the mist rising off of it. And in the evenings we usually end up having a glass of wine and waving to the neighbours as they return from a day out on the water. People often say that the kitchen is the heart of their home. Up here i would consider the dock to be the heart of our cottage.

The After:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Canada Day Weekend

It's the first long weekend of the Summer. Summer, that short-lived burst of heat we get in Canada, which we pine and long for all Winter and Spring long. So after enduring the frigid cold of Winter and cold and rain of Spring, what do Canadians do? They head up North to get away from the heat. Ironic maybe, fun definitely!

We spent Canada Day weekend at the cottage, doing a bit of work and a bit of play. One project that we did finish was painting and assembling a pair of Muskoka chairs. While the origins of the Muskoka chair are no doubt rooted in America's Adirondack chairs. They have become such a staple around Ontario cottage country, that to me they are iconically Canadian.

We bought our chairs for $60 from Costco. They're made by the Bear Chair Company from Northern Ontario. The white pine that the chairs are made of also grow in Northern Ontario. So the product is a local one. We chose to paint ours in a nice patriotic colour (Cherry Cobbler by Behr).

The supervisor seems to approve of the colour choice:

And now we have the perfect place for morning coffee:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cottage Signs

It's been a busy couple of months at the cottage. We opened the cottage up on Mother's day weekend, and since then have been cleaning, purging, fixing, sorting and replacing things to make it more "ours". Our cottage came with just about everything one would ever need to "cottage". I say just about everything, because there was one thing missing, the one thing that would truly make it "ours"...a cottage sign. Two cottage signs actually.

We got our carved wooden cottage sign from CNC Wood Carving (519) 951-0729. Doug has a lot of designs to choose from, but can also do custom work. Pretty much anything you can think of, he can carve into a sign.

When our sign arrived, we decided to paint it, to make it really stand out. Because the sign required so little paint, we bought tester pots from our paint store. And then once we were done painting it, we sprayed it with outdoor urethane. And here's the finished product:

At the entrance to our road there is a post with signs for all the cottagers on our lane to help visitors find their way. In the spirit of the 3 R's, i recycled the old sign from the previous owners, and painted it with some of the left over paint. I then cut a birch twig into sections to spell out "LIN". After pre-drilling the twigs, i screwed them on to the sign. And here's the second of our cottage signs to help people find our cottage.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cabin Fever

We're now officially into Spring. Is it just me or has this felt like a really long winter? Fortunately for us though we did manage to break our hibernation a few weeks ago, and we were rewarded with some really great finds at some really great prices. Many antique stores find the Jan-Mar period absolutely dead, and so they hold "Cabin Fever Sales", where they take 30-70% off their prices. Of course when you leave the big city, you find even better bargains. A few weeks ago, we spent a pleasant afternoon driving around rural Ontario. We made our way to the Waterford Antique Market and found some really great deals. We then went to The Classic Vault Emporium in beautiful St George Ontario.

Here are the things we came home with:
A hand stitched Baby quilt from Waterford. We thought this would look great hung on the wall of the cottage. And for less than $30, it costs much less than a decent piece of art.

These vintage Pyrex mixing bowls also came from the Waterford Antique market.

We found some Fiestaware occasional pieces, from Classic Vault Emporium. These will go with our Fiestaware place settings, of various colours.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter Wonderland

As February winds down, we're starting to get really excited about opening up the cottage for the season. How many more weeks of Winter did that groundhog say there would be again? Anyhow we decided that one of the major renovations we'd like to tackle is to winterize the cottage. With the cottage being just off of a year round municipally maintained road and being 14 minutes from Parry Sound, it makes heading up and staying up in the winter pretty easy. Another reason we wanted to winterize was seeing these beautiful pictures taken and sent to us by our neighbouring cottage. Apparently deer, white rabbits, foxes, coyotes and even wolves can frequently be seen during the winter. What an amazing sight that would be. So thanks to Karen, Claude and the kids, for checking in on our cottage and sending us such great shots.

Here's our bunky:

The Cottage:

Our Shoreline: