Sunday, February 27, 2011

Something Red, Something Blue

We went into the city yesterday to sign papers and buy a washer and dryer. It turned out to be the worst day to do that, as a big snowstorm hit the North. We got rear-ended in the city (no damage and no one was hurt) and there were some scary white-out conditions driving home, along with a moose running along the side of the road (yikes!). But I kind of like the thrill of the storm and we have a big dumping of snow and it is still not over!
While we were in town, I stopped at the VV Boutique and bought a red gingham table cloth, just like in the Little House on the Prairie books. Ma always had a red gingham tablecloth and she gave one to Laura when she got married too. And I also bought an old blue canning jar with a zinc lid (that doesn't belong to the jar, but it looks great anyway). I just love it. And someday soon they can reside in my new house, which has a "sold" sign on it now.

p.s. Last night I dreamed that I was back in grade 7 and I was trying desperately to keep up with the class, but they were doing advanced mathematics and I don't even know my times tables. Oh, and my teacher was Jennifer Garner.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kitchen Design

I want to share some of my plans for my new kitchen. There are some changes I want to make that hopefully won't cost a lot of money, but will make a big difference. First of all, painting. I plan on painting the bottom cupboards a green colour, not sure what yet! Check out some of my inspiration photos below.
Next, I plan on ripping off that ugly backsplash and adding beadboard instead. I'm painting the walls and top cupboards cream, possibly two tone. I am going to make some corbels with my scroll saw and put them under the cupboards. I may leave off a door on either side of the sink to display some of my beautiful pottery.
Since replacing countertops is out of budget right now, I plan on using a fabulous product by Rustoleom. You sand your counters, add two coats of this special paint and your done! I think I'll do them in white. Only problem is that I am having a hard time finding the product in Canada. Gulp.
Also, I'd love a farmhouse sink, but I'll have to stick with what I've got for now.

Oh! And a good find! I love this light by Barn Light Electric, but it is a little costly, $45.99.
But I found the exact same light at a local hardware store for $25.99. Whoo! My Dad is going to wire it in when my parents come visit. I think it will look great in my farmhouse-themed kitchen!

Here is the kitchen, as we saw it last. The owners still have a lot of junk in there. (The light will go above the sink)

Here is the opposite corner. Why are there shoes on the wall?! We'll be moving that cupboard, if it's not already gone. My sister and I came up with a brilliant idea simultaneously: We'll put a skirt around the portable dishwasher and use it as a breakfast table in the little breakfast nook when it is not in use as a dishwasher. (Oh my goodness! A dishwasher! Yesssss!!!!!!!!! I haven't had one of those since I moved out of my parents' house.) Can you picture beadboard wainscotting? I can!
Here is a really rough sketch of my plans. Most of the ideas are my sister's. Unfortunately, I don't have the right pencil colours, but you get the idea.

I love this colour green!
Here are some kitchen inspiration photos:
I love love love this kitchen!
Nice knobs!
If only we could afford butcher-block countertops. sigh.
Ok. This is actually a dollhouse, but I still like it.
Green again.
Stone beam! Cool!
I kinda like this bluey-green colour too.
What do you think? Have you done any kitchen designing lately? What's your style?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Crafting! What to do with canning jars

Well, besides canning, that is. I have an abundance of canning jars as we bought a bunch to use as cups at our wedding.
Canning Jar Soap Dispenser
I've seen similar ideas to this one around the internet, but I don't remember where. This project probably took me about 10 minutes to do, so simple and fast! I took the pump off my cheap plastic dispenser and cleaned it up. Next, I took a canning jar, lid, and screw top. I drilled as big a hole as I could through the top of the lid, but it wasn't big enough to fit the pump through. So, I snipped some tiny lines radiating out from that hole and bent them inwards. Next, I fitted the pump into the hole (it was a nice tight fit), put the lid on the jar filled with soap and then fitted the screw top around it all. I had to trim a little off the straw to make it fit in the jar, but that was it. Simple and quick! I love the way the glass jar looks in the bathroom. I think an antique canning jar would look even cooler.

The "before shot." I always forget to take one before I get started, so the pump is already fitted into its new lid.
The tools required. If you don't have a drill, you could always use a nail to get a hole started and then snip bigger cuts to bend inwards.

A view of under the lid.
The finished product.
I love how the circle pattern on the lid fits around the pump.
There are so many great projects and crafts to do with canning jars. What are some you have tried or want to try?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lamp Makeover

Well, after battling with boredom, I decided to do a quick makeover on a lamp I've had since my early college days. It is a cheap little number from Ikea (I think) with a modern look, which I am not a fan of. So I took it apart, painted the silver stand white and covered the lamp shade with green fabric, lace, and twine (all the while my husband expressing his doubts). I made a quick wire frame and placed the shade back on upside down. Whew, quick and easy. I'm not sure if I completely like it, though. It might be a little too feminine for me, and definitely too girly for my husband. What do you think?

Before shot
During. Adding the fabric to the shade.
Finished shot

Friday, February 18, 2011

Crafting! What to do with old bike tires

Make shoes! While browsing in the craft section of the library, I discovered the most amazing book, "Crafting Handmade Shoes" by Sharon Raymond (unfortunately, it is out of print, but you can order a photocopy of it from the author herself. She also has a very informative website here). Flipping through the pages convinced me that this was something I could do. It was a challenge to learn new skills and make things from scratch. So I took the book home, gave it a good read through, and then bought the few tools and materials necessary to make shoes. I bought an awl (actually, I couldn't find an awl anywhere, so I got the closest I could find), some leather sewing needles, some contact cement, and artificial sinew. My work surface is an old cutting board and I usually just work on the floor. I bought leather scraps from Michaels and my husband donated his old bike tires. I used packing foam (not styrofoam)that I got when my husband's work upgraded to new computers. I used the foam to build up the midsole of the shoe, along with some Dr. Scholls inserts to make a supportive arch. Other tools that I needed but already had included a mallet, good scissors, exacto blade, and a geometric compass (to mark the stitches so they are even). It takes quite a lot of time to make a pair of shoes, from measuring your feet, making the pattern, cutting out all the pieces, gluing and sewing, but I love the challenge of it. I think it takes me about 40 hours to make a pair of adult shoes.

Here is my very first pair. They don't really fit well and I don't really wear them now. They are more like slippers than shoes.
This is the second pair I made and my favourite. These took a lot longer to make as all the pieces had to be sewn together before you could sew the upper to the sole. Notice the bike tires for the soles.
I call them my Frankenstein Shoes. The nice thing about these shoes is that I didn't need two large pieces of leather to make the upper pattern, but could use different size scraps to make the upper.
I've had these for about 3 years now and they are holding up well. It is time to re-stitch around some parts, but that doesn't take long to do. The glue holds them together in the meantime.
The third pair. I think these are cute!
Some of the baby shoes I've made. They don't have bike tire soles though.

In the process of making some flip-flops with arch support. This is my work station and most of the tools required.
Finished flip-flops.

You should give it a try sometime! It sounds intimidating to make shoes, but it really isn't all that hard. It just requires patience and the ability to follow written instructions.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Crafting! What to do with prunings and twigs

Spring is a time to prune those fruit trees and get your garden in order. When my mom and dad visited my old house last year, I requested they bring some prunings with them, as I had a few projects in mind. I'll share some of them now.

Twiggy Mirror

I took an older mirror, removed the frame and then, using my scroll saw, cut a wider oval out of some scrap plywood (building sites are great places to get scrap wood and other materials. They just take it to the dump, so if you ask them nicely, they'll usually let you go through their discard pile. They like to see it being used, rather than going to the dump.) I mounted the mirror to the plywood, using the same metal tabs and screws that held it to the old frame. Next, I took my prunings and one by one, I bent and twisted them around the plywood edge, using a staple gun and small nails to hold the branches in place. I used the original wire from the mirror frame and attached it onto the back, to hang on the wall. I spent $0 on this project, as I was able to scavenge all the materials that I didn't already have lying around. I think the finished product looks great!
Rustic Curtains

For this project, I bought a white sheet from a second hand store and sewed it into curtains. Next, I found a thick branch and cut off 1/2" sections, and drilled two holes in the middle to make buttons. I sewed these onto the curtains for decoration. Finally, I took two long prunings and hung them on the wall using a couple of hooks that I got from the hardware store. The curtains were perfect to hide the shelves in my old bathroom. I probably spent around $7 on this project for the sheet and the hooks.

Branch Handles

For this project, I cut a long, thick length of brach to be the main handle and I cut two, skinnier and shorter pieces to attach to it. On the back side of the thicker branch, I drilled two wide holes about halfway through (spaced apart to match the holes on the cabinet). On one end of each of the skinnier pieces, I used a knife to carve off the bark and make the width skinny enough to fit into the holes I drilled. On the opposite end of the those skinny pieces, I drilled a small hole deep into the stick for the screw to go in later. On the thicker branch, I put some carpentry glue into the drilled holes and then placed each carved end of the skinnier pieces into the holes, allowing them time to dry. Once dry, I drove a small nail through the front of the thicker branch into the skinnier pieces to hold them in place. Next, using a screwdriver, I took the screws from the previous handle and tightened my new handle in place. I repeated that process for the other handle and...Ta da! Once again, this project cost me nothing, as I had all the materials I needed.

So, it's pretty easy to do neat projects on a tight budget and branches and prunings are your best friend! I have a bunch more projects in mind for this Spring that will look nice in our new house. I can hardly wait!

This post has been linked to A Beach Cottage.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Oooooh, I have been bursting with our exciting news, but I wanted to wait until the home inspection was over. We're buying a house! We get possession at the end of March. It's huge! Much bigger than anything I would have ever dreamed of owning, so it is a good thing there is a suite in the basement to rent out. I think I am most excited about the big backyard, because that means that I am going to get chickens. A dream come true! Also, I am very excited about all the painting and renovating and decorating that will make this place our own. There are a lot of weird paint jobs in this house, and the kitchen countertops are almost puke-worthy, but I have discovered a great paint product that can cover them up. I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of before and after shot posts on this blog in the future!
For now, here is a picture of the outside of the house (I know, it's pretty ugly) and some drawings of the different colours I am picturing for the outside. Vote on your favourite. I think I like green, but the neighbours have green, too.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Parlez-Vous Francais?

After a small snow storm the other day, the temperature has dropped right down to -25c. It feels like there has been no in-between this winter. Either thawing or in a deep freeze, making some very slippery sidewalks. This morning, there is a low, grey cloud creeping over the lake and making its way into town. Just one mountain top peaks out through the fog. It has an ominous feel. Spooky, but I like it.
I coloured with pencil crayons yesterday. Something I haven't done in a long time. Probably since grade 8 French class, where instead of learning an actual language, we coloured pictures of un crayon or un livre while our teacher held conversations with her plants. Not that we complained. What grade 8 student would ask to do actual work when their grade was based on completing a colouring book? You didn't even have to be a good colourer, effort was what counted.
So I put my grade 8 French skills to good use and coloured pictures of my dream garden and my dream chicken coop (hopefully to become a reality someday).

Ask me sometime about Grade 12 French and my cartoon character, Pierre, L'homme Francais. Honh honh honh.
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