Friday, April 23, 2010

Sew Excited

Today I went shopping for upholstery fabric. I had picked it out a few weeks ago with my mother-in-law and as the sale ended this weekend, I thought I'd better get it purchased. We have a very comfortable well-worn armchair that has seen better days and she offered to help me recover it. But that's a project for another day. I guess that means a blog post for another day too.

As is often the case, I go into a crafting store for one project and get sidetracked into purchasing supplies for another. My daughter and I have been eying all those cute trendy aprons out there and I thought I'd pick up some fabric so that we could create one together. After finding some very cute fabric, I thought it just might make a cute table runner as well.

Isn't it darling? I love the fresh colors for spring and summer.

So in my usual creative mode, I had to get right to work. Never mind the dishes, I was on a mission. I tore strips of fabric in varying widths and then cut them all 17" wide. I actually have no idea how long it is. Just pieced it together in strips until I reached the right length. I knew I had some leftover white cotton for the backing. I was totally shocked that I had a piece leftover from a white smocked dress I had created ten years ago. The unbelievable part was that it was EXACTLY (no kidding!) the right length and one inch too wide.

Seriously. What are the odds?

So here's my super easy sewing project. It felt so good to sew again. I think I'm going to have to get back to more stitching.

While I was at it, I rearranged some of the stuff on the dresser. This was the old dresser I picked up and painted and am using as a sideboard in my eating area.

This is what it looked like late fall. I had just been thrifty and folded an old tablecloth into a tablerunner type thing. I loved the warm color addition then...

But I'm totally lovin' the fresh look of these prints now for spring and summer. Best of all, the project took me less than an hour. That's something to be excited about.

This post links up with Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Night Special...

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Refinishing the Hardwood Floor

The weeks have been flying by and I've actually been getting some queries as to whether I've fallen off the planet. I'm still here! I'm sorry this poor blog has been rather neglected but unfortunately I just can't do it all. I'm still hoping to keep this going but my reality is that I need to keep it down to a few posts a month.

In case you don't know, this is my second blog. My ramblings of home, family and a hobby. My first blog is one that I update almost daily with paper crafting inspiration. It's called Belle Papier and if you're into that kind of thing...check it out.

But back to the renovation. I'm excited to say that it's almost done! Yay! We actually have started using it again while we finish off the last touches and I have to say I love it. It may seem a little silly but I'll go out of my way just to go through that room and smile at it.

But since I've been so neglectful of keeping you up to date.... let's back track a little. Today I'll show you refinishing the floor.

All in all, refinishing a hardwood floor is really not that difficult, just time-consuming. Depending on the condition of your floor it can take quite a while to sand. Basically, the more time you put into it, the better it will look. Our flooring was in mediocre condition when we moved in 11 years ago. Add five kids and lots of use and a major renovation on top of have quite a bit of work to do.

Hubby rented a floor sander from Home Depot and then proceeded to put in 16 long hours sanding the floor. You start with a heavy grit sandpaper on the bottom and then slowly change to a medium grit and a finer grit. You need to remove all the finish, then the original stain and finally any gouges or dints in the floor. While yes, there was some dust from this project, I was surprised at how well the bag on the sander kept it down to a minimum.

To get close to the baseboards for a good edge finish, hubby removed the small trim at the bottom of them and then re-trimmed after the floor was finished.

You may want to open a few windows when staining the floor. Wow! Made my eyes water. We used a mixture of two colors of stain on this floor. We couldn't decide between the two so just stirred them together. I love it.

To finish off the floor, we applied three coats of Varathane to the floor. Just follow the directions on the can and sand with a fine sandpaper before your last coat. I'm thrilled with how soft and smooth it feels.

Now in case you think we forgot about the portion of floor between the two windows, we didn't. I forgot to take photos of that step. Hubby purchased a bit from Lee Valley and made his own oak flooring to fit in that spot. Same finishing process and it all looks like new. Once we'd gotten this far, it was so hard to wait a few days before moving in some of the furniture. It takes a little while to cure and if you take the time, you won't be disappointed after your hard work.

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Knew It

I just knew there was a reason I was hoarding all those candles! I seem to have a candle addiction these days.

Votives, tea lights, pillar candles, jar candles...I just can't seem to resist them. Now what I really want still is an oil lamp. And I have very good reason for one more addition.

You can light two dozen candles and still not have much light.

Now I've never done this before but today the weather was cold, wet and the wind howled all day. And then the power went off just before dinner as it was getting dark. Out came all those wonderful candles. They looked beautiful and shed some light and the little kids were so excited to see them all lit. Who am I kidding? I was lovin it too.

Dinner by fun! Of course, it was only hot dogs on the menu as they'd eaten VERY well all week. We were thankful that the gas stove will still work without electricity.

Here's some of our pretty candles...

And then the power came on just as we were sitting down to eat. Oh well. A bit of a relief but a bit of a disappointment too. I blew out most of the candles to save for another day.

I did learn a little lesson today. I was doing housework all day and getting just a little bit grumpy about how much had to be done. Having the power go out, ever for a short time makes me appreciate my modern conveniences. It was a different world without power. I wouldn't want to go back to it. I did however think about the quiet evenings that people used to have. Time to stop and think. That's something I often miss out on and I'm wondering if all our conveniences are such a good thing sometimes. A mixed blessing to be sure. I realized I need to slow down a little, enjoy my candles and enjoy some quiet time.

I learned something today...all those candles were a good and useful addiction and when I light one again, I hope I remember to slow down a little and take time to remember the important things in life.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I must say, I'm just baffled as to where the past month has gone to! I know it's trite but time flies. My apologies for being a very bad blogger here but between the renovation and some paper crafting commitments and my family life, I just had to take a break. It's important to prioritize and figure out just want is most important in your life and stay true to that.

Jumping back in, I find I left you here with some recipes and the drywall just going back up on the ceiling. Then came the taping and the drywalling "mudding". A big job to be sure. Hubby did an amazing job.

Doesn't it look great? It's looking like a completely different room. Much larger and that ugly popcorn ceiling with its bowed drywall and holes is gone.

And the wall where he replaced the old wiring is fixed now too.

Hubby wasn't happy with the near perfection of the ceiling and we had a California Knock-Down finish applied on it. I wasn't thrilled at first but it's growing on me. I do adore the new ceiling fan though. My daughter and I hunted high and low for one we were happy with. It was difficult to find one as large as we needed and we wanted something that looked classic but 2010 too. It looks awesome in the vaulted ceiling. Notice the rest of the room is not complete but we already have the speakers installed in the ceiling. That's my man for ya.

My other huge excitement was the removal of the fireplace. See? No more nasty faux brick and we can actually arrange the furniture better in the room now. That did leave an extra job though. That floor has to be patched and as the hardwood really needs refinished...that's our next big job.

I'm sure excited as I finally feel as though we're in the home stretch. We're aiming to be done by the end of March and I really think we just may do it!

Take care!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Casseroles and Welsh Cakes

I've been busy doing some baking and cooking. There's nothing like something warm on a cold snowy day. I find I cook a little differently in the winter.

It's been a while since I've shared any recipes so I thought I'd share a couple with you today. My husband thinks it's a little bizarre that I blog about my recipes but as I always love a good recipe and I know of one reader who tries out every recipe I post. Her family loves them. I don't share anything fancy...just recipes that my large family will eat.

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes are sweet little cakes that are about 2.5" across. They are cooked on top of the stove, very much like a pancake but they are sweeter and pretty much the equivalent of a scone. Even my non-raisin-lovers like these. I actually ended up hiding the last three so that I could take a picture of them. Speaking of which...I picked up this gorgeous little oblong plate on sale at Pier 1 the other day. Isn't it purdy?

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup raisins or currants
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Beat egg with fork. Add milk and egg to mixture. Stir in raisins. Roll out 1/4 inch thick onto floured surface. Cut into 2.5" rounds with cookie cutter or glass. Fry in frying pan over medium heat. Brown on both sides. Pan should allow drops of water to sizzle but not bounce around on pan. Remove to cooling rack.

Taco Rice Casserole

Everyone in the house will eat this and it's a great casserole to make ahead and then cook when you need it. This one is just ready to go in the oven. I serve it with tortilla chips and a salad and it's great for a potluck.

Taco Rice Casserole

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup onion chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 package of taco seasoning mix or Taco Seasoning Blend below
1 1/2 cups water
8 ounces of tomato or spaghetti sauce
3 cups rice, cooked
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

taco chips

Brown ground beef, onion and green pepper. Drain excess fat. Add taco seasoning and water and simmer for at least 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and cooked rice and spoon into baking dish. Top with grated cheese. Bake at 350°F until hot and bubbly. Immediately before serving, top with broken taco chips.

And because packaged Taco Mix doesn't agree with me, I found this recipe for some that tastes just the same but will cost much less. It takes only a minute or two to put together.

Taco Seasoning Mix

1 tbsp onion flakes
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix together. Makes the equivalent of one package of taco seasoning mix.

Happy cooking!

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's a Beautiful Thing

One sheet of drywall.

How could one sheet of drywall be such a beautiful thing?

Because it means progress!

The insulating is done. The vapour barrier is up as you can see.

The wiring is done and the old aluminum wiring replaced with new copper. Don't mind those two remaining dangling wires. They are for speakers in the ceiling. So excited on this one as it means no more speakers flanking the sofa.

Here's a full shot. Did you notice that strange looking contraption in the bottom left corner? I'm telling you THAT is a beautiful thing. I've helped install more gypsum board than I ever wanted to. It is super heavy! And ackward! If you're planning on drywalling a ceiling this would be money well spent. It's a fifty dollar rental for the day at Home Depot but depending where you live, I'm sure you could get it cheaper. We gladly paid it though. It saved me a massage appointment for my back. It saved us the cost of paying someone to help board this difficult ceiling. Yep. Money well spent. It's not pretty but in my eyes, a beautiful thing.

Look how great it works on the angle...

And finally.... one sheet of drywall leads to another...

and another...

and another...

et voila...

the ceiling is done.

Or at least ready to be taped.

I finally feel like we're getting somewhere. And that's a beautiful thing.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Keeping it Together and a "new" magnetic board

Some weeks just fly by...just like my last one. I was feeling a little guilty that I didn't have a project to share but then I reminded myself, this should be about having fun and fitting into my life as I know it. Priorities are something that I believe everyone struggles with. How do I get everything done?

Here's the reality: you just cannot do everything you want to. I don't know if you've noticed a little quote I have on my sidebar. It's there because it is something I need to continually have to remind myself.

I forgive myself for all the things I don't have time to do.

I'm not quite sure where this came from. Someone had clipped it out of a magazine and put it on the bulletin board at my massage therapist's office. I just had to write it down.

This is something I try and teach my kids as well. Having one perfectionist daughter can make for lots of stress when all the school assignments arrive at the same time. Once again it's all about priorities, getting the most important things done and forgiving yourself for the rest.

I did finally get around to one project that will help keep me organized and it's been one I've had on my to do list for months. I had this metal sign I picked up at Michael's in my kitchen before my reno. I loved it but hanging it above my sink was not a great plan as it ruined the decorative paper on the sign. I knew I could make it over though so I kept it. Here's what I did this afternoon...

To start I peeled off the loose edges off the sign and then sanded off any bumps in the paper. I wanted to be able to get a good bond.

I actually got pretty excited about putting this project together quickly so this is a photo from another project I have yet to share but it uses the same idea. I used the Claudine Hellmuth Multi-Medium as an adhesive. You can also use things like ModgePodge or collage glue but I used what I had on hand and it worked well. Just brush on your surface generously and apply the paper quickly and smooth out any air pockets or wrinkles. It should dry quite quickly.

I used a patterned paper by Graphic 45 for this project. I cut it down to size and after adhering and drying, I sanding the edges for a distressed look. A sanding block is a great tool I use a mini one by Tim Holtz but you can use a larger one from the hardware store as well.

For this project I also stamped and inked up a quick tag to embellish the simple project. By layering the inks I came up with an almost exact match for my paper. Most of the stamps are from a stamp set I designed for Cornish Heritage Farms called On the Desk.

And here's my final project all hung up on a little piece of wall in my kitchen. Because the board is metal, I'm going to make some coordinating magnets and hang up photos or important notes I can't forget about.

That's it! Just breathing a little bit of new life into an old piece using things I already had on hand. I'm lovin' it! I'm so glad I found a little beauty here today.

Have a beautiful day!


This post links up with Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Night Special.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vinyl Scraps

I have a hard time throwing things away. It's always amazing that there can be so many uses for one product. The other day when I was creating some vinyl wall art, I was left with some scraps of vinyl that were too small to work well in my Silhouette Craft Cutter. This got me to thinking about whether I should throw them away or whether I could use them for something else.

I could cut these pieces by hand, with a paper trimmer or I thought it would be fun to try running them through my die-cut machine, the Cuttlebug. I found the above sweet little die and tried it out.

The Cuttlebug is super easy to use and you can just layer your die over the vinyl between two B plates. If you don't have a die cut machine, usually a local scrapbooking store will allow you to use theirs for a small fee or if you take part in a crop night. Just turn the handle and the die will pass through the machine.

This die left me with both a positive and negative shape. I'm actually loving the negative shape best but I'm going to use them both up. The flower ended up on a little tin...

and my negative shape was super quick to apply to this tin canister I use for storage in my craft room. Here it is on the shelf...

Wouldn't this be a fun idea to personalize things with? How about letters on storage containers in a kid's room or to organize things in the back hallway? To personalize a vinyl binder? Hmmmm.... I wonder what else I can come up with!

Do you have some fun ideas for vinyl?

Happy creating!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

moving furniture...

Unfortunately, I'm not goign to be showing you us moving our furniture back into the family room or tips on how to do it. We're still chipping away at the huge to do list for renovating the family room. As with all renovations, one thing always seems to lead to another. Hubby decided to do a little more electrical than originally planned. He wants to get rid of all the aluminum wiring and replace it with copper. I guess if you're going to do it, now is the time!

I'm lovin the new look on our walls...

I have been moving furniture however...on paper. It's a great way to plan a room for new furniture or a renovation. I put a lot of effort into finding free programs on-line to do this for me but one or the other all had some kind of difficulty with them. This room was too large, or too complex or there were limited furniture options so I decided to try moving things around on paper. I found a great little tool on the Pottery Barn web-site called Room Designer. You don't need to be technically savvy. You just need to be able to measure and sketch out your room and then do a little cut and paste.

Here's what I came up with...

One of the things I'm most excited with about this renovation is the removal of the existing gas fireplace. It was in such a difficult place to arrange furniture around. I suppose if it had been a living room it would have been easier but this is our family room and we needed to arrange around the main uses for this room...watching videos, the stereo and playing games. This allowed me to turn our furniture 90° to the left and it should flow much better. It also centers on the room nicely with the peak of the cathedral ceiling running right through the middle of the room...horizontally in the above sketch.

Another great thing about planning ahead for furniture placement is the ability to place power outlets in the floor just where you need them. I'll have one in the floor just under where the sofa will be to allow for a lamp for reading. I can't wait to turn this...

...into my nice cozy family room.

So. How do you move furniture? The old fashioned way, on some paper or with a computer program? I'd love to hear about it.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

c is for....


I'm just finishing up some of those pesky little details so that I can call my creative space finished. Or mostly so for now. I'm sure along the way I'll may a few changes but there were a few things let undone that were driving me crazy.

You may have noticed my C the other day and wondered what it was for. None of my initials start with C.

I found this C vinyl wall decor in Home Sense a couple months ago. I think Home Sense is the Canadian equivalent to Home Goods but am not quite sure. It had been marked down to $5 and I loved the big square shape. I do have a Silhouette Craft Cutter that I'm having fun cutting vinyl with but it just doesn't cut that wide. I decided to bring it home and mix the two.

This is the original vinyl tranfer...

And here it is with a little diy love added to it.

NOW it makes sense in my craft room and added some very inexpensive decoration. I didn't even worry that the two black vinyls were a little different. One is glossy, the other matte. Unless you stand at a very strange just can't tell.

So now if I can just get the last door handle installed...I'll be a happy girl!

Do you like vinyl wall decor? Have you ever altered it?

Monday, January 25, 2010

my creative space

welcome... my new creative space.

I'm super excited to finally be able to share it with you. Two and a half years in the making since hubby and I were standing in a hole beside the house under where our porch used to be. We were pacing it off and planning the bedroom that we'd need to get baby #5 out of our bedroom and over top would be our new back hall and eating area. It went a little something like this...

She said: Hmmmm.... looks like a pretty big bedroom to me. Does child #3 really need a bedroom this large? It's larger than our master bedroom.

He said: No...we could make it two rooms. One nice sized bedroom and a smaller room...for studying, maybe?

She said: We have a study that we already have the computer in and the older kids all have desks in there rooms. (she hesitates a little and gingerly suggests) What about a craft room? It's not as large a space as I'd like but I think I could make it work.

He thinks.

She holds her breath.

She said: It would get all my stuff out of the family room....

He said: OK We can do that.

She said: (scream) I'm so excited! I love you! You are the best hubby ever...blah, blah, blah, blah.....

(she jumps up and down, runs over, big hug and kisses etc.)

You get the idea.

In the meantime we've been busy with more crucial parts of the addition/renovation.... whole story here.... and while we worked away, I planned out my little creative space eking out the most use from an 8x8 foot room. Here's my plan...

And finally welcome to my space...

It turned out just as I designed on paper and I couldn't be more thrilled. I think what makes my room so workable for me is that I really considered how I design, exactly what my needs were for workspace and storage and how best to squeeze it into my creative space. Hubby agrees with me that the photos actually make my room look larger than it actually is. Two people would have difficulty working in this space together. It could be done but as I usually create alone, this works for me. I can turn around in my chair and reach into the drawers behind me, pull things out of the storage carts to the side or quickly stand up and grab my cardstock from its shelves.

My desk is the place were I spend most of my time. It usually doesn't look like this. I usually have some stamps, ink, a paper cutter, scraps and a project in progress. I have everything I use most within reach. My desk isn't terribly pretty but it was a gift from a friend who no longer needed it. The drawers are great and it has a great large worksurface. I'm thinking it may get a makeover down the road but for works for me.

One of my favorite storage solutions for crafting is this Making Memories Storage Carousel. It's amazing how much it fits into one space, I can see and find my most used items and I think it still looks pretty. Love how it smoothly spins around. I picked mine up at Michael's with a 50% off coupon and liked it so much, I bought another next time it was on sale.

Above my desk within easy reach is my ink pads. Ink pad storage has been a bit of a trial for me since I started stamping about 7 years ago. They can be difficult to store and if you stamp a lot, you'll want easy access. I tried a few different solutions but this one is the winner for me. I have three ink pad organizers that each hold 48 ink pads. I know, I know...that's a lot of ink but I do use them all. I still have a few empty spaces but they are great for holding various acrylic blocks, twine and I have a row saved for some new Distress Ink colors being released soon. Organize More is a fabulous solution for me. They also sell ribbon organizers and other craft storage solutions.

When hubby installed my ink storage for me, I got him to make a nice little shelf to go over the top. I have some pretty frames, my clock and some crafting items up there. Things that make me smile. One of them is this stamp I've saved from an old Stampin Up set. For me it's the perfect decoration... inspirational, unique and using what I have.

Here's my magnet boards where I keep receipts, work in progress and sometimes a layout I like.

In the corner of my craft room, just behind the entry door, I have a little cupboard to store extra things. I have magazines, alterable items and other misc. craft things in there.

If you come back to my desk and turn left this time, you'll find two of my favorite craft storage pieces. I am totally amazed at how much these hold in one area. So much better than drawers and iris carts. The drawer units are from Best Craft Organizer and the shallow drawers are fabulous. I keep embossing powder, paint, rub-ons and just about anything small in these drawers. If you pull them out, they will also stack if you want to bring them to another area to work on. The area is a little tight and the area really only works because the carts are on castors. I knew this on my original plan but with my smooth hard floor, they easily move closer to my desk if I need better access into the cupboard on the left.

My two Clip-It-Ups fit perfectly on top of the craft organizers and are invaluable. One of them I ordered from the US and the other, I purchased at my local scrapbook store with a store credit I had. They are a little expensive but worth it for me. I can see what I have and use it rather than it getting creased or dated in a drawer. One of my Clip-it-Ups holds my unmounted stamps and the other, embellishments.

I like to keep my counter space as clear as possible so that I can have additional space to work. This end I use for die cutting.

This side holds various craft supplies and a circle cutting system.

My counter is 8 feet long and just barely squeezed into my space. I had originally planned on a different counter top but one Saturday after installing the counters, hubby told me I could order one and wait for it to come in or go to Home Depot and pick one from stock. He would install it that night. Hmmm.... I rushed off and this counter was quite similar to my original plan. I love the subtle color variation and texture. I did splurge a little on the hardware and I'm glad I did.

You can see where I did cut some corners in this photo...I've reused my old kitchen fluorescent light fixture. My flooring is also pretty much non-existent. It's just the concrete floor painted with epoxy paint designed for garage floors. We decided this was the best solution for me as I've been known to drop permanent ink pads onto flooring and drop adhesive glue dots on it too. This is so easy for me to clean up by sweeping up scraps, my chair slides easily and if I stain it...I can just repaint. My floor is also super warm as it has infloor heating. With the bright south-facing window, I hardly feel like I'm in the basement at all.

One of my biggest problems in my old corner was paper storage. I love patterned paper and like to store it in these Iris cases from Michael's. They work great and I can pull down the case I need and then put it right back. I designed this shelf system to hold them and hubby did a great job of giving me exactly what I needed. It's not the prettiest storage (hubby wanted to put doors on it) but making things easy access is key to me putting things away and finding exactly what I want. It's only functional if it works for you.

And now we're full circle at the door and you can see my last storage area. This space backs onto the basement stairs and we were able to carve out a little space to hold my cardstock. I'm thrilled with how easy it is to find what I need. Each shelf will hold a 12x12 stack of paper and an 8.5x11 stack as well.

That's my space and I hope you've enjoyed the tour. I'm thrilled to finally share it with you and I hope you've found a few ides for your own space.

Do you like my space? Was it worth the wait?

Thanks for visiting!

This post links up with the Twice Remembered Cottage's Make Your Monday.

Metamorphasis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch

Make it for Monday at Cottage Instincts

First Big Project of the New Year at Sanctuary Arts

DIY Day at A Soft Place to Land