Mar 31, 2013

Bunny in a Jar

I made a little Easter gift for Tom on the weekend. Nothing outrageous, just something to say, "thinking of you". I saw this idea on a link party this week, but I forgot to pin it, so I don't know who it belongs to. Whoever you are, thank you and take a little bow.

Super simple, you just need a mason jar, some ribbon, and a chocolate bunny that fits in the jar. I emphasis that because the first one I bought was too wide. I tried to shave some chocolate off of his feet - the widest part - but he broke in half. A little temper tantrum followed. (I had fallen off of the stool into the closet trying to get the mason jar so I was already annoyed.) That was my only bunny so the gift idea went out the window. But I had to go out later to get more paint brushes so I picked up another (skinnier) one.

You just add ribbon (or easter grass) to the bottom of the jar, put in your bunny, drop a few chocolate eggs around him, and close the jar. You can then add a ribbon to the outside to fancy it up if you want. The only spring-like ribbon I had on hand was some light green with silver dots. It works though, don't you think?

I like 'im. Sweet and sparkly. And pretty tasty too.

How was your Easter?


I'm linking up here this week!

Mar 27, 2013

Teddy Bear

No update on the kitchen today. Really, it'd just be about watching paint dry and that's about as exciting as...well, you know.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that we were looking after my in laws' dog. Now that I've recovered from the lack of sleep that went along with having him here, I can share some pictures. Because this dog is a cutie. Straight-up, teddy-bear-fluffy, can't-stop-hugging-him cute.

His name is Bosco and he's a Chow Chow. He's also mostly blind so you'll notice that his expression doesn't change much from picture to picture. I'm not sure he even knew I was taking his picture. He just kept walking towards me looking to be petted.

And boy, does he like to be petted. I would spend every morning getting ready for work with the dog pressed against my legs. Every 30 seconds or so he would paw at me, like, "Hey, I'm still here you know. Get to the petting."

He also likes to bark. Not constantly though. Just here and there when you're least expecting it. Like at 3am. I think he wakes up, doesn't know where anyone is, and wants to make sure he's not alone. Even if it means getting yelled at. Negative attention is better than no attention, right?

So he pretty much annoyed me all week (before this I was always begging to have him stay with us), but I forgive him now. He's more than welcome to come back again. For the day. Or maybe a weekend. As long as I can sleep in afterwards.

Mar 25, 2013

A Kitchen Update

Betcha forgot all about the kitchen makeover we're working on, didn't you? Or maybe you thought I forgot all about it - though considering the awful view of open cupboards I get every time I walk into the kitchen, there is no way I could forget.

The original plan was to strip off the green factory stain and re-stain it a dark espresso brown. The kitchen walls are BM Ranchwood, and we plan to install a white backsplash - either tile or beadboard. However, stripping the stain has been a bear of a job. Just horrible. It's been 5 and a half months and we aren't even halfway along. Though to be honest we haven't been working that hard on it lately since we can only work in the garage, on the weekend, with the door closed because it's been so cold out.

So, a couple of weeks ago we talked it over and decided to go with white painted cabinets. I know, everyone's doing white cabinets right now. And that's one reason I was really opposed to it. But I think it's time to be realistic about what we can accomplish. The stripping/sanding is so uneven, and most of the doors are particle board so there is the constant fear of sanding too hard and losing the wood grain completely.

Also, since our kitchen has no window, staining the cupboards brown, along with a marbled brown countertop and terracotta coloured tile just says dark, dark, dark.

We have a lot of experience staining wood but not much experience with painting it. So I did my research, read lots of other blogs, and kept reminding myself that to do this properly it was going to take some time. Most of the online recommendations were for Benjamin Moore paint and primer, and since they are our faves anyway, that decision was easy. We bought BM Fresh Start latex primer and BM Advance paint in pearl finish.

Why pearl? Semi-gloss is just too shiny, and satin finish - my first choice - wasn't available. I like the slight sheen of pearl and there is enough of a contrast with the walls (matte) and trim (semi-gloss). We didn't have the paint tinted as I didn't want to have to worry about colour-matching it later. The out-of-the-can colour is a clean, crisp white anyway.

Saturday morning we started with the pantry in the dining room area. It's a small space that we could finish completely without interfering with the rest of the house (and use it as practice). We hung plastic sheeting to divide the dining room from the rest of the downstairs and sanded the sides and front edges of the cabinet. Green dust everywhere - even with a dust collection sleeve on the power sander. After wiping it down with TSP we were ready.

The instructions on the paint cans recommend 3 hours drying time between coats of primer, and 16 hours between coats of paint. 16 hours! But we don't want to have to do this twice, so we're not cutting corners.

one coat of primer done

This is where we are on Sunday night. We've applied two coats of primer and one coat of paint to the pantry cabinet and to the two doors on the table. And we've applied one coat of primer to the doors on the floor (started later).

Each coat doesn't take very long to apply so we should be able to work on it each night after work and have it finished for the weekend. We're still trying to locate 8mm Blum dowels to reinstall the hinges (without paying crazy shipping charges) but I hope we can install the doors in a week or so.

It's so nice to feel like we're moving along with this project now as it felt stalled for so long. And the room is looking brighter already so I think this was a good decision. I honestly can't wait to work on it some more. Maybe I should take the week off work? I am feeling kind of sick (cough, cough). ;-)

Mar 20, 2013

On Target

Big, big happenings here in Canada this week. After opening three pilot stores two weeks ago, Target had 17 more "soft openings" yesterday.  And one was in my neighbourhood.  (Please excuse the blurry photos - I was using my crappy non-iPhone.)

Those of you in the U.S. probably don't know what a big deal Target is for us here in Canada. It is THE store Canadians flock to when we go south. The name is spoken with reverence. For me it's not necessarily the lower prices, it's moreso the different selection than we have back home. Brands you've never seen before. Flavours you've never tried before. Fun colours and patterns. That's what I love.

So of course we had to check it out. I was surprised that the store wasn't a lot more crowded. When I was younger, Kmart opened a store in my hometown and the lineups were crazy. I remember we stood in the checkout line for over an hour (maybe two) until my mother said forget it and we left (leaving behind the jumbo bag of popcorn that we had already gotten into. Don't tell, okay?)

They're still building up their stock, so some of the racks were empty, but it was nice to have a new, clean store to wander around in. The prices weren't any different than you'd find at Walmart or Zellers (Target bought most of the old Zellers locations) but there were some new-to-me brands.

The housewares and furniture are always the best places to look. I saw this occasional chair that I would love to have - matches nothing in my house - and I considered this pouff that was in the outdoor section. The fabric is waterproof and the pattern is so much fun. They were both more than I was willing to pay today though so I kept moving.

I did buy this sweet little yarn-wrapped hippo. Seriously, have you ever? I love him so much. I might even name him.

And I bought a pillow. Just a standard one for the bedroom. Oh, and Tom decided he needed licorice. That was about it. I do hope they add the dollar bins at the front of the store, and I'm looking forward to seeing the store when it's fully stocked, but for now my curiosity is satisfied.

What do you love most about Target?

Mar 18, 2013

Spring {Has Sprung} Wreath

I put together a "wishful thinking" wreath this weekend.

Wishful thinking because the windchill is -9 today and they're forecasting freezing rain and snow tomorrow. But I'm going to pretend that spring is just around the corner. As long as that corner isn't 20 blocks away. However, I did see something like this on my way out the door this morning, so I have hope.

I used a pool noodle base for the wreath and covered it with mossy green fabric that has a slight velvety feel. Apparently it's quite attractive because I left it leaning against my desk while I went to do other things and Chloe sashayed into the kitchen with it in her mouth. She was so proud; I wish I'd had the camera handy. She didn't damage it at all, just carried it around like a prize.

I used my Silhouette to cut out the word "spring" which I stenciled onto a strip of green burlap using white poster paint.

I was aiming for a really simple wreath, but spring by itself was a little too simple, so I added "has sprung". I also added some white buds and little butterfly buttons.

Everything is attached with straight pins and double-sided tape for an easy change out later. (I'm still trying to take apart the Christmas wreath where everything was hot glued on.)

Those little butterflies cheer me up so much. What are you doing to hurry spring along? Or has it already arrived in your neck of the woods? Lucky, lucky.


Check out these fun link parties - I am!

Mar 12, 2013

DIY Sofa Table

Tom & I wanted to get another project crossed off the list this past weekend, and we are still avoiding those kitchen cabinets. My new Easter deadline is approaching fast and I'll betcha a cookie we miss it.

So what to tackle that can be done in a weekend and make an impact? How about a console table for the sectional in the basement TV room?

DIY sofa table - cerusing

I talked about this sofa when we bought it - it's a monster, but a comfy, cozy monster. We love that there is room for everyone, and then some.

DIY sofa table - cerusing

DIY sofa table - cerusing

But because of its size, when you're sitting in the middle there really isn't anywhere to put a plate or a glass that is easy to get to. We went back and forth on whether we had room for a sofa table as it would mean pulling the couch out further into the room, and it's not a very big room.

We estimated that we could go with an 8 inch wide table without encroaching too much on the necessary floor space. No one wants to have to squeeze past the couch to get into the room, right? An eight inch wide table isn't very much, but it's not like we're going to be putting big lamps or books on it - it's more for convenience than show.

We measured the length of the couch on each side  - 10 feet on one side, 8 on the other - wow! - and discussed how we wanted to support the table. We decided on two 2x2 legs at either end of a board plus one pair in the middle, for a total of 12 legs. Plus we added a length of 1x8 at each end for a nice finished look. The table is almost completely behind the couch so there was no need for shelves or fancy woodwork on the ends - no one is going to see it! Tom also wanted to put 2x2 cross braces diagonally between each set of legs to keep them from bending in towards each other.

DIY sofa table - cerusing

The build was pretty straight forward - each "arm" only took an hour or two.

Here is a tip to make lining up the cross pieces easier - use a piece of wood cut to the length you want, clamp it to the support leg, and use it as a jig so that your cross piece is at the exact same height on each leg.

To attach the cross pieces to the legs we made pocket holes using our Kreg Jig R3 - a pocket hole jig that is AMAZING. This baby is only $40 and will change your life. You clamp the jig to your piece of wood, drill through the guide holes, and it puts an angled hole exactly where you need it. When the screw is attached, the screw head is hidden and you can putty over it if you want.

DIY sofa table - cerusing

While Tom built the second half, I started staining the first half. I tried out my cerusing skills again but I don't know, I'm still not getting the paint into the grooves made by the wire brush. I used Minwax stain in Jacobean, and a sample can of grey paint. I wonder if I'm watering it down too much. This time I scrubbed it really well with the steel wool after waxing it, and I can't believe how smooth it is! I love that I learn something new every time I refinish a piece.

DIY sofa table - cerusing

Oh, and you see that piece of white plastic beside the paint cans? Yeah, I got in trouble for using it as a stir stick. Apparently the piece of what I thought was scrap plastic was actually a $5 piece of heat-shrink tubing. That you can only buy in $100 lots. And it was his last one. Sorry. (Said with a Canadian accent.)

DIY sofa table - cerusing

Let's go back to admiring the table surface, shall we? Smoooovvvve.

DIY sofa table - cerusing

Another thing that's always a pain in the butt with large couches is that electrical outlets end up behind the couch where you can't get to them easily. Tom came up with the idea to add an outlet to the table top, one on each side. They are just standard outlets like you'd have on your wall, built flush into the top of the table, with a cord to plug it into the wall outlet below. Clever, hunh? I swear I liked the idea so much it brought tears to my eyes. I like to use my laptop downstairs and I hate running the power cord across the room because I'm always afraid of the dogs tripping over it and yanking the laptop out of my hands. Now I can plug it in right behind me. And we can add a small lamp if we need to.

Update: I've posted a step-by-step tutorial here with instructions on building an outlet of your own.

Further update: We've recently upgraded to an outlet with built-in USB ports and switched out the cord to a grounded (3-prong) wire. See tutorial for additional instructions.

DIY sofa table - cerusing

The two ends of the table fit together in the corner with carriage bolts screwed in underneath. I forgot to take pictures of it, but you probably get the idea. A carriage bolt, a washer, and a wingnut walk into a bar, and the two parts are tight together. As you can see, I didn't worry about staining the whole piece because only the top and ends are visible.

DIY sofa table - cerusing

Taking pictures of this thing in place isn't easy. And pay no mind to the staging, I just added some random objects so it wouldn't look so bare. We really like how it isn't obvious - the cushions are a little higher than the back of the couch so it's hidden - yet it's the perfect location for holding your drink.

DIY sofa table - cerusing

DIY sofa table - cerusing

built in tabletop outlet

DIY sofa table - cerusing

All together it cost us less than $100 for wood, outlet parts, and screws/bolts - we already had the paint & stain - and about 6 hours work. Nice!


I'm linking up here this week!

Mar 11, 2013

How Do You Feel?

That's about the size of it.

Add to that babysitting a mostly-blind dog that likes to bark any time of the day or night because he's lonely and can't find you. Just one bark, and you never know when. I'm really dragging today. This is where I wish I liked coffee.

But we got a simple, yet needed, DIY project done this weekend that I can't wait to show you. I'll try to have it up by tomorrow.

Until then, I hope your Monday is moving along better than mine. I swear I can hear my bed calling from here.

Mar 6, 2013

Nice Rack!

Caught your attention didn't I? But I'm not talking about anyone's frontal regions (least of all my own) - I'm talking about the new baking racks I bought.

I know I've mentioned before how much I want some, so on a recent trip to the grocery store I priced them out. And they weren't that bad! Seven dollars each maybe?

The racks fit perfectly over a cookie sheet so there is something to catch the drippings. I like to coat my wings in coconut oil first to help the seasoning stick, and while coconut oil is a healthy oil, reducing some doesn't hurt.

Look at how much oil was removed.

Just like that, my chicken went from this:

To this: 

Besides being less greasy, the wings are so much easier to remove to a plate. Most of the time they would stick a bit and you'd end up losing some of the crispy skin. And let's face it - that's the best part.

Don't be ashamed, you can yell out, "Hey, I like your rack!" and I won't be offended. :-)

Mar 4, 2013

Master Bedroom Before and After

I told a little fib last week. Remember when I said I didn't want to show the master bedroom off because it wasn't decorated yet? Well that was only partially true. The other reason was because I didn't like the paint colour at all. It was too dark, and with the cherry dresser and bed frame, it looked like a man cave.

So I repainted it of course. With my trusty assistant Tom, I got that room repainted and decorated - and I didn't even need a long weekend to do it this time.

Let's get right to it, shall we? This is the new master bedroom:

Do you remember what it looked like before? I'm embarrassed to even repost these pictures. The room was yellow, with a faux plaster finish on the top half of the wall (and a dirty, brown glaze on that).

Not a fun place to hang out in. Just go in and close your eyes, you don't want to see.

We painted it Benjamin Moore Arctic Seal the first time. Truly a gorgeous colour, but not right for this room.  Our new colour is Stormy Monday, also by Benjamin Moore. Have I professed my love for Benjamin Moore paints yet? I was always hesitant to buy their paint because they are more expensive than Home Depot or Canadian Tire, but you can't argue with the quality. After using BM in the living room and kitchen I switched back to Behr for other rooms. And that's when I really noticed the difference. We always do two coats just to be safe, but I've heard of people only needing one. Just look how thick this paint is:

Here is the colour difference:

And on the wall:

Much better. We got it all painted, put everything back in place, and then accessorized in white, grey, and orange. Tom is the one who decided on orange. It's a nice change from the usual yellow or green that you see so often with grey. We were in Homesense, about to walk down the pillow aisle, and I told Tom I didn't know what colours to use with the grey. He suggested orange, and then I found these no more than two minutes later.

Orange, white, and grey. Meant.To.Be. The covers are removable and the pillows are filled with feathers, so they're nice and squishy.

We bought some photos of dandelion "fluff" at Ikea specifically for the room. The frames are a bit off white so I'm going to spray paint them later, but they work for now.

When we were in Pennsylvania last summer I bought an elephant carving so it made it's way into the room too. I added my elephant poop ornament - yep, it's made from real elephant droppings - and he looks so happy to be hanging out with the big kids. Plus he adds a nice bit of colour on the other side of the room.

The other fun accessory was a wooden carving we bought in the Dominican Republic. We rode horses up a huge hill, then hiked down the other side (in rubber boots) to get to El Limon waterfall. There was a woman selling wooden carvings beside the waterfall, and I couldn't turn down a carving of a dog. He's guarding Tom's side of the bed though.

We also raised the curtain rod up higher to give the room more visual height, and swapped out the navy blue curtains for grey silk ones that we already had. I have no idea why that mirror looks so short - it's taller than I am. Maybe we do have higher ceilings.  :-)

I love how warm and cozy the room feels now. It's kind of like a hotel room I think, but in the best possible way. Those globe lights are from Ikea, and the orange candles are my favourite cinnamon pecan swirl.

I have new bedding - sheets, pillows, and duvet - that I've been saving until it was finished. I can't wait to sleep in there. It's true, we've been sleeping in the spare room until I could get some daylight pictures of this room. The dogs are pretty confused. I have the doorway blocked off and Chloe keeps walking up to the gate and staring longingly at the bed. Poor thing. Crazy blogger rules!

All that's left is to paint the doors - they're a terrible off-white - and buy a new light fixture. And find something to hang on the wall facing the bed.

I'm thinking a hand painted sign. 

"You are my sunshine"? 

"Don't worry, be happy"? 

"Be quiet and go to sleep, Barb"?


I'm linking up here this week!

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