Jan 22, 2015

Customizing Art with a Handcrafted Frame

When we were at the pet store picking up dog food just before Christmas, we stumbled on some wall prints that we thought were pretty cute. The company that makes them is called Northern Mutt.

The first one I saw said, "My dog doesn't do floors" and the dog in the picture looked just like my aunt's dog, Desi. Perfect Christmas present. Once I started reading them all I knew we had to buy some for ourselves. We picked out, "Home is where the dog is", and "Life is better with a dog".

My dog doesn't do floors print

Life is better with a dog print

They were a little plain and flat on their own though, so we decided to build frames to beef them up. We spent an afternoon in the garage working out the sizing and trying out different router bits to get an edge we liked. But after a few hours we couldn't come to an agreement on the outside edge.

router styles

We took a break to pick up some supplies at Home Depot with a quick pit stop at Target to return something, and while at Target I wandered around the picture frame section and found one I loved - wide and flat with a raised outer edge. I dragged Tom away from the electronics department and he admitted he liked it too - and that he could replicate it. With a new plan and fresh boards he whipped them up in no time.

frame edge

DIY picture frame

As usual I was responsible for puttying, sanding, staining, and waxing. For some reason I didn't take pictures of my aunt's frame. It's too bad too, because I tried something a little different. After staining the wood I wasn't happy with how uneven it was - should have used wood conditioner, I know - so I gave it a light coat of brown paint, waited a few minutes, and wiped off the areas that were too dark. It still looked stained, not painted, but the colour was rich and even. I gave the frame two coats of dark wax and buffed it to a shine.

For our own frames I stained them and then went over the stain with a very light coat of greyish paint, wiping it off right away. Two coats of wax and a buff.

Jacobean brown Minwax stain

furniture wax Minwax

Here they are all framed up. Isn't that better? Tom wants to buy more now.

Life is better with a dog - framed

Home is where the dog is - framed

We haven't quite decided where we're going to hang them - definitely in the basement, maybe behind the bar.

These framed pictures truly express how we feel about our dogs - they are our world. And I'm pretty sure that we are theirs, too. Is there anything better than a happy dog?

Chloe & Sasha - Mastweiler Rottweiler


Home is where the dog is - framed

DIY frame closeup

Life is better with a dog - framed

Jan 9, 2015

A Step Forward

The beginning of the year is always a time to reflect back on what was memorable in the previous year. For me, 2014 was the year that I became a runner.


I can't believe it's been an entire year since I wrote about starting a running program. It may have seemed like a filler post, but I actually went through with it, and running has become one of my favourite things to do. Though I won't admit that at 4:30 in the morning when I'm dragging myself out of bed and fumbling into my clothes.

I wanted to give you an update because I'm so proud of what I've accomplished so far. A couple of years ago I completed the Couch to 5K program and felt pretty good about that. But I never stuck with it - I usually ended up running only once, maybe twice, a week. There was always a reason not to - I had just eaten, I needed to work on something else, my back hurt. And on and on. So in March I gave myself a stern talking-to and moved on to the Bridge to 10K program. Wow! I'd only ever run 10km twice in my life. But by the end of the program I was doing it 3 times a week!


Then we went to Texas on vacation. I only ran once in those 10 days - but I did buy myself a new pair of sporty Nikes for encouragement. I caught a cold on the last day of vacation and the hacking cough stayed with me for 2 weeks, so April ended up a complete write-off.

But I wasn't going to give up, and in May I started getting up early in the morning to run on the treadmill. Six days a week. Now I wasn't doing 10km every day, it was more like 5 with a longer run on Saturdays. I stuck with the treadmill because I was still too shy to let people see me out on the street huffing and puffing. I ran 143km that month - and that was enough encouragement to get me outside.


I'll tell you - running outside is so much easier. And fun. You feel like you're really getting somewhere (even if you do end up back where you started). There are some beautiful neighbourhoods around me so I entertained myself by looking at all of the houses, imagining that I lived in them. I discovered little streets and pathways I never knew about. And made friends with people out walking their dogs or heading to work as the sun came up.

Over the summer I clocked another 645km. Seriously. Me. The girl who avoided gym class like the plague. On Labour Day Sunday I even ran 21km. My longest run ever. I've never entered a race because I always thought I'd be last, but now I know I could even enter a half-marathon and run the whole thing.


During the fall I cut down on my distance a lot - I hate being cold, so I was back on the treadmill. At that point my hip and knee started to hurt after each run. It turns out that running six times a week in worn out shoes was wreaking havoc on my body. Don't be like me - get new shoes every 700km or so!

But I've been seeing a PT and a chiropractor - I've increased my strength training and stretching - and I'm ready to keep going. I also bought not one, but two new pairs of running shoes.

Brooks Glycderin 12

I have a friend at work who's a triathlete, and he has challenged me to sign up for a spring race - my choice - and he'll run it with me. That's motivating me to keep with it and keep improving.


Jan 6, 2015

Healthy, Home-made Noodle Bowl

We've had a pretty easy winter so far - cold, but not too cold, and only one big snowfall - that melted the next day. This past weekend though winter showed up in force, bringing blowing snow and icy slush. Sunday was the kind of day to just hunker down under a blanket with the puppies and watch hours of mindless television.

When our stomachs started to growl and it was time to think about lunch, all we really wanted was soup. I'd just stocked the fridge with chicken, fruit, and lots of vegetables, so I figured I could whip up something home-made in no time. We let ourselves get a bit out of control over Christmas, eating whatever we wanted (those evil little licorice funsorts are addictive), so it was time to rein it back in and make smarter choices.

Homemade noodle bowl

I put linguine noodles on to boil while I chopped mushrooms, red peppers, and kale into bite-sized pieces. So very pretty.

Homemade noodle bowl

When the linguine was cooked I put about 1/2-3/4 of a cup of noodles in a soup bowl. I sprinkled the mushrooms, peppers, and kale over the top. It was looking a little skimpy so I added about a 1/4 cup of cooked, shredded chicken.

Homemade noodle bowl

For flavour I added a few shakes of Frank's Red Hot sauce and about a teaspoon of beef bouillon concentrate. Once we were ready to eat, I poured a mugful of boiling water into each bowl to make the broth. Gave it a stir, and it was ready to eat!

Homemade noodle bowl

I also made a few extra to take for lunches, just leaving out the boiling water.

Homemade noodle bowl

I threw a few roasted potatoes into mine in the morning to give it some more body. At lunch I added the water and gave it a spin in the microwave for 60 seconds. Just as good as the day before!

Homemade noodle bowl

The boiling water partially cooks the vegetables, but the red peppers - along with giving the soup some colour - retain a sweet crunch that's unexpected and refreshing.

Homemade noodle bowl

Here's to a new year of eating healthy while still keeping it interesting!
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