28 Sep 2012

Everything Etsy - September 2012

Yikes! I said I was going to do a roundup of my favourite Etsy goods every month, and it's already the end of September.  Umm...where did September go?  I can't believe how fast time flies when you have a kid - yet another thing nobody told me before she arrived!

Here are my favourite Etsy finds this month.  Trust me, I don't just throw this list together.  These are actual items that I have on my favourites list and would love to have all for myself.  Click on the picture to open the seller's site.

This goat watercolour print from Splodgepodge makes me smile.  Doesn't he just look so smug?  Goats are kind of smug though, aren't they?

Do you still read real books? And by real books, I mean the ones that are actually printed on paper and require a bookmark.  If so, I bet you could use a super fun bookmark from My Bookmark.  Aren't these a kick? (yes...that bad joke was totally intentional).  This shop has some really fun legs including Santa legs, sexy legs and even zombie legs.  Would make a great stocking stuffer....if you are organized enough to start Christmas shopping in September (I am NOT).

How about some unique gift wrap?  This isn't the stuff that you find at Wal-Mart or the dollar store. This gift wrap from Placed is made in Ireland, but can be shipped anywhere.  I love pretty gift wrap.  And just in case I wasn't dorky enough already, when I was a kid, my Mom and I took a gift wrapping course.  Ya, that's right - you are reading the words of an almost professional wrapper. It might be a bit of a splurge, but it would also look great lining a drawer (in case you haven't had the opportunity to take a wrapping course and become almost professional).  

I am not a huge jewellery wearer.  I usually wear my wedding ring and one other piece - either earrings or a necklace.  If it's an earring and a necklace day then it's extra special.  I just love this necklace from Midwest Alchemy.  It's somehow simple but still complex.  It's rustic but still girly.  Just love.  

And lastly, there are these antique letter press letters from Monki Vintage.  I have to admit, I am not a huge holiday decorator.  I'll get into a bit, but usually just like a few things here and there.  I don't overhaul my house for autumn or Halloween.  First, I don't have anywhere to store many seasonal items and second, I am just too lazy to take everything out and put it away.  Honestly.  But, I could totally deal with these letters.  I think they'd look so cute on our little entry way table.  I could maybe even deal with adding a few stretched out cotton balls for cobwebs.

So there you have it, my wish list for September.  Any favourites you'd like to share? Any recent Etsy purchases?

26 Sep 2012

Roadside Attraction

Our (almost revamped) kitchen was pleading with me for some new art.  We had a couple of old windows up on the wall, but once I hung the vintage car curtains, I was no longer loving the windows - they just made everything look too old fashioned.  I scoured Etsy for ideas, but was coming up empty.  There is tons of vintage car art out there, but I just didn't want our kitchen to become too kitschy (kitschy kitchens are bad).  I wanted something a bit quirky - a bit unexpected for a kitchen.  Then it hit me.  Vintage road signs!  That would be perfect.  That was until I couldn't find anything that I liked that was in our price range.  So, I adjusted the plan and went smaller.  I found a shop on Etsy that was selling postcards of road signs - 9 of them for $8.  Sold.  About 3 weeks later (customs delay...) they arrived.

Then the challenge was to make them look beefier than they were.

Enter the giant frame that I bought at a garage sale earlier this year (the painting was already out of it and up in our basement....redone of course).

As you can see, the frame was sort of a cream colour with gold speckles - wasn't going to work in our kitchen.  The solution? Spray paint of course.  A whole can of white gloss spray paint later and I had a brand new looking frame.

My original plan was to hang the postcards on invisible thread that was strung across the frame - sort of like they were floating in the frame.  I did that, and hung it on the wall for a while...and I hated it....and Fin loved it.  She wouldn't leave it alone.  Her spaghetti covered hands and the white postcards were not a match made in heaven.

Plan B.....

I went to the Dollarama and picked up five $1 frames.  They were plastic fake silver but had nice detail.

Solution? More spray paint.

I popped 5 of the postcards and the frames. Everything instantly looked better.

Then began the very frustrating task of measuring and trying to centre these suckers within the big frame.  A lot of swearing and pencil marks on the wall ensued, but I eventually won.  Instead of putting 5 more holes in the wall (and because the frames were only meant to stand), I used Command picture hanging strips.  Thankfully the velcro on the strips also allowed me to play around with each frame until they were all lined up straight.

You want a close up? Ok.

And from a little further away? Happy to oblige.

See how Diefenbaker can't contain his excitement?  Ignore the toy explosion please.

I love how it fills pretty much the entire wall, but it still feels airy.  I also love how the roadsigns add a bit of quirk.  Oh...and how now Fin can't touch the pictures anymore...that's just a bonus.

Total cost:  $10 (garage sale frame) + $5 (dollar store frames) + $8 (postcards) + $10 (2 cans of spray paint) = $33  Not the cheapest art around, but not bad considering that I'll always be able to use the frames again with some different art.

24 Sep 2012

Mid Century Modern Side Board Redo

I've had a little furniture project that I have been working away on for the past few months here and there when I had a few spare moments.  The plan when I picked up this piece was to gussy it up and then attempt to sell it.  It was the first time that I refinished something with the sole intention of selling it.  Of course, I totally fell in love with it after it was done.  As much as I love it though, I am going to stick to my guns and try and sell this guy.  

Here's how he looked before.

I bought it off Kijiji for $10 from a guy who had bought a house and was left with all of the previous owners furniture.  He was very happy to get rid of it.  It did come with a hutch too, but I have other plans for that (which may involve play food and my munchkin).  

It was in pretty good shape except for the horrible top.  It was a strange sort of laminate plastic sheet.

There was no way that I could paint it, so I decided to rip it off with plans to replace it with a brand new top.

Ready to see it now?

See why I love it?  I painted it out in December Eve by Behr and then gave it a new solid pine top, stained with Minwax's Chestnut.  I also gave the little gold dipped feet a hit of gold spray paint just to make them stand out a bit more.  The whole thing is finished with Minwax Polycrilic in Satin.  

How about a few more pictures?

The little door slides across to reveal a drawer, which I lined in some bright wrapping paper.

I have it posted up on Kijiji now, but am secretly hoping it won't sell so that I can keep it!  If you live in the Edmonton area and are interested in it feel free to send me a message and we can chat.

21 Sep 2012

{How you Doin?} Bottle Garden Stakes

Raise your hand if you are a Friends fan.  I seriously hope everyone has their hands up (and if you don't love Friends, please tell me why....I can't understand).  Man, I miss that show.  Here's a little video for you to reminisce.....

So, as a little tribute to Joey Tribbiani, I'm starting a new little series called How you Doin? 

Do you ever see a blog project and then think to yourself, "looks good now, but give it a toddler, direct sunlight and a year of wear, and then I bet it won't look so hot".   Well, the plan with this series is to show you a project that I did and then show you how it's looking now.  Maybe it's undergone a transformation, maybe it's still working great, or maybe it really is showing some wear and tear.....I won't hide it, even if it's totally embarrassing.

Do you remember the Bottle Garden Stakes that I made back in the spring? They were actually a guest post that I did over on Chic on a Shoestring Decorating.  

I had the pot and garden stakes out on our front porch for quite a while, but then they just started to get in the way.  I kept hitting the twigs with the stroller and the fake flowers kept blowing all over the grass and I was constantly gathering them up and rearranging which drove me sort of insane.  I finally gave up on the whole arrangement and tossed it in the garage. 

Over the summer my Mom moved into a new townhouse and asked me about the bottle stakes.   She has a big entryway and thought they'd fill up the space.  I happily handed them over, minus the silver bucket.  Plus....the antique bottles were really hers to begin with.  

Luckily she isn't as cheap as me, and actually spent money on real flowers, which look about 100 times better than the fake flowers.  She also stuck the twigs in a taller bucket, which seems to work much better.  

Better after, right?  I am so happy that they found a home where they are much more appreciated.

I'm open to suggestions on this little series, so if there's a project you're just dying for a status update on let me know!

Have a great weekend.  I've been sick for  over a week now....it's time for it to end...that, or I need to buy stock in Kleenex so that I can at least get rich.

19 Sep 2012


We are a pickle loving family.  Even Fin loves a good dill. Is that strange for a 14 month old?  Probably not since she is the spawn of dill addicts.  

Since pickling cucumbers are all over the farmer's markets at this time of year, I figured I'd give it a whirl and try to make my own dills (I'm a canning virgin).  Since traditional canning seems way too complicated and precise for me, I went with the refrigerator version.  I mostly followed the recipe from here....except that it says to leave the pickles on the counter for 4 days without a lid.  I couldn't handle that, so I read a few other recipes, which all said to put them in the fridge as soon as they are cool.  I liked that version much better.

Now all we have to do is wait a week until we can eat them!!!!  I hope they taste as good as they look.

How about you? Any canning experts out there? Have you tried refrigerator pickles before? Do you have a tried and true recipe?  Please share...maybe I can get over my canning fear this year.

17 Sep 2012

Other Pin Boards Will Be Green With Envy

I've had an idea floating around in my head for a while that we needed a pin board in the kitchen. Someplace that we can keep receipts, coupons, photos, etc without cluttering up the fridge.  Practical, right?  The other reason is because Fin feels that it's one of her missions in life to remove everything from the front of the fridge.  The determination that she has means that we have to move all of the important things up to the top of the fridge, and it all ends up squished together and pretty much useless.

I had some cork left over from another project, so I figured I'd just slap it into an old frame and poof - a new cork board for us.  Of course, things always work better in my mind.  I went hunting for an old frame in my frame closet, but couldn't find one that would fit the space where it needed to go.  I had one old frame (an Ikea Ribba) that didn't have any back that fit.  Ok, no problem.  We'd just have to make a new back.

The frame was natural wood, which didn't go with what we had going on in the kitchen.  So, I hauled out my silver spray paint and gave it a couple of coats.

Amazingly enough, it actually looked like it was metal.  Man, I love spray paint. 

Then I asked Mr. Swell very nicely to cut me a piece of backing for the frame.  The plywood we had on hand was too thick, so we used a piece of beadboard we had left over from the kitchen island redo.  If you decide to tackle this project and you have a frame that has a back, just use it - it'll be strong enough for the cork.

Then it came time to measure the cork.  I used rolled cork that I bought at Rona for about $10.  I had used a good chunk of it for another project, but thought I had lots left. Again, in my head I figured I'd just roll it out and it would fit.  Nope.  No go.  It was way too small.  A cork jigsaw puzzle ensued.  I glued the cork down to the back of the beadboard using wood glue (gorilla glue would probably be a better idea), and then flipped it over and clamped it down to the workbench overnight to dry.   Sorry, no pictures....

But, here is what it looked like after drying.

Obviously I couldn't leave it like this.  Even if I did cover the horrible seams up with a bunch of receipts, I worried that the cork would start peeling up at the seams.  

No problem, I'd cover it with fabric.  I had some green fabric left over from the kitchen curtains that was nice and thick, and wouldn't show the brown cork through.  I ran down to the basement to find it.  Crap, again.  I had 2 pieces and they were both too small to stretch over the cork.

What to do now?  I was pretty much ready to scrap the whole thing and run to Wal-Mart to buy a ready made cork board.  But, I had already done some work and cut beadboard, so I didn't want to waste what I'd used.  After a bit of chocolate eating brainstorming I came up with the brilliant idea of doing pleats.  Brilliant, right?  I think so!  The pleats would hide the seam in the middle where the 2 fabric pieces joined, plus I figured it would add a bit of visual interest.

What I didn't think about when my pleat brain wave struck, was that creating pleats was going to require an iron and a bit of math - 2 things which I don't love.  

I sort of flew by the seat of my pants for the next part, but I will attempt to explain it.  Basically, every 4 inches I folded up the fabric, and then folded it back down leaving a 1 inch overlap.  Then I ironed the heck out of it.  My fabric ironed really well and formed a nice crisp line.  This wouldn't work with flimsy fabric as it wouldn't hold a line very well.

I kept ironing until I ran out of fabric.  Since it was late at night when I tackled this, I can honestly say that it took me over an hour to get the ironing part finished.  I am anal about things being even, so I measured each side and the middle before I ironed each fold, which was pretty darn time consuming.

See how the pleats hid the seam? All I did was then just slide the top piece under the bottom piece to hide the raw edge.

I straightened everything out and then used the staple gun to staple each pleat (just to hold them in place).  Then I flipped the whole thing over and stapled the heck out of it.

Here's how the front looked.

Then I crossed my fingers and hoped that it would still fit in the frame.  Luckily it did.  But....I had another problem.  The little metal pieces that were supposed to fold down to hold the back on (you know, the ones that totally hurt your fingers and cause you to swear while trying to put a picture in an Ikea frame) were too short! There wasn't enough metal to fold over the multiple layers of fabric and the beadboard.  

A farmer fix ensued (a farmer fix, for those of you who don't know, is just making do with what you have....it usually involves duct tape - but not this time).  We used some left over panelling that we had on hand and just sort of shoved it in, and then screwed an L-bracket into the frame and the panelling to hold everything into place.  The beadboard and fabric aren't actually attached to the frame at all - they are just held into place by the panelling.  A little messy, but it worked.  We also screwed a sawtooth picture hanger onto the frame so we'd have some way to hang this sucker.

I wanted to hang the pin-board on the gable piece beside the fridge.  Since it was made of the same stuff as our cabinets (MDF I think...) I didn't want to drill into it.  I found a Command Hook at Home Depot that had a little hook on that fit perfectly into the sawtooth piece.  Easy peasy.

All along I thought the pleats would just be for visual interest, but once it was on the wall, I realized that the pleats were actually very practical.  Instead of having to pin everything on the board, I could just slot things into a pleat and they'd stay.  Really tall things or heavier paper needs to still be pinned, but the pleats work great for holding photos and clipped coupons. 

How about you?  Have you ever had a project that seemed like a disaster half way through but then recovered to be even better than you imagined?

p.s. can you tell I got a new camera half way through this post? I am still learning it, but wow....what a difference!  I'll work with it for a while and then tell you all about it.


14 Sep 2012

Kitchen Valance

After we hung the curtains in the dining area and the mudroom, we still desperately needed a window covering over the sink.  I had some of the vintage cars fabric left over from the curtains, so one afternoon we whipped up a quick box window valance.  I am not a fan at all of fluffy or frilly valances.  I like crisp clean lines.  If you have never made a window valance, then this is the one to start with.  

I started by measuring the window from one side to the other on the outside of the casing.  To allow for the plywood plus a little wiggle room, I then added 2 inches onto the window measurement.  Then I measured from the ceiling to where I wanted the valance to end - which was about 4 inches into the window.

Then we cut one piece of 3/4" plywood to the exact measurements that I had noted. We used our radial arm saw, but if you don't have a radial arm or table saw, you can always have the guys at your local lumber store cut it for you (The Home Depot, Totem and Rona all cut plywood if you buy it there).

Once the big piece was cut, then we cut 2 more smaller pieces for the sides.  The side pieces are the height of the valance and 4" wide. 

For this valance we used screws and the Kreg Jig to attach the sides to the front, then 1 corner bracket to add extra support.  Before we were lucky enough to have the Kreg Jig we used to just use corner brackets - usually about 3 on each side.

Once your base is assembled then you are ready to staple on the fabric.  I know some people like to add padding at this point, but I prefer just putting the fabric right on the plywood.  I like the sharp corners rather than the rounded corners that come from adding batting.

I usually just lay my fabric out on a hard surface, pull it as tight as I can and start stapling.  Since I totally love using the staple gun, I tend to go a little staple crazy.  At the corners I just fold one side over flat, staple it and then bring the other side up and staple.  

It's not the prettiest on the inside, but since you will never see that, it doesn't really matter.

Here's how the back looks when I'm done stapling.

All you have to make sure is that you pull enough fabric up the bottom so that when you look at the window from the outside, you see fabric instead of plywood.

To hang the valance on the wall, first measure your finished valance again - just to make sure nothing has changed. Then screw 2 L brackets into the wall.  If you aren't screwing into a stud, you'll need to use drywall anchors.

This is where it can get a bit tricky and will require 2 people.  Place the valance on the wall and screw into the valance side, from the inside of the valance.  Since the valance is only about 4 inches out from the wall, our drill never fits and we always have to screw the screws in by hand. By this time your arms are ready to fall off from holding the valance above your head.  Hang in there. 

Here's a shot to show you what it will look like from the inside.

And voila, a window valance in about an hour (that's if you don't have to go to the lumber store).

As you can see, ours didn't end up going quite to the ceiling.  In other rooms I love the look of it touching the ceiling, but once I put this one against the ceiling I wasn't loving it.  I think it was because of the open shelving beside it....it just needed some extra space.  Easy fix, I just moved the valance down the window a bit to leave some space at the top. 

I am loving our kitchen so much better now that the yellow half wall is gone.  I was really leery of adding more of the car fabric, but now that all of the walls are grey, the cars seems much more subdued.  

Any big plans for the weekend?  All 3 of us are in various stages of colds around here, so we are laying pretty low.  Hopefully you are doing something exciting so that I can live vicariously through you.....

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