Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Side Yard

Behold the disaster zone...

Our side flower bed had been neglected all summer - and by neglected I mean 4' thorny trees weeds had overtaken it.  So this past weekend (while we were getting carpet replaced - pics to come!), I got up close and personal with those weeds.  The short version is this: we cleared them out, dug out the black edging tube, realigned a few bushes and laid the weed block fabric.  (Read: lots of work, sweat, and sore muscles.)  We decided it would look good to have a row of stones along the wall, and cover the rest with mulch.  I'm so proud of how it looks now!  And also happy that it's relatively low-maintenance...  Every time we pull into the driveway, I sneak around to admire it.  Here's the after!

Friday, July 4, 2014

DIY Vintage-style Art

On our recent trip to London, I spotted a tea towel for $15.  Maybe expensive for a tea towel, but not for a piece of art!  I loved the graphic design and the colours.  Recently I've been loving vintage maps and art, especially the ones with wood frames like this one:

When I saw this tea towel, I had the idea to DIY my own version of a wall hanging.  So we bought a piece of wood dowel (I'm pretty sure it was 1/2" - but you could use whatever thickness you want), brought it home and used some leftover stain on it.  Then I literally krazy glued the tea towel to it.  I left a bit of overhang on each end.

Now it's hanging in that empty spot at the coffee/tea station!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dining Chairs - A Makeover

Let's talk about this dining set.  We bought it off Kijiji for $150 - a steal for a midcentury solid wood set, including 2 leaves and 6 chairs.  What drew me to it was the upholstery.  Not the pattern or style, but the fact that it would be easy to recover and didn't require any sewing (what else?)  It sat in our house looking like this for more than a year...

Just waiting for the spring to roll around... so finally on the long weekend in May I tackled it.  I had already purchased the fabric for the chairs - it was actually 3 grey black-out curtain panels from Target!  They were $35 per panel - so in the end I'm sure I saved $$ instead of buying it by the yard, especially given the quality of the fabric.  (The curtains are nice and thick, perfect for upholstery)

All I had to was clip out the hem...

Here's a few more befores... The old fabric was in decent shape.  I didn't take off the old fabric, for a number of reasons.  1. There were probably a million staples holding it perfectly in place.  2.  I had no idea what I would find underneath, or just how that fabric was holding the cushions/wood together.  3. They didn't smell funky, and I wasn't worried about the pattern showing through.

Getting the cushions off was somewhat of an ordeal.  The bottoms ones were easy - just turn over the chair and take out 2 screws and it popped out.  The top ones...I had to dig out the wood plugs before I could even get to the screws - 4 per chair.  Let's just say they were glued in nice and tight.  I had to drill them out.  But once they were removed, getting the cushion out was easy.

I took out all the cushions, then roughed up the frames with sandpaper before painting.  We have a handy dandy spray gun - you fill the canister, thin out the paint with water, plug it in and then spray.  Easy in theory, of course :)  I don't have any photos of the painting process, mainly out of spite since it was so frustrating I had no energy/desire to record it.  Basically in the end I think I was using the wrong kind of paint.  I set out the chairs, sprayed the paint on, came back an hour later and it was crackling in a bunch of places.  Thankfully I ran out of that paint so I switched to Behr exterior, all surface paint and primer, extra durable.  Worked like a charm.  Amazing how a little change can make you fall in love with a project all over again...

Anyway, while they were drying I covered the bottoms with the new fabric.  Be prepared to use ALOT of staples.  I laid out the fabric, then turned the seat upside down on it.  Cut out an approximate shape :)  Start by stapling the centres, then work your way to the corners.  Staple evenly around the whole seat, pulling taut as you go.

The top cushions were very similar, they just took a lot more time to staple, since I was stapling into the edge and had to trim as I went.  All the staples are hidden by the wood frame, so it's quite forgiving - but I still took my time.

A whole long weekend, and a sore wrist later - it's done!  These pics show the chairs without the new wood plugs, which have recently been done as well.

Up next we'd like to change the table... perhaps just staining a bit darker...

Here's the before and after once again:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fabric Crib Rails

Recently my cousin-in-law Becky asked me if I had time for a sewing project - her almost 1 year old son had been chewing the paint off the rails of his crib and she needed a solution.  She had done some research on crib rail guards and saw some fabric ones that she really liked.  She could order them online, but they would end up being too pricey.  I thought it seemed simple enough to make them, and for once I was right!  I turned out these 3 in a couple of hours.  

All you need is fabric, quilt batting, ribbon/binding, and some of course some thread.  The fabric Becky liked was $15/yard, so we saved some money by using a basic solid on the underside.  

First measure the length and width of fabric you need.  Our longest piece was just over 50", and the width was 12".   Add some extra for seam allowance (I added 1" all the way around).  Cut out a rectangle in those dimensions - you should have 3 pieces, the top fabric, the quilt batting, and the bottom fabric.

I used a seam binding in the same colour for the ties (I sewed them shut before I cut them).  You need 4 ties for each crib guard, and you just need to make sure they are long enough to tie around the rails (Ours were 5" long).

Lay down the bottom fabric (right side up), then lay the top fabric on it (right side down).  Sandwich your tie in between, lining it up along the edge.  Repeat on the other edge of the fabric.  Then repeat at the other end of the crib guard.  Then put the quilt batting on the very top.

Here you can faintly see through the fabric where the ties are positioned, one on each side.

Here you can see the pieces as a sandwich after I have sewed all the way around the outside edge, leaving one end open.  It should look like a pillow case.  Turn it right side out!

Here are 2 of the short pieces already turned inside out.  Now you just need to hem the open end - turn the edges inside by 1/2" and pin.  Sew the edges shut and you're done!

All done!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let's talk about hair...

I haven't coloured my hair since high school.  For a number of reasons, perhaps the largest being (as we've established) I'm CHEAP.  And anyone who keeps up with colouring their hair knows that it's not a cheap commitment.  Another big reason is that I enjoy being au naturel - it's more and more of a rarity.  Plus I don't have any grey yet, so I'm holding out...  The other big reason is that my high school experience wasn't great.  This pic is floating around Facebook as a reminder...

Oh, high school.  It's not awful, I know.  But not "me".  My hair already has natural highlights, especially in the summer...

But the trend lately is appealing to me.  I'm loving the way these highlights are done - subtle, not "streaks", and more ombre style.  I'm seriously considering giving it a go.  Because, really, these styles answer all of my above reasons (I think!).  Low maintenance - I can let it grow out if I want and not have crazy roots to deal with/pay to keep covering up.  Looks very subtle/natural.  And not over bleached blonde streaks :)  Who knows, I might just make the plunge...

Click here for my Pinterest board with all the photo sources.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Here's a little peek at our trip to London!


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