July 29, 2015
it is our first year planting the garden in cedar boxes on the pool deck. Although we have a lot of space in our backyard, the pool deck is the only place where there is sun in the afternoon, and the only spot where the rabbits haven’t seem to have figured out yet….
So as you can see, most of the seeds I planted in the spring are doing really well… We will have a lot of tomatoes, cucucumbers and zucchini…
Every time I go out, we have a whole bunch of snow peas, ready to go! We have been eating them right off of the plant and steaming them, but sometimes they are a little tough or stringy. So, one of my favourite ways to eat them is in a pasta salad. Plus, we have so many visitors over the summer, I always keep a couple salads in the fridge just in case!
Start by cutting off the tops and bottoms, and getting rid of any of the stringy bits you can, then, cut them into smaller pieces, 4 or 5 pieces each. I love adding them to pasta salad because I find that even if they are a little stringy or chewy, the smaller pieces, in combination with the pasta makes it barely noticeable..
One of my favourite herbs is dill, and I am lucky that is seems to really grow well in our garden. So I picked a handful and chopped it into little pieces too… I didn’t do such a great job of taking photos, but this isn’t an incredibly complicated recipe. I cooked a couple cups of pasta, added a couple tablespoons of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice, and tossed it all together with the snow peas.
That’s it. I find that it makes the best pasta salad when you mix everything together when the pasta is still warm, and put it in the fridge to cool. But, I always taste it before serving, as it may need a little more oil and vinegar added before serving. Enjoy!
July 21, 2015
We were lucky enough to be invited up to a cottage at the end of last week, and while we were up there, I found a flyer for a truckload delivery of Georgia peaches. They had scheduled deliveries in the area where you could buy a freshly picked box of peaches right off the truck… Sounds perfect, right? I know!
Anyways, I showed up at 10:00, picked up my peaches, and the woman said to leave them at room temperature for two days, then they would be ready to eat. So that’s exactly what I did… We got home from the cottage, unpacked, and had people over Saturday and Sunday, then yesterday, I suddenly realized that I had this huge box of ripe peaches that needed to be used….immediately. Just peachy! But check them out, these were some beautiful peaches!
So I peeled, and cut up a whole bunch to freeze to make smoothies with….
I was pretty pleased with myself, until I took a closer look in the box…seriously? That barely made a dent!
And, two more batches of jam, this time peach & cherry, and peach & strawberry… (Btw…starting to get a little tired of peaches, at this point I called in for some back up…lol… Couldn’t help posting this pic on facebook)
So, inbetween all of my peach baking, and preserving, we had workers in and out of our house working on our fireplaces, and company over! But I managed to use almost the entire box without throwing out an entire peach!
Oh, I almost forgot, I also sold our diningroom set yesterday, so I am pretty committed now to finishing 8 more chairs, and a table I am picking up today…here is our diningroom now…
Can’t wait to show you the updates…
I also took some detailed pics of making the canned peaches, and peach pie, so I will post recipes soon…you know, in all my free time lol.
July 14, 2015
Hi! I can’t believe how quickly time is passing. I really meant to post about the other 5 projects I have been working on, but I dropped my iPad and couldn’t access most of my photos.. so I have some blogging to do in the next couple of weeks!
As I posted a couple weeks ago, I found a great deal on some chairs. I ended up buying 14, and I already had 2 to start, so that is 16 chairs! I have finished and sold 4, and have finished but not sold 1 more, and 3 more are pretty close to being done. So, I have 8 left that I haven’t started. I am having a really hard time trying to decide if I should keep them or continue to sell them. The issue is that they don’t fit under my dining room table, the arms are too high! So, my options are to a) refinish and sell all of the chairs and keep my current dining room set b) buy a new black table and refinish the chairs to match the hutch and buffet, which are already black….. Or…. C) buy and refinish a dining room table and paint the buffet, hutch and chairs to match. Decisions, decisions.
Anyways, I am getting pretty good at the refinishing part, so I thought I would share some tips and tricks with you that I have learned through my 8 chairs of experience! I will walk you through the upholstery part, as the sanding and painting part is just as tedious, but doesn’t require as much skill.
By the way, part of what I love about these chairs is how versatile they are… Here are three of my finished chairs lined up so you can see how different the same chair can look…
Here is a before shot of the chairs. To start the upholstery/refinishing process, I used a pair of pliers to pull out all of the trim around the seat back, arms and seat. Then, I picked out any staples that were poking out, and hammered in the ones that I couldn’t be bothered pulling. (Come on, I have to cut some time somewhere… 16 chairs!)
Here is a close up of what the arm looked like after the wood was sanded and stained…
To get the right size of fabric cut for each part, I simply laid the fabric on the chair and cut around. If you are a little more cautious than me, and you love to measure, you could lay a large sheet of paper and draw a template or pattern…. But I tend to just wing it, and it has worked ok for me so far….
So after roughly cutting out the fabric for the front and back, and seat of the chair, I started with reupholstering the back. The first few chairs I did, I pulled out all of the staples, and took apart the entire chair back, but then I figured out that you can also just tuck in the ends of the fabric into the back of the chair, and secure it by gluing trim on top.
Now for the back of the chair! I started by tacking the fabric down by adding a staple in the middle of each side, then stretching the fabric, and working my way out to the corners…After a while I could tell by the feel where I needed to staple, but I definitely pulled up the fabric and peeked every few staples to make sure I was stapling in the right place.
Then, I trimmed off all of the excess fabric. Note -I did have a few close calls while trimming, and I trimmed too much off, had to pull out staples, stretch the fabric and restaple. I would recommend frequent peeking under before you trim to make sure your staples are in the right spot…
Now for the seat! I would say the seats of these chairs were the most challenging because the armrests and seat backs intersect the seat, so you have to pull the fabric around them to cover, which is a little tricky. I started the same way as the seat back, I added a staple at the center of each side, then stretched the fabric as I staples towards the corners.
Here is how I did around the arms. I folded the fabric back and cut a Y shape like this….
The last part of stapling was around the corners of the seat. The trick is to keep pulling and working your way out to the very corner…In this particular chair, the front corner had a bit of a tricky angle that I had to be careful of when stapling…
As you can see, I had to be careful where each staple went. This would be a pretty obvious boo boo, on the front center of the chair, so once again, I peeked under the fabric often and stapled carefully. Once all of my staples were in, then I trimmed all of the the excess fabric off.
So I still have the trim left to glue on, but no time to glue it and write about it now, so I’ll have to post later. Also, I will post pics of my next few chairs….. or my dining room makeover… haven’t decided yet!
July 5, 2015
We are now on summer holidays! Yahoo! So, now I am going down my list of things to do and trying to get some jobs done as well as clear some clutter from around the house. I have been busy posting a whole bunch of things on Kijiji, and facebook.
And, I will admit, I have also bought a few things too… For some reason one day I mentioned to my friend that I wanted a swing for the backyard, and she sent me an email for this chair on kijiji… I absolutely love the design… But wasn’t sure about the colours…but I bought it anyways, because it was a great price, and…. paint exists for a reason, right?
A couple years ago, I bought this old wicker set from our neighbours and refinished it…. Here is what it looked like when I bought it…
And here is part of the set finished…
There is actually 6 chairs, a love seat, and two tables. So, after refinishing that whole set, I feel pretty confident in my ability to refinish wicker, and…I still had some leftover fabric and spray paint. So I thought, why not make them matching?
I started by giving the swing a very quick sanding, with a very fine sandpaper, just to scratch off the shiny surface. Then I used a spray primer as a first coat. I really like the Rustoleum brand. Here is a pic…
Btw, the frame made it so easy to spray paint, I could do all sides at once!
I let it dry for a couple hours, then sprayed it with the actual colour. It took two light coats to cover up all of the primer. I did also spray all of the edges with a bit of clear varnish. I have found that with the other set, the paint does tend to chip off in places where it is frequently bumped. But, I just get out my spraypaint and touch it up a couple times a season.
I forgot to take pictures of the making of the cushions, but I just laid out the cushions on the leftover fabric and cut out a square and circle, sewed around three sides, put them on, and hand stitched them closed…
Here is what the swing looks like finished. Big improvement, I think!
It looks great with our new fire table! Time to start roasting some marshmallows!
Btw, forgot to wish everyone a belated Happy Canada Day from July 1st, Go Canada!
June 21, 2015
So, I have to confess that I have a bit of a fixation with searching the for sale ads on Kijij and Facebook. You never know what you are going to find! But, if you don’t obsessively check, you might miss something good! I have also been selling a whole bunch of stuff that I have been meaning to bring to the donation box… I think sometimes I forget that the stuff that we don’t need or use anymore still has value. I guess it works in reverse too… Someone else’s trash is my treasure!
Anyways, back to my story… A couple weeks ago, I found this pair of chairs on Kijiji for a great price… A great treasure!
They had a few dents and scratches, but the price was right, so I bought them to refinish them. I had been looking for a couple chairs for a homework desk I want to build for the kids in the family room (sorry, you will have to wait for the tutorial for that one) and I thought these would match the chairs we already had.
Step one is to remove the trim. I learned that these chairs have been recovered before, and the trim was glued on with a glue gun, but it came off fairly easily…
Tht fabric ripped a little as I was pulling the trim off, which revealed the second layer of fabric… Here are some of the essential tools. Soon after I started, I also added a more sturdy pair of needle nosed pliers, and a thin flat head screwdriver.
I forgot to take a picture of the back of the chair as I was ripping it apart, but below is a photo of another chair, so you get the idea. What I didn’t realize before I pulled these chairs apart was that there is no actual wood or back to the chair…there are two layers of fabric, and a layer of foam stapled to the frame.
So, as I mentioned before…so….many…staples…as I was trying to pry them out, the fabric was just ripping apart. So I spent a couple hours pulling out staples (and my wonderful husband stepped in to do a bit of pulling too…) my hands were aching by the end of the day! Lol Just to emphasize my point, here are some of the staples from one of the chairs…yup, there were lots!
The next step was to sand down the chairs. I have learned that you don’t have to sand the chairs right down to the wood anymore. The paint and primer is so good these days that you just need to sand the top shiny layer of varnish off. I used my mouse sander, which is perfect for jobs like chairs. And, as you can see in the photos, I moved outside in the backyard for the sanding.
After the chairs had totally dried, I painted them with two thin coats of behr exterior paint and primer.
I should also mention here that I really over estimated the amount of fabric each chair would take. I fought two meters of fabric, but it only took about a meter to cover both chairs. But, as you can see, I picked a black and white fabric with a black trim.
I started with the back of the chair by stapling on layer of the fabric around the perimeter. I also tried to center the design in the middle.
Then, as you can see in the photo below, I added the foam layer in the middle, then stapled th top layer of fabric over top. As you can see, I started by stapling the sides, then I stapled the top and bottom. Then, as I pulled the fabric tighter, I stapled the rest of the fabric around the perimeter. This part was a little tricky because I realized halfway through that only half of my staples were actually stapled into the wood, the rest went through the fabric. So, I had to pull and restaple a whole bunch of staples….because I hadn’t pulled enough staples already!
Because the trim is black, I had to be very careful with the glue because if you put too much hot glue, it would not only burn your fingers (which I am totally used to) but it also shows… Which didn’t look so good. So I had to be careful.
Here is my tip of the day…. If you do end up with hot glue in places that you don’t want it, or you have a lot of strings left by the hot glue, use a hairdryer. The hair dryer will soften the glue and you can roll off the extra glue when it is soft.
After all of the excess glue was removed with the hair dryer, I touched up a few places of the paint. But, I was really pleased with the finished product.
Oh, did I already mention that I have already bought 10 more chairs to recover? Yes, I am being serious, I already have started sanding! I ended up selling the above chairs for a price that I was happy with. I decided That I wanted chairs with arms.
I can’t wait to show you the after pictures of these babies! I’m also working on some time saving techniques…I’ll keep you posted!
June 4, 2015
Dylan has been sick for the last week with stomach cramps, and after several trips to the doctors, X-rays, and ultra sounds, we never found out what was causing the pain. But, the good news is that the pain has slowly gone away on its own and he is feeling much better. What we did learn, is that now that he has turned 12, he should now be taking adult Tylenol, and Advil. Sounds great, but the issue was that all children’s medications are in liquid form or chewable. He has never actually needed to swallow a pill before.
We went through the same thig a couple months ago after Sam had to take anibiotics in pill form, and let’s just say there was a bit of a learning curve. So, I thought I would share how we did it.
We started with some tic tacs, rockets candy, and some apple sauce, and apple juice. We started with candy because we learned the hard way with Samantha that learning with real pills isn’t as easy. The pills taste horrible, and much of the pills end up being wasted. The kids were also far more open to swallowing candy! Whatever works, right?
We started by placing a small piece of candy at a time into a spoonful of apple sauce. The trick is to have them move the candy to the back of their tongue, then swallow. Then wash it down with a gulp of juice.
Once we had that mastered, we tried a real pill. It took about ten minutes, and he was good to go!
The apple sauce worked really well. Yogurt or pudding would also do the trick. It kept the pill or candy in place and made it much easier to swallow. Our next step is to progress to getting rid of the apple sauce and just swallowing the pills with juice or water.
Anyone else have any tricks that work with kids?
May 20, 2015
I normally don’t write about many of my projects I do at work, but occasionally there are ideas that I just have to share! At school, I have been working with a group of students our Me to We club, which supports the Free the Children Foundation. Our current project is weaving milk bags to make mattresses to send to Haiti, or Nepal. So, we have been saving milk bags for the last couple of months at school, and we finally have enough bags collected to start. The milk bag mattresses do not break down, they are mould resistant, and it turns out, they are pretty comfortable too!
I found instructions to make the looms online from the Town of Markham Here is the link, if you need additional instructions:
milk bag loom instructions
To get the materials for the looms, I went to Home Depot, picked up some 2×2 pressure treated pine, some 1 1/2 inch #6 screws, and some corner brackets.
I had them cut the wood into two 22″ pieces and two 24″ pieces for each loom.
Then I had the kids measure and mark where the screws for the actual weaving would go, and because we wanted them to participate in making the looms, we had them screw them in by hand. But, if you are going for speed, power tools would speed up the process.
So that’s the frame or loom. Now for the fun part… The weaving!
But before you actually start to weave, you have to cut the milk bags into loops. I found that you can cut 5-10 bags at a time. Start by flattening the bags to get rid of wrinkles, and stacking them on top of each other. Then, cut of the top and bottom, and cut the bags in half.
To start the weaving, you need to link two loops together. To easily link two loops together, hang one loop around each wrist, and reach through the loops and grasp the other loops with each hand. It’s hard to explain, but my beautiful daughter is going to demonstrate….
Then, pull! Here is what should happen:
Then, to start the actual weaving, you loop each end around each screw on your loom. Like this:
Sam and I tried to colour coordinate our milk bags…we started one loom with pinks and reds, and one with blues and whites. But it turned out that by the time you did the weaving, the colour choices were not as evident as you might expect. So, even with our hopes of colour coordination trashed, (get my pun there? Lol) we continued on and started weaving.
Weaving is as simple as over, under, over, under, over, under, repeated about 5000 times per mat. The trick is to try not to pull too tight, so the mat doesn’t become hour glass shaped. We did pack the rows together pretty tightly, this makes the mats a lot more sturdy, and I am sure more comfortable too.
Btw, we just kept looping on a couple loops at a time as we wove, rather than making a long “string”…made the weaving much easier, and we didn’t have to pull the long string through every row…
Then, once you have woven all the way up to the top, you remove it from the loom by simply starting from the corner, then putting the loops inside each other, and moving to the next loop. Once we got to the corners, we tied the last two loops in a double knot…
I have to admit, my obsessive compulsive side is difficult to control sometimes, so I did spend some time sorting the bags into colour piles, so we would make different coloured mats… I know, I have way too much time on my hands…
The good news is that you only need eight mats to make a sleeping mat! And… It only takes about 500 milk bags! Sounds pretty crazy, but when you work in a school with 500 kids, collecting the milk bags goes pretty fast, and the weaving goes a lot quicker with 20 kids helping too! I haven’t actually done it yet, but you sew the mats together with a few loops of plastic bags. Here is our first mat, ready to sew together….
Our goal is to make at least three full mats… I will update and post a photo when we are finished…
April 26, 2015
At my work right now, there are at least 6 women who are pregnant, which doesn’t sound like much, but out of a staff of 40, it is a considerable number! Plus two of my kids teachers are pregnant. So, I have been crocheting a lot, and making these cool baby photo props!
The ideA of these photo props is that you take a photo with each card, at each milestone of the baby’s first year. This serves as a fantastic record to remember how much your baby has changed each month. Also, if you put them together into a frame or collage, this would make a great gift, or keepsake!
I began by using Microsoft publisher to design each card. I made them 4″ by 6″ each. Then, once I had the design the way I liked, I took them to be printed at staples. I figured it would probably be cheaper to pay 39 cents a copy, than to pay for toner! After I printed them all out, I cut around each card, leaving about a millimetre of white showing.
Once I had them all cut out, I used my portable laminator to laminate them in plastic. I bought this laminator a few years ago at Walmart, and it has been worth every penny!
You just have to buy the laminating pouches to go along with it. Which is why I made all of the cards 4 by 6, because the pouches come in that size, so no more cutting.
So it is just a matter of putting each card inside a pouch…
And waiting for them to go through. I tried to get a helper, but the kids were not biting. This isn’t the fastest moving laminator! I have hand drawn these before for friends, and covered them with clear shelving paper, but with so many pregnant women around, I figured I might need to speed up production a little!
So, I made cards that say, one day old, one week old, one month old, two months old…. All the way to a year old. Fourteen cards in total.
Here is a random copyright free baby I found to give you a visual…
And, speaking of mass production, I am so excited that I have finally set up an account on Etsy! Etsy is like eBay but for crafts only, it’s pretty amazing! I have listed an extra set of cards I made for $15.00. And I also added a few crocheted blankets I have made in the last few weeks. So if you are looking for a baby or shower gift, check out my Etsy store!
Here is the link!
If you have never been on Etsy before, I apologize, it is just as addictive as Pinterest, but unlike pinterest, if you see an idea you love, you don’t have to make it yourself, you can just buy it! Once again, my apologies!
Anyways, have a great rest of the weekend, I am going to go for a walk, or sit outside in the sun with a book!
April 19, 2015
Whenever the kids go over to friends houses, I always like to send a snack for them to share. Sometimes it’s a bag of chips, and sometimes it’s something that we have made. Depends on the kind of day we are having….
This morning before Sam went to a friends house, I decided to bake some cupcakes. But, somehow inbetween showering, giving John a haircut and making lunch, I left it to less than an hour before she was supposed to be there. So, I decided to try this idea of melting a marshmallow on top of the cupcake as the icing. I have seen it online and on Pinterest, so I thought I would try it.
Here is another link with instructions Melted marshmallow icing
So, I made a regular batch of cupcakes, using my favourite family recipe. (A couple eggs, 1/4 cup of oil, some water and a box of Duncan Heinz!) I put them in the oven, and about 4-5 minutes before the cupcakes were finished baking, I took them out of the oven and put a marshmallow on top of each one. I actually only did half of the cupcakes, just in case this didnt’ work! No time to make another batch…
Here is what they looked like after a couple minutes….
A few of them started to topple over, so I used a wooden spatula to flatten and straighten them as they started to fall…
And here is what they looked like fully melted, after about 4 1/2 minutes.
As you can see,me tried to add some sprinkles, but the marshmallows had a crispy coating, so the sprinkles rolled right off :(
But, they were really yummy. Gooey and stringy even when cooled! Not the prettiest cupcakes I have ever made, especially without the sprinkles, but as a timesaver when you are running late, I would do them again. I didn’t hear anyone complaining!
April 13, 2015
I tend to go on tangents sometimes. When I find a good idea, either creative, time saving, or yummy, I tend to run with it for a while. If you are a creative type person, you’ll understand, but if you are like my husband John, you might not get it… So my current tangent of home made granola started after I was given this recipe from a friend at work….Thanks Linda!
I know she gave me a recipe, but I have made it a little differently each time since. But, the basic idea is the same. I used a variety of nuts and grains, about 1/2 cup each, of things like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, coconut, flax seeds. Then I have tried adding dried fruits such as apricots, blueberries, cranberries, apple slices, and raisins. Oh, and don’t forget a couple of cups of oatmeal, brown sugar, and coconut oil.
Start with about a cup of organic coconut oil.
I popped it in the microwave for a few seconds until it melted.
Then I mixed everything together with about a cup and a half of brown sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. It should sort of clump together once mixed well. I also tried the agave nectar, and maple syrup to sweeten it, but I think I like the brown sugar the best.
After it is mixed well, spread it out on a cookie sheet. And pop it into a 325 degree oven. Here is what it looks like before…
And here is what it looks like golden brown, after 15 minutes in the oven. I baked my first batch at 350 degrees, but I found that it cooked much more evenly at 325 degrees. This might be because my oven is generally a little too hot, I always find my oven cooks better a few degrees cooler than the recipe says.
Another thing I learned was that if you are adding dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries, they do not need to cook the whole time. In my first batch, after the dried fruit cooled, they were a little too chewy for my taste. So, I tried mixing the nuts, grains, brown sugar and coconut oil, baked for about 10 minutes, until it started to brown….
Then I mixed in the dried fruit for the last 10 minutes or so.
It is delicious! We have been eating it by the handful as a snack, with milk as a cereal, and as a topping for yogurt.
Now, I have to figure out what to do with the huge box of packaged granola John bought at Costco, because now that I have tried this, I don’t think I can eat the packaged kind any more!