Making Pillows to match my brand new couch!


Hope everyone is enjoying the second day back to school… only 294 days left until summer next year! I am actually looking forward to this school year. I will try to remember to share some of the stuff I am working on at school in my library!
But first, I am going to try to catch up on writing about some of the projects we worked on this summer…
Since painting the fireplace and family room, we were working on getting the rest of the room done. We got our new couch delivered, and the walls and fireplace are all painted. We are still waiting on one more piece of furniture from the states to be shipped in… can’t wait to show it to you!
So, while we were waiting, I dug up some scraps of fabric I had left over from a duvet cover I have been working on. And I found a few old pillows I bought a while ago…

I am sure I had a plan for the pillows when I bought them, but the hot pink covers just have’t fit in with any of my colour choices so far.
So, they were the perfect choice to recover. I started by tracing the outline of the pillow on a paper and then divided it into quarters, and added a little seam allowance on each side…

I found four different fabrics that I liked, and cut out eight quarters from each.


Next, I sewed all of the quarters together and pressed the seams open. I have found that pressing the seams open makes a big difference in the finished product.

Then, to make the sides of the pillows, I tightened the tension on my machine and sewed down either side of a four inch strip of fabric to gather it a little. I did enough to go around all four pillows.

A few months ago, I bought about 20 yards of cording on sale, for a really good reason that I just can’t remember right now (notice a pattern here?) anyways, boy am I glad I did, because if there is one thing I have learned about recovering uphostry, or pillows is that it always looks better with piping.
Then, I sewed one side of the pillow to the side panel, and put the piping in the middle.
Like this…


And this is what the seam looked like right side out…

Once I had sewn both sides of the pillow to the side panels, I left a few inches open, squeezed my ugly pillows inside and hand stitched the openings closed.

My sewing machine wouldn’t sew over the cording, so I had to figure out how to join the two ends without leaving them raw, because the cording unravels very easily.
So I folded over the edges of a small rectangle of fabric and glued it to the join with a glue gun. Then, I hand stitched the rest of the opening closed.


And, here is how they turned out. I love the colours, and I like the shape
They have already come in handy. They are great pillows for the kids to sit on the floor, because I won’t them eat on my new couch…lol…


About these ads

Teachers Pay Teachers!


I discovered this website a couple months ago, and it is fantastic! Teachers Pay Teachers is a website where teachers can post lessons, posters, or worksheets they have developed, and sell them. I love it because you can list something that is one or two pages and charge $1.00. In order to begin selling, you also have to post something for free, so there are tonnes of free resources too! So, I have slowly started listing stuff (I think I have 6 or 7 things listed now), and I am really excited about it! I have been teaching now for over 15 years, and I have boxes and boxes of stuff that I could list! I just have to get around to scanning all of it, and posting it.

So, I thought I would share the link, for all of you teachers out there!

Link to Artzcool’s Store on Teachers pay Teachers

Let me know what you think!


A Dry Basement?? I think so…


In every house that I have ever lived in, we have had a leaky basement. I don’t understand why this is such an issue for so many houses! Since about to weeks after we moved into this house, our basement has leaked in at least five different places…numerous times… not including when the sewer backed up. (That was a lot of fun, let me tell you)

We have tried digging up from the outside and patching the leaks, we have patched from the inside, and yes, we even hired someone to fix the leaks…. but somehow, the water keeps coming in…

Luckily, the water up until now was coming in from the unfinished part of our basement, but, when the water started coming in again this spring in came in from the finished part, so….I did what any intelligent educated woman would do… I took a hammer to the drywall! This is what the wall looked like when I was finished with it…


There was a whole lot of mould and water damage, so we decided that the framing had to go too. So, my lovely and willing assistant, no, I mean my skilled and handsome husband, ripped it out. (Thanks honey!)
Here is what one of the cracks we found looks like…yes, there was more than one, but this was the big one. You can see in the photo that someone has already tried to patch it.


So, we took a few days to look into some different products. (OK, OK, we left it a couple months, but who’s counting?) But, in the meantime, a friend told me about this product and it sounded pretty good, so we thought we would give it a try…

Is is a two part product by Sika called an Injection Repair Kit. The way it works is that you chisel out the crack, attach these tubes or nipples over the crack, parge over everything, then inject the expanding foam into the tubes.

So, out came the chisel, and we started hammering. I would also recommend some earplugs and eye protection. It was loud, and there were pieces of cement flying everywhere. But, we chipped out the crack so it was exposed and then used a wire brush to clean out the crack.

Now, I consider myself to be pretty handy, but unfortunately, I can’t hammer if my life depended upon it. It takes me about 20 hits to hammer in a nail, and I only hit the nail half the time! So, after hammering for half an hour, this is what my thumb looked like:

Don’t worry, I’m OK, once again, my incredibly coordinated husband came to the rescue and finished the job!
So, the next step was to attach the tubes, we used a glue gun to attach them to the wall. We place them about about 6-8 inches apart.

The next step was to parge around each tube, but I was a little worried that the cement would block the holes, so I stuck some paintbrushes in each hole, to keep the holes open. We also wet the wall at this point because the expandable foam only works when it comes in contact with water.

Then we used the cement that came with the kit to parge over the tubes. I just mixed a couple tablespoons at a time, because it sets really fast.

Once the cement set (the kit said to leave for 1/2 hour), we took out the brushes that were blocking the holes. The expandable foam that came with the kit works with a caulking gun. You simply insert it into each tube and squeeze until it drips out. The kit came with plugs to put in each tube to stop it from dripping.


It worked amazing! The foam even expanded to the outside of the house. When I went outside to check, the foam had expanded so much it was coming out the outside of the house.
I have to say, so far, so good. It has rained twice since we repaired the crack, and not a drop of water!
We are working up the courage to turn on the hose on the outside of the house to test how well it worked. I’ll let you know!

Making a rug out of old t-shirts

Making a rug out of old t-shirts

A couple of weeks ago, John and I did a sort of our closets, and we ended up donating a few bags of stuff to the drop box. But when I saw the lovely selection of various shades of blue t-shirts he was getting rid of, I just had to pull them from the donate pile…really I am not a hoarder, I just have a bit of a problem getting rid of old stuff that can be used to make cool new stuff.
So I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to make, but I had to justify my hoarding like tendencies to John, so I had to make something ASAP.
I thought that I would start by making the t-shirts into some yarn, and I would figure out the rest as I went along. I started by cutting the t-shirt apart right under the arm pits, and cut the bottom hem off.

Next I cut through the t-shirt from one side into strips about an inch wide. Be careful not to cut right through to the other side, stop cutting about 3 inches away from the other seam.


Now. readjust the shirt so that the uncut part is facing up and you have opened up the fold. You can put a piece of cardboard or paper in between the layers to make sure you don’t cut through.

Cut in from the side at an angle so you cut apart the first strip

Then cut the next strip parallel to the first strip…


When you get to the last strip, you will end up with an upside down Y like this…

Cut down the middle of the Y to taper off the end of your yarn…

Now, like magic, you have one big pile of yarn!

The funnest part about making t-shirt yarn is stretching the yarn. The material that t-shirts are made of is knit, so it doesn’t unravel when you cut it, but if you stretch it, it curls up. The convenient thing about the way it curls (if you happen to be cutting up t-shirts to make recycled yarn) is that it curls so the t-shirt is right side in. Why is that convenient, you ask? Because most of the stuff that is printed or written on the front of the t-shirt won’t show. Anyways, all you have to do is take a small section at a time and pull it apart, it stretches to about three times the size. It is fun to do, and the kids love helping with this part.
You can see in the photo that I have stretched the pile on the right.

So from here, you could make a whole bunch of things…..a rug, baskets, a recycled bag, stuffed animals… you could make whatever you could crochet. However, this batch of yarn ended up pretty thick, so I decided to make a rug.
I started by trying to make a rectangular rug..

But, when I ran out of tshirts, it didn’t look finished, it was a little out of proportion. This rug you see in the picture took about 7 tsirts. So, I ripped it out and made an oval design. I used a single crochet for the whole thing.
I ended up “finding” 5 extra t-shirts (sssssshhhhh, John will never know) And here is what about 12 t-shirts made:

I think after I sort out Sam’s closet, I will try to make a pink one!
Can’t wait to show everyone photos of our new family room!

Painting our fireplace!

Painting our fireplace!

I love our house. It isn’t perfect, and there have been a few surprises since we have moved in, but I think we have changed a lot so that it works for us. But, I have hated this fireplace since the first day I saw it. It is dark, ugly and outdated. I have been wanting to take a sledge hammer to it for years, just to see what it underneath it, but John has been holding me back… he said he didn’t want a huge hole in the wall until we know how to rebuild it…. can you believe him??? Anyways, last week we had someone come to take a look at it and they said it might be structural, so maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that he held me back…just don’t tell him that!
So, since we can’t tear it down, we have the option of building over, or around it, or painting it. Since neither of us has any idea how to build over it, we decided paint would be our temporary (but most likely permanent) solution.
Here is what the fireplace and our family room looked like last week:


What I should tell you is that the proper way to paint your fireplace is to use a masonry paint with primer and paint in one, but I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I just used the paint I had left over from painting the furniture. It might not have been the best decision….I’ll let you know in a couple months…. but I had 3/4 of the can left after painting all of the furniture, so I thought I would give it a shot.
It took a few hours, but luckily, I had some great helpers!

The kids had fun and tried out several brushes, and even used a toothbrush! We discovered that the brushes with the stiffer bristles worked better. The trick is to somehow get the paint into all the little cracks and holes of the brick.
I should tell you that when I first started painting, I thought I would try to make the paint transparent. So, I added a little water. Here is what it looked like:


I wasn’t crazy about the way it looked. It was hard to paint the bricks so they all looked even and in the end I decided the it looked better if the paint was opaque. So we ended up using the paint straight from the can.

What I should also tell you is that before you start, the proper way to fill any holes you might have in the bricks or mortar, is to mix up a small amount of cement, fill the holes then wait 24 hours for it to cure. But here is what I did….
Here are what the holes looked like before:

And here is my temporary (but probably permanent) solution:

Yup, that’s right, I used a tissue! I know, a little disgusting, and a little brilliant, right? I ripped off a little piece at a time, stuffed the holes…

Then painted over them. Laugh if you must, but check out the results:

Now, there was still the matter of the ugly brass doors on the fireplace. It took unscrewing four little screws and a bottle of heat proof spray paint to solve that problem!
I taped the glass with masking tape…

Then took it out to the backyard, and laid it out on a tarp. I found a heatproof spray paint and primer, and sprayed two light coats…

Here is the finished fireplace…





My only regret is why did we wait five years to do this?? You might also notice that we moved the TV and changed the wall colour too. We also spent the day yesterday painting the walls, but, that’s a story for another day :)

Refinishing a Coffee Table

Refinishing a Coffee Table

Because my husband and I are both teachers, we tend to let jobs around the house build up and we save them for the summer. We are so busy during the year, especially during May and June, that I normally have a huge list by the beginning of July! However, we started the first day of our vacation this summer with the air conditioner breaking down, so the unexpected cost of replacing the whole system has eaten into our summer plans a little. I have been trying to focus on getting little jobs done rather than taking a sledge hammer to the fireplace, or ripping out the vanity in the bathroom (which have both taken a lot of willpower to not do, on my part, by the way)

One of the jobs on my list is to look at our furniture in the house. What pieces do we need, what pieces could use some updating? I have had my eye on buying a new coffee table for a while now, but I haven’t been able to find one I liked for a price that I liked. This was the sort of look that I was going for… but the price of almost $550 didn’t really work for me.

So, when I saw this coffee table on Kijiji last week, I thought the design was perfect. The only problem was that it needed a little fixing up. As you can see in the photos below, the table top was in pretty rough shape. a lot of paint and scratches and wear. They were asking $50, but I ended up paying them $40….score!



I started by sanding the top. I used a rough grain sandpaper to start with my sander. The rough sandpaper removes most of the varnish. I tried to only sand in the direction of the grain, everything you read about sanding and staining wood always emphasizes to go with the grain.
Then, to smooth out the surface, I used a finer grade sandpaper (220 grit). I made sure that I sanded all of the varnish off. If you get a clean dry cloth and wipe it every few minutes, you can see where there is still varnish left.

To sand the table top, I sanded until I removed all of the varnish right down to the wood surface, because my plan was to stain the top. But, because I only planned to paint the bottom, I gave the bottom half a quick sanding with the mouse sander to remove the shine off the top layer, and scratch off the surface, not to go right to the wood.

Then, I started staining the top, I used a stain with a varnish built it, so no varnishing needed after… (or so I thought) It started out really well, I carefully brushed the stain on in the direction of the woodgrain. It looked pretty good, but then on the second coat, it went really downhill. It looked really uneven and the brush started wiping off all of the stain. Where my brush overlapped, the stain was too dark, and in other areas it wasn’t dark enough. Maybe I didn’t wait long enough for the first coat to dry, or maybe each coat was too thick, but to make a long story short, I ended up scraping the whole top down, re sanding, and starting again. The second time I used a rag to apply the stain so i applied it a lot thinner, and wiped all of the excess off.

As you can see, I did a quarter at a time and worked with the grain.
I did two thin coats like this, and i was really pleased with the way it looked. The only issue was that because I had applied it so thin, I thought it needed more protection. Knowing my family, I can only assume that this poor table top will be subjected to a variety of elements including dirt, water, milk, jam, cookie crumbs, sand, etc. So, I decided to add a couple coats of clear varnish. I used a satin finish varnish because I didn’t want it to be too shiny.

When I was waiting for the stain and varnish to dry, I painted the base white. I used a water based paint by Behr (my favourite brand, wouldn’t use anything else) and picked a shade called, “Cottage white” The thing I love about this paint, is that it has the primer and paint in one. It does need a couple coats, but because it is water based, it’s easy to clean up.

I let everything dry for a day, then applied another coat of varnish, and decided to antique the base to make it look more aged. Here is what the side of the table looked like before:

I dipped a small brush in the same stain I used for the top and painted all of the cracks and seams.

Then, I used a clean rag to wipe the excess stain off. I did one area at a time, and sometimes had to reapply and wipe off a couple times until I got the look I wanted, but I was really pleased with the result!

I even tried using a tooth brush to add some splatters…

But, then John came along to admire my handiwork, and pointed out a couple places where I had dripped paint….which made me rethink the visual appeal of my splattering technique, so I ended up wiping off the splatters.
I finished adding the stain to the whole table, then added the new drawer pulls. I was so pleased with the finished product!



As a matter of fact, I liked it so much, I walked around the house looking for other stuff to repaint. I found this old coffee table (I think John and I bought this cheap table when we first moved in together …15 years ago…) Here is the table before:

20140712-202153.jpg … which I sanded and refinished.. And, I started painting the headboard and bedside table from the spare room too! I’ll update with new photos when I am done… Here is the coffee table now, I just have to add the drawer pull.




Cupcake decorating party


Sam and I decided that for her birthday party, we needed a little craft or activity for the kids to do. I thought that a jewelry party would be a great idea, but Sam overruled that idea…. I missed the days when I could pick the theme, or talk them into thinking my theme was their idea :)… anyways, we both agreed that decorating cupcakes would be a fun idea. It worked really well, the kids enjoyed it and all went home with a few cupcakes too!
As with many of my cooking and baking crafts, it all started with a trip to the local Bulk Barn… We picked out a bunch of sprinkles and toppings. I also picked out some candy eyes, and lips so they could make faces, and some oreo cookie crumbs, and gummy worms so they could make dirt and worm cupcakes. Then I arranged them in plastic containers from the dollar store.

Here is the dining room table set to go. I gave each child a knife, and plate, and as you can see, we bought little boxes to use to take their cupcakes home.

I also put a couple tablespoons of icing in a sandwich bag for each child, then snipped off the corner to use as icing bags.

And filled a couple piping bags, and tubes of icing.

We were expecting about 12 girls, so I made two cake mixes, which made 24 cupcakes, or 4 for each girl.
Here are a few photos… (just of Sam…didn’t want to publish pictures of other girls without permission…)



The girls seemed really pleased with their cupcakes, and were happy to take a few home too!
Even Dylan and a couple of his friends came in (once the girls were gone) and decorated a few… Although their goal was not to create a cute looking cupcake, but rather how to pack as much icing and candies on as possible…lol
Overall, the idea worked really well, not only did it keep the kids busy, it also saved me a lot of time, not having to make and ice a cake!