Our new Slab table!!

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After we finished our family room renovation, I have been looking and looking for a table. I had my heart set on a really thick, slab table. But, my budget wasn’t really wanting to spend the thousands they are selling for!

Here are some examples of some slab tables I have been looking at…

Of course, my favourite ones are the ones over $10,000.

But… this is what I bought!

So, as you can see, I didn’t actually buy a table… I found a guy on Kijiji that hand picks wood from South America, and then ships it back to Canada. He sold me this unfinished slab for about 1/4 the price of the ones I had been looking at! But… the catch was, it was just a hunk of unfinished wood. Lol

So, we started by sanding it down. I started with about an 80grit sandpaper. I used my rotary sander. Sorry, didn’t take a picture. The man who sold us the table was kind enough to come over and give us a hand with the sanding, and I didn’t want to freak him out by taking pictures. Trust me, sanding is not that exciting…

I really love the natural imperfections of the wood, like the worm holes. The table is also 3 inches thick, which makes a huge difference to the feel and quality of the table. The first step was to do a coat of wood conditioner. I have never used this before, but it did seem to bring the grain of the wood out…

Then, I let it dry for a day. It probably didn’t need to dry for that long, but this March/April when I did it, the weather was not exactly cooperative. We had to wait u TIL it was above freezing for a few days in a row before we could start.

So, when it finally got warm enough, I started with the first coat of varnish. I used a satin finish varathane. It was so exciting putting the first coat on… ok, maybe exciting is a bit of a stretch, but it was really cool to see the wood grain coming out.

I forgot to mention that I did the underside first. I did two coats of varnish to the bottom, but didn’t bother to sand in between. But when the underside was dry, we flipped it over and I started on the top.

I was a lot more careful with the top. I used a rag to apply the varnish, then wiped off all of the excess varnish immediately. In between each coat, once the varnish was totally dry, I sanded with 400 grit sandpaper, then wiped down with a clean cloth.

While I was waiting for varnish to dry, I spray painted the table legs. I decided to go with a hammered dark finish. I wanted the focus to be on the table top, so I picked a colour close to the colour of our wood floors so it would blend in.

Just a warning, as usual, painting, staining and varnishing are not good for keeping your manicure looking nice…

I ended up either putting 6 or 7 coats of varnish, and sanded between every coat. Honestly, I think it was 7, but the whole process took about a week, so who knows! We set up in the garage, because the varnish does smell quite a bit when it’s wet.

Anyways, we moved the table inside, covered the floor in a blanket and flipped it upside down to attach the legs.

I had to add washers because the holes were too big. And, I added plastic floor protectors to the bottom. The only tricky part was figuring out how far apart to put the legs. I ended up measuring so the two chairs would easily fit between the legs.

So, drumroll please…. here is the finished table! The great news is that I love it… the not so great news is that I decided I didn’t really love the old kitchen chairs anymore!

The good news is that I found some new chairs for a great price on Kijiji….

But, then (more bad news) I decided I didn’t love them as much as I thought.

But good news again, I sold them, and found some even better ones!

Sorry, to put you through the emotional rollercoaster of my chairs dilemma, but the great news is that in the end, everything worked out great! I love the table, love my new chairs, and ended up saving quite a bit of money for my time!

I’m really looking forward to the summer…I’ll have lots of extra time soon! Only 13 more days of school left!

I’ll share what I’ve been working on soon, I somehow became in charge of all the props and costumes for our school musical… want to know how to make a swan costume out of old tshirts, or make seven dwarves costumes out of sweatshirts? Then I’m your woman!

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Twice baked potatoes

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These are one of our favourites, but I don’t make them that often, not because they are difficult, but because they take a lot of time in the oven… they require advance planning. But, they are fantastic to prepare ahead of time, so you just have to pop in the oven.

Here is a pic of the finished product…

To make twice baked potatoes, you will need… as many potatoes as you want to make, cooked bacon, butter, salt, and cheddar, mozzarella or marble cheese. Adding a herb such as dill is yummy too, but optional.

I started by baking the potatoes in the oven at about 400 degrees, for 45 minute or so.

Then, once they are cool enough to touch, cut them in half, and let them cool off for a little bit.Then, scoop out the insides, leaving a little bit of the potato in the skin to hold its shape.

Then with all of the potato you scooped out, roughly mush it with a fork.Then, add some butter, bacon, and the cheese. There is not really a right amount to add here. Obviously, the more cheese and bacon you add, the better it will be though!!

I decided at the last minute to throw in some dill I had in the freezer from my garden last summer…The next step is to scoop in back into the potato skins. You also might want to use your fingers or a spoon to pat each one down, to help it stay together. Then, I sprinkled some cheese on top of each one. If I wanted to be really fancy, I could add a sprig of dill too…Finally, I popped them back in the oven for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. If they are not brown enough by the time they have heated up, you could pop them under the broiler for a few minutes.

We ate them with sour cream. They were a big hit… no leftovers to put away, which is always a bonus!

Enjoy!

Home made Canadian Maple syrup

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Home made Canadian Maple syrup

I am very proud to be Canadian. I am proud of our country and people, and I am proud of what we are known for… you know, stuff like Mounties, moose, beavers and maple syrup….

So, to keep those stereotypes alive, I decided that I should learn how to make my own maple syrup, like a good Canadian! I tried once before a couple years ago, (I think I might have blogged about it too) and since I bought all the maple syrup-ing gear and high tech equipment, I might as well put it to good use. Btw, the gear I am referring to is a bucket, a tap and a plastic tube.

The photo above is the tree on our front lawn. Since all of my neighbours think I am a little crazy anyways, there’s no need to hide my syrup making operation from anyone. 🙂

Here’s the process. Drill a hole in the tree, about three feet up, close to two inches deep. I used a 7/16 drill bit.

You basically keep drilling until the sawdust starts to get wet and mushy. When you remove the drill bit, if the sap starts dripping, it’s ready to put a tap in it. You can kind of see in the photo below.

Btw, the white stringy stuff you can see isn’t mold, it’s actually just spiderwebs left over from last years Halloween decorations…

You know you have drilled to the right depth when the sap starts running down the bark of the tree. When that happens, use a hammer to gently tap the spigot or tap in.

Then, connect the hose to the tap, and make sure the other end is going right into the bucket. You should be able to see it running.

I found that the most sap is collected late morning to the afternoon. Overnight, the sap slows down a little, I guess because it gets below freezing most nights.

Here are the first few drops. It looks like it is going to take weeks and weeks, but it is surprising how quickly it accumulates!

I also tapped the maple tree in our backyard. Every day, I would say I collected anywhere between 10-15 cups of sap. Every night, I put the sap in a saucepan and let it simmer until it was about 50% of its volume, then I cooled it and stored it in the fridge until the end of the week, when I made the syrup.

Now for the exciting part…. watching a pot boil for hours and hours! There is absolutely nothing difficult about making maple syrup. It does not require any skill, talent or knowledge… just a lot of time.

I started with about half a saucepan, let it boil, and kept adding more sap as it boiled down. You must have an exhaust fan running, because this generates a lot of moisture in your house!

I have no idea if there is a more scientific way to tell, but I figured my maple syrup was done when it is the thickness of maple syrup. It turned out a lovely amber colour. It’s amazing how sweet it is!

So, I’m not sure exactly how much sap I started with, but I read online that it has to reduce 40 times to make syrup! So make sure you scrape every drop of that syrup out of the pot!

Not sure if I’m going to do it again, when I add up the cost, including electricity, it’s probably ten times what it costs to buy. However the cost of saying you made you own maple syrup….priceless!

New lining for my new Louis Vuitton Purse!!

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New lining for my new Louis Vuitton Purse!!

I haven’t been keeping up with writing lately, but I’m going to make more of an effort, I promise. I am still so impressed at how many people are still reading my blog every month. Also, my camera roll is full of pictures I keep taking of projects, and can’t yet erase because I haven’t written about them yet! So, I’m going to start by sharing my latest sewing project.

I have always wanted a Louis Vuitton purse, but unfortunately, the $2000 and up price tag was a little too much… it’s hard to justify spending what could be a family vacation on a purse! Besides, if John ever found out I spent thousands on a purse, a divorce would be even more expensive!! Ha ha ha…

I frequently see Vuitton purses being sold, but always for more than I ever wanted to pay for a purse. Soooo, one night on eBay, I came across a pretty amazing discovery. The Louis Vuitton bucket purses have a pretty huge design flaw… the lining deteriorates, peels, and gets all sticky! Which is pretty weird for a purse that costs thousands! Anyways, one night I stayed up watching a couple of the online auctions, and I bought a purse for $75US!! (Ok… $75 plus $30 shipping, but still!) Here is the listing

As you can see in the photos above and below, the outside of the purse is in amazing condition, below, the lining is in pretty bad condition. It was actually pretty gross.

I read some blogs online and watched a few videos saying you can use baby powder to reduce the stickiness, or you can actually scrub the sticky parts off… I tried both and made a really gross mess. I even tried a magic eraser.

It did remove some of the sticky film, but there was still way too much to remove. It was messy, gross, and really didn’t work. So, I gave up and I cut out the lining and trimmed around the leather details on the pockets and the tag with the serial number. I cut about an inch down from the rim of the purse, leaving a but of the old lining around the top edge, and trimmed as close as I could to the leather parts.

Then I roughly cut out the pieces needed for the lining and pockets. I ended up using a beige ultra suede fabric… it is actually leftover fabric from when I reupholstered our dining room chairs lol.

I started with sewing the pockets. I cut a slit where I wanted the pocket to be, cutting it about 1/2 inch shorter than the opening. Then, I cut a Y on either end, extending to the width of the opening. If you want to watch some YouTube videos with clearer instructions, it is called a welt pocket.

Then I pinned the lining of the pocket to the opening and wrapped the pocket around the lining to pin the other side. I sewed both sides. Sorry, it’s really hard to explain. I hope the pictures explain better!

The next step was to flip it inside out. The picture below shows what the pocket looked like from the right side.

Then, I played around with it so that the pocket laid flat, and I was happy with the size and shape. To hold the corners in place, I folded the fabric and pinned, then sewed the corners down. Once again, the pictures hopefully will make it easier to understand.

I repeated this for both pockets on either side of the purse. I have to admit that my second pocket worked out a whole lot better than the first pocket. The good part about that was that I put the zippered pocket on top of the pocket that I wasn’t as happy with! Lol.

Here’s the part that wasn’t so much fun…Hand stitching the leather details back on. I made the decision to keep the original yellow stitching because I thought it would look more authentic… plus I didn’t have any really thick yellow thread! So I pinned it in place and stitched in every other hole…I really should have taken a pic to show my fingertips after sewing this… next time I will use a thimble!

So I took the picture above from really close, but my stitching is not that noticeable.

Once the pockets were in, I sewed the side seams together, and pinned and sewed the bottom.

I left a little gap in the seam for the tag and number, and hand sewed it in. Then, I flipped it inside out, folded over the edge, and hand stitched it to the little bit of lining I left in the purse using a blind stitch. I didn’t want to have to replace or sew the leather on the rim of the purse. By that time, I had enough of sewing leather! I didn’t take a picture of how much of the original lining I left in, but you can see a little in the below photo.

So, here are a few pictures of the final purse…

I am so thrilled with the result! It took a lot of time, but well worth it! I’ve got a lot of comments already! Hope I didn’t make it seem too easy… I don’t want too much competition on any future ebay auctions! I’ll be honest here too… I already ordered another one.

Stair repairs! 

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After our renovations, when I took a close look a look at our stairs, I could see why they never looked clean, even after I vacuumed. Here is what our stairs looked like during the renovation….all of our pictures were down, and the upstairs railing has been removed, but you can see the old spindles and chandelier. And, you can see where our contractor taped down the paper, and where the paper was not covering….

Here is what the hallway looked like during the renovation…

And here is a pic of after all of the pictures were hung back up and everything was put back together.

And But, when you looked closely, you could see exactly where our contractor had covered the stairs, and which part had been uncovered. We also had our popcorn ceiling in the hallway removed, and the ceiling painted, so there was a lot of splatter everywhere. I tried to scrape and wash it off, but it still looked pretty bad. I didn’t want to scrape off the stain. Here is a close up of a couple stairs…

So, I broke out my furniture touch up pen. And I literally sat on the stairs, and the dots that I couldn’t scratch off, I just touched with the pen. I sat there and added a dot of marker on top of almost every dot of splatter. 

It took a while, but here is what the same stain looked like after touching up. I don’t have the right camera, but trust me it looks a lot better now. 

And the whole stairway now…

I almost forgot my favourite addition…. I bought these little metal mice made by a Canadian artist on Main Street…

It made a big difference to the overall look of the stairs. Now they actually look clean. 🙂 

How to change a doorknob

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How to change a doorknob

I’ve been meaning to do this since we moved in, because I disliked our brass doorknobs from day one. Our house was built in the late 1970’s, and I’m sure these brass doorknobs were stylish then, but not only were they outdated in terms of style, but they also were coated with a wide variety of paint accumulated over the years. 


So door handles are pretty easy to find, at Home Depot  and most building stores. You can buy locking or nonlocking handles, and they also come in builders pack, of four handles. I opted for the brushed silver option. 

I will say that there is a bit of a learning curve to this, which is why I though I would share. My first attempt ended up me locking myself in a bedroom and I had to call John to get a screwdriver to pry the door open. Lol. 

Anyways, start by taking the knob off by sticking a screwdriver in the little tab to release the knob. It is usually found on the back of the door handle. 

You can see the little tab under my finger. 

Then, there should be another little slot to pop off the faceplace thing with a screwdriver (this step took me ages to figure out btw) you can see the lovely accumulation of paint on this doorknob… this is one of the better ones. 

Then once you have the plate off, you unscrew the two screws.

And then pull on the front and back to take the whole assembly apart.

Then, you are left with the middle part, which may, or may not, pull out easily. I had to use pliers on a couple doors.

Be careful to look inside, because a few of our doors also had this metal cylinder inside. You can’t fit the new lock inside if you don’t remove this. 

I’m not exactly sure why, but I had to chisel out a few of our doors because the next part didn’t fit into the existing door. Luckily I have my grandfathers chisel to use 🙂 

So, trace around the piece (sorry, have no idea what it’s called) with a pencil, and use the hammer and chisel to remove some of the wood. Tip: chisel around the edges first, so the wood doesn’t splinter. 



Keep trying the piece, the goal is for it to sit flush with the doorframe. If it is sticking out, the door won’t close properly. 

Next, try putting the front and back of the doorknob on to see if everything fits properly

Important note here! Be sure that the angled part is facing the door jam. If you put this part in backwards, you will be locked in (yes, this is the part where I learned from experience) When the door closes, it has to push that lever in, (sorry, one again, I’m not familiar with the doorknob lingo) so it has to be angled towards the door frame, not the flat side. 

So, once you have made sure everything is in the right way, and fits together, screw in the first piece to the door frame (so thankful I can explain with pictures!) 


And, once you put it on, on the back of the door handle, there should be two more screws that are longer and will attach the front of the knob to the back.


You will have to move the door handle to get the second screw in. 

The last step is to replace the metal plate on the door jam. It just unscrews, then you add the two new screws, and shiny plate.


So I obviously need to touch up the paint here, but I had to chisel this out a bit to fit the new plate in. 

So overall, I’m happy with the results. After spending so much on renovations, details like the baseboards and doorknobs make a difference.
Im looking forward to sharing my Christmas decorations. I just put up the decorations outside, and have been working on getting everything done on the inside. I’ll share pictures once I’m done. 🙂 

Bathroom is done! 

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Bathroom is done! 

I have had a few people asking to see pictures of our finished renovation that we did this summer… sorry for the delay, but I’m finally getting around to it.

To appreciate what it looks like now, you have to see what it looked like before. Here is a pic looking into our bedroom from the hallway. Take note of the lovely parquet floor…

Here is our lovely vanity, complete with the lovely cultured marble countertop with scalloped sinks. We had a total of five of these sinks in our house when we moved in. These are the last remaining two!

The entrance to our closet opened up into the washroom.

Here is a closer view of the floor. I have always hated these tiles!

And here is a closer view of those lovely sinks… the stains came with the house 🙂 

The bathtub…

And the worst part of the bathroom was the tiny shower wedged behind the door. What a dumb design! There is so much room in our master bed and bath, this shower design was so horrible. You could not open the door and shower door at the same time.  It was also impossible to clean, and was leaking at the bottom.

So to appreciate the final product before I share, here are a couple pictures of during the renovation.

Here is a view of the hallway. They had to build scaffolding because we had all of the stucco removed, the ceilings painted and replaced the chandelier too. We also replaced the entire floor upstairs with hardwood, and replaced all of the wooden spindles with iron, and replaced all of the baseboards upstairs. We moved a lot of furniture! 

And here is a shot of the shower being ripped out. Yay! Sooo glad to see that gone! 

And, drumroll please…. here is our new master bathroom 

You can’t see in these photos, but we also closed off the closet, and made the door open into the bedroom.

I ordered almost everything including the bathtub, vanity, fixtures, lights online. I spent hours trying to find the best deal in the style I wanted. The only thing I really thought I needed to see before buying, was the tile. We ended up buying solid marble, but we saved a bit of money by buying it from a tile warehouse. Also, to save some money, I installed the rock wall behind the bath tub, laid the tiles on the floor and we did all of the painting. 

It’s really hard to get a good photo of everything we had done, especially when I don’t have a fancy camera… so I put together a few collages…

The first one is of a few close ups…(before on left, after on right)

Here is the vanity, looking in from our bedroom…

This one is from the opposite corner…
And here is my favourite part, the shower… also the hardest part to photograph! 

I did a lot of reading about showers, and shower systems, and I ended up ordering one that you install as one piece. I ended up getting a fantastic deal on amazon. It is a thermostatic (which means you don’t have to play around with the temperature, you can set it ahead of time, then just turn on and off) the pressure is also regulated enough so you can have the rain shower, body jets, and shower head attachment all on at the same time!

Anyways, it has been a couple months now, and I am still happy with every decision we made! Two big renovations in one year is enough to last us a while though 🙂 

Spider repellant

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I hate spiders. I don’t just dislike them a little, I really hate them and always have. I don’t feel the least bit of remorse when I feel one crush under my shoe, and I would never ever carry a spider outside to safety release it. 

So, as the weather gets colder, I do whatever I can to discourage the repulsive little critters from coming inside our house. We have enough of them living in our basement already! 

I don’t know if this actually works, but it is all over the internet, so I thought I would give it a shot. Here is an adaptation of a spider repellent I found online. You need dawn dish detergent, peppermint oil, water, and a spray bottle. 

Add about a teaspoon of dish soap to the bottle, and fill it about 2/3 with warm water.

Then add about 20 drops of peppermint oil.. maybe even 30…
Give it a gentle shake… you don’t want the soap to foam up, so be gentle. 

Then generously spray around doors, and windows. I sprayed on the inside and outside. The peppermint smell is actually quite nice inside… far better than a pesticide.

I checked a few minutes after I sprayed and there were still a couple spiders, so I was disappointed that it didn’t seem to have that much of an effect. But, when I looked a couple days later, the windows were spider free! That is all of the incentive I needed… I did the first spray about a month ago, and I have sprayed a couple times since. Every couple weeks, or after a heavy rain, I spray again. The spiders are even gone from the window wells. Unfortunately I don’t think it kills spiders, but I’ve checked enough times to believe it repels them, so I’m going to keep spraying until the weather gets really cold. I have also sprayed around all of the window on the inside of the basement as well. 

Anyone know a good recipe for a spider killer?? Seriously… any recipes? I’d even take the name of a spray that isn’t toxic…

Grampy’s clock…

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Grampy’s clock…

So many projects lately, just too tired to write about them! But I’m going to try… now that our renovation is so so close to being done, I will share lots of pics of our transformation! 

I found this clock in one of my upstairs closets that we had to empty for the renovation, and I just couldn’t get rid of it. My grandfather made furniture… lots of furniture over the years. He also loved making clocks. In our house we didn’t say grandfather clock, we said Grampy’s clock. Lol. Anyways, since my grandfather passed away a few years ago, and I am sentimental about things people made, I just couldn’t get rid of it. Anyone that knew him would know that he wouldn’t have been thrilled to see one of his clocks painted… he was more of a natural wood, stain guy… anyways, I know he wouldn’t be cheering that I am painting his clock, but now instead of sitting in a closet, his clock now is hung in my family room. 🙂 

So, this is what Grampy’s clock looked like. After being moved from closet to closet and house to house, it was in a few pieces. 

This is what it is supposed to look like:

I started by taking out the screws that connected the faceplate, to the clock (btw I am totally making up words like faceplate… I have no idea what clock parts are called, so my apologies if there are any clock makers around) 


Then I took off the clock hands carefully. 


And unscrewed another nut that held the faceplate on.

Here’s a tip. Get a Tupperware container for screws and pieces. After renovating we have so many screws left over that I am sure we will never figure out where they go… but as I am working on projects like this, I always toss all of the bits and pieces into a container so I don’t misplace them… it makes putting it back together a whole lot easier. 

Once I took the face of the clock off, there were four more screws to take off. I thought it would be easier to paint if I could access the back and front. 


The clock movements were attached to the back of this board.


Once I had everything apart, it was time to start painting. I painted around the glass, but When I am painting, I never worry about getting paint on the glass. 

Because if you wait until the paint is dry, it will just scrape off with a razor blade. Much easier than taping! 


I wanted to create an antiqued look, so I used some sand paper to roughen up the corners and edges. 


And all that was left to do was put it back together! Here is what the finished clock looks like now.

And here is where it is hanging in my house….
I don’t know if my Grampy would have loved the result as much as I do, but I am very pleased with the result. It looks great hung up now, and makes a whole lot more sense to me than being stuck in a closet somewhere.

I’m looking forward to sharing some of my other summer projects! Just wait until I show you our master bathroom now!!

Inside campfire!

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Inside campfire!

I made this for the kids at my school the last couple weeks of the year. Many of our students have never been camping, so I thought this would be a fun activity to do in the library. I have seen various campfires on Pinterest, and I have always wanted to make one! So, here goes…

Before I start my step by step instructions, here is a glimpse of the finished project….

I have seen these made out of felt before, but I decided to use polar fleece material because it is brightly coloured, durable, stretchy, and even better, I have a whole pile of it laying around!

I cut out a red flame shape out of the red to start.

Then I cut out slightly smaller flames out of orange and yellow. I sewed around the perimeter of the yellow and orange flames with my sewing machine.

And clipped around my stitching to clean it up.

Then, I cut out an identical plain red flame, using the first one as a template. And I stitched around the edges of the flames, and flipped it right side out. 

Here is what the flame looks like with the edges trimmed down.
The final step to finish the flames was to add stuffing, cut out an oval for the bottom, and stitch the perimeter closed. Oh I almost forgot… repeat everything so far three times. I made the flames three sided. 🙂 

Now for the logs…I forgot to take a pic of sewing the logs, but basically, I just cut out two rectangles and sewed one side together to make tubes.

Then, I cut out two circles out of a beige colour, and used embroidery floss to stitch a wood grain into the ends.


Then I used a blanket stitch to attach the ends to the tube logs I sewed earlier.


After stitching the end on one side of the log, I stuffed the log with stuffing and repeated the process on the other side to stitch the log closed. All together I ended up making four logs. I tried stacking everything, and it just didn’t stack right using three logs.

Then, I pinned everything together. I just put a single stitch to hold the the three flames together, in a triangle shape,  and I pinned the logs to the flames. I stitched them all together by hand. 

It took a little bit of fiddling to get everything to sit right.

Here is a close up of how I used an invisible stitch to put everything together.
It was a great little project that took me a couple weeks, because I just worked on it after the kids went to bed while we were watching tv. 

As for the finished project….The kids really enjoyed it. I set everything up (more pictures below) and the kindergartens were very excited about camping. After playing for a while, we decided we needed to do some cooking, so we got out some tinker toys and made marshmallows to roast.

I also brought in a folding chair, and tent… as you can see, it was a pretty popular activity. 

The tent was a real hit too! 

Here is what my set up looked like before a hundred kindergarten kids got to it! 


Next time, I will bring in a few more chairs, and maybe sew some s’mores too! 

As it is summer holidays, I’m going to do my best to post a few of the projects I have done the last few months. I have a bit of a backlog of projects to share right now 🙂 We are also on our second renovation this year, so I’d love to share some pictures of the finished rooms too!