Monthly Archives: March 2012

Finishing touches on the bathroom!!!

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Before…

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During…

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After …

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So, the mirrors are hung, the towel rack is up, and almost everything is finished… We just have one little issue with the plumbing… Every time we turn on the water, we have a bit of a shower, so I have one more trip to Home Depot… That’s ok, I’m sure the guys at Home Depot have missed me in the last week!

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Homemade crunchie bars! Just like the real crunchie!!

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I was talking to a friend of mine at work yesterday, and I am not sure how the topic of homemade Crunchie bars came up, but I have been thinking about it ever since… So I dug up my old recipe! It’s surprisingly simple. There are just three ingredients; sugar, corn syrup, and baking soda.

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In a saucepan, mix 3/4 cup of sugar and 4 tablespoons of corn syrup. Turn the heat on no higher than medium, because it is really easy to burn…

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Keep stirring it for a few minutes and let it cook at a rolling boil for about three minutes. If you are one of those people who like to be exact in their cooking, it should reach 300 degrees using a candy thermometer. If you are like me, you can carefully taste a drop (without burning yourself), and if it hardens on your tongue, and crunches, it is ready. If it is chewy, it needs to cook a few more minutes.

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Once you are satisfied it has cooked for long enough, or it starts changing colour and getting darker, take it off the heat and add a tablespoon of baking soda. This will make it puff up. Stir it quick because you don’t have much time!

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Then, quickly pour it onto a greased cookie sheet or waxed paper.

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You can spread it out a little, but it will also spread on its own a little if you tilt your pan. I am never patient enough to wait for things to cool, so I put it in the freezer for a few minutes. While I was waiting for it to cool, I melted some chocolate chips on a double broiler (actually it’s just a glass bowl that fits over a saucepan, but a double broiler sounds fancier)… Anyways, I melted the chocolate…

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Then, when cool enough, I took the mixture out of the freezer and broke it into pieces. Btw, don’t even try to break it into nice little squares, or pretty uniform sized pieces, because you have to smash it…

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Then, dip all of the larger pieces in your melted chocolate, and lay them on your waxed paper to cool. Once again, if you are like me and can’t wait, put them in the fridge to cool.

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Yummy!

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Keyboard art

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So as my husband john will tell you, being a creative person means I also possess a few hoarding tendencies. I see the potential in egg cartons, toilet paper rolls and things like old keyboards. I save stuff because I see the potential!
So, instead of throwing out old keyboards, I thought they could be used for something….then I came up with an idea for the computer lab at school… Why not make some artwork out of them? So, I used a butter knife to pop off all of the keys on the keyboard, found an old, ugly frame, painted it and then got out my glue gun…but then I realized that I needed more keyboards! So I put an ad on Freecycle. For those people who do not know Freecycle, it is great! It is a website where you can post looking for things, or offering things. It’s a great alternative to throwing things out, because there are always people like me who save stuff!
Sorry i dont have any pictures of the work in progress, but i made it before starting my blog, and the steps are pretty simple. Here is the finished product…

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That piece took eight keyboards to make! The cool thing is you can also make smaller versions, and you can make personalized frames…why not spell out someone’s name or a message? So cute!

Decoupage eggs

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Here is a craft I did a couple of years ago that I did with the kids this year… I think they might have been frustrated with doing it before now. It’s a great way to use up those plastic eggs, and scraps of wrapping and tissue paper. Also, I think you could use these for decorations at other times of the year too!

You will need the following materials:
Tissue or wrapping paper
White glue
An old brush
Plastic eggs

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To begin, you only need a small piece of paper. You could decorate a couple eggs with a square foot of paper. You can use tissue paper, or a more glossy type of paper like wrapping paper.

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As you can see we are already in the Easter spirit!

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Begin by ripping up the paper into about one inch squares. You could also cut the paper, but I like the look of the rips, and also find the fibers of the paper stick a little easier when ripped.
Next, paint the glue onto the egg then stick the paper on top and brush on some more glue on top. This will also seal in the paper and give it a shiny look.

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The last step is to fill up the rest of the egg with strips of paper. You may find you need wider strips for some parts and narrower, smaller pieces for other parts of the egg, depending on the curve.

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Also, you can use tissue paper or thicker, glossy wrapping paper. But, if you are using thicker paper, i would suggest you cut it into smaller pieces, that way, you won’t get as many wrinkles.
The kids did a pretty good job making their eggs! We found if you cover half of the egg, take a break and let it dry for a little, then glue the rest, it doesn’t stick to your fingers quite as much!

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Here are some others I made with different papers….

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Finishing the bathroom Reno!!!

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So, I finally finished laying and grouting the floor…I have to say that its slow work. By the time we get home from work, cook dinner, clean up dinner, get lunches made or homework done, there is about an hour before the kids go to bed. And because the bathroom is I between the kids bedrooms, once they go to bed is the time I have to stop working…. Mind you, that’s probably a good thing!

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So the floor is done, so first priority is getting the toilet back in. Since we have take out the toilet, I don’t know what has happened, but both kids mysteriously have started to have to pee in the middle of the night, which now means going through our room and using our bathroom in the middle of the night… So needless to say, the toilet is on the top of my list. But, to get the toilet in, first I had to repair the flange(?) that snapped, then finish and grout the tiles, then paint, then install the trim and quarter round…
Sorry, I know this picture is kind of gross, but this is what we found when we pulled up the toilet. This piece is what holds the toilet down and it was cracked on both sides. I stuffed some paper towel down the hole to block it for obvious reasons!

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So, another trip to Home Depot, and here is my fix… It is a metal piece that you screw right into the existing piece…the guy told me that it would be impossible to remove it.

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So, after fixing that, I painted and did the trim right around the toilet. Next step is to tip the toilet up and add a new wax ring…this is what makes the seal from your toilet to pipes… I bought a wax ring with new bolts included, (which I already used)..

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Then, we remembered to remove the paper towels we had stuffed into the pipe and carefully placed the toilet so that the two bolts go through the two holes on the base. Once the toilet is straight and in position, tighten the bolts until the toilet doesn’t wiggle at all. Be careful not to over tighten, because you can crack the toilet!

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Then, the moment of truth, attach the flexible hose back to the water supply, and turn back on the water.

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Toilet done! Next job, remove the mirror. I was worried about this one, but it was actually pretty easy. I taped the mirror, just in case it snapped, but all we had to do was just pry open the clips, and used a screwdriver to pry off the adhesive holding it to the wall, it came off in one piece.

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We tried to cut it into two smaller mirrors I was going to put a fame around, but it cracked.
So the last step now is installing the vanities and hooking back up the plumbing. We hit a little snag when we learned out faucets don’t fit in the new countertop. So, another trip to home depot where I hooked us up with some sweet Martha Stewart taps.
Hopefully, by the end of the day, I will post photos of the finished bathroom!! We’re so close now!

214 ways to say I love you

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There are too many times in the year where we are pressured to do something or buy something for our partners…valentine’s day, Christmas, anniversary, birthday, etc. so, after being together for almost 15 years, John and I have come to an understanding to not to celebrate every one of these days. However, I think it is important at some point in the year to show your appreciation for each other.
This is what I did for John for our anniversary/valentines day this year…

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I decorated his “office” with photos of all different ways to say I love you. For example, some of my favourite ones are…
I love you more than my iPad
Olive you (with a picture of an olive)
You’re my favourite baby daddy
I love you even when you steal all of the covers
I love you more than sports
Me without you is like peanut butter without the jelly
Etc…
What I did was I googled, “funny ways to say I love you”, then I cut and pasted, and copied all of the ones that were personal to John and I. I also did a couple quick sketches of my own and took photos, and typed up a few.
Then, to make them all look the same, When i sent the pictures to be developed, i changed them all to black and white, and added a border.

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Then, I taped them up with masking tape. However, I might laminate or frame some of them to make it more permanent…

Fortune cookies in foam…

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After we made real fortune cookies, I did a little research on line and found instructions for paper fortune cookies, so I thought, why not make foam fortune cookies?

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I am going to use this as a craft with the girl guides group I volunteer with, so these pictures are of the samples I made. I typed out a few fortunes, and cut them into strips to put inside, but I also cut some blank strips for kids to make up their own fortunes. I added photos of the fortunes I made when i baked fortune cookies with the kids too. These would be a lot of fun to personalize, and add some humour.

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Start by cutting a circle. You can trace the top of a yogurt container, or just free hand cut a circle.

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Fold the circle in half and add your fortune…

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Now, this step is tricky the first time, but once you get it, it’s easy! What you do is fold it in half again, but you fold it almost sideways. Take a look at the picture…

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Then, to hold it closed, I simply stapled them at the open ends…

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That’s it! I keep thinking of ways I could use this in the classroom… What about having students write predictions about what is going to happen in a story, then opening them up later? Or what about asking questions then putting them inside? What about writing math questions? I can keep going…Birthday party invitations…place card holders…party favors…

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Tissue paper flowers

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At work, I try to keep up with the seasons by decorating according to the seasons, or special days. The challenge is to not spend a lot of money on these decorations. This is a craft that is easy to do, colourful, great for spring and inexpensive. Also, when i am finished with them, I stuff all of the flowers into boxes, and when i need them next year, i take them out, fluff them up, and they are good to use again.
Start with a couple sheets of tissue per flower (obviously smaller flowers need less paper)

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To make a large flower, Cut the tissue paper into thirds, to make smaller flowers, cut into smaller pieces. I have found that 6 layers of tissue paper seems to make the best flowers.

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Fold all layers into a fan, in about one inch sections or pleats…

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Then pinch at the middle and twist a pipe cleaner around to hold them tightly in place, the tighter, the better. The pipe cleaner also is the stem, so leave one end long.

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Then you have to separate each layer of tissue gently, by pulling it up towards the center. This is what fluffs it up and gives it volume.

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You have to be careful to not rip the tissue, and pull one layer at a time. This is what it looks like half finished.

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And, here is the finished flower…

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Here is a flower using two different colours…

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A bunch of flowers in different colours…

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Cutting tiles for the bathroom floor

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When I first started planning the bathroom, I had a picture in my mind of the floor, and although I have changed my mind numerous times about the vanities, the countertops, the paint colour, and so on, I haven’t changed my mind about the floor.
I was all ready to start cutting the tiles on Friday morning, but, noticed the blade was dull, so went to Home Depot to pick up a new saw blade. Anyways, to make a long story short, we ran into a bit of mechanical difficulties with changing the blade, so i ended up driving back to Home Depot again to rent a saw. (And back to Home Depot again to exchange the saw for a new one because the blade was breaking every tile I tried to cut)
So, it was about 2:30 today that I actually started cutting! I won’t go into too much detail about cutting tiles, but here are a few tips.
I have learned that you have to be exact in your measuring and planning of the tiles. I always use a square, and rulers to draw out the design on the floor. I hate using chalk lines, because they rub off and I end up covered in chalk, so I use a china pencil, or sharpie to mark out the floor. Here is what my plan looked like:

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The middle part, where the tiles were on a diagonal was actually pretty easy… No measuring, just cutting in half diagonally.
The tricky parts are around the door frames and the corners. I have tried using a measuring tape, measuring the floor then marking the tile, but I always end up having to recut because I messed something up. Here is my method for making a good cut. Using a stiff paper, cut out a square or rectangle the exact same size as your tiles.

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Then, place the surrounding tiles on the floor and lay the paper where you need the tile cut. Cut and fold the paper to the correct shape and size.

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Then all you have to do is put your template on a tile and trace around the edges. When you are cutting, remember that you have to cut off your lines (or inside the lines) because tracing around from a template make you lines a little larger.
To cut curves or inside corners is the most challenging part. You have to first draw on your tile where you want it cut.

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Then cut a series of cuts ending at the line you have drawn.

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Snap off the strips of tile using a pair of pliers, or tap them with a hammer.

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Then you have to go back to the saw and use the side of the blade to almost shave off the excess bits. You will also have to lift your tile up to the saw on an angle, and even turn it upside down to trim off the excess because of the curve of the blade.
Here is the curve, I might go back and clean it up a little more…but it is actually going to be behind, or under the vanity, so I will probably just leave it..

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When I put down all of the tiles, this is what it looks like…

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FYI, I would normally actually lay the tiles as I was cutting, but i didn’t this time for a few reasons. First, because this space is so small, and second, because I have marked out the tiles for the center piece so carefully, and third because the outside tiles are so large.
So the next few steps are adhering the tiles to the floor, removing the mirror, grouting, painting, and installing the new vanities. What I have to figure out is the order… Which one do I do next?