what we’ve been up to lately…

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Craft Room/Office Makeover Birthday Surprise

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If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might have seen that I am on the verge of a major birthday.  Last weekend, to celebrate early, my best friend and I went away for  a shopping weekend.  We left Friday night, and had a great time antiquing, cross border shopping, and eating at a couple of my fav. restaurants -all without our sweet, lovely kids to worry about.  It was some much appreciated me time, and I had a wonderful weekend.  We returned home on Sunday night, and I got a big surprise!  It wasn’t a surprise party, it was something much better, in fact probably the best, most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received.

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While we were away, my sweet husband and girls, along with the help of my sister, brother in-law, and niece were making over my husband’s study as a new office/craft room for me.  It was a complete surprise.  Over the last little while I’ve been dreaming of my own little space.  I wanted somewhere to read and pray, and work, and craft.  Somewhere that I didn’t have to tidy up if I was in the middle of a project -like the kitchen table, somewhere quiet, and somewhere I could hang my art, and some really personal things.  I thought about the basement, but wanted somewhere above ground because I’m home in the day and want some natural light.  I also thought about an attic conversion, but it seems we have the wrong kind of roof rafters for that and changing them would have been a major expense.  I dreamt about a bright white room, with a white comfy chair and a pink pillow in it.  I even described it to my sister one day when we were talking.  I have other lovely spaces in the house to work, so it really wasn’t a huge deal, it was a just a sweet dream of mine, and I resigned myself to waiting to someday when we were empty nesters to get my little office space.

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My husband was listening to my heart, and decided that he’d like me to have his office space.  My sweet sister couldn’t wait to help out.  They started planning weeks and weeks ago, unbeknownst to me.  They even had a secret pinterest board -does it get any cuter?  My sweet girls couldn’t wait to surprise Mommy.  My super brother-in-law devoted his weekend to helping move furniture, install the lighting, and painting.  My niece even took the 3 hour bus ride from University for the weekend to help keep the girls entertained.  I was completely surprised.  While I was away, they moved everything out, painted the room twice, since they weren’t sure about their first colour.  They painted an existing wood bookcase white, they hung new curtains and installed a new light.  They bought new furniture, and then decorated the room.  All in two and half days!

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When I got home Sunday night, after my weekend away, I saw the shoes at the door and waited for them to yell surprise, instead they came and hugged me, gave me a glass of champagne and lead me upstairs for my surprise.  I was shocked.  Let’s just say there were lots of happy tears.  I felt so, so loved.

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And, since they were doing it all for a blogger, they even took a few before pictures -does it get any better?

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My sister styled it for Christmas, and included lots of my vintage pieces, and things I use to style posts for the blog that usually live in my basement storage room.  She organized all my craft materials, and included them in the room so I could do projects in it.  She also went through my baby book with our Mom the week before and pulled out some of my childhood keepsakes and included them around the room and in the gallery wall.

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I love my new room, and just thinking about it makes me tear up.  It makes me feel so, so loved.  It’s the best gift ever, and I feel so thankful for a family that sacrificially gives -my sweet husband is all moved into a corner of the family room in the basement now.

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They have truly made my fortieth birthday a celebration I will never forget!  With loving, generous family and friends, life really, REALLY, is a party!

Hot Chocolate Bar Cart with DIY Woodland Mugs

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I’ve been looking for a little white enamel bar cart for ages.  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might remember me finding THE Perfect One at a fall antique show, but hesitating and then it being sold when I returned a couple hours later.  I resigned myself to waiting for spring.  But, I did check occasionally on kijiji.  One day I found one near by, but the bottom was covered in yucky mac-tac -you know that plasticy super sticky paper?  I was worried that when I removed it it might take the finish with it, or I’d be left with a sticky mess, and getting the sticker residue off would ruin the paint.  So, I passed on it.  A few weeks later I noticed it was still for sale and now only $5.  I was willing to risk it for 5 bucks.  And, I’m so glad I did.  The mac-tac came right off, and I love the cart.  It made an appearance outside at the my fall soup party, but now it’s found it’s home in my dining room.

It snowed here yesterday.  That means time for hot chocolate.  I put together a sweet little hot chocolate bar on the bar cart.  It all started when I saw these oh so pretty mugs in the Christmas Chapters/Indigo catalogue.  Of course I had that moment that DIYer’s often have…I think I could make something like that.

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Chapters has a deer, bear, fox, and owl in their collection, and here’s my version.

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I started with inexpensive dollar store mugs, and a ceramic marker.  I know the internet is flooded with sharpie mugs, but from what I’ve read  they’re very hit and miss.  I used the ceramic pen for my “give thanks” plates and they’ve been great, so I went with the ceramic pen again this time.  Since I’m not really an artist, and perhaps you’re not either, here’s my cheater way of doing the sketches.  Find an image on-line that you like.  I did an image search on “simple deer sketch” and then just found one I liked, right clicked to open image in a new tab, then selected print and adjusted my printing size so it would fit on my mug.

 

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Once you have a picture that you’re happy with and it is the right size, break out the good old fashioned carbon copy paper -memories of teachers using these magical sheets to make worksheets in grade one fill my mind.  Use a small piece and tape it, along with your picture on top of the mug.  Make sure you have the carbon paper on the right side so that when you write on it, a line goes through to your mug.  Then, use a pencil to outline your image, which should transfer it to the mug.  I’m not going to lie to you and say this process was simple.  It was a little tricky.  I started out with much more detailed images, similar to the Chapter’s version, but they were too complicated for me.  I also started out just holding the papers onto the mug, but if the papers slip, the carbon copy lines rub off the mugs, since its a slippery ceramic surface.  When I used a simpler image, and taped the papers really carefully, and also removed them carefully so I didn’t rub any off or erase it, it worked.  Patience, patience.

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Once the carbon copy is on the mug, use your ceramic marker to go over it.  Again I made a few mistakes.  The great thing about the markers is that when you’re working with them, you can wash them off with a little hot water and a scrub, and then start over again.  The bad part, you have to start over from the beginning again.  Once you’re happy with the image, my marker said to wait 24 hours, then bake in the oven (all the exact instructions will be on your marker).  Once they come out of the oven, the image is permanent.

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I really do like how they turned out and the Chapter’s version would have been around $50 for 4, and mine were $1.25 each for the mugs, and around $5 for the marker -so a fraction of the price at around $10.

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I created the hot chocolate buffet with some different flavours of hot chocolate mix, chocolate spoons, sprinkles, and marshmallows.

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Yum.  My girls felt the need to break in the hot chocolate bar cart tonight, and I’m happy to say it got their seal of approval.

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I love how this little cart looks for the holidays, and that the hot chocolate and the woodland mugs will look good all winter long.

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With my thrifted cart, DIY version of the woodland mugs, and hot chocolate with all the fixin’s, life really is a party!

Felted Sweater Woven Pillow

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Today I’m sharing this pretty and cozy felted sweater woven pillow.  It’s made from old wool sweaters that have been felted.  Ever have the bad experience of washing a wool sweater in hot water, and putting it in the dryer and then discovering it’s shrunk?  That’s exactly what you want to happen here.

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I found some old sweaters at the thrift store.  They have to be made out of animal fibers in order to felt, so wool, or cashmere, or Angora all work well.  Once they’ve been felted, just cut them into strips.  Since they are felt, they won’t fray when they’re cut.  Then, weave your pillow top, to the size of the pillow insert you’re using.  Once the top is woven and pinned together for stability, sew a plain piece of fabric on the wrong side.  This piece will ensure that the felt doesn’t get pulled or stretched out of shape.  Make sure it’s a coordinating colour, since it will show through between some of the pieces.  After the top is all ready, use some more plain fabric to make an envelope style back -just like I did in this post.

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Once it’s all stitched up, turn it right side out again and enjoy.

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Vintage crate christmas tree birch

It makes for the perfect cozy spot to curl up in.

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Here’s a little sneak peek of my Chapter’s inspired woodland mugs that I’ll be sharing next week.

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I love all the different textures and slightly different shades of the various sweaters together.

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With a cozy felted sweater woven pillow to curl up with on a cold day, life really is a party!

This post is linked up at The Inspiration Gallery, and The Weekend Retreat Link Party.

Cement Star Christmas Ornaments

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I’m loving mixed metals this year, and incorporating lots of gold, silver, and copper into my Christmas decor.  Instead of straight up glam though, I’m going for a rustic look.  I love the juxtaposition of the cement in these star ornaments and the little bit of gold, silver and copper leaf.

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To make them, I used some cement (remember to buy cement and not concrete, not the same -learned the hard way on one of my last cement projects), cooking spray, stars, and a star ice cube tray.

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Just mix up the cement, spray your mould and straws with a little cooking spray oil, and then fill them up.  Be careful to push the cement all the way into the corners and tap your mould to try and get everything all nice and even.  Then, just push the straws into the wet cement, and all the way down to the bottom of the mould.  Let it set over night.

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The next day remove the straws -carefully.  And then, let the stars dry the rest of the day in the moulds.  Patience, patience.

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I’m not going to lie to you.  I had a little trouble.  I maybe should have done a few things a little differently.  I might not have mixed my concrete long enough, or carefully enough.  Next time, a bigger container for mixing and a little more vim and vigour might be in order.  I also maybe should have pushed the concrete into the corners more carefully, I’m thinking a wooden skewer next time to take no chances.  Lastly, I would make sure to leave a little larger border for my straw holes next time, and maybe even remove them a little sooner…but then again not too soon.  I did have a few causalities…and I have to admit my first reaction was that this was a project fail.

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But, since I really needed a new post on the blog, cough, I persevered.  I used the best ones -about seven out of twelve worked, and added some guilding paste, aka silver/copper/gold leaf glue.  After it set, I added some different metallic leaf to them.

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Then I used a little twine to make them into Christmas tree ornaments.  And then…I kind of fell in love with them.

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I will definitely make some more, and I will definitely use my tips, and they will definitely hopefully turn out perfectly, and I will definitely give you an update.

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With cement star Christmas ornaments with metallic leaf, life really is a party!

This post is linked up at The Inspiration Gallery, and The Weekend Retreat Link Party.

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