Tuesday, November 27, 2012


So finally we have begun the transformation of our bedroom.  Now that my youngest has moved out and in with her boyfriend we are taking advantage of having an unoccupied bedroom and moved all of our furniture into there.  First phase was ripping up the 27 yr old carpet and underlay. Along with the 200,000 staples.  I never realized how stupidly small my hands are until I had to use a pair of side cutters (? some kind of wrench thingy) to jab under the staple and wrench it out.  I had to use two hands!  So just picture me crawling on my knees pushing a wastepaper basket and using both hands to manipulate one little ol pair of side cutters.  Sad...truly sad.  But I did it and got the 500,000 staples out.   Next step, paint.  Stay tuned.

Here you can see the colour - I loved this red for a long time but it is time.  It was a Benjamin Moore colour - American Flag Red I think.

Ok this is so old - but you can see the deplorable carpet here - yuck.

Love ya

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Mom's Special BBQ Spare Ribs or Red Lead

Ok - that is a different title - caught your eye and whet your appetite though didn't it?  So I'm going to do something extreme here and post a recipe.  I know...it's way out there.  I had said my next post - which I had promised would be within 2 weeks - would be about my shop.  But I decided to do a quick recipe post.
I had found ribs (not spare ribs but side ribs) on sale at Loblaws for so cheap.  2 huge racks in a vacuum pack was only 13.00.  And these ribs are big and meaty as you can see from that amazing photo above.  I wrongly gave my grandmother creds for this recipe and my mom quickly corrected me.  It is her recipe. I did know that - sorry mom.  It is a big family favourite, we have a few funny stories and for the life of me I have no idea how it became known as Red Lead - but that is what my dad fondly called it and so do we.

So without further ado or idle chitchat here is the recipe.  I dont usually measure everything out so I am going to try and remember actual amounts.


Pork Ribs - spare ribs or side ribs 

Cut the ribs into single pieces if possible or smaller pieces.  Sometimes you get ribs with that centre bone which makes it harder to cut up.  Amount is dependent on how many you are serving.  I usually say 1/2 rack/person (at least).

BBQ Sauce Ingredients (easily doubled)
1 cup ketchup 
1 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard (i have substituted reg. mustard as well)
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 onion diced

After cutting ribs into manageable pieces, add vegetable oil to a frying pan and brown ribs on all sides. As they brown remove from the frying pan and place in a covered oven safe pan.  I have used casserole dishes but usually use a roasting pan.  You could also use a dutch oven.  After all pieces are browned, mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the ribs.   Make sure they are at least partially submerged in the sauce. (you can add a bit more ketchup & water)   Cover and place in a 325 degree oven.  Cook for at least 2 hours - 2.5 to 3 hours are optimum.  You can check during cooking and baste any ribs that may not be completely covered or rearrange.

Thats it.  I love a meal that slow cooks in the oven all day.  It smells so amazing.  We like to serve it with mashed potatoes and a mashed mixture of turnip and carrots.  The sauce makes a lovely gravy to drizzle over the vegies.  I have also used this recipe as a bbq sauce.  For that I boil the sauce on the stove for about 10 mins and keep in the fridge.  I then use this for basting ribs or even pork chops on the grill.

Enjoy!  I am sure it will become a family favourite at your home too. Just remember its name...Red Lead :)

Love Ya

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I want to say Thanks - after our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend I think it is very appropo. So Thankyou for....I have hit 4000 pageviews.  That is amazing.  One post on my Craft Room has over 2445 hits alone.  That is awesome!  Now if I could boost my followers that would even be more awesome.  Come on ... follow me.  Please??

Ok so Im not the most interesting blogger but I am going to keep trying and hopefully strike a chord with a few of those people out there.

"KNOCK KNOCK"  you there??? I'm talking about you.

My next post is going to be about my work. Stay tuned.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Upcycled Coffee Table

My youngest son decided it was time for him to move out on his own, wait for it, a year ago this month.  I can't believe it has already been one year.  He has matured nicely over this past year and I love seeing him take pride in his place.   He shares a townhouse not far from us with 3 friends.  All of them starting out their first time.  While I had stuff that I had been saving for him or my daughter to help with their first homes, I still wanted to do something for him that was unique.

At our cottage we have many pieces of furniture that have been passed down or as we like to say is on the last stop before the dump.  (I know right? we have all had cottages like that).  One of the items was a small coffee table that my husband had in his first apartment back in the late 70's.  I had repainted it a few years ago and it was out on our screened in porch sometimes known as a  Muskoka room.  We happened to have an almost brand new glass and metal Ikea coffee table that had been abandoned by a former business neighbour and that left us with a surplus table.  I thought I would upcycle it and gift it to our son for his new pad rather than toss it out or burn it.

In this picture of our cottage porch the white table is there on the lower left with a game box on it.  What you can't see is that there is dentil (sp) moulding around the top edge.  (I'll tell the story of our porch another day.)

I was attracted to all the Union Jack painted furniture out there and thought how cool that would it be to duplicate that look as a surprise.  Since I am relatively new to this blogging about projects I don't have any pics of it in process.

First I removed the legs, washed and sanded down the entire table. I started with an overall base coat of white.  I used Rustoleum Heritage White in the quart can and painted on 2 coats.  I gave it a light sanding and then carefully penciled in the lines of the union jack carrying the lines right over the dentil moulding and down the sides.  I then masked off the areas I wished to remain white and sprayed the entire table with 2 coats of Rustoleum Colonial Red.   After that had dried completely I carefully masked off the red & white stripes and painted 2 coats of Rustoleum Black in a semi gloss with a brush.  After that had dried for a few minutes, I tried to carefully remove all the tape and dang in a few spots the paint lifted.  Hmmm, I think I shouldn't have used a semi gloss in the red spray paint.  Lesson learned.  However, since I was planning on distressing the table I just left it and worked it into the overall effect.

I sanded the heck out of this with a fine grit 3M sponge sanding block. You can see the red and the white coming through.  Love it!!   I knew that being boys/young men that this table would not be treated gently so I didn't want it looking too pretty. Of course this is when my husband said "what are you doing you're ruining it!"  Yup just like the vanity (see my post here) - men....

 I finished with 2 top coats of WipeOn Poly by MinWax.  Wow I love that stuff.   It's so easy to use and no brush marks!!  I have to thank all the blogs I follow for their amazing recommendations - it's great when you can trust that something will work the way it's supposed to - well other than the paint lifting and that's definitely a newbie error!

I have to say he was very very pleased and surprised.  I was happy with the overall effect and pleased that this table that his dad had in his first place now has a place of honor in his own first place.  I think they are both chuffed about that.

Thank you for any comments you may have and please take a moment and become a follower!!

I have linked this to Thrifty Decor Chick for her December Before and After.

Love Ya

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How Far Behind Can I Get

Don't you find that you have all these great ideas running around in your brain and you think "wow I should blog about that.."
Or you see someone else blog about their decorating prowess and you think "hey maybe I can show what I've done..."
Or you read a fantastic blog about thrifting/furniture upcycling/painting/spring/summer/fall mantles and go " I'm going to join in on that..."
How do these busy bloggers get the determination and discipline to keep churning out their blogs on a nearly if not actually daily basis.  I find it all so fascinating.  I spend hours perusing their blogs.  I have so many favourites I wouldn't be able to prune down my list.  I love reading about their individual personal journeys, their triumphs and their travails.  I am drawn to the endless reservoir of talent out there.  I know many blogs start as a diary of sorts.  A way of dealing with life and sharing with others who don't judge but empathize.  I've read about divorces - planned and shockingly some that come out of the blue; the aftermath of suicide; someone dealing with cancer themselves or within their circle of friends and family; the death of a child.  But also all the wonderful happy things that happen to people out there, the adoption of a child or children; the birth of their first or one of their many children; moving; starting a new job; building a new home; starting a new marriage.  Each and every story moving, funny, sad.  I've laughed out loud (and tried to explain to my husband what the heck I find funny), I've cried, I've caught my breath in shock and I've prayed.  I believe in that.  That somehow by having us out here crying, laughing and praying for you somehow makes the whole world a smaller, friendlier, warmer and more loving place.
So where does my little blog fit in?  Yes I have travails, but after reading about someone elses - mine don't matter.  Yes I have funny stories I could share (and I will) but can I convey the funniness of them (yes thats a word - honest) in written format.  Is my mantle decor as awesome?  Are my home projects blog worthy?    I think maybe so.  Why not.  So I will not promise that I will blog daily, maybe weekly is a good goal.  Should I make that a goal?  How about I just start with all the things I was going to do over the summer but heck... it was a hell of a nice summer and I veged.  And read your blogs and I thank you.  Thank you for being awesome and allowing me to love you all.
Here's a pic of me doing what I did best this summer... vegging.

Talk soon!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Freedom 55 - Not what You Think it Means

JULY 20, 1957

A good year for many things....cars, music, and me :).

55 years is a long time but there are many things to like about being this age.  For instance; my husband and I are now empty nesters.  All 4 of my children have spread their wings and flown the coop.  This is good.  A big adjustment but good. After 33 years of  'mothering'  I am at the age where I can come and go as I please without someone asking for help with something, a ride, a run to the store, some money, something to eat, something to wash...except for  my husband of course.  

Freedom 55...its not what they say on the ads - at least not for me right now insofar as retirement - but it is still freedom.  This new phase of our lives is the first time in most of my adult life that I do not have to worry about who's home, who needs to be picked up, who needs to be fed, who isn't home yet, etc.  This is Freedom.  Freedom from worry, anxiety, stress, sleepless nights (alright - I am past the age of menopausal midnight awakenings - more freedom), high hydro bills, high water usage, wow.  That's a lot of freedom.  And all at once.  We went from 2 kids still living at home last fall to both of them moving out and into their own pads. (yes that's an oldie I pulled out from somewhere lol).  They both seem to be very happy with their choices which they both made willingly.  

However, I for one was still thinking my youngest would stay at home for 2 more years while she finished university.  Then things change.  She is still in university but she is also in love.  I am happy for her (and him).  I, on the other hand, was sad, bereft even. I had a hard time with the letting go.  I have done so much and spent so much time with her over the past 20 years.  She is my baby and yet she is not a baby.  Last night I watched her walk away hand in hand with her love as they returned to their condo.  Somehow that small thing was a big thing.  She was walking away from us but towards her future.  That gave me a sense of peace and closure.   

So, today I look at my freedoms.  And I rejoice.  That my children had the freedom to choose their lives and made good choices is also a freedom for me.  Freedom from guilt.  I do not have to feel guilty that I may have done something while they were growing up that may have adversely affected them.  I know that they will succeed at whatever they choose to do.  They will be happy.  That is freedom.  For me, for them.  Be free little birds, your mama loves you unconditionally and has let you go.

Freedom 55 - that's me and my husband - we have achieved great things.  And great things are yet to come.

Love you all - Happy 55 Birthday to me :)


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Powder Room Reno

I follow many many blogs and my favourites are definitely the ones where talented people take ordinary items and upcycle them to a different purpose.   Our first venture into this process started when HH found a tap at a local flea market.  It has modern lines and is intended to use with a vessel sink.  HH tends to lean towards modern, chrome, straight lines, light colours.  He brought it home as it was a good price (around 50.00) intending to use it in our ensuite which has a trough like Ikea sink.  He spent some time installing it.  However, when he turned on the tap the water flowed over the glass into the sink and out the other side.  LOL.  He was not amused (and his front was a little bit wet :p).  So he put the original tap back on.  Now what to do with it?  Our powder room was seriously dated.  We had recently renovated the living room and the powder room did not reflect well on the rest of the lower living area.  Time to do it. My HH and I spent many hours looking at vanities and vessel sinks and neither of us could agree (like did he really have an opinion??? ok maybe) on the look.  Now while HH's taste is modern, my taste is more eclectic.  I like a good mix of new and old but still clean looking.   He also tends to be of the opinion that anything that may be antique should stay just as is so not to hurt any value.  However, I believe unless you have a true antique (Louis IV furniture for example) then value is only in the eye of beholder.  So one day, while perusing blogs and the internet for ideas, I discovered someone had taken a dresser and turned it into a bathroom vanity.  I had a hallelujah moment.  And imagine my surprise when I showed the pics to HH and he readily agreed.  My task was then to search Kijiji, Craigslist and our local thrift stores for the right piece.  There were restrictions of course.  Price (not to exceed 100.00), size (narrow space) and style.  After only 1 week of looking I found the perfect dresser through Kijiji.  After a few emails back and forth we ventured out to Etobicoke and there it was.  Perfect size, lovely proportions and the price was right - 100.00.

In these pictures I have already removed the top and the attached mirror.  I didn't want to use the mirror so we had to cut down the back piece that had the arms to hold the mirror.  The mirror is lovely - just not what i had in mind.

So first I should show you the late 80's powder room.  These pics are again taken after the wallpaper has been stripped.  An easy task with TIF (I believe that's what it is called) wallpaper remover.  That stuff is fantastic!!  Works within minutes and everything more or less falls off the wall.

Ok - an oak toilet seat - looks really dated now.  And that lovely shade of purple yuck.

Lovely builder grade built in vanity with sink -  I updated years ago with new handles and a coat of paint on the doors.

So not only did the vanity have to be ripped out but we took out the old laminate flooring as we had saved hardwood floor from our living room reno and wanted to put that in.  This worked out perfect as the new dresser vanity has legs and the floor needed to go from wall to wall.  Next was the vessel sink search.  He was deadset on glass - with a design.  I said ok  to glass but no design but I really wanted just a plain clean white sink to stay somewhat with a vintage feel.  We went to the usual places.  Home Depot - had very limited variety to choose from and the prices werent great.  We went across the road to Rona, where we had purchased our kitchen sink previously, and there found a larger inventory with a wide range of prices.  Again HH insisted on glass, when we had picked one we liked the very helpful young sales stud man climbed up and looked for the sink. Out of stock!  So then we picked another (white) and again - not in stock.  Being the kind of people who like instant satisfaction and dont want to wait to order something in since we are doing this NOW (go with the momentum while you can), he kept looking up in the shelves and found a box that was labeled vessel sink granite.  I said well lets have a look at it.  He brought it down and opened the box and I was in love.  What a beauty - still had the modern vibe HH wanted but in my mind felt vintage too.  However, there wasn't one on the showroom floor so we had no idea of the price.  I held my breath as the helpful young sales stud man went and looked it up. The glass vessel was 199.00 and we were prepared to pay up to 250.00 since we loved the granite. When he returned he said "179.00"  WHHATT!!  SOLD!  Wait - it gets better - when we went to the checkout the price was further reduced by 15% - a special that day only.  Woo Hoo!  As we left HH said "start the car..." That was funny.

So now the powder room starts to come together.  This is the vanity in place with it's new handles.  I used Rustoleum Heritage White for the base.  I removed the top, sanded the whole thing down, painted 2 coats of the Heritage white on the base and drawers, made a glaze with raw umber and wiped that on. Then I lightly sanded down the edges and distressed it (much to my husbands distress...why do they think if you paint something to look clean and new you should just leave it like that???  Not to mention that I actually PAINTED this antique.)  The top was treated to 2 coats of Minwax Polyshades in Walnut with a light sanding inbetween.  I love this product. I've also used it in Black for my sales counter at the shop.  It is durable and easy to use.   I looked for handles everywhere and found these lovelies at Rona.  They are brushed nickel and I love the way they look.    I also felt that the empty keyhole didnt look right. I found a set of keys in the scrapbook section at Micheals. (Tim Holtz).  This key fit perfectly - it says "secret" on the side.  I took the rest of them and with a dollar store frame and scrapbooking paper made a picture to hang on the wall. I also repurposed a Norman Rockwell print that I bought a new frame (Ikea) and rematted to hang over the toilet. (sorry no pics of these 2 pics :(  )

 HH drilled holes in the top and we took the back off the top drawer to facilitate the placement of the plumbing.  Of course it didn't all go smoothly - there were a few curse words.

Here is everything in place. You can just barely make out the water pouring over the glass into the sink.  I like the look of this - a bit modern and a bit vintage - just like me.

So before the flooring was put down, I stripped off the old wallpaper and HH repainted the upper part of the walls with paint we had left over from the living room fireplace wall. Its a nice chocolate brown (colour name? its by Behr and is on the same card as the Swiss Coffee off white trim colour).  The wallpaper I had seen at Home Depot and it works perfectly and pulls all the colours together.  It is not prepasted.wallpaper.  This is the first time I have used paper that I had to use separate paste with and you know what?? It was easier!  And cleaner! And my seams are invisible.  Thats great!  Worth every penny.  The chair rail is painted the same as the trim in the rest of the house (swiss coffee by Behr).  The mirror is from Ikea (@18.00) and I hung it a tad low but it is OK.  Once the holes were drilled that was it we were committed.

Here is a view of the floor.  We had EXACTLY enough left over.  Fortunately we (HH) prefit the pieces like a big puzzle to make sure it would all work.  If we were short we would have played around with something else farther under the vanity where it wouldnt be noticable.  I have since replaced that lovely oak toilet seat with one that closes with just a touch.  I really like the way the new vanity sits a bit back from the doorway.  The original built in came right up to the frame and this way seems to make the room feel bigger.

And here is the piece de resistance.  I knew I wanted a statement piece of art.  Even though the room is small I wanted to really fill the one large wall space.  So I headed to Ikea originally looking for the Audrey Hepburn canvas.  However, that seems to be not available anymore.  I spent a while looking all through the larger prints including cityscapes.  Then I saw this beautiful picture of I am guessing Greta Garbo.  The colours are perfect in the sepia/brown tones and the background is very close to the trim colour. Also this is an era appropriate piece in keeping with the vintage feel of the dresser - and also one of my particularly favourite time periods. But the very best part?  It was on sale!  20.00 off.  Love that.

You can also see the light that we changed out from an old brass/murano glass fixture from 1990.  This was in our ensuite bathroom but HH didn't like it as it didn't shed much light.  However, in here it is perfect, it is brushed stainless metal and the light bounces prettily off the ceiling.  It's perfect.

Here's a picture that will hopefully give you a better feeling for the space.

Overall this was a very fulfilling and fun job to do.  I will try and give a breakdown of total costs.  It really wasnt very much as we used a lot of what we had on hand.  This is one of my favourite places in the house and I like to just go in and sit there... is that odd??

Dresser  100.00
Tap  50.00
Vessel Sink 152.00
Towel Ring  9.00
Mirror  18.00
Toilet seat 30.00
Picture  29.00
Misc. decor  20.00
Trim  50.00
Wallpaper and paste 75.00
Chandelier  - repurposed from another room
Flooring  free - had left over
Paint free - left over
Total  533.00  Just a little over the 500.00 I was aiming for.

Linked up to Thrifty Decor Chick - June Before and After Party - see button below.

TDC Before and After

And I just want to mention that I have had almost 4000 views on my little blog here.  Thank you to everyone who visits and takes a minute out of their day to read about my life.  If you like what you see why don't you take a moment and become a follower.  I'd love that and maybe I'll have a giveaway to the 25th follower.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Time flies when you are having fun????

I have been the world's worse blogger.  I have been the busiest in my work life that I have ever been in the 15 years I have had my business.  I have literally worked from 10 am to 2 am for over 5 weeks and then from 10 to at least 8 pm since.  24-7.  But the end of the tunnel is twinkling and I can see it. I think that I will be able to post some good /interesting posts soon..stay tuned!!  First up - my powder room reno.
It'll be worth it.
By the way - I have had over 3300 visits/views to my blog - WOW!