Friday, August 31, 2012

Bench and Basket Makeovers

Hi All. It's the last weekend of the summer.  I've been doing some last minute "sprucing-up" - at home, on the blog and in the garden.

I've picked a meal's worth of these every second day for the last 2 weeks.   Oh! They taste so good when they come out of your own garden!

I just happen to have the camera nearby when this fellow paid a visit to my garden one day earlier this week.

And these geraniums have finally responded to the fertilizer I gave them 2 weeks ago.  One small plant has blossomed into a spectacular view!

Do you like the new fall feel to my blog?  I needed something new and fresh and I think my new header has captured the feeling of the upcoming season very well.  

Now onto some changes on the home front!

I have had this bench in my front entry for just over 2 years now.  There is a basket underneath for each child and  they (reasonably) contain all of their daily gear - hats, sandals and runners.  

I  recovered this bench 18 months ago with a pale green fabric that matched my walls perfectly. It looked lovely for about 2 minutes until the sippy cups, muddy boots and sticky hands destroyed it.  Hubby tried on several occasions to use a carpet cleaner to remove the stains but unfortunately the marks just spread out and looked worse.


Time for a makeover - part one! 
 Ten years ago I fell in love with a beautiful Laura Ashley print fabric.  At the time, we were building our first home and I planned on using it as the inspiration for one of the rooms.  However, after I returned home with 6 metres of it, hubby quickly vetoed it for being "too flowery" and "too pretty."  So, into my fabric stash it went.  It has moved three times with us, always hoping that one day, dear hubby would allow me to use it.  
And now, ladies and gentlemen, that time had come.  

So, using my stapler and screwdriver, my ugly bench became......

..... my lovely new floral- covered bench!!
Isn't  this a gorgeous print??

Now to do something with the far-from-pretty baskets.....

They function very well - they hold a ton of stuff and fit perfectly under the bench.  However, the mossy green liners were dingy and ripped and they could use a real lightening and brightening!

Vintage White spray paint to the rescue!!

A lot less shabby and a lot more chic!

Now to label  them for each child.

I went to Michaels hoping to find some tag-shaped wooden cut-outs.  No luck.  So instead I brought home these wooden FOOTBALLS and had hubby drill holes them.  I also picked up wooden letters in the initials of my 3 children.
(Yes my kids' initials really are A, B & C.  People find it funny that my hubby and I, both teachers, have kids with these initials.  It really was a fluke - completely  unplanned!)

I painted each "football" the same green as my walls.  The initials were painted in our traditional family colours - Bryn's stuff is always blue, Afton's is always pink and Camden's is always yellow!

I dry-brushed some white paint over top to create am "aged" look then tied some twine to each end to help fasten them to the baskets.  


Don't they look so much better?
And each basket distinguishable from the next.  

I took some time to this out the basket clutter - removing broken flip-flops and out-grown shoes, and re-stocking the hats and sandals for the upcoming days of school.

And you know what?  Hubby doesn't mind my fabric choice one bit.  Really, how could not love pink roses, blush coloured pinks, and white lilies sprawling across the most perfect shade of aqua you have ever seen?

Just look how cute my daughter's sparkly shoes look next to  it.
  And my new raspberry coloured purse - lovely!!

Now the next thing....should I paint my picture frames white or leave them wood-toned?  I have lots of dark wood in this room mixed with many light fabrics. Hmm.....what do you think??

Monday, August 27, 2012

Welcome Back Paper Pennants

 Hello everyone.  
I hope you are enjoying your last week of August. 
Our days are busy around here in preparation for the beginning of school in just over a week.  The whole family goes this year- Kevin and I teach, our oldest son goes to grade 3, our daughter to grade 1 and our "baby" begins junior kindergarten.  We are trying to enjoy every last minute of our last week of holidays playing board games, reading stories and playing outside.  
Unfortunately our end-of-summer happiness was interrupted last week with the news that my 94 year old grandmother had passed away.  So, we spent a few days back home celebrating her life with my extended family.  When we returned back here, our local flower shop arrived with this lovely bouquet sent by my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.  
It was a lovely mix of hydrangea, roses and pinks - the perfect mood lifter after a few solemn days.  
Thanks again, Joel and Amy!

As I mentioned before, I am  teacher and I am  heading back to my 13th year in the classroom.  Honestly, I have always enjoyed putting my classroom together at the  end of each summer, ready for my students to arrive.  This year, I thought I'd make something a little special to hang across the front of the room to embrace them as they entered another bright and shiny school year.  

I bought a Cricut machine in the spring and I am still trying to get to know it better.  I am an experienced paper crafter - I scrapbook and make cards and have for years.  I've never really been a big user of "technology" for these crafts in the past, but now that I have purchased this machine, I wonder how I ever lived without it!!
Up until this point I  have mostly  used it to cut titles for my scrapbook pages.  However, this summer I have bought a few more cartridges with a larger variety of shapes.  My newest cartridge cuts a variety of pennant shapes with overlays and textures.  It was time to give it a try.

 I cut the main pennants out of school-themed paper.  The picot edging was cut from plain black card.  
Each pennant is 6 inches long.  

I like how the black makes each pattern POP!

For an extra detail, I stitched the two layers together using my sewing machine.  

Instead of just applying my text onto the busy pattern of each pennant, I cut some star shapes to act as mini-backgrounds for the lettering. 

If the pennant paper was mostly red, I used a yellow star.  All the other patterns have red stars.  

Using another cutting cartridge, I cut my black lettering.  It took a few tries to get the right size, but finally 2" letters fit!!

After some adhesive and some pop dots (to add height), my pennants were DONE!!
Already they have a pride of place across the front of my classroom.  A few colleagues have commented on them.  They want some for their rooms, too! I told them none for the beginning of school, but maybe I'll take a few orders for Thanksgiving or Christmas!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Crocheted Monkey Coffee Cozy

Say that blog title 5 times fast!!

Too funny.  

Although I hate to think about it, autumn is just around the corner.  That means school, sweaters and Spiced Pumpkin Lattes.  Oh yeah. Maybe fall isn't all  that bad!

While searching for cute **free** crocheting patterns on the web a few weeks ago, I came across a pattern for this little guy:

Here's the link.    Patons Yarns  You have to sign up for a free account to access it, but I think he is totally worth it!

And what is he, you ask?  He's a coffee cup cozy.  You know-- you put him around your HOT takeout coffee to keep your hands from burning.  

He took me less than 1/2 an hour to crochet and even less time to sew his parts together and add his face.  And he was totally worth it!

Look how cute he is on my new porcelain "Union Jack" travel mug.  Hubby bought it up for me while we were in the UK a few weeks ago.  Isn't he a sweetie?

My "Limelight" hydrangeas are the stars of my garden right now.  I cut several flower heads today and placed them into my "new" Crown mason jars.  I found a ton of them recently in a second hand store for $1.00 a piece.  Score!

And  then I snapped some pics.

The flowers look lovely. 

The light through the jars, equally so.  

And you want to know the best part? Now that the kids have a playroom in the basement, they rarely hang out in the family room anymore.  I can safely put jars of flowers on my coffee table and know that they will remain there.  Hurray!

 One last shot of the flowers, but this time with my latest knitting project.  The knitting part is done- just the crocheted edging to go.  I'll share the finished product in the next few days!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Belfast, Dublin and Kilkenny.... and The Cutest Felt Owls

Phase three of our trip to the UK brought us to Ireland.  We took a ferry from Scotland and arrived in Belfast within hours.  We expected the city to be grey and dismal - with many signs its former "troubles,"  but instead we found a cheerful, modern metropolis with a shiny disposition and lots of friendly people.  
We visited the Titantic memorial outside the city's main municipal buildings. Originally it had only the names of the shipbuilders who died when Titanic perished. But now, in behind, there is a memorial wall built to honour  all those who lost their lives 100 years ago.  
We also viewed the new Titanic Museum set to open next month.  Obviously, we could not enter the building, but we greatly enjoyed viewing the outer structure - meant to mimic the size and scale of the original ship (above). It was very impressive.  

After viewing all of that ship-building history, Kevin really needed re-hydrate.  We visited the oldest pub in Belfast where he sampled their Irish whiskey wares and I photographed the amazing decor.  

Eager to see more of Ireland, we journeyed onto Dublin. Here we viewed many of Dublin's colourful Georgian doors and sampled some REAL Irish music and dance in a downtown pub.  I LOVE Bulmer's cider!!

The following day, we stopped enroute in Kilkenny for lunch.  We spent a few minutes admiring the town's castle ( and I snapped some pics of my cute hubby!) 

I hope you are enjoying my trip pictures.  I took so many and I love sharing them with you all.  Still to come are the rest of my Ireland pics, then Wales and Southern England.     Thanks for bearing with me!!

Now onto the crafting!!

About a year ago, I found a lovely blog, Snowy Bliss, and instantly fell in love with the felt owls she had made for daughter's birthday party.  Lucky for me, she was selling the pattern PDF on Etsy.  I purchased one right away.  

 The pattern was clear and concise and gave lots of detailed descriptions on how to complete each step.  

I loved digging through my felt stash (I've got a bit of an obsession here!)......

.....and choosing just the right colour  to cut out each part of my feathered friend.  On this day, I cut enough for 3 more owls.   
I machine stitch all of the pieces together and   I match the thread to each new layer, adding each part on top of the former until  an adorable "owly" face appears.  

These three lovelies are destined to be part of three Christmas gifts.  

I hope the three little ones who receive them love them as much as my youngest boy does!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bonny Scotland....and Our New Red Doors

The Part About Scotland:

At the mid-way point of our trip to the UK we arrived in Scotland.  We spent 2 nights in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh.  

I took a ton of pictures at Edinburgh Castle. 
While we took a few hours to explore it, I kept thinking  about the  fact that this castle must have been a total pain to build - there were huge rocks everywhere!  However, the early Scots over came this by using the rocks as part of the walls - built right in.

There were so many signs of chivalry throughout the castle.  Oh how I would have loved to have lived in this era...
Ancient stones under our feet, 750 year old cannons, a view to the "New Town" area of Edinburgh - and a couple of silly men who entertained and educated us about military gear  from the 1500's.

After leaving the castle we journeyed down the "Royal Mile" - the historic High Street in Edinburgh.  

Kevin and I even tried Haggis.  The flavour was meaty and  flavourful with many herbs and spices. I wouldn't order it in a restaurant, but it wasn't bad!

The Part of About Red Doors:

Take a look at these pictures.  Aren't these doors amazing?? 
Kevin and Layla at The Lettered Cottage recently created a Office/Guest Bedroom space with these gorgeous red accents. 

And these red doors figure prominently in the design of Sarah Richardson's country home Mudroom.  I have loved them since I saw them several years ago.  
Sarah Richardson Design

So when hubby and I decided to add a huge closet into our basement renovations, I jumped for joy when he agreed to RED DOORS!!

So while hubby spent hours framing, drywalling and adding trim, my painting skills went into turning plain white masonite doors into rich, red focal points.

I have been painting with red for years.  Our first home had a red dining room.  Currently my oldest son's bunkbeds (once brown and dingy) sport a rich crimson. Our kitchen bar stools have recently made the transition to red ( I'll show you those in the next few weeks!) 
Needless to say, I know how to work with RED.
And, baby, to make something red, you can't just paint it red.  
Especially if you are going from a pale shade like white.  
If you were to try to paint a white wall red by covering it with red paint only it would take you an eternity and many, many coats of paint.  The first coat would go on looking like a pink glaze, the second would turn your wall a funny fuchsia colour.  The third coat makes it a patchy raspberry and the fourth  looks......well you get the picture.  And maybe by the time you reach the 6th coat you might have red......if you are lucky!

Thankfully, way back, 10 years ago, when hubby and I were painting that dining room in our first home, a wise paint centre guy told me about dark grey primer.  Yep.  They just add black colour to your can of white primer.  Paint that on your pale items before you even THINK of RED and you'll be home free!
So, as usual, on went my coat of grey primer, then 2 quick coats of Red Awning by Behr and our doors were ready to be hung!
(By the way, this grey primer thing works well with any rich colour - orange, purple, blue, etc.)


Don't they look great with my Camel (Behr) walls and my Hushed White (Behr) trim?

Here's a picture of my hard working hubby who spent weeks during his summer vacation working on finishing our basement.  We are SO CLOSE to finishing- just the dropped ceiling to go!

On go the nickel door pulls.  

I love how the red looks with our coffee-toned carpet.

We purchased a new sofa this week and I am slowly beginning to decorate the space.  I have many, many projects up my sleeves and I can't wait to show you them as I complete them.  We are hoping to have the whole room complete by Thanksgiving (which is at the beginning of October here in Canada).  Please be patient- I'll show the whole thing to you ASAP!!

Thanks for sticking with me through this long-winded post.  You truly are a wonderful bloggy-reader!!

Hugs to all,