End of Winter Blahs

When I wrote the title I realized it could be taken one of two ways: end of winter BLAHs (as in, that yucky feeling you have when you just can’t wait for Spring and it feels like winter is never going away) or END of winter blahs (as in, I’m not going to let myself feel like this any more and this is the end of it). I’m hoping it’s the latter but seeing as we just got 10 cm of snow, it’s hard to tell.

kickatdarkness4x6

One of my favourite places + one of my favourite song lyrics

Boredom is a dangerous emotional state for me. My job as a research scientist can be really dry at times; repeating the same protocols over and over, spending hours watching a machine count cells, staring at spreadsheets of numbers, etc. However, I have found that I have the patience and stamina for the more monotonous parts of my job when I am being creatively stimulated outside of work hours. When I was spending every evening and weekend planning our wedding, I was also a lot more productive and engaged at work. This also means that the less I have to do, the less I want to do. So when I start to feel uninspired or unstimulated I need to find something to put my energy into, otherwise I start a downward spiral into sweatpants and binge watching Netflix.

800px-Suits_intertitle

Suits marathon, anyone?

This self-realization led me to start this blog near the end of last year. I made a list of things to accomplish in January/February; topics I could blog about and projects to try. But now I’m getting restless again. Sometimes it’s nice to have a breather and look back on the things that you wanted to accomplish and did, but I’m past that point now. The weather is still not cooperating for the stuff that I need to do outdoors, like painting my dresser and helping a friend with a pallet project. So to keep me from getting into a bad mental space, I’m making myself a new list:

> paint an old wood stool with my Chalk Paint sample pot. The stool I am going to paint currently holds a basket of mitts, hats, and other winter paraphernalia… can’t wait to hide it in the back of the closet. Or maybe I’ll set fire to it and move to Florida instead.

provence table

Provence is such a pretty shade of aqua blue.

> sew an adjustable roman blind with one of my friends… she needs a blind, I need a project. Win-win! Plus I’ll get to practice some of the hand stitching techniques that I’ve learned/want to learn.

mitered corners sewing

I’m going to miter the hell out of those corners!

> fix my favourite sweater that I have literally worn holes through at the elbows with some sweet grandpa elbow patches

elbow patches

Torn between leather, suede and corduroy.

> make a badass wall feature by combining two great tutorials I’ve found: a photo linen mat and a distressed wood frame.

linen photo mat

Have I mentioned that I love textiles?

HBL reclaimed wood mirror

So much pretty.

Ok! Now that I’m all motivated and everything, guess I’ll go outside and shovel all this snow! Hahaha. Not.

-C

Top 5: Upcycled Home Decor

If you couldn’t tell from my DIY Bucket List, I happen to love making lists. In the spirit of one of my favourite movies/books of all time, I’m going to start an ongoing series of posts with my “Top 5” whatever. Today, it’s Upcycled Home Decor! All of these feature something that was almost garbage, but with a bit of creativity and some elbow grease, turned into something awesome. No matter how “green” your outlook or how fat your wallet is, I think everyone can appreciate how ingenious some of these are!

So without further ado…

Top 5: Upcycled Home Decor

5) Crates >>> coffee table. All you need is a board to attach them to for the base, and something to put in the hole in the middle. I like how this one doubles as a plant holder, and the storage space it lends makes it super functional for small rooms.

Wine-Crate-Coffee-Table

(YourAmazingPlaces.com)

Or you could place the crates vertically for more height. I love the pop of colour and grey wash of this one, too.

sincerely yours truly crate coffee table

(SincerelyYoursTruly on Etsy)

4) Drawers >>> under-bed storage. How cute are these repurposed old drawers from HoneybearLane? I can’t handle it. Way cuter than the plastic ones we picked up from CT. I’ve seen countless cheap dressers at Value Village that this would work on… just paint, attach casters, and put new drawer pulls on!

HBL rolling drawer storage

(Honeybear Lane)

3) Pallets >>> reading nook. What, you didn’t think I’d make a list like this without mentioning pallets, did you? I love pallets! One of my friends actually forwarded this example of a reading nook for little ones when I made my pallet trunk and I would love to try it one day… maybe when I finally feel ready for babies (I just checked… nope, not yet).pallet daybed

 (Under the Sycamore)

and my number one favourite example of upcycled home decor…..

[drumroll]

Are you ready?

1) Wood door >>> headboard. Ohh, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. I even found the perfect door the last time I went to Almonte but sadly we do not have the room right now. Take an old door, add a bit of crown molding, paint it or leave it rough and weathered and voila! This works well either with a vintage, chippy finish like this

hometalk headboard

(hometalk.com)

…or with a more smooth, modern finish like this.

grand design co headboard(Grand Design Co.)

Also, how cute are those ruffled pillows with the sweet floral pattern? And the shade of grey-blue? And the stretched canvas print above the bed? I want the whole bedroom!

Ok, your turn. I know there’s tons more cool upcycled stuff out there, what’s on your list? Bonus points if you can name the movie I was inspired by!
-C

 

 

Acetone Transfer Tutorial

How to make a custom wedding monogram print

Wheee! Every now and then I find a project that is simple, cheap, and turns out great. This was one of them. I had previously posted about using iron on transfers to make a cute framed print, but I’m not crazy about the glue left behind from the transfer. Then my husband told me that you could use a solvent to transfer laser printed images (I’m pretty sure his motivation was not entirely altruistic… I kept threatening to try the direct inkjet print technique and I think he was scared I would break the printer) and so I set out to try it.

Note: Only a laser printer will work for this. The solvent dissolves the toner, and then you rub the back of the paper to transfer the dissolved image on to an absorbent surface, like fabric.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Acetone or lacquer thinner* (I used acetone… we’re talking full-strength)
  • Small glass bowl for the acetone/thinner
  • Image printed on a laser printer
  • Material you want to print on, like canvas or burlap
  • Iron-on fabric stabilizer (optional, but it will keep the print from looking floppy)
  • Paintbrush
  • Fine-tip Sharpie marker for touch up (optional)
  • Burnishing tool, or a spoon in a pinch
  • Tape
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Iron
  • Non-porous hard surface to work on, like a baking pan

*use in a properly ventilated area, especially if using the lacquer thinner! As always when working with chemicals, make sure you take protective measures and use safely.

transfer 1_watermarked

1) Iron the fabric and figure out where you want to place the transfer. Tape it in place on all sides, and brush acetone over the image (the acetone will probably make the tape not stick super well, so be careful not to touch it and keep a hand on the back of the paper). If you have a large image, you’ll want to do it a section at a time, because the acetone will evaporate quickly.

transfer 2_watermarked2

2) Quickly burnish (rub) the image to transfer it from the paper to the fabric. Pay close attention to areas that are more finely detailed (like text). Stop burnishing once the acetone has evaporated.

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3) If you want to touch up any areas, re-apply acetone and burnish again- just make sure the paper hasn’t moved. Then, peel and admire! If the image didn’t transfer perfectly, you can cheat and use a fine-tip sharpie to fill it in.

transfer 4_watermarked

4) If using the fabric stabilizer, iron on the back of the fabric print. You could even hot glue it to a piece of cardboard. Cut to size for your frame of choice, and you’re done!

Compared to the iron-on transfer I did, it’s a little bit more faded. The transfer doesn’t go on with the same sharp, black lines. BUT there is no glue residue, and I like the faded look! It looks even more like a vintage grain sack this way.

transfer 5_watermarked

Love it! What do you think, any other ideas for what I could transfer next? I have a lot of acetone left…

signature 6

Coconut Lime Bundt Cake Recipe

Today’s post is another recipe. Can you tell I am a baker and not a cook? I made this cake last weekend and I’m still dreaming about it. It was the perfect mix of sweet and tart.

cake pic 2_watermarked

Also, I got to try out the new bundt pan that I got for Christmas from my sister-in-law, so it looked as good as it tasted!

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Food & Drink‘s Spring 2014 issue.

Coconut Lime Bundt Cake

Cake

2 1/4 cups cake and pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 cup milk, at room temp
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Lime Syrup

6 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
toasted coconut and lime zest for garnishing

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease the bundt pan with wax paper rubbed in a bit of butter, then lightly dust with flour.

2) In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3) Using an electric mixer, cream butter until soft, then add the 1 cup of sugar slowly. Beat until light and fluffy.

4) Separate the eggs, reserving the whites in a small bowl. Add the yolks one at a time to the butter/sugar mixture, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and coconut extract and mix to combine.

5) Slowly add the dry ingredients, alternating with the 1 cup of milk. Mix until smooth.

6) Beat the egg whites in the small bowl until foamy, then gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

7) Stir the coconut into the cake batter and slowly fold in the egg whites. Mix gently.

8) Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 40 min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

9) Towards the end of the baking time, combine the lime juice and sugar for the syrup in a small pot. Heat over medium until sugar dissolves and keep warm.

10) Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and brush the sides and top with the lime syrup while still warm.

11) Allow the cake to cool completely. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, lime zest, and lime slices.

cakek pic 1_watermarked

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I wish computers had smell-o-vision. Standing over this cake and breathing in the limey, coconutty goodness was heaven! Enjoy with a latte and a book.

If you’re looking for the bundt pan, I’m pretty sure it’s this one from Williams-Sonoma.

-C

Industrial Light Fixture

My husband and I were at his folks’ over the weekend, which meant helping with their basement reno (him) and reading my mother-in-law’s copies of House & Home (me).

I have really been trying to avoid looking at home décor mags because they fill me with creative urges that I cannot, at this time, fulfill; however, every now and then I listen to the little devil on my shoulder and imbibe. I’m glad I did because it led me to this bad boy from West Elm:

west elm floor lamp

That got me talking with my in-laws about the industrial trend, and light fixtures such as this. And it turned out that they had just taken down the bell-shaped, wall mounted, chrome light fixture that used to hang above the sofa in their living room, which I had always been secretly jealous of!

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As soon as we give it a new cord and clean it up a bit, it’s going above our sectional as a reading lamp. I’m not sure why I am digging this look lately… I saw some old light bulbs at Tin Barn Market when I was in Almonte a few weeks ago and I guess a hankering for industrial accents was awoken in me. They even sell bulbs, cages, and fabric cords so you can create the perfect look!

tin barn bulbs

I also love the large globe fixtures you can find, like this one

banquette

Clamps can also further bring home the industrial vibe, like in these ones from Ikea:

FAS lamp RANARP lamp

This look reminds me of a bad ass laboratory from the early 1900s. Can’t you just picture the light from one of these illuminating brilliant scribblings on a chalkboard, while you shout “Eureka!” over a bubbling condenser apparatus?

See, this is why I should not read H&H. Anyone else have a lighting obsession, or another trend on their radar?
-C