A Place to hang his (Sir Topen)hat

My little boy loves his hats. And he also loves Thomas and Friends but that's neither here nor there. My little boy also loves to do things himself now that he's a 'big boy' (two), so when I came across these letters for $1 each (!!!) at Michaels a little light bulb went off in my head.

Why not make him his own little place to hang his hats - and coats!?

These letters came in white with the hooks attached but since they were living in the bargain bin they'd become quite scuffed and had yellowed a bit too. So I gave them a good spray with some white paint that I had on hand and they were as good as new again (well, they actually were new to begin with but now they looked newer than that even).

They also came with a little hook on the back to hang them but since the letters were cheap to begin with, the hooks were kind of wonky and not very well hidden on the back. In other words if I were to hang them that way you'd see nails and the tops of the hanger. Not very toddler friendly at all! Also knowing a kids tendency to yank things at eye level I came up with a good solution on how to hang (and consequently re-hang when yanked down) the letters.

You can see the hole left behind from where I removed the old hanger. Then I used (my favourite) "Command Picture Hanging Hooks". These things rock and I use them for everything. I especially love how they don't damage the wall, and of course are reposition-able.

Once I had all the letters hung this is what I was left with! Chace loves it and hangs his jackets up all the time. He also sits on the stairs, points and squeals 'hat!' at every given opportunity. Success!


I'm a scrapper not a fighter

I love to scrapbook. I'm not sure if it's the visual part of me, the creative part of me, the sentimental part of me or the social part of me... but I do know that I like it. And so does Chace, my two year old boy. He regularly points to the albums and says "Mommy yook" (translation - Can we take a look at your exquisite album creations Mother dearest")

Now some of you might have raised an eyebrow at two parts of that - the 'social' comment as well as the whole 'scrap booking' love declaration. Let me address those.

You're thinking social? yes, social. I got into scrap booking because some of the lovely lady friends I inherited when I started dating my hubby (yay for my husband's buddies having great women) love to scrap. I was skeptical at first (see next note) but wanted to get to know them better and go away with them to their retreats so I decided to start an album. From there I was hooked. It was creative, fun and boy, had it come a loooong way.

Which brings me to my next point. For any of you who have the same 1990's impression of what scrap booking was that I did, throw it out with your solid colour construction paper triangles. Today's supplies are so amazingly different and BETTER so therefore, is the result you can achieve. Creativity at it's finest my friends. Very rewarding. And to document the ones and moments that you love - pricelessly awesome.

If you still don't believe me, check out Becky Higgins (the genius behind "Project Life") and Ali Edwards. Too amazing women who are pioneers in the field of scrap booking. Their stuff is ah-maze-ing.

This post was sparked initially due to a call for entires on Becky's blog. I've entered a few of my layouts so wish me luck!

Below are a few snippets of some of my recent layouts. Enjoy!


ABC, easy as 123

One of my favouritest people in the whole world has a little girl who just turned two on Friday. The birthday girl's name is Sophia but we all affectionately call her Miss S.

Since Miss S is (theoretically) entering the terrible two's I thought we might as well teach her how to spell it. What's better than art that functions as a teaching tool? Not much. (hold your sarcasm please) A teaching tool? Isn't that like giving a 7 year old boy socks for Christmas rather than the toy he really wanted? Perhaps, but I think Miss S's mommy will appreciate the gift and plus, a homemade gift shows how much you care. And it's pretty too! Behold!

Now, I can't in all conscience take credit for the great concept here. That will have to go to Destri over at The Mother Huddle. Gotta give props where props are due. Check her out. That girl's got some mad skillz.

Anyway, first step was to find a stencil. I was thinking of doing a shape - butterfly, flower etc. but just was so in love with the alphabet that I had to go that route.

Next I grabbed a frame. Okay, question. Why do they sell white frames with off-white matts? Don't they know that clashes and is highly annoying? Perhaps that is why this frame, instead of coming with the typical smiling family comes with this depressed looking chick. What's her problem anyway?

So I decided to spray both the frame AND matt while spraying the stencil. Yes, I decided to spray the matt. Why not? I wasn't going to use it as is so worst case, I ruined it. But guess what, I didn't. (yay for trying something new and it working on the first try).

After those all dried the next step was to find some paper to go in behind the letters. I dove into my scrap booking paper stash and came up with this bright (hopefully toddler loving) palette.

And then because I am too lazy to cut squares (which would totally work) I used my circle punch and went to town.

Happy with my colours I started to lay them out over the letters. I laid them out face up and then simply flipped each colour over (these are the backs of each piece - the paper is double sided) and taped them all in place. Here is what it looked like at this point.

Now see that pesky hook/hole at top that messed up my chances of having this fit perfectly in the space created by the matt? My first thought was to trim that off and mount it on white paper. But as we all know, no white is created equal so it looked awful. Ummm, no thanks. So, a new solution was born - hence moving it all up and adding a cheery strip at bottom. Which, when it was all said and done, I think I prefer. Yay for happy accidents.

So there you go. A personal DIY gift that is functional, fun, easy and heartfelt.



Presenting... Chef Kev!

The following is an actual conversation between my mom and I (when I was about 20) after another dissatifying display of my less than stellar culinary skills.

Mom: Why don't I teach you how to make some basic recipes that you can use over and over again

Elaine: Ummm, oka... actually No thanks.

M: Well, you have to learn how to cook something - what are you going to do when you get married, cook your husband Kraft Dinner every night?

E: No! I'm going to marry someone who CAN COOK of course!

... okay, so I was joking (what does my mom have against KD anyway) but miracles of miracles, I did just that! Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't LOOKING for that in a husband, it was just a bonus. After all, a girl's got her priorities - cute butt, nice teeth and if he can cook, bonus. True story.

I jest, I jest, but my hubby really is a good cook. So much so that people are always asking how he makes his recipes. So after denying me my attempts to get him to audition for Food Network casting calls and/or be the talent in a cook book that I'd design, I convinced him to appear on my blog. Presenting Chef Kev! I hope to post these once a week featuring some of the many wonderful meals my +1 has created (lucky, lucky me).

I wasn't allowed to do this though without the following caveat - "I don't measure, I just go by taste" so apologies for the lack of measurements but feel free to comment on any of these posts with any specific questions and we'll get them answered for you!

The menu today features BBQ Teriyaki Mushroom Steak, Roasted Potatoes (with thyme & rosemary) and Asparagus Broccoli Soup (topped with Cheddar and Bacon). Yum-to-the-double-M-meee (aka YUMMY).

BBQ Teriyaki Mushroom Steak

Start by making your own marinade in a bowl using olive oil, dark soy sauce, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce and tangerine fig balsamic (Chef Kev note: regular balsamic along with orange juice or pineapple juice can be substituted for the tangerine fig balsamic)

Trim the fat off some strip loin steak (any steak cut will work though), stab with a fork a few times and place in marinade. Refrigerate for a few hours and let sit at room temperature for one hour (E: why? Chef Kev: because meat always cooks better from room temperate. E: {inside voice} news to me). Flip/turn/coat every half hour in bowl.

Cook 3 to 5 minutes each side on a BBQ grill (depending on thickness of steak and desired doneness).

For the mushrooms, you'll want to cut your mushrooms into slices, and place into a saucepan with some chopped shallot, a chopped clove of garlic, a bit of butter, maple syrup a splash of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Simmer down/reduce in pan. Spoon on to top of steak to serve.

Roasted Potatoes (with thyme & rosemary)

Peel some yellow flesh potatoes and cut into chunks slightly bigger than the size of a large egg. 

Bring a pot of water to boil and add your potatoes chunks. Parboil (E: what's that? K: partial boiling, E: right, makes sense) for 10 mins until outside is fluffy. Drain. 

Toss your potatoes in a bowl with salt & pepper, dry or fresh thyme and rosemary, garlic powder,  and semolina powder. Add 'oil' - Kevin used a combo of olive oil, canola oil and butter for his 'oil'. Splash in vinegar (Kevin used white balsamic). Toss well. 

Roast in a 425º oven for 25-40 minutes (depending on oven). Flip half way through. After 10 minutes of roasting, press each potatoe lightly with a potatoe masher to spread and flatten slightly. This (according to me) is the best part as it crispens up the potatoes more. So good!

Asparagus Broccoli Soup (topped with cheddar and bacon)

Trim tough ends off of one bundle of asparagus. Cut a few small flours of broccoli - trim the stalks back and use mostly the flower. Steam both.

In a food processor, add one peeled shallot, chicken or veggie stock and 1/3 to 1/2 cup table cream. Add steamed asparagus and broccoli. Add fresh dill (dried will also do), and salt & pepper to taste. Liquify in food processor.

Place your soup back into the pot that you used to steam your veggies and gently simmer for few minutes. Season to taste.

Finish by topping with grated cheddar cheese and crispy home made bacon bits.


So,what do you think of the new Chef Kev feature?


The Great Grass Caper

We live on the west coast and people are always talking about how green and lush it is here. And they are right... with the exception of our back yard.

We live in a town home and have a nice wooden deck off the back kitchen/family room area. Even though it looked like this when we moved in, we assumed it was most likely due to neglect (you may notice by the sludge in the garden bed that the previous owners didn't exactly have green thumbs). We thought once we moved in and gave the grass a little TLC we'd be golden... or at least green anyway.

Wowza. Now that is ugly (with a capital 'ugh')

So, our request went in for the gardeners in our complex to address the - lack of - grass issue. (I could take care of the garden myself) so they came and raked and laid out some seed. We waited and waited and the grass started to grow back - yay! ... Until the next year when it basically looked like this again (minus the sludge soup in the planter area). It was quite the whoop-whoop-whoop moment (think Debbie Downer from SNL). Ya, well she must have visited when we weren't looking. Thanks Debbie.

But have no fear, Kevin is here. He set about on his own mission and went to get some sod to lay this time - "seeds are for wimps" is what he said (well, he didn't actually say that but I just typed it so we're going with it). What I think he actually said is more along the line of "@#%^&$# grass!"

Rolling out the red green carpet....

Did I mention it might have rained on him? Well it did - A LOT.

Speaking of soggy, apparently there is a drainage issue in our little back yard space - you think? After another round of the patchy grass/dirt show we had had enough. The little sod died and so did our dreams of grass. But, we'd always wished for a bigger deck anyway (we didn't do it to begin with because strata said 'no') but now we had ammo. So, we took our big dirt guns (illegal since we're Canadian) and showed them our grass pistols (you know I'm exaggerating to make this more dramatic right) but where I'm going here is that we got strata to let us extend the deck - cue the sky opening and Elaine doing a happy dance! Kevin might have danced too but he'll completely deny it.

Enter Adam - carpenter extraordinaire and Kev's soccer team mate and buddy! Yup, we have people in high places. Now this is where I let the pictures speak for themselves because I can't tell you exactly what they are doing here other than extending our deck all they way out to the planter. So, there was a lot of this going on...

and this...

and this...

That's Adam. And after he finished that, he did a bit of this...

Now, I know you are all thinking "wow, with that great tutorial I can now go and build my own deck" and so for that, I say "you're welcome".

So, within a weekend we went from this:

to this!

Thanks team Kevin Adam!

You also may have noticed that the sludge turned into some plants. That happened when I waved my magic wand wallet. It's even changed since then which I will show in a future post.

So, there she be! A shiny new deck!  It's literally like having an extra room out there. And it's been great. And lucky for us, we have the best neighbours in the world (true story) so I find myself out there quite often - drink in hand - chatting away. It's proven to be quite convenient really.

And along those lines, I have big plans for this space people - big plans! Okay, so they aren't really big in terms of importance or world news but hopefully they will make the deck look a little nicer than it already does.

I plan to share some in future posts. If you're excited, raise your hand? Awh, thanks Dad.


Serenity Now

Okay, so further to my post yesterday of our master bedroom smoothing, here is the follow up focusing on our master bathroom en-suite.

STOP! No seriously, that was what would happen when I walked in there. You see the walls were kind of red (painted that way when we moved in). So I would stop... and wait. Wait until they turned green so I could continue on with my duties.

The red had to go. It would be okay in a parisian apartment or a fancy boudoir but not with our seaside-ish bedding and calm bedroom walls. Non rouge-pas.

So, I pulled a calming blue shade out of our bedding (no, not the old blue on the bedroom walls) and introduced it to it's friend - white paneling - which I also freshened up with new paint. Then I threw on some earrings (on it, not me) in the way of signs and hooks and off he she went (what, girls can wear blue) to the party.

I picked up those little 'his and her' hooks when we visited England back in 2008. Love those.

And the best part about all this (aside from the obvious lack of red) is that I did all of this when my hubby was away one weekend for soccer. And yes, unlike the odd haircut or nail polish change, he did notice. And he liked what he saw.

So, my applogies to red, I don't hate you but don't want to date you anymore. I'm much happier with blue thank you very much. Ah.... serenity now.


Feeling BLUE? Not anymore!

Since I'm very new to this whole blogging thing I'm going to have to dive back into the ol' home project archives for some of my first posts. Since these were done 'pre-blog' please forgive my lack of photos journalling the steps and missing sources. Posts of my 'real time' projects will be much more informative - promise. Pinky swear. No need to type a note in ALL CAPS yelling at me.

As well, I must preface this all by saying that décor on a budget is key. Bring on the DIY. I love the thrill of the chase - if I can find something on sale or redo an old piece then I feel like strutting my stuff and designing a t-shirt to let the world know. In other words, we are by no means rich or famous.

However, I did meet my famous interior designer female crush once so does that mean I am famous by association? And if men can have 'man crushes' then can women have a 'lady crush' without it getting all Sadie Hawkins Dance awkward? If so, then I met my mine. Sarah Richardson - way back when. Here's a pic of us in all our my grinning glory. And for those who don't know who she is to recognize her, I'm the short one. You can go to Sarah's site here.

And one more (funny) 'famous' story while we're all still getting to know each other. Back when I was about seven or so (about 15 years ago give or take 5 +5 + years) I informed my parents that I wanted to be on TV and therefore famous. In all their parental wisdom they let me know that I should probably have some kind of talent if I wanted to sell myself as the next up and comer, but that if I was determined, to write a letter and they'd send it in to the local TV station. So I did. I thought hard, got out my crayons and drafted a very impressive (if I do say so myself) letter about how I was a good speller and liked the show "Three's Company" I even drew a picture of Jack, Janet and Chrissie. "That oughta get 'em" I thought. A week or so later while I was fast asleep during one of the 11pm  broadcasts, the news anchors showed my letter on TV and had a cute chuckle about it. Hearing about it the next day from some teachers at school and friend's parents my mom said I started balking my chores (ya, you can imagine how long that lasted) because of course, "I was famous". oy. At least I didn't let it go to my head.

But, I digress. On to the post.

When we moved into our place, our master bedroom was lacking to say the least. It was sparce, BLUE and pretty soulless. And the worst part was the colour on the walls (there when we moved in) was a shade or two off from our bedding so it was a very bad 'match' at that.

I'm sure you noticed my childhood dresser in the second pic... and the lack on any in the third. You can probably imagine how well mine and my 6'5" hubby's clothes fit into that little baby. Um, not so well.

So, we did what any good couple did - my husband told me to figure out how to fix it. Kidding. He cares... but he cares more about whether or not there is beer in the fridge over what colour is on the walls, know what I mean? So, off I went in search of a solution.

Paint - check, grown-up dressers - check,  headboard - che... ah, no check. Headboards are very expensive! And trying to do that plus my vision of a feature wall done in wallpaper was proving to be a challenge. So, in order to be fair to the wallpaper and completely unfair to the non-existent headboard (who never did anything personally to me by the way) I came up with a solution - a wallpapered headboard feature. Ta da. Problem solved.

Now normally here is where I'd go into all the details but as you know from our little lesson at the top, this is a project done awhile ago - pre blog detailing. However, if you have any questions, shoot me a message or comment on this post and I will try my best to answer. But without any further ado, here is how she looks now...

Yay for no more childhood dresser! Yay for TWO dressers! Yay for a focus to the room and YAY for no more nightmares about pale blue demons coming to swallow me up in my comfy bed.

And yes, I know it needs some art on the wall and some styling on the dressers etc. but overall a nice start don't you think?

Later I will show you what we did in the formerly bright red master bath ensuite!

Hello. Is anybody out there?

Hello, (insert virtual handshake here), allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Elaine. I'm a Graphic Designer, a wife and a mother. I live in Canada (eh).

I love (in no particular order)
my family (meet them here)
my friends
and reading blogs

I don't like (in no particular order)
smelly socks
computer crashes
large bugs

I'm new to the world of blogging but am looking forward to the challenge. Follow me as I craft, DIY, design and shoot (with my camera that is). I promise to post many photos! I hope to entertain you along the way - good or bad. Good = with humour... Bad = you laughing at my failures. But to be honest, I'd be laughing at them too. Keeping it real here.

Looking forward to getting to know you while blogging along...

Thanks for visiting!
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