Friday, November 30, 2012

Guest Bathroom - Big Reveal!

Did you stay up half the night wondering if we got our bathroom done in time for my sister's visit? Were you biting your nails in anticipation? No? That's weird. I was so sure you were dying to find out how it all went.

Well, I'll tell you. Dan officially wins the "Best Husband Ever" award. Saturday morning he got up bright and early once again to piece back together the whole bathroom. Isn't he amazing? The bathroom looked awesome for my sister and she was shocked when we showed her the pictures of what it had looked like the night before. Go us!

So without further ado, here is the big bathroom makeover reveal that you have all been waiting for! Final pictures taken more than 11 months after we started this dang project. But it's worth it. I'm completely in love.


View when walking in

Our new mirror, light and accessories


The beautiful dandelions
 


Just a subtle reminder ;)



Here is a comparison side by side view to give you more of an idea of the transformation that took place.


What do you think? Worth all the time, energy and tears put into it? Is it enticing enough for you to come visit us?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guest Bathroom - A Work in Progress

So remember last Thursday when I did my post on stenciling and made mention of the whole bathroom redecorating fiasco? Well, here is that promised post. Be prepared, it's long.

Back in January of 2011, I had the brilliant idea of decorating our guest bathroom. It was perfectly functional but it was boring and lacked colour and life. It was just too bland for my liking.


Sorry I don't have a better picture of it. I completely suck at taking before pictures, although I am trying to work on that.
So I searched Pinterest for inspiration and convinced Dan that it would be simple and cheap and would be oh so fun. He, being the wonderful man he is, agreed. Although I'm pretty sure he knew it wouldn't be simple or cheap. Once I was given the go ahead, I set to work on my small projects, slowly adding them into the bathroom as I completed them. It was looking better and better and I was feeling confident in our decision. Our first "big" project was painting the mirror. I bought a new one for $29 but the frame was a nasty colour so we opted to paint it white. I, of course, have no pictures of this part of the project. I apologize but I wasn't as faithful with my blogging as I am now and I didn't think anyone would care about the mirror. You'll see an after picture of it later (it sneaks into a picture at the end of this post).

Our next "big" project was stenciling a quote above the bathtub. Which by the way, we did at the end of May. See how long this project was taking us? Little did we know we still had 6 more months after that to go! It took us weeks months to agree on a quote since Dan wanted it to say "Save Water, Shower with a Friend".  I wanted something a little more appropriate for a guest bathroom. I eventually won and we set to work.

Stenciling supplies
We were really pleased with the results and stenciling the small letters was quick and easy. We took two evenings to do it, as it was slightly time consuming. But the letters turned out nice and crisp. Much easier than stenciling a giant dandelion onto a wall.


Once this step was complete, we took yet another break. Slow and steady wins the race right? Or maybe we were just plain lazy, who knows. I like to blame it on the fact that we had other important life things going on and this bathroom wasn't a priority.

Another month went by and come the end of June we decided we should try and finish it before my sister Jackie and her husband came for a visit. All we had left to do was move a towel bar, patch the wall, paint the patch and then stencil the dandelion. Seemed simple enough right? WRONG! We moved the towel bar, patched the wall and then went to paint over it with the same beige we thought matched the bathroom walls. Turns out it didn't. At all. In fact, the beige was different on the two walls in the bathroom. We had no colour to match either wall, even though we had a ton of leftover paint left by the previous owners. It was at this point that Dan decided it would be easier to just repaint the whole bathroom. So I chose a pretty green and we set to work on that.

My Jackie and her husband were arriving on a Saturday morning. So on the Thursday night (we like to do things last minute) we set to work taking things down and clearing out the bathroom in preparation to paint.

Dan taking the light fixture down
Our only light to paint with
It was at this point that we discovered some more problems with the towel bar movement and that we had to mud some more. Since we now had wet mud on the wall, we couldn't actually paint the walls. So we opted to paint the ceiling, the trim and the back of the door. At least we would make progress somewhere.

Painting the door and trim
 And this is what us and the living room looked like at the end of Thursday night.


Bright and early Friday morning Dan woke up and sanded the walls down and got the first coat of green paint up before I was home from work. Isn't he awesome?

Putting the second coat on
Oh, and I guess I should mention that he completely emptied the bathroom to do this. He discovered that the vanity was not secured to anything so he could just pull it all out! And even though it's bad that the cabinet and counter top were all just sitting there unsecured for so long, it was a blessing in disguise for us. It made it much simpler to paint an empty room instead of having to work our way around the vanity. Here is what the living room looked like Friday night. And in case you forgot, my sister and her husband were arriving the next morning.

View from inside the bathroom

Clutter everywhere! (but you can see our new mirror)

A toilet in the middle of our living room
 It was at this point that I was slightly freaking out. I really didn't want this to be my sister's first impression of our house. While I knew she would understand, I kind of wanted everything to be perfect.


Come back tomorrow to see how it turned out!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Semi Clean Eating Apple Pie

A couple weeks back when I had an appointment with my naturopath, she told me I needed to cut back on processed sugars. Cue sad face and disappointment in not being able to finish all my Halloween candy. I knew she was right and that it is bad for me and I was feeling worse because of all my sugar intake over prior week but I still didn't want to. She was nice and told me I only had to cut it back by 50% for now. After going home and staring longingly at my leftover KitKats, I resolved that I could and would do this. I gave away the candy and determined not to eat any more desserts/candy made with processed sugar. At least for now.The first few days were brutal and all I wanted was sugar! But after the first week, it improved. Life is feeling a bit more normal now.

As I have mentioned many many times, I have a lot of apples to use up. Still. But since they are mushy and not good for just eating, they really need to be put into baking. But baking uses sugar. And I can't have sugar. I was determined to find a recipe that didn't actually call for sugar and after searching Pinterest (got to love that Pinterest), I came across a clean eating apple pie recipe. The filling called for honey instead of sugar, which is totally acceptable. Here comes the reason for the semi in my title. I didn't make clean eating pie crust. I'm not brave enough to try it yet since I'm pretty sure I'll fail. So I stuck with a tried and true (with a few tweaks) recipe and made only the filling clean.

I used my Never Fail Crisco Pie Crust recipe but since shortening is so bad for you, I substituted it with margarine. And left out the sugar. And halved it. I'm not even going to post the recipe because it was so different by the end. So if you want to try this pie, just make whatever crust you want and copy the filling. Or use the crust recipe that is linked with the filling recipe.

The dough rolled out perfectly and was easy to work with. Which is always such an awesome feeling. Nothing worse than putting all that effort into a pie and having the dough fall apart in your hands.



I forgot to take any pictures of the next step. I didn't realize it until the top crust was nicely on the pie and there was no way I was going to take it all apart just for a picture of cut up apples. I'm pretty sure you can imagine in your head what it looks like. I used this recipe from the blog The Gracious Pantry and it turned out really well.

A is for Apple

I was really pleased with how it looked and tasted. I will most definitely be making this recipe again, although I might try putting a little less honey. I found the honey flavour competed with the apple flavour. But it definitely hit the spot and was somewhat healthy.

 

I might even try making a cleaner pie crust next time too! We shall see.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mufflers, Slimy Leaves and Dirt

Like the title? I thought it would grab your attention. And hopefully I'll be able to keep your attention, even though this post might be slightly more boring than some. It doesn't involve any amazing DIY projects, Pinterest fails or yummy eats. It's just a plain old life post. But it involves the outdoors and I felt like it's been a while since I've blogged about our yard/garden or anything to do with air and natural light. I blame it on the November blues.

It all started on a Saturday morning when I got back from running errands in town. The sun was shining and it wasn't too cold out, somewhere around 8 degrees. Dan was working on the rally car in the garage and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to tackle my sad mangled flower gardens. After bringing the groceries in and getting bundled to work outside, I came out to this. My hard working husband (and attentive dog).


As he continued to work in the garage, I started on our side flower garden. It was looking the saddest with all the dead hostas and it didn't help that it was right beside our house and viewed on a daily basis.

Pretty sad eh?

The other gardens were also looking quite battered but I honestly don't have much hope for them. You see, I have this dog named Mia.... If you are a dog owner, you probably know where this story is going. She likes to run through the gardens, sit in the gardens, drag sticks and logs into the gardens, etc.

Mia's personal playground

Another side garden
After working for probably close to an hour, and filling four or more of these buckets, I finally called it a day. My hands were numb and I was getting hungry.


I am pleased with the results of my hard work though. And I think the gardens look at least 10 times better. Plus, it will hopefully make spring time a bit easier. Maybe next year will be the year I really tackle the flower gardens?

Garden #1

Garden #2

Side gardens

Monday, November 26, 2012

O Christmas Tree!

I've never been big on crafts. When I was younger my older sister Cora loved doing crafts and would usually drag me into doing them with her. It was fun, but definitely not my favourite thing to do. I would much prefer to play Barbies or Playmobile or something of the like. Not play with paper, glue, paint, feathers, etc. Just not my thing. So who would have thought that 15+ years later I'd be blogging about the crafts I have done? Weird, I know. But when I saw these adorable little cork Christmas trees, I knew that I had to attempt them. Guess where I found the idea? Pinterest! Shocking, I know. Thank goodness for Pinterest to give me inspiration to do crafts and other DIY projects.

These trees were made in a two step process. The first night that I worked on them was also when I was working on the Christmas ball wreath. Since I had the glue gun out, I figured I'd do as much as I could with it at once. Which explains why some of these pictures have ornaments in the background.

I had a bunch of leftover corks from my "Christmas 2011 Insane Cork Project" so I didn't need to get anything new for this project. Another free craft, woohoo! So what you will need is:
  • Corks
  • Glue gun
  • Craft paint in assorted colours
  • Paper plate
  • Toothpicks
  • Ribbon
  • Buttons
  • Cardstock
  • Paintbrush
To start with, glue the corks together to make a tree. You can make the trees as big or as small as you want, but I chose three different sizes. Here is the beginning of the biggest one.



I played around with the shape a bit. The above picture shows how the Pinterest trees looked. But after asking for Dan's opinion, we decided we didn't really like that weird bottom look. So I added a couple more corks to make it more of a triangle and I am pleased with how they turned out. Here are my three trees all glued and ready to be decorated.

Yes, I chose that page of the flyer purposefully. :P

That is where I ended night #1. I decided to save the decorating for another night and I'm glad I did. It gave me time to think about how I would decorate them and where I would find the supplies. Plus, it was nice to start refreshed and not annoyed and impatient.

Night #2 involved paint, ribbon, buttons and glue. Oh, and chips. Can't forget the chips! (Kate, if you're reading this, I'm sorry for flaunting my yummy chips again)

My paint collection

Other supplies
 
Yum!
The first thing I did was cut out three little stars from my cardstock and then paint them yellow. I wanted them to have time to dry while I did all my other decorating.


While they were drying, I glued buttons and pieces of ribbon onto my trees. Then I moved onto my creative painting skills. Kidding! I really had no idea what I was doing but it worked. This is what my painters pallette looked like.


I had a lot of fun and am completely delighted with my little cork trees. Like almost giddy. Every time I look at them I smile really really big. Do they have the same effect on you?


Swoon

I put them on a small table in our living room so they are nice and prominent. Dan loves them too. :P Although he did mention I was kind of pushing the "no Christmas decorations before December 1st" rule. Oops!


Friday, November 23, 2012

100th Post This Year!

I'm so proud of myself and of how far I have come with this blog. Starting this blog was such a good decision and has been therapeutic for me in so many ways. Getting out those raw emotional feelings at the beginning and then transitioning into more of a happy life blog has been healing for me. I love writing posts, and thinking of different projects and recipes to try has given me something to look forward to.

Thank you to my readers for encouraging me and supporting me as I chug along.

Thank to you Erin for being the best "blog consultant" a girl could ask for. You have motivated me so many times over this past year, I don't know what I would do without you.

And an extra big thank you to my dear Dan, for putting up with my craziness and the roller coaster these past two years have been. Thank you for helping me with my projects and tolerating the crazy amount of picture taking at the most inopportune times. You are my rock and I love you.

Life is good.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wall Stencils May be the Death of Me

I'm pretty sure the title says it all.

Have any of you ever tried to do a wall stencil? If you have, then you know what I'm talking about it. If you haven't, don't do it! Okay, so maybe I'm being overly dramatic. Maybe it hasn't been long enough and it's all still too vivid in my mind. All I know is that I won't be doing anything like that again!

Let's back up here. All the way back to January of this year when I decided I wanted to upgrade our guest bathroom. Just a little facelift, nothing too big. Some minor re-decorating was all I wanted to do. And this idea all basically started with a wall stencil. I found one that I really liked and found the perfect location in the bathroom for it.

The image I found on Google and fell in love with
All we needed to do was move a towel bar. Ya right. You can see where this is going. But that story is for a different day. I do intend to write a post on the whole bathroom re-decorating fiasco. Today's focus is on the stencil. I just wanted to give some background so you have an idea of how long we've been trying to do this.

After three failed attempts and a lot of frustration later, I am pleased to announce that the stencil is finally done. It is far from perfect but at this point, I really don't care. We did it all in one evening. Probably a good thing too as I'm not sure if I would have been able to go back to it if I had left it half done. I tried to document it the process as best I could and I hope you will learn from our experience.

First, we lay our stencil out on newspaper on the bathroom floor so that we could apply the stencil adhesive.

The stencil is there, you just can't see it
Since our stencil was so huge, it had a hard time staying on the wall. If you are going to be using a big stencil, definitely invest in some of this stuff. Or borrow ours since we won't be needing it again! We bought this from Michaels for a decent price. I can't remember how much we paid though since it was so long ago. That's one downside to spreading a project out over 11 months.


Once the adhesive was applied and dry, we stuck it to the wall using painters tape. See how big it really is?


Once it was securely in place, I set myself up to start painting. We used Hauser Dark Green by Americana paint that was purchased for $1.99 at Michaels. I probably only went through half a bottle for this whole project.


For the stencil brush, we used these small sponges that were also purchased at Michael's. They came in a package of four and were $8.49 but I used a 40% off coupon.


They worked quite well I think. You just have to be careful not to soak up too much paint into them or else you will smudge up your stencil. Which I did. Like I said, not perfect.

I got started painting and continued on for what felt like ages. It hurts the hands! I definitely think it would have looked nicer had I taken a bit more time. But I was feeling impatient and really, I had no idea what I was doing. My advice for others though, use less paint. The more paint that's on your brush, the more paint will get behind the stencil and smudge. Just an FYI.



I finally finished the first dandelion! Tada! (Just don't look too closely)


After letting that one dry for a good hour and a half, I came back and did the second one. I tried to be a bit more careful and precise but it still ened up smudged. Oh well. Next up was stenciling the small dandelion fluff floating away This part of the stenciling went by much quicker!


While the whole process kind of sucked and it didn't turn out quite as nicely as I had hoped, I am overall happy with it. It looks really nice from a few feet away. So as long as you don't stare too closely, it turned out really well!


So what do you think? Have you ever tried to stencil before? How did it turn out? And if you haven't ever tried, do you intend to? Is it something on your bucket list?