Monday, December 21, 2009

Black and White Mosaics

Essentially a craft (mind you I did use this same technique for the back splash picture). Although my dad (who is a contractor) didn't say it was "the wrong way" to do this, it's not the most professional way to go about it (ie he would never do this but he did say that it was incredibly solid). The main issue is because you are going to be breaking and placing these pieces by hand- therefore there is some unevenness to the surface- you can minimize this by choosing tiles that are the same thickness.

The trick to these mosaics is using 2 colours of grout along side black and white tile pieces (I use grey as well)

Click on the tutorial below for a run through of the process. I assure you this is easier than you may think- just remember the safety goggles. You will thank me later.

Total cost was around $50 for a back splash, a 3'x3'table top and tray.
  • Glue (I used Lepage "No Nails") will have to be super strong glue for wood and ceramic. this will set you back around $10 a tube (I used 2 tubes).
  • Grout in each colour will be around $10-15 each box
  • Tiles I purchased from the ReStore (because you don't need all of the blacks and all of the whites to be matchy matchy) and i got a million for around $10 (okay like 15 really big tiles- I still have extra)

The following you tools you will also need:

  • safety goggles
  • towel or thick piece of canvas to wrap the tiles in (this will get ruined)
  • hammer
  • gloves to protect your fingers from cuts, glue and grout
  • when grouting you will need a damp rag to wipe off excess grout from tiles

Cooking and Baking

Look at all of this food! Until last month, I had never even baked a pilsbury cinnamon roll! I'm starting to enjoy my adventures in the kitchen, while saving a tonne of money making from scratch. So far not too many mistakes. That second tourtiere didn't stand a chance.

closet sachets

Yawn. Kinda boring I know, but very important in cold weather locations where we have to store half of our cloths for half of the year. Lavender is a great choice, but not always available in all locations. Here's a list of other ingredients that work well at repelling moths as well as smell great (try combining a few ingredients):

  • ceder chips/ shavings

  • dried lemon peel

  • dried rosemary

  • whole cloves

  • peppercorn (definitely combine this with another ingredient)

  • peppermint

  • cinnamon

The pattern below is what I drew and printed out. I cut out the shapes and folded each piece in 1/2 to make a half circle. Then I ironed onto an old dish towel- however the iron on was more plastic than one would want for this purpose. I therefore followed the lines on the wings and ran it through my sewing machine (without the thread) to perforate tiny hole- it worked out quite well- and smells quite nice. Attach a loop of ribbon at the top before sewing shut if you want these to hang.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Painted Glass

Easy to make and feminine, next I'm going to paint some wine bottle vases. To make, draw out a simple design, tape it to the under side of glass, then apply nail polish. If you make a mistake simply clean with nail polish remover, or toss in the recycling bin! This is only for decoration, and should not be used for food. Hand wash.

Printed Pillow

As soon as I saw the post by Sara aka creative Jewish mom on I knew I had to try this out- and an old shirt was saved and transformed into a midcenturyish pillow. Follow Sara's tutorial here on how to make the "stamps". Because I printed mine onto fabric, I used a fabric medium that, when mixed with acrylic paint, I supposed to work better with fabric - or something. IMHO years of art school tells me that once the acrylic paint dries on fabric- it's not going anywhere- so I don't think it's necessary at all.

Some tips to add:
  • at first draw very very lightly, this way you can adjust the design before you commit
  • the thicker and more filled in, the better the outcome (see the acorn in the detail picture)
  • use scotch tape on the back to make a "handle" before applying paint and printing -this will give your fingers someting to hold and make it less messy
  • the more you use the stamp, the cooler the result

Friday, December 11, 2009

Moose Trophy

One day, once I've collected enough cardboard boxes, I will use my projector to make a life sized one (which means it's going to be HUGE). In the mean time I've assembled this prototype. I glued the print outs on to poster board, but I got a blister. I would suggest cereal or chip box type cardboard instead- you may just need some glue to keep it in place with thinner cardboard. Click on the images below to enlarge/ save. If I did it right the pattern should fit nicely on to two 8.5" x 11" sized paper.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Handwarmer beautifully modeled by my husband. Recipes vary (some use corn because the rice can get humid), but be sure to use %100 wool or cashmere (natural fire retardants) and don't microwave for more than one minute at a time.

  • 2 pieces of 100% wool or cashmere scraps, sewn together, leaving a small opening to fill

  • a mixture of 1/3 cup of rice, the contents of 2 peppermint tea bags, 1 tsp salt

Actually most smelly teas will work fine, I just like peppermint. Pour mixture into the wool/cashmere pouch, sew the pouch shut, and you are ready to microwave.

Igel the Pincushion

Not terribly original, but still makes a great gift- to yourself! This little guy, who is made of felt, has proven very handy indeed- and he took no time to make. Click the image to enlarge/ save. This is just my take on a hedgehog pincushion, google the term, and a few can be found on the web. One thing I forgot to add was, before you close him shut with your running stitch, you will have to stuff him a little with some fiber fill/ stuffing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The snow and cold are now here to stay

You'd think with all this free time I would be blogging like crazy. The reality is I've been rather depressed. No work = no identity. No worries, things are turning around slowly, we have meetings with people and potential clients. And carefully we are wading through business plans and lawyers. Slowly but surely.

Slowly but surely the brother in law is getting better- the recent tracheotomy has seem to have done wonders, maybe with a bit of luck he'll be out of the hospital by Xmas. Fingers crossed.

A special thanks to Heather of for posting my feather tree. Also a thank you to Irene who posted some comments here, reminding me to keep my chin up (and that every where people are feeling the recession).

Best Regards.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Part of my reuse what I have, and not spend any more money, getting ready for Xmas decor. The sizes are approximate since I never used a pattern. These remind my husband of something from a Mario game- I will make him green and orange one next ;)
Click on the image to enlarge the tutorial (or save to your computer and reopen if the text is hard to read). Takes about one hour each if sewing by hand. You will need:
  • red felt
  • enough canvas (or any light coloured material)
  • scissors
  • thread
  • beads
  • stuffing/fiber fill

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Feather Tree

I love feather trees but not the prices. Shopping in the dollar store, I came across this fuzzy yarn and got excited- I love it when a plan comes together. For this craft you will need:

  • one spool 14GA wire

  • 1 ball of "furry" yarn

  • small wire pliers with wire cutters

  • tall can around 5 1/2"

  • enough rice to fill the can

  • scissors

  • optional is one spool ribbon and glue gun

  • 2hrs

click on the images to enlarge for tutorial

Things can only get better from here

It's been a bad month- my husband and I were both laid off from work, and my husband's brother was flown into the city in critical condition the last day of work. Good news is that the brother in law is slowly getting better (he's on and off oxygen and antibiotics). Work wise, me and the hubby are joining forces with the other work orphans to start our own company! What is a girl to do going from 13 to zero hours of work a day? Well how about bake 2 pumpkin pies made from the same pumpkin that she grabbed from the kitchen counter at work, as she was heading out the door (even better was that I got to share it with the other ex-employees at our first company meeting!) - it's true what they say- it's best served cold!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Recycled Paper Basket

I have this thing for storage, so I was happy to find the newspaper basket on Only problem was that it was made out of newspaper, which is messy. Instead I decided to make use of all the garbage printout paper that I've been saving. The final result is great because I folded the print side in resulting in a basket that looks like its made from square marble mosaic tiles. Please click on the demo images for the tutorial. For each basket you will need:

  • 20 pieces of scrap paper 8.5"x11"

  • scissors

  • a heavy book

  • paper clips (optional)

  • glue (optional, I didn't use any and my baskets are strong)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

T-Shirt Flowers

This is a great way to recycle one old t-shirt and at the same time embellish a perfectly good (but boring) shirt. Instruction are below (click for larger view). For this project will need:
  • one old t-shirt to cut up
  • one new or "good" t-shirt
  • matching thread
  • 5-10 minutes to complete

Low Sew Sweater Purse

One wash cycle some cutting and three stitches is all this purse needs. The instructions are drawn out below (click on the picture for a larger view). Here is the full supply list:
  • one XL 100% wool sweater that has been felted
  • scissors
  • thread that matches the sweater
  • 20 minutes to assemble

To felt a sweater, simply throw the sweater in the wash with some towels (this acts as an abrasive which mashes up the wool) and set the wash cycle to hot, and the rise cycle to cold (this extreme temperate change also forces the natural fibers to expand and shrink, hence more matting) Repeat as needed. Once you are happy with the size, don't worry about cutting the wool, and leaving raw edges, it act just like felt (won't fray) and is surprisingly very strong.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday Brunch

This weekend was Dad's birthday, so I took my parents out to the fanciest brunch in town which is the Sunday brunch at the Fort Garry Hotel. Unfortunately my husband had to work, but don't worry I had enough eggs benedict for the both of us.

Wire Necklace

Here's a fun piece of costume jewelery inspired by Patrick Magoohan (I bet you can't say that every day!). To start, I loosely drew out a very simple outline to follow. Next I rounded up some 20GA wire and my needle nose pliers and did my best to copy the design. The necklace is broken up into 5 workable parts : the bike, 3 words, and the chain. All of the wire parts were finished off on each end with loops, on to which a jump ring can be attached (I just simply attached them together loop to loop). To finish off the necklace I used an old broken chain.

Macrame Scarf

My husband calls these my macrame scarves. They are actually based on Martha Stewart's "no knit scarves" I just added an extra two bunches to make them thicker because it's cold here. Unfortunately this means you need longer strands to start with, but it's worth it. These scarves actually look great and are very functional because they are light weight you can loop it through itself as you tie it around your neck, so it will stay on. Also if you get wool yarn, not only is it very warm, it will slightly felt in the wash- so any bumps or loose knots will even out perfectly. Below I have provided a drawing with instructions for my version of the scarf (click the picture for a larger view) . For this project you will need:

  • a ball of thick wool yarn (will yield around 2 medium length scarves)
  • 3 safety pins
  • a heavy pillow
  • 20 minutes

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Since now is the last chance to bring and greenery from outside, inside for the long winter, I decided to make some terrariums. I didn't do any research until after the fact, but with a bit of common sense, my original plan worked out well (which means they are still alive). By chance I was flipping through an old Martha where she suggests charcoal instead of regular mud (keeps the bacteria level down) she also warns not to let the plants touch the sides of the glass (prone to rot). Mind you, don't be afraid to just get in there and make mistakes, after all, she's using orchids, and I'm using old pickle jars.

For this project you will need:

  • one clean jar

  • the first layer is gravel

  • second, layer in some mud/ dirt or some of that fancy charcoal

  • next add your moss

water as needed, if you have a lid for you jar, you can place the lid on, and water less often. Just remember to let the terrarium get some light.

Summer's End Finally Here

Well actually we are well into autumn, but in this part of the world the weather is very cold already (we've already had our first snowfall!). So the cabin is now packed up for the winter, and will await our return in the spring.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Herr Hase

A simple sock animal. I'm not so great at written instructions so I drew them up (click on the image to bring up a larger view). For this craft you will need:

  • 2 white adult socks (mid calf in length)
  • one black and grey sock for his shirt.
  • 2 beads for his eyes (you can embroider eyes with black thread if you choose)
  • white and black thread
  • stuffing/ fiber fill
  • one hour of free time (at most)