Wednesday, 27 February 2013

So Close

It's Pinterest challenge time! Yay! Woo! #noisemakers #partybanners #etc. 

This is the completely unofficial, weeklong scurrying, DIY, get-off-your-bum fest "hosted" by Sherry and Katie where hundreds (thousands?) of bloggers get together and share everything that they created based on things they pinned on Pinterest!

I participated this time (unlike the fall version where I meant to participate... and then didn't quite get to the "get-off-your-bum" part) and I'm pumped about how far I got on my project... because, unfortunately, I didn't quite get it finished. I mostly blame that on the fact that I didn't actually get the majority of the needed materials until Sunday evening. I tried to get them before that, but Steinbach's lack of craft stores kinda prevented that. I did search! Lana can attest to that. We went everywhere in town that we could think of; I eventually got the materials at Michaels in Winnipeg (I was there for training for my new job at Staples!) but even still, I had to visit both Michaels in town. It was an adventure. And by adventure, I actually mean a stressful speeding between the two stores because I got out of work with only 20 minutes to spare before they both closed. 

You might be wondering what I'd be searching for that would take such slave-like labour persistence, so I'll show you: 

Thirty-five of them in fact. Bonkers. Why do I need thirty-five wooden squares? Because I'm making a chalkboard calendar! #happyhummingtune. I've loved these things since I first saw them, and I've been wanting to make one just as long.  

Pretty. But as I was browsing photographs doing some research, I came across a couple versions that I loved especially, aka: these below. 

I love the setup of the one on the right... those rounded corners, but I wasn't sure how'd I'd make them, since frog tape isn't exactly known for it's rounded abilities. And then I found the one on the left. Wood blocks! Brilliant. Thirty-five of them later...


First things first, I had to sand them down since they were basic, semi-rough blocks. Definitely needing some work. I used 200 grit sand paper, so I didn't really strip it down so much as just smooth things out. I actually used my sanding block, but you know, sometimes taking pictures of myself doing things doesn't always end up entirely realistic, what with not having enough hands and all.

So I sanded things down and then I set to work painting. I started off painting them by hand. I got one done and put it down, looked at the remaining thirty-four... and then I remembered that God had invented a wonderful thing called spray paint...

Ah. So much better.

A half-bottle of primer and a full bottle of Rustoleum's Universal gloss white later and I had this. Well, actually, that's not true I was a little bit behind this, because I ran out of paint. Lame. But that was okay, because Derek stepped in to help me out. I had to give each block a light sanding (because some dust had somehow collected on them while I was spraypainting them, leaving an unpretty finish) and then paint the edges by hand. Derek did the sanding, and I did the painting. And we rushed because it was after 1:00 when we started, and we only had until 4:00... and I was secretly hoping to have things completed and up on the wall by then. I can dream, right?

But, I did get to paint them all with magnetic paint before we left for play practice. Magnetic paint is really weird. When I started mixing it up, there was just this giant chunk of really, really heavy stuff sitting at the bottom of the can beneath a sort of oil-like mixture. And it stank. Really, really bad. I still have a headache from painting with it. 

Because I was rushing, I didn't frog tape any of the blocks, and so I ended up with a little bit of black paint on some of the white bits. *sigh. So, now I need to go over them again and do some touch ups. Shows me for rushing, eh? And I still need to buy some actual chalkboard paint and some Command strips to stick these up with.

But even with all that left to do, I'm still really proud about how much I got done so far, especially now that I'm working full time. It feels so great to be accomplishing house things and bringing in the money that I need to do them! Plus, I'm sure Derek appreciates that I now can support myself in my DIY adventures, you know, instead of having our grocery money going to it. I feel a "Hey Girl" meme coming on.

But as much as you've enjoyed this (and I know you have!), go and check out what the real stars of the show did: Sherry, Katie, Megan, and Michelle. Thanks for reading guys. And maybe during the Spring challenge, I'll actually complete the project on time... and maybe you'll participate?

Monday, 25 February 2013

Art work!

Today I sat at my laptop, prepared to spin out a wonderful post about amazing things... and I found myself wracking my brain for what I could write about. I'm sure there are things, but have I finally worked through all of my stored up photographs begging to be released onto the world wide web? It seems so. For once, I have fewer completed projects than I have blogging-ness. Question mark that sentence. I mean, that being said, I still have probably a hundred ten projects that are sort of half done, and I'll get to those eventually. Though, most likely not this week.

For those of you who don't know, I just got a new job: at Staples! It's very exciting; I'm pumped. The job was not at all what I was expecting, because they brought me in to interview me for working in the aisles, but apparently, I impressed them so much, that they hired me for tech! Because they think I can sell things? I was really intimidated at first (and I still feel pretty inadequate to be working with tech!) but it seems that I'm a pretty natural salesperson. Who'da thunk? Certainly not me!

Anyway, now I'm working between 30-35 hours a week there, plus my 4 hours a week at Superstore. Which is great! It's exactly what Derek and I were hoping for. Except that this week, I'm working 16 hours at Superstore... And 30 hours at Staples... and then if you add in class time (Wednesday for 6 1/2 and Friday for 3). Pretty much the only time I won't be doing anything is when I'm sleeping. Which I won't even be doing that much of. So, unfortunately my fun little blogging habit and my obsession with DIY is going to have to take a backseat this week. *sadface

But I do have a post for today! Besides just me rambling on about my awesome new job, and how awesome I seem to be at it (again, shock and awe, people. I was seriously not expecting this!). Actually, this project was "completed" but needed to be posted about. So, I guess I have a couple of those left still. But I actually had to take all the pictures right before I wrote this, so, you know, it wasn't like I had things all saved up and ready to be posted about! Right? Right.

Okay, so do you guys remember this? Of course you do; I gushed about it for like. Forever. Anyway. This is my frame collage that hangs out (totally a pun; totally intentional) on the wall across from our big couch. I hung up the frames in preparation for our Arsenic and Old Lace Halloween party, and then ended up loving them so much that I left them on the wall. Empty.

Except, see look, now they're not all empty!

In fact, three of the frames are now filled with wonderful, unique art. *happysigh. It's pretty much fantastic. Oo, also, while I was taking the pictures for this post, I decided to get all "artistic" with my little point-and-shoot, so be prepared for more photos!

Only one of the items added was actually meant as "art" but even that is pushing things a bit. I'm pretty sure the creator didn't intend for us to shove it in a frame and throw it up on our living room wall!

Numero uno and numero dos were both from our New Orleans trip. One of them was free, and one of them we picked up for $.50 Isn't that simply fantastic? I thought so. I mean, honestly, who doesn't love art that not only looks fantastic, but is less than a dollar? I love it. You do too, I'm sure. 

Our first item of cheap "art" we got from the fantastic and delicious Cafe Du Monde (where we ate beignets, and I actually discovered coffee that I like drinking!). This was actually their take-out bag, that I just cut down to size and put in the frame.

Oh, I felt so brilliant when I did that! I plan on giving it a mat eventually, but I find those things soooo hard to cut nicely, so I've been putting it off. But I really think that a mat will take it from "bag placed in frame" to " fantastic, personable art".

The second item we didn't even intend to get, but in our effort to get some items for our travel jar (oo! that's another post that I can write about: mental storage - check) we had to get some change, and in a little gift shop we found this for, as I said, $.50, and we figured, hey: why not? It looks great up there, and it's actually post card, so that's a fun little fact to remember: check out post cards when you travel. Might just find something to frame!

Finally, we have some art that I only added just last week. It's actually the February "page" of a calendar that I found on Etsy. The entire calendar is made of gorgeous photographs of various places in Europe, and I definitely have some plans for them for even after 2013 is done. 

London bridge: I plan on going there someday.

So, that's my post today. But before I go, I have a question. Okay, scroll back up to the shots of all the frames, and answer me this: should I paint another frame completely black? I feel like that single black frame feels out of place. If you think I should, which one? I'm leaning toward the one on the far right. But I'd love some thoughts? Thanks guys; I love you all.

Oo, also, did any of you catch the double meaning of the title? I thought it was pretty clever. Ahh. I'm such a nerd.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Mashing Potatoes

There have been a few quick changes made at Casa Penner, and I thought instead of doing three short posts about the individual changes, I'd just mash them together into one long post. Well, honestly, it won't even be that long. 

Okay, first things first: our living room doesn't have a ceiling light, so we have to use table or floor lamps in order to keep it bright and cheerful. On the plus side, things are wired so that the top plug of every outlet turns on when we flip the light switch (ah, the innovations of people back in the 60's; fantastic). But on the other hand, that also means that we need to plug all our lamps into the top plugs... which can often lead to awkward extension cords. See below for a close up on an awkward extension cord. But that particular view is fine, because unless you lie down on the ground with your head pressed against the wall, you'll never see this. What you will see, however, is the extension cord running along the baseboard a couple feet until it reaches the outlet.

It used to be all loose and obvious and in the way, but the key words are "used to be". Because I fixed it. It took a staple gun. And a bunch of wasted staples (hey! Staples! I work there now) because some of them ended up going through the extension cord.... Thankfully, I was smart and unplugged it before I started shoving little pieces of metal through it. Remember, kids, electricity is dangerous!

Now you can hardly even tell it's there. And I can breathe again. 

Update number two is purely for deliciousness' sake. It is simply two bowls put on top of our living room side table. The first bowl contains pistachios (yum!) and the second bowl is there for the shells, so that you don't have to constantly be getting up to throw them into the garbage... and the shells don't end up mixed with the not-eaten-yet pistachios.

Plus, the bowls (which were a gift for us at a wedding shower) are completely adorable.

And they seriously look great sitting there with the rest of the table's set up. Mmm. Eye candy.

Finally, I did something totally crazy: I put a brown fitted sheet on our bed... underneath the white fitted sheet that we use. What? That's bonkers! Why'd you do that? Well, let me answer your horrified questions and ease your fears. I haven't lost my mind. The thing is that our mattress is very uncomfortable, and we actually have an old quilt lying on top of the mattress acting as a topper. Yes, the thin quilt really makes a significant difference. So, we won't be getting rid of it anytime soon.

However, the weird old floral print always showed through our white sheet. Eek. Not really great for our style of making the bed. So, I was going through our sheets and realized that I could just put the brown sheet down, and instead of the floral showing through, now you can't even tell that there's anything other than white sheets. 

So that's what I've been up to. What about you folks? Doing crazy things like putting two fitted sheets on one bed? Or blogging about little things like pistachio bowls? Maybe you've just made some mashed potatoes?  You know I love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Keeping Up With the... Bloggers

It is time for... *drumroll please*...


And because I'm fancy now, I've included the official sponsor video from those wonderful ladies who host and originally came up with the Pinterest challenge: Sherry and Katie. These are their children, Clara and Will (who will someday be married, according to their best friend mothers) explaining all about it!

The Pinterest challenge started about a year and a half ago when Katie and Sherry decided that they should challenge themselves to make one thing each season that they've pinned about. They invite their readers (and friendly bloggers) to join in the fun! So, grab your Pinterest boards, your DIY inspiration hats, and see what you can make!

There's one rule: you have to do your own thing with something that you've pinned, your own twist on something that inspired you! Oh yeah, and you have to make sure that you link back to the original source (be it a blog, a magazine, etc.)

Of course, the Pinterest challenge is hosted by Sherry of Young House Love and Katie of Bower Power Blog. Just so you know, they aren't paid or sponsored by Pinterest in any way: it's just their way of making sure that they stop just being inspired, and start doing the things they want to get done! Like every time they've done it, they invited two guest bloggers to join them as hosts. This winter it's Megan from The Remodeled Life and Michelle from Decor and the Dog.

This will (hopefully) be my first completed Pinterest challenge. In the fall, I attempted to be a part of that one... and I completely failed at actually doing it. *sheepish face palm. It wasn't a great time for me and committing to things. But this time, I'm determined! So determined. Just you wait and see. I'm going to accomplish something! I have a great idea for something for the kitchen! More details to follow!

Friday, 15 February 2013


This post has been a long time coming. I think that I finished this project almost a year ago, actually. It was definitely still while we were at the apartment, and I'm sure that it was before Derek and I were married. Clearly, it's about time that I posted about it!

I made this pillow years ago, when my older sister Rachel and I were really into quilting. I'm not really sure what I was thinking when I picked out the materials... Apparently I had no understanding of what went well together. But, time has passed, and I have learned a little bit. The pillow itself was a great size, and since I'm hesitant to get rid of things that I can re-purpose (I think that's my mother's emphasis on recycling coming out), I figured I'd just redo the pillow. 

Yeah. The back wasn't much better. 

First, I had to fill it with more stuffing. Either I hadn't put much in to begin with, or it had become very flat in the time since I originally made it. That meant I had to reopen one of the seams, but that in itself wasn't very hard. 

I took my inspiration for the pillow from something I'd seen on StumbleUpon: a pillow with an owl in a tree. It wasn't very difficult for me to sketch out a rough drawing of the image I had in my head onto some tissue paper, and use that as my template for the fabric pieces. 

Of course, since I didn't (and still don't!) have a sewing machine, the majority of the work was done by hand. I felt very pioneer-esque, crafting things by hand. I also felt very sick of sewing by the end of it. 

Most of the material, I actually picked out of my very large scrap bin: old t-shirts, etc. that I no longer wear. But I did pick up the fabric for the actual cover (as opposed to the fabric for the appliques) from our local fabric store. Since I was going with such a light yellow colour, and I didn't want the old pillow to show through, I layered the yellow with a basic black broadcloth - cheapest stuff I could find, since no one would ever be seeing it. For that particular aspect of the pillow, sewing together the cover, I actually did while I was visiting my parents at Christmas (of 2011! I told you it's been a long time!) because I knew that I'd probably go crazy and stick sewing needles in my eyes if I tried to do all that by hand too. I'm not really known for my patience...

In the end, though, there were no sewing related injuries, and I had a very nice owl pillow. I actually did sew the final seam by hand, because that's the only way I know how to close up a pillow. My mom taught me this neat stitch that she does to sew suture stitches on surgery patients that leaves the thread invisible. I have realized since making it that some of the seams are noticeably crooked, so some day when I have my own sewing machine, I'll fix that. But not before then. Because sewing needles. And eyes.

So there is a very, very late project that I've been meaning on posting about for forever. Talk about procrastinating, eh?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Getting High with Crystal

Not the drug. Derek and I tend to avoid illegal drugs; we generally consider that to be a good plan for our lives... In fact, we hardly even ever drink. Sometimes we like to add a flavoured "beverage" to a smoothie, or our coke. And, of course, there's Passover wine (what kind of Jew would I be if I didn't drink wine at Passover?!) but definitely no crystal meth happening up in this house. Can you imagine how well that would go? I'd probably get so excited and euphoric that I'd try to do something completely beyond my ability and end up breaking everything... or burning down the house. 

Actually, the Crystal I'm referring to is a good friend of mine and Derek's from school. Her name is Crystal Peters (good Mennonite stock, there!) and she is the most amazing artist. Her paintings tend to be very flowy, free-moving, abstract - often with themes including scripture, God, etc. Many of the faculty at SBC have their offices or homes graced by one of her colourful, exciting paintings. And, really, if you want to see her "gallery" just go visit the apartment that she shares with Lana, where the majority of the paintings she still possesses hang, displayed on their living room walls. 

But, recently Derek and I took one of those paintings from her. After paying for it of course! And then it sat on our bathroom counter for about two weeks. Perhaps this is something to fix, but perhaps it is not! Maybe having things sit for so long gives them the time to adjust to being in our house, and gives us the time to adjust to having them there. I like to be a "glass half full" kind of person. 

Despite the fact that it took a bit of time to get the painting off the counter and onto the wall, it was actually a very simple process to get it hanging. I held up the painting to a height where I thought it looked nice, and marked that. Then I took my fabric measuring tape (I often use that for small jobs like this because it doesn't have the awkward hook on the end, so I can hold it directly against the wall) and measured the centre of the wall. Then I made a mark (perpendicular to the first line) to make and "x" to mark the spot to hammer in the nail. Voila. A total of maybe five minutes and we have more art.

It brightens up the room a lot. We really do love it in there (don't mind the missing wall plate; took it off to paint and then it... disappeared) because of the contrast it gives to the walls. It also complements the jewel tone blues that we have going on already in the bathroom.

Although the painting looks off-centered in the picture, it really isn't. In fact, it's the towel bar that's off-centered. But that's fine, since the thing is rusty and old, and really nasty, and we'd like to replace it down the road. And when we do, we'll centre it, but all in time. That's the great thing about our quirky home: the odd little things don't need to be rushed, because there's so many of them that we can just take our time and save our pennies and do things when we can. That way, I think, it'll be more of an art of love than a rush to fix things up. And yes, I have huge visions of grandeur and splendour and gorgeous rooms that are everything that I want, but at the same time, I can look around my living room with its mismatched furniture, and ugly, old carpet, and annoying front door that you need to slam to close... And I can honestly, honestly say that I love it here, because it's our home.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Bedroom Kinda Mood

No! Not that kind of mood. Clean thoughts, folks! Do any of you remember this post from way back in September when Derek and I first moved in? And this picture, of our bedroom, after we'd managed to dump all of our bedroom-ie stuff in a pile on the floor? Ah, the joys of moving. But yes, our bedroom did look like this once upon a time. 

And then it looked like this, after we moved the bed from being against one wall to the other, and got a bed-frame from Ikea, and you know, tidied. But, those purple walls still felt a little bit out of place in a master bedroom. 

So, after picking out a wall colour (Rockport Grey by Benjamin Moore, in CIL's interior paint - because it's no VOC and budget friendly!), I moved everything away from the walls. 

Then came down all the stuff on the walls, which ended up in the office/storage room/future closet/baby-eating room (yes, it has all of those names... and probably more that I've simply forgotten. Nursery? No. I'm not pregnant. Most of these are future tense). 

Then came taping off all the stuff that would be hard to paint nicely without tape. For the most part, I don't actually do much taping off, because I tend to be very steady-handed, but there are places (like the corner that I'm showing you) that would be next to impossible to do neatly without tape. Yes, this picture has paint on the walls already... I got a bit carried away. And then remembered to take pictures. Yes, painting makes me excited. 

The first part of my painting ritual consists of doing all of the cutting in. Which is what I call the hard part.

It probably takes me about two or three times as long to do the cutting in as it does to do all the rolling. It's tiring and makes my shoulders and arms hurt. And doing around the ceiling is the worst. Absolute worst. Still haven't figured out what to do with the paint can while I'm working around the ceiling. Mostly, I just put it somewhere central and do lots and lots and lots of stepping on and off the stool that I use to reach the ceiling.

Ah. Rolling in. You're so wonderfully peaceful.

And here it is, finished. I love, love, love it. The bedroom feels so much more moody, and peaceful at the same time. The purple really wasn't doing it for me. Now, the bedroom actually feels like it could be inhabited by a grown up husband and wife. #accomplishment. Though, that owl pillow doesn't really fit with the whole adult feel. But we have a serious lack of throw pillows in the house, so I'll get over it. I'm thinking, though, a nice dark, dark purple pillow? To go nicely with the bed cover? Though the yellow also works. A different yellow pillow, without an owl? I love the owl pillow - I made it - but I more imagine it in a nursery or children's room some day... 

Another view. You can't actually see into the hallway in any of these shots, but the bedroom wall colour really goes nicely with the hallway/bathroom colour. It's something of a darker, moodier version of what is out there. It really creates a nice cohesive feeling as you move from one room to another. Three spaces down, six more to go (not including the basement and closets and stuff)! Speaking of closets, doesn't that closet stick out like a sore thumb now? I think it's time to hang a curtain... Something white and flowy, or perhaps we'll get some curtains for the window, and we'll just use the same material for the closet door? Or I could just paint the inside of the closet, including the bar and the shelf, and that would probably make it look much nicer. Hmm.. what colour, then, would I use? Musing... musing...

And here's actually what we have facing us while lying on the bed. I don't have any before pictures from this angle, but they weren't much different. It's definitely still a work in progress - gotta do something with that dresser, reupholster the chair, put some art on the wall, maybe find a bigger mirror, etc. - but that's the great thing about our quirky house: it's constantly changing and there's constantly things to work on... And blog about! Probably, blog about much more than I do, but that's fine. I got two in this week and that makes me happy!

The painted bedroom also makes me happy. Love it.