Thursday, December 15, 2011

Snowman Bags

I saw these cute bags and thought I might adapt them for my students' Christmas presents. My kids LOVE bags right now - we have several in our classroom which they carry around and fill up with toys etc.

Because I had 17 of these to make, I cut corners quite a bit. There is no drawstring - I just attached the string to the side and tied it in a bow. I realize the kids won't be able to do this again, but if it's tied in a loop, they will still have a handle to hold on to.

Because we are focusing on name recognition, I also wrote their names on the back.
And the bags are filled with a couple of candy bars (not at all healthy, but 'tis the season!) and some bubbles.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Toiletry Gift Bags

During the mad Christmas Present purchasing frenzy, I was unable to find already-created gift baskets that I liked at Bath & Body Works. So, I decided to sew up a few cute little gift bags and create my own.

I didn't just want shabby little draw-string bags, though, I wanted something a tad more chic. So I did a hack on this tutorial, made my own patterns to ensure everything fit inside and came up with these:

Not half bad for my 3rd project with my new sewing machine. I would have loved to have cute buttons and perhaps some ribbons/lace embellishments, but a) my sewing machine doesn't do button holes and b) I was running out of time!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bokeh Attempts

After stumbling across the curious concept of Bokeh, and discovering a few "fool proof" tutorials. I decided to give it a whirl with hubby's D-SLR. He has a Sony Alpha 100-A and I am sure it is capable of magical things, but I am photography-illiterate so I was just going to keep spinning lenses and pressing buttons until something cool happened.

I tried to scout Molly as my model, but I am not sure if she was a) tired b) reluctant to pose or c) trying to master the famous model 'pout' that we commonly see strutting the cat walk. Not quite suitable for the cute-puppy-with-christmas-lights shoot I was after.

Luckily for me, the cute little gingerbread man that came with our 'Real Christmas Tree' was eager to play the part. Notice the blurry lights in the background? That's what I am going for...

So now I get to make the cute little cap for the camera, as shown here and now I make the lights change shape!

The only problem is that the shape is a bit wonky. It's supposed to be a star. Perhaps it does that because I couldn't open up the aperture enough (it only goes as low as f3.6???) or perhaps it's because the star wasn't perfectly centered over the lens? Not sure.

Gingey was getting bored, so switched it up for our little mantle...

And then I tried the tree shape. They all went skewed as I changed the focus.

And then hubby finally took over (after watching me struggle for a while) and got some great shots :)

Sooo... not quite the success that I was after and not quite worth displaying, but it was a learning curve. Perhaps next year I will figure it out :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ottoman Slip Covers

We recently bought an awesome white faux-leather storage ottoman with two smaller ottomans inside. The only problem is that the smaller ottomans were stained by the under side of the big ottoman's lid (big black trays that flip over).

Our $20 additional insurance that was SUPPOSED to take care of it, however because it was a store fault, our only option was to haul it all back to Calgary. I despise Calgary, with a passion. So instead of wasting another very valuable Saturday, I simply sewed these ottoman covers (half an hour each) to cover them up. They're easy to remove (and wash!) and a great alternative to arguing with more useless store reps.

The blue piece of fabric is a large octagon (hemmed around the base) and the white sash is just a loop that slips over the blue cover to keep it in place. Easy peasy.

Felt & Ribbon Christmas Wreath

Seeing as we're heading to Montreal for Christmas this year, we didn't see the point in decorating / hauling 4 large boxes of Christmas decorations up 2 flights of stairs. That's not to say I am not getting into the spirit, but anything that adorns our tiny place must be made from scratch or arrive in the mail.

Oh, but I did insist on having a 'real' Christmas tree. Safeway had some in their flower section for $5. It's about 10 inches tall and Oh-So-Cute. Perfect for the mantle... but we didn't read the growth information card until we got home. Maximum height when fully grown: 15 feet.

I would freak out if I had any talent as a green thumb. Because I have been known to kill a cactus, however, if I can keep it alive until then I will not curse it's inconvenient height, but rather celebrate my own knack for gardening.

So this is my attempt at a wreath using the supplies in my craft desk. It's a bit flat and pretty tiny, but for $1 and 15 minutes of labour, I think it will do.

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments

This craft was a test run for what I want to do with my 3 year olds at work. Granted, I don't expect them to do anything too fancy, but I wanted to see how well salt dough worked and, more importantly, how quickly it dries out.

2 cups plain flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water

Drying time: An hour in the oven at 200F, flipping them half way. The thicker pieces air dried over a week after I grew impatient with the oven method.

The mixture was foolproof and the consistency will be great for 3 year olds. Our focus will be on using the rolling pins (the dough dries out best if rolled quite thin).

I am slightly concerned that they might try to eat the dough, but it's nothing their digestive systems haven't seen before.

I made two small circles, one with a letter on it, then painted them gold once dry. I then glued the circles back to back and wrapped twine around the edges (hot gluing as I went) but left a loop on the top.

These ones will be attached to Christmas presents under the tree for the in-laws, in lieu of a stick-on-Christmas-tag.

Paper Mache Letter

I went hunting for proof that DIY paper mache letters were possible and not too difficult to make, and I found this wonderful tutorial that makes the whole process seem idiot proof.

I am very pleased with the results and even more pleased with the cost ($0!!!).

 What I used:
  • Cornflakes box
  • Lots of sticky tape
  • A large print out of the letter E in a font I liked
  • Strips of newspaper
  • Paper Mache Goop (equal parts flour & water, a tsp of salt)
  • Leftover high-gloss paint from Benjamin Moore that I used for the inside of my desk :)
The finished product has a glossy, cement-like texture.

'Smore Christmas Goodies

My workplace has gotten into the spirit of giving this Christmas, so I jumped on the bandwagon and made these cute little DIY-Smores packets for the staff. I can't claim the idea as mine - I saw several different versions on Pinterest.

Seeing as I had lots of leftover marshmallows and graham crackers, I made some Smore Sticks for the Kids Christmas Party Potluck tomorrow. They are all packaged up ready to go... plus three individually wrapped ones for the hubby to take skiing tomorrow.

Secretary Desk Turned Craft Desk

One of my favourite pieces of furniture is my refinished secretary desk. We bought it on Kijiji for $70 after I fell in love with it and begged hubby to let me keep it. He was less than thrilled at first, possibly because we had to drive to Calgary for it and we had great difficulty fitting it in our old car... but then he sanded it and painted it for me and now he's satisfied and I am OVER THE MOON!!!


 I have since filled the top shelves with craft supplies, all housed in re-purposed coffee cans (wrapped in pretty wrapping paper), mason jars and other pretty things. The inside of the desk is a right mess, so it will have to wait a bit.
The swirly details remind me of the closet from Beauty and the Beast. Love. It. 

Repurposed Licence Plate: Book end

We recently bought some glass shelves from Ikea and were thrilled to put all our books on them... only to realize that we should have also bought some book ends. A quick Google search revealed that bending a licence plate at a right angle would suffice. Luckily for us, we had switched our car registration from Quebec to Alberta the week before, so we had a useless licence plate on our hands... HOORAY!
Behold, our repurposed licence plate book end:

Hinged Jewellery Hanger

I have been wanting to make these for AGES and began stocking up supplies before we even moved into our place. The best part about these is that they are drilled into the wall (a homeowners luxury) in order for the hinges to work.

I found some matching frames at the thrift store ($1 for both of them) and removed the glass and backs of them. Hubby spray painted them for me (I am terrible at spray painting) and then I glued in some of the lace from my 'First Attempt Wedding Dress'. I shoved some cardboard strips in on top of the hot glue to keep the lace from flopping out of the frame. We then attached some tiny hinges to some old paint stirrers, screwed it all to the wall, added some hooks to the front and viola! Jewellery hangers!

Here you can see the dodgy paint job, the strips of cardboard to hold the lace firmly in place, the hinges and the old paint stirrers (it was the only old, thin piece of wood I could find).
I had to tie a piece of ribbon between the hooks on the left-side one, to hang my hoop earrings.
 And they open for easy access to get the butterfly clips off the studs :)

Thrift Store Find - $5 Chair

Found a very sad looking chair at the thrift store, so we gave it a semi-makeover by adding some padding and reupholstering the seat and the back. Total cost: $9. I would like to paint the wooden frame because it's quite scratched, but it will have to wait until the summer when I can haul it out onto the patio.

I thought it would be a great chair to watch movies on in hubby's office (on his new iMac) but Molly has since claimed it as hers. I guess I will just need to keep an eye out for another sad chair...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


 We have wanted a dog for quite a while and with hubby working from home now, we decided it was the perfect time to adopt. We looked at a GAZILLION different breeds and reviews, but in the end we fell in love with a rescue dog, advertised on the Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation's website. I have never had a mixed breed before and it seems like a stab in the dark, but Molly is pretty darn perfect.

 We are told she is husky x border collie x labrador. We can't see any labrador in her, but with her athletic ability and gangly arms, we think there might be some monkey and kangaroo in there instead. She graduated from her puppy obedience classes and is very intelligent.

Friends of ours were so impressed with Molly, they contacted the rescue foundation and adopted Molly's sister - Siku.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

About Us

Quick Facts:
  1. My husband and I live in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada.
  2. I am from Australia.
  3. Hubby is from Quebec.
  4. We were married May 20th, 2011 on Hamilton Island, in Australia.
  5. We have a dog named Molly.
  6. We bought a 660 square foot condo.

Our 660 Square Foot Condo: