Sunday, September 30, 2012

I'm never coming downstairs again....


My craft studio is complete (mostly) and it is so awesome that I have no words. OK, I have a lot of words, but they are farther down, so they don't count.... much.

Here is where the magic happened. I LOVE this wall. Love it with a deep, abiding passion. Let's just say that if Justin Timberlake or Colin Firth or the Hot Scientist dude from Eureka (Ed Quinn) dropped by and asked me to run away with them, I'd have to think really hard about leaving this room behind......

The basic plan is (mostly from Ikea, because they make great, cheap storage furniture... and I had most of it already):

2 Pax wardrobes from Ikea (used to be in Chey's Room)
1 Trofast frame (the one that looks like stairs) 
1 Helmer Drawer unit (the only Ikea item I had to buy)
1 Lack coffee table, top removed
1 4x8 panel of slot wall, painted (and accessories). Next time I want to paint slot wall, someone shoot me, OK?

My original plan was to buy two of the Helmer drawer units (or something like them) and stick the Lack coffee table  (used to be used as a play surface for the kids) on top as a desk, but when I was thinking about what to do with the furniture in the room already, it occurred to me that the Trofast unit might make a good base for a desk. I couldn't believe it when the Helmer and the middle step of the Trofast were within 1/4" of each other! It was perfect. The casters of the Helmer have sunk into the carpet enough that I don't even have to shim the desk to make it level. It's perfect. I only used the top of the Lack coffee table, it was way too tall with the entire coffee table on the "base".

Once the room was painted I shoved everything where I wanted it and it looks like it was made for the space. There are no gaps anywhere. The items fit perfectly (I planned that, actually and again, the Trofast saved the day, by being the perfect size to eat up the bit of space betwixt desk and tower). 

See all of my wonderful storage? (I plan to replace the plastic bins on the slot wall shelves with something else: eventually. The ones inside the tower are fine).

Inside the right tower 

Drawers of yarn

These drawers will contain my fabric.
Still to be organized.

This still needs to be organized.

My grandmother made me this

Sock yarn/lace yarn remnants in glass.
 The deer fabric is covering a paint can, filled with yarn.
The Blue glass is from Egypt and has my signature needles
and some hand carved crochet hooks.

some colourful fibre, beautiful lace yarn... this space is heaven

The real problem with the room was the floor. Sewing on carpet is not much fun. The sewing part is fine, it's the CLEANING that's not fun. We aren't quite ready to do a full scale floor replacement though, so after much thought and a thorough scouring of the Internet, I decided to paint a floor cloth. This was probably the most painful part of the job as I wanted a large floor cloth (almost completely covering the floor) and I didn't really have space big enough to paint it and then let it cure. I painted in the basement (it took a gallon of primer and 3/4 of a gallon of paint, but only a quart of varnish and 6 days, including dry time) , but pulled apart my guest room to let it cure for a few days before wrestling (there is no better word, I fought that sucker into place!) it down today. It's not perfectly flat (it was most difficult to get it to lay flat without pulling apart the entire room), but I think it turned out great! And it's sweep-able and damp wipe-able... perfect for a craft room, no?

 The cloth is painted Ombre (dark centre and faded out to either end). I decided not to go for crisp lines, but blended the lines together as I painted. It's subtle and I love it.

I still want more storage on this side of the room,
but I need to let some ideas ferment for a bit before I tackle them. 

Subtle Ombre stripes. 

Need to think on a chair solution as well.
Perhaps an Ottoman might work??
One of the best parts of this room, is that it is STILL Chey's play room. Her toys are still in the Trofast bins under my desk, her Calico Critters sit atop a cedar chest filled with fibre AND she might actually use it now. At least, she will most likely use it while I sew and futz around. She didn't like playing in that room by herself. Now we can both play; she with her toys, I with mine.

Next job (after I clean up the mess from this one) -BASEMENT. That's just painting, though: maybe.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One project down.

As I've mentioned in several posts, Dale and I (mostly I, but he does help when he's not working) are slowly giving our house a teeny facelift. Mainly paint and decorating, but I'm hoping, that over the next year, we will have the house refreshed and better organized.

With that goal in mind, one of the problems/DIY project on our list,  has been to figure out garden storage. We have a small, lean-to, style shed against the side of the house that plays the part of "catch all" for our gardening detritus. Lawnmower, wheelbarrow, shovels, rakes, bags of soil, buckets, small garden tools, fertilizer, hose pieces, etc. are all piled in the little shed and most of it has to be removed each time the lawn needs to be mowed. I thought that a nice dresser or small hutch, painted as a part of the backyard decor, might be a partial solution. At least we would get the little bits out of the shed......

I trolled Kijiji for about a month, looking for something cheap (like under $50 cheap), but solid and didn't really find what I was looking for (it had to fit in a certain spot against the house). One day I drove past a garage sale and found the perfect dresser... for $20. The gentleman selling it, said it was solid wood and it was hard to tell because he had painted it with some kind of super thick plastic deck paint, but I thought we'd give it a go.

I forgot to take a good picture of the before, this will have to do.

It sat in the garage all summer, until it finally rose to the top of the "honey do" list and Dale started the stripping process. He found out pretty quickly that it was NOT solid, but some kind of laminate over pine. The laminate didn't make it through the stripping process (nor did the drawer bottoms or bottom of the cabinet, but I'll fix that in the spring) and it turned out to be a much larger, more expensive job than I had anticipated. I was finally able to start staining on the weekend. My plan was to stain the body of the dresser one colour and all of the drawer fronts and doors different colours. I think it turned out looking fabulous, but the cost and effort of the redo, relative to the  quality of the initial (and ending) piece of furniture was not worth it. I think we'll have paid over $200 in stripper, stain, varnish, new drawer bases and pulls which would have been worth it had the dresser been of better quality.  Something for me to think about in the future, that is for certain.

Here it is after being stripped. Again, I need to learn to take better pictures, but you can see the inside, bottom of the cabinet is trashed. All of the drawers are the same.

It does look pretty though. The cabinet itself is stained dark red, the largest door was stained purple, but it looks dark brown, which is unfortunate. I LOVE the teal/turquoise doors! In retrospect, I wish I had stained the entire cabinet with that stain..... I couldn't wait to show you, even though I have yet to put on handles and pulls and fix the drawers. I don't plan to do that until Spring though.

I can totally picture it with a flower pot on the top. What do you think?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It looked better from the bottom, honest

Today Dale and I were the BEST parents.... and we made a horrible parenting decision.

There was a moment, today, where I sat, frozen in abject terror, on a steep mountain hillside, trying to decide if going down on my ass, with rocks flying past my head and my children screaming and crying behind me with about 20 people watching (with fierce judgement in their eyes and condescension written on their faces. I think it was judgement and condescension,  but they were actually all the size of ants and probably didn't even notice; if they were deaf, they didn't notice, so they probably did notice, unless they thought the kids were mountain lions screaming, fingers crossed!) OR riding down the hill in a helicopter, would be scarier (OK... a helicopter rescue was hardly necessary, but it really felt like an option at the time). The terror did abate and sense did prevail, however and I chose option A (I accidentally wrote B here, but caught it in the nick of time.That, would have been a funnier story, but alas... there were no helicopters involved... or rather, THANKFULLY, there were no helicopters involved....

I'm getting ahead of myself.

Dale and I decided that we'd better enjoy this fabulous weather we are having (winter could strike without notice)  and chose to do another hike in the Rockies. Plus, Eli informed me , Saturday night, that he had a science project due Monday that involved deciduous trees. Where better to find deciduous trees than a hike: in a forest.

We opted for an easier hike than last week. We hike, bike and otherwise force our children into the great outdoors, rather expecting, a little whining, a little complaining and a little "are we there yet"ing, but felt that we would try to avoid this as much as possible, this time. We chose, based on a quick perusal of our hiking books, (OK, they are more like walking books, but I'm pretty sure one or two actually uses the word HIKE in the title.) an easy hike into an area called Grotto Canyon. This hike is, as advertised, a nice walk/hike through a forest and up a canyon to a small waterfall. The only false advertising was the mention of Indian Pictographs, which we did not find, but that, I suppose, doesn't mean they are not there. Walking through the canyon also made me think that maybe I need to take up rock climbing again... The climbing through the canyon  looked AMAZING (for me, anyway: I don't really know what I'm talking about, but there were a lot of routes).

Grotto Canyon is a popular hike and we can see why. It's a lovely hike (no groomed trails with stairs, bridges and handrails is a hike, damn it!). We made it to the falls without issue and decided to continue (most people turn around at the falls) to see the hoodoos.

"waterfall"... It might deserve the name in the spring?

Most of the hike was like this

There is the hoodoo... little did we know what horror awaits

still in a good mood on the way back, couldn't be that bad, eh?

This is where our parenting minds slipped .... and nearly our whole family with them, to our deaths or  near dismemberment, I am certain.

At the base of one of the hoodoos is a cave and the kids REALLY wanted to hike up there.....

The picture makes it look easy and it really did look easy: from the bottom.

I stayed at the bottom with the dogs (They didn't need to bump someone off the hill or start a small rockslide) and Dale took the kids around the side and up, it looked the easier, albeit longer way..... They made it to the level of the cave without much difficulty and started to traverse across to the cave entrance. They were nearly there when the crying started and I, in my "mother bear" mode, leapt straight up the rock face to the rescue (no circuitous method for me!), looked down and froze with my heart in my mouth. And the first rambling paragraph of this post ran through my head, along with a lot of other fatalistic thoughts about news stories featuring dumb-ass parents, climbing with their kids, falling from a cave and being flown by STARS air ambulance to the nearest hospital. I did manage to appear, on the outside, slightly nervous, but mainly, calm  (kids are great for helping me control hysterical fears... lead by example and all that crap or something, I forget). I told Dale I couldn't quite make it all the way to help (I was about 4 feet away) and slowly tried to crab walk down the loose boulder/rock slope. Dale, did, somewhat manage to keep his cool (the kids were wailing and crying and generally NOT paying attention to the very important instruction of NOT falling to their deaths) and, after what seemed like four hours,  we did get to the bottom. I can definitely say that we won't be doing that again. 

I have no good pictures at the top to show you how scary it really was (Dale had the camera for the awesome cave shots he was supposed to get).... I do have a couple of pictures off my phone, perhaps they'll tell the tale? I took these from about the place hidden behind the middle tree on the bottom of the above picture: about 1/3 of the way up the slope. See those little grey blobs at the base of the cliff? Those are the rest of my family members trying not to die.

The kids were scarred for life (as they informed us), for about 3 minutes and then they got over it, mostly...... Chey did have a harder time and kept talking (loudly to anyone that would listen, it IS a busy place) about how we made a BAD CHOICE to hike to the cave.... Fortunately, a ladybug cupcake saved the day.

Long story short... We will do Grotto Canyon again (it was beautiful!), but we'll stare up at the cave from the bottom..... 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Return

After a brief hiatus, mainly due to the insanity of over scheduling myself, I am back. Maybe.

I've been a very busy MOM this month and have had very little time to be ME.... I am the volunteer coordinator for my daughter's school; which has involved, manually, inputting 500 students' parental information into an excel spreadsheet, organizing them by class, finding room parents and setting them up for the year. I am also on both schools' parent councils, a health action committee and I will be starting "Knit Club" at Eli's school, again,  next week. Plus, both kids celebrated their birthdays (Chey is now seven, Eli is eleven) this month and have, despite my best efforts to train them otherwise, still required feeding, cleaning and the occasional clean piece of laundry...... all of this has left me with too much to say and not one ounce of will to say it....

This is a N64 system given to him by his Aunty Theressa... BIGGEST.HIT.EVER!

I did get a few things for ME done.... sort of for me.... It does seem an awful lot like my ME time involves the kids and/or spouse, eh?

1) I finished Chey's BTSS (Back to School Sweater) for 2012, only a week late. Eli will not be getting a BTSS this year.... too many years of the sweater never being worn has finally taught me not to bother.... He will get socks instead.... eventually.

2) I have finished painting my Studio/Craft room and have big, BIG, plans in the decorating/organizing aspects. I don't want to share a peek... I think I'll wait until it's completely done... sorry. It will be worth it though, I promise.

3) We hiked up (well, part way up) the backside of Mt. Yamnuska (also known as Mt. Laurie)

4) We went to the Calgary Corn maze and I enjoyed a visit with one of my closest friends while the kids ran and played.

And the month is nearly over.... Wow.

Monday, September 3, 2012


I know you've all been waiting with breathless anticipation for my post about yarn/fibre acquisitions during my latest month-long tour of BC, particularly since my last tour was rather epic in the stash enhancement category....Do you remember this photo??

It was taken after my Tour of BC two years ago.....

Are you wondering how much my yarn/fibre stash has grown after my latest trip??

It's a sad day for the stash pile.....

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What just happened??

I've been a very busy girl, since last I wrote.....

When I walked into my house last Sunday, I was struck by all of the things that I've been ignoring. The disorganized mess of the mud/laundry room (room is a bit generous... it's more like a walk in closet leading from the garage to the rest of the house), the state of the carpeting upstairs (I'm pretty sure it is original to the house which was built in 1997 and it's gross), Chey's disused "playroom", Chey's crowded bedroom, the fact that, aside from some small changes, we have not painted since we moved in and the ENTIRE house needs a paint job..... in other words, I lost my marbles and went, for a lack of a better term....completely off the rails.... and Dale let me (not that he could stop me, mind.... when I get like that, the best thing you can do is smile and nod and hang on for the ride......). I immediately dropped my bags  and got to work.... my first goal.... making Chey's room a little less crowed.

My plan for Chey's room was to move the two tall Pax wardrobes from Ikea into her "playroom" which I would then convert into my studio (leaving her toy area intact). This would allow for more space in her room and more storage in mine. I then planned to buy her either a captain's bed or a loft bed. After a quick perusal of various sources of children's furniture I decided to check Kijiji and found a solid maple loft bed with an included dresser for super cheap and the plan was born......

Chey's room Before: (this is really before.... like way back when she moved from a crib to a bed... I've reorganized her room several times since; you can't really see how crowded her room was, so you'll have to trust me). It had the two Pax wardrobes, plus a desk and a bookcase and that ugly fan... I hate ceiling fans! There was only a narrow alley between the bed (which was against the wall at this point) and the rest of the furniture.

Chey's room Now:

Much better, eh??

In case you were wondering what I did UNDER The bed.... I made it a little library and attached some book slings, that I made, to the bed frame. I also made a book sling for beside her bed.

Under the bed

The end of the underbed area

Bedside Sling

I made the slings after being inspired by THIS tutorial, although I didn't follow it at all. I used a double curtain rod set (it was cheaper than buying all the parts separately like she recommends in the tutorial), but the downside of using a double curtain rod bracket is that the book sling can't carry as many books because the rods only sit an inch apart (a problem for fatter books). I'm not sure how this could be solved, but it's something to consider if you make your own book slings. Perhaps off-set, single brackets or extended arms or something..... The fabric was purchased at Ikea and I still have a bit of the bug material which I plan on using to make a body pillow to replace the flip chair that is currently under there (it takes up too much room).

The other big craft project that I did to make the room tidier and roomier, was to make a stuffy storage thing-a-ma-jig (it's a stuffy jail, there is no better way to describe it, I'm afraid). I was inspired 
by a stuffy Zoo that I found online, but decided to try to make one myself. I re-purposed a VHS storage cabinet that my Mom made for me in the late '90s that has sat empty since we converted, first to DVDs, and then to Digital movies. I didn't want to get rid of the cabinets though (they are solid pine and my Mommy made them) so I've been lugging them around for a years.

First I took off the doors and installed a dowel.

Then I stained the entire thing green (Chey's favourite colour)

Then I took a hammer and expressed some lingering frustration in a most satisfying manner...... this is known in DIY circles as "antiquing"

I then added hooks and bungie cords

And made this pile of stuffies (which were contained in TWO overflowing, pop-up laundry bins)

Look like this.....

Now that Chey's room is done... I can move onto my studio...... which currently looks like the place where our extra crap goes to die (it was tidy before Chey's room was demolished, but I have no photographic evidence to support this statement). I should paint first, but I can already feel the urge to skip that part setting in..... must resist?