Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Was Chosen as the Great Craftswoman of the Week!

Imagine my utter surprise and delight when Rory at Tools Are For Women Too (I love that name!) chose me as his Great Craftswoman of the Week for my Adirondack Chairs I recently posted about. I am so honored, Rory! Check out his website and all the other wonderfully talented craftswomen he honors with their creative, unique and beautiful creations!
Edited to add: It is always best to read the bio of the blog you are checking out to find out who exactly is creating it and whether that person is male or female! My apologies, Rory!


Simple Rustic Barn Board Bench

A little spot in the back yard has been calling for some sort of seating for the last couple of years. Just as this year, a number of years ago I got wood for Mother's Day and made an arbor of sorts. It sits up against the back of the house and has a couple of great honeysuckle vines climbing it but there was no place to sit underneath it and that was just a shame.

So, as I was scrounging around in the storage area under the deck, I stumbled upon some old barn board. Remember these barn windows I made into mirrors? Well, at the time hubs salvaged those from the barn his parents were destroying, he also brought me some of the wood itself not knowing why exactly I wanted it. I didn't either. I just knew it would come in handy. And it did. So, in just a couple of hours, I whipped together this little bench.

I love how you can still see some paint on parts of it. Gives it more of a rustic look. I have yet to seal it but I certainly will. Because the seat part of the bench was originally lap siding, I used the "wrong" side of the wood as the top. That means the part that was painted originally is now facing down and the unsealed part of it is facing up. If I want the bench to last any length of time, a sealant must be applied. Just not today!

Then I remembered a old rusty gate that we found at our new property in the country and got Jay to bring that home for me. Perfect!

See that little basket with the "garden" label holding the flowers? It was a gift from one of my little Sunday School sweeties! Meant for this bench!

Finally, the kids had to check it out as with every project! This time I got baby girl Ari to sit a spell - isn't she just a little cutie?

I am perfectly pleased with the way the bench turned out and now know that I need to keep even more of the wood from the shed we destroyed earlier this summer. Unknown projects abound, I am sure!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Adirondack Chairs

Have you ever heard the saying, "All work and no play makes a man boring?" or something to that effect? Well, hubs says I am a lot of play and a little work. He likes to work before he plays, I love to play and maybe work! So, although I wanted to make these chairs right after making the loveseat, I needed to work first. So work I did. 15 loads of laundry is work, right? Or was it 20? I lost count somewhere along the way. All I know is that the laundry is clean and I mean ALL THE LAUNDRY! I also know that we need larger closets and when we go to Minneapolis for our vacation, we DON'T need to buy clothes!
So, here are the two adirondack chairs I made last Thursday and Friday. It was a perfect rainy day activity!

I also got my 7-year old to take some pictures of me actually working just so you had proof that I indeed know how to use the mitre saw, the circular saw, the jig saw and my 18V Dewalt baby! Like the tool belt and ear protection? Neither is actually mine but I am quite sure that if I had a pink belt, I wouldn't lose it (or, more accurately, it wouldn't be stolen by the kids!)! I am also sure that if I had that pink belt, no one would take me seriously. That is, until they saw these chairs! First, I cut all the pieces (which are all 1x stock) to size with the mitre saw. I didn't use the top grade wood, even using strapping for the 1x4's - but with a bit of sanding, I think it looks just fine. It is cheaper, too. Each chair only cost about $16.

Then I started assembling them. After the first day, this is as far as I got. My pelvis was complaining again and this time I listened and stopped.

The next morning I attached the rest of the seat slats and arm rests

and rounded the back with a jigsaw.

And before lunch, I had two beautiful chairs staring back at me!

Of course, the kids needed to jump in for a picture to make sure the chairs actually "worked".

Once again, I am so thrilled with how they turned out. My gazebo looks so much better with these pieces of furniture than with lawn chairs!

As I mentioned earlier, the pattern is from Family Handyman and the instructions are super easy to follow. What isn't written out in the text is spelled out in the detailed diagrams. The only very minor modification I made was to round the corners of the armrests - I figured it worked better with the round backs and then no one would catch themselves on those corners. And did I mention they are comfortable?

I already purchased the fabric necessary to make throw pillows for them (buy 1 metre, get 3 metres FREE - are you serious?) so maybe that will be the project for this week. You know after I do more work! Cannot be all play and no work, can I? :)

I am joining up with

It's a Blog Party


The DIY Show Off



Monday, June 14, 2010

Our First Family Vacation Booked!

We have spent a few hours, each of us, surfing the web, trying to figure out which hotel to book for our Minneapolis vacation happening in mid-July. However, because we are a larger family, you cannot just pick any hotel. You have to either find a hotel with a suite that accepts 7 people or you have to book 2 adjoining rooms. Sometimes the two rooms are cheaper, sometimes the suite is cheaper. Then, do we want just a pool or a pool with a waterslide? Which suburb do we want? Does it have a complimentary breakfast of sorts? What kinds of things are reviewers saying about the hotel? The most important (almost!) question is how far away is the Mall of America and Ikea from the hotel? Agh, so many things to think of. Well, a while ago I stumbled across a website (and had since forgotten) called which helps those with larger families of 5, 6, 7 or 8 find family-friendly hotels that will accomodate them. Jay found the website again and we found our hotel by using that site's recommendations. After reading the overviews of so many hotels nothing really popped out. Until this one! It is called GrandStay Residential Suites Hotel in Apple Valley, MN. I was so pumped when I read that they have a two bedroom queen suite which has basically three rooms - 2 separate bedrooms each hold a queen-sized bed and a TV and a "great room" which has a livingroom area with a full-sized sleeper sofa, wingback chair and a TV with DVD player plus a fully equipped kitchen offering a full-size refrigerator, microwave, 2-burner stove, coffee maker, toaster, and dishwasher including dishware. Check out the map below - isn't it AMAZING!!

This is perfect for our needs. 6 of us in beds and baby girl in the playpen - totally doable! We are planning to be gone from Monday-Friday so a fully equipped kitchen is wonderful. Plus, this hotel is completely smoke-free so no yucky smoke smell. They have a very lenient cancellation policy - cancel by 6pm on the day of arrival and no fees will be assessed! It does have a pool, however, it is a fairly small one. We will be travelling during the week so it may not be that big a deal. Complimentary breakfast is included and the hotel uses Bath and Body Works products! Man, that is luxury in and of itself! It is located 14 km from the Mall of America and 16 km from IKEA. The price for all this goodness? Only about $100 more in total than booking 2 rooms at another hotel for a very low price. We are willing to pay a little more for the convenience of everything. Of course, I will have to tell you when we get back how it actually all turned out. I am just glad we found something that we are excited about and will meet our needs.

Friday, June 11, 2010

INSANE Deals for Project 2012!

Jay and I had some very important interviews this morning. We are applying for our Enhanced Drivers Licence or Identity Card in order to travel to the USA by land or by water. We went that route as opposed to passports because it was cheaper and (we thought) easier. Well, cheaper, yes, easier, no. Anyhow, the applications are in, the interviews are done and now we wait to see if we are approved. Then we plan our trip to Minneapolis! I can hardly wait! While Jay was in his interview, I took the kids to the mall to hang out for the hour wait until my appointment. I spent all of that time in Liquidation World, a treasure of a place that sells items they receive through bankruptcies, store closures, and other such means and then sell for less than the other stores that carry those same items. I like the fact that I never know what to expect plus I usually find some great treasure for an even better price. I scored and I mean scored BIG today! I mean HUGE!!
First off, I spotted a number of chandeliers on clearance! Remember, this is a place that liquidates other people's leftovers. Their prices are already better than others. They would be the equivalent of other store's clearance prices. Add another clearance price on top of that and you have a major "I-am-practically-stealing-this-the-price-is-so-low" low price. I brought home two lovelies that will be perfect for the next house (and may just find their way into this one for the short run - although, I do like the idea of keeping it special for the next one!).

This first one I picture in one of the girl's rooms. I actually like it black and I love all the wire wrapped around the arms and accented with small little baubles.

The hanging crystals finish it off ever so nicely! It measures 17" across and 18" tall and is a 6-light fixture.

The price?

This next one is huge! I think it will be our bedroom light - or maybe the foyer? I don't see it staying white but definitely wouldn't do anything about it just now. It is missing a number of the crystals but I don't think they should be too hard to replace. Like I said, it is a big one - it measures 23" across and 25" tall and is an 8-light fixture!

All for the bargain basement price of

Finally, this is the main deal! This is the big kahuna! This is the reason I am still giddy. How many of you know anything about plumbing fixtures? I am talking about bathroom taps, shower heads, etc? Yeah, me neither. Thankfully, my father is a plumber - has been since before I was even born - and probably knows most anything and everything about plumbing. As I perusing the aisles of this wonderful store, I stumbled across a couple of shelves of Price Pfister bath fixtures. Honestly, I had no idea where they fell on the scale of high-end to low-end. I saw this gorgeous Marielle roman tub faucet set in a rustic pewter finish. It has a distinctive French Country styling and was . . . well . . . gorgeous.

It was priced $78.88. Yeah. Meant nothing to me, either. So, I called daddy! Just to inform you, Price Pfister is a top-of-the-line company. Depending on what you are buying, their products can easily and generally run in the $200-$400 dollar and upwards range. $78.88 is a bargain. Dad asked if the rough-in parts were included - apparently they are often sold separately for at least $100. Yes, they were snuggled in their own little box within the larger box containing all the other parts, like the handles and the spout, which, apparently, can and are sold separately. So, for the complete set $78.88. Yup, it was a bargain, all right. I threw it in the cart and didn't look back. Well, I did look back but only to look at the Price Pfister 8" Rain Shower head selling for $28.88 - maybe I will have to go back (again) and get a second look! After I got home, I looked up this faucet set online - Home Depot, actually. They still sell this style of tub faucet. Their price? Are you ready for this? Are you sitting down? $306.31. Yeah, you read that right. Over $300. But wait a minute. That DOES NOT include the handles? Another $76.37. Remember the rough-in parts dad asked me about? Another $110.50. So, if you are doing the math (you really should be sitting) - the total cost at Home Depot for the exact same thing I just bought for $78.88 was $493.18. Are you as stunned as I was?! That is about 525% more than I paid at a wonderful place called Liquidation World. In my opinion, they had no idea the retail price of these. For example, they had some really nice Louisville Slugger bats in funky shades of orange and pink and yellow - the sale price sticker from the previous store said $199.99 and LW was selling it for 40% of that amount (no, we did not buy one but we certainly looked). I think because there was no price on these items, they just priced them however. Their loss, my gain! (Just so you know, I would never have paid $493.18 for a set of bathtub taps - that is just a whole lot beyond me - but when you can "steal" them for $78.88 I am all for it!)

Thanks for sharing in my excitement! Now it is time for a fashion show - you know, showing all the clothes I bought last night at Value Village to hubs! Gotta love it!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Adirondack-Style Loveseat

On June 1, I bought a 10' x 10' Entertainer gazebo at Superstore. It is a beautiful dark brown color and comes complete with bug screening and privacy panels - I can close up all four sides and have an intimate setting. I have wanted one of these for a couple of years and always put it off. When Pepe and I went shopping the other day, I saw this one set up in the store - I had to have it! I stood and stared at it for quite some time. The real kicker was the coordinating wicker/resin furniture that was set up in it. Oh, man, was it comfy. But that would set me back some serious house-building money. So, I just bought the gazebo, loaded it up and brought it home to set it up that very night. I was thrilled! Now I needed furniture. I scoured the web for just the perfect plans and I found them!

Check out these adirondack pieces at the Family Handyman - I wasn't keen on the step-back version but if you scroll through the instructions, it shows you various options for the backs of the furniture. I loved the round look.

So, I printed out the plans, graphed out each piece of lumber needed and which pieces should be cut from where and sent hubs to buy the wood (which cost all of $28!!). That was Monday night. Tuesday at 2:45 (afternoon nap time) I started the building process for the loveseat and by Wednesday at 5 pm I was DONE!! Now, I did all the usual things in between like cleaning, feeding, snuggling, washing, sweeping, sleeping, etc - the building process was fairly quick and easy. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. I made sure not to speed through it and kept double-checking the detailed diagrams that were included. I am so proud to show you the final result!

The kids always love to check out what I am building and I love to see the twinkle in their eye when they see how it turns out! The picture with the kids shows the stepback style of the back - not my favorite.

Once you cut the round back, the true beauty emerges. I LOVE IT!! It is super comfy and I can snuggle with my man in the privacy of the gazebo! Now on to the chairs and a coffee table, stain them all then sew/buy some pillows and we are good to go (though I may need to take a break for a couple of days as my pelvis is complaining about the awkward bending over)! So what do you think?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

There are few things more enjoyable then the anticipation of seeing little shoots of plants poking their way out of the ground. Every year I plant a garden and every year I take time each day to have a look and see if anything is poking its little head out. This year the 3 older kids helped plant the garden and are just as excited as I am to check out the daily progress. So far, in the garden here at home (we planted more in the country such as novelty potatoes, sweet and ornamental corn, pumpkins of various sizes and colors and gourds), we have corn




and lettuce.

I cannot help but be in awe of the God who makes things grow. It says that we plant and water and the Lord gives the increase. There is nothing I can do after planting but have faith that those little seeds will sprout and grow into something great, much like the way we plant the truth of God's word into the lives of our children. We can plant, we can tend, we can water but ultimately the growth occurs because of the Lord. What a leap of faith! What an exciting thing to see the seeds grow and blossom into something beautiful! So, how does your garden grow?

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Full Circle Moment

This past weekend I was part of something that I never thought would happen! Let me explain a little. When I was a little girl, we had a wood-burning furnace in our old country home. I remember coming home from wherever we had been and the first thing mom and dad did was go downstairs and either stoke the fire or make a new one to try to warm up our home. It was a cold place to be at times. Funny thing is it was the old house with the sawdust-type insulation in the walls. All that insulation had settled to the bottom half of the wall and the top part had nothing. That is where I slept on the bunkbed - no wonder I was always cold! Anyhow. Many hours were spent with dad cutting wood, hauling wood, throwing wood in the downstairs window and then stacking wood. I remember the contests my siblings and I had trying to see who could carry the most wood. Or thinking that the cowpiles looked remarkably like chocolate sundaes covered with icecream (snow) and sprinkled with nuts (sawdust). (Sidenote: We did not raise cattle but a neighbour did and that is where we went to cut wood) So, cutting and hauling wood was a part of my childhood and the smell of sawdust was a comfort to me. Fast forward many years to yesterday. We spent the whole afternoon and early evening at the new property either cutting down trees or tearing them out. I cut them down, hubs tore them out with the tractor. Yup, you read that right! I used the chain saw. To be fair, Jay cut the tree itself down then I cut it into its many pieces. It was a large double-trunk Manitoba Maple that was growing in the exact wrong spot and needed to go. So, there I was cutting it apart

while my little helper man was busy hauling the wood away in either the wagon or the wheelbarrel.

The smell of sawdust and gasoline brought me back to the years I spent doing that with my dad. Granted, the chainsaw he used was more of a yellow variety (Stihl) while the one I used was John Deere green but the full-circle moment was not lost on me. Once we actually finish with the area we were working on I will be sure to show you the result. I can say that using a chainsaw for that long really takes its toll on your arms and back. They are both sore today but I couldn't be happier with the progress we made.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Stitch-A-Long With Scotti!

I love learning new crochet stitches and especially new crochet patterns. Scotti, from InnerHooker, is having a Stitch-A-Long so I thought I would join. If you would like to learn how to crochet, follow along. If you would like to learn new and different stitches, keep checking up on her! This week she is teaching the basics such as chains, single, double and half-double crochet - those are easy for me so I will check in again next week. For those of you wanting to learn, you need to head on over! Have fun!

Inner Hooker

He Can Hear!

Earlier in May I had asked for prayer for Pepe because he was supposed to go in for t-tube surgery. Well, we took him in that day, went through the whole 2 hour pre-op routine only to find out from the anesthetist that his lungs were too congested and she would not administer the anesthesia. It wasn't a complete waste of time as Pepe was allowed to play some video games while waiting.

That was a treat for him and something to look forward to upon his return. So, we went home and were given a later date of July 21 for his surgery. Last week I received a call from the doctor that she had an opening on Thursday, June 3. We could have that date so long as Pepe saw our family doctor first to check out his lungs and make sure it was all good. We went, we saw, and we got the go-ahead. So, on Thursday, back into the city we went and Pepe was able to have the surgery. He made sure Dr. Spot, his Build-A-Bear, came with him to keep him company!

As I had mentioned earlier, he has had this surgery before 2 years ago and the experience was a hard one for him. This time, what a difference! He confidently answered all the questions he was asked, he willingly walked to the pre-op waiting room and he willingly walked towards the surgical doors-of-no-return. That is when he started to panic. He grabbed for me and pushed me ahead of him. However, when those doors opened, lo and behold, there on the other side, were 2 shiny battery-operated cars waiting for him. He could choose to drive either a bright red convertible Corvette or a powerful black Hummer. His eyes lit up, he almost smiled and made his choice - the Corvette. We watched as he learned to drive, smashing into the Hummer twice, but away he went. No tears. No fear. Just confidently driving away. A short while later, he was awake and waiting for us in recovery. Once again, no tears, no anxiety, just a calm smiling boy waiting for us. What a remarkable difference!

He was speedily wheeled down the hall in his bed to another recovery room where he enjoyed some TV (which he doesn't get at home), an orange popsicle and some 7-Up.

An hour later we were out of there with a boy that said everything was too loud! What a relief! I could whisper to him many loving things and he could hear every single one! We are hoping that this is the last time he will have to go through this surgery, that this will be the time everything returns to normal. In the meantime, we are so thankful he can hear properly once again and that the experience was a good one. A redeeming one. The overwhelming feeling I had was a sense of peace through this all. Like I said, I know this is routine, but for us, it is a bit of a stresser and we were so thankful for those of you that prayed. We certainly experienced the peace of the Lord envelop us!
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