Quick & Easy Art – Initials

I’ve had some frames lying around that had Christmas pictures in them, but they needed art I could display the rest of the year. After spending so much money on home improvements already this year, I wanted to do something low rent. Suddenly I realized how simple that could be.

The best part of this art was that I already had all the materials on hand, so I could just whip it altogether in an hour!

Materials:

  • picture frame(s)
  • scrapbook paper the size of your frame/mat
  • glue stick
  • cardstock (mine was white)
  • maneuverable scissors

Step 1:

Find a font you want your desired initials to be in. I picked Euphoria off of FontSquirrel (there are lots of free font sites but it’s my favourite), and did up a document. Initially, I picked page a page size the same size as my mat so that I could see how big the letter would be, then I put it all back to a regular page and rearranged spacing until all the letters fit on one page (save the trees!).

Step 2:

Print it out and cut out the letters, carefully.

Step 3:

Put glue on the back of the letters (carefully, again, we don’t want to tear the paper) and stick them onto the scrapbook paper. (You will probably want to test placement first!) Let dry.

Step 4:

Once it’s dry, stick that sucker in a frame and put it proudly on your wall. Like so.

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I’m so proud of this art that I’m going to share one more picture, but this time with fancy schmancy camera effects.

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The hidden, final step was putting them on the wall. This had to be done with measuring tape to get them properly spaced on the wall, which in itself is no mean feat. Once upon a time, I just put things up by instinct and eye-balling it. But then I moved in with my partner and I learned that that is not a tolerable way to put things up. As a result, usually I make him do the putting up these days, because I don’t want to be bothered with all the hassle (or the complaining afterwards if I just did it my way). However, I’ve found that it’s important, every once in awhile, to prove that yes, in fact, I can do all those things that I usually let him do.

And now it’s proven in pictures and published on the internet ;-)

Adventures in Chalk Paint: Part 2

It wasn’t enough to repaint the fireplace. After all, it was light coloured already. No, something drastic needed to change.

Yes, we let our cat watch tv from time to time. It entertains us, too :-)

Yes, that black blob with a tail is our cat, watching tv. It entertains us, too!

Look at that. It’s messy, and it’s just a dark blob (not just because of the picture quality), that you can’t help but look at, even if you don’t want to. It made me kind of stabby.

To clean up the tv stand, we replaced the computer’s functionality with a chromecast and moved the wii to another room (not that we use it there, either). The yoga mats are now in a different, messy corner. AND my wonderful partner cut a hole in the back of our tv stand so that the receiver could fit inside!

Unfortunately, cleaning it up wasn’t enough. It took care of the “messy” part, but not the “dark blob” part. Fortunately, chalk paint is easy-peasy to put on ikea furniture. A couple of coats and a wax later…

This is what I get for relying on my phone for a camera...

Another sub-par picture. This is what I get for relying on my phone for a camera…

Just look at that change! It’s bright and clean and beautiful!

You might also notice that we threw an area rug into the mix to help get even more brightness in the room. We went the route of buying a carpet remnant and getting the edges bound, and it is perfect! The carpet is so soft and it was only 99c a square foot! Binding it ended up being a bit more expensive, at $5 a foot, but we still got 2 area rugs, a 6′ x 9′ and a 9′ x 12′, for $570. That’s half the price of most of the 9′ x 12′ rugs we were looking at!

Totally, totally, worth it. Wouldn’t you agree?

Adventures in Chalk Paint: Part 1

Between Pinterest and my favoured Reloved Magazine, I’ve heard a lot about Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in the past year. It’s a UK phenomenon, and being in Canada, we can’t just walk down the street and get it. But we can get it.

And finally, finally, we did.

You see, we had the ugliest fireplace in the world. Okay, not quite that ugly, but pretty ugly. It was peach-y swirled tile directly next to a green-brown paint colour. Looking at it made me sad and irritable.

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The blue painter’s tape is actually an improvement

So we wiped it down and slapped on 2 layers (sanded in between) of Old White chalk paint.

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Just look at that transformation! Instead of the wall colour looking weird and brown, now it looks green-brown, and it doesn’t need to be ashamed anymore. The other awesome thing was that the paint didn’t have any odour.

The only downside to the paint is that it does have a pretty rough texture, and the wax you’re supposed to normally used with is flammable…we decided it probably would be best to not use it on the functioning fireplace.

Stay tuned for Part 2, the tv stand makeover!

Happy on the Inside

I ran into an old friend from university yesterday, and once again I was struck by just how happy this person seems to be. I don’t mean in a bouncing off the walls way, or an always smiling way. But he doesn’t seem to carry the burdens around with him that many people do. There doesn’t seem to be the dark core that many people have developed. Yet I know that he has struggled and achieved very impressive things in his life so far.

Mostly, it made me wonder if I could let go. Can I let go of my dark core, the one that holds the sadness of failures, missed moments and lost loved ones? Could I be deeply happy, despite the daily grind and hardships that life delivers?

Would it make me a different person?

I have a hard time thinking of myself as beautiful, despite constant reassurance by my partner that I am indeed beautiful. Some days I look in the mirror and think that, hey, maybe I am! And others I am quite sure that I am not.

Would I achieve more?

I have always held the secret hope that I would help people. Save the world, even. I have come nowhere close to that. Part of my wonders if the burdens I carry with me have held me back, kept me from growing into more than I am. And part of me likes the way my life is, without the stress of trying to save the world. A big task for one person even on a good day.

Would I be less sarcastic?

I have this side to myself that I try to keep private. I can actually be very silly–even though in front of 99% of people my walls are up and sarcasm is the only humour I show. I love to dance–even though I usually just dance by myself around the house.

Would people still take me seriously?

I’ve always been the responsible one. The composed one. I can be having a fight with my significant other and turn around to smile and have a cheerful conversation with the waiter.

I have recently moved into the role of being the team leader, which meant convincing some employees that I was qualified to be their boss. And I did. But, how much of that is because of that dark, hard, core that I have?

And yet, it’s hard not to like a happy person. So maybe I could be me…but happier. Maybe I could be sometimes silly, sometimes dancey, always a bit sarcastic and yet somehow, less dark. Less sad.

Maybe I could accept what I have lost and failed at, and actually, finally, move on.

If only I knew how…

Almond Milk — Homemade?!

A couple of weeks ago, my partner and I hosted our very first Thanksgiving dinner. In order to make this dinner as special as possible, we decided to make our own (vegan) ice cream. But not just any ice cream. Ice cream with a homemade almond milk base.

Was it ambitious? It sure seemed like it!

In actual fact: it wasn’t that hard! I was stunned to discover that making almond milk was not only pretty easy, but also kind of fun. Something about squishing that bag of warm-ish water soaked nut mash was kind of cathartic. And the resulting milk was so rich and flavourful!

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It was so awesome, that we even decided to try to make it on a regular basis, instead of always buying our almond milk with its additives.

And for those of you who are thinking “But what about the calcium and vitamin D fortification?!” — fear not! It is entirely possible to just throw a couple of supplements into the milk while you’re blending it up!

I haven’t even gotten to my favourite discovery in this process, though.

The ice cream recipe with its homemade almond milk called for a very high percentage of almonds (almost 1 to 1 with water). Which seemed very expensive to do in the long run. I compared it to other recipes and found that most recipes are closer to 1 cup almonds to 4 cups water, which seemed much more affordable. What was the difference?

Look at all that almond meal from that concentrated milk!

Look at all that almond meal from that concentrated milk!

Having that high concentration of almonds rendered an ultra-thick creamy, rich almond milk. The “cream” of almond milks. It was so rich that I didn’t want to drink it. You see, I decided at the age of 2 that I didn’t like anything other than skim milk, no joke! And I’ve never felt differently after all those years, I just don’t like the rich/thickness of it on its own (in hot chocolate or ice cream, that is a different story…). I had to dilute that ultra-rich almond milk way down until it seemed drinkable. And voila, my own skimmed-almond milk.

But it blew my mind–the fact that you can make almond milk according to your richness preferences! Does that blow your mind or is it just me?

The moral of the story: homemade can be better, and fun. And, of course, customizable!

The Gender Divide – Hugs Edition

Something has been bothering me for awhile.

Hugs.

And I bet Winnie the Pooh wouldn’t find this so bothersome. But I do.

Actually, I love hugs. When you care about someone, I think they are a great expression of that feeling. They can make me feel better when I’m sad or upset.

Here is what I don’t love: sexism. You heard me. How can hugs be sexist? Simple. Say Shelly and John have known Ben equally well for a couple of years, and are friends, but not really very good friends. Where John and Ben would shake hands, Ben will, generally, expect a hug from Shelly. Don’t believe me? Just observe. I’ve seen it happen over, and over, and over again. And every time it makes me just a little more uncomfortable.

Just because I am a woman, and you are a man, doesn’t mean I want to hug you. Please get out of my personal space. Please treat me equally as you would a man in the hugging regard. I like hugging. I don’t like hugging people I don’t know well enough. I’m sensitive about that.

However! In the event that the men do hug, they still don’t do it the same way. They always do that weird locked fist thing first, so that their chests don’t touch. Because obviously that chest touching would ignite fierce homosexual longings that they would be unable to ignore. That’s the only reason I can think of for doing that. And if you don’t actually have a good reason, hug fist-free! Isn’t that locked fist kind of uncomfortable anyway? I bet you didn’t know that my heart melts a bit when I see men hug properly.

So melt my heart, dammit. Then, maybe, you can give me a hug.

A Little Less Wise

After a certain number of years, I was forced to accept the truth–I had to get my wisdom teeth out. I had been putting it off, hoping that one day my teeth would just figure it all out, and I could be one of the few that is able to say “I still have my wisdom teeth”.

Alas, it was not to be. So on a bright September day, I went in for my very first general anaesthesia surgery. To say that I was scared to go under for the first time would be very, very true.

I can’t deny that there was something nice about falling asleep and waking up and having it all done. The loopy-ness wore off quickly. The ache-y pain wasn’t bad enough that my need for stronger drugs was greater than my stubbornness towards taking stronger drugs.

But I’ve been slow to bounce back. Tired, weak and sore, I have missed a lot of work and other activities in the following days. I’m getting there, just slowly.

However, what has struck me most about this experience is what a prime example wisdom teeth are in showing how unique we all are from each other. I have heard dozens of wisdom teeth stories over the years, and not one has been the same. Some people actually have wisdom teeth that are fit and happy. Some should get them out but are avoiding it. Some people got 2 out at once, and some got all out at once. Some people were fine 2 days afterwards, and some weren’t. Some people spent a whole week on crazy pain killers. Some people ended up with infections, or dry socket. Some people got chipmunk cheeks, some people barely looked different.

And it’s such a simple thing. Just 4 teeth that we seem to have evolutionarily outgrown. Yet for each person, the outcome and how our body deals with that outcome is different.

I find great comfort in the fact that we haven’t evolutionarily outgrown uniqueness, don’t you?

What’s your wisdom teeth story?