Joan

Mar 152015
 

Last year, I picked up a basic but functional bar cart at an estate auction for less than $50.  As I said, it is basic but I think it has potential and could become a welcome focal point when we entertain.   I noticed over the holidays bar carts were a very popular topic, inspiring me to do something fun with mine once the nicer weather arrives.  

Currently  the cart is sitting in a corner in our dining room without any definitive purpose.  I have been using it to display / store the cut crystal pieces I own and those I have also acquired at estate sales. 

barcart_04

Estate Sale Bar Cart in need of a New Look

 This cart does need some work because it is partially covered with an over spray of latex paint.  Meaning: I obviously need to do a better job protecting my stash inventory when spray painting in the garage. 

I have always planned on painting this piece but I am not sure what type of finish.  I do know I don’t want black.  I also think it will be moved around and possibly brought outside to the terrace or the deck.

Should I add a splash of colour? 

  • Yellow
  • White
  • Turquoise
  • ??

Or should I go metallic? 

  • Copper seems to be making a big comeback
  • Bronze:  the chandelier and sconces in the dining room are bronze
  • Nickel
  • Chrome

I went to the internet and Pinterest to get some inspiration.  There are lots of similar, simple carts out there but wow! They can be expensive!

Lolita Bar Cart, Gold

One King’s Lane $499

Emile Bar Cart, Nickel

One King’s Lane, Emile, $259

Chrome Metal with Black Tempered Glass Bar/ Tea Serving Cart

Overstock, Chrome Metal with Black Tempered Glass, $143

Safavieh Bar Cart - Gold

Target, Safavieh Bar Cart, $240

Pier 1, Lucette, $330

 I will admit right now that all of these look much more substantial and perhaps sturdier than mine but still, I could not find anything similar for under $100.  So even if I decide to get some fancier glass, I would be way ahead of the game.

I also saw some great practical ideas of how to styleize bar carts.  Once I decide how I will finish this one, I can’t wait to incorporate some of these ideas.

barcart_02

Love this little corner

 

So, I am open to suggestions as to how to re-finish this little gem. 

Add colour?

Add metallic?

Add different glass?

Be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts. 

The weather here in Toronto is improving and I will soon be able to get outside and paint this baby!

 

Joan

Mar 112015
 
Are photo albums a thing of the past

In this age of digital everything, are physical photo albums a thing of the past?

A LONG Winter and Now:  Bronchitis

I recently shared how my husband and I survived this LONG winter.  I really should have said “mentally” survived!   The day before I shared the long winter post,  I went out snowshoeing with my friend and our two dogs for an hour or so.  It was a bit longer than planned because even before we started, I commented I felt I was getting a cold.  That afternoon we were hit with a big ice storm (yes, ,more crappy winter weather!) and in the evening we lost power until nearly noon the next day. 

I am sure it was just coincidence but I woke up in the cold house with whopping, nasty chest cold!  Bronchitis to be exact. 

Why??
Why me??

Today is Day 8 and it has let up a bit but not to the point I can be really busy and actually move around a lot and “DO” something.   It seems if I move a lot, like dash up the stairs, I have a 15 minute coughing fit.   I am very fortunate, in that I am not working outside the home and do not have small children.  However,  I am in my 50s and this has really “Socked it to Me!”.   (You may need to be a child of the 70s to get that Goldie Hawn line.)

Photo albums a thing of the past

“SOCK IT TO ME” (source)

Sorting Photos

Okay enough “Poor Me”, so what does all this have to do with PHOTO ALBUMS?

You see, I have been an avid photographer for years.  I even developed my own black and white way back in the day so I have DOZENS and DOZENS of photo albums.  I also have HUNDREDs of printed pictures, needing sorting, labeling, filing and framing.  Some stacks go back 3 or 4 years.  These are mostly travel photos along with some family and artistic attempts.   Not all will go into albums, it’s also time to update the gallery wall.

With this bronchitis, I have barely gotten out of my PJs, or bed for that matter, meaning I have been unable to tackle active, productive projects like sanding and painting.  Looking around,  I decided it is time to get out the boxes of photos and empty albums and get to work on them.  Nice quiet, non-stressful activity.  This will also be a MAJOR de-cluttering / organizing task that is SO LONG OVERDUE!

Photo albums a thing of the past

Sorting and Filing is well underway.

 

photoalbum4

This is most but not all of my albums. Looking from top to bottom, you can almost see the “History of Photo Album Styles”. The top row are the peel and stick type!

 

Photo Albums

I love printed photos. 
Do you?
I love to look at them. 
I love to touch them. 
I love to remember and reminisce over them.

Will my daughter and the next generation value photo albums and the memories they hold as much as I do?

Are printed photos and photo albums following a similar path as music?  I distincely remember my first stereo receiver, turntable, cassette deck and then CD player.  Now all gone.

A couple of summers ago, at the encouragement of my husband and daughter, I sorted through all of my albums, selecting HUNDREDS of  important pictures and sent them to be digitized. I have them on both CDs and a dedicated hard drive.   I did the same with the literally hours and hours of family and vacation video we have on 8mm.  It was an expensive venture but it is very important to me that we preserve these memories.

To date, neither my husband or my daughter have taken a look at what we now have on digital.

Is that not a telling sign?

 Is the effort of labeling and filing photos, in order to capture memories of precious times together, now a  futile effort?

I have also realized I have not printed and filed away our pictures from the trip we took in August of 2013 to Prague and Vienna.  Should I bother?  Will this be the last of my photo albums?

Maybe I am just getting old and old fashioned.

Yes, we are all busy.  Life is moving so fast.   Maybe too fast.

Capturing special moments seems to be no longer all that special.  It is instantaneous.  Then it is on to the next “special” moment. 

Regardless, I will continue to tackle this task over the next few days when I need to sit quietly and watch NetFlix or listen to a book from Audible on my phone.

Do you still print photos and fill photo albums?

Do you think photo albums will go the way of records and CDs and maybe even DVDs?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Joan

( Did you happen to note the irony in the last sentence before my question? )

 

 

Mar 072015
 

I recently wrote a post describing my unintentional blogging hiatus.  The puzzling thing about the break in blogging was that I was still busy and had lots to share!  Regardless, today I want to share some etched glass Christmas gifts I made for family.  I had a couple of failures which I will also share.
(NO affiliate links … just the story)

I only see my one brother, his wife and their grown kids at Christmas and we only give little gifts.  All my gifts were around $10 per person.  I decided on a personalized casserole for my SIL, beer glasses for my brother and one of his sons and stemless wine glasses for my other nephew and his wife.

Double walled glass

These are great! They keep the beverage cold and don’t sweat!

 I picked up everything at a great Canadian store called Kitchen Stuff Plus.  They sell all kinds of dinnerware, gadgets, etc. There, I was able to buy all the glassware for my projects.  For the beer glasses, I found these great double walled pilsner glasses.  I did check to ensure they were glass and they were and made in Italy.  I also picked up a Pyrex brand casserole for my SIL and stemless wine glasses.

I used the Martha Stewart etching cream I picked up a Michael’s with a 40% off coupon.  Thank goodness because, although it goes a long way, the creams are expensive!

I purchased the images I wanted to use from the Silhouette Design Store.  After I created the design, I used my Silhouette Cameo to create the stencils on basic dollar store contact paper.  I also used clear contact paper to transfer the stencil to the glassware.  I wanted the monogram to be clear with a etched box around it.

glassetch06

Yup! I am of Irish descent through and through!

glassetch11

Martha’s etching cream is brown…. The little bowls are to stop it rolling.

glassetch03

My SIL’s casserole. The stencil is in reverse and on the OUTSIDE of the bottom.

glassetch14
Etching cream on the OUTSIDE of the casserole.

Fail:  Etching Creams Do Not Work on All Glass

Both of the above attemps FAILED!

I later found the creams do not work on PYREX brand.  Not sure what happened with the other glasses.  It was glass.  When I removed the cream, I was so disappointed…

glassetch19

FAIL! It didn’t make a single mark on the glass.

Successes!

I went back to Kitchen Stuff Plus and picked up some basic glass beer mugs and they worked perfectly!  This time, I decided to have the monogram etched without a frame.  My brother and my nephew loved them!

glassetch32

LOVE THEM!

 

My nephew has a “thing” for owls.  Always has.  He collects owl art so I knew the wine glasses for him and his wife would have owls.  I purchased these images from the Silhouette store as well.  I just love how they turned out!

glassetch27

Aren’t these cute??

glassetch29

Who needs wine glass charms when you have your own owl!?

I think my family were a bit stunned to receive such personalized gifts.  They all seemed to love them but I think they may have thought I put a lot of time and money into them but to be honest, glass etching is SO EASY!  When you have the right type of glass!

You know, after I finished these, I posted pictures on my personal Facebook page and since have created at least 10 other gifts for my friends to give!  Maybe I should keep my “talents” a secret!  LOL

Have you used glass etching cream?

Any failures other than PYREX?

Love to here from you!


Joan

Mar 042015
 
surviving this long winter

I  have a message for all those bloggers who are posting “ALL THINGS SPRING”

Hello people!  It is still WINTER!!

(At least where I am!)

As I sit to write this post, we, the citizens of Toronto are having yet another major snowfall coming through our lovely city.  I can see the pretty white stuff falling ever so softly outside the patio doors of my office. 

surviving this long winter

Yup! That’s the view from my desk. And Yes, it is snowing. AGAIN!

I must admit, it has been a brutal winter in so many areas of North America.  In Toronto, we don’t get astronomical amounts of snow but we often get what is referred to as “lake effect” snow.  The proximity to Lake Ontario can influence the weather in all seasons.

Many people may curse me but I have never really been a WINTER HATER!  In fact, I rather like real winter.  By that I mean the periods of winter when it is cold and snowy versus the wet and slushy version.  Early spring depresses me when the snow turns to slush and everything is dirty and wet and miserable. 

How We Remain Sane In Winter

As I said earlier, I was never a “winter hater”.  Don’t get me wrong, I hate the driving and the inconvenience but if I choose to live in Toronto, Canada, winter is part of the package.

So my philosophy has always been: 

Dress for the cold and it can be fun!

Mr. Nice and I were skiiers.  In fact we met in a “traveling ski club”.  Small ski hills are an hour or so north of the city and there were clubs who organized day and weekend trips.  It was a blast.  It made winter fun!

Now we do not ski so much but we do get outside.

1.  Dog Walking

We’ve had a dog in our lives for over 20 years and for sure, they get you outside.  Our new pup, Chester who is now 9 months old is the ultimate snow lover!  Look at these photos.  How can you stay inside and deny this pup his romp?

surviving this long winter

Snow face. A florescent ball is a must in the snow!

surviving this long winter

It was minus 10 degrees Celsius  (or 14’F)  and who cares!

2.  Curling

In the fall I posted we took up curling.  I thought I was officially a curler at the time of the post  but now, I am the proud owner of official curling shoes and a broom!

surviving this long winter

Curlers wear special shoes. The sole of one shoe had a teflon face allowing you to slide when you throw the rock. Fancy brooms for sweeping

 So yes, NOW it is OFFICIAL!  While this sport is indoors, it is only played in winter.  If you are unfamiliar with curling, it is a great sport and probably one of the most social winter sports ever.  Winners buy losers the first drink and losers buy the second.  BTW, our club makes the BEST hot chocolate! 

Mr. Nice and I have met SO many people this winter via curling!

Lastly, as this winter has dragged on, I made a purchase to encourage us to get out ever more! 

3.  SNOWSHOES!

Now that has to be the ULTIMATE committment to winter! 

Let me tell you…

  • it is cheap
  • it is easy
  • it is fun
  • and you are OUTSIDE!

 Last weekend, we had our inaugral trip on our snowshoes with Mr. Nice and my dog walking pal.   It was SO MUCH fun!  We trapsed around our golf club.

surviving this long winter

Me and Mr. Nice

surviving this long winter

long shadows on a winters day

Today, before this snow began my dog walking buddy and I bravely took our dogs out snowshoeing….for an HOUR!  For the dogs, the snow was deep and a bit crusty on top but they never seem to tire.

Needless to say Chester is sleeping soundly under my desk  …

Winter is a reality.

Just DO it!

I’m 58 years old and LOVE winter

… you can too!

 

Joan

 

Feb 272015
 

Avoiding the Empty Nest Syndrome is not something you can accomplish in a week.  I believe the process covers a long span of time and depends on so many factors.  It will be different for every family.  We are not psychiatrists or social workers and by no means “perfect” parents. We are just a little family who have seemed to have survived the transition.  I thought I would share my reflection on how we seemed to have avoided the “syndrome”.

To begin,  in September 2014, our one and only child moved away to attend Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.   It is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from our home in Toronto but it is far enough away that we don’t drive there to have lunch, for example.

So many friends and relatives ask us how we are doing as “empty-nesters”.   I must admit the transition has not been at all troubling.  Believe me, this is not to say we do not miss our baby because we do ever so much.  However, the missing has not been overwhelming or debilitating. 

Last week, Miss Nice was home for her “Reading Week” and it was so wonderful to have her here even though she was … well … reading, beginning her search for summer employment and catching up with friends.  However, when I dropped her off at the bus station on Sunday night, I felt a real pang of “missing” I had not really felt before.  This pang made me think about what we have done to ensure the “pang” is just that and not a relationship ruining syndrome.


Empty nest syndrome

After some reflection, here are my thoughts:

  • Firstly, let’s go WAY back… Marry your best friend!  As a young professional, I was very independent and somewhat particular about who I got involved with.  Then, when I was 26, in walks a recent British immigrant, wooed to Canada by an international Accounting firm.  What can I say!  We became BEST FRIENDS!  We shared and continue share,  so many interests.

    Empty nest syndrome

     
  • Expose your child to all kinds of activities.   Even for a brief time just to find out what activity could be “their thing”.  As a college professor, I was fortunate to have flexible hours enabling us to introduce her in many after school activities over the years.  We tried to focus on lifelong skills like skating, swimming and skiing.  I must confess sitting on VERY cold bleachers watching her learn to skate or standing on the sidelines watching a very disinterested soccer star, was not easy.   But it was still fun and we all learned from it.  We learned she was not a “jock”.  She too knew she was not “good” but we downplayed the being “good” to just being able to do it and enjoy it.
    M_Skiing_Mar02

    Miss Nice skiing at 6 years old…

     

  • Encourage them be independent.  This can be so difficult.  In some ways we failed and in others we did well.   Eventually, Miss Nice began to participate in competitive dance at an early age. In reality she is a bit of a “triple threat”, as in singing, dancing and acting.  We supported her dreams wherever we could and beyond the studio’s program.  BUT we were realistic and made sure she was too.  Through the time consuming (and expensive endeavor) of Competitive Dance, she gained much confidence.   She was never an “in-your-face”  child.  I can proudly say to this day, she carries herself with a quiet self confidence.
     
    Independence really took hold at 13 when she asked to go on a French exchange program FOR A MONTH!!!   TO FRANCE!!!  The family took her to their summer lakeside home with NO INTERNET so contact with us was not available.  She survived.  She learned much about relationships too with this great experience.  While she was away, we travelled to Portugal to indulge ourselves in our love of travel and exploring countries on the road… Just the two of us… Magic.

When I review this post, it may sound as if we were selfish parents who sent our kid away a lot.  Perhaps we did, but mostly at her request.  When it counted, we were always there.   In 12 years  of competitive dance, and over 100s of performances, I think I missed TWO routines!  and those were for work commitments.  My husband who runs a busy business was also there for far more than many dads.  We tried very hard to not “helicopter” but we tried hard to be there to celebrate her achievements.

You must be asking “So what are you trying to say? What is your point?”

I think I am talking about “Parenting 101” …

  • expose
  • support / be there
  • encourage

And lastly, remember being a parent is about them but sometimes, it needs to be about YOU!

Back to the “Empty Nest Syndrome”

All the while we were supporting her, doting on her, driving her, etc. we never gave up our own interests. 

  • Cut back? Yes. 
  • Try to include her in our interests in tennis and golf, etc.  Yes. 
  • Sacrifice everything so she could do all the things she wanted.  NO!

We continued to squeeze in time for ourselves so we could golf, play tennis, go to yoga, start a book club, have date nights and entertain OUR friends when we could.  Miss Nice was told often how important she was to us but we also reminded her, we were important too.  And she seemed to grasp that early on. 

Her activities were a privilege NOT a right!

We love golf and for YEARS wanted to join a golf club … together.  Knowing she was leaving for university made us realize this was the time.  We joined a club in May.  Then in September we joined their curling program.  Never curled before and we a loving it.  We are planning a summer holiday that may or may not include Miss Nice.  She has travelled with us quite a bit  and has announced she  is “tired of old cities and history”.  I’m thinking Ireland … without her.

Regardless, Mr. Nice and I will do it TOGETHER.  Because we are back to being TWO best friends who can focus on the wonders of each other.  No longer distracted by every day parenting duties and … car pooling.

In conclusion, I must admit we have been blessed with a great kid.  Who is now grown.  Who has entered adulthood.

So my advice to avoid emply nest syndrome is:

  • work hard to encourage your child to be independent
  • do not completely give up your interests for the interests of your child
  • remind your child they were a very welcomed addtion into an existing family… two best friends or two best friends with other children. 

I hope this will give some of my younger parent readers something to think about.

What tips do you have on how to avoid
the “Empty Nest Syndrome”?

Are you an empty nester and how is it going?

Love to hear from you!  Makes my day!

 

Joan

 

Feb 242015
 
Nicer Than New
source
source

It would appear I have taken an unintentional blogging hiatus which sadly lasted THREE months.

I am calling it a hiatus or break but it was really a bit of a blogging block.  If I had been asked “What’s in your way?”  I really did not have an answer.  Not a really good one such as “work got in the way” or ” I was terribly ill”.  I don’t have any really good answer.

I have been doing lots of projects and photographing them but I just didn’t blog about it.

I have a few inklings to the cause of my gap none of which should have caused a THREE month gap.  Perhaps the combination of them all just made me hit a wall. 

Here are a few samples:

  • I have been really wanting to grow my blog.  So why stop writing you ask?  Good question.  It was not meant to be so long.  I just wanted to ponder on the direction I want to go in.
  • I wanted to “spruce up” my web design.  I actually spent a great deal of time on this aspect.  But is was mostly in researching and in the end I have only made a few changes:  header, background and fonts.
  • My office is a disaster.  My office is in a very large room in our lower level walkout.  My desk faces a lovely patio door with a view of the ravine behind our house.  That is all lovely but behind me is an absolute mess ABYSS of projects waiting to happen.  Everything from sewing to  upholstery to painting.  You name it and it is most likely somewhere in that jumble.
  • Too many projects in the wings resulting in a lack of focus. My friends and family praise me for my talent and great organization skills but for some reason, between the state of my office and the number of projects, I just lost focus.  Plus, I need to sell more of my painted and upcylced furniture pieces.

Okay so enough whining!!! 

There is NOTHING IN MY WAY!  Well nothing a little scheduling and organizing will not handle.

Please welcome me back to the
Blogging World

AND

Wish me LUCK!


Joan

Nov 252014
 

I love dabbling in Photoshop Elements to create unique DIY gifts.   Recently our family was blessed with another baby boy. For me, he is my SEVENTH great nephew and they named him Wesley.  I love it when parents come up with names that are nice and not too common.  As a “welcome to the family” gift, I decided to create a baby  name piece artwork as I had done for his older brother, Liam.

For, Liam, I found a really GREAT Flickr site where the owner has created a collection of pictures for each letter.  (NOTE:  These photos are for NON-commercial use only).    I had an odd shaped rectangular frame, 8″ x 16″,  on hand that was perfect.  Using the letter photos, I created a unique photo alphabet print of his name to fit the frame.    The parents loved it.

Baby name artwork photoshop elements

I love the industrial letter in this print.

For Wesley, I did not have a long narrow frame so decided to be more conventional and create something 8×10.   And rather than a birth announcement, I would just create a cute name graphic.

I tried to find a cute whale image (as in W is for Whale) but I failed.  However, I did find this  cute train graphic via Google and I loved the colours.  Once loaded it into Photoshop Elements, I played around with different fonts and came up with this.

Baby name artwork photoshop elements

W is for WESLEY

After selecting the graphic, the process took me about 30 minutes to complete.  The best part is now that I have the layered Photoshop file which can be easily modified for any new babies who come along… 

I have had a love of photography for decades and I once worked at IBM in a technical and software support role.  So it seemed natural for me to feel comfortable dabbling in Photoshop.  My Photoshop skills have been self taught over the past 10 to 12 years.  The “self taught” part is evident by the dozen or so Photoshop Elements books I own and the number of great online tutorials I have bookmarked. 

Once I get an idea I like (that part takes forever!), I love diving in and experimenting.  For me, these two baby name projects were extremely simple.  Someday I will post some of the tougher stuff I have worked on when my Miss Nice was in competitive dance.    I was a very popular mom at the studio because the dancers and dance moms loved that I could extract the dancer and add a new background and song lyrics, fog or whatever they wanted.  Those projects took time but I loved it.  Here’s an example of one of my favourite lyrical dances Miss Nice performed in 2010.  I loved the song, the costume the dance … the whole package. 

photoshop elements dabbling

Isn’t Miss Nice beautifu? If I do say so myslef!

The original photo was a stage shot with a black floor, stage curtains and banners hanging in the background.  To create this picture, there were 13 layers and various techniques, many of which I ‘ve probably forgotten.  This photo is one of  many on our gallery wall .  Every time I pass it, it brings back great memories of her years of dancing.

Have you ever or do you dabble in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements?

I know PicMonkey is easy and does many of the same functions but I can’t be bothered learning a new program.

I would love to hear from other Photoshop dabblers and pros!
Feel free to  leave a comment or email me!

Joan

Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com