Apr 162015
 

Today I’d like to share with you how to make DIY custom shaped chair cushions, including cutting the foam, fabric and putting it together.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Late last summer, I picked up a really cute wicker settee and 2 chairs.  (I swear I took pictures of them before and during the refinish process but for the life of me,  I cannot find them!  Don’t you hate that!??)  My nieces and nephews are all young professionals, some with young families, trying to make ends meet.  So when I scored these three pieces at a bargain price, I offered them to my nephew and his wife Laura.  Laura has a great sense of style and really spruced up the curb appeal of their semi detached home located in an area of Toronto, referred to as “the Danforth”.  The Danforth is also home to Greek town, lots of great shops and restaurants and it is right on the main subway line.  All those amenities make prices high and the older homes small.  Regardless, they have a cute covered front porch and they were thrilled to have some free furniture to put out there.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Great curb appeal

She wanted a dark brown finish.  I planned on staining them as I had with my chairs here but when I set to work on them, I found the chairs were not wicker or rattan but PLASTIC!  Sure fooled me!  What a good fake!  So I ended up spray painting them with Rustoleum’s Ultra Cover in Espresso because it adheres to plastic.  The rich colour will look great on their porch.

She found cushions for the settee and I volunteered to make some cushions for the chairs since they were rounded and all she could find was square one. She picked up fabulous outdoor fabric for only $5 a meter because it was nearing the end of summer.  I LOVE this fabric!  I have been crushing on Apple Green for months!

Cutting the Foam

I had some 2″ foam from a big boo-boo I made a few months back when I ordered foam that was too small for the project but it was perfect for this.  Using newspaper, I created a pattern from the chair seat then I traced it on to the foam.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Note the cricket and hockey player photos! Hey! I live in Canada!

I had purchased this electric knife specifically for cutting foam.  It works so well. 

Note:  When cutting foam, you need to pay attention that the blade is at right angles to the face of the foam.  Otherwise you will need to trim it more to make it flat versus angled.

Once I cut the foam, I used the same newspaper pattern to cut out the fabric,
I added another 1/5 inch all the way around for the seam allowance.  Then I cut long 3″ wide strips for the sides of the cushion.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Top and bottom pieces cut 1/2″ wider on all sides for the seam allowance
  and then 3″ long strips for the sides (2″ plus seam allowance)

Pinning and sewing

So many bloggers show every minute detail  but since I have been sewing for decades, I just cut to the chase!

I found the centre back and with right sides together, I started to pin the long side piece all the way around.  Rather than sew together the two ends where they meet, I decided to overlap them.  I think this helped to keep the pieces taut. 

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

I pinned the side piece all the way around and overlapped the ends where they met.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Here is the overlapping. I did do a finished hem on the one that would end up being on the outside.

Sewing and Finishing

I machine stitched the above pieces together, trimmed the seam and zigzagged the edges because this fabric was really ravelling.

I then pinned the bottom piece on to the other edge of the side piece.  I machine stitched it and finished it in the same manner but I did not stitch it all they around.  I needed the opening to insert the foam.  I did however iron the piece where the seam should be so it would be easier to hand stitch closed.  Before I inserted the foam, I also added little ties at the back to keep it from moving off the chair.

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Tab ties to hold it to the chair

After inserting the foam, I used a simple slip stitch to close it up! 

The entire process took me a few of hours and all the while I was listening to a recorded book, The Nightengale, by Kristin Hanna.  Fabulour book and a great way to pass the time while sewing, painting, cooking or commuting!

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Nice pop of colour!

IMG_5423

NIce snug and smooth edges

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

Nice rounded edges: a custom fit!

DIY Custom Shaped Chair Cushions

A custom fit and a great Pop of color!

I sure wish I had the before pictures!  Basically they were that yucky yellowish rattan colour.  I think this brown is really rich and will tie into their house colour and the cushions will add that great pop of colour!

So what do you think?  Nicer Than New?

Have you have made shaped, custom cushions? 
I’d love to hear from you!  It makes my day!

 

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

 

Nov 092014
 

To be honest, that title is a stretch.  In reality,  I am now a member of a Friday night mixed curling league.  So I am assuming it is official.

For those readers who are from the Southern US or other parts of the Globe, you may have no idea what I am talking about.  For starters, being a curler has absolutely nothing to do with HAIR!

Curling is that “weird” sport featured in the Winter Olympics, dominated by:

  1. Canada
  2. Sweden
  3. Scotland
  4. Great Britain
  5. Norway

(Source)

Yep, popular in all the cold countries for those looking for an indoor sport where they can still be cold!

Here’s the deal for Mr. Nice and me… In May, we joined a private golf club.  The club is over 100 years old and one day (in the nice weather) I will feature how lovely it is. 

In June 2013, after only 4 rounds of golf, I broke my ankle, thereby ki-boshing my summer golf  schedule.  I did play in the fall.  In the meantime, I met amazing like minded people close to our age (as in — well over 50) and they all encouraged us to take up curling.  The club also has a curling rink and very active program.  Another way to use our membership!

Mr. Nice and I tried curling years ago and thought is was slow and COLD.  At the time we were big on tennis and curling just did not cut it on the aerobic front.

Well, fast forward at least 25 years and we are presented with an opportunity to hang out with a bunch of great social people and well… CURL. 

We joined a Friday night mixed league.  The people are lovely but I must admit my first experiences were PAINFULThis sport is NOT EASY!  The first week and the clinic that followed two days later showed me that I DO NOT HAVE THE TECHNIQUE to throw the rock! 

You see there  is the style…  there is terminology… Sheet. Hack. Rock. and oh the comments about sweeping etc. to the non-curler can sound obscene!  I will not elaborate at this time.

When you watch this video, not once does the rock deliverer’s knee hit the ice.  Hmmm…not so with me.  I need to work on BALANCE! 

 

Source of Video: The Continental Cup – Langley, B.C., Canada, Jan 14, 2012

Basically to throw the rock, you need to push off with your left foot out of the “hack” and balance with your right leg … and oh so much more.

You are NOT meant to BANG your right knee down on the ice, but rather stretch that right leg and slide… Ya right!

Doesn’t it look graceful? 

And look at that concentration! I guess you can concentrate when you do not fall over! LOL!

Sadly for me my ability to balance with the right leg and get everything in alignment is VERY CHALLENGING! 

All of this, resulted in the HUGEST BRUISE on my right knee.  Thank goodness, my daughter had a pair of knee pads I got her for Hip Hop Dance that saved me the unbelievable pain of landing on my knee in my second session.

Now back to Mr. Nice.  I wouldn’t call him a jock because he is not a big man.  But the man is a “sportsman”.  And damn him for that!  He is such a keener and this week, he has been going to the club and “practicing” his rock throwing.  He is developing a very lovely style but in the last game, I had very BAD STYLE and still put 5 rocks in the row in the” house!”   Bruises and all!  Much to his chagrin!  I was just very happy I did not fall over.  Seriously… I tip over… often.

Look at this, they do not tip over (and no knee hits the ice) and this is SERIOUS stuff!

Oh and then there is sweeping.  This basically heats the ice so the rock will move and curl better… I think.  Sweeping I can do.  It is how you keep warm.  You REALLY want you team mate to throw too softly so you can sweep like crazy and keep warm. If you have read this far, yes, it appears to be a weird sport!  BUT very fun!

If you do not know anything about curling, this may be the most ridiculous post you have ever read! However, if you do understand curling … you will most likely relate and find the observations of a beginner to be very amusing.

Last night,  we had a match / game/ whatever they call it,  at 9:00 pm. (YES!  The second shift is very close to my bedtime!)  I had not dropped in to ractice like Mr. Nice.  So I wore my knee pad and HOPED LIKE HELL I could throw the d@m% rock into the house (the bulls eye rings).  Note: being a “first” in our team of four I feel very little pressure.  Result: I did okay!  I still threw with NO Technique and landed in the “the house” about 80% of the time and all was well.

Mr. Nice on the other hand, the man who practiced twice was terrible! but he looked good doing it!

In addition, we are SO VERY FORTUNATE to have the very best technical curlers as our Skip and Vice.  They are so patient,  so nice and SO GOOD!

All in all,  my Friday Night-out with Mr. Nice and a whole bunch of great  people has been lots of fun!   Afterwards, it is all about  consuming our favoruite beverages and being social. 

If you are bored in the winter…try curling.  Cheap and very cheerful!

 I would LOVE to hear from other curlers and curling-lovers! 
It is such a fun sport and oh so not easy!
If you can join a fun, non-competitive  group while you get the hang of it,  you may find you love the sport!
  I think.
Just bring knee pads.

 Joan

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