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 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 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

 

Oct 162014
 

Book Club “Retreat” at Limberlost Forest Reserve

A couple of weekends ago, Mr. Nice and I headed a few hours north of Toronto to  Muskoka “Cottage Country” to spend time with our book club friends.  I think you will love my photos of the amazing place where we stayed.  It is an idyllic location every autumn lover would dream of.

book club retreat

Autumn in Muskoka, Ontario

Here in Toronto, the autumn colours are showing their loveliness.  But north of the city, in “cottage country”,  the fall colours have been spectacular since late September.  Friends in our book club rent a cottage / lodge every year the weekend before the Canadian Thanksgiving at the Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve near the lovely town of Huntsville, Ontario.   This 3000 square foot lodge is a very spacious with SEVEN bedrooms and is on Buck Lake!  Buck Lake Lodge is the ONLY cottage on the lake.  Needless to say, the location is spectacular.

(BTW: NO affiliation)

The Good Friday Book Club is comprised of 4 married couples and 3 ladies whose husbands don’t care to participate. So seven bedrooms was just perfect.  The common area is large and spacious and the kitchen is well equipped which is important to this group of literary “foodies”.

The Lodge

book club retreat limberlost common area

Common area: There is nothing fancy making it oh so homey.

The decor has some very cool lamps made of birch logs and an elk head on the wall.

book club retreat limberlost

One of the fun birch log lamps

book club retreat limberlost

The smiling elk can be a bit creepy

In the common area the dining table is so PERFECT!  And so is the view!

book club retreat limberlost

Don’t you just love this table!

book club retreat limberlost

The pictures are not magazine worthy but there were 11 of us!

book club retreat limberlost

The view from the interior upper balcony. So nice to wake up to!

 

Let’s get outside!

book club retreat limberlost

The main entrance is on the level of the deck. Below the main floor is a sauna and 3 bedrooms as well as an exit outside to the lake.

 Can you spot Chester, my fur baby, and his little nose between the rails, wondering what I am doing?

Around Buck Lake

There is a trail in the woods, near the lake’s edge encompassing the lake.

No more words are needed.

book club retreat limberlost

Winter is coming

book club retreat limberlost

Mirrored silence

book club retreat limberlost

Golden splendor

book club retreat limberlost

Courageous fern

book club retreat limberlost

Morning Mist

book club retreat limberlost

Autumn glory

book club retreat limberlost

Nature’s Mirror

IMG_0476

Alone in the woods

book club retreat limberlost

Brillance at every turn

book club retreat limberlost

View from a lookout close to the lodge

By the way, we really did have a book club meeting and the book we discussed was Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.  In this first book of her trilogy, the world she writes about is as far away from this idyllic setting you could possibly get!

book club retreat limberlost
Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood

I hope you enjoyed your visit to Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve and the sampling of photos I have shared.

 

If you like photos and photograhy PLEASE stop by at my Silent Sunday Linky Party
every Sunday beginning at 6:00 am EST.



It is my new venture and I am so keen to see inspiring photos!

 

I love comments and especially dialogue with readers.
So please leave your thoughts and questions below.

Joan

Oct 102014
 

It has been a few weeks since I attended my very first bloggers’ conference, BlogPodium, here in Toronto.   My mind is still mulling over all I learned and I would like to share my experiences.

As many of you know, I have been blogging for just over a year. It has been a great journey of learning, experimenting and growing as a blogger and a DIYer.

In spring 2014, when the dates and registration information was announced for the Toronto bloggers’ conference, BlogPodium, I swear I must have been one of the first to register. At the time, I was in a bit of slump and knew I REALLY needed to attend the conference.

Age Demographic

At the same time I was very apprehensive. Why? To be honest: my age.  Let’s face it, on average there appears to be more bloggers out there under the age of 50 than over 50. I fall into the latter group. Looking at the pictures of the attendees from the previous BlogPodium and other conferences, it seems everyone is young, pretty and “hip”. I was worried I would be out of place. However, this is an apprehension I have ignored many times before. You see, having my first and only child at 40 sure helped. I kept me young even though I was often the oldest of the dance moms, the oldest of her classmates’ parents, etc.
Having said that:

  • I was the one who took them to Canada’s Wonderland,  a big Toronto area amusement park,  AND rode all the roller coasters with them… and I still would if they would let me go too!
  • I was the one who finished two university degrees after the age of 40.
  • And I was the one who started a blog after the age of 50.

The BlogPodium conference was held right downtown Toronto at the beautiful and historic, Royal York Hotel which happens to be linked underground to the subway and commuter train (GO Train) station.

The schedule for the GO that morning meant I either arrived very early or quite late. I chose arriving early. Wandering around the hotel lobby and the reception area for the conference, I thought “Yep, look all these “young” ladies.”

Regardless, I grabbed a coffee, found a table in the main ballroom and hung out. As the room began to fill, two ladies sat down at a table near me and they looked over 50!!! so I joined them! Perfect! My apprehension, like so many times before, was totally dispelled.

Keynote Speaker

After following Donna from Funky Junk Interiors for some time, I was aware of her journey and it was exciting to hear her share it with the audience. She was so inspiring and made me feel a bit silly for my “age” apprehension.

I came away with this message:

Be authentic.

Write out your mantra. Then stay authentic to it.

Session Highlights

Reviewing the schedule, I realized I must have signed up for nearly every breakout session by some misunderstanding of the process. Or perhaps it is just they all sounded so great! Regardless, it did give me some choice.

I also had a chance to say hello to a few bloggers I follow on Bloglovin who came from a considerable distance:  Donna from Funky Junk Interiors came from British Columbia and Danielle from Finding Silver Pennies came all the way from Massachusetts!  I also met some great new people including Jordana from White Cabana and the lovely Jennylyn, president of Homestead House Paint Company which manufactures and distributes a number of great products including Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint and the new mineral paint Fusion which I am dying to try soon.

What I Took Away

My head is still hurting with all the info and ideas I picked up at this conference.  Other than what I learned, I came away with a few things:

  • I wish I was two people so I could have attended more of the breakout sessions
  • Jennifer Flores and her team sure know how  to run a great conference
  • The Royal York caters great food!
  • Don’t leave your business cards a home!!!

and lastly, as I have discovered in so many situations in my life “

You CAN teach an old dog blogger new tricks!

 

Did you attend this conference? 

What was your experience? 

Have you implemented what you learned?

Love to hear from you!

Joan

Jul 172014
 

Yesterday we said goodbye to Cody, our 9 year old Golden Doodle.  It was not easy.  My heart is ripped apart. 

If you’ve had and loved a dog, you will understand.  I am grieving.  I have a good life and I have not grieved in a long time.  When you are grieving you never know how you will get over your loss but I know we can eventually.  I am not looking for sympathy, I just feel like I need to write about him and share his memory.

We said goodbye to our previous dog in 2006.  Clancy was a lovely, faithful Kerry Blue Terrier.  He was also 14 and blind at the time.  Although we were incredibly sad, it was his time.  I lasted only a few weeks without a dog.  We spotted Cody, a 6 month old Golden Doodle on Kijiji (Canadian Craiglist).  His owner had been injured and could no longer care for him.  He was a BIG pup.  Miss Nice and I drove a couple hours to pick him up in another city.  He’s been loved in his forever home ever since.  I will admit, he wasn’t a perfect dog because he liked to eat stuff that he shouldn’t have.  The list would be a LONG post on its own.

Cody was a very beautiful Golden Doodle.  He looked very Poodle-like on the outside but I believe inside he was all Golden Retriever.  It was hard not to love him and everyone did.  He thrived on affection and would insist everyone he met pet him.  And they did.  They almost had to.   His head was at most people’s hand level and he knew how  to move it.  He was so cuddly.

cody in snow copy

Cody Loved the Outdoors in All Seasons

Cody had been noticeably under the weather for about a month.  It was about the same time I fractured my leg.  Then ten days ago, we were to go visit my elderly in-laws in England.  I did not relish the idea of sitting on a plane for hours with a cast on my foot.  After much deliberation, I decided I would stay home and go with my husband when he goes again in November.  As it turns out, it was a good decision.

Just before they left, Cody stopped eating.  I took him to the vet the day they left for England.  His blood work determined he had a liver problem.  In fact his “bile acid test” came back TEN TIMES the acceptable level.  This past Monday, the day before my husband and daughter were returning, Cody had an ultrasound of his liver.  By now, he was not eating anything.  Not even peanut butter in his Kong and he was very listless.  Every day that week, my heart was breaking more and more.  I knew he was very sick and it was not going to be good.  He rarely left my side or I his.

The ultrasound showed he had a massive malignant tumour on his liver.  A few hours after I got the news,  I picked up my family at the airport.  It was a sad ride home. 

Yesterday, the three of us took Cody to his all time favourite place: THE BEACH.  Even very sick dogs will rise to the occasion if it is something they love.  And he loved the beach.  Cody fetched sticks in the water, he swam a bit, he ran in the sand and most of all, he made us SMILE! 

What is more fun and delightful than watching a happy dog play with his family on the beach? 

Cody in the rain

He loved walking by the lake, even in the rain.

After our beach outing the three of us took our wet, sandy, tired and weak dog to the vet to say goodbye.  He was brave and sweet and loyal and loving right to the end. 

That was yesterday.

Today is a gorgeous day without a cloud in the sky.  A perfect day for a long walk by the lake.  Those walks will never be the same.

My daughter and I put together a tribute slideshow of Cody to share with all his friends via Facebook.  It was a somewhat healing process but what I really want is to hug him just one more time.

I am sharing my short video.  You will see Cody had a great life and ours is so much richer having shared those 8+ years with him.

You may need a tissue.

 Joan

Mar 262014
 

So many famous comedians originated from Canada… Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd and Martin Short, just to name a few.  One of my favourites is Rick Mercer who is widely known in Canada as a comedian, author and most of all a political satirist.  He has a weekly show on the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) where he demonstrates his hilarious satirical ability with interviews, skits and rants. 

I just had to share this short Youtube video where he pokes fun at the weather forecasters and all of us who have been suffering through a very long and cold winter.

I hope you enjoy it!

(Note:  In Canada, we think in Celsius so 0’C = 32’F )

I sure hope spring is around the corner.  After all, I saw a whole flock of Robins 2 weeks ago… and then it snowed again.

Has this been a long and cold winter for you?

 

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