A DIY Vintage Art Piece

I love to paint, and though I am a far cry from Monet, I like to hang what I make on my walls. There are a few pieces that remain stashed in a spare room closet, but a lot of it is in my living room.

You don’t have to be amazing to make your own art for your home. If you are anything like me, you will get addicted to the calming effects of paint on canvas, and soon your walls will be full of your creations. Don’t be afraid to experiment, mess it up, start over, or just give all your friends and family “unique, one of a kind” gifts for every occasion!

If you prefer not to jump in head first, this project is the perfect “dipping your toe in the water” first attempt at hanging something you made on your wall.

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So, the first step is finding a vintage/retro piece that you like. Mine is just a page from a magazine in the 1950′s. Once you find that piece, buy a canvas that is slightly larger than the chosen image.
The best paint for beginners is acrylic. Oil takes a very long time to dry, and can be more expensive.

Then just paint a messy background, leaving white edges visible and brush strokes in all their glory. I liked black for the stark contrast with the greyscale advertisement.

Once the paint is dry, attach your vintage image. I used double-sided adhesive foam squares I had for scrapbooking, and they held the image away from the canvas slightly and gave it a nice depth.

And you’re done! Hang this baby proudly where it makes your heart happy. For me, it gave a nice view when I walk down the stairs, instead of all that builder’s beige.

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Wishes for the Year Ahead

The New Year is fast approaching, and this is the perfect time of year to wish those around you health and happiness in the coming year.

This year, I am excited to put something together for our neighbour Gary. He is an older gentleman, and is one of the most giving and loving people I have met. When we first moved here, Gary came outside in the blistering July heat with cold beer, to quench our thirst while lugging heavy boxes. When he saw us storing our first trailer in the street, he invited us to store our “wee trailer” in his back lane, as his yard has more room than ours (he has also called our 1974 Trillium “a cesspool on wheels,” but that is another story). He has a garden to die for, and his yard gets all the hot afternoon sun. Each summer I am gifted zucchini, carrots, peas or crab apples. If there is excess produce, he is sure to share. Many times I have come home to find a bag of fresh garden veggies hanging from my door handle.

So I am putting together a little basket of goodies. Some of my pickles and pickled garlic. A few bottles of homemade wine. A jar of crabapple pepper jelly, made from his apple tree. Some rum for good measure.

Gary has also given me the opportunity to meet Marion. Marion is Gary’s late wife, lost to cancer far before we ever moved here. Gary is a master story-teller, a man who can yack your ear off for hours if you wish. Through his stories, he has introduced us to Marion. I have seen them, in my mind’s eye, sharing a glass of Gary’s homemade wine on the front porch; nurturing a group of begonias through the winter, in their basement; gardening together throughout the summer months.

He recently loaned me a wheelbarrow, and asked if I wanted the big one or the small one. I asked for the small one, it would be easier to maneuver. He smiled and passed it to me. “That is Marion’s wheelbarrow.” His hand rested lightly on the handle as I took it.
The man, years later, is still clearly besotted. I often think he looks for reasons to bring her up in conversation, like a teenage boy with a new crush.
The way Gary speaks of Marion makes me hope my marriage has love like that. A love that makes a man smile to himself every time he says my name. A memory that pushes to the surface with each conversation. A love so deep that its loss dictates a year-long “walkabout” through Australia.

For 2014, and the years that follow, I wish you love; love and longing so pure, you caress the handle of a rusted wheelbarrow, simply remembering the hand that once rested there.

Happy New Year!
xoxo, Aubrey

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Finding Decor in Unlikely Places aka “Poppin’ Tags”

Ok, Macklemore I am not. I do love a good thrift shop, but the key word here is “good” and often the thrift stores I live near leave a little something to be desired. Although the one near my house scored me a pretty awesome silver,scalloped, 3 tiered server. So I give it a little forgiveness.
Yesterday I found myself at a nearby Value Village, searching for a sweater awful enough for an ugly Christmas Sweater party we were invited to. And as much as I love the hosts of said party, I am not looking forward to wearing the white poncho with Christmas buttons I unearthed (ok, I found the poncho and will glue on some bobbles). Colin found a very 80′s red mock turtleneck. We deemed it Christmas themed because it reminded us of Cousin Eddie. I was in full sweater search mode, and didn’t even glance in the home and kitchen section of the store. But Colin got bored.

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So I will digress here for a minute. In the last couple of years, Colin and I have discovered a mutual affection for antiquing. Or finding other people’s old stuff we want to own. However you prefer to look at it! This means that I have manly antiques like a brass fire hose nozzle in my living room (found in Clearwater, BC) and a vintage tobacco jar on my entry table (found in Great Falls, MT). It also means he will stop at random antique stores on a road trip with little complaint. We all win!
So, back to the story – he called me over, interrupting my flipping through racks of polyester and doilies, and showed me this bird. He was a coppery gold, and so us.

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He had a friend, but this guy was more detailed, and better balanced. Colin even noted that this little dude can handle having his tail hang off the edge of the table, which means I have so many more options for where he can live.
I’m not sure of his bird type. Quail? Partridge? In a pear tree? What do you think?

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No matter what, it just goes to show you that you can find a little treasure almost anywhere, even beside a creepy fabric statue labelled “el diablo.” I didn’t take a picture of him because I think it might be bad ju-ju. And he was super creepy.
Happy hunting! What is the best thing you have found in a random thrift store? Other than those rad vintage high-waisted jeans…

Easy Sunday Afternoon…craft time!

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but for me it usually ends up being the day I clean the house. Needless to say, this isn’t my top pick for what to do on the last night of my weekend. But Christmas is coming and so is my family, so some pre-holiday cleaning has to happen, no matter how much I would rather spend my afternoon in my pajamas reading and sipping on hot chocolate with Baileys.
But after clean up I had a little time, and a little creativity, left over for a quick project.
So many frames come in packs of 2 (cough, Ikea, cough) so I had a simple black matted frame left over from a group of 3 pictures I had put up in my bedroom. Other than that, I just needed a sheet of 8×10 card stock, and some Sharpie markers. I just used black with gold as an accent, but you can use whatever colours suite your quote and decor.
I found a simple poem by E. E. Cummings, but the great thing about this project is the fact that you can use whatever quote or poem speaks to you.

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I started by mapping out the sheet with light guidelines. This will help keep everything tidy. If you are a lefty like me, hand written poems with no guidelines end up slowly slanting downwards on the page…

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Then I wrote out the poem by hand, first in pencil and then over top with the Sharpie. If you have awful writing, feel free to just print this on the computer…you cheater.

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I let the ink dry, and erased all guidelines. Then I threw it in the frame. Ta-da! You now have a custom-made little bit of art, and it looks super trendy, just like all those Pinterest quotes you keep pinning! And it took less than half an hour!

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Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread

As a lover of all things carbohydrate, it is safe to say my favourite kind of food is Italian. Pasta, pizza, cured meat, cheese. Italians know how to eat. They understand that food is for pleasure!
One of the best things about Italian food is the simplicity. It allows the natural flavours of the food to speak for themselves. A simple ball of bocconcini, wrapped in basil and drizzled in olive oil, becomes an explosion of flavour and texture.

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Enter focaccia bread. Simple, but divine. Crunchy outside, chewy inside, spiked with rosemary and garlic and coarse salt. Dip it into a plate of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette and you have an instant appetizer. The perfect way to carbo load before the pasta even hits your plate.

I used to think focaccia would be one of those picky artisan breads, but this recipe is so simple! I choose to bake it on a stoneware 9×12 baking sheet, but any solid baking sheet will do. Don’t be too cheap with the olive oil on the base of your pan. That is what will give your bread the kind of crust that will have you singing that “Bella Notte” song from Lady and the Tramp. Shameless Disney reference, and the only Italian song I know…

Rosemary Garlic Focaccia Bread:
1 Tbsp sugar
2 packets yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup epicure focaccia spices
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup hot water
2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
Extra flour and olive oil
2 tbsp semolina flour or cornmeal
Sea salt (as desired)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh not powdered)

Instructions:
Dissolve sugar in warm water. Stir in yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix spices, hot water and olive oil. Let spices soften while yeast sits.
Allow spice mixture to cool to lukewarm. Combine with yeast mixture and salt. Add flour, one cup at a time.
Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Brush baking sheet with olive oil, and sprinkle with semolina flour or cornmeal. Spread dough out onto pan with fingers, indenting surface. Drizzle and brush on olive oil. Allow to rise in a warm spot, covered, for 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden.
Serve while still warm. Excellent with oil and vinegar.
Variations: add sliced olives, sundries tomatoes, and different types of cheese for a variety of flavours.
Recipe from epicure.com

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Refinishing the coffee table – my lesson in trial and error

Our coffee table. It was one of our first non-Ikea furniture purchases, but by no means high-end. But I really expected it to hold up better against scratches to things like…dust. Then there was the time Colin cut something and gouged the new table top. Or the time I put a hot dish on it and created a heat mark. Or the fact that we out our feet up on the table and the finish on the edge chipped off. This is why I can’t have nice things!
I was sick of the ugly top. One of my friends made fun of me for making her use a coaster for her glass when the table was clearly already done for. The thing is, I hated to chuck a table that had the general shape I wanted, a nice sized drawer, and space for baskets underneath. It needed help. So I gave it a quick refinish.
To be honest, this is a pretty quick and dirty refinish. Not a lot of picky work, only one surface to refinish. This is a project any of you can tackle!
So the first step was the design. I just did a simple taping off of a design.

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Then a quick coat of primer to make sure it would stick around. Then a couple of coats of paint! I went with a stark white, which in hindsight was a little bright, but I calmed it down later.

After 2-3 coats of paint, I took off the tape before it dried. And then I puked in my mouth. Like an idiot, I had cheaped out on the painter’s tape. The first rule of refinishing is to buy quality supplies. Why work your butt off only to end up with PAINT BLEED??? It also caused lifting in some areas. Spend the extra $3 on the good tape, it will save you a lot of hassle!

So here it was, painted, blurred lines (Miley twerked all over my coffee table), and not at all what I wanted.

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But my original plan was to age it. I thought I could save it. Insert sanding. This isn’t the time to be gentle. Make sure to get the little block marked “paint stripping” or you will be at this all day. So I sanded. I sanded the top, I sanded the edges, I sanded the top some more, especially around the edges that blurred or peeled.
Sanding is a messy business. My husband asked me to please do it outside, so I sanded in the corner of the kitchen. Basically the same thing, right? He was away for the weekend, so not listening doesn’t count.

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After all the wiping, it was time to age it a little further – remember that stark white? A light wipe with dark stain…and more sanding…really made all the difference. Since I didn’t want to lose any of this work, I sealed it with 3 coats of verathane. If you want extra protection, an extra couple coats might be a good idea. Just be sure to follow the drying instructions in between coats so that you don’t have a gloopy mess. Also make sure to really let it cure before putting anything on top.

And here we are – a newly finished coffee table! Let me know how your project goes.

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Random Facts About Me

Facebook is in another round of repetitive posts. This one is “I’ll give you a number and you share that many facts about you with everybody.”
So I will assume you all want to know some random stuff about me, since we are all getting to know each other, so I picked 7 as a nice random number. Here we go!

1. When I clean the house, I listen to one of 3 things: the Mamma Mia soundtrack, “Soul Queens” on 8 Track (the best app ever!) or Natasha Beddingfield’s “Pocket Full of Sunshine” CD. Go ahead and laugh. I need some obnoxiously upbeat music to get through scrubbing the toilets. It never hurts if I can sing out loud to every song.

2. I need to buy more real pants. The amount of leggings paired with flowy, long tops I have been sporting is getting out of control.

3. I believe in a good cry. If that sounds like an oxymoron to you – yay! I have some male readers!!! But seriously, I had to have a cry today because car repairs were more expensive than expected, and that is money I could have spent on new living room accent chairs. Sometimes you need to cry it out, instead of mourning the loss of home decorating items all weekend. I have heard that kind of stress can lead to belly fat.

4. I have the cutest dog ever. Yes, she is cuter than your dog. She is also way more high maintenance. She is hypoglycaemic and will have seizures, or hypoglycaemic shock if she doesn’t eat. She also won’t eat if I’m not home. I’m not sure if that means she loves me dearly, or that she is slow in the head. She is staring at me right now, her paw on my arm, with eyes that say it is all love.

5. I am incredibly addicted to Pinterest. We had to get faster internet because my constant Pinterest searching was causing lagging in my husband’s Call of Duty game. We can’t have that.
6. I helped my husband butcher an entire deer last weekend. We are amazing like that. I felt like a strong prairie woman that day, but it was a ton of work.

7. I hate laundry. I have a friend who can’t understand why. She says “but the machines do all the work!” If they invent a machine that folds it and puts it away too, sign me up.

There it is. Seven random things about me. I hope you were sufficiently entertained. Have a great weekend!

Love,
Aubrey

Here she is – what do you think? Love or stupidity?

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