Wednesday, December 7

dreaming of a white christmas

I've always loved white themed Christmas decor. It creates a claming sophisticated feel yet can be simply achieved by even the most novice decorator. Here are some of my favorite images for inspiration.








Sunday, November 20

Pot Rack DIY

A one of a kind creation all began with a shopping cart being left in this DIY'ers driveway.  Here is Dennis' story...

Hi I’m Dennis.  I live in the Uptown area of Saint John NB.  I’m an avid Do-It-Your-Selfer.   My wife Janet and I own a house that is old.  120 years old to be specific.  We love it.  It Suits our lifestyle very nicely and we have a huge backyard which is unheard of in our area.   We’re blessed!
Recently we redid our kitchen.  The idea came about this way.  Someone had left their shopping cart that they “borrowed” from an uptown store one too many times in my driveway.  Being handy with a SawZ-all and an angle grinder, I thought that it would make a great pot rack.
Here’s the shiny candidate before:


Here’s is the grid that I cut out of the bottom of the shopping cart, being dry fitted in the Maple and Mahogany frame.  The frame was from a set of wooden bed rails that I found on the side of the road in the city’s annual cleanup week.  The mahogany was given to me by a friend that dismantled an antique Pump Organ from a church.   The shiny silver bar is from a microphone stand that was no longer working.

And here is the almost finished pot rack...

Next, we taped off all of the chrome and metal, chose an ebony stain and Jan expertly applied it...
And a view from below...

The dark stained maple looks nice against the mahogany.  Hanging are the stainless steel pots, grater, measuring cups and mounting hooks shining nicely.  It was a simple fun project that is a nice conversation piece in our kitchen and we use it everyday!

A similar (19” deep x 24” wide x 4” tall) pot rack at a local kitchenware store is approximately $300 give or take!!



Friday, October 7

thrifty finds

For the many projects on my list, here are a few of my latest finds:



• Pink velvet tufted antique chair - $20 at Urban Cottage
• Ceiling Medallions - Damaged from Vintage mouldings, around $20 each. During manufacturing they didn't come out "perfect"...a sanding block will fix them up perfectly.
• Picture Frame - FREE! On the side of the road...
• Fireplace Mantel - Kijiji for $50

Sunday, August 21

front entrance update

The power of classic color combos such as black and white will never go out of date. Here I show you the before of my sister Shannon's front porch of her home:


And here's the after:


The black metal door was prepped, primed and painted from burgundy to black.  A fresh coat of paint was applied on the entire exterior of the porch.  The black metal rail blends in flawlessly now against the black door.


This DIY was very simple, very affordable and very Urban Squirrel.


All the work was done by Shannon and the help of a friend.  A flat black metal paint was used on the rail and semi-gloss latex on the porch.  If you are considering an exterior painting project I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, July 31

hanging it all on the line


My sister and I
Letting nature dry your clothing has many benefits.  Cutting back on dryer use saves energy and it's also great for the environment.  In many parts of North America the decline in clothesline use has soared since the popular electric dryer was introduced and a more unfortunate decline is due to communities of new developments restricting clothlines.  People have convinced themselves that they are unsightly and can decrease property values.  Yes shocking but true.

The fresh aroma of clothes hung out on the line beats the perfumed anti-static sheets tossed in the dryer any day. Did you know many of anti-staic sheets contain chemicals?  That can't be healthy for our skin.  I've also been told that hanging your clothes will increase their life span as the dryer wears them down quicker.

When I moved into my house years ago I installed a clothesline in my backyard quite easily.  I purchased the clothesline kit for less then $15 at Rona.  Following the instructions it might have taken 15 minutes start to finish.  As you can see below I attached one end to my deck and the other to my maple tree. I hung it quite high so it didn't interfere with the BBQ or raised garden.




I pre-drilled a small hole to screw this hook into a post on the deck:


I did the same for the other end on the maple tree.  I had to use a ladder to achieve the proper height.


With concerns of global warming increasing and the need to be more green clotheslines are making a comeback!

There are some parts of Halifax and many other places that have by-laws around clotheslines.  I think this is completely ridiculous - what has this world come to if you have taken the effort to prevent someone from letting the sun dry their clothes?  If you live in one of these areas I encourage you to challenge this law by contacting your local MP, getting neighbors involved, reaching out to locals, etc.  Ontario has already announced the end to current restrictions on permitting use of outdoor clotheslines. 

Lucky for me my neighbors all have them, some hang their clothes out year round!  If you live in an apartment or condo and are lacking the backyard space,  you can rig up a line on your deck to dry your clothes.

Clothes racks are another great option.  I have one in my basement and use it year round. Hanging clothes out either on the line or on the clothes rack in front of the wood stove brings me back to my childhood.  We rarely used the dryer.  However if your like me and share your house with furry friends the laundry might benefit from a few mintues in the dryer after the clothesline has done its job.  This way you remove the unwanted hair and have still lowered your carbon emissions!

Hanging it all out on the line gives you an excuse to be more active and take in some fresh air too.

Monday, July 4

DIY Door Makeover

Since purchasing my home 3 years ago my interior doors have been on my 'To-Do' list.  My original plans were to replace the doors with old solid wood panel doors.  I picked up 2 old doors from a home in Lunenburg to be refinished and planned on finding 2 more to match.  The doorways in my 163 year old home vary, all 80" heights but some 32" openings, others 29 3/4", etc.  With limited spare time on my hands for DIY projects and not knowing how to plane and re-fit new doors I decided that having to strip, sand, paint, apply new hardware, new hinges and plane the doors was a project that could get too costly and time consuming. 

Another option was to purchase new solid wood doors from Home Depot - I love the look of the horizontal 5 panel doors but they are $150 each and would still need to be painted, fitted and new hardware purchased.

My other concern is that the doors I have now work perfectly fine and too often I find people are buying new opposed to refurbishing what they currently have or re-using, so brand new doors are not an option.  I decided to make use of what I have.

Here is what I've been living with.  Plain hollow white slab doors.


I've always loved the look of glossy black doors, especially the traditional European decor trend where the doors and trim are painted the same color, and in most cases darker then the wall color.  I had left over trim from my recent archway project that I knew would give my plain slab doors character.  The key with DIY projects is being able to envision the end result.  I decided what size my square panels would be, measured and penciled them in. 

In my basement I cut my moldings at 45 degree angles using a mitre box.  I needed 16 pieces of trim so that meant 32 cuts. Next I attached the mouldings using PL construction adhesive and set heavy objects on the molding to keep it flush against the door while drying.


 I think I will use "No More Nails" for the next door - it is a construction adhesive that cures completely in 10 minutes where PL can take up to 24 hours. 


After the panels were attached and adhesive cured, I filled in the corners and sides with caulking to give a smooth finish.  Next I lightly sanded the door (with a sanding block) to ensure the glossy paint had a perfect surface to adhere too. This step is very important when finishing - in between the layers of paint on furniture, stairs, etc always give a light sanding - it helps remove brush marks and the paint will better adhere - I got this tip from a professional painter years ago :)


OK, here is it, without the hardware...painted with black acrylic high gloss latex based paint:


The doors look fantastic!  My partner is a huge supporter of my DIY projects however with this one he wasn't convinced at first and now he is uber impressed!  The hardware I've chosen is the Madison Door Knob by Emtek.  I am still shopping around for the best price:


So I've got one door down and 3 to go. 

What I needed:

-Measuring tape, ruler, pencil, mitre box and saw, PL adhesive and caulking (I already had all this)
-Panel moulding, about 24 feet, cost $20.70
-Paint cost $15 - will be enough for all 4 doors if I paint them all black.

But I have still have questions around this project, if you have any suggestions I'd love to hear them:

-Should I leave the trim white or paint it? 

-There are 2 doors that are in a small hallway upstairs that is a bit dark, should I paint these doors glossy white opposed to black (with the same paneling applied)? 

Cheers to re-using friends!

Tuesday, June 21

Window Frame Coat Rack DIY

Making a DIY coat rack is relatively simple.  I had this old window frame that I salvaged from my Grandparents general store before it was torn down.


You will need hooks, you can find them at a hardware store.  I've seen the black fancy hooks at the dollarama.  I had these hooks in the "better save these just in case" pile in my basement.

Position the hooks at least 6-8 inches apart to give adequate space between the various apparel.


 There you have it, a DIY coat rack = FREE.

Monday, June 6

annuals and perennials


A one season splash of color, annuals continuously bloom until the fall frost hits. I purchased two of these black velvet and white baskets on sale for $5 at superstore.  Purchased in rough shape, with a little TLC they've come back from drab to fab.  Annuals are labor intensive so I limit myself to just a few large displays.  If you have hanging baskets they need to be regularly dead headed and watered - too many times do I witness hanging baskets filled with dried out dead plants.  We buy them for the curb appeal so they deserve our attention!

A permanent addition to the garden, perennials may be more costly but grow and spread for years.  Perennials can add low maintenance interest to your outdoor space.  Besides my urban vegetable garden I like to fill in as much space around my home as I can with beautiful plants, some edible, others not.



My last post was my mom giving us the dirt on planting.  I generally stick to the hearty perennials that she suggested.  Hosta's are my best friends,  maintenance free and survive the shade provided by the monstrous maples around my house (It’s a love-hate relationship).

Climbing hydrangeas are my favorite.  I have two huge ones in front of my deck, I will post pictures later on in the season when they bloom.

Rhododendrons seem to be a NS favorite although known to be a bit fussy I’ve had no issues. 

With any bedding plants do your research to know what will be suitable to your site.  Garden center plants will have tags telling exposure, soil and type of environment needed.  Here are two of my moms most trusted resources, Lois Hole's Perennial Favorites and Trees and Shrubs - great reference books.











Thursday, June 2

the dirt on planting

My mama taught me many things in life, one being how to use my green thumb.  All of the photos in this post are of her flower beds. I asked her to write a blog post with the basics of planting, and here is her story:

To start planting in the ground you’ll need the basic tools: 

Round mouth shovel
Pruners
Kneeling pad
A small flat rake
And of course gloves to make it easy on the hands

Never plant in the heat of the day; it can be too stressful for the plant.     

Start by digging the hole the depth of the plant and wide enough to put some new soil in around the plant.  Bonemeal is a must as it aids in good root development which is crucial to a plants survival.     

Planting:  In the hole throw in some bonemeal. Fill the hole with water and add the plant, fill in with good soil, sometimes I add peat moss, any additive is beneficial.     

Now that you got the planting done, DON’T forget to water frequently the first growing season, until your plant is well on its way.  A mistake a lot of people make is they don't water and I mean a deep watering, not just the surface.  A plant is a living thing and like you it needs water and food to survive.  

To keep your flower beds looking neat and tidy you’ll want to cover over the weeds.  Use newspapers.  Lay them down, thicker the better and overlap well, then to hide the paper throw some mulch on top, works great. The paper will eventually break down, won’t hurt the earth, controls the weeds and believe me is cheaper and easier than that landscape fabric.


Hearty perennials that have worked for me:   

Hosta’s 
Daylily( Stella d'ora)  
Astillbes 
Brown Eyed Susan's 
Coneflowers 
Beebalm 
Cransbill Geranium 
Bleeding Hearts 

Mass plantings always look impressive, and are so much easier.  I also like to edge my perennial beds, keeps the grass out and looks so much neater, you can buy an edger, they are easy to use. 




Thanks to my beautiful mother for contributing this post!

Monday, May 30

the gardens a go

My garden has been quite content over the past few days given the sun we've finally seen.  I had already started my broccoli, parsley, greens and sowed my beans a few weeks back.  The beans were reaching up for the sun today...


Despite all the rain my plants are in full swing. I am going to devote this week getting all my outdoor blog posts completed.  I have some posts coming up on hostas, annuals, my garden in full view and I've asked my mom - The Queen Gardener who knows ALL about plants - to write up a nice how-to for any beginner green thumb wannabes :)  So stay tuned!

My garbage, compost and rain barrel system wasn't working for me - the bins were sitting on earth and being the neat freak I am it was time for a tidy-up. The claustrophobic feeling lattice laying up against my deck had to go.



I laid down pavers from last years stone step DIY to tidy up the area. 



Now my bins with wheels are easily movable .  No more pulling them out of the wet earth after its rained for three weeks straight in Halifax.


Watch for more landscaping posts this week!

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