DIY Canvas Art

Art can be expensive, VERY expensive, but without it, walls look bare.  What to do? My answer: make your own! I’ve always loved sketching and painting, but you don’t have to have an ounce of artistic talent in your body to make beautiful art you can proudly hang on your walls.  All you need are some blank canvases and acrylic paint…oh, and maybe a paint brush or two (but don’t dismiss the idea of finger painting!)

We painted our master bedroom earlier this year and went with a charcoal grey, white and yellow colour scheme.  We don’t have a head board so I wanted to create some abstract geometric art to hang above the bed.  We got two big canvases out and used painter’s tape to outline the shapes.  Then we painted in the empty spaces in grey and yellow.  My husband got in on the action and we each painted a canvas. When the paint was dry, we removed the painter’s tape and voila: Art! I was very happy with the result and it only took about an hour to make!

Geometric Painting

For my friend’s 30th birthday I made this canvas for party decor (and as a bonus gift).

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We just recently finished our basement which will serve as a playroom for the next few years.  We had a very small budget so we purchased some inexpensive toy storage and used whatever other furniture we already had.

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As you can see, it’s relatively bright and cheerful (considering it’s in the basement!), but there was definitely a little something missing.  I had some extra canvases lying around so I decided to make some afternoon DIY art.

I looked up silhouettes for animals and sketched them out on paper, then cut out the shapes to create a template:

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Then I painted the canvases in four fun and vibrant colours.

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I used the cut out templates to trace a pencil line of the silhouette then painted it white.  I did 2 coats of the white to make sure the background colour didn’t show through.

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I find it really finishes the space! I also made a triangle garland using scrapbook paper in similar colours to help tie it all together.

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It really is that easy! Grab a canvas, some paint and a brush (or whatever else you want!) and start creating 🙂

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My New Obsession: Decorated Cookies

Ok confession time: I have a new obsession with cookie decorating. It started with the cookies I made for my son’s moustache party. I decided I could’ve done a much better job and needed to up my game. When we decided to throw our good friend a surprise 30th birthday party, I took the opportunity to I try my hand at piping and flooding cookies.

I watched numerous (too many??) tutorials for this and in the process discovered quite a few great blogs, but my favourite by far is SweetAmbs – her work is UNBELIEVABLE. It is truly edible art. Even then, I don’t know that I could bring myself to eat them; they’re all just so pretty! I now know what I aspire to create – I’m going to need a LOT of practice!

The party theme was mason jars, but I couldn’t find a mason jar cookie cutter, so I decided to make small gift cookies using a square cutter. I made regular sugar cookies following the recipe from Canadian Living. The party colours were turquoise and light pink so I decided to flood the cookies in the aqua and add pink “ribbon” and bows.

While my cookies weren’t even close to perfect, I was pretty happy with the outcome considering it was my first time.

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Like I mentioned, the perfectionist in me wasn’t 100% satisfied with the final outcome, but it’s all about trial and error. A few things I learned from this first batch:

  • In hindsight, I should have flooded the cookies and put the ribbon detail on wet on wet, but I had run out of royal icing ingredients so ended up doing it in two stages – first flooding and then adding the ribbon and bow once it had dried (the next day).
  • Another mistake I made was storing the flooded cookies in a tupperware container overnight between the stages. I used wax paper between the layers, but the icing hadn’t 100% dried so some of them had weird discoloration. Luckily, the ribbon and bow covered most of that up.

I used #2 and #3 piping tips (#2 for piping, #3 for flooding). Another confession: I used pre-made royal icing mix that I bought from Bulk Barn.  I needed to play around with my icing consistency as this is really key to making successful cookies.

Last week, I found an 18 pack of awesome fall and Halloween cookie cutters (for only $10!!) so I was very excited to get decorating some Halloween cookies.

How awesome are these!

How awesome are these!

I used the same sugar cookie recipe as before but I added some pumpkin spice (ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves). I only used the pumpkin, spider web and ghost cutters for starters because I didn’t want to get too crazy with the different colours of icing I’d be using.

I decided to try making my own royal icing this time. I followed the recipe from Joy of Baking using meringue powder and it was SO easy. Getting the right consistency can be a bit tricky but I added my water one tablespoon at a time and if I overdid it with the water, just added a bit of powdered sugar to adjust. It was much easier than I expected. I also decided to add some vanilla extract. One thing I learned about adding flavouring to royal icing is to stick with extracts and stay away from oil as it’ll change the properties of the icing.

This time around, I also wanted to try a few techniques I’d seen on the many (many) video tutorials I watched including marbling and transfers.

I started off with the pumpkins – I only had 2 piping bags left and only have one #2 and one #3 piping tip so I actually just used Ziploc bags with the corners cut out to pipe and flood the pumpkin cookies. It worked surprisingly well! Not to mention it’s much more cost effective. My green icing was a little thicker than I would have wanted but I think they turned out ok in the end.

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I did the pumpkins in the afternoon while the baby napped (she was nice enough to give me a nice long one J) and when I was done the pumpkins, I piped out the spider body transfers using my purple icing. Unfortunately, the baby woke up just as I was starting so I had to rush to finish them and the designs on their backs aren’t as nice as I’d planned. I let them out to dry for the afternoon.

I made the spider bodies by piping a large dot and dragging the bottom a bit with a toothpick for the body and a smaller dot for the head.

I made the spider bodies by piping a large dot and dragging the bottom a bit with a toothpick for the body and a smaller dot for the head.

I finished the rest of the cookies later that night after the kids went to bed (so forgive the poor lighting in the pictures!) For the spider webs, I piped the outside in purple (I’m not a fan of black and wanted something more colourful), flooded with white.

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I then went back with the purple (on the wet icing) to create the cobwebs in a circular pattern.

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I just used a toothpick to marble the web pattern, starting in the center and lightly dragging out towards the corners.

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While the icing was still wet, I plopped the spider body onto the cookie. I waited for them to dry a bit then went back to pipe the legs directly onto the cookie.

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These were honestly so much fun to make and I wished I had baked more of them.IMG_3665

I saved the ghosts for last. They were very simple and I kind of regretted not going with a different shape so that I could have had more fun with them. My confidence had built from doing the spider webs and I wanted to try my hand at more intricate designs! I piped and flooded in white and added eyes and spooky mouths in purple.

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I refuse, REFUSE to throw out perfectly good cookie dough, so any leftovers or scraps that don’t fit my cookie moulds still get baked. I’d cut out some small square cookies from the spaces between the real ones to use as practice (and tasting!) pieces. I tried my hand at some plaid, chevron and herringbone, and of course one small tasting cookie for everyone in the family.

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I also bake scraps (yes, I’m THAT crazy about cookie dough waste). My husband pointed out that one of the scraps kind of looked like a mummy…so a mummy he became! To be honest, this might just be my favourite one hihi.

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So there they are, my second attempt at decorating cookies ready to go for Halloween! I still need a lot of practice but I’m pleasantly surprised at how fun these were to do so I’ll just keep making more!

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Now I’m hooked! All I can think of are excuses to bake cookies and decorate them! Luckily, Christmas is just around the corner and I’ve got friends getting married and having babies so I will have lots of opportunity to practice 🙂

Easy DIY Drawstring Loot Bags

My little man will be turning two in July (cue mind blowing up – where did the time go??). We’ll be throwing a party but since he doesn’t really have any little friends yet we’ll only be inviting our close friends and family.  Some of them have little ones, but it’ll be mostly adults.  I have a TON of ideas for awesome party themes for the little dude (thanks Pinterest!), but I didn’t want to “waste” a really good one at an age where he doesn’t fully know what’s going on.  So, I decided to go with a theme that will be fun for big and little kids alike: a moustache bash! Given that moustaches are super trendy right now, it’s been very easy to find all kinds of fun things to incorporate the theme.

I will admit, I’m going WAY over board with this party, but, hey, I’m on maternity leave and have a lot of time to think of ideas and I can get things done during nap time (most of the time) so I figure why not?!  One of the little projects I decided to take on for this party is making fabric loot bags.  I found this fabric on Hawthorne Threads and I just HAD to use it somehow. I thought making little fabric bags would make the bags part of the “loot” and reduce waste. Win win!

I saw this fabric and couldn't help but think "I moustache it!!"  Hihi

I saw this fabric and couldn’t help but think “I moustache it!!” Hihi

I ordered 2 yards which was more than enough (I might just make a little something else for the little lady with the leftovers :)).  I counted a total of 15 kids potentially coming to this party, though I suspect they won’t all make it with it being in the middle of summer vacation.  Erring on the side of caution, I’ll be making 15 anyway just in case.

To fill the loot bags I’ve got all kinds of fun little things, including homemade moustache shaped cookies and moustache patterned pencils.

Moustache things are EVERYWHERE!

Moustache things are EVERYWHERE!

Given that I have 15 to make, I decided to go with a really easy, quick and dirty drawstring bag.  The length of the fabric is just over 21 inches when folded in half width-wise, so I cut three 7 inch wide pieces by 9 inches long (long enough to fit the pencils with seam allowance).  You could modify the dimension depending on how you’ll be using the bag.

I cut the fabric, folded in half, in 7x9 inch pieces.

I cut the fabric, folded in half, in 7×9 inch pieces.

Because my fabric’s pattern had a right side up, I had to cut two pieces for each bag to make sure the pattern went in the right direction on both sides, but if you had something like a stripe or a chevron, you could likely cut the pieces in 7×18 (double the length) and just fold over the bottom (saves you that extra stitch).

To create the top of the bag where the drawstring will go, start by folding over about a half inch corner on each side at the top of your fabric pieces, folded in toward the bad side (see picture below).  Iron down and sew a straight stitch down the middle of the fold.

Sew a simple straight stitch - nothing fancy here, we're going for efficiency!

Sew a simple straight stitch – nothing fancy here, we’re going for efficiency!

Next, fold over the top edge of your fabric pieces about 1 inch (modify this depending on what you’ll be using for the drawstring).  Stitch the folded edge down about 1/8-1/4 of an inch from the edge.

The top fold will be for the drawstring.

The top fold will be for the drawstring.

Pin your two pieces of fabric together, good sides together. Sew down the side and bottom edges, with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Back stitch where you start and finish as this is where the bag will open – it’ll need the reinforcement.

Pin both pieces together and stitch the sides and bottom.

Pin both pieces together and stitch the sides and bottom.

Turn the bag inside out.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Quick and easy DIY loot bags!

Quick and easy DIY loot bags!

Finally, thread your drawstring through, using a safety pin to help guide the ribbon or string through. I had some extra binded ribbon lying around that just happened to match the fabric perfectly.  Tie the ends of the ribbon and use a flame to seal the ribbon (if you’re using ribbon) and you’re done! Once I’d gotten the hang of it, each bag took all of 5-10 minutes to make so I could make about 5-6 in an hour (i.e. the length of a nap).

Cute and practical little home-made loot bags! I think the kids will like them :)

Cute and practical little home-made loot bags! I think the kids will like them 🙂

Now I can’t wait to fill them with fun moustache-y stuff!! Stay tuned for the party post! Lots more DIYs to come 🙂

 

 

DIY Sensory Stuffed Animal

Since I’d made my son a stuffed animal before Christmas (Stuffed Taggie Animals), I decided I should make a little something for my daughter too.  I had purchased some fabric for bumper pads for her room.  My mother-in-law graciously made the bumper pads and then she also surprised us with a gorgeous quilt for Christmas, using some of the same fabric.  I decided to use the leftovers of those fabrics to make a stuffed sensory elephant.

I ordered the florals from Hawthorne Threads - LOVE their selections!

I ordered the florals from Hawthorne Threads – LOVE their selections!

I free-handed my design on cardboard and cut out the shapes I’d need.

I free-handed the elephant shape and cut a diagonal where the ears would go.

I free-handed the elephant shape and cut a diagonal where the ears would go.

 

This is how it will look when put together.

This is how it will look when put together.

I then cut my fabric pieces using these stencils.

I decided to make the ears two colours - darker on the back, lighter on the front.

I decided to make the ears two colours – darker on the back, lighter on the front.

The first step was to sew the ears.  I pinned them wrong sides together (which was pretty easy since this fabric didn’t really have a “good” side), stitch along the rounded part, leaving the straight edge open.

The straight edge will be sewn onto the body pieces.

The straight edge will be sewn onto the body pieces.

Here comes the “sensory” part of this project.  I stuffed this ears with “crinkly” (don’t think that’s a real word) material.  I’d Googled this before-hand (because it’s important to do your research on these things! hehe), and it seems the most common material is good old celophane.  I experimented with various types of celophane from different packaging we had around the house (reuse, recycle!), and I found one that was the noisiest when between the fabric.

Finding the right celophane was just a matter of trial and error.

Finding the right celophane was just a matter of trial and error.

Next, I stuffed the ears with the celophane.  Enough to be crinkly but not so much that the ears were bulky.  Then came type to sew the ears onto the body pieces.  I pinned the ears along the straight edges between the head and body piece for each side of the elephant, right sides in.  Then it was a simple stitch along the straight edge. I didn’t bother backstitching since the edges were going to be sewn to the other side.  Repeat for the other side.

Make sure the celophane stays in the ear piece!

Make sure the celophane stays in the ear piece!

Here’s what it looks like once the ears are sewn on:

Already starting to look cute!

Already starting to look cute!

Next, I pinned the two sides, wrong sides together (so ears IN!).  I added a tail using small binding by pinning it in place, long side in.  I also decided at the last minute to add a loop of binding at the top for grabbing and for plastic rings (to hang off the car seat).  Again, pin the loop between the pieces, loop IN the body.  Then I stitched around, leaving an opening approximately 2 inches wide at the back to turn inside out and stuff.  Note that the seam allowance here is very small, maybe 1/8-1/4 of an inch, so some of the turns were tricky, I just had to go slowly and breathe!

Once stitched, still inside out.  Note the placement of the white binding for the tail and loop.

Once stitched, still inside out. Note the placement of the white binding for the tail and loop.

Here’s what it looks like once turned right side out:

Looks a little wrinkled now but a little stuffing will fix that right up!

Looks a little wrinkled now but a little stuffing will fix that right up!

Time to stuff! Use LOTS of stuffing – elephants are BIG! 🙂  I used polyester, hypoallergenic and washable batting. I used the eraser end of a pencil to get the batting all the way into the trunk. Then I hand-stitched the opening – I’m slowly getting better at that part.

Here’s the final product!

A huggable friend!

A huggable friend!

Here's that loop I was talking about - great for hanging off the car seat or play mat.  Also adds to the "sensory" part of this toy.

Here’s that loop I was talking about – great for hanging off the car seat or play mat. Also adds to the “sensory” part of this toy.

The crinkly ears are a big hit! The little one has already taken a liking to this little fella.

The crinkly ears are a big hit! The little one has already taken a liking to this little fella.

 

Easy Pillow Dress

After yet another round of illness in our home, we are more than ready to get this winter over with and welcome spring and summer with open arms.  In an effort to will summer to arrive sooner rather than later, I made a cute little summer dress for my little lady.  I had some fabric that I’d originally ordered to make throw pillows, but I thought it would be really cute of a little girl’s dress.

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I couldn’t find a ribbon that matched exactly but I think it still works.

Most of the tutorials I looked up required a serger (which I don’t have) so I was excited when I found this awesome tutorial to make this (very) easy pillow dress. I really liked the sizing chart the author provides.  I went with the 12 months sizing.  Our little girl will be 6-8 months this summer but I figured I’d make the dress to work for the next few summers – it can always be a cute top once she gets taller!

As always, I pre-washed, dried and ironed my fabric.  I measured and cut two pieces, 15″ wide by 19″ long, making sure the pattern was in the right direction.

Then I folded over about 1/3 inch down the sides of both pieces, ironed, folder over once more, ironed again.

Fabric pieces

I think I need a new iron because after washing, I can never get the fabric perfectly flat…so pardon the wrinkles!

Then it was just a simple straight stitch down the sides. I didn’t bother back stitching since I’d be closing off the ends.

Easy peasy straight stitch, now THAT I can do :)

Easy peasy straight stitch, now THAT I can do 🙂

Next came the opening for the ribbon.  I lined up the pieces side by side to make sure they lined up and gave myself about 1/8 of an inch on either side of the width of the ribbon.  So just over an inch.

Make sure to leave yourself enough wiggle room so you'll be able to thread your ribbon through.

Make sure to leave yourself enough wiggle room so you’ll be able to thread your ribbon through.

Folded over, ironed, folded over again, and ironed once more (are you seeing a pattern yet? hehe).  I was careful to sew as straight as I could along the edge to make sure the opening would be big enough. I made sure to backstitch at each end here.

Sew about 1/8 of an inch from the bottom edge, making sure to leave enough room for your ribbon.

Sew about 1/8 of an inch from the bottom edge, making sure to leave enough room for your ribbon.

Next was putting the two pieces together, right sides together, to sew them and create the arm hole.  The tutorial was for a 2T size so the author left a 6 inch opening but given I was making a much smaller size I started 4 inches down from the top.

Pin the pieces together where you'd like the seam to start, leaving enough room for the arm hole.  A good trick is to use a current piece of clothing to check the length you'll need for the arm hole.

Pin the pieces together where you’d like the seam to start, leaving enough room for the arm hole. A good trick is to use a current piece of clothing to check the length you’ll need for the arm hole.

I pinned to mark my starting point, then, starting my stitch below the pin, sewed down tight against my other seam, backstitching at the top only (where the arms will go).

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Then I pressed the seams down.

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Next was the hem.  I folded over once, about an inch, ironed, folded over again, and gave it a final iron.

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I stitched the top line, then I decided to get a little fancier, and stitched a bottom line, creating a little more weight at the hem.

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The final step was threading the ribbon! I turned the dress inside out and gave it one last iron.  I heated the ends of my ribbon to make sure they wouldn’t fray.  Just be careful not to get too close with the flame.  I couldn’t for the life of me find a safety pin so I just used a sewing pin to give the ribbon weight and help push it through the opening.  The tutorial called for two pieces of ribbon that tie on each side, but I decided to leave the ribbon in one piece and have it tie on just the one side, and skipped stitching it into place. This way I can always go back and change it if I want later on.

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And there you have it!! A very easy, breezy pillow dress ready to go for the summer weather (if it can ever get here!!).

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I also found these super cute bloomers on sale that I think will go really well with the dress 🙂

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I can’t wait to dress up my little lady!

 

Throw Pillow Covers

Being on maternity leave means I spend the majority of my days at home; more specifically, in the family room and kitchen.  Unfortunately for my husband and our bank accounts, that means I have oodles of time to think of home decor and renovation ideas.  My current fixations are upgrading the laundry/mud room (which is in the works – stay tuned for that post) and adding colour to the kitchen and family rooms.  Both rooms share an open concept space and everything is brown. Boring, blah, brown.  We have dark brown cabinets in the kitchen (I’d LOVE light cabinets but that’s not in the budget), taupe walls, light brown tile in the kitchen, brown maple hardwood in the family room and the furniture is all brown or black.  VERY neutral.  And VERY boring.  So I’ve found some fabric to add colour to the windows and some colourful accessories for both spaces to help bring in pops of colour and liven the place up.

One great way to add colour that isn’t permanent (therefore not a huge commitment) is with throw pillows.  Enter my sewing machine!! I was excited to finally get to use some of the goodies my mother-in-law got me for Christmas (she gave me an awesome “sewing necessities” kit!). I found this awesome tutorial for very easy (read: beginner-friendly) throw pillow covers – also known as a pillow case.  It’s very simple: one piece of fabric for the front of the pillow and two pieces that overlap for the back to create the opening.  Bonus: this means it’s removable and washable.  Then it’s just a few simple stitches: hemming the edges of the pieces that will overlap, and then sewing the works of it together, good sides together.

I’d ordered these lovely fabrics from Hawthorne Threads with the intent of making throw pillows and other decorative elements for our master bedroom, but I decided to use the geometric yellow for the family room – it goes with the colour scheme we’ve chosen and I had the perfect amount of fabric for the pillows I already had on hand.

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I decided the geometric pattern and bright yellow of the middle fabric would be perfect to add some life to our family room.

After a quick run to Starbucks for a treat, I got set up on our kitchen table (because my craft room is another projectI’d like to tackle this year hehe), and went at it.

Excited to use my a new cutting pad, scissors and pins!

Excited to use my a new cutting pad, scissors and pins!

My pillows were 13×13 (in) so the dimensions I used for my fabric pieces were:

1 piece – 14×14

1 piece – 14×10

1 piece – 14×12

For some reason I couldn’t get the fabric perfectly flat with the iron but in the end that didn’t really matter. This project is so easy, I had time to cut, iron, pin and sew the works of it while the wee one napped. She’s a good napper this one! Not like her brother was. But of course, because no project of mine ever goes off without a hitch, when I’d finished sewing my second pillow, I turned it inside out only to realize I’d sewn the front piece wrong side in.  So, after kicking myself a few times, I got the seam ripper and started over.

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but you can bet I'll double check before stitching from now on!

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but you can bet I’ll double check before stitching from now on!

Luckily it all came together in the end.  Considering this was by far my most rushed and sloppiest sewing job ever (for fear that I’d run out of nap time), I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

All done!

All done!

They look great and will help cheer me up during the cold winter days :)

They look great and will help cheer me up during the cold winter days 🙂

So there you have it, instant punch of colour! And a few lessons learned:

1) Don’t rush a sewing project;

2) ALWAYS check your pieces before you sew; and

3) When things go south:

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Magnetic Chalkboard Wall

We have a problem with organization in our kitchen.  I love having everything organized, but life gets in the way and just when I think I’m on top of things, BAM, life runs away from me and I’m trying to catch up to it and running out of breath.  In an attempt to help keep our daily lives a little more on the ball, we decided to create a magnetic chalkboard wall in our kitchen and make it an “organization station”.

We have this sort of useless wall next to the laundry room door just off the kitchen where we used to hang a calendar.  The popularity of chalkboard paint got me thinking we could make better use of this space.  My darling husband did some recon work and suggested we make the chalkboard wall magnetic: brilliant! So we bought the magnetic paint and chalkboard paint, taped off the area we wanted to paint and got to work.

The magnetic paint went on first.  Warning: this stuff is oil based so it STUNK up the place.  It’s also incredibly hard to mix because, well, it’s metal! Had we known it would smell so bad we wouldn’t have tackled this project in December when the temperature drops and having windows and doors open leave you curled up on the couch under layers upon layers of blankets.  Live and learn.  In total we put on 3 coats of the magnetic stuff. Unfortunately,  the wall isn’t as magnetic as we’d like, so in hindsight a few more coats might have helped.

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This is the best angle I could get of the wall. We went all the way down to the floor so the kids can use it too once they’re old enough.

Then it was time for the chalkboard paint.  Water-based, this stuff is pretty much scent free and much more user friendly. It also only required 1 coat.  Much easier! The manufacturer instructions said to wait 3 days before writing on the chalkboard.

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The light switch is in an annoying spot but we’ll just work around it.

We bought pre-primed trim to frame in the area.  Keegan cut and nailed it into place and I puttied the joints and nail holes and painted it white.  I just used the white semi-gloss paint we used on our baseboards.

The manufacturer’s instructions for the chalkboard paint recommended that you run the flat edge of a chalk all over the entire surface, then erase, in order to “prime” it.  Not doing this could result in your first etchings being “un-eraseable”.  Warning: this makes an INCREDIBLY dusty mess.  I recommend having a vacuum close by.  You will likely need to wash the floors after too.

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Corner joints puttied and chalkboard “primed”.

Finally, now for the fun part! We went out to buy chalk and, believe it or not, in many stores (including the craft store we went to), chalk is considered “seasonal”, so we could only find white chalk. Bummer.  I was really hoping for some funky colours.  I made due with what we found (for now).

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I haven’t had time to do anything more creative than the “K” at the top but eventually I’d like to create something artsy and fun.

Just this past weekend though, Keegan found some coloured chalk (at Chapters of all places!), so today I updated our menu 🙂

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I’m looking forward to having our weeknight meals organized and not scrambling at the last minute trying to figure out something healthy and tasty to eat!

I have plans to make this space even more useful, but that’ll have to be for another post 🙂