Tuesday, April 26, 2016

DIY Ceiling Beams {Phase 1: Custom Stain}

I grew up in a city home that was dressed up as a country cottage.

 It had plaster ceilings, beams galore, barn wood chair rail, trim work, barn board doors and black vintage farmhouse hardware everywhere. My parents still live there. As a child I wondered why my home didn't look like my friend's new build homes, but over time I learned to love all the character that surrounded me.

Staring up at barn board beams every night for like, forever, will do that to you.

 I learned to love the old black latches on the bedroom doors and most of all the little secret door on the stairway; the one that looks like it's just a barn board but that swings open to share what's in it's depths. It was my favorite thing to share with visitors. We would of course make visitors guess what was inside the door and no one ever figured it out. Turns out when the door swung open a big 'ole hose was hidden within the wall. A hose hooked up to a water source just in case. A plus for our house clad in bard board with a wood stove as it's main heating source. 

The original builder of my childhood house was a fireman....can you tell?

I always felt safe knowing that I could play firefighter too...if I had to. 😉

Kids don't try this at home. 

Those childhood humble beginnings bring me to today. 

I feel most comfortable in homes surrounded by natural elements -- and I'm not just talking about wood and plaster things. No, laundry piles and messy hand prints also put me at ease. 😉

But most of all beams have a way of making me feel at home.

Big sturdy beams. 

Beams that make you believe in their ability to hold up a roof and chase away the boogy man.

Like the good old days.

We decided to add beams to our new-to-us home while we were taking out the original mid century ceiling tiles. 

I shared our pine wood ceiling HERE. 

Now it was time to bulk up that ceiling.

We started with 1" by 12" by 12 foot boards. Sometimes referred to as rough cut boards. Hubby would later cut them to size, but FIRST: putting on their makeup.

We knew what color we wanted to stain them after years of playing with stains but during that stage we also wanted to give them a little bit of character.

After all, what's a girl made up out of without a few laugh lines beneath it all?? 😉

I convinced my nine year old son to join me in giving these boards some much needed character.

We picked our weapons of choice and got to work dinging up our boards.

We used some chain scraps and the back of a hammer and got to work distressing our boards.

He obviously had a lot of fun with this project. ;)

After a lot of contemplation, I finally came to a conclusion I was sure of and mixed equal parts special walnut, espresso and provincial in the Minwax brand for our stain.

1 part Special Walnut
1 part Espresso
1 part Provincial

I stained the boards in batches and once the stain was soaking into the wood my little assistant helped distress the first set of boards. It took some trial and error but I like the way the indents looked after they already had stain on them. 

Stain, beat, repeat.

I simply used an old soft cloth to apply my custom stain and then we let the stain soak in out in the open air. Having an open space with plenty of breathing room is key when staining anything. Those fumes are strong! 

Although the air was cold and damp our boards dried pretty fast. It only took an evening before we pulled the boards into the garage for cover.

I stained some boards on an old ping pong table base that we have yet to put together (Sorry kids!) and then I stained others on an old tarp on the ground. I wanted to see which way would be better for you guys, but honestly either way would do. The stain soaks into pine boards so fast that you arent leaning over boards for too long at all. 

Easy peasy!

Here's what the pine boards looked like before:

And here is what the boards looked like during the staining process...

In my next post I'll be showing you what our beams looked like all dried up and then UP on our ceiling! All our DIY tips and tricks for installing faux beams are on their way!

Chat soon!

Monday, April 18, 2016

New Adventures!

Twelve years ago I met this guy who was funny,sweet, cute and always remembered to hold the door open for me when he picked me up in his yellow European sport car.

He was kinda perfect.

Though as a design and decor obsessed gal, it was in part his trendy place that made me stop dead in my tracks; making me really ponder if we could spend our lives building a home  and life together.

You see, he had a carefully curated, fully furnished and stylish place that was also equal parts tidy and cool. The complete polar opposite from the stark dorm rooms fellow males his age lived in.

The fact that he took pride in keeping a sweet heart, a calm demeanor, great values and an inviting space  to unwind in was very intriguing.

Unbeknownst to me, and lucky for him, a few weeks before we met he had sauntered into a Leon's furniture store and bought the place out. He mixed glass, metal and leather like a pro in his place -- the place where we ended up discussing our hopes and dreams and ultimately falling in love.

You could say my husband of over a decade owes a lot to the Leon's staff who pointed him in the right direction when he was furnishing his first place.

Don't you think?

I always have. ;)

You can now imagine my surprise when Leon's contacted me directly and asked me to work along side of them. I THOUGHT for sure this was the work of my still-funny-now-holds-the-FRIDGE-door-open-for-me-on-movie-night-while-we-contemplate-what-to-devour-joke-playing-husband.

I mean, my first initial meeting with the Leon's Bloggers was even scheduled for April 1st. THIS had to be a joke right?

Happily for me it was not and I'm left feeling so excited and truly grateful to be considered for this fun journey.

Hello Yellow Blog is the official Leon's Furniture blog and is chalked full of inspiration, DIY, recipes, seasonal crafts, room ideas and my personal favorite, before and afters!

Leon's knows a thing or two about how to design furniture for real life. As one of the oldest Canadian companies (at over 100 years young!!) myself and generations forever have long admired their Canadian made products and the fact that they are a family run business. 

Sounds like I would love a family run business, right? ;)

They believe that real life is interesting, textured and fun and not always perfect.

Sounds like a theme around here too, doesn't it?

If you've been following from the beginning of my blogging journey, first off THANK YOU, "HI MOM!" but you would also know that this is new territory for me. Up until now Ive been diligently focused on growing my personal business and have used this blog as my creative outlet and reno journal only. 

I'm excited to let you in on this surprise and look forward to you following my adventures as a contributor for the official Leon's website -- and a few more fun things to come!

Their blog called Hello Yellow Blog is run by the lovely Autumn and is completely addicting. As I mentioned earlier it is packed full of inspiring design and DIY posts from some of yours and my favorites: Thalita,  Melissa, Kassandra, Lucy, Joanna and Julie.


I can't wait to show you what we have up our sleeves!

Until then, you can check out my mug shot over on the about page over on the  Hello Yellow blog. Would you guess from the look on my face that this photo was taken in a 12 by 12 room with the amazing Jessica from Red Suitcase Photography but that the room was also filled with four children, six adults and eight chickens? 

Yeah, she is THAT good!

Be aware that once you visit the Hello Yellow Blog you'll be staying up all night stalking all the pretty that is over there.

You're welcome.:D

I'll keep you guys updated with what is to come and all the changes that have been happening over here at this little estate in the mean time. As always, thank you for your cheers as I expand in to new and fun endeavors.

Also a big thanks to my mom and dad for turning a blind eye when I hacked up their desk/wedding present/heirloom piece with a hand saw.... when I was 13. You've always encouraged my love for furniture and creativity and I'm forever thankful for that.

It was about time I replaced that piece, right?

Start shopping here Mom and send me the bill... xoxo

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

21 Tips and Tricks For Installing a Wood Ceiling {And ceiling progress photos!}

When we bought our home it had a dropped ceiling throughout. Although dropped ceilings were completely useful and awesome when I was in the fifth grade. You know,  so I could count away the time during math class until recess. Currently having dropped ceiling squares in our home just brought back a million bad memories of wishing away my bill free, care free, to-do-list-free youth. 

Insert Rihanna's song "Werk werk werk werk werk" HERE.

  In any other home changing out a dropped ceiling might be an easy fix. One might consider many ceiling options after the dropped ceiling was removed, but unfortunately, for us, with a flat-roofed-mid-century-modern-home, there are fewer options we could use without changing the footprint of our home.

We removed the dropped ceiling though, and crossed our fingers, just IN CASE the ceiling magically went up and up and up and we could gain some height. 

That was obviously not the case, no matter how many twinkling stars I wished upon.

So we embraced my husband's age old saying "It is what it is" and we made the best of our plain old ceiling.

When we thought of the ceiling we could have we wanted a ceiling that was cozy and interesting. We quickly nixed the idea of applying plain drywall to our ceilings, no matter how many good hearted, advice giving people suggested it to us. 

We're rebels like that.

Crisp and clean ceilings didn't seem right for the aesthetic we were going for. We wanted our space to feel like a cottage or a farmhouse and we knew immediately that tongue and groove paneling was the way to fully embrace that style. 

We knew that pine ceilings and big ole beams would do the trick to add interest without feeling over the top. 

So we got to work applying a vapor barrier and attaching pine boards throughout our main floor.

We took into consideration our lighting, where it was located, and where we wanted our beams to end up. There was a lot of math involved in this step so I was super glad my husband didn't waste away 5th grade like I did.

For someone who isn't a planner and is more of a "doer" this is where the reno stood still. 

My lovely handyman hubby wanted to jump right in and get started too, BUT he also knows to measure twice and cut once. My toe tapping may have not given me any brownie points. 

Slowly but surely thought,  after lots of measuring and mapping out the space the ceiling started to come together. 


Hubby installed the lights as he went and I busied myself sanding the crap (again, LITERALLY! ) out of our new-to-us cabinets. 

See in the distance there? That's what I'm talking about. ....

If you are thinking of installing a tongue and groove ceiling to your space, keep reading, this next bit is for you.

 If you dont want your project to stall like ours did and if ultimately you want to take the guess work out of DIY-ing a wood ceiling then here is what you need to know. 

1. Figure out which direction you want your boards to run. This decision may be the hardest step in this ceiling install. 😉
2. Depending on the way you are running your boards you may need to block out your ceiling.  This means to simply add joists in between your joists to connect your boards to.
3. When picking out your boards you will need to find ones that have strong grooves.  No cracks or knots in the grooves.
4. Ensure your boards are even and not bowed.
If you're buying in packages don't use the boards that are imperfect.  Instead take back at a later date..
5. Make sure you have decided where you want your lighting, electrical and any other wiring that will end up in your ceiling. This may be a time when you decide to add speakers for that surround sound you have always wished for. ;)
6. When you are ready to I stall your boards makes sure the starting piece is completely level and perfect.  This will make for a straight ceiling install that doesn't bend.
7. For an easy install make sure you have a proper platform to stand on. Ideally this would be scaffolding of some sort.
8. To continuously and perfectly cut around your lighting try making a stencil out of paper. This will ensure that every cut is the same around your pot lights and won't slow down the install.
9. Cut your stenciled holes with a jigsaw for ease.
10. Depending on the thickness of your boards you may want to use a different size of nails. We used 2" Brad nails and bought them in bulk. It's better to buy more and return your unused nails than to have to run out to the hardware store 4 times during install. ;)
11. When you're attaching boards to your ceiling place the nails strategically into your boards.  Don't put the nails into knots or into the seam where it could splinter making it difficult to neatly fit the next board in.
11. If you have the time and want to make your final step of painting easier run a paintbrush across each board's grooves as you install. 
12. Plan out the placement of your boards where possible. Some boards have few knots and have a light wood grain. Some are filled with knots and have a contrasting wood grain.  It is best to space out these pieces so your eye isn't drawn to one specific part of your ceiling.
13. If you are not using beams in your ceiling install simply stagger your beams across your ceiling. 
14. If you ARE using beams in your design, try spacing your beams 8 feet apart to avoid unnecessary cutting.  Typically pre packaged boards are 8-9 feet long and your beams will cover the seams. 
15. Use flat ceiling paint. If you use semi gloss or paint with a sheen it will show all of the imperfections.  
16. If you want a white washed finish dilute your paint to desired consistency with water and apply one coat. (Remember to use drop cloths if applying in this manner)
17. If you want an evenly painted ceiling use two coats of flat ceiling paint.
18. If you find your boards are very knotty first conceal the knots by applying a primer/wood sealer then painting a coat or two of your flat white ceiling paint.
19. If you didn't do the step at install where I recommended painting the seams of your boards then at this point you'll want to get good paint coverage on the seams of your boards. Use a square sponge paint applicator and run the angled sponge part along the grooves of your board to ensure that paint gets right in there. 
20. For best coverage apply your ceiling paint with a roller and an expandable handle to the rest of the ceiling.
21. Over time the places where your wood has knots may show through. Keep a re purposed  jar filled with your ceiling paint for easy touch ups to use over time.

Now sit back, throw your feet up, rest your weary arms and watch your paint dry.

You deserve it.

 Next up: Beams!

I can't wait to share with you what we learned while DIY-ing beams.  

Have you ever wondered how to install a pine ceiling? If you think this is something you may tackle in the future, perhaps to an unfinished basement or in a future space, feel free to pin  this post.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Vegan Easter Cupcakes {Allergy Free!!}

I like big cupcakes and I cannot lie.

Truth be told, I feel like cupcakes are the perfect dessert and perfect for any occasion.

 Now, I don't want to offend all of the donuts, tarts, pies, pastries and cannolli that I've stared at lovingly and promised to love them forever while exclaiming, "THIS IS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER EATEN! "

No, I don't aim to create competitiveness among desserts everywhere, but I just have to say that cupcakes, in fact, are the perfect dessert because they are the perfect size.

 Im not talking about the ridiculous two bite kind either. No that's too small for any dessert and if you argue that fact we cant be friends anymore. Though you're gonna wanna after you try this deliciousness. ;)

I'm talking about the kind of cupcake that can be eaten in  more than two bites. The kind with a pile of delicious creamy icing and the kind, made better, when piled high with delicious toppings. 

Like these Vegan Easter cupcakes.

I have tweaked this recipe slightly over time and originally found a similar recipe through Elizabeth Gordons "Allergy free dessert" book. Worth a read if you or a family member has sensitivities to eggs, gluten, wheat or milk products!

 To make these beauties you will need:

6 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon of cider vinegar
31/2 cups pf Betsys Baking Mix

NOTE: this is a mix originally from Elizabeth Gordon. I love to have this on hand to use in many other baking recipes. It consists of 3 and a half cups of garbanzo bean flour
2 1/4 cups of potato starch
1 1/2 of tapioca flour
(this makes enough for about 3 cakes or 3 batches of cupcakes)

1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of xanthuan gum
2 cups f granulated sugar
1/2 cup of organic coconut oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract 

Mix wet ingredients together and then mix them into dry ingredients.
Bake your cupcakes at 350F or until a toothpick can be inserted and come our clean. Approximately 20 minutes.

While you're letting your cupcakes cool on a baking rack you can whip up this vegan icing recipe or you can make things easy on yourself and buy whatever icing you prefer .

You'll need:

  • 1/4 cup unrefined (virgin) coconut oil
  • 16 oz powdered sugar
  • 4-6 tablespoons coconut or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
For full instructions visit THIS site or use your favorite icing.

Lastly dip your iced cupcakes in Belgian chocolate shavings and top with the prettiest wee pastel chocolate covered eggs you can find.


These iridescent gorgeous chocolate eggs were sourced and purchased through my neighborhood Bulk Barn. They are filled with a delicious roasted almond that takes their gorgeousness to a goddess level. Trust me. Taste buds don't lie.

Once topped with your favorite Easter egg toppings, step back, way back, out of arms reach kind of back and enjoy the prettiest Easter cupcakes around. 

If you're feeling in the giving mood place them in a pretty basket and bring them to your family's Easter brunch this weekend.


Or eat them within the day like we did. 

Wishing you and yours a sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet Easter weekend with your nearest and dearest. xo

PS: As you can probably guess from my back to back food posts, we are loving having a stove again. ;) Hoping your weekend is filled with lots of yummy goodness too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why World Water Day Means The World to Me

For as long as I can remember I have been water conscious. 

And it was not because I was born an amazing, big hearted, consumption worried humanitarian.

No it was for purely selfish reasons.

You see, I was born with a genetic condition that has made not a singe day go by in my 30 + years where I haven't been constantly thirsty. 

I'm talking drink-your-weight-in-water-daily kind of thirsty.

I'm talking the kind where one sees imaginary glasses of water appearing out of thin air if you have to go a few hours without a drink of water. I'm talking about the kind of thirst where you would decide to trade in a day of eating for a glass of water. I'm talking about actually fretting over those worst case scenario situations just in case they actually happened. I'm talking the kind of thirst that has you up three times in the night to stick your head under the tap until your stomach mimics the movements of the ocean. I'm literally talking about doctors recording the ability to drink 80 (8 ounce) glasses of water daily.

I am talking about having the rare form of diabetes caused by a deficiency of the pituitary hormone vasopressin, which regulates kidney function. 

The Mayo Clinic describes Diapetes insipidus like this "Diabetes insipidus (die-uh-BEE-teze in-SIP-uh-dus) is an uncommon disorder that causes an imbalance of water in the body. This imbalance leads to intense thirst even after drinking fluids (polydipsia), and excretion of large amounts of urine (polyuria).
While the names diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus sound similar, they're not related. Diabetes mellitus — which can occur as type 1 or type 2 — is the more common form of diabetes.There's no cure for diabetes insipidus, but treatments are available to relieve your thirst and normalize your urine output."
So although my thirst can be quenched via medication and is eased by my proximity to an environment that is water accessible, I am often reminded of how fatal this condition would be for me if medication and water sources were withheld from me.
Yes, I have always been water conscious for selfish reasons but as I've grown from that little girl with the water bottle always in her grasp and into a health conscious woman and mother, my motives for being water conscious have changed.
I am often reminded that if I was one of the 663 million people in the world who do not have access to clean water that I would most likely not have survived infancy. In fact I probably wouldn't have even been born since my Mother and Grandmother also have this hereditary condition. If I'm honest with how blessed I am to be born in a country where clean water runs freely from taps everywhere, I would admit that my entire extended family would not have most likely existed. That would include my Grandmother's 4 children and subsequent 13 grandchildren, my mothers six children and 13 grandchildren and my three children and the generations I am hopeful that will follow. If I am truly honest with how blessed we are here, I would admit that perhaps my Grandmother's relatives and people before them would not have existed either. Because water for us is integral for survival
What I would like to point out today though is that water for everyone EVERYWHERE is integral for survival.
And not just to quench thirst.
Did you know that by helping provide clean water to those around the world who presently do not have access to clean water you don't just quench their thirst but you give them the gift of health, longevity and education. Did you know that some children as young as five years old have to forgo education because their days are consumed with walking 4 hours to the closest water source to them -- which isn't even guaranteed to be clean. They spend a large majority of their day traveling to and from an unclean water source that is ridden with bacteria and diseases and then consuming it.  As someone who has felt the unquenchable feeling of being without water these truths are unimaginable.  As someone who is now a Mother who would give anything to ensure my children dont just have necessities for life but that they flourish these truths are overwhelming and devastating.
 Personal posts are few and far between around here, but because the travesty of a world without clean water has always weighed heavily on my heart, couldn't go without sharing today. 
March 22nd, 2016 is International World Water Day. 
Although there are staggering statistics out there that outline the undue suffering of others, there is also a lot of hope and exciting initiatives out there too.
There is hope that the smallest change can make the biggest difference.
Robbert F Kennedy said it well when he shared, “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” 
If don't know about you but I believe in the power of people. I believe that it only takes one person to make a difference in the life of another. I believe that it takes one simple act of compassion to plant a seed of hope in someone else. I believe that we DO have the power to bend history. I believe it starts with us. I believe it begins by you and I once we have gratefully acknowledged the blessing it is to happen to be born on this side of the planet. I believe it starts with us because although this world is a big place, we are in this together.
I know many of you are like me and you can easily relate to these beliefs. 
 Alone, I may not be a world changer, but together we CAN bend history. 
We can say we lived well because we loved well. 
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 

If you believe in the power of one but the world changing power of togetherness then please visit World Vision Canada to learn how easy it is to love well. 
In fact, love IS a well.
International World Water Day is March 22nd, 2016. Please share with your friends so they can be involved in the life changing power of togetherness.
Also, for more inspiration follow the beautiful and lovely  Meghann Markel who was announced recently as the Glodal Ambassador for World Vision. You'll love to see firsthand her shared pictures from her life giving trip to Rwanda.

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