Bryophyte Art

What are Bryophytes you might ask? Well the easy answer is Moss (and Hornworts and Liverworts)! And it just so happens one of my University courses this semester is all about these tiny little plants!

One of our lab classes we went on a field exercise to collect various species of these guys to get a feel for their diversity! So after the day was done and I had collected over 20 different kinds of moss, I  had an idea!!! Why not make my own moss book plates? So I picked up a bunch of small cheap frames at Ikea and some paper and glue....

 I carefully removed each species of moss from my lab book (I had taped them on LOL) and glued them onto the paper backings I cut to fit the frames. While the glue was drying I carefully wrote the scientific name of each moss on the paper and a few of the species unique  growth/life characteristics! (these are easy to find via google)

Here they all are framed and ready to go up on the wall! You could really do this with so many different things although I really do think mosses are so perfect for this because there are so many different kinds, they are easy to find, and they add the most beautiful touches of green to your home! No matter how dry they get they won't lose their colour! And you can always fake the species genus name lol!!! I mean how often do we have a Bryophyte expert over? hee hee!

I can't wait to hang them up! I'm going to do a full wall of these!
Happy American Thanksgiving Weekend!!!

Lest we Forget

I can't believe it's been a whole year since my soldier left for Afghanistan! Last Rememberance Day Nathaniel had only been gone for 11 days. My sister and I attended a memorial service at Rundle Park here in Edmonton....watching the widows, parents, children, brothers, sisters and friends plant crosses for their lost loves...heartwrenching. I remember just looking at my sister and hoping this wouldn't be us next year on this day. It was a sobering reminder to the reality of what was going on in our lives.

This year, Rememberance Day has a whole new meaning to us. Rememberance Day has always had personal meaning in our family; my Grandma lost her first love Dennis in WWII and my Grandpa fought in the same war and lost two of his brothers. This year we have lost a few more that are close to us. Nathaniel lost five of his good friends in Afghanistan. So this blog post is my small tribute to them. To say thank you. To say we miss you. To say we will always remember. And never forget.

 We Miss you Fitz


It's that time of year again!!! Halloween! Witches, goblins, vampires, ghosts, and ghouls! Carving pumpkins, the smell of ginger and spice, and foggy nights! My favorite excuse to tell ghost stories and watch a favorite spooky movie every night! We watch scary movies a lot any way for fun, but when I know Halloween is coming up we literally have a scary movie marathon as a sort of a countdown! My favorite movies to watch around Halloween are the Shining, the Witches of Eastwick, Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus, the Witches, the Hand that Rocks the Cradle, the Good Child, the Exorcist, Halloween, Sleepy Hollow, the Birds, Dracula, the Addams Family and SO many more....which are your favorite scary movies to watch?

 I was searching online for some Halloween inspiration and my favorite arts and crafts are always found over at Martha Stewart! I just LOVE these pretty antique lace inspired pumpkins!

A new Halloween inspired use for those garden cloches! 

A haunted  pet cemetery in your front yard!

Just like Holly and Jessica I have a huge obsession with these black crows! I have a few from last year I dug up!

 Eerie specimen jars!

I LOVE these wool pumpkins!

All you need is some garden clippings, a few drops of food colouring, and a few jars to make this ghoulish display!

(all photos above from Martha Stewart)

We had so much fun the other night carving up these pumpkins, roasting the seeds, and eating delicious pumpkin pie!

I tried a Martha Inspired lace pattern on my pumpkin and put a quick wash of cream coloured craft paint on it!

Here's our front porch with our creepy carvings!

I hope everyone has a Happy and Safe Halloween weekend!!! And don't forget to keep your pets safe indoors :)

Birdcage Atrium

A couple of Sundays ago my good friend Holly and I hit up an antique auction to score some new treasures!! Since I accidentally slept through the first two hours of the auction (oopsie) I rushed to meet with Holly and see if there was anything sweet left! And luckily there was!!!  It seemed like birdcages were a popular item that day since they had 3 there up for auction! The first one was a gorgeous ornate black iron one which sold for more than either of us were willing to pay. So after the second birdcage sold, I had my eye on the third!....duh duh duh... You guessed it, I'm now the proud owner of that birdcage..... and a beautiful old mantle mirror, spending a total of $70.

I always loved old birdcages and this one was no exception...but the true excitement for me is what Holly suggested I do with it....convert it into a plant atrium!

The first chance I had, I flew on over to the most gorgeous garden center imaginable...Wellington. Holly showed me this hidden gem of a store over a year ago and I've been dreaming of secret gardens ever since!

I lucked out too because it just so happened Wellington was having a 70% off sale! You don't say!

There were so many to chose from, too many! Herbs, succulents, grasses, ferns, little flowering plants, and pots galore! I wanted something useful so I chose a combination of herbs and some lavender for the beautiful fragrance! I chose a cute little fern, two types of lavender, bluegrass, rosemary, thyme, and some woolly thyme (fuzzy leaves).

I loved these grey terracotta pots which came in all shapes and sizes...I thought these were perfect for my  caged little garden!

I loved how old and worn these pots looked and some of the plants even had bits of moss growing on the soil.

Nathaniel even expressed how much he loved our new plant atrium! I was actually surprised he noticed!

I haven't had the best track record with plants in the past... but so far so good with these little guys. And since I love my little atrium so much I've been extra good at taking care of my little photosynthesizing friends :) I must say it's nice to have some plant life around here.

Bathroom Reveal

I can't quite remember if I've ever posted a BEFORE picture of the bathroom we have been working so hard on...well in case I haven' is the before shot of our guest bathroom:

And without further is the all it's SPLENDOR (yes I'm in LOVE):

 I really couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. And to think I did 98% of the work on my own! I must say...I am one proud chica :) The paint colour I used on the walls is Benjamin Moore White Dove.

 There are still a few small odds and ends to pull together to bring it to completion...a couple areas to re-grout, a small area on the wall to sand and repaint, and of course I MUST buy that gorgeous Anthro shower curtain I've been drooling over. I have literally gone in the store 3 times...picked it up and put it down right before making it to the checkout. On my student budget I can't really talk myself into the $115 price tag...just yet!

The wall art was an easy choice for this bathroom! My mom passed down these two sailboat sketches to me on our last visit home. I am SO happy I get to have them....I always loved and admired them growing up...thanks MOM!

 The Mirror is a VERY old antique I picked up on a recent trip to one of our local antique malls. It just so happens that I have TWO antique malls within walking distance of my University classes...look out :)

Now that I can look back on it, I realise how fun this project actually was. I learned so much about tiling and plumbing! And I actually am going to be looking for another antique dresser to turn into a vanity for our master bathroom very soon!

Here is a breakdown of the cost:
*Antique vanity $35
*tile - free...thanks Dad and Leah
*grout, mortar, & tile supplies $100
*paint & paint supplies $50
*Antique Mirror $120
*Light Fixture (Martha Stewart, Home Depot) $79
*Faucet $189
*Sink (American Standard) $134
*Plumber (to fix the things I couldn't) $175

Since we spanned this project over a month and a half it didn`t seem to cost a whole lot. Kitchens and bathrooms are so important in a house. Especially for resale. They can also cost a lot more to remodel. I can honestly say I probably wouldn`t have even started a project like this without the incentive of free tile! And luckily, since we spent nothing on the tile, I was able to splurge on the sink, faucet, and mirror! I think when I do our master bath I will try and keep the budget at $ that will be a challenge...but who doesn`t like a good challenge every now and again!

Antique Dresser turned Vanity

Hopefully in less than a weeks time I can show off the final reveal for this bathroom makeover! The vanity and floor are complete! Plumbing and all! The only things I have left to tackle besides a few odds and ends are a new shower curtain (hoping to get another pretty Anthro one), a vanity mirror, new light fixture, and PAINT!!!!
Here is a somewhat tutorial on how to transform a dresser into a custom vanity!
First things first...since I am not putting a slab of marble or any other hard surface on top of this piece, I made sure I lacquered the dickens out of the top of it so it could withstand a lot of splashing and water droplets in the years to come! Once dry, I took the sink 'cut-out' template that came with the sink and made a few modifications of my own (specifically, I made the 'cut-out' quite a bit smaller, so the strength of the vanity would be less compromised. I wanted to be able to cut out JUST ENOUGH for the sink to fit snug :)

I cut out the center of the template, so I had a mock paper sink, and the center was the area of wood to be removed. I secured the template with painters tape and traced the inner square onto the dresser. 
I actually had step-by-step photos of how to do all this but I think I accidentally deleted them in the process  :(
After the square was traced, I removed the template and drilled a hole inside the square so that my skill saw blade had somewhere to start the cut-out process....I then pushed the saw towards the line drawn cut-out and trying my VERY BEST to stay on the lines, cut out the square.

Voila! I'm pretty proud of myself :) As you can see (ahem...the right side of the cut-out), it's not perfect! But it did the job because when I took that sink and plopped it in the hole, it FIT!!!! First time was a charm in this case (this never happens for me)!!!!

I assembled everything up in the bathroom and called a plumber to re-attach the pipes. I could have done this part on my own, but after tackling the toilet myself, I thought I'd sit back and watch on this one :P
As you can see, the walls are still needing paint, and that's the very next thing on my list.
Refitting the drawers was pretty easy as well. Using a measuring tape, I marked where the pipes were on the wooden drawers. Then I took my same handy skill saw and cut out space for the pipes. Using some 1/4" wood I made new drawer edges on the inside of the drawers, using a combination of glue and the odd nail to keep them in place.

I can't wait to tie all the odds and ends together in this bathroom. I love looking at it and knowing that we put the whole thing together. So far the WHOLE project has cost us less than $500!

I'm also seeking your opinions on this one little detail! These pretty antique looking faucet handles came with FOUR combinations as options!!! Stainless or Antique ceramic? English or Francais? (I kinda like the french writing for a touch of I think I'm sold on that idea)...but I really want to know what you think about the two handle finishes??


Or antique ceramic?

I start my last university semester next Wednesday so I NEED to get myself in gear and paint BEFORE I get swamped with biology homework! Someone please light a fire under me :)

Also, any thoughts on paint colours? I'm definitely going with a sort of white in here. Since there are no windows I want to keep it airy and fresh...but I'm wondering what undertone will compliment the mix of cream in the dresser and cool greys in the tiles?
~Happy Long Weekend Everyone~

Bathroom Update

I have to be honest and admit that what I thought would take a weekend has turned into a 3 week ordeal! The tiling part was by far the easiest part of this reno believe it or not! Since we are SO close to crossing the finish line on this one I thought I would do a quick update on the floor portion and leave the final reveal for a later day.
Since our home is only 5 years old I was told the glue under our linoleum would still be a little soft and therefore it would be much easier to screw in a thin sub floor over top of the linoleum than to peel it up and scrape off all the glue. SO we gutted the bathroom (to find a plumbing nightmare...which I won't bore you with but I will say this: make sure you have shut off valves installed to the water lines supplying the sink if you don't plan on installing a new sink right away!) Then I screwed down a sub floor with 1/4" plywood.

The sub floor took no time at all and by raising the floor 1/4" plus the thickness of the tile I also had to make two other adjustments when the floor was all said and done: shave down the bottom of the door to allow room for the door to fit and add a closet flange extension to the toilet so that the flange would be flush/a little above the newly installed tile (I am an expert at installing toilets now LOL).

A cool trick I learned while helping Tony install our hardwood floors is that in order to get the new floor to fit nicely under the door jams is to put a small piece of the new floor plus the sub floor up against the door jam so you have the new floor height. Then take a saw (there are much easier saws to use than the hand saw I used) and rest it against the top of the sample piece of floor and saw horizontally.

The saw I used took a lot of elbow grease but its flat large size actually helped me saw a straight line and eventually once you get through the wood it takes a little wiggling and the piece should fall off...

Here's a good pic of the piece that once you pull it out, your tile slides right under for a nice seamless fit (once you caulk of course :)

Hey lookie who is helping me? Yes a rare sight but I had to snap a photo of this! Since it was our first time laying tiles and they are so small and staggered we laid them all out first, numbered them with chalk and did all our cuts before starting to lay them onto the mortar. We also bought this great little wet tile saw from Home Depot for only $64! Since we plan on tiling 3 bathrooms in this house I figured it was worth the investment.

I also installed new 5" tall baseboard to match the new baseboards in the rest of the house....and
TA DA!!!!

It's definitely not perfect but it really does look pretty good and I'm pretty proud of all our hard work. I still have to re stain the room divider since when I pulled it up from when it was on the linoleum the hidden ends which are now exposed need some colour.
I can't wait to get a plumber in this week to extend our pipes up to our new vanity and sink and show you the other half of this transformation!