Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Finishing the Basement: Before

I have exciting news; we're finally going to start finishing the basement. The even more exciting news is that we're doing it because J's daughter, M, has come to live with us. She arrived Monday and it is so great to have her back with us full time! We've decided that, because she's a teenager, it's time to give her more space  by making her a bedroom in the basement.

The part of the basement that will be transformed into the two bedrooms.

For now M has chosen to stay in the guest room so we need to get working quickly. The goal is to get started, and finished, as quickly as possible so you can expect a lot of updates in the near future. J will be doing most of the work on his own (I'm still not allowed to do anything post-surgery) and we will hire out certain parts of the job. To start, here's some before pictures of what we're working with. 

The left side bedroom will stop just before the the electric panel. 

The plan is to finish the back part of the basement, turning it into two bedrooms. Both will be about 10 x 12, with a double closet. One will be for M and the other will be for D, should be happen to want to move back at any point or for when he comes to visit. We will be letting M pick most of the colours and accessories (with me having veto power) so it'll be interesting to see how it all comes together.

We love the Dry-Core sub flooring that has been down for a few years.

The only thing done so far is the Dry-Core sub flooring. I have to back up a little and explain why we chose Dry-Core. We had only been here a few months, in our brand new house, when we noticed water in the basement. Turns out our foundation had two cracks in it. Given that there was no warranty and it was all on us and my very first house, I was devastated. My naive 27-year-old self got a quick crash course in why homeownership sucks. Anyway, we had a company called Basement Solution Systems come in and fix the cracks, and haven't had an issue since. They also guarantee their work for the life of the house just in case we ever have an issue so that's a bonus. After fixing the cracks, we left the floor exposed for another three years to make sure we weren't getting any more water before deciding we wanted a subfloor. After researching it and watching way too many episodes of Holmes on Homes, we decided to go with Dry-Core. That way if we ever do get water, it shouldn't damage the finished basement. J installed it himself about 3 years ago and we love it. It's comfortable to walk on and keeps the floor nice and warm.

The right side bedroom will most likely be M's.

Next up, purchasing materials and putting up walls. Wish us luck!

Shared at: A Creative Princess

Thursday, 19 November 2015

A Walk In The Rain: Art Class Number Ten

I'm sorry if you're tired of my paintings. I'm almost caught up (I think I only have 3 remaining)… just in time for my first post-surgery class next week. It might be a little early, as I typically am good for about an hour before I need a nap, but I'm really looking forward to it.

This is on of my favourite paintings I've done, in part because of the following true story. Art class typically goes like this: we're given a picture to look at, we observe a mini-lesson about skills and techniques we need for the piece, and then we all work away with help from the instructor as needed. I was at the final stage in this painting - the people - when someone commented about the sidewalk. What sidewalk? Seriously, up to that point I was painting but not really seeing. It wasn't until someone said it that I realized the couple were on a sidewalk in the rain, and the squiggles were reflections, and the circles were car lights. Sometimes I can be a little dense. 


Not bad for a painting where I didn't realize what it was, right? 

One of my favourite people and dear friend (who came to visit this summer and gave me an excuse to make Minion Cupcakes) liked this painting so I sent it home with her. She planned on putting it in a bedroom but her husband said it suited a wall in their main living area, so that's where it lives.

Edit: After this post was published, I mentioned to my friend that I wished I still had the picture she's sent me but had deleted it from my phone, so she sent it to me again. After a birthday party for her girls (who turned 3 and 5, and are some of my favourite little people) they were sitting around the fire pit, and looking in the window you can see the painting.

Shared at: Diana Rambles, Life on Lakeshore Drive, Create With Joy, Made in a Day, A Creative Princess

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Chicken Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Fails

I love my slow cooker. I was late to jump on the band wagon, only buying one at the ripe age of 32, but it has become one of my favourite things. I love that I can turn my meal on before going to school, and come home to a delicious smelling, healthy meal. The problem I have discovered, however, is that many of the recipes I find online are repulsive. They look appealing, have ingredients that J and I like, but are inedible. I will not be linking to the websites these recipes came from because that would be mean but I still wanted to share these with you. They're bad. Avoid them. You've been warned.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

The only word I can use to summarize this dish is nasty. It was awful. We couldn't eat it and ended up throwing it away. Even looking at the picture of it is turning my stomach. Nasty! *Please note there are many variations of sweet and sour slow cooker chicken. The one I made had chopped red peppers. I don't know if the others are any good or not.

Lemon Garlic Chicken

It might be a little harsh to put this dish in this post, as it wasn't truly horrible. I could eat it. J couldn't, but he's much more particular than I am. It just tasted like chicken marinated in lemon juice, and had the most bizarre aftertaste.

Cafe Rio Chicken

This was probably the most disappointing. It smelled delicious and I had high hopes. However, it tasted similar to how teenage boy socks smell. We even tried washing the chicken off and covering it with barbecue sauce to see if it could disguise the taste, but to no avail. This was another one that ended up in the garbage.

Cilantro Lime Chicken

Perhaps I should have avoided this one, seeing as I'm not a big fan of cilantro. It was odd. Something about the mix of cilantro and lime and beans and chicken just didn't work. We ate enough of the corn and beans to call it a meal, but avoided the chicken. Never again.

So there you have it. You'll notice there are no after photos. That's because, given how gross these were, I didn't plan on sharing them with you. With that said, we all love a fail, so who cares if the photos aren't great, right?

Want to know some slow cooker recipes I really do like? Here are two of my favourites: 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Birch Trees: Art Class Number 11

I haven't mentioned much about it (or perhaps anything) but I had surgery last week. I won't be going into details here but it was a pretty major surgery, I'm not sick, and I'll be off work until after Christmas.  If you want to know more, feel free to email me. Anyway, knowing I wouldn't be able to take care of myself and that J had to work, my amazing mama (who's retired) came up to help take care of me while I was in hospital and during my first week home.

While here, mama commented that she doesn't have any of my paintings so we went to the closet where I keep all the ones from class that I haven't given away or hung up. I realize I still haven't shown you several of them. Back to the point, we went through the paintings and when mama saw this one she instantly claimed it. It's now hers, and will be heading back to Newfoundland with her this weekend so I took some pictures to share with you before she packs it away.

This was one of my least favourite paintings to do but I can't wait to do another one like it. We started by sketching the location of our trees and painted them using old credit/gift cards. Then we went back and added all the dots for leaves using a paintbrush. It took forever and was really hard to get to the edges of the trees. Once that was done, I touched up my trees again. When I do another one, I plan on sponging the background before painting my trees so it doesn't take as long to cover everything.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cookies with Chocolate Chips - Gluten and Dairy Free

First, to all my fellow Canadians, Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you're having a lovely day and taking some time to reflect on and express gratitude. 

Now on to the reason you're here. Last weekend I had book club and, because in October it seems like everything needs pumpkin in it, I made these delicious pumpkin cinnamon cookies. I'm not crazy about all things pumpkin but trust me when I say these are amazing. Don't believe me? I brought some to a coworker (who also has food restrictions) and she liked them so much, she went home and made them herself. Plus J, who normally doesn't like anything made with "my" flour, wanted me to leave some for him. Now it's your turn to make them. Seriously, you won't regret it.

I started these cookies with the Pumpkin Cookie recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod. The original recipe called for cinnamon chips but I couldn't find them locally and I wanted to make the cookies so I subbed carob chips. I also modified it to make it work with ingredients I had at home, as well as to make it gluten-free and dairy-free. I like small cookies so I get approximately 60 from this recipe.


2 1/2 cups flour (I used Cloud 9 gluten-free flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup butter (I used Earth Balance made with soy)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I used carob chips)

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon


First, preheat oven to 350. Line sheets with parchment paper.

Next, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice.

In another bowl, use a mixer to cream the butter and sugar together. It's important to cream them until they're light and fluffy. Add in pumpkin, egg, and vanilla.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients using the mixer. Once they are all blended together, stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Stir cinnamon sugar topping together in a bowl. Make balls of dough and roll them in the topping. Place them on the baking sheet and press down with a fork. 

Bake 15 minutes, and let cool slightly before moving to a cooling rack.

One thing I've discovered with many gluten-free flours is that they don't do well when they go from cold to warm. If I refrigerate or freeze my cookies, they get mushy. Instead I leave them on the counter and they stay a great consistency.

On a side note, this is only the second time since starting our book club that I haven't finished the book. I'm still working on it but it's definitely a slow read and not one I'd recommend.

Shared at: Made in a Day, A Stroll Thru Life, Kathe With an E, The Crafty Blog Stalker, Life on Lakeshore Drive, Natasha in Oz, Create With Joy, Diana Rambles

Monday, 21 September 2015

Minion Mini Cupcakes

This summer I decided to jump on the minion bandwagon. I've never really understand the appeal of them, but I had my dear friend and her daughters coming to visit this summer. It was just before their birthdays, which are only a week apart) and they were turning 3 and 5 so I wanted to do something to celebrate with them.

If you came here looking for a fancy recipe, you will be disappointed. Just putting that out there. To make these, I used a boxed cake mix (gluten free, dairy free of course) and made plain vanilla icing. 

However, to make them more minion-y I added some food colouring: blue for the cupcakes, yellow for the icing.

Then I added some of these super delicious, pure sugar candy minion pieces I found at Michaels. I didn't realize they still made these candy pieces and I'd forgotten how yummy they are.

I realize these are not fancy pictures, but enjoying the cupcakes was more important than taking pretty pictures. The girls (and their mom and I) loved the cupcakes and, more importantly, I loved how excited they were about having an early birthday celebration.

While my friend was visiting, we also did some canning and I'll share the jalapeƱo jelly with you soon. In the mean time, if you want to see some other projects I've done with and/or for this friend, check these out. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Painters Tape Art

Um, hey. Remember me? I'm finally back and have an awesome, easy project to share with you today. 

We're doing intervention blocks at school this year and for students who aren't claimed, one of the options is a craft. As you can imagine, I'm pretty excited about getting to craft with my students every week. When I was looking for an activity I could do with some students, this seemed like a cheap, doable idea. 

Before doing this with students, I made sure we had the supplies we needed at school and made a couple samples to show them. I also brought my first painters tape art (which still hangs in my living room) to show them. As well, I typed up and printed a powerpoint slide with the instructions to scatter around our workspace.

Painters tape or masking tape
Water and paper towel
Instructions (if doing this with a group)
Scrap paper or a table cloth (if you want to protect you surface)

Step 1: Place the tape.

Step 2: Paint. To minimize bleeding you should start on the tape and work your way to the centre. If you change colours, wash your brush and dry it in a paper towel.

Step 3: Remove your tape.

This went really well with the students and they all went home with a fun, new piece of art.

Also, I need to give credit to some amazing blogs. The pictures from the bottom of my powerpoint instructions came from the following blogs, listed from left to right.

3 - The link I have is broken. If you have a link, please send it to me.

Do you have any great projects to do with teenagers? I'd love suggestions!

Featured at:

Shared at: Life on Lakeshore Drive, Natasha in Oz, What Meegan Makes, Create With Joy, Made in a Day, A Stroll Thru Life, Kathe With An E, Sugar Bee Crafts, The Crafty Blog Stalker, Just a Girl and Her Blog, A Creative Princess