How does Gwen’s Garden Grow

At the end of June I was offered a raised garden box for myself & the kids. My neighbourhood had received a grant to build some for people who can’t access any of the community gardens for whatever reason, so it was totally free and even came with all the dirt it needed! I’m notoriously terrible at gardening but I figured WHAT THE HECK and said yes. The garden box was built and left in the part of the yard I’d specified, and over the long weekend Gwen and I went to pick out some plants. We got two tomato plants, a yellow pepper, a green pepper, one pumpkin, a strawberry, a blueberry, sage, parsley and chives. I put Gwen in charge of watering them and she’s very diligent about doing it every day.

We’ve had our garden for two weeks and amazingly, not only have I managed not to kill any, some are even starting to bear fruit! The pumpkin seems like it might not be long for this world, and I have my doubts about the blueberry (which is basically a single twig with some leaves that squirrels have dug up twice, but I dearly want it to live and grow because it is actually a PINK blueberry bush) but everything else is growing and thriving. The tomatoes especially, but the yellow pepper looks like it’s ready to blow up, and the sage and chives are doing well enough to use in meals already.

My Finished Kitchen Backsplash

One thing I really wanted to finish this month was my kitchen backsplash. For an apartment I have a fairly large kitchen with a decent amount of counter space but there was NO BACKSPLASH at all. The wall between the countertops and the bottom of the cabinets was always getting splattered with stuff and was so annoying to clean. I’d been planning on painting it (which had never been done in the 10+ years I’ve lived here) but in my heart I was wishing for tile. Of course I wasn’t about to shell out for actual tile in a rental apartment so I went with the next best thing: STICKERS.


We use this little mouse kitchen timer to limit Gwen’s screentime.

Is a faux tile peel & stick backsplash tacky? Probably, but it is 1000% better than what was there before, ie nothing. After doing some research I decided to go with tiles from Smart Tiles, which had the best reviews. They have a lot of different options but I wanted a) simple and b) cheap so I went with plain white subway tiles. The best price I found for them here in Canada was at Lowe’s, where a pack of six sheets of fake tiles (a little under a square foot each) is $47 (most other places here have them at 1 sheet for $9.99). They were actually cheaper ($43) when I bought them and I also waited to buy them on sale to save a little extra.

I am not going to pretend I’m like a super pro at installing these because I made a lot of mistakes. Good news though, you can learn from them! I have a few tips as to how you can make your faux tile installation as hassle-free as possible:

1. USE THE CALCULATOR ON THE SMART TILES SITE. Each product page has a calculator that will let you know how many of that type of tile sheet you need to cover your surface area. I didn’t realize this and initially ordered based on my own estimation and WOW it was wildly inaccurate. I only had enough sheets to do one wall and had to wait for them to go on sale again to order more and finish the job.
2. MEASURE YOUR CUTS ACCURATELY. Part of the reason I ran out of my first batch of tiles so quickly is because I kept messing up the cuts I needed to do. I ended up being able to use most of the flubbed sheets anyway (I did a narrow strip of wall from floor to ceiling which used a lot of scraps) but I def would have saved at least some money by not screwing up.
3. START WITH THE EASIEST WALL FIRST. For some reason I thought I should start with the wall behind my stove, which meant all sorts of tricky cuts AND the biggest surface area to fill. This is also why I messed up a lot, and I realized after I should have started with the easiest and smallest wall, between the fridge and the window, where the only cuts were just a couple straight edges and a cut out around an outlet.
4. USE TAPE WHEN MAKING CUTS. You can cut these tiles with just a box cutter, cork-backed metal ruler and a cutting mat, but it was easier for me to cut the straight edges with the tile taped to the mat so it wouldn’t slide around. When I had to make unusual cuts (around corners or outlets) I would put tape on the front of the tile in the general area I needed to cut and then draw my cutting lines on the tape (this worked better for me that drawing them on the back, which I messed up a lot). Painter’s tape left the least residue but scotch tape worked fine as well.


The Nespresso & Baby Brezza formula dispenser are both plugged in here and both have large and visible black plugs & cords. I used this outlet cover the disguise the plugs & somewhat wrangle the cords.

Thankfully, the look of these tiles is forgiving and hides a lot of mistakes, and even when I’ve challenged people to figure out my most egregious error that haven’t been able to figure it out (or they are just being nice, who can say). Overall I’m happy with the results and would definitely use this product again.

baby diy: silicone & wooden bead teether


He’s like… Come on now, momma. Ok and I SWEAR I did not coordinate his cute narwhal pajamas with this project, this was just a crazy random happenstance.

I’d seen these beaded teethers & rattles show up in my instagram explore tab and thought they were so cute, so I tried my hand at making some for Nicky and quickly became obsessed. This diy is for a teether-slash-rattle that uses a variety of beads I’ll list below, but there are so many colours & styles & sizes of beads available it’s easy to customize them to your aesthetic. tbh this project is almost too easy to even require a diy but any excuse for pics of Nicky, right? Right.

I purchased all the supplies for this project (and all my other silicone bead projects) from Canadian DIY Supply <--click that link to get 10% off your order!
supplies:
2 x 1.75″ natural wood rings
2 x 17mm sapphire blue hexagon silicone beads
2 x 20mm navy blue round wooden crochet beads
4 x 15mm sapphire blue round silicone beads
4 x 14mm natural wood round beads
1 x 35″ midnight blue regular cord (I usually get some extra cord for if I mess up & need to restring on a new piece, which has happened more than once. The cord pictured is actually 60″ JUST IN CASE.)
not pictured:
embroidery scissors
tweezers (optional)
small bamboo skewer or round toothpick (optional)


Thread the beads onto the cord in the following pattern:
silicone round
wood round
silicone hexagon
wood round
silicone round
crochet round
Repeat this pattern until all your beads have been strung.

I’ve found that the crochet covering can sometimes become misaligned with the holes of the wooden bead; if this happens simply thread the skewer or toothpick through the bead and follow it with the cord. If necessary, use the tweezers to pull the cord through the far side of the crochet bead.

Once you have all the beads on the cord, thread the beaded cord through the wooden rings.

Tightly double-knot the ends of the cord together to form a loop, making sure there is a silicone bead on one side of the knot. Test that your knot is secure by pulling hard on the teether as if you are trying to break it. If your knot loosens or comes untied, re-knot and re-test until you are satisfied that it is secure. This is very important; please don’t skip testing!

Once you are confident that your knot is holding, slide the silicone bead over the knot. The hole of the silicone bead will stretch over the knot and then hold it tightly in place.

Using small, sharp embroidery scissors, trim the loose ends of the cord as close to the bead as possible. If necessary tuck the ends inside the bead with the knot. Test your teether’s knot by pulling again (DO NOT SKIP THIS TEST EITHER); if it comes untied you need to start over from the beginning with a new piece of cord, if it holds you’re done!

Here are all the different teethers & bracelets I’ve made…

clockwise from top left: forest green rounds & hexagons // round white marble in 3 sizes (a teether for Nicky AND a bracelet for me) // wooden rounds & rings with glacier grey rounds & isocahedrons and light grey crochet rounds // black, white & tangerine orange rounds (a bracelet for Gwen with a breakaway clasp) // the blue & wood teether from this diy (that I had to pry out of Nicky’s hand to photograph) // black & white rounds with glacier grey isocahedrons


It’s not a phone, guy.

DISCLAIMER: Loose beads are a choking hazard. Do not allow a child under the age of three to play with the loose beads. Never leave a child under the age of three unsupervised with these teethers. Always test your finished teethers to ensure the knots are safe and secure. Spot clean teethers as necessary. Do not soak in water or freeze any teethers with wood elements as it can cause the wood to crack, you can put teethers with only silicone beads in the freezer to chill them.

new year new year: free 2017 calendar download

I’ve been meaning to put together a 2017 calendar for weeks now but I was just too busy/keep forgetting to do it. Seeing as how it’s January 1st today I figured I should really get on that. I’m not like… 100% how this will look printed out because my printer ink is getting very very low. Mine looks a little bluer than it should, but hopefully yours will turn out! Because it’s already the new year and I’m not sure of the print I’m offering this calendar as a free download rather than selling it in my shop.

Each month features a different wood grain pattern with the months and days in white. Simply download your free calendar here, print on cardstock and cut out each month with a paper trimmer or exacto knife & metal-edged ruler. I display mine on a miniature easel but you could also put it in a small frame or just a large binder clip. If you print one out please share a pic with me on facebook or instagram!

The calendar pages are 10cm x 10cm. This calendar is free for personal use only; please do not sell this item.

cedar & smoke

cedar&smoke

The other week I hypothesized on twitter that I could make a campfire-scented stovetop simmer using evergreen sprigs & liquid smoke. I finally got around to testing my theory on the weekend and you can! This simmer gives a subtle campfire or woodstove scent that totally reminded me of my childhood growing up in the country WITHOUT the risk of setting off my city apartment smoke detectors.

campfire stovetop simmer
ingredients:
• 2 cups water
• 10 to 15 4″ fresh sprigs of evergreen
• 1/4 tsp to 1 tsp liquid smoke

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and place on the stove over low heat. Leave to simmer, adding more water as necessary. Never leave a stovetop simmer unattended!

For my simmer I used western redcedar; you can use whatever is indigenous to your area- just make sure it is fragrant! I didn’t want it to be overwhelmingly smokey so I used just 1/4 teaspoon of liquid hickory smoke but feel free to adjust to your smokiness preference, just remember that a little liquid smoke goes a LONG way.

smoke

geometric tree

Oops I did it again? I have a lot of work to do this week so OFC a good use of my time is making things to give away for free, right? Right. Today I have another holiday gift wrap/card set, with a bonus print.

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This set includes the card, the print and one sheet of wrapping paper in a green geometric tree print. They are all US Letter size (8.5″ x 11″) and are meant to be printed borderless at 100%. Obviously this gift wrap is only suitable for small gifts BUT if you have access to a large-format printer (I don’t, wahh) you could print it larger.

The card is designed for use with 5.25″ x 7.25″-size envelopes, which you can find at office supply or craft stores (I get mine at Michael’s, with a 50% off coupon they are about $7 for 50), or you can find free templates to make envelopes that size online if you’re so inclined. You could also print the card at a smaller size to use with smaller envelopes. Once the card is printed simply trim the edges at the line and fold in half.

The print is 8×10″ so you just need to trim of the white borders and it is ready for framing.

Download the full set here. Free for personal use only.

grey & gold

G&Ggw1

Every year I participate in Goody Goody Gift Swap, an online gift swap for ~creatives. I like to make as many of the things included in each year’s package as I can myself, right down to the gift wrap. This year I designed some grey & gold watercolour wrapping paper and matching greeting card and I liked how they turned out so much I decided to share them with you all as a free download.

This set includes the card as well as two sheets of wrapping paper in light and dark grey. They are all US Letter size (8.5″ x 11″) and are meant to be printed borderless at 100%. Obviously this gift wrap is only suitable for small gifts BUT if you have access to a large-format printer (I don’t, wahh) you could print it larger.

The card is designed for use with 5.25″ x 7.25″-size envelopes, which you can find at office supply or craft stores (I get mine at Michael’s, with a 50% off coupon they are about $7 for 50), or you can find free templates to make envelopes that size online if you’re so inclined. You could also print the card at a smaller size to use with smaller envelopes. Once the card is printed simply trim the edges at the line and fold in half.

G&Ggw2

Download the full set here. Free for personal use only.

december

december 2015 canadian small

I’ve been really busy filling orders so I haven’t really had time to blog or do anything else creative, but I made this calendar page a while ago. FUNNY STORY THO: I made the November, December and January pages one right after the other back in October, and sometimes when I do a bunch of stuff at the same time like that I make dumb mistakes. Like yesterday, when I was working on orders all day and realized just as I was about to pack it for shipment I’d made a banner that read “Feminist Killojy.” ANYWAY my November calendar page had 31 days on it! I’ve had it up on my bulletin board all month and didn’t even realize there was a Tuesday, November 31st on it until I put up the December one and was like “wait… is it Wednesday today???” Luckily I save my calendars with all the separate layers so I was able to go back an rearrange the dates. Of course, I realize now this means I’ll have to rearrange the January page’s dates as well. What is my life???

Anyway, you can download the full size with the correct dates here; it’s available in three versions: Canadian (Christmas Eve/Day & Boxing Day), American (Christmas Eve/Day only) and Simple (no holidays). If you would like a different version please feel free to message me and I’ll put it together for you.

august

August Calendar (small)

Do you think I will ever remember to get my calendar page done before the 1st of the month? NOT LIKELY. I actually remembered that I needed to do it about fifty billion times during the last week, but never when I was at my computer. I’m feeling really sick and raggedy today tho, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to sit very still and just click things, haha.

Download the full size here.

lime & mint prosecco sangria

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Since it’s been so hot lately all I want to do is drink cool, fizzy drinks with lots of ice. This prosecco sangria fits the bill admirably, with the refreshing lime and cooling mint flavours. It’s so easy to make and definitely easy to drink.

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ingredients
1 bottle of prosecco
1/3 cup mint simple syrup (instructions below)
juice of 1 lime
1 lime, sliced
10-12 mint leaves
ice

1. Make your mint simple syrup: in a small saucepan combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup mint leaves. Bring to a boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Strain into a container with a lid. Keep refrigerated for up to a month.

2. Gently roll the mint leaves between your hands to release the oils.

3. In a jug combine the mint simple syrup, lime juice, lime slices and mint leaves.

4. Add the prosecco and stir. Add as much ice as will fit. Serve immediately.

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