Something From Nothing and a little bit of Everything!

The art of turning "good junk" into "great design"

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
William Morris, Hopes and Fears for Art (1882)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Knitted "Old Man" Sweater for Baby

This was a gift for my co-workers baby boy.  It was a pleasure to take up my knitting needles again, and I loved working with the Indigo Sirdar Snuggly that I purchased from Yarn Canada.  Funny that every pattern I have picked up lately has had the same cable pattern.  Love how this one turned out.

While knitting this sweater I was reading the Ann Hood book, The Knitting Circle.  This is a great read for all, but especially if you are a knitter an isn't it true that when you knit you knit love into every stitch. 

Great pattern for an intermediate knitter due to the cables, and the raglan sleeve shaping. Let me know what you think of this "Old Man Sweater"

Monday, April 17, 2017

Kitchen Transformation

Our kitchen makeover might be considered a labour of love, because it certainly wasn't a project that happened in 3 months.  Instead it has taken 8 years to completion.  That is not to say that progress wasn't made along the way.  

This is not a great before picture, but it does highlight some of the things that were so wrong in this much used space-the burgundy counters, the flowered cabinet knobs and the mishmash of appliances.

8 years later it was hard to find many pictures of our little house.  Where these patio doors were is now our step down to our family room.

When we moved in we had an open concept eating area and living room, but it was tight quarters.  You can see in this picture my hoosier cabinet, that has also had several makeovers. 

 Where our dining room table used to sit, is now home to our antique island, a piece that will have to go with me when we move from this house.


Our kitchen is not huge by today's standards, but when we moved into the house the cabinetry was relatively new, and had been made by the gentleman who owned the house prior to us.    We couldn't justify redoing it when we first moved in and we knew that the footprint of the kitchen couldn't change, so when we added on the addition in 2010 we painted the kitchen and went from a pinky beige colour to Farrow and Ball's Eating Room Red, and a trip to Lee Valley for some new hardware.  New appliances from Sears with a microwave above the stove, and the original microwave shelf transformed to a display space for cookbooks,  and that was round 1 of our transformation complete.

We installed hardwood throughout the addition and removed the linoleum from the kitchen.  We had granite counters installed, did the tile backsplash ourselves .  Tranformation #2 complete, and we lived with that for 6 more years.

Fast forward to December 2016 and the time had come for a change.  We had the kitchen/dining room painted Sherwin Williams Gristmill Greige- quite a departure from the red. And then it was time to talk about the cabinets.  Although good from afar, the cabinetry did have some flaws, and when we talked about a DIY project to reface the cabinets we discovered that nothing was standard.  It looked like a bigger project than we were willing to tackle. The bulkhead above the cabinets had a rounded profile that stuck out past the cabinets.  What would we do with that?  My answer was to rip it out. Jeff, not so sure that was a good idea.  What would we find behind the bulkhead, and how would we cover it up?
A Saturday visit to our cabinet maker Ron Rose Furniture- Paris Ontario and a discussion about that ugly bulkhead gave Jeff the confidence to come home and start demolition.

 We lived with open cupboards for a couple of weeks while Ron made our Shaker Style doors and new custom bulkhead at the shop.  Because the sizes were all over the map, he took the corner cabinet doors with him to ensure accuracy.  That's when you realize how truly messy your Tupperware cupboard is, but it was also a good kick in the derriere pushing me to tidy things up, replace some of the broken pieces, oh and purge some of the stuff that one accumulates and really does not need.

And then the new bulkhead, flush with the cabinets instead of sticking out past the cabinets, was starting to be installed.  Every day that we came home and saw the progress, as well as the finicky corners, we were so thankful that we didn't take on this project ourselves.

You would think having your entire kitchen on your kitchen table would be handy.  Not so. I was constantly looking for something in the wrong drawer on the floor!

We added  new undercabinet lighting, LED, so that the heat would no longer melt the chocolate chips in the cupboard above them.  (Yes that does actually happen)

A few more cabinet doors, and brand new slow close birch drawers and this project will be wrapped up.

Ron built a full cabinet door above the dishwasher, and installed new shelves, made dividers for the under utilized space above the fridge and we replaced the 2 lights over the sink with 3 smaller LEDs



If you look back at the pictures in progress you will see that there was an open space above the microwave.  I had used it as a display area, but truly it was just a dust collector.  Ron installed this cabinet door hinged from the top.

At Lee Valley they had knobs to match our handles, so we opted for them instead of the handles on the uppers.  We found this handy pull out garbage can at Canadian Tire designed for tight under sink cabinets (the plumbing configuration didn't allow for much room) and this bamboo cutlery tray at Solutions. We reorganized where the dishes were in the cupboards and this project is a wrap.  

                     I love the finished product, and hope that you do too.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Nest Cake

I always like to try new recipes and this cake that I found on Pinterest looked simple yet elegant for our Easter dinner.  Who doesn't like chocolate?  However the recipe needed a few modifications to be able to make it in Canada.  If you like a dense chocolate cake, almost brownie like, with a whipped cream filling with a surprise crunch, and a ganache with just a hint of sweetness then this is the cake for you. I made the pavlova the cake and the nest the day before, and assembled it and refrigerated it for about 1 hour before serving. Try it out and let me know what you think.
Chocolate Pavlova (This goes in the Whipped Filling)

  1. 3 egg whites, room temperature
  2. pinch of slat
  3. 3/4 cup icing sugar
  4. 1/s tsp lemon juice or vinegar
  5. 1 tsp cornstarch
  6. 1 TBSP cocoa powder

  1. Preheat the oven to 200  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. Then add icing sugar a tablespoon at a time. At the end add the lemon juice or vinegar and cornstarch. Beat gently until thick and glossy.
  3. Add cocoa powder and fold it in gently, keeping some streaks of dark brown.
  4. Spread the meringue evenly onto the parchment
  5.  Bake for about 90 minutes. It should look crisp on top and feel dry, but when you press it you should feel soft in the centre.  Set aside to cool or you can even make it the day before.

Chocolate Yogurt Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1 Tbsp instant coffee
a Pinch of sea salt
3 eggs
1 cup melted butter

Preheat the oven to 325.  Grease and line two 8" round cake pans.

Combine flour, soda, cocoa and brown sugar.  Stir in the coffee, yogurt, eggs and melted butter. ( the batter will be quite thick) Divide the batter between the tow pans and smooth the top.  Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until inserted skewer comes  out clean. ( This is where my recipe differs from the original- do not over bake)  Remove and cool completely

Egg Nest
1 cup vermicelli noodles
1/2 cup chocolate
Cadbury Easter eggs or Jelly Beans

While the cake is cooling, make the nest.  Break up the vermicelli noodles into pieces to make the nest. Melt 1/2 cup chocolate (I had some leftover Christmas chocolate) in the microwave at medium power.  Pour chocolate over the noodles  and stir to coat.  Line a small bowl with saran wrap and press the chocolate noodles into the bowl to form a
nest.  Place a smaller bowl on top and place in the fridge to

Whipped Filling
Pavlova broken into bite sized pieces
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup chopped hazel nuts

Whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Add the sugar and whip again until soft peaks form.  Stir in the meringue and the hazel nuts.  Spread filling between the two cake layers.

8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 c whipping cream
1/2 cup icing sugar
Pinch of coarse salt

Coarsely chop the chocolate and place in bowl.
Bring the cream to a boil over medium high heat.  Pour over the chocolate and let stand for 10 minutes-  DO NOT STIR
After 10 minutes, stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny.  Add the icing sugar slowly and continue to whisk.
Pour over assembled cake and allow the ganache to slide down the sides.

Place your nest on top of the cake and wait for the oohs and ahhs.

 Happy Easter

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Field of Poppies- finger painting

Well as I indicated in my last post, I like to branch out and stretch my creativity and so with this photo taken a few years ago in Italy I decided that a field of poppies would be a great accent in Jordan's new bedroom.  This time I supplemented those first oil paints that I had purchased with some larger tubes, and a little better quality.  With the information that I had gleaned from Iris Scott's Book I set to work to paint these rich red poppies.  You will notice how my background started out yellow.  I guess that's the beauty of creating your own work.  It is exactly that, your own, and you can change your mind, and the colour, any time you like.

                                                A work in progress.

                                                The finished product.

And hanging in Jordan's redone bedroom.  It looks awesome with his red bedspread.  See it in the blog post Dresser makeover.  
I hope these posts have inspired you to try your hand at finger painting. We would love to see your finished piece, and stay tuned, because my next project was even bigger and my son says, the best one yet!