Latest @Pinterest #DIY (hint: not food-related)

Okay, this may not have anything to do with food, but it’s still kind of cool…

This is one of the many Pinterest projects I have saved to do on a rainy day: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/370772981799442870/

My lovely partner in crime managed to salvage an old, five-panel solid wood door from an old job site, and it’s been sitting in the garage for, oh… probably two years now, collecting dust and waiting for me to get off my butt.

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Well, Kevin is currently destroying finishing his garage/workshop, which means that there’s a whole lotta junk in there that’s gotta go… like the old door that I’ve been dreaming of turning into a headboard (as well as a few pallets, but I think he actually has plans for those).

So, on Canada Day, I finally dragged that old door out into the yard, and gave it a good cleaning. I scraped off a lot of the loose paint, and give it a really light sanding, but I didn’t bother stripping it down to the wood: I figured it would look more authentic with some texture under the paint.

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After letting it dry for a while, I busted out the paint spray gun and gave it a few light coats of a pretty light yellow cabinet paint I’ve had lying around for a while (originally purchased for this desk project).

A few days later, I made a trip to the local hardware store, where I snagged some crown moulding offcuts ($1 each!) and a piece of 1×6 pine, so Kevin could add a shelf to the edge of the door/headboard for me! Then I caulked all the joints and filled the nail holes he made, and give it a light sanding.

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The Pinterest link above suggested a more ornate piece of trim, but Kevin suggested the crown would look a bit more polished, and less antique-y… I agree:

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A few more coats of paint, and it was done! I let it fully dry in the garage for a few days, then Kevin mounted it on the wall for me!

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All told, this project probably only cost about $13 (for the crown and pine)… But that was because we had a lot of the materials we needed at home already.

God, I love Pinterest… and Kevin, of course, for helping out with all my ridiculous DIY projects! ๐Ÿ™‚

Another DIY project (again, completely unrelated to food)

I mentioned earlier that I haven’t felt like writing about food lately (though I promise to get back on track with that soon!)

Instead, I’ve been spending a lot of my free time doing some DIY projects around the house. I finished a string art project for my basement rec room, and I finally got around to refinishing the old secretary’s desk that we inherited from the former owners of our house.

This behemoth of a desk was living in our dank, dungeon-ey basement when we bought it three years ago.ย I figured the previous owners left it behind because it was in need of some serious love. Still, it was a cool piece: it’s designed to hide a typewriter under the surface of the desk! Heck, I’m a sucker for hidden compartments.

It turns out that the previous owners didn’t take the desk with them because it didn’t fit through the basement door. Ha!

So, I was faced with a decision: either refinish it (down in the basement), or demolish it and remove it from the house in pieces.

I simply couldn’t bring myself to destroy a perfectly good piece of furniture — especially one with a hidden compartment! So, I sealed off a room in the basement to try and contain the dust:

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Then, I started to sand that sucker down:

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Refinishing furniture in your house is less than ideal: sanding creates a huge amount of dust, and the fumes from the paint or finish can be pretty strong. I managed to contain the mess to one part of my house, and wore a respirator when I worked (which I always do: safety first!) Still, I really wish I’d been able to take this piece out to the garage to avoid the hassle.

I had originally planned to paint this pieceย yellow, but I was inspired by a dresser I saw on Pinterest (that cruel mistress). So, Iย took the drawers out to the garage for a thorough sanding before I stained them, and picked up some of my favourite furniture and cabinet paint from Kent in Dogwood Blossom (a creamy white). The beauty of this paint is that it is formulated for furniture and cabinets: “Its heavy-duty melamine finish provides excellent resistance against frequent bumps, water and moisture stains.” I’ve used this paint for a few furniture refinishing projects so far. I haven’t primed any of them, and the finish has worn fabulously on all of them:

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I don’t know about you, but I think white is the hardest paint colour to select. There are SO MANY shades, and the changes are very subtle. I used my Critter spray gun (which I picked up at Lee Valley for $50) to ensure the paint coverage was even and smooth, and found it *much* easier than working with a brush to get into all of the corners and tight spots.

Here is the finished product:

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It was also challenging to find hardware that I liked. I ended up going to Lee Valley Tools, where they have an incredible selection (though some are pretty pricey). These each ran me about $7.

I also lined the drawers with cork Mac-tac, which I picked up at Target.

The total cost of this project was around $90. I think the secret compartment was well-worth $90. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Why I haven’t been writing about food…

The past few months have been busy and difficult ones for me — both professionally and personally. To be honest, I haven’t felt much like cooking, and though I’ve been eating out more than usual, it was out of necessity, not for enjoyment. Which may explain why I haven’t felt up to writing about any of my culinary experiences, recently.

So, sorry, if you look forward to my posts about delicious new recipes, or even new restaurants I’ve discovered. But my heart just hasn’t been in it.

I have, however, been keeping myself preoccupied with random Pinterest projects! First, there was the string art maps. Then, a desk refinishing project.

Hell, there’s something cathartic about smashing hundreds of nails into a board (note: I only hit my thumb once! Dad would be proud.)

The string art project was something I came across on Pinterest. I’m so fortunate to have a partner who not only tolerates my obsession with Pinterest projects, but is willing to chip in and help out with them!

We have been in desperate need of something to hang over our sofa in the basement. There’s just this big ol’ wall with nothing on it: it was kind of sad. When I saw the idea of string art maps, I decided to make three: one for B.C., where we first met; one for Quebec, where Kevin is from; and one for Nova Scotia.

We bought a sheet of wood from the hardware store, and Kevin cut me three 2-foot by 2-foot panels:

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Then, I sanded them down and sprayed them with this cool white-wash water-based stainย and my handy Critter spray gun:

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Once the panels had dried, I laid outline maps I’d had printed at Staples on drafting paper (2-foot by 2-foot), and tacked them in place. Then, I poured myself a generous glass of wine and got to work, nailing all along the perimeter of the map:

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It was a bit of a tedious project, but I spread it out over a few nights, and honestly, it didn’t take that long. I’m really pleased with the end result:

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Have you tackled any Pinterest projects? Were you pleased with how it turned out?

The @HFXFoodBloggers create something sweet for #DoughBall 2014

If you were one of the lucky folks who snagged a ticket to The Coast’s inaugural Dough Ball (basically a giant bake sale, where you pay admission and get to try all the sweet samples!), you likely had quite the sugar high on Saturday afternoon.

While I wasn’t able to attend (I’m simultaneously sad and grateful that I missed out, because I’m fairly certain my pants would be feeling a bit snugger this morning), I was able to send along a treat for attendees to try out.

My peeps at Halifax Food Bloggers were invited to host a table at Dough Ball, and a few of us sent our sweet concoctions along to be sampled by the crowds (I saw photos of the event and our table on Twitter, and it looked AMAZING).

I decided to try my hand at making homemade caramels. A coworker of mine makes them every Christmas, and while I was slightly intimidated to try and make them (hers are delicious, and frankly, making caramel just seemed like a messy proposition), it was surprisingly simple.

I used a recipe/great step-by-step instructions I found on The Kitchn. You don’t really need any special equipment, aside from a candy thermometer, which I got at Bulk Barn for $4.

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The real trick to making lovely caramels is making sure you get the right texture. And that’s pretty subjective (I don’t like hard, uber-chewy caramels. Soft, smooth and creamy is how I prefer mine!) To control the softness of your caramels, you need to control the amount of dairy you add in (more dairy = softer, creamier caramels) AND bring your caramels to a lower temperature. If you’re going to try your hand at making caramels, I really do recommend you read The Kitchn post I mentioned earlier to get all the details!

I followed their recipe/directions, and was very pleased with how my two versions of caramels turned out. I made sea salt and peppermint caramels:

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Wrap in wax paper, twist on both ends, and package in mason jars, and behold:

IMG_20140913_100517Wouldn’t they make a nice hostess gift?

Anyhow, here’s what you’ll need if you’re going to try this at home:

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or, if you’re making mint caramels, substitute with mint extract)

Equipment

  • Square baking dish
  • Parchment paper
  • 2-quart saucepan
  • 4-quart saucepan (make sure you use a big pot!)
  • Candy thermometer
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Wax paper

Have fun, and try not to eat too many! (you’ll end up with a bellyache, and maybe even a cavity or two!)