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. 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 piece yellow, but I was inspired by a dresser I saw on Pinterest (that cruel mistress). So, I 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. 🙂

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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 stain 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?

Carrot cake has lots of Vitamin A, right? So this cake must be super good for you… #wishfulthinking

I spend way too much time on Pinterest.

There, I said it.

Scouring Pinterest boards before I go to bed has become a nightly routine for me, and while I could probably put that time to much better use (like tackling those baskets of dirty laundry), I can’t resist sifting through the eyeroll-inducing, sappy motivational messages, on the hunt for particularly brilliant finds.

Like this: “To-Die-For-Carrot Cake”

Actually, I think it was Pinned as “Best Carrot Cake Recipe EVER,” or something equally outlandish.

But it was late, and hey, I was craving something sweet, so I pinned it… And since I have a ridiculous number of carrots in my fridge right now (thanks to my weekly delivery of fresh fruit and veggies), I decided last night was a good time to test out the recipe.

What originally caught my attention — aside from the mouth-watering picture of the cake — was that the recipe includes applesauce instead of oil (yay!), and coconut, which isn’t in every carrot cake recipe.

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It was easy to make, but I only have one small round cake pan (my other mysteriously disappeared, probably during some other random Pinterest-inspired craft or baking adventure), so I decided to just use my BIG round cake pan.

It turned out very well (though I had to extend the bake time because I swapped out the pan): moist, sweet, and not greasy or heavy. And hey, you can’t really go wrong with cream cheese frosting, am I right?

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If you’re partial to carrot cake, and happen to have a fridge full of carrots, like me, I’d definitely recommend trying it out. You tell ME if you think it’s the “Best Carrot Cake Recipe EVER.”

🙂

 

A Pinterest recipe gone right…:)

A weeeee secret: I have a slight obsession with Pinterest. It comes and goes, really, but I can spend a helluva lot of time on there, ogling beautiful objects and, of course, fabulous-looking food (you can find me on Pinterest here).

But Pinterest recipes/projects can go horribly wrong. As evidenced by this hilarious post on Buzzfeed: http://www.buzzfeed.com/newu1085/17-pinterest-fails-654m (check it out: it’s worth it).

As you can see, Pinterest recipes can go very, very wrong.

Last weekend, I had a few friends over for a potluck/ladies night, and decided to attempt this dish dubbed cookie dough dip: http://addapinch.com/cooking/2011/10/14/cookie-dough-dip-recipe/

Seriously.. how good does that look?

It’s not exactly good FOR you.. but it tastes good! 🙂 It’s also really easy to make. See? Not a Pinterest fail:

Cookie Dough Dip

Here’s what you need to make it:

Ingredients
  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese (use the normal kid; low-fat might change the texture)
  • ½ cup butter (I used a bit less)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 package toffee bits

Cream together the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar. Then, add in the brown sugar and vanilla until the texture is smooth. Finally, add in the chocolate chips and toffee bits and combine well. Serve with slices of apples and thin chocolate biscuits, or graham crackers.