Friday, October 24, 2014

Caramel Apples

We've discovered a new favourite treat... the caramel apple. Nothing revolutionary but I'd never really made them before (okay, I did make these caramel apple bites but those are different, though also delicious)

I've never been a big fan of caramel apples because they're so tough to eat but I though Catie would think they were fun so we made them. I did the caramel and dipped the apples and Catie rolled them in the toppings .  Now before you start thinking, "whoa, those are tough, Laura's amazing". These apples are attempt number three, the first two being completely unsalvagable.

You know what would have made these easier? A candy thermometer. I don't know why I don't have one but I never remember to buy one until it's late at night and I spur of the moment make something. I figured no big deal though, I'll just use the cup of water trick and cook it until a soft ball, no problem. Everything seemed to be going fine, we dipped the apples and they were even more beautiful than these ones, except when I tried to test one once they'd cooled you couldn't even take one bite they were so hard. I figured I'd try to cut them instead but they caramel just cracked off, and I could barely get a knife through it. Not a soft ball stage.

Catie was really disappointing though so I thought we'd give it another try. I wanted to take the easy route this time and go for pre-made caramel and as I was grocery shopping I came across a display of Macintosh caramels with a pamphlet on how to make caramel apples. Perfect. It called for two packages so I bought them, mixed it with water according to directions and melted. Then we went to dip and this caramel was so stinkin thin! I still feel mislead because it turns out the package size I was supposed to use was not the one on the giant display beside the instructions. I was supposed to use one much larger and now there's too much water and it rolls off the apple and isn't ever going to set.

So now Catie's disappointed twice and I figure I can handle a homemade caramel so I tried again. I used this recipe although I'm pretty skeptical on the directions. It says you're supposed to cook it on high, without stirring for 30 minutes. My super hard first caramel was not cooked that long or that high so I just skipped the directions and took it off when I though it was ready, after maybe 7 or 8 minutes. It was perfect, nice and soft and super delicious.

I can't stand how hard they are to eat so I cut them up for both me and the kids though.

Eden likes to eat all the caramel off and leave the apples which makes me crazy but I'm trying to let it go.
We dipped them in mini M&M's, skor bits and round sprinkles and surprisingly my favourite are the sprinkles. I bought them for Catie but they have a super yummy crunch. Most recipes say you should use granny smith apples but I just grabbed a bag of whichever were the smallest which turned out the be Gala, yummy.

We've already made two batches of them, and hey, they're apples so they're a perfectly nutritional lunch right? (not that I ate it for lunch yesterday or anything...)

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Updated Kitchen Lights

Well here is a little more proof that together Mom and I can do anything.

She had a ceiling fan in her kitchen above the table and if I'm correct one day the lights started to spark and smoke.  It wasn't any good anymore so she decided to replace it with something she liked more. Unfortunately my Dad. who was desperate for some light, beat her to it and she ended up with a bulb with a shade on it. It was not good.

I somehow managed to lose the picture but it was this with a very small shade that clipped to the lightbulb.

In his defense he had planned on it being temporary.

So Mom picked out something she was much happier with and together she and I tackled an electrical project which was new to both of us.  Things went smoothly, no one was electrocuted and now she has this lovely fixture. It's quite the improvement.

Since I left she's gone on to replace 3 more by herself.

So moral of the story, if there's something you want done don't be afraid, you can do it!  Watch a YouTube video or two and you'll be good to go. Also, electricity is no joke. Mom didn't trust her electricity panel labels so to be safe she shut off power to the whole upstairs, and then double checked there was no electricity.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New to me Dresser

And here's a project I have yet to start but it's a nice piece of furniture so you can see it now, my brother found it for me for $20.  It's old, has cool castor wheels and the drawers slide smoothly.  It sits in the kitchen, underneath our tv and holds all the girls crafty things.

I don't love the shape of the top, it looks like it should have a mirror attached but I can deal with that.  I'm already working on a plan.

It's in pretty good shape but the top especially is pretty scratched up so I think a makeover is in order.

Paint is my go-to but I think for this piece I'll try my hand at re-staining.  We'll see how that goes though because that's a lot of sanding.

I've already ordered these cute knobs to replace those ugly ones though.
Round Vintage Floral Knob - Antique Nickel 32mm (904)  L-P10114-AN-C

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mom's Upholstered Love Seat

I've mentioned in my Love Seat Re-upholstery post that we actually worked on two couches at the same time and since we finished Mom's I can show you her finished one.

So the process was the same, we took apart both our couches at the same time and added foam to the arms and batting to the bottom.  Everything was going really well and we got her couch to this point (see my couch in the background?) and then I made a mistake.

We put her back piece on and then ran out of time and she took it home as is but I couldn't stop thinking about how much I disliked her back piece.

When I cut the three pieces on the back I forgot to add seam allowance and it looks so tight and stretched.  I felt bad that I loved mine so much and hated hers so I convinced her that we needed to fix it even though it required her to remove the piece on the back of the couch and we had to make a new cushion cover. It was for sure the right idea though because it looks so much better now!

Before you see the after picture I'll give you a couple in progress.

I love how putting on the back makes it look so professional.
You first add burlap

Then batting and then your finished fabric goes on. Each corner will get one drapery tack to hold them tight but we didn't have them yet.

So to remind you, a before

And an after

See the difference on the back? It's all cute and puffy now.

The stain she did on the arm is so pretty and look at her cute little legs

The couch fits in her room so nicely

Since I left she's put even cuter pillows on it

And since I can't help myself, one more before and after
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Updated Kitchen Chair

So I've replaced my kitchen chairs, thank goodness because the old ones were incredibly rickety but we needed a computer chair.  We have a really nice, high back and padded one but in this house the computer is off the kitchen and I didn't want that eyesore there.  Also the computer sits on laminate flooring right above the bedroom of our basement neighbor and I couldn't imagine trying to contain that noise.  So while we're in this house we're using the least rickety chair.

Years ago I gave them a makeover so they looked like this

But now they were dingy and disgusting and I was ready for a change.

Using some foam leftover from the couch I beefed up the padding and found a scrap of fabric in my stash that worked perfectly.

It looks cute, is way more comfy and works great at the computer.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Laminated Kitchen Shelf

This project is hardly worth blogging about and I'm far more proud than I should be but it's my blog so here goes anyway.

In my kitchen I had this one really deep cupboard and it was almost useless because there weren't any shelves in it.

We rent our home so I wasn't sure just how to add a shelf.  I was going to add thin strips of wood on all three sides for the shelf to sit on and that would have worked just fine but I didn't love the idea of it. I also figured I'd use some plywood and paint it white and it would be better than what was there but not great looking.

Then as usual my Mom came to the rescue. She looked in her basement and found an old laminated shelf that we cut to fit, then as the icing on the cake she found a strip of laminate that you iron on to the front.  It fits right in.

What I'm really proud of though was how I thought to hang it.  I zipped over to Home Depot and picked up some of those little metal pegs that are used on adjustable shelves.  You know the ones, when you have a shelf and there are lines of holes, you slip the pegs into the holes on all 4 corners and it's nice and secure.  So I bought the pegs for 42.48 and drilled 4 holes, tapped in the pegs and popped the shelf on.  It took about 10 minutes.
The shelf is way more useful now and it looks so nice I'll just leave it there when we move. You're welcome next tenants.
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Emerald Ottoman and Pillow

You saw my couch yesterday but that space wasn't quite finished, I knew I needed a pillow and and wanted an ottoman, so I made both.

I followed a tutorial to make the ottoman here and I happened to have an end table that I could use. We've had it since we were first married and I didn't ever love anything about it.  It suited our needs but it was orangey, boxy and too tall.  The top had also got pretty scratched up after all our moves so this was the perfect use.  I chopped off the legs, painted them and then followed the tutorial above. I have possible plans to jazz up the legs a bit but I'll show that if it eventually happens.

Also it turns out this fabric is really hard to photograph and this is the only picture I took that is usable.  The fabric is satin which is a pretty risky choice but it was all I could find in the right colour, I don't imagine it will last terribly long but I'll hope for the best.

My favourite part of this project was when I let Catie prime the legs for me, she was so proud of herself and did a surprisingly good job though she was really unimpressed when she couldn't get the paint off her hands (not water based).

I found a small pillow at Value Village that was the perfect size and covered it in the same fabric, using piping around the entire thing.  I think it's incredibly boring and I really wanted to do something with pleats but decided in the end that the couch and ottoman had enough going on and left the pillow plain. I'm sad it's boring but I think it's the right design move.

So now you've seen the couch and you've seen the ottoman, let's put them together.
First, here's how the corner looked when we first moved in.  You can see the table/soon to be ottoman in by the couch. Pretty hey?  I think people thought I was crazy to put all that random stuff together, and that rug look so awful with the couch :)

With all the changes it now looks like this and it's my favourite spot in the house. Notice the new lampshade I scored for $8 and the slouchy basket to keep a cozy blanket in.

And a couple more photos for good measure.

Now I just have to keep little girls with messy hands away.

**Update** I've been using this ottoman for about a month already and I really dislike it.  The fabric is all wrong (that's what I get for trying to use satin). 4 of the covered buttons have popped off, there are water marks, the fabric doesn't hold the pleats and it's an all around failure.  I've already ordered new fabric so an update will be coming. Hopefully take two will be more successful.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Love Seat Reupholstery

So I moved into this new house and it has a bonus room upstairs and room for a sitting area off the kitchen.  I only have one set of couches though so I thought I'd do a quick search on Kijiji and see if I came up with any little love seat's for a good price.  This beauty was waiting for me, two of them in fact, and even more amazing, they were free. I had only planned on taking one but Mom convinced me to get both, one for her, one for me and we'd re-cover them together. I've never re-covered a couch but I've felt like all my projects have been leading me in this direction and it was inevitable. It killed me to have it sit in the garage for a month until I had fabric/time/moved into the house.

I called a friend and she so willingly offered her husband and his truck to go pick it up with Brad and I was set.  It was only used in an office, meaning it was in great condition though the padding on the arms was pretty weak but I loved the shape of it, now to decide on fabric.  I knew I wanted to go with something dramatic, I wanted a statement piece, something showy and not even a little bit safe and I'm also in love with emerald green right now.  With that in mind I searched and came up with Bankura Emerald, it was love at first sight :)

I suppose I should prepare you now for a ton of photos that are to follow and probably more detail than you wanted.

First lets see how the couch fit in the space.

Despite being super ugly it really is the perfect size and if you have a little vision you can see how that mess above will turn into something awesome.  So notice those couch legs?  (the crooked one is only crooked because it had to be removed in order to fit in the house) Apparently it wasn't tall enough so they added some painted 4x4's as legs, awful and they were first to go.  I found some curvy legs to replace them and then the staple removing started.  Two days of it to be exact, that is a serious job that I don't wish on anyone.  My hands were sore by the time we were done and I think there were about 1000 of them, but we finally got it to look like this.

The foam on the arms was disgusting though and disintegrated if you looked at it leaving an orange, crumbly mess everywhere so we bought a eggshell mattress pad and used that to cover up that ugly grossness. Eden's favourite activity was to hit the arm and watch the foam fall. The back wasn't too bad so we left it as is though we did cover it with a layer of batting later. The seat got some new batting too so it looked like this. Better already.

From there the real fun started though.  The seat was first and then the arms and they were super satisfying. The green piping really makes them pop.

It's coming together.

And here's my Mom, she was the main stapler while I was the sewer and cutter and everything else-er. So Mom keeps getting mad at me because I only ever post pictures of her in her work clothes, I promise she owns other clothes :)

The back was the most satisfying though, it starts out looking like this, a hot mess hey?

Then you add some burlap

Some batting and fabric until you get this really professional looking finished piece, though I didn't have quite enough fabric and if you look close my back is in multiple pieces. Not as noticeable as you would think though.

And here it is, all finished with the new legs.

My favourite part is how the pattern on the back looks like one piece and it continues up from the seat, that was definitely not an accident.

 I love the puffy back.

And how about a side by side comparison.

It looks so much better in the space but you'll have to wait to see that until tomorrow, I have a couple accessories to show you first.

Moral of this story, if you think you can re-cover a couch you are right. Now my couch was easier than some because it doesn't have removable cushions but that still would have been very doable.

Here are my inexperienced tips if you decide you want to try this.

  1. Use the right tools.  Mom has one of these staple remover that was worth it's weight in gold, I was wishing I had one too, her hand was far less sore than mine, I just used a screwdriver and pliers.
  2. Don't even attempt this without a pneumatic stapler (one that hooks up to a compressor). You'll hate the process if you have to pound in every one with a hammer after.  Ours worked like a dream.  
  3. Give yourself lots of time, this took almost 4 complete days.
  4. Don't take shortcuts.  You'll spend a lot of money on fabric and probably some on a couch too, it's not worth a shortcut if the end result is compromised. Working with someone else really helped with that, we kept each other from doing things improperly and we would also remember steps that the other person forgot.
One last point, I mentioned above that we re-covered a couch for my Mom too but we didn't have enough time to finish hers before she had to go home so you'll have to wait a bit to see hers, it's awesome too though in a completely different fabric.
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