Tuesday, December 27, 2011

DIY Christmas Gifts

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Between all the meals, visits, parties and gifts, our holiday just flew by. I mentioned in a previous blog post that this year i was going to make Christmas gifts. If you'll recall i started with some dirty old slabs of rough cut wood that i bought off of some guys on Kijiji:
After sanding, sanding and more sanding with 60 grit sandpaper on my half sheet sander, i eventually got rid of the saw marks. I then cut the slabs into nice sized cheese/bread/salumi platters and continued sanding by hand with 100 grit sandpaper. Making sure to round over the sharp edges and corners:

I then moved onto 150 grit sandpaper, then 220 grit sandpaper. The platters were starting to feel really smooth, and with each progressively finer sanding the grain and figuring in the wood, began to emerge:

I applied one coat of chopping board oil, using a clean cotton cloth. Then rubbed off any excess.
After allowing the oil to penetrate and dry for several hours, i sanded one last time using 400 grit sandpaper. Then cleaned off the dust, and applied a final coat of oil. Now you can really see the beauty of the walnut's grain:

So there you have it. I ended up making 10 platters using $20 worth of lumber, $20 for a can of oil and about 60 hours worth of sanding. Hope they get years and years of use.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Covet Of The Week: Wine Cellars

Now that the Holiday season is here, there is one thing i really covet - a wine cellar. Every year around this time, it feels like a never-ending LCBO run. If i'm not drinking it, i'm serving it. If i'm not serving it, i'm giving it. It would be nice to just have a big stash in the basement. I'm by no means a connoisseur, but i do enjoy a good bottle of wine. If i had a wine cellar, you probably wouldn't find many Opus One's, Cheval Blanc's, or Chateau LaFite Rothschild's. Instead you may find a lot of interesting wines from Vintage One's Barrel Futures program. In the new year, i plan on checking this place out, as i've heard a lot of good things about it. In the meantime, can you just imagine having one of these bad boys in your basement?

images via Premier Cru Wine Cellars

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Almost Done!

Last week i talked about how i was moonlighting as a designer on my brother's bathroom. Well, the bathroom is almost complete, all that remains are some minor touch ups, the baseboards, the glass shower wall (that shower curtain rod is only temporary) and accessories like towel bars and toilet paper holders (which i still need to choose). Anyhow, i thought i'd share a few more progress photos:

Tough to show the whole bathroom, because it is rather small, but you can see the soap niche in the mirror reflection.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

DIY Christmas Planter

I spent today getting my Christmas on. We started by strolling over to Roncesvalles Ave for a coffee from Cherry Bomb (Mmmm...Cherry Bomb) and to pick up some cuttings from Roncesvalles Fruit Market, to try making a Christmas planter. I've never tried making a Christmas planter before, but i figured if i didn't like the way it looked, i could just pull everything out and try again. So here is what you need:

- An urn (unfortunately mine has seen better days)
- A container that fits inside the urn
- A plastic bag that fits inside the container
- Sand
- Cuttings of your choosing. I chose: 1 bunch of magnolia leaves, 1 bunch of red berries, 2 bunches of cedar and 1 bunch of red dogwood twigs.

Line the container with the plastic bag. This keeps the sand from falling out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. Fill the bag with sand. My sand was slightly damp, which made it about the consistency of brown sugar. I actually think this helped, because the sand was heavy and seemed to really hold the cuttings in well.

Place the sand filled container into the urn and start sticking cuttings in. Trim the cuttings if they are too long. I started in the center with some of my taller material (magnolias and berries)...

...then i filled in, all around the perimeter of the pot with cedar...

...then i added some dogwood to give it extra height, et voila!

I also put out the Christmas lights, and changed the wreath. Now i just need some fresh white snow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Arrangements

In years past, Christmas for us was a time of spending. We would buy gifts (sometimes even pay for wrapping), order prepared foods and order floral arrangements. While fighting the shopping crowds and dialing up orders may have seemed like a lot of work, the truth is in a City like Toronto, it really doesn't take that much thought or effort. This year, we're trying to get more in touch with the true spirit of Christmas: A Christmas about good times with family and friends. A Christmas where giving is about "the thought" and not just the size of your credit card limit. So we're doing a couple of things differently this year. First we're making gifts for all our siblings, i'll share how that turns out on Boxing day (don't want to ruin the surprise) and second we're making our own floral arrangements. Some we'll give away as host/hostess gifts. Here's what we did:

We took a stroll over to Roncesvalles and picked up some...
- Amaryllis bulbs from Sweetpea's
- Potting soil from Pollock's Home Hardware
- Red dogwood twigs from KC Fruit Market

We then recycled many of the pots and containers we had from arrangements and orchids past:

I put a bit of gravel in the bottom of the pots and then planted the bulbs with the top 3rd exposed above the potting soil. Then i decorated with the dogwood twigs, et voila: