What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Crochet Mouse Hats With Ear Flaps

I love giving homemade gifts at Christmas because they really are a gift from the heart.  While we were at our vacation home this fall, I searched for a pattern for our grandkids that would reinforce our desire to have them visit us in Florida, spending at least a day at Disney World.  I found just what I was looking for on Ravelry!

crochet mouse hats with ear flaps
I downloaded the Mr & Mrs Mouse Hat patterns designed by Elizabeth Roggasch published in The Little Bucket Bouquet.  The pattern is $5 which is quite inexpensive considering it is sized from newborn to adult.  This is a pattern that can easily be modified but I think it is cute the way it is, very much Disney-like if using those colours.

The pattern is very straight forward, easy to crochet.  There is a fair amount of finish work especially for the girl's hats but it isn't difficult just a bit time consuming.  I used RedHeart Super Saver black, petal pink, cherry red and soft white using a size 4.25 mm crochet hook.  I made one toddler size and three child size hats.  I was rather pleased with the results and the grandkids loved them!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Crown Moulding in Greatroom

Newer homes often have boxy rooms devoid of interesting details as seen in older homes.   These types of details include wainscotting, deep baseboards and trim.  They are easy, relatively low cost upgrades that can be selling features later.  Ever since moving into our home in 2011, we have been customizing to give the house more character.  As a result we have done a fair amount of custom finishing work.  Today, our friend was out to install deep crown moulding in the greatroom, hallway and entrance. 

crown molding in great room
Originally there was a plain border painted a slightly darker colour than the walls bordering the ceiling of the greatroom, hallway and entrance.  I really didn't like it but felt that simply painting this strip white would not give the areas that extra detail I was looking for.  Finally, I decided that a deep crown molding would give me the look I wanted.

Crown moulding is available in a wide range of finishes, depths and contours.  It can be plain, elaborate or combined with other trim for a completely custom look.  Our friend chose a primed white MDF deep enough to cover the painted strip on the ceiling.  The depth from ceiling to bottom of the crown moulding is six inches.

Crown moulding can be tedious to install simply due to the necessary miter joints.  Once the moulding is installed, the joints and nail holes are filled with Dap (a paintable filling compound).  At the end of the day, the greatroom and hallway had a brand new look.  The trim on door to the attic (top picture) was replaced with a thin white MDF trim.  Once the rest of the door is painted, it will blend in with the ceiling better.  I am very pleased with the results!  The crown moulding reinforces my plans to replace the slab doors, door trim and baseboards so this really is just the start of the make-over.  I'm thinking a pale dove grey for the walls, white trim and doors, and glass knobs on the new doors.  There is still a lot to do!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The 52 Week Money Challenge

The new year is viewed as a new start to improve your life in some fashion.  This is the time of year that folks go on weight loss plans, join gyms or fitness classes, vow to improve their diets, become better people and take control of their finances.  Quite often, the new year's resolutions are long forgotten by the end of January.  The reason being, the changes are either too drastic or simply to vague.  A resolution of taking control of your finances is vague.  A resolution that says 'I want to have $1,000 in savings by the end of the year' is more specific.  Even better is a resolution that says 'I will put $20 away per week so at the end of the year I will have $1,040' because it give you a game plan to follow.  When it comes to the financial resolutions, the first vague resolution is doomed to fail because there is no starting point.  The second has a starting point and ending point but no 'how to'.  The third financial resolution has a starting point, how to and ending point that if followed is destined for success. 

52 Week Challenge
Towards the end of 2013, I saw the 52 Week Money Challenge posted in Facebook.  Please note that this is not my idea or my chart. There was no acknowledgement as to the author or who created the chart (pictured).  Kudos to the person who came up with this idea. The 52 Week Money Challenge is quite a good idea!  It is a simple savings plan that if followed will give you a tidy sum of $1,378 in the jar.  There are 52 weeks in a year.  Under this savings plan, the first week you put in $1 giving a balance of $1.  The second week you put in $2 for a balance of $3.  Each week you add the amount of money that equals that week, so on week 12 you add $12 and so forth until the 52nd week where you add $52 for a final total of $1,378.  This is a very simple, painless way to put away a few dollars.  The only weeks that may be a bit difficult for some are weeks 47 through 52, since the heating season is in full force and there are higher seasonal expenses with the holiday season.  However, the first twenty weeks of the new year are quite easy for most, barely noticeable while recovering financially from the holiday season and higher winter expenses.

my 52 week money challenge jar
I printed off a copy of the chart as pictured rather than make a new one.  The 8.5" x 11" size was too large so I reduced the image and printed it.  I cut the chart out then taped it to a recycled plastic container.  Each Friday, I add the appropriate amount.  This is week 6 so I put $6 in the jar bringing the total amount in the jar to $21.  I put a check mark beside the week number as a reminder that I have already added the money.  This will be a help when taking into account the weeks we are away.  I'll circle those weeks and pre-pay them.so I can stay on track.

I'm looking forward to seeing my little savings challenge grow.  This method does take a bit of discipline but it is rather painless.  I don't really have any plans for the savings either.  My husband came up with the idea to extend the savings plan through the following year for a total of 104 weeks which is something I am considering.  That would mean setting up a new chart, easily done in Microsoft Excel.  I'll decide whether to do that closer to the end of the year.  In the meantime, I'm feeding the jar each week.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Custom Built Display Unit

The selling feature for this house when we bought it in 2010 aside of location was the complete absence of carpeting.  We had looked at several houses but this was the only one with no carpeting, something we have been wanting for a very long time!  We were rather pleased with the colours too.  What the house was really lacking was a bit of character.  All of the rooms were still very much painted boxes.  Mind you they were nice boxes, but boxes just the same with no updated trim or custom features to make them a bit unique.  So we decided to add custom built updates and trim.

The lower level opens into a large main space divided by floor (ceramic tile, laminate) and ceiling (textured, smooth) treatments but otherwise is one room.  We are using it as a games room so there are two custom built poker tables and a wood table that seat 22.  There is additional chairs to seat up to 30.  To the middle left of the picture out of camera range is a small room, initially a bedroom.  The hallway (starting edge of display unit middle left) leads to the large pantry (formerly a bedroom), lower bathroom and outdoors.  The door just barely visible (lower right corner) is the dry bar/laundry.

custom built display unit
One of our friends is a very accomplished woodworker.  He is doing all of our custom work for us like this beautiful display unit.  The floor to ceiling display unit was built to include room for our retro jukebox along with shelving for my husband's record collection and some of his sports collection.  The display unit spans the entire length of the wall from dry bar/laundry door to hallway entry. 

My husband loves his custom display unit.  It really is the feature wall in the games room!  As far as price goes, custom built is always more expensive than something store bought but it is unique and designed to meet a particular need so well worth the extra money spent.  Unfortunately, if we ever decide to sell the house, the display unit would have to stay with the house.  It would be a selling feature and does increase the value of our house.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Beginnig of a New Year

We are four days into the New Year and hunkered down for our second snowstorm this year expected to drop nine inches of snow between tonight and tomorrow.  Despite going through the house on a germ killing mission after a houseful of company over the holidays, it would appear my husband has come down with a case of possible flu.  It it fast and hard with him virtually fine one minute and turning green the next.  I finally have him tucked into bed so am sitting down to work on our master bedroom bedspread

We have a lot of plans for the house this year.  We've been here just over two years and while we have done a lot, there is still painting and the outside work to complete.  I want to do a bit more on the decorative side as well especially handmade items.  I already have an idea for a crocheted bedspread for the guest bed and we really need a new afghan for the living room.  I would also like to make a couple of crocheted bath mats. 

January will be a month of getting a bit more organized.  I started during the time we were home between the three and five weeks spent at our vacation home so need to finish that.  I'd also like to completely redo the entryway closet.  Surprisingly, I have found very few ideas for that project!  The guest room and office closets need organizing complete over hauls as well. 

At any rate there is a lot to do in our home sweet home...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Wishing each and everyone of you a very Happy New Year!  Welcome 2014...