Facebook’s On This Day feature loves reminding us about things we don’t always want to think about. Frequently, they remind me of my dead dog, my dead grandmother, or to change the privacy settings to “only me” on a lot of old photo albums, but today was different!
Today’s On This Day photo was from a seven-year-old Facebook album with photos of a day trip my mom and I took in 2010. At 19, I had never been to Kensington Market and was vintage-clothes-obsessed so I knew I had to go. My mom and I took the Go-Train into Toronto and explored the Kensington Market streets together (my mom brought her digital camera [neither of us had smart phones yet]), getting smoothies, browsing retro jewelery collections and racks of vintage dresses. That day I bought a 1960’s dress, a 1940’s turquoise hat, and a tie-dye Twiggy print tshirt (I still own the last two).
I remember this day quite well and it’s because my mom and I had such a great time! I’m lucky to have a mother who I also consider a friend. I feel like we’re even closer now than we were seven years ago and it’s probably thanks to adventures like these – I appreciate our time together (even if this appreciation is amplified in retrospect!).
The two main photos I’ve shared were taken about eight years apart on two separate, but significant days in my life.
The first is of myself and my dad before my grade twelve prom. I was going through a really hard time emotionally at this point of teenage-hood, but am so happy to have photos to remind me of all the positives in my life back then too. Sometimes it’s easy to remember the bad, but this photo has sat on my dresser (a few different dressers) for the last eight years and reminds me of how close my dad and I are. He was so proud of his dolled up tomboy!
The second photo is from my wedding last August! It was fun, exciting, and exhausting. I love the photos I have with my parents and it’s fun to compare them to photos like the one from prom where so many years have passed. I can’t wait to see another photo among these two in eight more years!
I love my dad very much and am lucky in life to have a dad who loves me too. Not everyone is so lucky and I really start thinking about family dynamics as Father’s Day approaches.
I look forward to celebrating Father’s Day with him this Sunday and snap some photos on all the other milestones we’ll come across in life.
Mother’s Day came and went this year and I still didn’t know what to get my mom for her birthday. Her birthday is June 8th so I often know what I’m getting her by mid May and have combined Mother’s Day and birthday gifts together to get one big gift in the past. Then one day her gift fell into my lap (not literally, I did not give her trash that was just floating by in the wind), an aunt figure in my life messaged me to see if I was interested in a table that my grandmother had once given her. She told me that my grandma had given it to her to refinish, but she had never gotten around to it and was now downsizing. I immediately knew that I wanted to refinish it for my mom’s birthday!
Some people think that DIY-ing is really intimidating, but you get better with practice! I’ve refinished other pieces in the past so I was ready to jump right in after I found the time and the materials to get it all done. I also thought this would be a great opportunity to show readers how easy it is to create a thoughtful gift for a reasonable price.
Here is the before and after:
This table was left pretty natural, so luckily for me there was very little sanding to do. I barely roughed up the surface and wiped it clean before applying the first coat of paint.
If you’re working with a piece of furniture that has been painted or stained previously, you will need to do a lot more sanding (I have a hand sander that is very HANDY [pun intended])!
I had two options: I could spray paint or brush/roll the paint on. Since I was short on time (with working full time now), I opted for spray paint. I purchased Chalk Paint brand because it has a great reputation (spray and traditional forms) for covering furniture surfaces well so much so that the company often claims that heavy sanding isn’t required! My mom has recently started updating some guest rooms in her house so I already knew that a white accent table would work well with her designs.
Two coats of white spray paint later, I brought the table into the house for a special treatment. The table already had heart cut-outs on the legs so the old-fashioned Golden Girls vibe would live on no matter what updated paint colour I chose to use. I wanted to go with that 90s-Florida-theme and keep my Grandma’s memory alive within the table (weird? Who cares). Plus, my goal is almost always to make my parents tear up with each gift I get them (I’m not always successful, but I have fun trying). To make the table even more special I decided to decoupage the top with a collage of photos of my grandmother.
I’d had a large folder of photos of my grandmother on my laptop from when she had passed two years ago and we made photo boards for her celebration of life. I browsed my collection and chose my favourites, then I arranged them in a word document. I printed the photos in black and white at home on white cardstock (this is important because the heavier paper allows the decoupage to work without ruining your images). I sat and cut each photo out while watching Frasier and then rearranged them into a collage that I was happy with.
This next step is a good one: TAKE A PHOTO OF THE COLLAGE! I referenced this photo multiple times during the Mod Podge stage, like referring back to the box lid of a puzzle.
There are several varieties of Mod Podge finish you can buy, but I’m partial to matte (I also already had some in my craft box). I removed and placed the top layer of photos to the side while I began adhering photos that would be overlapped later. Mod Podging is really easy. You take a foam brush, dip it in the jar, paint it on the furniture surface directly under where you want your image and place the photo on top. You then paint another thin layer of Mod Podge on top of the photo you’ve just place down. After you refer back to your reference collage photo on your phone, you prepare to repeat these steps many times with the remaining photos. I sprayed a clear coat onto the rest of the table (avoiding the collage) and was happy that it was all starting to come together.
If I had Mod Podged a piece of fabric or wallpaper that was one large sheet, the table would still be level, but the layered collage made it so that the surface had become slightly uneven. This, and the desire to protect the photos, inspired me to get a small pane of glass cut for the table top.
Most local glass cutting businesses were open from 9-5pm which made things difficult with working during the day, but I managed to find an incredibly accommodating company in Ajax, Ontario called ALL Glass and Mirrors who not only cut a pane for me over the phone, but they cut it for me within fifteen minutes of me phoning and charged half the price of local competitors (SERIOUSLY RECOMMENDED)!
The completed project cost me approximately $50.00 (2 cans of white spray paint, 1 can of clear coat, 1 cut and polished pane of glass).
We got together for my mom’s birthday dinner last night and I was so excited to give it to her! We went out for dinner and then when we were leaving I had her stand near our crossover with her eyes closed. I pulled the table out and set the glass on the top and told her to open her eyes. I explained that my aunt May had asked if I was interested in a table grandma had given her and that I refinished it for her. We looked, smiled, and laughed at some of the photos in the collage and she said “I’m going to cry.” She didn’t, but I’ll get another chance someday.
I hope that this project inspires you to DIY your next gift and feel free to ask me any questions! Don’t forget that Pinterest has amazing links to tutorials and you can Google/Youtube just about everything these days! To quote The Waterboy… “You can do ittttt!”
Firstly, I was lucky enough to be on The Marilyn Denis Show with one of my best friends a few weeks ago. The two of us are featured for being thrifty university graduates who get spoiled with makeovers! The episode airs tomorrow (Friday April 21st) and I cannot post any behind the scenes pictures until after it airs, but next week’s blog will explain how we got the makeover opportunity (a contest may have been involved), what the process was really like, and of course lots of pictures. Looking forward to sharing it all with you next Thursday on here!
Until then I thought that I would write a virtual letter to my grandmother. My husband and I are attending a friend’s celebration of life this coming Saturday and I’ve been thinking about the celebration we had for my grandmother approximately a year and a half ago. I was much too emotional to sing or even speak at the event we had and I thought that I’d put those thoughts and feelings down in a blog post. As an atheist, I’m reminded of my grandmother in my thoughts. I don’t believe that she’s with me or watching me, but that her memory lives on in stories and photos which is why this blog post has a lot of meaning to me. If I had been able to bravely speak at my grandmother’s celebration of life (like my mom and my grandmother’s sisters had), this is what I would have said:
My grandmother, Heather Campbell, was a beautiful, funny, and fun-loving woman who was born October 16 1945 and died September 7th 2015. Although she passed away just one month shy of her 70th birthday, she had lived a full life. Growing up, I had thought that my grandma was different than those that I heard about and saw on television. She was single, young, and didn’t really cook us meals, she was more like my mom’s best friend who we would share laughs with. We would crack jokes at each others expense and sarcasm was a staple element of our conversations. I only truly appreciated the unique relationship that I had with her when I had gotten older, this is when we often treated each other as equals – she had become my friend as well as my mothers.
I became closer to my grandma after she was diagnosed with colon cancer. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what to think or what to do until someone had told me that I didn’t want to regret not spending enough time with her. I started visiting her by myself, which I had almost never done before. We always saw my grandma with my mom, but I was going to university and my school was near her apartment so I started touching base with her throughout the week. I would stop by after my morning class and we would watch The Price is Right, play along with the program, and make fun of the contestants. She often made me a sandwich and we would gab like girlfriends until I took the bus home or my mom picked me up.
When she had gone into the hospital for a long period of time (approximately 120 days), I’d started reading Pride and Prejudice to her, a favourite of mine. She had never read the book and enjoyed being read to, it was a nice change of pace from the few entertainment options that were provided by the hospital. I’d read for a few hours at a time and start to lose my voice, occasionally I’d stop to ask her if she was sleeping, but she rarely was, she would tell me to continue on and I would. I had gotten half way through the book when she had recovered enough to go home. She had fought with her body over a period of four months, a body that had gone through chemo and radiation only to develop a hole in her stomach that required multiple surgeries and months of hospitalization. She had been in there for so long that I didn’t think that she’d be leaving alive, but she did – incredibly she did.
From there she took day trips with her friends, sisters, and my mom, but mostly she rested and looked forward to my sister’s wedding. A handful of us raised money and walked in the Push for your Tush colon cancer charity event in honour of her and she had such a big smile that day. She then celebrated at my sister’s bridal shower and she smiled her beautiful smile once more. By the time that my sister was getting married, my grandma was quite weak, but excited. Heather, my sister and my grandmother’s namesake, and (my
now brother-in-law) David had an intimate wedding of just 45 guests in their backyard and then a reception at a local pub. I really love the photos of my grandmother that day, she was so proud and happy to be able to see one of her grandchildren get married – another check off her list of ‘big-life-moments.’
My Grandma lived only two weeks after my sister’s wedding, she passed with pneumonia in the hospital surrounded by family. She is the first person that I have ever witnessed pass away and it was a difficult process. After the grueling six or seven hours of watching her body finally give up, we all cried and some people talked about that place called heaven. I knew that for me, she was gone, and that this would be the last time I would ever see her. Through tears, I kissed her on the forehead and felt like I would see her tomorrow, because goodbyes rarely feel real at the times that they’re said.
At the end of her life, Heather Campbell was a sister, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, and more importantly a friend. Her best friends were her family members and there’s something really beautiful about that. I was lucky enough to grow closer to her in the two years that she had colon cancer and even though she was in pain, I think that a lot of moments that took place in those two years could have been some of the best in her life. She was loved by many and she knew that. I loved her and she knew that too.
If I could stop by her apartment this afternoon to watch The Price is Right, I would update her on what’s happened in my life. I would tell her that Chris proposed a month after she passed away, that I won the opportunity to pick a wedding dress, that I missed her sitting on the couch as I chose my bridal gown, and that I graduated top of my university class. I would explain to her that I missed her at my
bridal showers and that I couldn’t help, but feel jealous that she could attend my sister’s wedding, but not mine. I would tell her that I married the most wonderful man who lets me make fun of Jeopardy contestants and shares our sense of humour. I would tell her that I got to meet Marilyn Denis (who she, my sister and I love) and accidentally made a dark joke that she would have thought was funny, but Marilyn didn’t really get. I would tell her not to feel bad about not being able to be my mom’s best friend anymore, because I’ve taken on that role now and that we talk about her often. I would tell her everything that she’s missed and thank her for everything that she was because she was pretty awesome.
PS. My Grandma was a total Blanche and I’m closer to a Sophia… or maybe it’s the other way around, some days I don’t know.
People often talk about how they would like to travel south for the winter and escape to a hot paradise, but don’t forget to appreciate your surroundings – especially if snow is involved.
I live in Ontario, Canada and we get a bit of each season around here. I think that getting to experience each weather change is really special, don’t you?
The first snowfall of the season happened on Sunday and it made me so happy. The white flakes fell in a hyperdrive-like fashion as I was driving to visit my mom with Summit, listening to Christmas songs on a few alternating radio stations, and it finally felt like the holidays were close by.
Sometime in the last few years I started thinking about how certain places around the world are always hot or others only ever see snow, but we get both. We get spring, summer, fall, and winter which is really amazing.
I absolutely admit that a complaint or two comes out of my mouth like anyone else when I start to get sick of the heat and humidity or the extreme cold temperatures, but by that time I start to get excited about the next season. I have definitely been without a vehicle in the past, walking in the spring showers, sweaty summers, and windy winter flurries (fall is my favourite and I like to imagine it as close to perfect). The point is that I am lucky enough to be able to appreciate the beauty of the changing weather conditions while having a warm house to come home to and I’m truly grateful for that.
Let’s talk about how amazing snow is.
Think about people who see it for the first time or how fun it is to watch a puppy playing in a snowy backyard. There is an innocent joy to experiencing the phenomena of snow and I think that we get a little piece of that each year when the first snowfall comes around.
The snow also reminds me of my youth, playing hockey, going skating, and laughing while decorating the Christmas tree with my family. I smile as I recall a shaggy looking black labradoodle covered in white flakes, smiling back at me and further enhancing my love for her. It also reminds me of my husband who loves the snow.
If you take a few minutes to think about your own personal positive memories that are surrounded by snow you might not dread it as much this year (until you see your driveway that needs shoveling).
The snow has started melting already, but I look forward to it coming back! I am excited about making new memories this year as a newly married couple with our new fur-baby Summit. The falling snow, like the green buds on the trees in the spring, help measure the time that we spend together. Years from now the snow will continue to trigger happy memories that feature sheets of white and some cute doggy footprints.
Let me know some of your favourite snowy memories!
This coming Thursday I will be writing a pop culture post that is connected to appreciating a good snowfall and I’ll leave you with this quote as a hint as to what it will be about:
“Wait, close your eyes and breathe. I smell snow.”