Making Memories for Mom’s Birthday: How to DIY Update your Grandmother’s Furniture

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:

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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.

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Remember to wear your mask when sanding and spray painting!

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.

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Here’s the finished collage!

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)!

Photo 2017-06-07, 5 41 19 PMThe 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.

waterboy gif.gifI 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!”

My Love-Hate Relationship with a Tale as Old as Time: The New Beauty and the Beast

SPOILERS AHEAD, but haven’t we all seen the original cartoon version? You’ll be fine if you have!

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My dad and I on my first day of school with my Beauty and the Beast lunch bag (1993).

Stockholm syndrome theories aside, Beauty and the Beast has always been special to me. The original animated Disney film was released in 1991, I was only born in 1990, but that just means that I grew up with the movie as soon as I was old enough to consume media. Belle was my favourite Disney heroine which is interesting because she herself was a captive. As a little girl in the 90’s, I was a brunette who loved to read and I never really felt like I fit in. I saw Belle as an older version of myself who got to read all day, was a little head strong, and sang a bunch of fun songs.

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Dream life: No beast, just reading, singing, and sheep (imagine if the sheep were dogs though).

 

Last Sunday I went to see the latest Beauty and the Beast live action film adaptation with my dad and step-mom. I was looking forward to seeing it, but hadn’t realized just how much I would enjoy the experience as an adult. I honestly got goosebumps on my arms from the nostalgic greatness almost ten different times, often as one of my favourite songs started to play. I thought that the casting was excellent and the costumes were stunning. The added backstory for both Belle and the Beast was enjoyable, although I wasn’t a huge fan of the new songs – I still didn’t mind them.

I had three funny thoughts that reminded me of my adulthood:

1. Near the end of the film, the Beast falls onto the rooftops of his castle and claws his way to temporary safety. At this point, my mind went to home-emergency-funds as roof shingles fell below and I thought, “That’s going to be an expensive roof repair!”

2. As the magical rose lost its final petal, the supporting household-object-characters fully transformed into furniture on the front steps of the castle. My thrifty mind went to, “quick, someone get them inside before they are ruined by the weather and end up unsellable for Kijiji or VarageSale!

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Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley (left) and as the prince in Beauty and the Beast (right).

3. At the end of the film, as Belle and her prince are dancing I thought, “Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey is playing the human version of the beast!? I wonder if he inherited the castle instead of one of his female cousins. Downton Abbey must be a prequel and they used the car accident as a cover up for his supernatural curse before sending him to France”

 

Emma Watson lived out every 90s-born-brunnette’s dream when filming the recent live action Beauty and the Beast film – I watched her in awe and with envy. As much as I love the Disney classic, I absolutely stop to wonder why we see a beast who imprisoned a
person as a suitable love interest for an

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An anonymous DeviantArt artist submitted Disney-50 Shades illustrations to Cosmo including this Beauty and the Beast piece.

innocent woman. For reasons that I cannot entirely explain, viewers tend to be more attracted to the Beast more so than the human prince. Quinn Keany and Erin La Rosa reiterate this unexplained phenomenon by highlighting the many tweets that exist in agreeance over the who’s hotter debate – the Beast seems to always win out, especially in the cartoon version. The way that people talk about the beast online makes me think that there could be a new meaning to Beast-ieality – too far? The joke was worth it.

Another fictional film character who was non-typically attractive, kept a woman captive, and is almost universally liked is The Phantom of the Opera (Gerard butler is always handsome, but his pseudo-mutilated face was largely covered by a mask for the majority of the film). What is wrong with us? I personally believe that it is in fault of their gorgeous singing voices and the fact that the filmmakers shine light on their humanity. The stories are set up so that we pity these male leads, they’ve been wronged

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The very Phantom of the Opera scene at the beginning of the newest Beauty and the Beast.

in the past and are presented as sensitive. This shouldn’t excuse their captor actions, but the importance of their actions was downplayed to allow us to ignore or forget what we don’t agree with. At least in The Phantom of the Opera the leading lady recognizes that she has suitor options that are neither with an imprisoner nor a narcissistic womanizer. Can we also agree that the ball at the beginning of the new Beauty and the Beast was very Phantom of the Opera? No complaints here.

So, if you can let go of your critical thinking and get back into your childhood mindset, then you will love the new Beauty and the Beast. If you’re like me, you’ll sing every lyric in your head and fawn over the live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-belle-landcostume details. Let the movie take you back to a time when you loved nothing more than to watch your favourite VHS on your family’s tube television while sitting on your dad’s knee. It’s an old story, with questionable plotlines that will win me over every time.

Did you see the new movie? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Netflix and Nostalgia: My Magic School Bus Reboot Expectations

 

In 2014, Netflix revealed some of their early plans for an updated animated series based on the hit scientific show The Magic School Bus that ran from 1994-1997. This show has a special spot in my heart as it taught me so much at

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Fact: Ms. Frizzle wore the best themed clothes.

such an early age! For example, there were many times throughout high school and even university when I would get a Frizzle-flashback (I’d like to believe I just made that up) and I would know that the cartoon had taught me this information years earlier.

Netflix Canada has had the original series available in their library for a while now and I absolutely still watch it. Obviously, I enjoy it mainly for nostalgic reasons, but I remember the episodes and characters so clearly that it feels like I’m rehashing personal stories with old friends. The nostalgic element is what makes this reboot a risky move to me; I believe that they will likely disappoint their grownup fans in order to properly hold the attention of and educate today’s youth (a valid reason).

My mixed feelings surrounding the Magic School Bus revival lie mainly in my fear that the animation will be too modern for my taste and that the writing will be less punny. I honestly loved every Carlos pun and I think

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The other kids had poor taste in jokes.

that the innocence of dad-humour played a large part in the overall likability of the show. The Magic School Bus captivated young audiences with visual learning in a way that wasn’t common in elementary schools of the 90’s. Kids today may not fully understand that teachers had to book one of maybe three tube-televisions that would be wheeled down the hall for an allotted hour or so, and that this was a big deal because you rarely got to watch videos in class. The Magic School Bus took textbook knowledge and relayed it in an entertaining fashion!

Although I have my reservations, I am trying to have faith in the reboot and I will definitely give it a watch.

Netflix has kept a lot of secrets since the reboot’s 2014 announcement, but here’s what we do know so far:

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Season 1 episode 3 “Inside Ralphie” was always one of my favourites.
  1. It will be computer generated animation (this makes me nervous [I’m not always a fan]).
  2. Stu Stone, the voice actor who played Ralphie (one of two characters who we got to know from the inside-out), is on board as one of the producers of the reboot!
  3. Multiple other cast members have signed on to help in some way (I’m hoping that they pull a Degrassi-The Next Generation and have the original cast play parents)
  4. Top secret celebrities will lend their voices throughout the new series.
  5. It will likely be titled “The Magic School Bus 360˚”
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Early concept art of The Magic School Bus 360˚.

The early concept art indicates that the Ms. Frizzle character seems to be a similar age as she was in the 90s. If the original Ms. Frizzle were to have aged with us, I would love for

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Lily Tomlin (right) co-stars with Jane Fonda (left) on the Netflix original Grace and Frankie.

her to still be voiced by actress Lily Tomlin and I also hope she married a woman (I just feel like she could have)!

It has been twenty years since The Magic School Bus ended, this has allowed for extensive technology advancements and many new discoveries about our planet. These changes in scientific development are enough reason to justify why the reboot’s relevance. There is a large amount of educational content to teach the modern generation that so many youth television shows are simply not covering.

Topics that I would love to see covered in the new Magic School Bus:

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Me, when I took a tour at my sister’s work’s visitor centre. Very proud of my sister who works as a Nuclear Operator.
  • An emphasis on women in STEM careers
  • Wearable technology
  • A new space episode talking about changes within our galaxy (*cough* Pluto)
  • Global Warming
  • Corrections on new discoveries with dinosaurs (our apparently fine-feathered-friends)
  • Life before cell phones
  • Robotics
  • Crime Forensics (to an extent)
  • Wireless everything
  • Hovercrafts
  • Drones

There are so many choices in topical scientific studies that I’m really excited to see what the creators decide to showcase. Hopefully it will be just as successful as the original series and we will have a positive program that is trusted by parents who learned from an familiar fiery Frizzle.

I think that we (as older viewers) need to either

  1. watch it and love it if they do it justice nostalgically (Fuller House did this well, but the original was already geared toward both kids and adults) or
  2. let go of our nostalgic reigns to let a new generation benefit off of an educational program aimed to please and educate kids, not adults.

the-friz-and-the-liz-share-a-wink-magic-school-bus-1954677-500-375-e1321546050246The show is currently in production and I’m hoping to see it released soon!

Are there some quality scientific television shows already out there for youth today? Let me know some of them! I’m thinking of shows similar to Bill Nye, The Science Guy or the Magic School Bus for us 90’s kids.

 

Christmas Tree Trimming: Nostalgic Newlyweds

Decorating the Christmas tree is one of my favourite traditions and I look forward to it every year. Depending on my husband’s overseas work schedule, I have done it both with and without him over the last few years. I’m really lucky that he’s home for the holidays this year so I only had to wait until December 8th to decorate.

I appreciated that Chris wanted to participate in the tree decorating tradition, he seemed just as excited as I was. He made us Old Fashioned’s (we love bourbon) and I put on a Christmas record. A good friend of mine gave img_9725me A Charlie Brown Christmas: Vince Guaraldi Trio on Vinyl as an early birthday present and I’ve listened to it all the way through approximately five times already! For some reason, the slight crackle of vinyl makes me feel cozy, a similar feeling to having fireplace lit in the winter.

As the needle followed the grooves, I took a sip of my drink, and lit a candle that smelt like a balsam fir. It officially sounded, tasted, and smelt like the holidays – I was blissfully happy. We lugged out our fake tree and box of decorations from under the basement staircase and let Summit have a whiff of Christmases-past.

Approximately three Christmases ago, Chris and I purchased our first tree together. We bought a 6ft tall pencil tree, my dad thinks that it looks funny and weird, but we think that it is perfect for us. The small tree fits into our space and is quirky enough to suit our family. That first tree year, we had a Christmas

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Chris standing beside our nearly finished tree this year.

party where we asked our friends to bring us ornaments to decorate our new tree with. We were so happy with the outcome: an eclectic mixture of homemade, outlandish, store-bought, and traditional decorations that contribute to its unconventional nature. Each guest was also given a homemade ornament from Chris and I – a lot of work when you make 43 of them!

Back to 2016: Chris, Summit, and I enjoyed a quiet night of decorating. This is the first year that Chris and I are officially husband and wife for Christmas so I made us a wedding ornament and also a fun Eric Andre themed ornament (tried my hand at wood burning for the first time and loved it). The best thing about having had an ornament party is that every year we are reminded of the friends and family in our lives. Each ornament has a backstory and is associated with a familiar face. Unwrapping each trinket leads to talking about the loved one from which it came and this process really adds to the nostalgia that comes with the tree tradition.

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Top: Our stockings hung with care (temporary stocking until we print a photo of summit). Bottom left: Daq’s stocking. Bottom right: Daq and I at my mom’s in 2012.

Aside from ornaments, we also pulled out our Christmas stockings. I took a minute or two to cry when I held Daq’s old stocking that would now be handed down to Summit. She was a truly wonderful friend who I still miss very much. The mourning process is long and unforgiving, but I was lucky to be a part of Daq’s long and happy life. Chris and I, however, are excited to spoil our new fur-baby this holiday and have been taking her to the now snowy dog park twice a day. Life is all about change and making the best out of what you have – we do our best!

After turning the room lights down, Chris drank some eggnog with bourbon and I had some baileys in my hot chocolate. As if in a film, we excitedly watched snow start to fall out of our back window. We talked about how much we still love our eccentric tree and about the possible future trees we may purchase if we move into a bigger space someday. Isn’t it beautiful that sharing the tree decorating tradition with my husband not only reminds me of happy memories from the past, but also sparks romantic thoughts about the future? It’s who you’re with that matters most; fake or real, the tree itself shouldn’t affect the experience – a reflection of what Christmas is really all about.

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