Sunday, December 28, 2014

Painting extra tall walls for a north facing room

Our "family" room is nothing more than a junk pit.  There I said it.  You now know my deep dark secret.  We used it as a bedroom for my youngest son until the older one went off to college.

I painted it blue when I was 7 months pregnant with my youngest.  Fun times.

While I love the blue, its really beat up and needs painting.  There is a lot of trim in this room and FIVE windows.

We added French doors to close it off and make it an actual room.

I went looking around the blogosphere.

I am toying with a creme or grey and painting the door charcoal grey.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Money Laundering

You have helped me in the past and here I am writing you again.  I'm sure you get complaints about Apple all the time.  I have had a lousy year with their products and their passive aggressive customer service.  We have had three terrible experiences with them since Sept of this year.

We purchased a $3500 15" Macbook Pro for my son to take away to school in the US August of 2013.  A month out of warranty, his screen gets a pixelated line across it.  He is told too bad so sad, nothing we can do.  We would be happy to send it in for you and replace the screen for $1200.  He is currently living with the defective screen which, as a design student, is problematic.

In June, he dropped and broke his iphone5.  We took it to apple and we spend $300 on a replacement refurb phone which came with a 90 day warranty.  My son goes to school in the US.  A month out of the warranty period, the refub phone dies and gets stuck on the Apple start up logo shortly after the release of ios8.  He takes it into the Apple store in Michigan and is told, sorry the warranty is 90 days even though the problem is a manufacturing defect of the screen mother board connection.  We'd be happy to replace it for another $300.  Having very little choice, he paid $300 for yet another refurbished phone.

The final straw happened today.  I purchased a refurbished 13" Apple Macbook from from Apple's Canadian on line retail operation in August.  My daughter caually tells me Christmas morning that the webcam on it has never worked. I called Applecare yesterday and they said take it into the Apple store. We took it in to Toronto Eaton Centre today.  I spoke with Adam who said he is the manager.  I was told that because I bought it on line from APPLE CANADA as refurb its considered a US purchase.  He also informed me that it is illegal to return items from another country because its money laundering.  That is right, I was accused of money laundering by the staff at Apple because they sold me a defective product.  At no point did I bring up that i have family living in the US with this person.  I did, however, tell him that I knew for a fact that this was an outright bold faced lie.  I have returned many items purchased in the US including things from Costco, American Eagle, and Target without a bat of an eye.  I was also told that I should take the computer home and call apple care and lie to them and say I gave it to her for Christmas because Apple will refund my money if I do this.   All of this conversation happened in front of my 15 year old daughter.

I am insulted by my experience today.  Being lied to by staff who feign understanding is outrageous.  I do believe that Apple will eventually fix my daughters macbook but I will likely have to make four or five trips to actually make that happen which is a huge hassle and time suck.  The iphone and the 15" macbook I believe are lost causes.  I realize that Apple is notorious for their stonewalling but accusing a legitimate customer of money laundering is beyond crazy.

If you have a similar lousy Apple story, I'd love to hear it.  Its time to for them to step up the accountability here.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Crazy Winter Boot Chase - AGAIN

Last January, my youngest son went winter camping with his school.  It was a fun idea.  Be a real Canadian and all that rot.  The reality was, I couldn't do what I had been doing and send him up into the Canadian bush in January in the lined "rain" boots he had been wearing.

Mission, Find winter boots in January in Canada.  Bonne Chance.

Did I mention my son is part Neanderthal and has feet like Fred Flinstone that are thick and square.

Went everywhere I could think.  I bought a couple of pairs from Crappy Tire.  Didn't fit.  Out of sheer despiration, I bought these from Lands End in black.  He loved them.  Score....or so I thought.

He wore these from the end of January last year until mid March.  Then two days this week.  So all told, about 8 weeks.

The gum bits on the bottom that looked like this when they were new

now look like this

The gum rubber part is flaking off and has worn a ridiculous amount.  Yup that is a hole worn right through his boots he wore for 8 weeks.

Lands End has a good return policy and I can return these BUT its going to cost me $9 in shipping to send them back.  I also paid over $22 in duty and taxes which they won't refund me.  The thing that really annoys me is they still fit him fine.  Grrr.  Three kids and we have never worn out a pair of boots - EVER.  They have always been grown out of before they wear out.  So I bother spending the $9 to send them back?  That is the question.

I've spent this evening trying to find boots that are Made in Canada on-line in his size which of course, knowing me, lead me down google's memory lane.

If you grew up in Toronto in the 70's you had limited choices which included these (brown like these for boys, white like I had for girls)

These - how retro cool

or if you were REALLY lucky these

Friday, November 21, 2014

Industrial Style TV storage ideas

google maps

Before I was born, in a land far far away.... never mind, it was Scarborough, my mother worked for close to 20 years for the Canadian division of Eddison Electric in their industrial lighting department.  Boring job right?  Not a chance.  She always referred to her office as "the Mad House". I never thought much about it as a kid.  When she took me to visit, I was fascinated with the plant and all the industrial equipment and the red telephones phones they all had on their desks.

The reality is my mother could easily been a cold war spy.  She knew the ins and outs of all the electrical design and production of the funky stuff they build like street lights

 and air raid sirens like this!

They had an eccentric boss who did stuff like release an annual Christmas album.

But I digress.  They also had a really funky 1940's logo.

Where is she going with this you ask?

We really need a better place for out TV.  I'm having building fantasies again.  I know, I know, its about to snow and I'm thinking of spending some quality time in the unheated garage.  I'm crazy.

Well, I have this vision you see, of building a vintage style table cart thingy for the TV and stenciling on that 1940's logo on the front.  Some combo of this

and this

and this$_59.JPG

Some combo like this that I could slap a logo on and feel nostalgic.  Whadday think?  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Original Folk Art - part two

I'm having fun looking back at all my old works!  Yee haw.  I started out painting flowers.  Gradually I got a bit more abstract.  
 I eventually hit my angular leaves phase.  I have to say, THIS one is still one of my favorites.  It speaks a lot about me as a person.

I gradually moved from flowers into people.  Truth be told, I am not really so hot at drawing or at painting people.  Yup its true.  My folk art comes from my lack of refined skill.  Shhh I didn't tell you that because well, its not the kind of thing we are suppose to admit to potential clients or collectors.

It completely amazes me what I could come up with that gave the illusion of a beautiful woman without actually making a face.

What I see now is what an incredible portfolio I have.  Wow.  Blow my socks off.  How did this ever some out of me.  The even bigger question is, can I still do it and does anybody even care anymore?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nov 11 Remembrance Day Canada Proud

What dose baseball in the 1960's have to do with war and Remembrance Day you ask?

That picture is my dad in the early 1960's.  He was the kind of guy that, as you can see in this picture, that gave it his all. He played hard, he worked hard and he did everything 120% percent. He was a math genius that could add up a grocery list and add tax faster than a cash register all in his head.  He would hand flabbergasted cashiers exact change just for the sheer shock value of it.

He was almost 40 when he met my mother.  They met on the pro-bowling tour.  Yup both my parents were pro-bowlers.  Sounds kind of crazy now but it was the 1960's and bowling was hot.  My mother had the proud distinction of having bowled a perfect game.

My mother in Hollywood in 1954.

They were a quirky couple.  My dad made my mother have fun.  He dragged her along for the ride.  He lived like he was given a second chance at life because he was.

My dad spent many years in Europe fighting in WWII and then as part of the Canadian peace keeping mission.  He had lied about his age and was in a war zone at the ripe old age of 16.  

Here he is, far left hand side at the back.

I know very little about his time in Europe.  I do, however, have some very grainy, disturbing pictures.  He was in a German prison camp and held as a prisoner of war.  I have pictures of the camp that he took in 1946 that he kept neatly stored in a Players cigarette tin. I have his pin from his beret.     

Even though I have so little and know even less, I still weep over the devotion of my father and the others who went before him and have come after him.  He was truly one of the lucky ones.  He came home and went on a lived his life.  He met my mother, went fishing, played ball and had me.  For that, I am truly grateful.  

My father passed away at a fairly young age.  He never met his grand children.  He would be so very proud of them.  They have grown up knowing that their granddad went to war.  They have heard the precious few stories that I can tell them.  They have learned to remember Canada's contribution to world peace.  

One of the biggest moments was when we visited the Canadian Memorial Park in Vimy France.  To stand in France on the great battle grounds of WWI was humbling.  To see the Canadian flag proudly flying took my words away.  

And the single most humbling reminder of the impact of war, the sign that proclaims the presence of live explosives in the mine field 100 years later.  

Thank you to everyone who has ever put their own lives on hold to ensure peace in the world.  Please remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice each and every day you go about your normal daily routine and especially  on Nov 11th.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

What is in my head....

Its not very often that we get to go back in time and revisit ourselves.  We can think of the past but to really go back and relive a moment is a truly rare thing.  I recently had such a moment.

For a while, I worked as a self-representing artist.  I painted and sold quirky folk art.  At the height of my art career, I had built up a following and had sold to people in many different countries including Australia, Italy, the UK, the US and Canada.

For what ever reason, naked women became my thing.  It was amazing how it was almost exclusively women gravitated to them.  

Life happened and that chapter of my life closed rather abruptly.  I have several pieces of my work scattered throughout my house.  

The chicken lives in the hall.  Its one of my favorites that I ACTUALLY framed.  

If you read my blog, you might have seen this one in DS's room.  

And the one of my older son walking our dog.  

I painted very few of people I know.  The one of my older son and our dog is one of the VERY rare exceptions.  A collector in Texas bought it.  I don't even have it anymore. Almost all of things I created existed in my crazy head.  

And, well, you get the idea.  I have a LARGE portfolio of work most of which I sold.  

This spring, I landed back in my old life.  I went back to work for my old employer.  It was a surreal experience.  I saw people I hadn't seen in 10 years.  I caught up on office news.  I also met a pile of new people.  

One of the new people was just utterly remarkable.  Before me stood one of my the women from my art.  A real iteration of a figment of my imagination. 

I painted this eight years ago in July 2006.  I MET her this year in a training session.  We both felt a crazy instant connection to each other.  Recently I rather sheepishly told her that I had at one time, painted naked women and that, I had actually concocted her in my head years before.  

I scrambled around looking for it. I was sure I still had it.  Of the 800 or so paintings I did, I have less than 50 in my personal collection.  Most of the stars are on my walls. A lot of the works I have, are partially finished or the rejects I meant to fix or alerter or just didn't go where I wanted them to and were relegated to the meh pile.  

And I found it!

I was SO excited that I STILL had it.  And guess what, I don't have it anymore!  Yup, it has a new home. I hope I never see real green skies or freaky smiling cats and flying dogs.  I think one character from my head popping my life and walking into my house and giving me a huge big hug is exactly what I needed right now.

Life leads you down a path and you meet the people you need to meet to live your story.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Beach Cottage Kitchen NOW

Lovely fall day!

I was cleaning up today in anticipation of the big birthday party this weekend.  I stopped to take some clean pictures and then realized its been ages since I posted the kitchen.

So this is the beach cottage kitchen today.  Painting my ugly oak kitchen was the right thing to do even thought I agonized over it for years.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Learning to ride a bike...the easy way

My youngest son has been slow on the uptake of learning how to ride a bike.  We have tried and tried.  No go.

This summer, I decided that he was going to do it.  Period.  My mother never learned how to ride a bike and always regretted it.  I didn't want that to happen to my kid.

We tried and we tried.

Yup this is how he felt about it.

FINALLY I googled how to teach a kid to ride a bike and came upon an intriguing method that teaches kids without pedals.  I ran out to the garage and took the pedals off his bike.  YES.  We were doing this.

We did this a few times and boom.  He had it!  Yeah!

This weekend, I upgraded him to the bigger bike with gears and hand brakes.  We went for a nice long ride and turned around when we hit the Leslie construction.  

What a lovely day!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dresser Hack Build and DIY Chalk Paint Finish

Were to start with this story.  Hmmm.  I guess I start 12 years ago when we bought this house and found this Malm dresser at Ikea as-is for $80.  We brought it home and put it in the girlfriend's room.  It was tall and fit in the teeny tiny room so it fit the bill.   Over the years, it has slowly but surely started to disintegrate.  By this spring only a couple of the drawers actually worked.  


We went off looking for a replacement and found this.  Its lovely BUT it was too wide to fit in the little spot in the little room.  

After looking at it a few times, and REALLY thinking about it, I thought, I can build something similar and make it fit the spot AND I can reuse some of the parts from the dresser that is falling apart in the process. So I drew up my idea and proposed we build what we need.  My original idea had a shelf at the bottom as you can see from my sketch.  Nice idea but once we measure we realized it was too tall for the girlfriend to ever put anything in the top drawer.

Off to buy wood for the parts we didn't have and or needed to build.  We used out trust Kreg Jig for this one.

A big part of this project was to make the dresser have a chalk paint distressed finish.  We stained the sides brown so we could distress them later.  DH came in and commented that it was so BROWN.

I hope to do another blog post about the finish but I will touch on it briefly here.  I wanted a chalk paint finish but I couldn't find any locally so I made it up.  We stained the key new wood parts brown.  We then took odds and sods of paint we had, white, a bright emerald green and the blue left overs from little DS's room and mixed them together in a jar.  I then added some watered down drywall compound to the paint which gave it a very flat chalky texture that dried REALLY fast.  I lightly sanded the edges so the brown would show and viola.

As you can see, we built the frame to accommodate the drawer fronts we had.  The large drawers faces are from the gutted dresser and the small ones are left overs from a cabinet project that have been sitting here for years waiting to be used for something.

 This is the test run to see if we have measured everything approximately right.  And YES we did.  Measuring is not a strong skill of mine.  I'm more of a guess it and hope it works kind of gal.

I tried to get an up close and personal picture of the distressing.  The brown peeks through and it looks like its been around for a really long time which is what we were going for.  We put a Minwax finish over it and buffed it.  It has an amazing feel to it.  Its soft and smooth and has a nice luster.

And here it is, almost complete in its final spot.  The cow are is mine that I painted a few years ago.  I think they look FABULOUS together.