Saturday, 26 January 2013

Skating on History

My "Mini Rideau" 

Evening Skate on the Feeder Canal 

This is our first full winter in our Home in the Village of Wainfleet. With the weather being well below 0 for the last week, the Wainfleet Feeder Canal has completely frozen over. I had forgotten about this little "bonus" feature that came with the house. My husband and I have driven 6 hours to Ottawa just to skate the Rideau Canal for a day. Now we pretty much have our own "mini Rideau" 5 minutes out our front door. I have lived in Wainfleet my entire life, yet I've NEVER skated on the Feeder until tonight. 

Working on Hockey Skills

We aren't the first to play here. Hockey has been played on the Feeder for years. Love this shot! 

We spent some quality family time on the ice tonight. Practicing both our skating and hockey skills, while enjoying the fresh winter air. I took a solo skate down the Canal and started looking at all the houses that stood at the banks. These houses must be some of the oldest houses to exist in Wainfleet. I started thinking about the history I was now skating on. This Canal is what boosted settlement into Wainfleet, the place that now has 6,000 plus residents. The place I call my home, the place where I will raise my son, and the place where I was brought up. "It all exists because of this Canal", I thought to myself. 

The Canal in 1918

Me skating in the same spot in 2013! 

Being the history buff/nerd that I am. I went home after skating and looked up the Chronicles of Wainfleet Township. According to the the Wainfleet Chronicles, in 1817 Wainfleet only had 17 homes throughout the township. In 1829 the digging of the Feeder Canal began. The construction of the canal brought several labourers who built dwellings for themselves along the banks. My own house was most likely built as a result of this project. The Canal workers even named the village "Marshville", the name that would be used until 1920. The Labourers were paid $13 a month! That's less than I make an hour! Several of them died from disease during the project. However, despite the hardship by August 1829 the Feeder was complete. 

November 14, 1928 The Feeder Canal was open for Traffic 

Our House sits one road over from the Canal. Our Home was built around the same time period as the Canal.  

The Canal has been closed to transportation for years. While its initial purpose is no longer needed, the Wainfleet residents can still make use of it. Whether that be long bike rides along the canal, catching fogs and turtles or even pulling on their skates during the winter months. I have a greater appreciation for all the hard work that went into building the Feeder, for it helped shape Wainfleet into the wonderful place it is today! 

I Love History! Especially when it's close to home (in this case VERY close). To read more about Wainfleet check out and click on the "The Chronicles of Wainfleet Township". The house I grew up in is even in it! Look!See what Other familiar places you can find. 

The House where I spent my childhood

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

DIY Coffee Table

5 Steps to a New Coffee Table

Coffee Table Before and After

I LOVE anything with a story or a history. I think that's probably why we decided to purchase a century home. I strongly believe most things made years ago were made with more care and pride. Resulting in products that have higher quality and more character. 

Since buying our house I have needed more furniture to furnish our home, since this house is twice the size of our starter home. However, I am Dutch and super cheap so I refuse to spend full price on furniture. Looking around our house I don't think I can think of one item we paid full price for. I have started refinishing furniture my friends are throwing out or cheap pieces from a second hand store that just need some TLC. 

I always try and make sure I find pieces that are in rough shape before (scratches, scuffs, chipped etc) but still have strong and solid structure to them. It's best to look for pieces that are made of REAL wood (this is actually key). 

So now I'll start taking you step by step into how I refinished this coffee table. It cost me next to nothing except TIME...lots of time. So be prepared, it's not a project you'll most likely finish in a couple hours or even a day. But in my opinion it's totally worth it, I love the feeling of making something not so nice into something you are very proud of. 

Table Before

This was the table before. It cost me 0$ because my cousin was getting rid of it and I asked her if I could have it. It was actually made in Canada which made me pretty happy (think about how much a Canadian made coffee table would cost now a days). It is made of solid wood and had great detail in the legs! I knew it would look great! 

I decided I wanted to paint the legs white and stain the top a dark stain, to match our fire place which is white with a dark stained mantel. 

Materials Needed 
Materials Needed: 
  • Paint & Varnish Remover. I used Circa 1850, it is a thick liquid so drips less.  It was $10 and could probably do a couple projects. 
  • Paint brushes (one for remover, paint, stain and varnish). 
  • Dark Stain (I used Ebony purchased from Canadian Tire for $13). 
  • Rag (for spreading the stain). 
  • Sandpaper, multiple grades (I used 100, 150, 220). 
  • Palm Sander 
  • White Paint 
  • Paint Scraper (Large and small)

Step 1: Strip the Table of EVERYTHING! 

This could be paint or varnish. In this case it was varnish. This is a Very important step PLEASE Don't skip over this step. If you just paint over it you'll see imperfections. I will admit this is the most annoying and MESSY step. It is also VERY time consuming.  

Materials needed for Stripping the Varnish
Close up of the Varnish used. I bought it from Walmart a couple months back for another project. It cost approximately $10

I applied the varnish remover with a big thick paint brush. I was very generous when applying. Also be careful, the remover burns the skin, so wear gloves and long sleeves. The more you apply, the easier it is. If you don't add enough it does not work that great. I let this sit for about 10-15 minutes (or until you start to see the finish start to bubble). 

Next is the fun part! Take your big paint scraper and scrape off the finish/remover. This step is extremely messy (Probably best to do outside). That is why you'll see a tarp under the table you do NOT want the remover touching your floor, it will take off the finish off almost anything (it was too cold out so my living room became my workshop).  I then used the small scraper to get in all the small details.

I start with the top usually, then flip the table and do the bottom. I usually do the sides last. But that's just a personal preference. 

Stripping the Bottom of the Table
Step 2: Sanding 

This is also another critical part. The more time you spend sanding, the better your project will turn out. In the long run it pays to spend the extra time. I have had projects in the past where I rushed the sanding process and I've had to go back and re-do steps. So just do it right the first time :) 

Sanding Materials

This was my first time using my new Palm Sander. Wow, it's 100xs better than my old sander. A good sander makes a big difference and saves a lot of time. 


Sanding the Top with a Palm Sander 
I start with the palm sander. I used 100 grade for this process, to make sure I got any excess debris off. After I hand sanded with 150 grade paper, this can take a long time if you have a project with a lot of detail.  Make sure you get between all the nooks and crannies. Dust will often accumulate in the cracks, you may need to use a small scraper to get it out, if you don't your paint will look lumpy. 

I know I've already said this, but spend a LOT of time of the sanding step! It's crucial. 

After you finish sanding wipe the project down with a wet cloth so it is completely clean and smooth of all dust.

Step 3: Staining  

 Pick a stain colour of your choice. I chose Ebony because I wanted it to be dark and to match the mantel of my fireplace. 

Ebony Stain purchased for $13 at Canadian Tire 
I started with applying the stain with a paint brush and using the paint brush to spread the stain. However, I found it did not apply very evenly. So I actually sanded it back down and started over. This time I applied the stain with the paint brush but used a rag to spread the stain. This method worked MUCH better. I wanted my stain to be dark so I added 3 coats (let the stain dry between coats). Make sure to spread evenly. 

Table after one coat of Stain (it was still wet) 
Step 4: Painting

I chose to paint the legs white (I can't remember the actual name paint name, it was leftover paint from another project). 

White Paint (leftover from another project)

I applied about 4 coats of white to the legs. It did not cover that well at first. So if I were to do it again I probably would have primed it. But it worked out in the end. Originally I was going to distress the paint, however I tried one side of the table and decided I didn't like it. I liked the polished look without the distress. (I'm normally a HUGE fan of distress but it just wasn't right for this project). 

Legs now Painted White (like our tractor?) 

Step 5: Varnish (Polyurethan) 

If you look at the picture below you'll see that the top of the table had a very dull finish. This finish would likely scratch easily or damaged (especially with young kiddos). So a clear finish is necessary for protection. You can choose different finishes such as Satin or Glossy. I chose Satin, however it still has a pretty glossy finish. The more coats you add the more gloss you get.  

Table without Varnish (Dull Finish) 
I borrowed some Polyurethan from my father in-law. It was technically for floors, but I figured if it could protect a floor it would add extra protection for the table. 

I applied the varnish with a paint brush. This varnish was oil based, so I could not clean the paint brush after (so it was a one time paint brush use). I applied the varnish and it took several hours to dry. You'll notice that the texture becomes rough after the first couple coats. So once dry I sanded it using 220 grade sandpaper (sand by hand). Then applied another coat of varnish...let it sit a couple hours...lightly sanded again then added one last coat of varnish. The more coats you add the more protection you'll have and the better/smoother it looks. After each coat you'll notice the surface becomes smoother.

You are done! 

Finished Product 
5 Steps and you'll have a lovely piece you can be proud of. This project cost me next to nothing but was quite time consuming, however mostly due to waiting for stain/varnish to dry so you can do other things between the drying. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Message me if you have any questions! 

Thursday, 27 December 2012


"I fell in love with you when you were forming in my womb, now I carry you in my heart instead of my arms" 

December 19th, 2012 was the most difficult day of my entire life. It was on this day that I had to say good-bye to my second child. I was 8 weeks pregnant with baby number two. I was expected to have this baby August 1st. We were very excited to tell our immediate family and friends the exciting news on Christmas Day. We were thrilled that our son Isaiah would soon be a big brother. Isaiah was very excited, we told him right away and he would kiss my belly and say "I love you baby". 

Wednesday December 19th, I was lying in bed as today was my day off from work.  Isaiah kissed my belly and whispered the words ,"I love you baby". I like to think of this moment as Isaiah saying good-bye to his younger sibling. Within a couple hours I realized there was a problem, things were not right. I texted my husband Mark immediately and told him, "please pray for our baby, I think we are losing it". I dropped Isaiah off at my parent's house and drove to Emergency. I prayed the entire way there, "please God, do not let this happen to me, please let me be overreacting". 

When I arrived at the ER the Medical Receptionist asked me why I was coming in. At that moment I had to say the words I had been dreading to hear, "I think I'm having a miscarriage". As soon as I heard the words I started bawling. They brought me to a separate room where the doctor informed me that I was probably going to lose the baby. They did not have a definite answer, but things were not looking good. They would do blood work and then they would know more...or so they told me. 

Since there were no extra rooms in the hospital I had to sit in the waiting room and wait for my results. All I wanted at this point was to be alone and just cry. Cry for that precious little baby I would never get to hold in my arms, whose smile I would never get to see, whose laughter I would never hear. Rather I was forced to contain my emotions in a room full of strangers. My phone had now died, I couldn't even tell my husband what was going on. I sat alone, in that horrible waiting room pinching myself, telling myself this was all just an awful nightmare. 

The doctor now had my blood results, they were showing that I was still pregnant. However, I knew deep down I was losing this baby. They sent me to ultrasound where they found a baby 5 weeks in size who did not have a heartbeat. The ultrasound technician was very kind, reassuring me that miscarriages are more common than people think, it was natures way of ending an unhealthy pregnancy. I appreciate her efforts, but it was not exactly what I wanted to hear at this point. 

I drove home tears in my eyes wondering WHY? Why had God allowed me to even become pregnant in the first place? Just to take this child away from me? 

Last year in Early January I was diagnosed with Latent Tuberculosis. I had to undergo 9 months of treatment to reduce the risk of it ever becoming active. 9 months of driving to a specialist in Hamilton once a month, taking daily medication and getting weekly bloodwork. Worst of all this diagnosis delayed our plan to have a baby when we would have originally liked. I was so happy when the treatment was finally done and we could start "trying" for a baby. To our surprise we were blessed with a pregnancy very quickly. 

We were very thankful for this blessing, I'm still very thankful. I was able to spend 2 months being pregnant (I actually love being pregnant). I now have the excitement of knowing that one day I'll get to meet my second child in heaven. I know he or she is receiving the best possible care, with Jesus. This quote has been very encouraging to me over the past week. 

"And to think that when they opened their little eyes, the first thing they saw was the face of Jesus" 

I am still healing. This whole process has been very painful for me. I have moments where I am strong and other times when I am weak. My young son has noticed my sudden change in emotions, hugging me while I lie on the bed crying. He's been telling friends and even strangers, "Mommy's sad". I do feel the comfort of prayer and the support of some good friends and family. I originally planned on keeping everything a secret but I decided, why hide it? Why should I pretend that this baby did not exist? Why shouldn't I celebrate their short life? This is why I write today, to tell the story of my second child. The child I know I will get to meet again someday. I know God has a special plan for our lives, I need to remember the following:

"In his Heart a man plans his course, BUT the Lord determines his steps" Proverbs 16:9 

My cousin told me a cute quote from one of her students, "Daddy told me that if mommy wouldn't have had a miscarriage, I would never have been born".... I don't know exactly what God has up his sleeve for my little family, but I'm leaving it in his hands. As much as I LOVE to plan and control I need to let go. 

I would like to thank....

My friends and family who check in with me every day to make sure I'm doing ok.

The friends who have shown they care through coming to visit, sending flowers or cards. 

The friends who have been continuallly praying. 

My sweet husband who checks in with me multiple times a day to see how I'm doing. 

My lovely little boy who gives me hugs and tells me daily how much he loves me.  

You have all made this difficult process that much easier  

If you are reading this and are someone who has experienced something very similar in your life. Do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to talk to you. <3

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Sock Monkey Party

Isaiah's First Birthday Party! Sock Monkey Theme 
In less than 2 weeks my baby will be turning 2 years old. I have started to get ready for his 2nd birthday party however, I must admit I'm not nearly as organized this year as I was last year. Last year I started making sock monkeys in August (his birthday is January 8th). So I thought in Honour of Isaiah's upcoming birthday I would post about his first birthday. 

Some Background Info:
 We chose sock monkey because when I was 9 months pregnant my father in-law gave me a cute little sock monkey for the baby. He said he had been given one as a baby. He then gave both his sons Mark & Paul sock monkeys when they were young. He thought it would only be appropriate that his new grandson should have one as well. Sock monkey was a perfect choice for our little boy's first birthday!  

Picture by Captivating Life Photography:

The Display:  Sock monkeys that belong to Isaiah, his daddy, uncle and Grandpa. The oldest monkey being 50 years old and the youngest a year. Mark built the "Number One" for Isaiah. We also had on display a small toy box he was given when he was born. 

Another Shot of the "display" so you can see the pretty colours (Brown, red & white were the colours used for the party). Handmade "Isaiah" banner. 

"Vintage" toys. This dump truck belonged to Isaiah's Grandfather. This was the toy box he was given as a baby from friends of the family. The top was given to Isaiah for his first Christmas from Papa and Grandma. 

The handmade invitation for the party. Also Papa's Sock monkey (Now 50+ years old). This monkey was the inspiration of the party. 

I even painted my nails in honour of the theme 

I made the cake out of homemade fondant. The cake topper I made out of clay 

The Homemade Cakes. The little one was Isaiah's "smash cake" (The cake toppers were made of clay and serve as a nice keepsakes on a shelf in his toy room). 

The Spread! Banana Pudding Cups. Grandma's Cookies. Homemade Banner & Table cloth. 

More Food Pictures! 

Classic Coke to go with the Vintage theme 

The Candy Bar! We had tiny brown paper bags people could use to take their candy. I tried to pick vintage styles of candy.

Candy and of course Banana Chips for all those monkeys! 

Favours for the Kids hand sewn. Scarves were made by my friend Erin Moore. Monkeys were placed in our classic radio flyer red wagon. 

Spending time with Auntie Jenna 

Ball Pit Fun! I picked this ball pit up at a garage sale in the summer for $15. Kids LOVED it. Purchased his cute shirt on Etsy from Mimi Smith 


Picture with Mom & Dad 

Opening some gifts. Notice the sock monkey socks??? I found those at Old Navy 

Party Hats made out of Bristol Board and stationary dots. (We used those dots to add polka dots to everything at the party. cups, hats, balloons, table cloths etc.)

Gift from Mom & Dad. A vintage fire truck we got from Sears. 

Play Time 

It was a wonderful day! Special Thanks to Captivating life Photography for helping us remember this special day.