Sunday, 30 November 2008

Stella McCartney Fashion Show

Stella McCartney is one of my favourite designers with a no fur/leather philosophy. Check out her latest stunning designs and new organic skincare line.

Friday, 28 November 2008

DIY # 1: Dead Man's Chest

I re-finished this chest of drawers last summer, and I decided to post a short tutorial in case any of you out there are looking for pointers. The whole project is actually less complicated than you may think. If this is your first attempt at refurbishing, I wouldn't recommend using a piece that is valuable or irreplaceable. My brother purchased this chest of drawers a few years ago, and then abandoned it. It was perfect for my first project because it cost me nothing, and if I destroyed it, no one would miss it.

Materials Needed:
  1. Dust mask
  2. Safety glasses
  3. Gloves (I used rubber kitchen gloves)
  4. Screwdriver
  5. Sandpaper (100 - course & 220 - fine)
  6. Paint brushes (various sizes depending on your project)
  7. Wood stain
  8. Sander
  9. Old rags (for cleaning dust & paint drips)
  10. Newspapers
Materials You May Need:
  1. Hammer
  2. Wood filler
  3. Chemical wood stripper
  4. Varnish
  5. Steel wool
  6. Drill
  7. Hardware (handles & knobs)
Start off by removing anything that will interfere with the sander - handles, knobs and other embellishments. My chest had a wooden flower motif near the top that had to be removed. If there are any nails sticking out, either nail them back in or remove them with the reverse side of a hammer. Big holes should be filled in with a wood filler. Tighten up any loose screws.

Your work space should be well ventilated. If your piece can be separated, then sand each of them individually (i.e. I took out the drawers). To begin load the sander with the most coarse grade of sandpaper. Put on all your safety gear - mask, glasses and gloves. Now it's time to get down and dirty. Strip off all that old flaking paint with the sander. I used a belt sander that I borrowed from a friend, but a small sheet sander would also work. When all the paint is stripped off, switch to a fine sandpaper, and go over the entire piece again. Remove any built up dust on the piece with a rag. The end result should be a smooth, clean finish. If your piece has curves or an intricate design, you will need to either sand these parts by hand or use a chemical wood stripper to remove the old paint.

You're half way there! Protect your work space from drips with old newspapers. Next apply a coat of wood stain to your piece. Stains are available in a wide variety of shades and types. Pick the one that best suits your project. I wanted to save time so I chose a 2 in 1 stain and polyurethane that worked as both a stain and a top coat of varnish. For best results lightly rub the piece with steel wool in between coats. Each stain will have different directions, so make sure you read your label. I applied 2 thin coats, and allowed 10 hours in between for each coat to dry.

Now it's time for the best part - picking out the hardware! Most home improvements stores have a large selection of handles and knobs in lots of colours, shapes and sizes. My chest required two knobs for the smaller drawer on top, and four handles for the two larger drawers on the bottom. If you'd like to change the direction of your handles or replace them with ones that are a different size, you will need to drill new holes. Another option is to clean up your old hardware with a coat of metallic spray paint.

For more tips and ideas for your DIY projects, visit Be Jane, a great site for women DIYers.

Happy sanding!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Organic Tip # 1: The Frugal Hippy

Okay, so you want to be healthy, do your part for the planet and not end up in the poor house. I know a lot of you are interested in organic products, but have been deterred by it's high prices, especially in this era of economic uncertainty. If you'd like to start eating more organics in an affordable way, a good start is to cut out the conventionally grown foods that are most prone to pesticides, and buy their organic counterparts instead. According to the Environmental Working Group, the top three pesticides prone foods are:
  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet bell peppers

You may have noticed that all three of these foods are thin skinned and usually eaten unpeeled. In fact, this is true of all but one of EWG's dirty dozen.

Read the entire report from EWG here. If your local grocery store doesn't carry these organic foods, ask to speak to the manager and let them know there is a demand for these products.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Save Paper - Use a USB

You may never be awarded a sparkle pager like Meredith on Grey's Anatomy, but you can have a sparkle USB key. Swarovski now makes a 1 GB USB memory key in the shape of a heart pendant. The key is made of polished stainless steel, which is suspended from a silver silk cord. One half of the heart is encrusted with genuine crystals, while the other half can be inserted into any USB port. You can use it at home on your personal computer, your office computers, photo kiosks, anywhere that has a USB port. The key can hold up to 250 songs or 1000 photos. That means you never have to print or burn files onto a CD or DVD. This particular model will cost you $210 (ouch!), but you can find more reasonably priced USBs at your local electronics store.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

A Rouge Halloween

I decided to go political this year for Halloween, and I dressed up as Sarah Palin. It was probably my easiest costume ever. I just dug up an old red blazer, piled my hair on top of my head and put on some glasses. It was easier than putting lipstick on a pig!

This is my favourite photo of the night. An homage to Palin's interview with Katie Couric. I'm reading ALL the newspapers (ha ha ha ...)

Hope everyone had a good Halloween!
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