DIY: Cleaning Pennies

When we first decided to create our line of earrings, Maple Leaf Forever, we realized we needed a fast, easy, and inexpensive way to get the dirty street grime off of each penny. We started racking our brains (read: googling) for ideas and, after narrowly dodging a volcanic reaction due to mis-remembered grade 3 science facts, we found our solution (see what we did there?)

What you’ll need:

– White vinegar
– Salt…lots of it
– Baking sheet or large bowl – the more surface area the better

pennies

Spread your pennies on a baking sheet – try to avoid overlap, as the solution needs to cover all parts of the coin.

Pour a generous amount of vinegar over your pennies, ensuring all are entirely immersed in the liquid.

Sprinkle salt over pennies. A lot of salt. If you think you’ve added enough – add more.

Leave your coins to soak, moving them around the tray periodically (so you feel like you’re doing something to help)

Test your pennies by rubbing them with dry paper towel – the grime should come right off. If not, put them back in. More salt!

Repeat until your pennies are satisfactorily shiny

Craft until you are blue in the face

penniesThe Finished Product

Day to Night For Under $25

I purchased this skirt from Zara and it has been yet another perfect separate piece. The pockets (pockets in anything, really!) are an added bonus that makes any outfit a bit more playful. I love how easily this skirt transitions from a day at work to a night out with friends. My one qualm with the fabric (55% linen) is that, more often than not, I feel like I look like an unmade bed after a long day. When it comes back from the dry cleaner, though – let me tell ya – she’s a beauty!

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2014-07-24 19.54.07Hair

The shirt: I picked up the Crop Top at Top Shop ($18) for a specific event that I was going to earlier this Spring. I didn’t think I was “hip” enough to pull it off, but after some coercing from a friend I caved. I find that pairing the top with a longer, more feminine skirt and more polished hair makes you look less hip and more on trend than with cut offs or jeans.

The hair: The amazing Hair Doughnut came from H&M ($5.95) because my hair, although long, is extremely thin and hard to do anything with. When the sock bun craze started, I tried to do my hair this way with a sock and I looked like a deranged puppet. Seriously. My hair wouldn’t wrap properly, and what would wrap would not cover the sock hiding underneath. I tried it with a dress sock instead of a sport sock; no dice. I tried a nylon instead of a dress sock; not a chance. And then, one day while strategically shopping, I stumbled upon this little gem in the ‘impulse section’ on my way to the cash. I figured that Bobby  couldn’t object to this one, as I had already butchered two pairs of his socks. The best part? They come in Black, brown, and beige to hide under your hair!

DIY: Custom T-shirts

I absolutely love gift giving. I know that it is something that most people hate, but to me it is like a game. A personal challenge to see how well you know someone and how wide you can make them smile when they unwrap your gift. I also [not so] secretly love seeing the looks on the faces of everyone else who showed up touting re-gifted wine (lovely gesture, but not that personal.) In my totally random and not so lengthy experience, a surefire way to make someone’s day is by ironing their face onto a piece of clothing. Don’t think they’ll dig wearing their own face? Substitute your face, or a pet’s, or a spouse’s, or a teacher’s (the list goes on, really) and you’re hilariously golden!

What you’ll need:

– Plain white t-shirt
– Iron
– Iron on transfer sheets (here)
– Small towel (two if you are working on a surface other than an ironing board)
– A hilarious photo

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Once you have printed your images onto your transfers (see the instructions in the box) trim the transfer sheet so there is a thin white boarder around your image. Place your t-shirt on a flat surface, with your image centred and face down.

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Place a towel over your transfer – make sure you don’t move the image when you do this!

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Apply heat and pressure to the image. A lot of it. For a long time. If you think it has been long enough – you’re probably wrong. Make sure you get the edges of your transfer sheet – there is nothing worse that a peeling t-shirt after just one wash!

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Occasionally, as you iron, test the edges of your transfer sheet to see if the process is working. If your image is still attached to the sheet…it obviously isn’t. More heat!

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When you have decided that your image is as stuck as it’s going to get, slowly peel the transfer backing from the t-shirt. If sections of your transfer aren’t “cooked” yet, slowly put the sheet back in place and go over the transfer a few more times. If you are having a tough time getting your image to stick, remove the towel and apply direct heat. BE CAREFUL – you can burn the image this way so do not apply for as long in each spot.

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Ta-daaaa! You’ve made yourself a rad new t-shirt. Wear it yourself or give it as an amazingly personal gift!

My Summer Song

Every summer has a song. Usually a very up beat, danceable song that makes everyone’s toes tap and heads bop. It’s one that gets stuck in your head every time and brings back a flood of good memories when it’s played.

The summer before last, my girlfriends and I could not stop singing about “mmmmm motor boatin'” along with Little Big Town to the song “Pontoon” – A song about literally doing nothing on a boat all day in the sun. Without fail, the song reminds me of our trip to Nashville for my best friend’s bachelorette party – definitely a weekend to remember!

 

Last summer I switched it up a bit, but stuck to the standard criteria of toe taps and head bops. Wildfire, by John Mayer, was a surprising and immediately addictive song when I first heard it. John Mayer, at one time in my life, was the most romantic soul a girl could imagine. His lyrics were seamless and he seemed to be speaking directly to you. Then I got a bit older, his music changed, and I learned he was a bit of a womanizer (not so hot, John!) – so I was not as tuned in as I had been. But one Saturday morning, just as I was stirring, Bobby played this song for me to wake up to and I wasn’t able to stop listening for the entire Summer. We listened to the song so often, and created so many memories together, that it has become our first choice for our wedding video. Go figure!

 

This summer, I’ve gone back to Little Big Town. They just GET me. Meaning…they like the sun and drinking in it. I dig that! “Day Drinking” is this Summer’s anthem. It is upbeat, catchy, and has an awesome whistle hook that makes me furious I can’t whistle. They also put on one of the best shows I have ever been to; the only thing better than a Summer song is getting to listen to it live during the Winter!

 

I do not own the rights to these songs.

Queen’s Plate: Cheap and Fancy Fun

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I love an excuse to dress up. And what girl doesn’t love the chance to wear an oversized hat at the same time!? This Sunday, a group of friends and I decided to get fancy and take a limo to the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack. It was an absolutely wonderful, and very affordable, way to spend a Sunday.  Tickets were only $31, and after splitting the cost of the limo (to avoid any drinking and driving and/or complications with hailing a taxi in a gigantic crowd) the day worked out to just $65 per person. In addition to a full day at the races, a track level party for all ticket holders was included in the price of each ticket. The party, called “Hats and Horseshoes“, featured two bands (one of which was my wedding band, Emerson Street Rhythm Band, so naturally, it was very exciting for me!), multiple food trucks, several betting kiosks, and as many adult beverage booths as the eye could see. Above the stage there was a screen set up showing each race leading up to the the Queen’s Plate itself, ensuring you did not miss a thing. The party was split partially due to a walking ring through the middle, which was really neat, as you were able to watch each horse go by on its way out to race. The grounds were covered in women wearing the most incredible fascinators and gigantic floppy hats – It was fabulous to see. Although the wind was a bit of a task for all of us; One minute you felt like a princess and the next you are hightailing it across the pavement after your chapeau! Even the gentlemen were turning it up: we saw quite a few men in penguin suits – including top hats – it was spectacular. The whole day was a wonderful mix of young and old, groups of friends, and large families embracing the opportunity to get dressed up and have a lovely time in the sunshine. And that, I am definitely on board with. I think this is an event that we will be attending for many years to come!

 

 

 

Top 5 Summer Polish Picks

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I am a weather chaser and a season pusher. As soon as Fall is over I am counting down to Summer. There is nothing I love more than sand in my toes, sun on my face, and the sound of waves lapping the shoreline. And a good tan. Obviously. As a blond haired, blue eyed human, I am pretty much as pasty as they come, so that tan part I definitely need a bit of help with! I find nail polish is a great (and cheap!) aid in looking like you’ve got that summer glow without the sun damage your mama warned you about. Below are my favourite 5 Essie nail polish picks for the summer season. In addition to looking great with any ensemble, each colour plays with the pigments of your skin tone to give you that straight off the beach look we all crave this time of year.

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2. Cute as a Button2014-07-12 14.05.05

3. Mint Candy Apple
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4. Bachelorette Bash
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5. Tart Deco2014-07-12 14.05.37

One Skirt, Three Ways

I recently read a great blog post on buying with intention and it made me think of shopping for clothing. (Because, honestly what doesn’t?!) When I go shopping things can, admittedly, get out of hand in a hurry. Since we’ve moved in together, Bobby has instituted a very strict (and at times cruel!) “one in – one out” policy for me when I go shopping. If I buy something, it replaces something else in our closet and that item is donated to charity…sometimes also known as my girlfriends’ closets! Naturally, I have become very strategic in my endeavours and try my best to purchase things that are multi-function. I find that buying separates, i.e. a skirt instead of a dress, allows for a lot more versatility. By changing your top or your hair you can easily transform an outfit from day to night  or from work to weekend without much effort or, most importantly, huge cost. This skirt, from Zara, was a great find. At only $49.99 (now on sale for $15.99!), the light navy colour makes it easy to pair with anything and the silver buttons add a perfect amount of detail. How do you like to style your separates?

 

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DIY: Personalized Post

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My dad is British. He’s very dry, very quiet, and very proper — you may be thinking “Oh, cool story, bro, tell it again.” – rude, by the way! — but it really does explain a lot about me. A perfect example is that I was raised to always (ALWAYS) write hand written thank you notes. When presents are given, when favours are done, or when someone has you over for a weekend – you send a thank you note. Without fail. No exceptions. As a result, as his children, my siblings and I essentially keep the global stationary business going. Recently, after I picked up (and quickly put down) a set of 10 note cards that cost over $30, I decided that I could probably make my own stationary – So I did! I tried three different styles for my stationary – each very different and each very cheap and easy to produce.

What you’ll need:

– Plain white note cards (if they come in a kit with envelopes – bonus!)
Glitter glue (you know you miss it)
– Gold or Silver marker
– Ruler
– Printer

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Style 1: Metallic Markers

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Using your ruler and a marker, draw lines from edge to edge of your note card, creating an overlap in the corners. Ensure lines are equidistant from the edges on each side. Write a message, draw a picture, or leave it plain! This is a great, cheap way to make more formal note cards.

 

Style 2: Glitter Glue

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Use your glitter glue to write messages and draw pictures. Keep in mind: these ones take time to dry – so don’t do this if you are in a rush!  Alternatively, you can use loose glitter and a glue stick for that fresh out of kindergarten feel. (I won’t lie – it was exhilarating to write swear words in glitter glue!)

 

Style 3: Printed photos

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If you bought a notecard kit chances are it came with, or has access to, templates for printing. If this is the case, your life is easy as pie. Simply select your template, insert a photo, and print! You may need to use the feeding tray on the side of your machine if you are doing this from work (you are, aren’t you!?) or, on a smaller printer, you will just have to adjust the paper sizer inside the tray itself.

Top 5 Mexican Restaurants

Mariachis

1. Mariachi’s (Yonge & Davisville)
– This family run restaurant was my first love. In the days when all you were old enough to do on a Friday night was go for dinner and a movie with a friend, Mariachi’s was our “daring” escape from The Pickle Barrel at Yonge & Eglinton. Just a short walk from the theatres, it was a welcome change. Always a sucker for their guacamole (still some of the best I’ve had), now that I am older I have discovered that their sangria is some of the best as well. Very affordable – great quality – great experience.

2. Milagro (Mercer St.)
– One of the most authentic experiences I have had, although their sangria leaves a bit to be desired. Service and atmosphere at any Milagro location are tops. Home made guacamole and many different sharing plates are among my personal favourites on this menu.

3. Hacienda (Yonge & Dupont)
– SUCH a cool atmosphere! The neon lights adorning the walls as you walk in are absolutely the first thing you notice. The second, for me at least, was that the menu is entirely in Spanish with no English descriptions – very authentic! I tried their rum punch, a bit of a pricey cocktail, but so delicious. Their bucket-o-beer special was a big hit with our group as well. The food is a Korean spin on Mexican, a fusion of sorts, so everything has a kick to it, which was a delicious surprise. With their many patios as well as indoor seating, I would highly recommend.

4. La Carnita (College & Palmerston)
– The ever changing menu at La Carnita is part of the draw. Each menu, featuring about 11 items, most of which are tacos, changes regularly, keeping restaurant goers on their toes. Sharing options here are a must, as everything has such different flavours each time you are there. The catch – they don’t do reservations for groups under 8 (and don’t even guarantee that they can make those). Tricky business come birthday time.

5. Playa Cabana (Yonge & Dupont)
– Sister restaurant to Hacienda, Playa Cabana is the original latin flavour on this section of the Dupont strip. Although this very quaint restaurant is situated among rows of sleepy duplexes, the patio out front is always packed. The same great service awaits you here!

DIY: Make A Banner Using Old Maps

I recently posted about my Best Party Purchase, a set of letters and images that can be strung and re-strung on a cord to make beautiful banners for any occasion. But what if you have a super specific theme and that look just doesn’t jive? Why not save a couple of bucks (and a boat load of your valuable time!) and try to make something instead? It shows that you are a committed host who genuinely cares about every detail going into the occasion. Take, for example, a retirement party hosted at my friend’s parents’ place this past weekend: the theme surrounded the couple’s desire to travel together in retirement. So, naturally, we made a banner out of old sailing maps I had lying around the apartment!

What You’ll Need:

– Maps – any kind from any place – the more specific the theme, the more specific the maps
– Elmer’s Repositionable Letters (or cut out/print off your own letters to use)
– 1 piece of card stock (for your flag stencil)
– Scissors
– Glue stick
– Ruler
– Twine
– Pencil

map tools

First, you will need to make your flag stencil. Decide how big you would like each flag to be and, using your trusty ruler, outline your flag shape. Cut it out. Mark two dots, equidistant from each side of your flag – this is where you will poke the holes for your twine.

with holes

Next, you’re going to want to saddle the top of your flag right up to the edge of your map. This way you guarantee a straight top to each flag and ensure that you are using your map supply efficiently. Using a pencil, trace your flag stencil onto the map, cut it out, and do it again!

maps

Using your glue stick (or repositionable adhesive letters) affix each letter to each section of your map.

After you have poked holes in each of your flags, feed the twine through the front portion of the flag, around the back, and out the other hole. To ensure your flags hang evenly in line, you can try alternating the way the twine is fed through each flag- See below for example.

close up

And that’s it!  Make sure you have enough slack on each side of your banner, before you cut it (!), for hanging purposes. Affix your banner to walls and other areas using adhesive clips or hooks. You can also try tying the ends of extra twine into lovely little bows for an added touch.

final copy